Sunday, November 22, 2015

I really don't get why people think Trump is electable

This is from the latest ABC News/Washington Post national poll:

Seriously, do 38% of GOP voters have brain tumors?  How can they view Trump as the one with the best chance of winning?  He knows almost nothing about the issues and offends great swaths of the population. 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Friday, November 20, 2015

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Do we really want to get bogged down in another Middle Eastern country?

I just don't get it, what's the rush to have America send ground troops into Syria?  It used to just be kooks like Lindsey Graham and John McCain who wanted that sort of thing but now we have JEB getting in on the action (I don't know why imitating Lindsey Graham is supposed to improve his poll standing).  Given that France is all in a huff after the attacks on Paris, why do we let them spend their treasure and risk the lives of their citizens instead of involving ourselves?  They have 219 combat aircraft and 406 tanks, that seems adequate to take on ISIS.  And if not, they can spend more on the military.  Enough of the US being the world's policeman.  Look if we wanted to level Raqqa, the capital of the Caliphate, I wouldn't really mind.  We can probably do it in a short amount of time.  What I am against is another one of these open ended quagmires when we have bigger fish to fry, like Iran and China.  We have a limited amount of treasure and a world that is going straight to hell, so we really need to make choices.  Budget cuts have made it so we can't run two wars concurrently, so let's pick very, very carefully.

And screw JEB.  Just what we need, another Bush doing a horrible job in managing a middle eastern war.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Guess what? Mexico has a strict illegal immigration policy

People just love trying to paint anybody who is anti-illegal immigration as racist and anti-latino.  Well I guess then that Mexico is one giant anti-latino country.  This is an older article from Michelle Malkin but still true today:

  • The Mexican government will bar foreigners if they upset “the equilibrium of the national demographics.” How’s that for racial and ethnic profiling?
  • If outsiders do not enhance the country’s “economic or national interests” or are “not found to be physically or mentally healthy,” they are not welcome. Neither are those who show “contempt against national sovereignty or security.” They must not be economic burdens on society and must have clean criminal histories. Those seeking to obtain Mexican citizenship must show a birth certificate, provide a bank statement proving economic independence, pass an exam, and prove they can provide their own health care.
  • Illegal entry into the country is equivalent to a felony punishable by two years’ imprisonment. Document fraud is subject to fine and imprisonment; so is alien marriage fraud. Evading deportation is a serious crime; illegal re-entry after deportation is punishable by ten years’ imprisonment. Foreigners may be kicked out of the country without due process and the endless bites at the litigation apple that illegal aliens are afforded in our country (see, for example, President Obama’s illegal-alien aunt — a fugitive from deportation for eight years who is awaiting a second decision on her previously rejected asylum claim).
  • Law-enforcement officials at all levels — by national mandate — must cooperate to enforce immigration laws, including illegal-alien arrests and deportations. The Mexican military is also required to assist in immigration-enforcement operations. Native-born Mexicans are empowered to make citizens’ arrests of illegal aliens and turn them in to authorities.
  • Ready to show your papers? Mexico’s National Catalog of Foreigners tracks all outside tourists and foreign nationals. A National Population Registry tracks and verifies the identity of every member of the population, who must carry a citizens’ identity card. Visitors who do not possess proper documents and identification are subject to arrest as illegal aliens.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Israel has until the end of the year to bomb Iran, after which it may be too late

Looks like the S-300 missiles will be delivered by the Russians soon.  Once they become operational, it will be much harder for Israel to launch an airstrike.:

Iran will receive the bulk of the S-300 air defence missile systems it ordered from Russia by the end of the year, Tehran's defence minister has said.

"We signed a contract with Russia. It is being done. We will acquire a large portion of the systems by the end of this year," Hossein Dehghan told state television late Tuesday.

He said Iranian troops were being trained in Russia to operate the surface-to-air missile systems.

This week, the state-run Russian Technologies corporation (Rostec) announced the signing of a delivery contract in Tehran for S-300 missiles.

Thoughts on the Fox Business GOP Debate

I just finished watching the whole thing and I think objectively Ted Cruz is the winner (though I won't blame you for not believing me as I run a Jews for Ted Cruz blog).  So was Fox Business, which ran a much more respectful debate than CNBC (I liked Neil Cavuto's dig at CNBC at the end).  Anyway, here are my candidate by candidate thoughts:

Ted Cruz - As I mentioned, he was the winner.  He clearly had a good handle on all the issues and is a principled conservative.  I like that he took over the gold issue which should take some votes from Rand Paul (Ted Cruz is basically running as a non-kooky Rand Paul who doesn't have extreme views on foreign policy).  He also was able to hit Marco Rubio on sugar subsidies without actually mentioning his name.  And finally, by mentioning JFK as being a President from the past that has had great economic policies, he makes himself look less like an extremist and should help start the flow of moderates and independents to him (though obviously he has a lot more work to do).  When was the last time the Democrats have mentioned a Republican President from the last 60 years that they have liked?

Marco Rubio - He was very knowledgeable on foreign policy and I liked his comment about us needing more welders than philosophers (though I think he should instead say we need more welders than burger flippers as the move from manufacturing to service jobs is what has destroyed the working class of this country). But I think Rand Paul and Ted Cruz were able to make Marco Rubio sound less conservative that I think he would like.  That said, he probably will be taking votes from Kasich and JEB after this debate so will probably have an increase in the polls.

Carly Fiorina - She really is an American version of Margaret Thatcher.  I just really wish she had some sort of ground game so other than getting periodic boosts from polls, I just don't think she will be able to go very far.  I have to say though she would make a wonderful Secretary of State!

Rand Paul - His best debate so far.  He was able to make substantive attacks on Rubio which made Rubio sound like just another politician who likes handouts.  Of course though, his night wasn't perfect as he confused Iraq with Syria repeatedly in an extended answer.  Maybe he will get a bump or maybe the gold bugs behind him will defect to Ted Cruz who has a better chance and doesn't sound as kooky.

JEB -  Much better delivery than normal.  He sounded experienced and reasonable. He pretty much screwed himself though by not shaking Marco Rubio's hand during the break as that is really the only thing people are talking about in relation to his performance.  I do want him to drop out but I like him in the race as he is splitting the moderate/establishment vote.  If we have more moderates than conservatives running, it increases the chance that a real conservative will win the nomination.  That is probably the only way Reagan was able to triumph in 1980.

Donald Trump - His schtick is getting a little long in the tooth and he looked like an idiot in talking about TPP and China for so long only to get corrected by Rand Paul that China isn't a party to that treaty.  But I did like that he said that any of the candidates' tax plans would be better than what he has now as he finally sounded like more of a team player and less of a narcissist.

Ben Carson - Started out really strong with his comments on his past and the minimum wage.  Really good stuff that would have broad appeal.  But then I started to lose the ability to follow his responses.  He's a smarter Herman Cain but still is a Herman Cain.

John Kasich - As someone else mentioned, he is Jon Huntsman with a social disorder.  His angry interruptions were just too much.  Also, his attempt to sound reasonable and practical in his policy proposals was torpedoed by his talk about picking which depositors get their money back from a bank failure (first, we have FDIC insuring deposits so I dont even know the point of his argument and then to say that the government should decide which individual depositors should be bailed out was nonsensical and asking for trouble).

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

JEB's SuperPAC is going to attack Rubio from the left on abortion and Iran, are they out of their minds?

In the New York Times there is a story of how JEB's cronies in one of his affiliated SuperPACs are going to buy ads attacking Rubio from the left:

Right to Rise held focus groups in New Hampshire shortly after the Oct. 28 Republican debate, in which, among other things, the participants were quizzed about Mr. Rubio’s missed votes on two Republican priorities: cutting federal funding for Planned Parenthood, which carries out abortions, and blocking President Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran. The responses suggested that both could provide potent lines of attack.

In an attempt to blunt Mr. Rubio’s appeal and showcase a potential vulnerability against the Democratic nominee in the general election, Mr. Murphy recently showed some Republicans a video portraying Mr. Rubio as too extreme on abortion. A longtime opponent of abortion rights, Mr. Rubio said in a debate in August that he had “never advocated” laws that would allow abortions, even in cases of rape or incest.

Mr. Murphy has privately said to several people that Right to Rise would be ready to devote up to $20 million to fighting Mr. Rubio, according to several people told of the conversations. Asked about the figure, Mr. Murphy declined to comment.
They are going to spend $20m making the same arguments that Democrats are going to make against Rubio, is that really a way to win a Republican primary?  And does JEB want to be associated with an attack on Rubio's position on the Iran treaty?  Arguably the worst agreement this country has ever signed?

This won't help JEB, it will absolutely DOOM him.

Monday, November 9, 2015

The more people learn about JEB the less they like him

From the latest McClatchy-Marist poll:

Yup, Jeb can fix it, he's fixed his campaign real good.

The IRS is facilitating identity theft

This is just unbelievable.  The IRS has a policy of not telling taxpayers that someone else is using their social security number as a way to protect illegal aliens.  They even say that the social securities are not stolen, but are "borrowed".  We need to take back our country already:

Recent evidence of the administration’s fealty to these principles comes from two sources. The investigative unit of the Indianapolis NBC affiliate (suggested motto: “Doing the job national media won’t do”) reports that “the IRS is a knowing accomplice to millions of cases of identity theft while keeping victims in the dark.” Here’s their summary:

Findings of the 13 Investigates report include:

  • The IRS accepts millions of tax returns – and issues tax refunds – even when taxpayer documents show clear warning signs of identity theft
  • Confidential IRS policies instruct IRS employees not to tell taxpayers when someone else uses their social security number to earn income 
  • The IRS allows illegal immigrants to “borrow” social security numbers that do not legally belong to them 
  • The IRS is discontinuing a program to notify taxpayers when their social security number is used by someone else to gain employment

My favorite part is that even though the IRS knows someone is using your social security number illegally, they still go after you for under-reporting your income due to the W-2's with the stolen numbers.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Ted Cruz for President

I've been wrestling with whom to support for a while now.  I really liked Carly Fiorina after the first two debates but I really don't have confidence that she has a ground game in Iowa and New Hampshire to do much in those states and hence the election.  I hope whoever wins makes her our Secretary of State.

I was really gravitating towards Rubio but something about him doesn't sit right and it's not the immigration thing.  I don't demand 100% adherence to what I believe in and everyone gets a mulligan.  I just can't call someone with a 93% lifetime rating from the Club for Growth a RINO.  I think if elected, he would be the most conservative/libertarian President we have had for a long time, probably since Calvin Coolidge.  Probably.  Which comes to the reason I just can't bring myself to back him.  I don't see how someone can "accidentally" charge $16,000 of personal expenses onto a Republican Party credit card.  I can see handing someone the wrong card once or twice but this was done a great many times and obviously with the knowledge he shouldn't be doing it.  I guess he felt he "deserved" it, and I have a problem with people who think they are entitled to things that aren't theirs.

Another reason I don't trust Rubio is that he seems to be in the pocket of Norman Braman, a Florida billionaire, who is really enmeshed in Rubio's life and personal finances.  I'm sick of the corruption in Washington, DC and I don't really feel like sending another corrupt politician there.

Which brings me to Ted Cruz.  There is no other politician that comes closer to my political views than Ted Cruz, I've said that repeatedly.  I was always concerned that after all the battles on the Senate floor and government shutdowns, he was just too hated to be President.  I'm not so sure.  According to the latest Quinnipiac national poll, 33% of registered voters say they never even heard of him.  This means that he gets a chance to introduce himself to a vast swath of the electorate and if he continues with how he was going at the last debate, more and more people will like him.  He's even one of the few Republicans with positive net favorability among registered voters.  I also think that his bombthrowing at the Republican establishment will appeal to independents as they won't think that he is beholden to the same old crooks.  I also think he needs to do more interviews like the one with Jake Tapper where he seemed very genuine when he talked about his half-sister, who died of a drug overdose:

Less anger and more empathy will probably go a long way for Ted Cruz and get a true conservative/libertarian into the White House.

Finally, I think that this country is crumbling around us and we need someone who will do radical things in office to right the ship, because radical things are necessary.  Ted Cruz is one of the few candidates who won't be a business-as-usual Republican (Rand Paul also is in this category but he is too whacky and isolationist to even have a chance at election). 

So I will keep my fingers crossed for Ted Cruz, the primary calendar seems to be stacked in his favor and he could have quite a bit of momentum after the March 1 primaries in the South.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Sorry 538, Blue State GOP Voters Don't Choose Our Candidate

David Wasserman at 538 had an interesting article on how blue state Republican voters are essentially over-represented in GOP convention delegate counts.  The reason is that many states allocate based on congressional district so that whether you have a lot of Republican voters or a little, your district will be getting the same number of delegates.  The thinking goes that the reason we end up with Presidential candidates who are to the left of the rest of the party and especially the Congressional delegation is because of this over-representation.

While the fact that blue state GOP voters are over-represented seems like it is most definitely true, that doesn't mean that they have an outsized impact on the result of the nomination process.  It would be true if we had a national primary with every state going to the polls at once, but we don't we have that, we have a sequential process.  Because of that, there is a certain amount of path dependence.  In other words, sure you might be the perfect candidate for delegate heavy NY and CA, but if you don't survive the few few primaries and caucuses, you'll never get there and those voters will never get to even get to choose to vote for you.  I know because I live in blue NJ and there isn't even a competitive race once it gets to me.

Most nominating contests are decided before April and sometimes much earlier (note that by this point 1,539 out of the 2,472 [or 62%] delegates would be chosen), so I decided to use only the contests from February and March to see how many delegates come from red states and how many from blue. In this case, I defined a red state as one that went to Romney in 2012 and a blue one was one that went to Obama.  What I got was that 586 out of the 1,539 delegates come from blue states and 953 delegates come from red states.  So by April 1, only 38% of the delegates will have come from blue states.

But even that analysis is probably overstating blue state influence mainly because many states aren't blue or red but are purple swing states.  You just can't equate Iowa, where Obama won with 52% of the vote, to New York, where he won with 63%.  So for any state where either Obama or Romney won it with 52% or less of the vote, I dubbed to be a purple state.  In that analysis, 289 of the delegates chosen before April are from blue states, 369 are from purple and 881 are from red states.  So blue state GOP voters are only 18.8% of that total.  And importantly, none of the states with contests in the month of February, IA, NH, SC and NV are blue and it will be almost impossible for any candidate who can't win in those states to make it to states like New York and California.  And it doesn't get any easier after that really.  There will be 624 delegates chosen on March 1, 479 of which will be from deep red states such as Texas and Alabama.  Only 96 delegates on that date will be in blue states like Massachusetts and Vermont.  Unless a blue state wunderkind can win in IA or NH, they will face a very hard slog through the end of March.


Here is a handy dandy chart with cumulative delegate counts by red state vs. blue vs. purple

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Wow, people really hate JEB

In the latest Quinnipiac poll, not only is JEB only getting 4% support but he is heavily underwater in terms of net favorability:

And compare that to the last Quinnipiac poll in September:

JEB went from -7 to -33 in the same month making him much more hated than even Mr. Polarization himself, Donald Trump.    Even among just Republicans he went from a respectable +35 to -3.  Looks like the more people get to know him, the less they like him!  Seriously, he needs to drop out, even he said that he has better things to do.

I also think it is interesting that Ted Cruz is now above water among registered voters, going from -10 to +3.  Maybe he does have a chance?  I certainly would prefer him to Rubio, I keep wanting to like Rubio but then I found out something about him I don't like making me think he is just another sloppy politician (unlike Cruz who is just incredibly high quality).

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

McJobs are hazardous to your health

According to recent research, while mortality is decreasing across western countries and also within US hispanics, middle aged whites (aged 45-54) have actually seen a rise in mortality in terms of deaths per 100,000 people.

What's causing it?  Poisonings, suicides and chronic liver diseases (some due to excessive drinking).

The worst part is, this increase in mortality is concentrated mainly in those who have a high school diploma or less (who make up 37% of the population), those with bachelor degrees have seen a decrease in mortality.

I don't know if it is coincidental, but white mortality started increasing around the same time that white median household income peaked.

I think the move away from good, stable manufacturing jobs to unstable, low-paying service jobs is likely one reason for this.  Maybe instead of asking for opinions on fantasy football, moderators in future debates can ask candidates how they will reverse this trend?  So far, only Donald Trump is addressing it.

At this point in the 2012 Iowa Caucus polls, Cain was leading in Iowa and Santorum was at 3.5%

It really is important to have some perspective, it's anyone's game in Iowa as the chart below shows.  Santorum was barely even a blip on November 3, 2011. 

Note, that Jindal and Huckabee are currently at 6% in Iowa in the latest PPP poll and both have high favorability (both are at 60% favorable with ~20% unfavorable, about where Cruz and Rubio are at)   Imagine the utter mayhem that would result if one of them wins?  It can happen.  Note that Jindal and Huckabee have been coming to Iowa A LOT:

Monday, November 2, 2015

I love the recent pro-Empire Star Wars revisionism from conservatives

When I was a kid, it was all so simple, the rebels were good and the Empire was evil.  Why?  How could anything called the Dark Side be good?  Although for all we know that was probably just good marketing by the Jedi, like how the pro-choice people like calling the other side anti-choice or believe they want to wage a war on women.  Anyway, I started rooting against the Old Republic in those horrible prequel movies, not because the movies were bad but because it was clear that there wasn't really anything good about the Old Republic at all.  Day to day operations were run by bureaucrats with the leaders deeply influenced by an insular religious sect that liked pulling the strings behind closed doors.  And as many people mentioned, if the Old Republic was so peaceful, why did they wage war on the separatists?  They sounded like they just wanted a low regulation, free trade oriented group of systems to be a part of.

So I'm really enjoying the pro-Empire stuff filtering through conservative writers.  It started a decade ago in The Weekly Standard with "The Case for Empire" and has hit hyper drive (sorry, had to) with the Force Awakens coming soon (already have tickets!!!).  A few days ago, there was an actual defense of the destruction of Alderaan, comparing it to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki:

So, Alderaan was a legitimate military target. Was the level of force used against it justified? It’s a tricky question, but it seems the least bad of all the alternatives. Consider another option the Empire could have taken: invading Alderaan, removing its leaders and installing a pro-Empire regime. However, putting boots on the ground in this manner would likely have destabilized not only the planet but also the entire region, creating a breeding ground for religious terrorists and draining blood and treasure for decades. It’s not hard to imagine a Jedi State of the Alderaan System (JSAS, for short, though they’d likely prefer the simpler Jedi State (JS)) arising from the ashes of some ill-conceived invasion and occupation.


The destruction of Alderaan, then, is more analogous to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki than it is to a “genocide.”* Yes, it was horrible, and yes, it would be nice if it didn’t happen. But it was an attack on a legitimate military target and defensible under Just War Theory, an attack intended to save lives by deterring other major powers from beginning conflicts of their own. The Imperial Grand Moff Tarkin is no worse than Democratic President Harry S. Truman — and no one worth listening to considers Truman to be a monster.

Then in the Free Beacon, the writer who defended the obliteration of Alderaan laments the Nazi like qualities of the pasty rebels, with the picture below being the cherry on top:

Cruz Surging in Iowa

Ted Cruz seems to be surging in Iowa, according to the latest PPP poll.  He does have a very strong organization there so it's not that much of a shock.  Also, like Carson, he has that evangelical fervor, but unlike Carson, he actually knows what he is talking about.  Rubio may be more electable, but I think Cruz is just a higher quality candidate in terms of thinking things through (though I'm not really a fan of his tax plan) while still holding on to ideals.  Anyway, what I thought was most interesting from the PPP poll was the fact that Cruz is getting 34% of Tea Party support and Marco Rubio is getting 1%:

Isn't Rubio supposed to be a candidate who unites the establishment and grassroots because of his nearly flawless conservative/libertarian record in Congress (he has a 93% lifetime score from Club for Growth and 98% from the ACU) and the fact that he was a Tea Party candidate against Charlie Crist in 2010?  For jeebus sake, Jeb Bush gets more Tea Party support in this poll than he is getting.  It might just be statistical randomness but it's still quite amazing. 

Seriously both the Cruz and Rubio tax plans suck

Honestly, I don't usually care about candidate tax plans as I feel they are put together for the sake of being put together.  Also, other than corporate tax reform, I don't put tax reform high on my list of priorities.  The only issue I have with the individual tax system is that so many people end up not paying anything at all so then they don't care how much money we spend because they aren't paying for any of it, but "tax the lower 50%" is hardly a winning slogan.

So then why am I slamming the Cruz and Rubio tax plans?  Am I just being a RINO stooge with a secret allegiance to JEB?  Well in the case of Cruz, it's because I think it will eventually be a disaster which will lead to much higher taxation.  When viewed separately, I actually like aspects of his plan.  I like his flat tax which still allows a home interest deduction, as I don't think a flat tax without a home interest deduction is viable.  Also, contrary to what many people say, the home interest deduction is not just a subsidy for the middle class as it was always a feature of the income tax, even when only the wealthiest paid it.  I also like the idea of the fair tax as it incentivizes savings instead of consumption.

However, we know what would happen when you put both together, both tax rates can now be manipulated by Congress and we could end with high rates for both, just like Europe.  That would make any sort of comfortable lifestyle out of reach for many Americans, other than the very rich.  I would rather Cruz had come in with just a fair tax proposal as that would be one that would make much more sense and have the added benefit of getting the IRS completely out of people's lives.

I also think the Rubio plan doesn't make much sense either as it seems to help the poor and the rich but not the middle class so much as you can see by this chart.

In fact you are going to see some members of the middle class see their taxes go up under his plan.  Right now the 35% tax bracket doesn't start until you hit $411,500 for both single and joint filers filers.  Under the Rubio plan, it starts at $75,000 for singles and $150,000 for joint filers.  So there will be people in the middle class completely screwed by this plan and those are the people who are usually screwed by government.  We need to unscrew them, not screw them more.