Friday, October 30, 2015

Thoughts post-CNBC Debate

I finally got a chance to watch the debate yesterday and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Yes, the CNBC moderators were awful and basically a bunch of liberal a$$holes (seriously Harwood reminded me of a high school teacher who was an obtuse, anal prick that hated you for being smarter than him), the candidates themselves seemed so much better than in previous outings.  They realize that time is running out and so they all brought their A game (or as A as they could).  I think Rubio and Cruz really dazzled and clearly won the debates, with Rubio probably gaining many of JEB's supporters.  Anyway, here are my candidate-by-candidate comments

Marco Rubio - He really came prepared, he knew what he would be attacked with and had answered prepared.  I loved that he had examples of Democratic Senators who missed votes when the panel attacked him and then had McCain in his back pocket for when JEB tried to wallow in there.  He spoke really well, could make witty comments on the fly and didn't make any stupid water comments.

Ted Cruz- He did an amazing job.  Even though he is of about the same age as Rubio, he just seems more mature for some reason.  I loved his attack on the panel for asking idiotic questions.  I also had the feeling that he is trying to get Rand Paul's supporters for when he drops out, which is inevitable at this point.  Note that he mentioned that he co-sponsored Rand Paul's Audit the Fed bill, says he wants a currency backed by gold ("ideally") and even referenced Colorado brownies.  Gold bugs and hippies/college students make up probably 90% of Rand Paul's support at this point.

Donald Trump - One thing the CNBC debate proved is that he isn't a buffoon, he is a smart guy who learns from his mistakes.  He came across as quite a bit more Presidential this time around, which is a major improvement.  I think he is in it to win it.

Ben Carson - Just so out of his element.  I now he is a brilliant surgeon and everything but he really did come across as not being able to do simple math.  The segments on his tax plan were downright painful.

Carly Fiorina - I think that with everyone else stepping up their game while she was always at the top of hers, her relative strength has diminished.  She is a great speaker who, like Rubio, handles herself excellently on the fly (when they asked her about Tom Perkins' comments, her answer was  short, quick and completely ended any chance for a follow up).  With Rubio and Cruz shining so brightly right now, I don't know if there is a path to victory for her anymore.

Chris Christie - He really had a great night, I just wish he were a conservative.  He was smart, witty and made a lot of sense when he talked.  But he is still the a$$hole who hugged Obama and probably helped cost Romney the election.

John Kasich - I know people kept commenting that he was yelling too much but I thought he generally came across well, like when he was commenting on how most of the other candidates' plans were just pure fantasy.  Most of the others just don't know what it takes to make massive overhauls of the Federal government and you have to admit, Kasich is really the only one on that stage who does.

Mike Huckabee - Every time the camera went to him, I thought, "oh yeah, I forgot he was still running."  I did though love his answer when the panel tried to get him to attack Trump, he pointed out that Trump would be better than any Democrat.  Which is true.

JEB - Boy he really sucked.  He kind of came across as the Republican Al Gore, just so uncomfortable in his own skin that he will be taking alpha male lessons from Naomi Wolf.  Plus, he really should have thought through his suggestion that Marco Rubio should resign his seat.  We have four sitting Senators running for the nomination and I'm sure they have all missed votes, should they all resign?  It makes no friggin sense.  Just give up already and endorse Marco.

Rand Paul - He actually did pretty well, focusing on his most Republican friendly positions.  He also looked happier than he has at one of these debates.  Too bad its too late.  It's definitely time for him to drop out and endorse Cruz.

So those are my thoughts.  At this point I am having an internal debate on whether to support Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz.  Marco Rubio seems conservative enough and has broader appeal but I agree with Ted Cruz on well, just about everything. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Yes folks, Donald Trump can win the nomination

Like many armchair quarterbacks, I have been completely dismissive of Trump and his chances to get nominated.  Almost every time I would look at a poll I would just gloss over his and Ben Carson's numbers to look at who was leading the candidates who I thought had a real chance at the nomination.  I'm starting to change my mind on that.  First, he really gave a good interview to Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday:

I felt most of his answers were reasonable and had a common sense quality.  When asked about eminent domain he gave a great answer that will almost immediately shut up his critics on the right who are yelling "Kelo!" at him.  He said the Keystone Pipeline, which has become such a conservative cause, couldn't be built without eminent domain.  That answer is simply a great way to get someone on the right stammering and shows that maybe he does hire smart people (I doubt he came up with that himself).  He also talked about all of our lost jobs and the fact that we are defending other countries while they are raping us blind.  I can't really argue with that one and as poll after poll has indicated, people care most about economic issues and jobs.  Trump is clearly learning and is improving himself before our eyes and I think if he continues as common sense Trump instead of bombastic insulting Trump, he will get some of those who said they would never vote for him (myself included) to vote for him.

And although we have more than 3 months to go, I think his poll numbers do mean something.  I know that many Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina voters have yet to make up their mind and the thinking is that Trump can lose support quickly, a Monmouth poll of New Hampshire primary voters shows that he has some of the most solid support of any candidate (the establishment candidates actually have the most squishy support).

Only Ted Cruz and Rand Paul have numbers that are higher but the fact that Trump is able to have such a firm commitment from his supporters while also being the leader (unlike Cruz and Paul who are far from leading and are essentially niche candidates as of today) bodes well for his chances.  As does the fact that he leads in Iowa as well. 

Now imagine what happens if he wins Iowa AND New Hampshire?  Success in the nomination process is very path dependent and just one result in an early state can significantly shift momentum.  Take a look at the national polling chart from 2012:

Santorum was just a blip on the screen and Newt was in a dead heat with Romney until Iowa, and then boom!  Santorum  gained massive momentum and Newt crashed.  Then with the South Carolina primary you saw Newt once again climb in the polls until his loss in Florida.  If Trump is able to win the first two, I think it will be hard to reverse his momentum and keep him from winning it all unless he completely screws up the ground game in the March 1 primary states (but then again he would have the wind at his back from previous victories and has a fanatical following so that might not matter as much).

And if you don't believe me, believe Pat Buchanan.  You don't have to agree with him to respect him as an astute political observer.  And he thinks Trump has a very solid chance of taking it. 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Winter on Fire

So I watched the Netflix documentary Winter on Fire which is about the Ukrainian uprising against their Putin-allied government last year.  There is some seriously intense footage, some of the best I've ever seen in a documentary.  Also, I found it very interesting how little the opposition politicians had to do with the protests, the documentary makes them look like idiot stooges who are completely clueless.  Here is a trailer, if you have Netflix, be sure to watch it.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

When will the friggin idiotic out of touch schmuck candidates (who are not Trump) start talking about fixing our broken friggin economy

As you can tell, I might be losing it a little.  The latest CNN polls in Nevada and South Carolina really pissed me off as I want Trump to just go away already and not even be close to having a legitimate shot of being the nominee much less President.

First, take a look at this chart from the Nevada poll about who GOP voters think will do best on economic issues:

And it's Trump by a huge landslide.  67% is so high that even people that HATE him with a passion and would never vote for him think that he is better than all the other candidates.  That is pretty pathetic.  And guess what, what issue is most important for voters?  Why it's the economy.

This is not just a Nevada problem but I've seen it in other polls.  Similar results came out of the South Carolina poll which also showed that Trump is leading.  Here are the results to the question about who will best handle the economy from the SC poll:

Again, this number is so high that people who HATE Trump still feel he is best for the economy.  And now here is the ranking of what issues are most important to the voters in SC:

I really, really don't like Trump but you have to hand it to him, he knows what the people want to hear.  They want to hear about how people are going to fix the economy and he actually does talk about it and in a way that resonates.  People want manufacturing jobs to come back to this country and he basically says he will strong arm corporations to make them come back instead of shipping jobs off to Mexico.  What do we hear from the others?  Well, the guy right behind Trump keeps making stupid remarks about not wanting Muslims to be President and how Jews could have stopped the holocaust if there was less gun control.  Who the f*ck cares???  This guy is supposed to be a genius?

And then the other people are just always so vague and never hit the nail on the head.  Even my favorite, Carly Fiorina, tends to talk about foreign policy, abortion and "challenging the status quo".  Give me a f*cking break, that is not moving the needle as you can see by the fact that her poll numbers have stagnated, if not fallen.  She's a goddamn high-level businessperson, one who was in charge of a multinational corporation that operates in just about every country including some we aren't supposed to be in.  Why isn't she being specific like Trump about how she will get jobs back.  She's smarter than him and has more appropriate experience for this (Trump's idea of job creation is to hire a bunch of illegals to build buildings for him).  If I hear about her challenging the status quo again, I will hurl.

And the others, enough with the f*cking tax plans, regulation cuts, Obamacare, talks of ISIS, Iran, illegal immigration and abortion.  Certain special interest groups (and political junkies like me) care about what you say about these issues but do you think someone who works at Target does?  Or someone who just lost their job because of Target or Ford or whoever?  Of course, you will need elements of tax and regulation reform to help fix the economy but you just can't lead with that.  That is about as sexy as Hillary Clinton in a mumu.

Seriously, I think Trump just read one of Pat Buchanan's books and decided to just say what he was saying in a more entertaining way and it's working wonderfully.  He is mopping the floor with all those with better brains, better temperaments and better resumes for public office.  It's like everyone else is an automaton who was programmed with a certain schpeel and they will just keep spouting it until they run out of money and drop out.  Cruz will change Washington and the GOP.  Rubio will give grand speeches about his humble upringing and foreign policy.  Fiorina will talk about challenging the status quo.  Rand Paul will talk about pot, isolationism and prison sentences.  Jeb will say I am not my brother but I'm a Bush so I have the money and connections so na na na na na na.  etc.etc..

And one last thing before I close my somewhat incoherent rant.  When I say talk about the broken economy, I don't mean talking about how bad it is, WE ALL KNOW HOW BAD IT IS.  Solutions people, with actual details.  Not white papers that have been so focus grouped that all you have are broad generalities (like Scott Walker's).

Seriously, if you guys (and gal) don't get your sh*t together on this one and Trump ends up as our nominee then you all seriously suck.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Carly Fiorina is the only outsider on the Koch Brothers' short list

Some very good news for Carly, she really needs the Koch Brothers to have a chance.  Of course she doesn't actually have the Koch Brothers now, she just has a chance of getting them:

Carly Fiorina has officially made the short-list of 2016 favorites of the Koch Brothers' powerful political network, solidifying her standing in the Republican fundraising race.

The Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce -- which funds the sprawling constellation of conservative groups -- confirmed Wednesday it is now blessing Fiorina as one of its five candidates. It previously also backed Scott Walker before he dropped out last month.

"Governor Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina and Senators Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio are leading a thoughtful and substantive discussion on the issues and we look forward to hearing more about their vision for the country," said James Davis, a Freedom Partners spokesman.

I know there are some weirdos and Trump supporters (but I repeat myself), who view the Koch's as part of the establishment and/or RINO's.  Speaking as a former Charles G. Koch Summer Fellow (this was an amazing internship program for conservative/libertarian college students) and former Cato Institute employee (Cato is a leading free market think tank that the Koch's helped start in the 1970's and which they are still heavily involved with), I can say they are true believers.  They are the Ted Cruz of donors.  I know Jeb Bush is on their shortlist but my guess is that is a hedge in case he wins thanks to all the establishment support.  The Koch's are independent of the RNC but I don't think they would sit out 2016, even if a squishy moderate is nominated.

Anyway I am keeping my fingers crossed the the Koch Brothers and someone like Sheldon Adelson choose Carly.  She really needs the help, both financially and on the ground.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Donald Trump is Actually Your Drunk Neighbor

Friggin hilarious (h/t Powerline):

Ted Cruz Does a Great Job Cross-Examining the Sierra Club

They really don't like answering simple questions do they?:

The Coming Cruz Catharsis?

I've said before that of all the candidates running, Ted Cruz is the closest to me in terms of what I believe, pretty close to 100%.  I just never supported him because I didn't think he could win the nomination nor the Presidency.  I really think we need to win in 2016 and some valiant charge straight up the hill in the name of conservatism isn't something that I think we should be doing (he's essentially a smarter pro-Israel version Pat Buchanan).  But there were a couple of articles which just came out that he might at least have a good chance to win the nomination at least.  First from Eliana Johnson at National Review:

With strong support in Iowa and South Carolina, Cruz has a path through the early states; both his campaign and his super PAC are flush with cash; and he’s a skilled politician who doesn’t slip up much on the campaign trail or in debates. But unlike Cruz himself, his strategy is not head-turning but simple, steady, even creeping.

“He’s not readily considered a first-tier candidate, but if you look at the critical ways to evaluate whether a candidate is strong or not, he should be a first-tier candidate,” says GOP strategist Matt Mackowiak.

By all accounts, Cruz is positioned to succeed in Iowa, which has been friendly to conservative candidates in years past. The Real Clear Politics polling average has him tied for third place with Carly Fiorina, and he has a solid ground game in place. “Our trajectory has been slow and steady upward,” says Bryan English, Cruz’s political director in the state. “I’ve just been kind of curious, okay, when are people going to start paying attention to what we’re doing and that we’re positioned to do very well in Iowa.”

With strong support in Iowa and South Carolina, Cruz has a path through the early states; both his campaign and his super PAC are flush with cash; and he’s a skilled politician who doesn’t slip up much on the campaign trail or in debates. But unlike Cruz himself, his strategy is not head-turning but simple, steady, even creeping. “He’s not readily considered a first-tier candidate, but if you look at the critical ways to evaluate whether a candidate is strong or not, he should be a first-tier candidate,” says GOP strategist Matt Mackowiak. By all accounts, Cruz is positioned to succeed in Iowa, which has been friendly to conservative candidates in years past. The Real Clear Politics polling average has him tied for third place with Carly Fiorina, and he has a solid ground game in place. “Our trajectory has been slow and steady upward,” says Bryan English, Cruz’s political director in the state. “I’ve just been kind of curious, okay, when are people going to start paying attention to what we’re doing and that we’re positioned to do very well in Iowa.”

And then this from the dreaded New York Times:

Senator Ted Cruz of Texas got an early start to the 2016 presidential campaign in March by being the first of what would become a vast field to announce his candidacy. Now, he has turned that starting advantage into a sprawling ground game.

For every county in the first four voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada, the Cruz campaign has locked down county chairs in charge of not just lending their names to the campaign, but of spearheading outreach and organizing efforts.

“The only way we will turn our country around is through a grass-roots uprising of the American people, and I’m grateful for the many courageous conservatives in the early states who have stepped forward to lead that grass-roots movement,” Mr. Cruz said in a statement on Tuesday.

Just as Romney had been working for years on his 2012 race, it sounds like Cruz has been doing the same with his 2016 race, so this should be fun to watch. If he wins Iowa he will probably knock at least half the field out of the race. But honestly, it would take a lot for me to get behind him. A Cruz Presidency would be a dream but unfortunately dreams aren't reality and he needs to make huge inroads with minorities, women and independents to win and I don't think he is the guy to do that. But then again, it's not like I am a power broker so maybe I should just say screw it and go for the guy I believe in?

Monday, October 5, 2015

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Citizen Carly

Watch this fascinating documentary on Carly Fiorina. There are lots of interview and testimonials which really tell you in great detail about what happened to Carly at HP and beyond:

Friday, October 2, 2015

Why are libertarians supporting Trump?

I've found it quite weird that there are a lot of libertarian types who seem to be pro-Trump, who is probably the most authoritarian candidate by far.  Whether it is his proposal to forcibly evict 11 million people from their homes or replace Obamacare with Obamacare, Trump's solutions to problems is always some sort of government program and often involves force.  Anyway, my former colleague at Cato (a long long long time ago), Jerry Taylor, has a great answer:

The secret of Trump’s appeal to Paul’s base is that a large segment of the “Ron Paul Revolution” leavened its libertarianism with a pony keg of crazy. Birthers, 9/11 Truthers, a wide assortment of conspiracy theorists (many of whom believe the Federal Reserve to be a modern manifestation of the Illuminati), and naked racists rivaled the number of reasonably sober libertarian-ish voters among the faithful. Trump won their hearts by throwing even more crazy into the mix and stirring up a white, working class populism last given political life by George Wallace. Paul let these voters down because he was disinclined to offer the distasteful dog whistles that his father traded for extremist support, much less the louder, baser appeals that are Trump’s stock-in-trade.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

A reminder of why establishment politicians have an advantage

Politico has a very interesting story about what's going on in Illinois, which is a great reminder of how much work and organization you need to become President and why the establishment candidates have such an advantage.  There are a lot of state and local politicians that you need the help of and you don't just magically get delegates or ballot access.  This is how JEB could still be our nominee, due to pure arcane procedures that only career politicians can be a master of:

IL GOP PARTY CHAIR HAS NO TRUMP CONTACTS: Illinois Republican Party Chairman Tim Schneider, who is remaining neutral, tells POLITICO that while potential delegates for Bush, Kasich and Rubio have called the state’s GOP HQ raising their hands for those campaigns. “I can’t tell you we know right now, who to contact if someone wants to be a Trump delegate … I’m not sure the Trump campaign understands the complexity of having delegates in every congressional district.” Petitions start circulating Oct. 3 and candidates have until January to get them in.

Mitt Romney “basically sealed the nomination in Illinois last time,” Brady, then GOP chair, contends. Rick Santorum, who was leading polls at the time, didn’t make it on the ballot in more conservative Illinois districts that would have supported him, Brady says.

‘REAL CONTENDERS’ UP AND RUNNING: In some states, getting on the ballot is a breeze. “Not in Illinois -- probably because somebody is making money off the petition printing contract,” Brady said. “It is a brutal process here. Anybody who’s a real contender has to have an operation up and running now.”

Netanyahu's Powerful Moment at the UN Speech

Watch Netanyahu glare at the UN for celebrating the Iran deal.  Really, wow:

You can watch the entire thing below:

No, Donald Trump isn't going to Win Wisoconsin

With his usual over the top brash style, Trump is bragging about how he is on top of the latest poll in Wisconsin.  But is he really?  Are the polls actually showing that he would win the primary on April 5th?  Most of the candidates included in the poll will have dropped out by then (my guess is Trump will be one of them and I think he should take Dan Henninger's advice and drop out now while he is ahead) so it's important to look at both first and second choices.  Yes, Trump is leading in terms of number of people who say he is their first choice, but almost nobody views him as their second choice.  His base is pretty much his ceiling.

Based on this poll I think it is far more likely for Rubio or Fiorina (if she is able to fundraise and build an organization in the next 3 months) to win the state than Trump (I don't think Carson has staying power either).

Fiorina on how she would deal with Putin

Check out Fiorina's comments from last night's Hannity.  She really continues to be impressive, no wonder she is beating Rubio in Florida in the latest poll there: