August 2, 2015

Debate Stage Party Tracker [UPDATE: Monmouth & FOX Polls Added]

  3:30 pm

On Tuesday at 5:00 pm, FOX News will average together the latest five national Republican primary surveys (done by nationally recognized pollsters using standard polling methodology) to determine who will be allowed onto the debate stage in Cleveland. As that cutoff draws closer, we will update the averages here so you can see who is currently set to land in the top ten.

This post will be updated as each new poll is released, and has been stickied so it remains on the top of the page until the debate stage party is officially announced.


August 3, 2015

C-SPAN “Voters First Forum” Open Thread

  5:15 pm

Fourteen of the GOP candidates — everyone except Trump and Huckabee — will be in Manchester, New Hampshire tonight for a forum sponsored by C-SPAN, the New Hampshire Union Leader, and six other media organizations spread throughout the early voting states.

The forum begins at 6:30 eastern time, and you can watch live online at this link (h/t to commenter jersey guy). Have at it in the comments!

Poll Watch: Final FOX Debate Poll Shows Trump Leading by Double Digits

  5:14 pm

This guarantees Christie and Kasich the final two slots on the stage, leaving Perry and Fiorina, among others, out in the cold.

Poll Watch: Monmouth Shows Trump With Big Lead; Bush, Walker Following

  11:21 am

Monmouth’s submission for the FOX News debate averages:

Monmouth University National Republican Primary

  • Trump – 26% (13)
  • Bush – 12% (15)
  • Walker – 11% (7)
  • Cruz – 6% (9)
  • Huckabee – 6% (7)
  • Carson – 5% (6)
  • Christie – 4% (2)
  • Paul – 4% (6)
  • Rubio – 4% (6)
  • Kasich – 3% (1)
  • Fiorina – 2% (1)
  • Perry – 2% (2)
  • Jindal – 1% (2)
  • Santorum – 1% (2)
  • Graham – * (*)
  • Pataki – * (*)
  • Gilmore – 0% (-)
  • Undecided – 10% (18)

Survey of 423 registered Republicans or Republican leaners was conducted July 30 – August 2 and has a margin of error of ±4.8%. Numbers in parentheses are from the July Monmouth survey.

Machine Gun Bacon and Cell Phone Destruction

  10:38 am

IJ Review has a new, short video of Ted Cruz making bacon with a machine gun. No really. I’m not kidding.

This appears to be part of a series of silliness which also included Lindsey Graham showing you how to destroy your cell phone. Here’s that video:

Enjoy your 2016 candidate silliness.

Monday Market Update: Off the Rubio Train, Onto the Trump Express?

  10:22 am

The big movement in this PredictWise Monday market update is Rubio’s freefall. His slide in the polls over the last two weeks has caused him to slide in the markets as well, and the Florida Senator has lost over half his value in the past two weeks — dropping from 17 down to 8 this morning. Meanwhile, investors seem to be cautiously sending Trump higher: he has doubled his value in the same time period. Bush still laps the field, however, as the other candidates are left gasping for air during The Summer of Trump:


Monday Open Thread

  6:00 am

Sorry, I don’t have a ‘conversation starter’ today, but that doesn’t seem to be needed anyway.

Please use this for any comments, links, etc that would be off-topic on other posts. Nothing is off-topic here.

August 2, 2015

Poll Watch: NBC/WSJ Shows Trump/Walker/Bush as Top 3, Kasich In

  8:08 am

This one will certainly be included in the FOX News averages. and it echoes what we’ve seen earlier this week from Rasmussen and Quinnipiac:

NBC/Wall Street Journal National Republican Primary

  • Trump – 19% (1)
  • Walker – 15% (17)
  • Bush – 14% (22)
  • Carson – 10% (11)
  • Cruz – 9% (4)
  • Huckabee – 6% (9)
  • Paul – 6% (7)
  • Rubio – 5% (14)
  • Christie – 3% (4)
  • Kasich – 3% (1)
  • Perry – 3% (5)
  • Jindal – 1% (0)
  • Santorum – 1% (0)
  • Fiorina – * (2)
  • Graham – * (1)
  • Pataki – * (*)
  • Gilmore – * (-)

Survey of 252 Republican primary voters was conducted July 26-30 and has a margin of error of ±6.17%. Numbers in parentheses are from the June NBC/WSJ poll.

I am still not sure how a major news organization can get away with doing a survey of 252 people with a MoE of 6.17% and call it a legitimate poll, but I guess that’s the new norm this cycle. Also, the article doesn’t mention how many undecideds there were, but given how the math adds up this, it is zero (or pretty darn close). Hopefully the other surveys FOX uses will be a little better than this one…

Sunday Miscellany

  7:00 am

Post what you like in the comments. Nothing is off-topic here.



Anyone well-grounded in English knows about certain tricky words that sound alike but have different meanings. An example is ‘lead’ (a mineral) and ‘led’ (the past tense of the verb ‘to lead’).

The worst, for most of us, is the three-fer, there/their/they’re – I know the different uses of these three quite well, thank you, but when I get typing fast, I often insert the wrong one (or at least that’s my alibi whenever I screw up).

These sound-alikes are called ‘homophones‘. Which turned out to be an unfortunate label for a guy who wrote for a certain English as a second language school last year.

Just ask a blogger … named Tim Torkildson. For three months in 2014, Torkildson was a social media specialist and blogger for the Nomen Global Language Center, a Utah-based English-language school for non-English speakers. In July of that year, as part of that job, Torkildson wrote a blog post … for Nomen’s official blog. Titled “Help with Homophones #1,” the missive was hardly a manifesto — it simply instructed readers about a few trap words which sound alike but are spelled differently.  (A screenshot of the post, cached, can be found here, via the Daily Mail.) It seemed entirely appropriate for the job Torkildson was hired to do, and innocuous nonetheless.

His boss didn’t see it that way. As Torkildson recounted on another now-deleted … blog post, the first chapter of his homophones work would be his last:

“I’m letting you go because I can’t trust you” said Clarke Woodger, my boss and the owner of Nomen Global Language Center.  “This blog about homophones was the last straw. Now our school is going to be associated with homosexuality.”


India’s Naval Build-up

India is planning to spend $61bil to expand their navy and to counter Chinese incursions into the Indian Ocean.

The build-up is mostly aimed at deterring China from establishing a foothold in the Indian Ocean. It also serves another goal: Transforming India’s warship-building industry into an exporting force that can supply the region, including U.S. partners in Asia wary of China’s increased assertiveness. […]

The vessels on India’s wish list show Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intent on expanding the navy’s influence from Africa to the Western Pacific. Most of them will be made in India, a sign that moves to upgrade the country’s shipyards are starting to pay off for the world’s biggest importer of weapons.

India plans to add at least 100 new warships, including two aircraft carriers, as well as three nuclear powered submarines capable of firing nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles.


More on Asian Military Expansion

China’s aggressive moves have stoked concerns throughout Asia (we’ve discussed the South China Sea as a coming trouble spot several times).

Here’s another bit of fall-out – Japan has passed legislation to greatly expand their military role (possibly in violation of the constitution Douglas MacArthur wrote for them after WW2).

Controversial legislation that could result in Japanese troops fighting abroad for the first time since World War II passed the lower house of Japan’s parliament on Thursday after large public protests and scuffles in the normally staid chamber.

The bills have been championed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who contends that Japan – which adopted a U.S.-drafted pacifist constitution after its defeat in World War II – needs to be able to come to the aid of allies, particularly America, under the doctrine of “collective self-defense.”

His push comes as China is expanding its military capabilities and increasingly asserting itself in the South China Sea and East China Sea.


Venezuelan Beer Shortage, Part II

Last week, I mentioned that Venezuela was running out of beer (together with a bit of snark that failed states ought to make darned sure they have plenty of booze to deaden the pain). Maybe instead of polarbeing snarky, I should have offered some serious advice to any R4ers traveling to Venezuela: Keep your mouth shut about the beer shortage.

Without knowing the crimes alleged against him, the general director of the Venezuelan Federation of Liquor Producers (Fevelif) was arrested on Friday, July 24. According to local media, Fray Roa could appear in court on Monday, July 27.

While there remains no stated justification for the arrest, Venezuelans haven’t failed to notice that it occurred right after Roa shared revelations with journalist Gabriela Frías on her television program Global Portfolio, broadcast on CNN en Español. […]

The industry representative complained about the lack of raw materials for the production of beer and malt in the country.

Ain’t socialismo wonderful?


Skull Church

This is pretty far off-topic even by the very loose standards of these Miscellany posts, but I foundbone church it really fascinating. In the Czech Republic, there is a church called the Sedlec Ossuary, aka the Skull Church. It is ‘decorated’, if that is the right word, with the remains of tens of thousands of plague victims.

It’s a real-life chapel that looks like the set of the Pirates of the Caribbean.

The spine-tingling Sedlec Ossuary in the Czech Republic is estimated to hold the remains of between 40,000 and 70,000 people, many of whom died in the plague in 1318 and during the Hussite Wars in the 15th century.

More pictures here.


Leftist Churches Lack Diversity

Here’s a Pew study on the racial diversity of various religious groups in the US. I’m not sure how seriously I take their ‘Index’, but I notice something very interesting.

The leftist ‘mainstream’ Protestant churches, who have made the social gospel the center of their teachings, could be mistaken for meetings of the KKK. For example:



Briefly Noted

Dennis Rodman Endorses: Who else? Fellow clown Donald Trump.

Half of Cuban Field Hockey Team Defects: After eight of the players defected at the PanAm Games, Cuba was only able to field eight instead of the standard eleven. Not surprisingly, they lost, 13-0.

George McGovern Had an Illegitimate Child: Nixon apparently was tipped off by the FBI, but didn’t need the help.

August 1, 2015

Saturday Miscellany

  7:00 am

Post what you like in the comments. No off-topic here.


The Disappointing Rand Paul Campaign

A lot of us thought Rand Paul might be one of the finalists this year, but that doesn’t seem likely now.

I saw him as Ron with the rough edges sanded off – the guy who might finally sell libertarianism to the public. It hasn’t worked out that way.

Politico has the story.

Rand Paul, once seen as a top-tier contender, finds his presidential hopes fading fast as he grapples with deep fundraising and organizational problems that have left his campaign badly hobbled.

Interviews with more than a dozen sources close to the Kentucky senator, all of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity, painted a picture of an underfunded and understaffed campaign beaten down by low morale.

They described an operation that pitted a cerebral chief strategist against an intense campaign manager who once got into a physical altercation with the candidate’s bodyguard. And they portrayed an undisciplined politician who wasn’t willing to do what it took to win — a man who obsessed over trivial matters like flight times, peppered aides with demands for more time off from campaigning and once chose to go on a spring-break jaunt rather than woo a powerful donor.


Just Another Clinton Foundation Scandal

From The Guardian:

Hillary Clinton’s overlap of private and political activities was once again in the spotlight on Thursday after a Wall Street Journal report that since Clinton helped broker a settlement in a legal tax case against UBS while she was secretary of state, the Swiss bank has increased its financial support and involvement in Clinton Foundation projects.

In February 2009, the IRS sued UBS and demanded that it disclose the names of 52,000 possible American tax evaders with secret Swiss bank accounts. In the months that followed – thanks to involvement of Clinton as secretary of state and Swiss lawmakers – a legal settlement was negotiated. On 19 August 2009, it was announced that UBS would pay no fine and would provide the IRS with information about 4,450 accounts within a year.

Since the deal was struck, disclosures by the foundation and the bank show the donations by UBS to the Clinton Foundation growing “from less than $60,000 through 2008 to a cumulative total of about $600,000 by the end of 2014”, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The bank also teamed up with the foundation on the Clinton Economic Opportunity Initiative, creating a pilot entrepreneur program through which UBS offered $32m in loans to businesses, the newspaper reported. Other UBS donations to the Clinton Foundation include a $350,000 donation from June 2011 and a $100,000 donation for a charity golf tournament.

Additionally, UBS paid more than $1.5m in speaking fees to Bill Clinton between 2001 and 2014, the newspaper reported.


Dana Milbank Plays the McCarthy Card on Walker

From WaPo:

This is the essence of Walker’s appeal — and why he is so dangerous. He is not as outrageous as Donald Trump and Sen.­­ Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), but his technique of scapegoating unions for the nation’s ills is no less demagogic. Sixty-five years ago, another man from Wisconsin made himself a national reputation by frightening the country about the menace of communists, though the actual danger they represented was negligible.


Cecil the Lion? Whodat?

Answer honestly – had you ever heard of Cecil the Lion before this week? Had any of the people filling the internet with outrage ever heard of him? Don’t worry about it – neither had the folks in Zimbabwe, but at least they have the decency to be ignoring the whole thing.

As social media exploded with outrage this week at the killing of Cecil the lion, the untimely passing of the celebrated predator at the hands of an American dentist went largely unnoticed in the animal’s native Zimbabwe.

“What lion?” acting information minister Prisca Mupfumira asked in response to a request for comment about Cecil, who was at that moment topping global news bulletins and generating reams of abuse for his killer on websites in the United States and Europe.

The government has still given no formal response,


Shining Path Slaves Freed in Peru

The BBC tells us about a rescue operation in Peru.

The Peruvian army says it has rescued 39 people from a farm where the Shining Path (aka Sendero Luminoso) rebel group kept them as slaves.

Some of the captives said they had been kidnapped some 30 years ago. The defence ministry said 26 of them were children, some of whom were born in captivity.

The victims said they were also forced to work in fields.
Some 120 Peruvian soldiers took part in the operation. Four army helicopters airlifted the captives into safety.

The military says soldiers were led to the farm by a former captive, who lived there for many years and escaped about a month ago.

The women were expected to give birth to young rebels.

I thought Shining Path (they were the Maoist group that was very active in Peru in the ’80s and 90s) was long gone, but apparently vestiges remain.


SCOTUS Favorability Declining

From a Pew survey:

Following major, end-of-term rulings on the Affordable supreme courtCare Act and same-sex marriage, unfavorable opinions of the Supreme Court have reached a 30-year high. And opinions about the court and its ideology have never been more politically divided.

Currently, 48% of Americans have a favorable impression of the Supreme Court, while 43% view the court unfavorably. Unfavorable opinions of the court, while up only modestly since March (39%), are the highest recorded since 1985.

While Pew attributes this to recent rulings, and certainly there is a partisan divide, this graph they present shows a long-term decline.

There are several other interesting graphs and data points at the link.


Briefly Noted
FIFA Is Museum-Worthy: A new exhibit is to open soon at the Mafia Museum in Las Vegas.

Trump and the Mafia: Today is Mafia Day, I guess, in the Briefly Noted Department. The Donald seems to have a lot of business dealings with dubious characters, but that may simply be a factor of having real estate/construction businesses in the NYC/NJ/Philly area.

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