Thursday, August 27, 2015

HP Board Member Defends Carly Fiorina's Tenure

An HP insider, Tom Perkins, from the VC powerhouse Kleiner Perkins, defended Carly Fiorina in the New York Times today:

I was on the Compaq Board during the HP-Compaq merger and remained a member of the new HP Board once the merger was complete. Both companies knew that we needed something dramatic to inject life back into our companies. The merger, while controversial, was unanimously approved by every member of the HP Board and won approval from shareholders. Thanks to Carly’s leadership there was a path forward for this storied but troubled company.

Critics questioned the move, but history proves Carly was right. Post merger, HP became the biggest computer company in the world. It positioned HP to compete in integrated systems and allowed us to compete in sectors beyond the core strength of the company, printers.

Carly was hired at HP because it was struggling. Revenues were down, quarterly earnings were missed, innovation lagged and growth stagnated. HP, once the leader in Silicon Valley, was clinging to the status quo and failing to embrace the new tech era. Silicon Valley companies were prospering by taking advantage of the new technologies; HP was stubbornly clinging to the past. HP needed a change agent and someone who could return the company to its glory days. Carly was the right choice.

The results of Carly’s transformational leadership? HP revenues doubled to more than $80 billion, innovation tripled to 15 patents per day, the growth rate more than quadrupled 6.5 percent and we grew to become the 11th largest company in the country. Carly did what she was brought in to do: turn the company around make it successful again. Not only did she save the company from the dire straits it was in, she laid the foundation for HP’s future growth.

Critics often claim was fired at HP because she was unsuccessful. As a member of the board, I can tell you this is not true. In truth, it was the Board I was a part of that was ineffective and dysfunctional. The HP board of directors included family members of the founders. Carly worked with the hand she was dealt as best as one could. While Carly fought to save the company and the employees within, some board members fought for their own power or advancement. You see, some board members wanted to micro-manage the company, hand picking friends and allies to run divisions. This is no way to run a global company and Carly had the strength of character and courage of conviction to stand up to it and ultimately she lost her job because of it.

While lesser leaders would have accepted offers of transition plans and graceful resignations, Carly would have none of that. Carly demanded to be fired. In order to restore peace to the board I voted to fire her. That was a mistake.

In the months and years after Carly left, the Board of Directors remained dysfunctional. The Board members who plotted Carly’s ouster eventually resigned after an embarrassing investigation by Congress.

I have no question that Carly is a transformational leader who uniquely has both vision and the expertise to implement it. We are in the middle of a heated election, and often facts and the truth get lost in the heat of partisan rhetoric. As someone who worked with and observed Carly first hand I can attest to her abilities, intellect and talent. I am proud to support Carly Fiorina for President of the United States.

Quinnipiac: What are the first words you think of when you think of Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump?

In the latest Quinnipiac poll of registered voters, they asked respondents about what was the first word that they thought of when they thought of Clinton and Donald.  The responses are pretty telling.  First here is Hillary's top 20 list:

And now the Donald:

Not surprisingly, a swear word makes it into Donald Trump's top 20.

We need a fighter like Carly Fiorina in the White House

She really is impressive.  Here is some of what she said last night on the Hugh Hewitt Show:

HH: Now let me ask the bigger question – China and its markets. Scott Walker this week called for President Obama to cancel the state visit of President Xi. Donald Trump said “No. Hold it, and negotiate it better.” What does Carly Fiorina say?

CF: Well look. First, I think we need to understand that China is undergoing a very difficult time. They’ve made a bargain with their people, and the bargain is we will grow this economy and lift millions of you out of poverty and in return, you’re going accept oppression, censorship, terrible safety standards, and killing pollution. And when that bargain begins to break down as it is when they can’t grow their economy, the government is under huge pressure. Now is the time for us to put pressure on them. And I would pressure on them in the follow way: I would be conducting big fly-overs right now in these disputed territories in the South China Sea. We cannot permit China to control those. I would be giving the Japanese and the Australians the technology they’ve asked for and make sure the Chinese know it. That the Australians and Japanese can join us in patrolling the South China Sea and that trade route to which five trillion dollars worth of goods and services flows every year. To guarantee that China cannot control that trade route. And I would keep the visit, and I would negotiate very hard on two issues: number one, you cannot our nation through cyberattacks with impunity. And number two, we will never permit you to control this trade route, and you need to stop building your military bases. Actually now is the time to put pressure on China when their economy is faltering.


HH: Alright, so that’s clear. Now that means Joe Biden is getting serious because I think the vice president sees what you and I see which is a torpedoed campaign that is sinking rather rapidly. Can you beat Joe Biden because he’s America’s favorite “crazy uncle?”

CF: Absolutely. Absolutely. Look, we should not be confused. Whoever their nominee is – crazy, gentle Joe Biden or Hilary Clinton – we have to have the nominee who’s going to fight. Who’s going to fight and throw every punch. I will. People are coming to learn that about me. It’s why it’s where I’ve been in the polls. Joe Biden is going to have to stand up and defend a terrible track record of the Obama administration. He is the heir to that legacy. He is the heir to every foreign policy failure. He is the heir to billions poor women and African-Americans falling into poverty. He is the heir to worsening income inequality. He is the heir to a terrible economic recovery – the worst ever. He is the legitimate heir to the Obama administration. Frankly, I look forward to that fight.

HH: Now I want to go back to South Korea because I discussed it with Donald Trump as well. He hints at withdrawing the twenty-eight thousand troops and reducing the military burden. I asked if South Korea and Japan ought to be encouraged to go nuclear to shoulder their burden. He didn’t really answer me. What do you think about that, Carly Fiorina?

CF: First of all, I disagree. We should not be withdrawing troops from South Korea. In fact, now is the time for us to be building up our military. We need to have the strongest military on the face of the planet. Everybody has to know it, so I actually would be leaving our forces in South Korea. I would be encouraging Japan – not to become a nuclear power – I don’t think we should be encouraging nuclear proliferation. It’s why the Iran deal is such a terrible deal as you and I have talked about and why we have to cut off the money flow to Iran which I will do. But, the point is, our Japanese and South Korean allies need to see leadership and support and resolve from us. We should not ever trust North Korea or the Chinese for that matter will not try and take advantage of the situation if we leave South Korea or Japan weakened. The truth is, there is a lot of technology that the Japanese, the South Koreans, the Filipinos, and the Australians are asking for from us to help them be more assertive in the region. To push back against China that is not a nuclear weapon. That that would be extremely helpful and I think we should be providing it.

HH: Last question, Carly Fiorina. Donald Trump has said that we cannot be the world’s policeman. Do you agree with that or disagree with that?

CF: We must be the world’s leader. We must the world’s leader. Only the United States of America can lead in this world. When we do not lead, the world is a very dangerous and a a very tragic place. When we do not lead, our allies lose courage. When we do not lead, our adversaries press forward.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Nate Silver explains why Donald Trump continues to do well in the polls

It's the media attention baby:

Earlier this month, I outlined Donald Trump’s “Six Stages of Doom” — the hurdles he’ll have to clear to win the Republican nomination. The first obstacle: Could Trump keep his polling numbers up when another storyline emerged that prevented him from monopolizing the news cycle? “For a variety of reasons, Trump isn’t affected much by negative media coverage — it may even help him,” I wrote. “But a lack of media coverage might be a different story.”
The share of news coverage devoted to Trump has been fairly steady over the past month. Steady and very high, at 50 percent to 60 percent of all coverage received by the GOP field. In other words, Trump is getting as much coverage as the rest of the Republican field combined. But Trump’s Google search traffic is often just as high, or higher.
What’s interesting is how Trump seemed to go out of his way after the debate to ensure that he’d remain the center of attention, with his tirade against Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly (a feud that he’s since resurrected). That tended to drown out most of the coverage of whether, say, Fiorina or Kasich had gained momentum after the debate, perhaps preventing them from having the sort of feedback loop of favorable attention that can sometimes trigger surges in the polls.

I don’t know whether this was a deliberate strategy on Trump’s behalf. But if so, it’s pretty brilliant. Trump is perhaps the world’s greatest troll, someone who is amazingly skilled at disrupting the conversation by any means necessary, including by drawing negative, tsk-tsking attention to himself. In the current, “free-for-all” phase of the campaign — when there are 17 candidates and you need only 20 percent or so of the vote to have the plurality in GOP polls — this may be a smart approach. If your goal is to stay at the center of attention rather than necessarily to win the nomination, it’s worth making one friend for every three enemies, provided that those friends tell some pollster that they’d hypothetically vote for you.

Carly Fiorina answers the "anchor baby" question much better than Cruz

Obviously, I wasn't a fan of Ted Cruz's answer with regards to birthright citizenship last night on the Megyn Kelly show.  I really preferred Carly Fiorina's answer much better on the same show a week prior (though granted, Megyn Kelly was on vacation at the time).  She answered it directly and you knew exactly where she stands on the 14th amendment (she probably talked about it since childhood as her father was the noted conservative jurist, Judge Sneed).


MACCALLUM: All right. So, now you have basically Donald Trump and Ben Carson sounding the same tune saying that it shouldn't happen, that people shouldn't cross the border, have a baby and then get the benefits of being in this country, that we should package up those families so we're not separating them and send them back where they came from. What do you say?

FIORINA: You know, what I have been saying for a long time now, long before Donald Trump declared his candidacy actually is that immigration is a festering problem that we talk about every election cycle and yet somehow it never gets fixed. First we need to secure the border. It takes money, it takes manpower, it takes technology but mostly apparently it takes leadership and political will power. And it is our job to secure our border because a nation that cannot secure its border cannot protect its sovereignty. Secondly, we need to fix the legal immigration system which has been broken for as long as the border has been insecure about 25 years. And by fixing the legal immigration system what I mean is that half the people who are here illegally came on a legal visa and overstayed it. We didn't know and we didn't do anything about it. We are handing out border crossing cards every day on the Mexican border which permits someone to come for one day and we never check to see if they go home. We don't have an employer verification system that works. It needs to be mandatory. We need to close down these sanctuary cities so they can't flout the law. All of that needs to happen and then we need to decide what should happen with those who have come here illegally and stayed here illegally. And in my view, they do not earn a pathway to citizenship. Perhaps someday they can earn some kind of legal status but they can't be citizens because there has to be consequence for people who have done it the right way. Take in the oath, learn our history.

MACCALLUM: Well, let me ask you this in terms of the anchor baby issue and the birthright that anyone who is born here becomes an American citizen, it's in the constitution. Is that something we should change in your opinion?

FIORINA: No. It is not. It is in our constitution, it has been in our constitution for a very long time. And actually, it would take a constitutional amendment to change it. And so once again what I find disturbing about this conversation a little bit is that we talk about things in election cycles but don't really talk about what it would take to get them done. It would take a constitutional amendment to get that done. And I think it is far more important now that we focus all of our political energy on doing what we haven't done in 25 years, securing the border and fixing the legal immigration system.

Jen Rubin actually had a nice way to describe Carly Fiorina's appeal, which I agree with:

Fiorina is the thinking man and woman’s outsider. She eschews harebrained ideas (e.g. rounding up illegal immigrants). She acknowledges anger but does not stoke it. 

Ted Cruz is just another smarmy politician

I've always liked Ted Cruz, he is the Republican who I agree with most on the issues.  He's free market, pro-life and for a measured foreign policy (less aggressive than Marco Rubio but more aggressive than Rand Paul).  Most importantly, he would stick to his ideals despite pressure from the establishment.  He may have made some tactical errors because of that but I couldn't help but admire him for his idealism.  He has been the candidate that I would have voted for if I didn't care at all about electability. 

Unfortunately, his interview last night with Megyn Kelly unmasked him as just  another smarmy politician.  One who thinks the Constitution is maleable, depending on the way the winds are blowing or what is politically advantageous, one who doesn't answer direct questions with direct answers.

When Megyn Kelly asked him about the 14th amendment and birthright citizenship, he said that "as a policy matter, it doesn't make sense anymore".  This struck me as the same answer you would get from a liberal with regards to the Right to Keep and Bear Arms after a school shooting. 

It seems to me that the text of the 14th amendment is pretty clear on birthright citizenship.  It says "all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside."  It is no less clear than "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

The funny thing is that Ted Cruz actually agrees with me or he used to before it became politically expedient to mirror Trump's views with the goal of getting his supporters when Trump blows up.  During the interview Megyn Kelly quoted Ted Cruz back to himself.  Here is what he said in 2011:

“The 14th Amendment provides for birthright citizenship. I’ve looked at the legal arguments against it, and I will tell you as a Supreme Court litigator, those arguments are not very good. As much as someone may dislike the policy of birthright citizenship, it’s in the U.S. Constitution. And I don’t like it when federal judges set aside the Constitution because their policy preferences are different.”

But of course that was before he was running for President and so didn't have to worry about his words offending another candidates supporters.  He really didn't have a good answer after Megyn Kelly brought out that quote, talking around it rather than explaining why he changed his mind like a normal, honest person would have.

Megyn Kelly then asked Cruz the same question Trump has been asked, whether he would deport with the parents two children of illegal immigrants that were technically citizens of the US.  He totally avoided answering that question as he attempted a typical maneuver of a politician, having his cake and eating it too.  Without being on record as saying he would deport them, he could pivot later and say he is against deporting children without technically flip-flopping while at the same time not saying anything that would offend the Trumpitistas and those that support Trump's immigration plan.  I don't like Trump for many reasons but at least he answers questions directly as he did this question when it was asked of him.

Last night it became clear that Ted Cruz is willing to do anything to become President, which is exactly the opposite of why I always had been fond of him.  If I wanted someone who would lie with a straight face and a smile and evade questions I would vote for a Bill Clinton or a John Edwards.  Looks like Ted Cruz came to Washington to change it but instead it changed him.

He also left me wondering what other constitutional provisions is he set to oppose for political expediency with the goal of gaining more power for himself?

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Carly is #3 in New Hampshire!

I know "we're number 3!" isn't much of a rallying cry but considering she was polling at 1% just a month ago, I'd say 10% is pretty good progress.  I know she is still well behind Trump but the good news is that she comes in second when people are asked who would your second choice be, only 1% behind Ben Carson.  So when the race consolidates she may be in a good position to gain votes from people who just lost their candidate.  Assuming of course she has a ground game but I have no idea how that is coming along.  I do admit I am disappointed with her website, there is really not much to do there but donate and get on their mailing lists.  Where's the store?  Or any state based co-ordination?  I'm assuming she was on a shoe-string budget until recently but still I'd like to see more there.

On Trumpmentum, I think people are going to grow tired of his meandering way of speaking where it's clear he hasn't thought through a lot of what he says.  We'll see what happens in the 2nd debate.  I bet the RNC wishes there were MORE debates this year as that would give Trump more chances to blow himself (up).

Monday, August 24, 2015

Why the Chinese Market Rose and is Now Collapsing

One word:  margin (h/t Business Insider)

Seriously this is crazy, margin amounts at a third of the Chinese peak helped crash the US market in both 2000 and 2008.  Note that in the case of Taiwan (which had margin amounts similar, but still lower than China does today), stocks were down over 60% from their margin fueled peak before they bottomed in 2001 and have yet to be higher than they were right before the Asian economic crisis.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Rubio, Kasich, Fiorina and Carson are doing the best in the battleground states in terms of net favorability

The Quinnipiac poll of battle ground states had some pretty interesting information in it.  Most notably, amongst registered voters of all political stripes, the top 4 names are the same in each of the states polled (Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania).  The four are Rubio, Kasich, Fiorina and Carson, who seem to run the gambit of the GOP, from moderate (Kasich) to establishment conservative (Rubio) and full-on Tea Party outsider (Carson).  And all of them have better numbers than both Clinton and Biden.

First, let's look at Florida:

Note that Trump is very near the bottom in a very key state.  He is beating Clinton in a head to head (43 vs. 41) but I think that is mainly because they actually hate her even more than they hate him!  Let's try not to make this a contest of which festering turd voters need to choose from, shall we?

And here is Ohio:

Not much of a shock that Kasich is on top here (though 17% of registered voters haven't heard of their own governor?).  Again, Trump is doing abysmally, even worse than Hillary (which is probably why she beats him here (43 vs. 38). 

And finally Pennsylvania:

Once again, the same four on top and Trump is way down at the bottom, losing to Hillary in a head to head 45 vs. 40).  Given the amount of negative press she has been getting recently, you'd think that Trump would be able to beat her at this point.

Also, I think we are at the point where we need to consider that Hillary might night be the nominee and Biden might be.  Unlike Hillary who has enormously negative net favorability in all three states, Biden is slightly positive, making him an even tougher target.  Having Trump, who is so disliked by the general population run against someone people are at least slightly positive on, will probably not end well for the GOP.  At this point it looks like Rubio, Kasich, Fiorina and Carson would be much better choices than Trump (though I don't think Carson is ready and Kasich might be too liberal for me) if we want to compete.

If the establishment decides to get fully behind Jeb, we could end up with Trump as the nominee

Public Policy Polling came out with a poll of North Carolina voters yesterday and interestingly they had some head to head matchups between GOP contenders (Trump vs. Bush, Trump vs. Carson, Trump vs. Rubio and Trump vs. Walker).  In all cases but one, the right coalesced behind the non-Trump candidate with Jeb Bush the only candidate losing to him.  Conventional wisdom is that once candidates start dropping out, Trump will no longer be the front runner, but what this poll suggests, the identity of the remaining candidate or candidates is important.  I listened to some of the things that Trump said at his NH town hall yesterday and I couldn't help but start to believe in him (and I'm definitely in the anti-Trump camp).  He says it all so matter of factly and is such a non-squishy politician that if you don't think things through you can easily get swept up by him. Jeb Bush, who is enormously disliked, is not the one to unseat Trump.  He is also about as exciting as toothpaste or a box of hair.

And one more thing, what is up with Rand Paul supporters in North Carolina?  They are the only non-Trump supporters who consistently back Donald Trump in head to head matchups in this poll (see the data tables below, click to enlarge).  That is pretty shocking considering he is probably the exact opposite of a libertarian, being a devout statist (it's hard to argue that having the government round up millions of people [including children] from their homes at the point of a gun is consistent with the idea of individual freedom).  You think the war on drugs was intrusive?  Wait until Donald Trump's war on immigrants.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Question to Hillary: Did you wipe the server? Hillary's Answer: What with a cloth or something?

Seriously, she is either completely senile or lying, either way, this is the best the Democrats can come up with?

Wow, people really hate Jeb

The new CNN national poll came out this morning and the topline results aren't terribly surprising, pretty similar to the Fox poll.  The biggest differences were that Jeb and Rubio were slightly higher but Carson and Cruz were slightly lower than in the Fox poll.  However, what stood out for me were the favorable/unfavorables for Jeb which are pretty much as bad as for Trump. 

That's kind of shocking that Jeb is so underwater.  Calling him mild mannered puts it, well, mildly.  And it's not like one demographic is just anti-Jeb, if you look at the detail, every group except for the elderly, conservatives and Republicans, pretty much hate him and those are really just mildly positive on him.

Men, women, whites, non-whites, those under 65, independents and moderates just basically hate him by wide margins.  I guess the question is, given he has the same favorables as Trump, how come Trump is doing so much better than he?  Probably because Trump is bold and has swagger and gets SOME people excited.  I don't think you can look at Jeb and get excited. About anything.  The only reason he does well against Hillary in head to head polls is probably because nobody likes her either.

Carly Fiorina, on the other hand, though relatively unknown seems to be pretty well liked by most demographics, except of course for liberals and democrats.  She even comes in even among non-whites, which would be great for a Republican.

I realize that 39% of Americans have never heard of her and once the opposition research starts in earnest, these numbers could change.  But so far the new negative stuff that I have seen isn't that big of a deal, it's really just meant to get people's underwear in a bunch on Twitter.  Michelle Bachmann (who was leading in the national polls for part of the summer of 2011) attacked Carly Fiorina for praising Muslims two weeks after 9/11.  If you read her speech, she praised muslim civilization between the years 800-1600, must be a Muslim Brotherhood sympathizer.  Then there was the things she said about vaccines, which basically boils down to her saying that kids should be kept out of school if they don't have certain vaccines but not others, that it should be based on the disease.  Hardly a vaccine truther.  And then of course is the video of her praising Hillary which was while she was a surrogate for McCain.  If you remember, she was a surrogate for McCain who was facing Obama and was probably trying to woo some bitter Hillary supporters over to McCain.  Even if that wasn't the case, do we really have to hate everyone who is a Democrat?  I'd have to reduce my film viewing and music listening by 80-90% if that is the case.  So all the recent stuff being dug up on her is really pretty lame.  That said, she will have to answer for her HP tenure and laying off 30,000 workers but I think if she can communicate a positive vision for what she will do to increase the job prospects for the people of this country, I think they may look past that.  After all, as President she can't exactly lay you off (unless you work for the Federal government of course but then you'd probably vote for the Democrat anyway).

Monday, August 17, 2015

Is Trump a more offensive version of Patrick Buchanan?

Trump just came out with his immigration plan the other day and at first I kind of liked it.  It starts out with the three core principles of his immigration reform:

1. A nation without borders is not a nation. There must be a wall across the southern border.
2. A nation without laws is not a nation. Laws passed in accordance with our Constitutional system of government must be enforced.
3. A nation that does not serve its own citizens is not a nation. Any immigration plan must improve jobs, wages and security for all Americans.
I can't really argue with that, but then in the "Putting American Workers First" section he takes a shot at legal immigration, including of skilled workers who come here on H1B visas.  This is where he loses me as well as all the other non-nativist GOP voters out there.  The problem with our immigration system is simple, we've made it very easy for the unskilled to come to this country and very hard for qualified people who follow rules.  Basically, it is completely backwards.  We should be making it harder for the unskilled to come in and much easier for doctors, lawyers and IT folks to come here.  A nation's ultimate resource is its people and the more smart, educated people we have here, the better.

According to the Census Bureau, many of these foreign born American have a higher labor participation rate than those born here and hence a lower poverty rate and drag on our finances:

It really just amazes me how Trump is trying to maximize the number of people he wants to offend.  He has gone from hispanics to women to all immigrants (13% of the population is foreign born) which brings his grand total to 65% of the population (I took into account double counting).  Does this sound like someone who is going to be winning any national elections to you?

Some interesting tidbits from the Fox News Poll of the GOP race

The latest Fox News national poll was interesting besides the headline number, though that was interesting in itself (it had Trump, Carson and Cruz in the top 3 spots, with Bush, Walker and Paul bleeding support). 

Some of the other questions they asked though really piqued my interest.  First, who did the best and who did the worst in the debates?  If you remember, Ben Carson and Marco Rubio were lauded for winning the primetime debate while Carly Fiorina won the happy hour debate.  Time has changed people's perceptions somewhat with Trump now getting the highest number of people saying he did the best (19%) but conversely also the highest number of people saying he did the worst (32%), which was a question not asked previously.  Kasich also seems to have snuck into the list of top performances with few people disliking him.  Conversely, Rand Paul is now viewed as being a disaster:

And here is the data on likeability.  Ben Carson and Marco Rubio both lead in net likeability ratings as a number view them as the most likeable candidate in the field and nobody thinks they are the least likeable.  Trump, on the other hand, has 16% calling him the most likeable and a whopping 37% calling him the least likeable, a number 4 times greater than that of Chris Christie, who in my opinion as a NJ resident is very unlikeable:

And finally, people were asked who was the most and least qualified to hold the office of President.  It's no surprise that Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton are near the top but it is a surprise that Marco Rubio is as well. Rubio, after all, is a first term Senator yet gets higher ratings on this question than another one term Senator, Ted Cruz as well as a sitting Governor with a record of getting things done, Scott Walker (people are just not into him I guess).  Note that 52% say Donald Trump is unqualified for the job, with 40% say he is not at all qualified.  The other political newcomers, Carson and Fiorina, only score in the high teens on the "not at all qualified" question.

So we'll see what happens.  Trump is leading but he has off the charts hate aimed at him from approximately 40-50% of the Republican electorate, that's pretty amazing.  When the field starts thinning out, he won't be leading for long. 

Friday, August 14, 2015

What next for Carly?

According to an interview with Jennifer Rubin, it's government reform:

She says next up will be a speech on government reform. For Fiorina, that’s where reform has to start. “There is no lack of good ideas. There are binders of good ideas at AEI, Cato and Heritage. The problem is they never get done.” It’s her willingness to root out government incompetence, corruption and waste — and her non-government background — that may be her best calling card with the base. Unlike Trump, however, she projects level-headedness, maturity and focus. And unlike the mogul’s real estate dealing, her background both in IT and in advisory roles on defense and intelligence turns out to be quite relevant. No wonder she is drawing huge crowds.
Of course I love the fact that she gave a shout out to my old employer, the Cato Institute, which certainly has tons of market-based ideas for governmental reform.

Awesome new Downfall video on Clinton's emails

Seriously funny (h/t Powerline):

How does Trump compare with other summer before election year front runners?

Harry Enten at 538 does a nice job pulling together the data from the summer front runners in Iowa going back to 1980, New Hampshire and national polls.  Let's see how Trump stacks up:

With an RCP average of 19.3% (down from the peak of 22%), he is in Dick Gephardt zone.  Which President was he again?  You really have to go to Bob Dole's 34% in 1996 for it to mean anything.

Now let's look at New Hampshire:

Trump has an RCP average of 24.5% (down from a peak of 25.3%) which I think is being skewed by one Gravis Marketing (who?) poll which gave him 32%.  Regardless, he is not even in Howard Dean territory and honestly seems to be doing the Dean Scream on a weekly basis.

Now let's look at the nationals:

With an RCP average of 22.5% (down from 24.3% at the peak) Trump at least finds himself at a place where historically someone was able to win.  Though obviously I don't remember a President Hart or Cuomo so take it all with a grain of salt.

This of course is not to say he has zero chance because he is leading now.   I'm sure if you that if you run the numbers, leading in the summer before the primaries gives you a better chance than being a candidate that is not leading.  It's just not even close to a done deal.  Thank goodness.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Why is Trump Leading? It's the Economy, Stupid

CNN came out with a poll of likely Iowa caucus goers yesterday which was pretty interesting as it asked about which issues were most important to them as well as how each candidate stacked up on those issues.  First, let's look at the voting preference results:

As you can see, Trump continues to lead, while Ben Carson seems to be benefiting nicely from his closing remarks at the primetime debate.  Scott Walker's support seems to be collapsing as he was polling around 20% just a month ago. 

Now the question is, why is Trump still leading?  He seems to have offended a filibuster proof majority of this country and didn't have a particularly good debate, in my opinion.  The answer is, he, by far, is the candidate that people trust the most to improve the economy:

That is a pretty ginormous lead compared to #2, Carly Fiorina and as long as people trust Trump so much on economic issues, he is likely to be a threat to get the nomination.  I know that technically we've been out of recession for the last 6 years but it certainly doesn't feel like it, it feels like a forever recession.   After all, median household income pretty much at the same level today as it was 25 years ago!  It's no wonder that economic issues are the most important issues for Iowa caucus goers when deciding on who to vote for:

Candidates really need to focus on the economy if they hope to overtake Trump and so far, I just don't feel that have, not with any depth.  Talking about reducing taxes to spur the economy is not enough.  That has been our mantra since 1980 and while it worked pretty well then, it's just not as important an issue now (note only 2% view it as the most important issue) because the tax rates themselves just aren't as high as they used to be.  Check out this data from the Tax Foundation in constant 2013 dollars.

Right now, in order to hit the 28% tax rate and you are married filing jointly, you have to make $143,432.  Back then, in 2013 dollars, you had to make just $56,284 to hit that rate.  And if you did make $143,432 you'd be paying a 49% tax rate.  So when Reagan got up there and hammered tax rates, it was effective.  I don't think it is as effective and has hit the point of diminishing returns.  Honestly, even my eyes glaze over when they start talking about cutting taxes, not because I don't want my taxes cut (who doesn't want more money) but because it is just not imaginative and not a big issue. 

I think in order to get voters to believe that you will actually do something about the economy, you really have to start talking about regulations, which are really stifling just about every industry in the country except for technology.  Trump has done a good job focusing on regulations and mentioned how there used to be bipartisan consensus around building a wall with Mexico but the environmental impact statements kept it from happening.  Tell people how specific regulations are keeping certain factories from opening or are destroying farming in Central California etc. 

Another economic issue that should probably be focused on is getting real jobs back into this country.  Trade deals that are not a net positive for this country should probably be walked away from or renegotiated.  We need to cut corporate tax rates so instead of companies moving to Ireland, they move here.  We need to have more skill oriented jobs and fewer McJobs which offer no permanence and really give you no skills.  Trump has been talking about all of these issues but I feel like the other folks have been talking more about their records or are just paying lip service to the economy.  I think if a candidate can convince people that they have a specific plan to get the economy going (that doesn't just involve cutting personal income taxes), they will do quite well.

I wanted to conclude with one more chart from the CNN poll which I found interesting.  They asked which candidate is most likely to change the way things work in Washington:

That is just a jaw dropping result.  44% of Republicans think Trump is mostly likely to change the way things work in Washington despite the fact we don't even know if he will be at all effective.  Congress doesn't exactly react well to bullying after all.  You would think someone who fought unions and death threats like Walker or someone who wants to cut 40% of the federal budget like Paul or someone would will charge any mountain in the name of small government like Cruz would do better. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

I love Kurt Schlichter's takedown of Trump supporters

You gotta read the whole thing, here is just a snippet:

There were plenty of other folks up on those stages who were better than Trump. There were plenty of people in the audience better than Trump. They were wearing shoes that would make better presidents than Trump.

But you Trumpsters don’t care. He’s not a serious candidate, even to you; he’s a mere receptacle carrying your anger and frustration. He deserves credit for forcing the issue of illegal immigration to the forefront – for a time. But because Trump cares nothing about illegal immigration – if you actually listened to what he says instead of luxuriating in how he makes you feel, you’d see he’s still foursquare in favor of amnesty – the debate didn’t focus on immigration. It focused on Trump – how Trump feels about himself, how he feels about people who ask him questions, and more about how he feels about himself.

If you are still for Trump, you’re a sucker. A fool. A mark taken by a political grifter who has cunningly exploited both your legitimate rage and your inability to respond to the myriad outrages the establishment has heaped upon you with anything but inarticulate anger.

Carly Fiorina Would Seek to Replace Boehner and McConnell If They Don't Produce Results

For those of you who think she is a shill for the establishment, check out this segment from her excellent interview with Hugh Hewitt:

HH: Now you and I, we know that part of the Donald’s appeal comes from people who are just angry at Washington, D.C. You and I went down to Kentucky to campaign for Mitch McConnell, because we wanted to get a Senate majority to get stuff done. And so we went to the heart of establishment Republicanism, and with Bobby Jindal, campaigned with the leader, and glad he won, and I think he’s a good man. What do you think of the anger that is directed at the leadership both in the senate, and especially Speaker Boehner?

CF: Well, I think the anger is completely understandable. The frustration is completely understandable. And I share that frustration, because people, to your point, Hugh, people worked incredibly hard, not just you and I, but tens of thousands of activists worked really hard to finally put us in a position where we not only had a historic majority in the House, but where we finally had a majority in the Senate. And change was promised, and people don’t see change. And so I think now, you know, it’s a leader’s job to produce results. And so I think the leadership in both the Senate and the House need to start producing results. 

HH: Or?

CF: Well, or if leaders don’t produce results, they need to step aside. And I’m prepared to give them a little time to produce results, but they need to produce them. And you know, we have this issue sitting in front right now. I mean, it started with the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection act, which was inexplicably pulled from the House floor way back in February. It shouldn’t have been. This is great politics as well as great policy. The majority of the American people support it. And now we have these Planned Parenthood videos, and I think what the Planned Parenthood videos represent is a window of opportunity to have a different conversation with the American people about the character of our nation. And so I hope the leadership will take advantage of this window of opportunity.

How does Trump's Boomlet Compare to Those from 2012

I know the media and Trump himself love to mention his lead in the polls, as if everyone forgot the roller-coaster ride of 2012.  Here is the current RCP average for 2016:

As you can see, Trump peaked at 24.3% and now is at 22.8% and appears to be rolling over.  Now let's look at the 2012 nomination race:

As you can see, there were lots of folks who had their turn to be in the lead in national polls but in the end fizzled out and all of them had  higher peaks than Trump.  Rick Perry peaked at 31.8% in September of 2011.  Herman 9-9-9 Cain peaked at 26% in October.  Then Newt peaked twice, once at 32.8% in December and again at 31.3% at the end of January (note that despite these peaks around the IA and NH primaries, he lost both).  Finally, the lowly Rick Santorum had his turn in February with 34.2%. 

Trump hardly has an insurmountable lead in the polls and very little of his support is actually committed to him.

Interesting tidbits from NH poll

Franklin Pierce/Boston Herald just came out with a NH poll which was interesting:

Trump is leading by a bit, followed by Jeb and surprisingly by Kasich and Cruz.  Kasich certainly showed more charisma at the debate than Jeb, I wonder if there is a chance that the establishment decides to go with him instead at some point?  Walker's support has completely collapsed and Paul's has also gone down dramatically.  Carly Fiorina had a nice jump and also looks like she has very high favorables with very few people hating her:

Carson, Fiorina, Kasich and Rubio all have very low very unfavorables.  Trump on the other hand has more people that hate him than love him, which I hope means he can't go up much further in the polls.  The following chart though really helps cement the idea not to trust any of these polls at this point, at least on voter preference:

Obviously Graham and Perry are outliers as they don't have much support to begin with and neither will likely be able to last until NH anyway.  The lesson though is that switching is highly likely between now and the NH primary so take all these numbers with a grain of salt.  Carly Fiorina looks like she should be especially focused on cementing her support following her little boomlet.  Honestly, if I was asked the same question I would also answer that I could change my mind.  It's still very early in the process and I think it is important for conservatives to back one candidate at some point so our vote doesn't get split and we don't end up with someone we just can't stomach at all.

Interesting Iowa Poll on the Caucuses and Who They Thought Won the Debates

Suffolk University came out with an interesting poll of likely Iowa voters on who they thought they would vote for in the caucuses and who they thought won the debates:

Trump still leads but Walker is within spitting distance and Carly is creeping up.  Jeb just ain't doing well and Rand Paul is doing incredibly bad and is probably getting desperate (he looked desperate during the debate as well).  Now on to who they thought won the afternoon debate:

No shocker that Carly clearly won but the margin is pretty amazing.  It's also telling that Rick Perry, who came in 2nd, has stopped paying his campaign staff.  The others should probably go too, after all if you can't beat Rick Perry in a debate, how are you ever going to win the nomination?  And now the primetime debate:

Marco Rubio and Ben Carson are essentially tied though I think Ben Carson only got there because of his prepared closing remarks rather than the actual debate.  I'm a bit surprised that Jeb is so low as I thought he did a decent enough job but if this is truly what people think, he's in trouble in Iowa and other areas as well.  It's kind of funny that the people who had one of the most memorable exchanges in the debate, Christie and Rand Paul both did horribly on this question.  I guess people don't like sniping as Marco Rubio and Ben Carson both had pretty positive showings.

Judging by this, I think we might get a few dropouts by the September debate or maybe soon after if they don't turn around their ship.

Did Carly Fiorina Betray Conservatism by Opposing the 2013 Shutdown?

Some on the right are calling Carly Fiorina a RINO for not supporting Ted Cruz during the 2013 shutdown.  Since she was not a Senator and hence we don't have a vote record for her, the evidence of her RINO-ness is an interview on CNN in which she said:

Everybody could see this train wreck coming. I actually feel badly for John Boehner. I think this is Ted Cruz and President Obama’s shutdown. I think Ted Cruz’s tactics were wrong. There’s no honor in charging a hill that you know you can’t take, only casualties, although Ted Cruz maybe got name recognition and money along the way. But President Obama wanted this shutdown. And Ted Cruz played right into his hands.
Is there anything wrong in this analysis of the 2013 attempt to defund Obamacare which resulted in a government shutdown?  It was pretty obvious to anyone with knowledge of basic arithmetic and civics that a bill to defund Obamacare would never pass.  Sure it could pass the GOP controlled House but never had a chance in the Dem controlled Senate.  And then let's not forget ye olde Presidential veto which would be almost impossible to override on such an issue (we're not even likely override it on that disastrous Iran deal which has bi-partisan opposition).  Even if every single Republican stood by Cruz, we would still have lost. Despite all of this, Ted Cruz led the charge to defund Obamacare anyway which led to a government shutdown because the House wouldn't pass a continuing resolution that didn't defund Obamacare.

A government shutdown was an obvious result and then it wasn't quite clear what the plan was to get the Democrats to cave.  So the government was shutdown, so what?  Obamacare was still, for the most part, funded due to much of it coming from mandatory, not discretionary spending.  Some government workers were furloughed, parks closed, big deal.  Cruz is no doubt brilliant but he didn't seem to think through the endgame very well.   And the Republicans were taking the blame in public opinion.  According to a CNN poll at the time, only 20% of people said that most Republican members of Congress deserved to be re-elected, compared to 42% of people saying most Democratic members of Congressed deserved re-election.  56% of respondents said the Republican Party was too extreme compared to only 42% saying the same about the Democrats.  Luckily, the shutdown was way before the 2014 election and voters forgot about it but at the time it was a complete disaster for the GOP.

Given all that, did Carly Fiorina say anything that was actually wrong?  The strategy had no hope, check.  It helped Cruz get a greater profile and probably money, check.  It helped Obama, check.  I don't remember anything about conservatism that requires you to follow a leader into certain doom, no matter how brilliant he may be.  Or to get a lobotomy so you don't question the popular kids.  I don't like thought police of any kind but I am especially disappointed when those thought police are people who claim to be for freedom and individuality.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Who is Taking Iowa Seriously?

I know I just posted the latest Iowa poll results, but just remember to take them all with a grain of salt.  A caucus takes hours of commitment which may not be captured correctly in a poll, hence you tend to get more upsets with them than with straight primaries.  Iowa voters tend to vote more for the folks that seem to take their state seriously so I thought I would post the candidate tracker from the Des Moines Register:

Looks like Rick Santorum is still trying to go with an IA strategy (though it didn't help him last time).  Perry, Jindal and Huckabee are also putting in quite a bit of time and maybe if they have enough funding could pull off an upset (imagine if that happens, considering 2 of the 3 were just at the kiddy table debate?).  Anyway, it's nice to see Carly Fiorina taking the state seriously, she will need to finish in the top 1 or 2 in IA, NH and/or SC to have a chance.  What's interesting is that Trump, Bush and Kasich are all basically MIA from the state.  Trump probably feels he can get enough attention through national media but Iowans really go for guys cooking them breakfast so he could be dooming himself.    Bush might be using that tried and true (false?) Florida strategy of Giuliani and the same might go for Rubio though I am not sure which state he can actually win (maybe South Carolina?).

Latest Iowa poll puts Carly Fiorina at 10%!

I know that Public Policy Polling is a Democratic outfit but as I remember, they generally had good numbers for the GOP primaries.  So I am pretty happy that Carly Fiorina is now at 10% in their latest Iowa poll, putting her in the running (though of course that will depend on her ground game, how many counties she visits etc.) especially with 11% putting her as their second choice (tied for the lead with Walker).  Another interesting metric is that if you look at Moderate Republicans they are breaking 21% for Trump and 15% for Jeb.  So if you are looking for a silver lining to Trump being in the race, he might be helping to keep Jeb from winning Iowa.

Face Facts: Trump Supporters are Often as Incoherent as He Is

Last night, instead of focusing on True Detective, I ended up getting into a bit of a flame war on Twitter with some Donald Trump supporters.  Oh my, those people have no clue and you really couldn't pin them down on anything.  Ask a simple question like "how do you know Trump will govern as a conservative?" and the responses you get are "do your homework", "you're not very bright are you" and "Trump/Cruz is the only hope for this country".  The last is would only be true if your hope is for a historic route of the Republican Party.  Even with his sky high GOP poll numbers and near 100% name recognition, Trump trails Hillary in election matchups by 15% according to RCP.  Cruz, who used to be though of as a bomb thrower but next to Trump looks calm and diplomatic, is behind Hillary by almost 8 points (though I'm not meaning this post to criticize Cruz, he is actually the Republican I agree most with, I just know I wouldn't be able to get elected either).  After all, I know that Trump wants to outdo Mitt Romney but I don't think that offending more than 47% of the population is the right goal to have.  Between his "blood" comments and his comments with regards to hispanics, he has offended at least 60% of the population.  Also you have to wonder whether in the minds of these people if a Cruz/Paul or Fiorina/Rubio ticket would mean the end of this country as we know it?

Another question is do Trump supporters have any idea who Trump really is or are they just so caught up in the cult of personality that they would kill Sharon Tate if he asked them to.  All the Trump supporters I was arguing with last night had "Jesus", "God" or "Christian" in their descriptions, which I find rather surprising.  Can you think of a GOP candidate who is more the opposite of what Jesus represents than Donald Trump?  He is foul-mouthed, thin-skinned, unforgiving and probably has committed adultery in every single one of his marriages multiple times.  He would never die for your sins given he won't even admit the ones he makes himself!  He's also said that he has never asked God for forgiveness

Also, every single person had the word "conservative" in their description as well.  Trump left the GOP in 1999 to join the Reform Party and did so poorly in their primary that he came in behind Pat Buchanan and John Hagelin, the meditation guru.  Did he go back to the Republican Party then?  Nope, he became a Democrat!  That means that he looked at people like Al Gore, John Kerry and Nancy Pelosi and thought, eh, they're a pretty good lot, I'm going with them.  He only became a Republican 5 years ago!  Other than building a giant wall with Mexico, can you be certain of anything that he will do?  My guess is that he would try to usurp as much power for the executive as possible, even more than Obama and then use government power to its limit.  Think Juan Peron with a horrible haircut.

Trump and his supporters really give the GOP a bad name.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Carly Fiorina at the Reagan Foundation

She was phenomenal at the Reagan Foundation.  I think she is the leader we've been waiting for:

Friday, August 7, 2015

A great extended interview with Carly Fiorina

I think I just officially became a Carly Fiorina supporter after listening to this great extended interview with her:

John Kasich's Great Answer on Gay Marriage

I'm not a huge fan of John Kasich (who got a D from the Cato Institute for his record as Governor, one point below O'Malley).  But he did have the best answer I've heard on gay marriage that I think all conservatives should internalize:

“The court has ruled, and I said we’ll accept it. And guess what, I just went to a wedding of a friend of mine who happens to be gay. Because somebody doesn’t think the way I do, doesn’t mean that I can’t care about them or can’t love them. So if one of my daughters happened to be that, of course I would love them and I would accept them. Because you know what? That’s what we’re taught when we have strong faith. . . . So, look, I’m going to love my daughters, I’m going to love them no matter what they do. Because, you know what, God gives me unconditional love. I’m going to give it to my family and my friends and the people around me.”

Carly Fiorina is on fire

Another great performance, this time on Morning Joe:

Carly Fiorina seems to leave Chris Matthews speechless

She is a pretty impressive, I would though want to see how she handles tougher questions about her record at HP (the layoffs and the fact that HP sucks):

My Review of the GOP Debates

I know it's been a while, but just as other people love sports, I love politics, and it's Presidential election season, so I'm back.  I watched the debates last night and the first thing I have to say is that we have a lot of qualified people running, much unlike last time.  One of the reasons I had supported Newt Gingrich in 2012 was that he was one of the few Republicans running who was both a conservative and could put two words together.  Remember Herman Cain and his 9-9-9 plan???  So embarrassing.  This time around, even George Pataki sounded credible and if it was last cycle, maybe he could have done something.  But we have 17 frigging candidates, giving each one between 5-10 minutes to speak, be heard and remembered. 

Unfortunately, Donald Trump is great at being heard and remembered.  I don't think Megyn Kelly's attempts to hurt his candidacy worked (btw, I was furious with her in 2012 when she did the same thing to Newt).  He basically said, yes I gave to the Democrats because I needed them for stuff.  Basically admitting to bribery but making it sound like the most practical thing in the world (probably because it is).  He's one of the few people that people who tuned in for the hell of it will remember and probably like (who doesn't hate Rosie O'Donnell).  Anyway, here is my review of the candidates from both debates yesterday.  In the end, I think the business people (Trump and Fiorina) without political experience won.  Maybe it's because successful business people are smarter than politicians.  Politicians have to smile and lie for a living, business people actually do have to do stuff and be creative in their problem solving. Anyway, here is my review of the candidates from last night:

Donald Trump:  Complete blow hard who probably makes up half the things he says (he gave to Hillary so she had to come to his wedding?) but people will probably still walk away feeling he is refreshingly honest.  I swear I will vomit over myself if I have to vote for him in 2016 (though I still will over any Democrat).

Carly Fiorina:  She really does speak well (and with passion!) and can take the heat.  She even seemed to impress Chris Matthews on MSNBC. I would like to see though her answer questions on national television about the layoffs at HP and why she was fired and how that plays.  Ironically, she's not a pussy like Mitt Romney but she could be painted as another cold, mean capitalist boss by the Democratic machine.  Also, does she have any ground game at all in Iowa or New Hampshire???

Jeb Bush:  God help me but I though he did a decent enough job last night.  I really hate the Bush family, especially HW and his pals like James Baker.  But I thought he came across as truly conservative last night as he highlighted his record as Governor.  Of course we know he won't govern that conservatively as President as he already said he won't tear up the Iran agreement and will be just as squishy and wimpy as his dad (and probably not terribly pro-Israel either).

Scott Walker:  I was definitely a Walker guy going into the debate, just based on his record as Governor.  And I think he did okay though I felt he didn't get much speaking time.  He was left trying to put in zingers right before commercial breaks.  He just looked physically small next to Trump.  Also, not allowing an abortion to save the life of the mother?  We can argue about the morality of that all day but is that really practical?  This might turn out to be his mulligan election cycle.

Marco Rubio:  He got a nice impassioned line about Hillary Clinton not being able to lecture him about living paycheck to paycheck but otherwise I thought he was just okay.  He will definitely benefit from when some of the other candidates drop out and he gets more of a platform.

Ted Cruz:  Cruz is the guy who I would vote for if I could vote for anyone and they would become President.  He aligns most closely with my views on just about everything.  But he was a disappointment, possibly due to all the hype about him being a debate champion.  I remember one segment where Trump lashed out against political correctness and then Cruz essentially said the same thing but just with a lot less passion and verve.  He looked like a 2nd or 3rd tier candidate which I know he is not.

Rand Paul:  He was kind of embarrassing much of the time and this is coming from someone who ran a Jews for Rand Paul website!  I stopped supporting him because I felt he was too sloppy and unserious to be the nominee for President.  He was so obviously trying to get some media attention by attacking Trump from the get go and it looked desperate.  And what the f*cking f*ck was that eye roll when Chris Christie was talking about 9/11 victims.  Yes I know Chris Christie was using them to make a political point but just out of respect don't eye roll when they are mentioned.  I watched the planes hit the towers and so that is just not f*cking okay.  Good luck getting support outside of stoner college students and neoconfederates.

Chris Christie:  He sounded pretty good after all, this kind of thing is what he is good at.  But between New Jersey's awful economic record and his own relatively liberal views, he isn't going anywhere.

John Kasich:  I remember when I worked at the Cato Institute when he was a Congressman, he sounded like one of us, now he kind of sounds like one of them, another big government Republican.  I thought his answer on gay marriage though was excellent and should be adopted by whomever the nominee is.

Ben Carson:  Just not polished enough.  He is a brilliant person who I definitely respect.  I loved the video of him giving Obama a lecture from 10 feet away, I don't think our fearless leader was used to that.  I'd rather he just have a talk show on Fox or something.

Mike Huckabee:  Speaking of talk shows, he should go back to his.  He had an interesting take on pro-life, using the 5th and 14th amendments but I don't see him doing terribly well outside the Santorum states.

Rick Santorum:  It is almost like he was defrosted after he was put into cryogenic freezing after the last election cycle.  It's basically the same old Rick.  He did surprisingly well in the weak field of 2012 but no way now.

Rick Perry:  The glasses make him look smarter but he needs to admit to himself that his Presidential ambitions are done for the following three reasons... Okay I'll stop.

Bobby Jindal:  I've been a Bobby Jindal fan for quite a long time, a smart young conservative policy wonk, what is not to like?  Unfortunately, he isn't even popular in his own state anymore so how is that going to play?

Lindsey Graham:  He should stay in the Senate making out with John McCain while whispering sweet nothing about boots on the ground in Syria to each other.

George Pataki:  As I mentioned above, he probably would have done better last cycle, he is just lost in a sea or riches.  He sounded credible enough though.  I think that is all I have to say about him.

Jim Gilmore:  Just like Pataki he is credible enough but I just don't see him catching fire.  Plus even though I am a political junkie I kept thinking he was the Republican from Virginia who got in trouble for the macaca comment (it was George Allen). I'm probably not the only one.