November 29, 2015

Open Thread: Sunday, Nov 29

  5:00 am

This is the Open Thread for Sunday.

The shepherd drives the wolf from the sheep for which the sheep thanks the shepherd as his liberator, while the wolf denounces him for the same act as the destroyer of liberty. Plainly, the sheep and the wolf are not agreed upon a definition of liberty.

This is a good place for new polls or articles you think might be of interest.


New Hampshire Union Leader Endorses Chris Christie

  7:00 am

In a huge get for Governor Christie, the New Hampshire Union Leader has endorsed him for president:

Our choice is Gov. Chris Christie. As a U.S. attorney and then a big-state governor, he is the one candidate who has the range and type of experience the nation desperately needs.

Chris Christie is a solid, pro-life conservative who has managed to govern in liberal New Jersey, face down the big public unions, and win a second term. Gov. Christie can work across the aisle, but he won’t get rolled by the bureaucrats. We don’t need as President some well-meaning person from the private sector who has no public experience.

Gov. Christie is right for these dangerous times. He has prosecuted terrorists and dealt admirably with major disasters. But the one reason he may be best-suited to lead during these times is because he tells it like it is and isn’t shy about it.

The editorial board took a swipe at Rubio and Cruz, saying, “We don’t need another fast-talking, well-meaning freshman U.S. senator trying to run the government. We are still seeing the disastrous effects of the last such choice.” And then they walloped Donald Trump with this: “Other candidates have gained public and media attention by speaking bluntly. But it’s important when you are telling it like it is to actually know what you are talking about.”

Of course, the candidates who did not receive this endorsement will downplay its significance — and they do have something of a legitimate argument. The past list of endorsees doesn’t necessarily bode well for Christie’s political future:

  • 2012 – Newt Gingrich
  • 2008 – John McCain
  • 2000 – Steve Forbes
  • 1996 – Pat Buchanan
  • 1992 – Pat Buchanan
  • 1988 – Pete du Pont

You’ll see a lot of this list circulating around the interwebs in the coming days, used as evidence that the UL endorsement in meaningless. After all, with the exception of John McCain, none of those candidates went on to become the GOP nominee, and only two of them (McCain and Buchanan ’96) even ended up winning New Hampshire. But there are two problems with this oversimplified analyis.

First, this list that’s flying around misses the Union Leader’s endorsement from 1980 – which happened to go to Ronald Reagan. Reagan, of course, went on to win not only New Hampshire but also the nomination and the presidency. Adding Reagan to the list raises the percentage of Union Leader-endorsed candidates who won New Hampshire to 43% (3/7), which actually isn’t too shoddy, given the newspapers’ penchant for picking underdogs.

Secondly, even if candidates don’t end up winning the New Hampshire primary, the Union Leader endorsement is a massive boost to candidates’ campaigns. In fact, Nate Silver broke down the numbers and showed that, on average, the Union Leader endorsement is worth an 11-point boost in the state. The smallest bump was Steve Forbes in 2000, who received a 5% lift; the largest boost went to McCain in 2008, who got a massive 21% bounce.

So yes, this endorsement does mean something. The Union Leader is run by Joseph McQuaid, who once famously declared, “We don’t just endorse once. We endorse every damn day.” The Union Leader has the highest circulation of any paper in New Hampshire, and they will now front page positive stories about Christie and attack his opponents relentlessly. Christie is currently at seventh place in the Granite State – but if he were to receive the average 11-point boost he would be squarely in second.

Which brings us back to those other candidates – you know, the ones who all sought this endorsement and are acting like it’s no big deal now. The endorsement of Christie is some of the worst news some of the other candidates could have received. Specifically, this endorsement was a huge blow to Kasich (who, rumor has it, is already planning to drop out anyway) and Bush, both of whom were fighting Christie for the same establishment voters and money men. It is also a blow to Donald Trump, who tried hard to secure the endorsement for himself. It’s easy to see why, with the history of UL endorsements including candidates like Buchanan and Forbes. The Union Leader seems to have a soft spot for vocal outsiders and businessmen, so Trump seemed to think he had a shot. By endorsing one of his rivals, and then attacking him in the editorial itself, the Union Leader has offered a rebuke to Trump that every New Hampshire voter will see and hear about.

Chris Christie’s campaign was on life support the last couple of weeks. There were even solid rumors that he was preparing to drop out. He wasn’t getting the money he thought he would, his poll numbers stunk, and he just could not gain any traction. At the very least, this endorsement breaks the self-perpetuating negative news cycle for Christie. At best, it may just propel him into the top tier – or eventually even the lead – in New Hampshire.


November 28, 2015

No, Trump is Not Receiving the Endorsement of 100 African American Pastors

  9:48 am

By now, you’ve undoubtedly heard the news and seen the posters: on Monday, 100 African American pastors will be endorsing Donald Trump at a press conference following a private meeting.

The only problem? It’s not true.

Oh, Donald Trump says it’s true. His campaign says it’s true. And those flyers the campaign designed says it’s true.

But the pastors who are listed as attendees and endorsers disagree:

Bishop Clarence McClendon, a Los Angeles-based minister who was invited to the Monday meeting with clergy, posted to Facebook after the Trump campaign announced the coming endorsements.

“I am not officially endorsing ANY candidate and when I do you will NOT need to hear it from pulpitting courtjesters who suffer from intellectual and spiritual myopia,” he wrote.

Bishop Corletta Vaughn, the Senior Pastor of the Holy Spirit Cathedral of Faith in Detroit, posted a message on Facebook after she said her inbox was “blowing up with inquiries” after her name was included on a list of pastors meeting Trump.

“Let me be clear,” she wrote. “I was invited to attend a gathering of clergy to listen to Mr. Trump on Monday November 30. I respectively (sic.) declined as I do not support nor will endorse Donald Trump.”

“I was asked 2 meet with Mr Trump too but I refused because until he learns how to respect people you can’t represent me thru my endorsement,” Bishop Paul Morton, a prominent pastor in Atlanta tweeted on Friday.

So apparently, Donald Trump’s campaign sent invitations to 100 African American pastors to meet with him on Monday. Then, regardless of whether or not the pastors said they were coming, Trump’s campaign threw their names on a list and said not only were they meeting with Trump, they would endorse him as well! This brazen dishonesty is astounding in degree. Now we learn that not only will Trump not receive their endorsements, many of them aren’t even coming to the meeting at all.

So how many of the 100 pastors are actually going to endorse Donald Trump?

In fact, of the pastors scheduled to meet with Trump earlier in the day, so far only one, Pastor Darrell Scott, has said he will attend the press conference to endorse Trump.

I am just shocked – shocked! – that Donald Trump would blatantly lie for his own gain. But what will he do on Monday when only one person shows up to the meeting that he said would have hundreds?

I have no idea why black pastors would have any problem with Donald Trump, either…

The Trump camp’s own announcement that 100 black ministers will endorse Trump has been greeted in the black faith community with a combination of confusion and anger, particularly after a week in which Trump has mocked a New York Times reporter with a disability, suggested that a black protester who was kicked and punched at a Trump rally in Alabama “deserved it,” and when Trump himself has suggested Muslims be surveilled at certain mosques.

Rev. Jamal Bryant, a prominent AME pastor based in Baltimore… said he had spoken with a number of the pastors attending the Monday meeting who were taken aback by the Trump announcement about the endorsements. “I don’t know what policy these pastors could mobilize around. I can’t find a strand of any policy he has that the larger black community would be respond to.”

Confusion. Anger. Taken aback. Instead of the 100 endorsements Trump promised, that is how the African American faith community is actually responding instead.

Perhaps Trump will stand up to the podium on Monday and explain, in his ever-so-eloquent way, why the lack of support he is receiving is actually the pastors’ fault. How they’re just yooge losers for not endorsing his racist, misogynistic, and fascist-leaning policies. And then he’ll tell us that he’s going to win “the blacks” anyway.

That’s how the Donald Trump realty distortion field seems to work.


Open Thread: Saturday, Nov 28

  5:00 am

This is the Open Thread for Saturday.

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

This is a good place for new polls or articles you think might be of interest.
Sticky: 11/28
Unstick: 11/29


November 27, 2015

The Ted Cruz and Rand Paul Flat Tax Plans Compared

  12:11 pm

The tax plans of Ted Cruz and Rand Paul were each devised by Art Laffer and Stephen Moore.  To quote the economists who wrote them:

“The plans are similar: Paul’s rates are 14.5% on business net sales and wages and salaries. Cruz has a 16% business net sales tax and a 10% wage and salary tax.

These would be the lowest tax rates since the income tax was devised 100 years ago. Both are estimated by the Tax Foundation to grow the economy by a gigantic $2 trillion in extra GDP per year after 10 years.

Both eliminate almost all deductions and special-interest carve-outs. (Against our wishes, they retain the tax write-off for charitable organizations and have family deductions that are too big. But no one’s perfect.)

They completely kill the corporate tax, the estate tax and the FICA payroll tax.”

Read More At Investor’s Business Daily:

Both plans are extremely business friendly.  Cruz likes to tell audiences that with his plan “you can fill out your taxes on a post card.”  That’s obviously true in the case of Paul’s as well.  Both plans will end the IRS as we know it.  Both will invite American businesses  to move much of the more than $2 Trillion parked overseas to come back home to be reinvested.  And why wouldn’t it be?  Either rate is far lower than any American-based Corporation is going to find anywhere.  The idea is to make The United States the best place on Earth to do business.  This will not only end corporate inversions, it will incentivize a lot of businesses based overseas to move to America.  Let other countries have a corporate inversion problem.
Why don’t they blow up the deficit?  If spending were to continue to increase faster than the private sector it would, but Ted and Rand both want to shrink the government.  Rand has put together four years of very explicit budgets with all cuts in the size of government out in the open, ending the four years with a balanced budget.  Ted Cruz wants to eliminate four cabinet departments:  Housing and Urban Development, Commerce, Education, and Energy.  He also, of course, wants to end the IRS as we know it.  In addition, he wants to end 25 other government entities, including the National Endowments for The Arts and Humanities and The National Corporation For Public Broadcasting.  And like Jeb, Cruz has a plan to reduce the size of the bureaucracy by only hiring one new bureaucrat once three have left through attrition.
Try a thought experiment:  What rate are you paying right now?  Is 10% more, or less, than you are currently paying?  Now, note that payroll taxes are gone under either plan, and that most people in America pay more in payroll taxes than they do in income taxes, so if you’re paying payroll taxes, i.e., all those little deductions that show up on your check stub, make sure and add those to the amount you’re saving.  The only people who would pay more, under either plan, than they are now are those people who use the exemptions, deductions,  and carve-outs in the 74,000 page tax code to make over on the rest of us.
Last year, General Electric didn’t pay any Corporate Income Tax.  It’s easily one of the largest corporations in the country, or the world for that matter, so how is it that they didn’t pay taxes?  This isn’t picking on GE, because the 74,000 pages of the tax code isn’t specifically just for them—there are lots of corporations who use every tax break in those pages that they can.  It keeps lots of very highly paid tax attorneys and accountants living the good life without contributing an ounce of actual goods or services that help the country.  And attorneys and accountants are far from the only expense incurred by avoiding or lessening the high tax rates in America.  Lots of money gets channeled into uneconomic “investments” to reduce the amount of taxation actually paid.  And all of it essentially benefits big business at the expense of small businesses that can’t afford the lobbyists who get extra pages added to the code to benefit their employers.
To be fair, every code offered by Republican candidates is a massive improvement over the status quo.  All of them reduce rates and make America more competitive.  And they all fit into one of three categories:  flat taxes, simplified and improved versions of the progressive income tax but with significantly lower rates, or The Fair Tax.  And they’re all available on campaign web sites.
You owe it to your future to check them out.

Open Thread: Friday, Nov 27

  5:00 am

This is the Open Thread for Friday.

She’s the sweetest little rosebud that Texas ever knew, her eyes are bright as diamonds, they sparkle like the dew; you may talk about your Clementine, and sing of Rosalee, but the Yellow Rose of Texas is the only girl for me.

This is a good place for new polls or articles you think might be of interest.


November 26, 2015

Open Thread: Thursday, Nov 26

  5:00 am

This is the Open Thread for Thursday.

Today’s snippet (that’s what I call these things) is from the Roman Catholic Mass. Apologies to anyone thereby offended, but it seems appropriate today: Priest: “Let us give thanks to the Lord, our God.” All: “It is right to give Him thanks and praise.”

This is a good place for new polls or articles you think might be of interest.


November 25, 2015

New Hampshire GOP Chair: Donald Trump Will Not Win Here

  5:38 pm

The Boston Globe has a piece this afternoon highlighting an interview with Jennifer Horn, the current Republican Party Chairwoman in the state of New Hampshire. The Granite State is currently where Donald Trump’s numbers look to be the strongest of any state, which is why Horn’s remarks are making headlines this afternoon: she predicted Trump will not win New Hampshire.

“Shallow campaigns that depend on bombast and divisive rhetoric do not succeed in New Hampshire, and I don’t expect that they will now,” state GOP chair Jennifer Horn said Wednesday in a phone interview, when asked about Trump’s candidacy.


“In New Hampshire, historically, the truth is, people really don’t make their final decisions until very, very close until Election Day,” Horn said, noting that US Senator Marco Rubio has been climbing in state polls. “People are probably underestimating Chris Christie. And, certainly, Bush is working very, very hard in New Hampshire,” she added.

The heavy retail-style campaigning that some candidates have been emphasizing – over, say, Trump’s massive rallies – tend to pay dividends in her state, Horn said.

“Big rallies are a lot of fun, but in New Hampshire voters are looking to have that real conversation with a candidate,” she said.

For a party official – especially the state chair – to weigh in on a primary race in this way is rather unusual. Of course, this prediction is a conflation of Horn’s professional opinion (which is legitimate – she assumedly knows the GOP electorate in NH better than anyone) as well as her implied desire as a GOP official to see Trump lose. The perception of Trump “winning” is a self-perpetuating cycle for him; for him to lose, that cycle must be broken.

While Chairwoman Horn (barely) remained professionally neutral in her interview, however, the Globe has another story out this afternoon reporting the former New Hampshire GOP Chair, Fergus Cullen, is one of the people now actively and publicly working against Donald Trump in the Granite State. What is becoming increasingly clear is Republicans at every level are waking up to the fact that a)Trump is more resilient than they ever believed and b)he is more dangerous than they ever believed — and they are beginning to pull out all the stops to ensure he doesn’t win.


The Decline and Fall of Donald Trump

  3:14 pm

Something that is becoming clear is that the opposition to a Donald Trump nomination is growing too strong for him to ultimately overcome. It’s painfully true that he has been attacked and scorned for months, and made outrageous statement after outrageous statement, and after each he stayed on top. Sometimes he would drop for awhile, such as after the second debate, but would come back again, sometimes higher than ever.

So why should it be any different in the future?  Ever hear the expression; the death of a thousand cuts?  How about the straw that broke the camel’s back?  Only before the cuts were paper cuts, and in the future it will be stiletto cuts; and instead of added straws, in the future it will be added bricks.  One of the things that brought down Trump in Iowa, e.g., was a million dollars in ads by The Club For Growth.  The Club is raising money for a new barrage, and they won’t be engaging in a solo effort,  From an article by Caitlin Huey-Burns in Real Clear Politics:

“The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Republican strategist Liz Mair is launching Trump Card LLC, a group leading a “guerilla campaign” against the businessman that doesn’t have to disclose donors under Federal Election Commission rules. The group plans to sponsor unconventional television and radio ad buys, along with Web ads and opposition research. The group is soliciting donations from all sources, including other campaigns interested in seeing Trump fall.

And New Day for America, a super PAC supporting John Kasich, is preparing to spend at least $2.5 million in anti-Trump messaging. The group launched an ad in New Hampshire painting Trump and Ben Carson as unfit for the role of commander-in-chief.”

One suspects that this is the tip of the iceberg.  Financial backers of other candidates, such as Jeb Bush and Chris Christie, are donating to the Kasich effort to bring down Trump.  They aren’t changing allegiance, but they really want to see Trump go away. It is known that other efforts are in the planning stages.  The RNC is and will remain strictly neutral, but the long knives are being unsheathed.

Long friendly to Donald, and they’ve even appeared together, Ted Cruz has even started to go on the offensive against Trump, telling him to “tone it down,” and saying he, personally, is not a fan of the idea of registering all Muslims.  He has to be circumspect because he wants to see Trump brought low but doesn’t want to offend Trumpkins in the process.  He wants to inherit Donald’s minions.  In the very recent Quinnipiac Poll of Iowa, Trump led with 25%, but Cruz had moved all the way up to 23%, very much within the Poll’s statistical margin of error.  Carson dropped to 18%, not surviving the recent round of media attacks on him intact.

Given the ongoing vectors of support-shifting in Iowa, the new rounds of attacks might well be overkill in and of themselves.  What happens when Trump loses Iowa?  For one thing, the aura of inevitability will be shattered, particularly if Donald loses by a lot.  And he might.  For another, it will make it less likely Trump will do well in New Hampshire.  The other candidates are getting less timid in their verbal sparring with him.  Super PACs other than Kasich’s are waiting for the right moment to pile on.  If and when Trump loses in Iowa, it will be the right time.

The days when the “outsiders,” roughly defined as Trump and Carson, had a cumulative 60% or more in polling are already long gone.  Right now their combined total, nationally, is in the mid 40s.  If Trump and Carson fare as poorly in Iowa as it appears they will, it will drive that total down into the 30s or even lower.

Iowa and New Hampshire will also winnow the field.  Most of the putative candidates in the race will be gone, meaning fewer “establishment” candidates to divide an increasingly larger portion of the pie. It might come down to just Marco Rubio, who has quietly been rising in the polls.  His movement has been overshadowed by Trump and Carson, but Ben is moving lower, and might well not recover.  At most it will come down to Rubio and one other; most probably Jeb Bush.

What will Trump do when he loses?  One suspects that Carson will go silently into that good night, but  Donald not so much.  A better question is:  What will the Trumpkins do?  One shudders to think.


Open Thread: Wednesday, Nov 25

  5:00 am

This is the Open Thread for Wednesday.

‘E’s not pinin’! ‘E’s passed on! This parrot is no more! He has ceased to be! ‘E’s expired and gone to meet ‘is maker! ‘E’s a stiff! Bereft of life, ‘e rests in peace! If you hadn’t nailed ‘im to the perch ‘e’d be pushing up the daisies! ‘Is metabolic processes are now ‘istory! ‘E’s off the twig! ‘E’s kicked the bucket, ‘e’s shuffled off ‘is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible!! THIS IS AN EX-PARROT!!

This is a good place for new polls or articles you think might be of interest.


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