On The Border

I could go off on a tangent about the Trump Wall but in this case it is a conflict in the making in the Caucuses of Central Europe…… between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

History of the Caucasus - Wikipedia

There has always been an animosity between the two……Armenia is a Christian country while Azerbaijan is Muslim…..read about the two countries here (if interested)……

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-17398605

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-17043424

Years ago I wrote about this region as a possible linch pin event that could start a major world incident that may lead to a war…..FYI my post on the subject and region……https://lobotero.com/2013/06/13/looking-for-the-linchpin/

The war of words between Armenia/Azerbaijan has almost always been a part of the region’s history……but there have been several border clashes between the two and they are still readying themselves for the possibilities….

The senior adviser to Azerbaijan’s president said the situation at the border with Armenia reminded him of World War I between France and Germany, with heavily armed soldiers facing each other in border trenches. Hajiyev warned that any spark could lead to a full-blown conflict. He accused Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan of advancing a bellicose nationalist agenda despite claims when he was elected that he wanted to achieve peace with Azerbaijan.

Hajiyev said the threat by Azerbaijan to strike a civilian nuclear plant in Armenia had been made by a low-level military officer and did not reflect his country’s official stance. He went on to accuse Armenia of targeting civilian targets in his country.

He brushed aside claims that Turkey was the reason for the recent flare-up of tension and said that Baku was ready to address and resolve the long-standing conflict with Armenia. 

https://www.france24.com/en/europe/20200722-interview-adviser-to-azerbaijan-s-president-we-are-expecting-provocation-from-armenia-at-any-moment

Things are getting more and more heated between the two nations…..

The mid-July 2020 escalation on Armenia and Azerbaijan’s densely populated state border, which killed over a dozen people and sent women and children fleeing, should sound as a warning. Villagers on both sides of the 230km, trench-lined border have long lived in fear of clashes and landmines. Three decades after the 1992-1994 war over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh, children go to schools behind ever-thicker cement walls, farmers shun fertile but mine-riddled fields and young people seek their future elsewhere. International mediation efforts have largely ignored the border regions, focused on untangling disagreements over Nagorno-Karabakh itself. But July’s violence shows how critical it is to pay attention to the safety of more than 150,000 civilians living there. Yerevan and Baku should keep channels open to find mutually beneficial ways to cooperate along the border. The shooting should not stop them from exploring collaboration on narrow initiatives to allow children to attend school, farmers to harvest crops, herders to put livestock to pasture, and water to flow to taps and fields.

For both sides, the potential cost in lives and property of violence is higher along the border than in other areas. Neither side has a clear military advantage in the border zone. Military positions and front-line trenches are so close in places that residents can shout to soldiers on the other side. The border is at the crossroads of the three post-Soviet states of the South Caucasus – Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. As such, it is criss-crossed by key roads, railways and pipelines pumping natural resources from Russia to the region or from Azerbaijan and the Caspian Sea to Europe. Both sides not only have an interest in avoiding disruptions to this infrastructure but also stand to benefit from repurposing and repairing sundered cross-border Soviet-era water supply networks

https://www.crisisgroup.org/europe-central-asia/caucasus/nagorno-karabakh-conflict/259-preventing-bloody-harvest-armenia-azerbaijan-state-border

I still believe that this region holds the key to a wider war……another region is the Pakistan/India/China in the Himalayas…..

I will be watching!

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2020 Nevada Caucuses Results

It is a Sunday and the FYI portion of IST today will be the vote in Nevada……

Saturday the campaign for the Dem candidates came to a head in Nevada….and the results are mostly in and the results are….

In Nevada, it was no contest. Bernie Sanders cruised to an easy win, with the AP and the major networks calling the race as soon as the very first precincts reported. Those early results, here via Politico, showed why:

  • Sanders, 54%
  • Joe Biden, 18%
  • Elizabeth Warren, 10%
  • Pete Buttigieg, 8%
  • Tom Steyer, 6%
  • Amy Klobuchar, 2%

The win for Sanders follows his victory in New Hampshire and his virtual tie in Iowa, thus giving him clear front-runner bragging rights. Biden, meanwhile, declared himself back in the 2020 race after disappointing results in the earlier states. “We’re alive and we’re coming back and we’re gonna win,” he told supporters. Michael Bloomberg was not on the ballot.

This should be a beacon for the media…..those people that do not do well in a diverse electorate will soon be history….

If they are not out now then South Carolina should be the end of a couple of campaigns…..

Questions!  I have questions.

Will there be any surprises on Super Tuesday, 03 March?

Will Biden’s firewall hold?

Will Bernie breeze through to the nomination?

Where the Hell is Bloomberg?

Not to worry there is yet another debate soon and South Carolina looms…..25 February ahead of the vote……

Onward!

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The Iowa Clusterf*ck

Appears that the total chaos in Iowa is coming to an end….the numbers are in (sort of)……..

Clouded by doubts on a chaotic day-after, the Iowa Democratic Party began releasing partial results of the state’s first-in-the-nation presidential caucus on Tuesday, the AP reports. The data, made public for the first time nearly 24 hours after voting concluded, reflected the results of 62% of precincts in the state. While campaigns were eager to spin the results to their advantage, there was little immediate indication that the incomplete results eased the confusion and concern that loomed over the opening contest of the Democrats 2020 presidential primary season. It was unclear when Iowa’s full results would be released. CNN currently has Pete Buttigieg with 26.9% of state delegates, Bernie Sanders with 25.1%, Elizabeth Warren with 18.3%, Joe Biden with 15.6%, and Amy Klobuchar with 12.6%; everyone else is at 1.1% or lower.

During a private conference call with campaigns earlier in the day, state party chairman Troy Price declined to answer pointed questions about the specific timeline—even whether it would be a matter of days or weeks. “We have been working day and night to make sure these results are accurate,” Price said at a subsequent press conference. The leading candidates pressed on in next-up New Hampshire, which votes in just seven days, as billionaire Democrat Michael Bloomberg sensed opportunity, vowing to double his already massive advertising campaign and expand his sprawling staff focused on a series of delegate-rich states voting next month.

The big news was not the voting…..but the future for the first in the nation vote……

If you thought people were fed up with Iowa’s first-in-the-nation voting status before Monday night’s chaos, it’s nothing compared to the sentiment surfacing Tuesday morning. Examples:

  • The overview: “Iowa’s outsize role has faced attacks for decades, along with periodic failed attempts by other states to take the first-in-the-nation slot,” notes Steve Kornacki of NBC and MSNBC. “But criticism has been louder than ever this past year, and now those critics may have the ammunition they need to kill it.”
  • A prediction: From here on out, “Iowa won’t go first,” writes Tim Alberta at Politico. “It can’t go first. Not anymore.” At best, it might keep some “ceremonial capacity” in the early stages of the nominating season, but “Monday night will go down as the self-inflicted knockout punch, and with it, the end of a political era.” He adds that the state’s refusal to use a simpler voting method is one reason it has become a political “punch line.”
  • RIP, I: Responding to a tweet praising esteemed Iowa political journalist David Yepsen for predicting this mess, Yepsen himself replied, “Sorry I was right. RIP caucuses.” Later he added, “This will probably be the last caucus we’ll have to worry about.”
  • RIP, II: The headline of a piece by Eric Levitz at New York has a similar sentiment: “R.I.P. the ‘First-In-the-Nation’ Iowa Caucuses (1972-2020).” The influence of Iowa’s “wildly anti-democratic” nominating process has always been “indefensible,” but not even its biggest critics “dreamed it would subject the country to something like this,” Levitz writes. He’s skeptical Iowa will be able to recover from the damage.
  • Shaky ground: “Iowa has found itself—more this year than ever—in the position of defending its perch,” write Matt Flegenheimer and Sydney Ember in the New York Times. “Why should a state so disproportionately white take such a leading role, especially for a Democratic Party that prides itself on its diversity? Why is a hodgepodge of gatherings in school gymnasiums the pinnacle of American democracy?” Now, the state’s “precarious standing” just took another hit.
  • In defense: The state’s GOP senators, Charles Grassley and Joni Ernst, are standing up for Iowa, saying its caucus system “encourages a grassroots nominating process that empowers everyday Americans,” per a statement cited in the Washington Post. Its first-in-the-nation status “has the full backing of President Trump,” they added. “We look forward to Iowa carrying on its bipartisan legacy of service in the presidential nominating process.” But fellow Sen. Richard Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois and the Senate minority whip, said Tuesday the caucus system is no longer practical for modern voters. “I think the Democratic caucus in Iowa is a quirky, quaint tradition that should come to an end,” he said on MSNBC.

My thought is close them all down and go to a national primary….all this silliness and news coverage would be one day….possibly two….

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

2020 Vote–Iowa

The first official vote of the 2020 election……

Let us begin with the GOP vote for it will be the easiest to report…..

President Trump held a rally in Des Moines last week, though the outcome of Monday’s Republican caucus in Iowa was never in doubt. In contrast to the Democratic caucus, where results were delayed by “inconsistencies,” it took just seconds for Trump to become the projected winner, the Week reports. The president, who came second to Ted Cruz in the state last time around, won with around 97% of the vote, Politico reports. Former Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh, whose campaign manager complained that his supporters were being turned away from precincts, had 1.4%, and former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld had 1.2%. “Big WIN for us in Iowa tonight. Thank you!” Trump tweeted.

Now for the long awaited Dem vote…..

Democrats were in disarray Monday night after the Iowa caucus results were delayed due to what officials said were “inconsistencies” in the results. Sources tell the Hill that results from the first-in-the-nation vote are not expected until Tuesday morning. Mandy McClure, communications director for the Iowa Democratic Party, said the delay was due to the fact that for the first time, the party is reporting three sets of results—the first round, the second round, and the overall delegate numbers, the Des Moines Register reports. She said inconsistencies were found in the three data sets. “This is simply a reporting issue, the app did not go down and this is not a hack or an intrusion,” McClure said.

The counting is on-going….but nothing official as of yet……

With angry candidates, a confused public, and a gloating Trump campaign, the Democratic Party’s effort to recapture the White House is not off to the most promising start. Hours after the Iowa caucuses ended Monday night, with candidates and the public eager for news, party officials said results were delayed due to “inconsistencies” in the results from precincts. At around 1am, Troy Price, the chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party, said the results would not be available until later Tuesday, the New York Times reports. Some of the candidates had already made their speeches and departed for New Hampshire. More:

  • Campaigns left in the dark. Campaigns complained they had been told “literally nothing” by party officials about the reasons for the delay, the Hill reports. A lawyer for Joe Biden’s campaign wrote to state party officials Monday night calling for the results to be withheld until they provide “explanations and relevant information regarding the methods of quality control.” Sources tell the Times that party officials hung up on campaign reps who wanted to know when the results would be available.
  • An app to blame? The problem appears to have been a mobile app for reporting results from Iowa’s 1,700 caucus meetings, the AP reports. Caucus organizers say there were multiple glitches with the app—which was apparently largely untested—and when they tried to phone in the results to party headquarters, there was nobody answering. In some cases, reporting results took hours. The Biden campaign lawyer said both the app and the reporting hotline experienced “acute failures.”

Big change, big problems. This was the first—and probably last—time the party tried to report data from the first and second “alignments” of caucusgoers as well as delegate totals. Party rep Mandy McClure said officials had to verify data after they “found inconsistencies in the reporting of three sets of results.” “In addition to the tech systems being used to tabulate results, we are also using photos of results and a paper trail to validate that all results match and ensure that we have confidence and accuracy in the numbers we report,” she said.

What can I say…..this drama is very telling about the confusion this election will breed.

I do enjoy political games…..

Winners to be announced soon…..

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Iowa–So It Begins–2020

The voting will begin for the Dem nominee in Iowa…..the first primary/caucus of the election cycle for 2020.

Since it is not a go to the polls and cast your vote…then what the Hell is a caucus?

The political world is waiting with bated breath to see who will win next week’s Iowa Democratic caucuses. But there’s another surprisingly murky question: How will we even decide who wins?

The problem is that there will be three results coming in after Iowa voters gather on the evening of Monday, February 3.

One will be for something called “state delegate equivalents” — this is the number previously used to determine the winner of the Iowa Democratic caucuses, something I’ll explain more in a bit. But the Iowa Democratic Party will also be tallying and reporting two other sets of numbers: how many actual people voted for each candidate in a given caucus — first an initial tally, then a final tally taken after lower-performing candidates are eliminated.

At the very least, this could be confusing. What if, for example, Sen. Bernie Sanders wins more votes but former Vice President Joe Biden wins more state delegate equivalents? It could make determining who “won” quite difficult.

https://www.vox.com/2020/1/30/21083701/iowa-caucuses-results-delegates-math

The only thing besides being the first in the nation is that the Iowa vote seldom picks the ultimate winner…..so why is it so damn important?

Iowa voters aren’t going to pick the country’s next president. But they will eliminate several possibilities.

The rap on the state, which begins the balloting with its Feb. 3 caucuses, is that it is too small and rural to speak for the rest of America.

However, the state’s impact is undeniable.

In the last seven contested races for the Democratic nomination, five candidates went on to become the Democratic nominee after winning Iowa. Three winners of the New Hampshire primary, which traditionally follows soon after, went on to claim the nomination.

That is because the main function of the early states is to cull the field of hopefuls, separating the also-rans from candidates with a real shot at success.

No two campaigns are alike. But the past could provide some clues to what happens next.

https://www.latimes.com/projects/will-2020-iowa-caucus-pick-the-next-president/

There is your answer….it is to cull the candidates before the rest of the country gets to hear their ideas and policies….another rigging of the system.

It is also a well of cash for the media and that is the most important thing….not who is the best candidate.

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I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Primaries And Caucasus–Why?

This week will be a busy week…..the vote in Iowa, the impeachment trial and the State of the Union…..busy, busy, busy!

The 2020 election is on….let the sham begin!

This is #1 in a series that I will post on the process of picking a candidate and president….

It is finally here…..the 2020 campaign and primaries season….that political theater that does little but help the media make billions in ad dollars and the media has a way to drive the conversation and help pick the candidate.

Personally, I think the whole system needs to be put down the toilet where they belong.

This is no way to pick the nominee.

Let’s start at the top: Our system for choosing presidential nominees makes little sense. As Brookings Institution senior fellow Elaine Kamarck wrote recently, “There are many different ways to organize a presidential nominating system and almost all of them are more rational and orderly than the hodgepodge of systems that voters experience today.”

To start, Iowa and New Hampshire go first simply because they do, even though they are wildly unrepresentative of the nation as a whole. They’re smaller, way more white and way more rural, and, in the case of Iowa, more evangelical, with a side of bizarre special-interest politics in the form of the ethanol lobby. Yet they shake up the race, thinning the herd before most of the country has a chance to vote.

https://www.usnews.com/news/the-report/articles/2016-02-19/americas-primary-elections-are-broken

Really!  These primaries are worthless and boring….only the media loves them….below was from 2004….

If you’re Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe — who has reportedly told all the contenders that if they’re not winning by March 10, they need to drop out of the race — this is good news. The sooner Democrats agree on a nominee, the sooner they can prepare for the general election. It’s also not troubling if you’re a voter in New Hampshire or Iowa, because you will have helped select the party’s candidate.

But if you’re a voter in California, New York or any of the 10 states that vote in the “Super Tuesday” primaries March 2, it’s a different story. You’re going to have a very limited choice — many candidates will already have dropped out of the race, and the front-runner will probably have so many delegates and so much momentum that no one can catch up.

https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2004-feb-15-oe-panagopoulos15-story.html

I have rattled on for long enough….how many know exactly what the primary system is all about (a show of hands please)……

A little history is a good thing……these things are not provided for in the Constitution……but yet here they are…..

The presidential primaries are one of the most important elements of the American constitutional order. Given that general elections give voters just two starkly opposed choices, it’s largely through the primaries that nuance enters the political process. Parties define themselves by whom they select to run for president, and the ideological alignments that result end up defining the contours of political conflict.

And yet, despite primaries’ central role, nothing about them is laid out in the Constitution.

In fact, the framers didn’t envision American politics taking the form of two-party competition, so they gave no thought to how parties would select their candidates.

This, in turn, is part of what makes the primaries so fascinating. While the Constitution itself is incredibly difficult to change, party nominating rules and state laws are much more flexible.

https://www.vox.com/a/presidential-primaries-2016-republican-democrat/presidential-primaries-explained

Now you have the history…..now what I would rather see….

I would like t see the primary system abolished…it is only a beauty contest and a way for the media to rape dollars out of the system.  But if we must have them then go to regional primaries or better yet a National Primary.

The idea that candidates build name recognition in Iowa and New Hampshire and then slowly build momentum as the process moves on is a quaint one but largely mythological. Since Jimmy Carter in 1976, has any candidate emerged as a major party nominee who wasn’t an early front-runner and well-heeled? Certainly, the nominees in the past several cycles have all been early front runners.

A national primary in, say, March, with a run-off in, say, June, would be much preferable to the way we do it now. If a candidate got 50% of the vote, he’d be the nominee. If not, the top two candidates would run against one another for another six to eight weeks.

That would force everyone to engage in retail politics on the issues rather than hanging around Merrimack Restaurant with the locals. And it would virtually guarantee substantive campaigning would continue into the early summer since only shoo-ins such as sitting presidents would likely capture a majority in a multi-candidate race.

YouGov’s latest research shows that most Americans (54%) think that presidential campaigns are too long and drawn out. Only 23% of Americans say that they prefer a long campaign which gives them a better chance of getting to know the candidates.

Currently the primary and caucus season stretches out over months, with the first Iowa caucuses scheduled to take place in January 2016. This has been criticized for giving small states such as Iowa and New Hampshire undue influence as well as prolonging the already lengthy presidential election campaign. Most Americans (54%) want the primaries to all take place on the same day in May or early June. Only 22% of Americans want the current system to continue.

A single national primary day is particularly popular in the Northeast, where 64% of people want to consolidate all the days. The midwest has the highest proportion of people (25%) wanting to continue with the current system where primaries and caucuses are spread out over several months…….https://today.yougov.com/topics/politics/articles-reports/2015/03/05/primaries

I made my thoughts known….anyone else feel like they have a better thought or opinion…if so please jump in here…..

I Read, I Wrote, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

International Update–2018

There are so many things happening in the world that it is difficult to write about it all….so IST tries to do an update when events out run the time we have to post…..

The Horn of Africa is always a busy place and an important spot to keep an eye on…..

Ethiopia and Eritrea have set aside their long standing animosities….and are trying to work together…..I wrote about some of this before……

https://lobotero.com/2018/07/11/ethiopia-a-rising-star/

There is more about this situation……

Ever since Ethiopiaannounced in early June that it will fully accept the terms of a 2000 peace agreement with neighbouring Eritrea, the pace of normalisation of relations between the two countries has been truly stunning.

First, a high-level Eritrean delegation made a visit to Addis Ababa on June 26 and kickstarted the talks on ending the decades-long conflict. Only a couple of weeks later, Ethiopia’s reformist new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed made a landmark visit to Asmara and met the Eritrean president face-to-face. 

https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/eritreans-happy-peace-wary-afwerki-promises-180709094420940.html

Eritrea has pulled troops back from its heavily militarised border with Ethiopia as a “gesture of reconciliation”, the pro-government Eritrean Press agency said on its Facebook page.

There was no immediate confirmation from the government in Asmara, but the move would be consistent with rapidly improving ties between the Horn of Africa neighbours, whose 1998 war killed tens of thousands and led to two decades of military stalemate.

(reuters)

For a couple of years I have been watching the situation developing in the Caucuses……

https://lobotero.com/2016/05/16/regional-conflict-brewing-in-azerbaijan-armenia/

https://lobotero.com/2018/06/05/between-the-two-seas/

Hostilities run deep in this region and are ever threatening conflict in the making……

Azerbaijan has sharpened its threats of war against Armenia in an apparent attempt to ratchet up tension over Nagorno-Karabakh, the territory that both sides claim.

Verbal threats toward Armenia are nothing new for Azerbaijan, a state for which the phrase “bellicose rhetoric” has become something of a journalistic cliché. But Baku’s rhetoric in the past has tended to couch military threats in the conditional tense, a last resort if diplomatic negotiations fail. Increasingly, however, the military option is being portrayed as the only one.

“The developments unfolding in the world confirm that the international law does not work,” Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev tweeted on June 28. “If it did, Azerbaijani lands would have been freed from the invaders long ago.”

https://lobelog.com/azerbaijans-saber-rattling-grows-louder/

And then there is Syria and yes it is still a complete mess……

Sen. Lindsay Graham, a prominent Republican voice on national security and international policy, spoke out last week during a visit to the Middle East warning Turkey against further military involvement in the Syrian civil war. After meeting with Turkish President Erdogan, Sen. Graham cautioned the NATO ally—“You don’t want any further incursions in Syria by the Turkish military, you’ll get yourself in a quagmire.”

In a world filled with hyperbole, political spin, and fake news, it is rare to hear such an accurate and evidence-based statement as this. The civil war in Syria, raging for more than half a decade, has been a sterling example of a ‘quagmire’ in the geopolitical context since its inception. Even before the fighting started, Syria was one of the most complicated and volatile states in the Middle East.

https://www.realcleardefense.com/articles/2018/07/17/yes_syria_is_still_a_mess_113614.html

That is the round-up…..I hope you guys find it informative.