November 4, 2015

GOP Devastates Democrats

  1:00 pm

In Kentucky, Sam Youngman in The Lexington Herald Leader:

“It would be an understatement to call Tuesday a good night for Republicans — it might well have been the end of the Democratic Party in a state where it dominated for so long.

This was a massacre from top to bottom, with Alison Lundergan Grimes and Andy Beshear the only people left standing with Ds behind their names.

Not only did a big red Republican wave sweep Matt Bevin into the governor’s mansion, it took out perhaps the Kentucky Democratic Party’s biggest rising star in Adam Edelen.”

Adam Edelen was the man Democrats wanted to run against Rand Paul during his reelection bid, but a funny thing happened to the “rising star” on the way to Washington, D.C., he got swamped in a tsunami.  Democrats went into yesterday holding the Governorship and five of the six statewide offices, but they lost both the Governorship and most of the statewide offices.

A couple of important points:  while it’s not surprising that Matt Bevin, the Republican nominee,  became the new Governor, the margin was striking.  Every poll showed Democrat Jack Conway ahead, and he lost by 9 points.  Polls can be wrong and frequently are, but THAT wrong?  The other is that Bevin was outspent $8, 750,000 to $5, 500,000.  And Democrats used that money to go hard-negative to paint Bevin as an extremist.  He lost, after all, to Mitch McConnell by 25 points in the primary a couple of years ago, and Matt barely won the nomination this year to run for the office.  The extremism smear is  a long-time tactic the Left has used against the GOP, but it doesn’t seem to work anymore.

Bevin’s number one issue was his desire to make Kentucky a Right To Work state.  Whether he can accomplish that is doubtful in the short term.  There are 28 state legislative bodies in the 14 states in the South and the Kentucky House of Representatives is the only one held by Democrats.  Still, they don’t hold it by much of a margin, and Kentucky is one of the dwindling number of states where it’s still possible to find Democrats in office who aren’t liberals.  So maybe.

His other issues were mostly social issues, including promises to de-fund Planned Parenthood and defend Kim Davis, who very recently has switched parties.  Davis:  “I will be forever thankful that he (Bevin) came to visit me while I was in jail.”  Turning out evangelicals was part of the strategy and it worked.

So while the big news of the night was that Republicans picked up another Governor, which gives them 32 now to the Democrat’s 17,  they also held onto the Governorship of Mississippi by a very large margin.  And of the 122 members of the state’s House of Representatives, the number of Republicans in the chamber went from 67 to 73, nearing a super majority–something they really don’t need in the state.  Republicans even toppled the House Minority Leader.

In Virginia, where Republicans had a very narrow majority in the State Senate, Democrat Governor Terry McAuliffe was on a mission to regain control of the chamber.  But after a hard fought battle, every single Republican state senator won.

Elsewhere, Ohio rejected marijuana legalization by a 2-1 margin.  In San Francisco, Ross Mirkarimi, the Sheriff who defended the city’s sanctuary city policy went down to defeat.  Houston’s equal rights ordinance, designed to protect the rights of gays and other groups, failed by a wide margin.  In fact, just about the only good news for Democrats anywhere was their winning of three more seats in the state legislature in New Jersey.  There they accused Republicans of associating with Chris Christie.

Rand Paul:

“Not only has Obama destroyed the Democratic Party in Kentucky, he’s destroyed the bench.  The bench was supposed to rise up and run for office–that’s gone.”


October 31, 2015

For Marco It’s Christmas, Not Halloween

  2:38 pm

The first tangible fruit of Marco Rubio’s victory in his tet a tet with Jeb in Wednesday’s debate came yesterday.  In the long raging battle with Jeb Bush and Chris Christie for the affections and endorsement of Paul Singer, Singer came out for Marco.  Worth $2.1 Billion, the Wall Street Investor raised millions for Mitt Romney last time out.  This is particularly significant because the Rubio campaign has been, frankly, lousy at raising money.  If this turns out to be a signal, it could lead to other major donors declaring for Marco’s campaign.  Singer sent a letter to dozens of them saying that Marco’s the only candidate who can “navigate this complex primary process.”  In a New York Times article by Maggie Haberman and Nicholas Confessore:

Mr. Singer, who gave more money to Republican candidates and causes last year than any donor in the country, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, is courted by Republicans both for the depth of his own pockets and for his wide network of other conservative givers. He is known for his caution and careful vetting of candidates and, while passionately pro-Israel and a supporter of same-sex marriage, he is generally viewed as a donor who does not believe in litmus tests.

The endorsement was precipitated by Wednesday’s debate in which Jeb went after Marco on his dereliction of duty in the Senate.  He has the highest absentee rate of all 100 members of the chamber, and had that distinction before he started his campaign.  Jeb, who included a prospective bill to dock the pay of any member of Congress for every day they didn’t show up to work as part of his economic package last Spring, suggested that since Senators only work about three days a week, surely Marco could show up that often and still have time to campaign for higher office.  The audience started to applaud and Marco immediately jumped in and cut it off with a prepared counter attack that proved devastating, particularly since the moderators didn’t allow Jeb a response.  Bush came out of the exchange looking deflated.

I agree the attack was a bad strategy.

Didn’t work, did it? Except that the next day Marco canceled campaign appearances to cast a vote in the Senate. Erin Burnett led with a story asking whether Marco’s absenteeism would negatively affect his campaign. And Rubio pledged that he would take part in the effort in the Senate to repeal the budget resolution, aka Boehner’s last stand. As a result of the debate he will spend a lot more time in Washington doing his job.

But nonetheless, it was a Godsend for Marco and hurt Jeb.  Not only did it damage his status with many in the media, including our own Matt Coulter, putting Bush on a dropout watch.  And it had the effect of altering the balance of power, hurting Jeb with his own donors and long-time supporters.  Once again, from the article:

Mr. Bush’s stilted debate performances have set off a new round of jockeying as Mr. Rubio’s supporters seek to lure some Bush backers to their camp. Several people involved in Mr. Rubio’s fund-raising said they had been fielding calls from Bush donors since Wednesday’s debate, suggesting they were rethinking their decision.

“I don’t know if you’ll get a tsunami of people immediately, because these are good people, and they are loyal,” said Jonathan Burkan, a New York financial executive who is supporting Mr. Rubio. “But you’ll get some people.”

The immediate question, besides whether the defections of Bush donors is significant,  is whether this leads to Rubio scoring endorsements from billionaires like the Koch Brothers and/or Sheldon Adelson.  At the moment Jeb’s financial support from Florida remains solid, but his campaign fears for the continued generosity of major fundraisers elsewhere.

The big money has been a massive advantage for the Bush campaign from the beginning, but if Marco winds up with something close to financial parity or better, it’s a new ballgame.  And he owes it all to his readiness to step on an applause line.


October 29, 2015

Time to Move On?

  1:51 pm

The one thing I liked about the debate was an emerging sense of camaraderie. Huck very movingly waxed eloquent about the noble intentions to be the President America needs in a time of desperate crisis. Marco reiterated that the Party had 10 excellent quality candidates, and that the Democrats can’t find even one. Christie and Cruz decried the moderators for their divisiveness, and even Trump desisted from attacking the field, except for railing against Super PACs and John Kasich. It’s hard to go cold turkey.

In the midst of this fellowship, It was clearly a mistake by Jeb to go after Rubio, although I can’t believe that the moderators let Marco get away with that answer, in effect saying that he had no obligation to the taxpayers to do his job. It was done half heartedly and Marco, far from being rattled, responded with aplomb. One suspects he had anticipated the criticism and was clearly prepared to deflect the attack.

So where does that leave us?

My take about the current situation is that Marco will be much elevated as a result of the debate, although it was clearly won by Cruz and Christie. The other major takeaway is that I believe Trump and Carson both hurt themselves by providing less substance, both on issues and rhetorically, than the others on the stage.

Whither Jeb? I don’t know, but he didn’t do nearly as badly as this thread, or some of the commenters suggested. I would even denounce the eulogies except that I saw some defeatism in his demeanor in much of the debate. It’s like a spark went out.

What I do know is that if Jeb has it in him to rally and fight from this point, and I don’t know for sure that he does, then he has the right stuff for the office. John McCain found himself at a far lower point than this in late 1997 and made a comeback that won New Hampshire against great odds, and was able to parlay that into the nomination.

He was so broke that he had to stay at the homes of his few supporters in New Hampshire, and bum rides from them to events. He flew coach when it was absolutely necessary to travel. He ate fast food. Instead of being accompanied by an entourage, he carried a suitcase with him. His triumph was an exercise in sheer will.

By contrast, Jeb has a Super PAC with well over a hundred million dollars in it with the best operatives in the business running it. He has more than $10 Million hard money in his personal campaign. He has a strategy that is very well developed, and has far more endorsers than anyone else. He has 20 very-high-production value ads in the tank that haven’t aired. And he has, easily, the best policy prescriptions for the future of the country that have been proposed.

Historians have noted that had the people of Constantinople had half the fight in them as the Carthaginians had in the Third Punic War in a far more desperate situation, the Eastern Holy Roman Empire wouldn’t have fallen in 1453.

And, if Jeb can find a tenth as much fight in him as McCain showed he will be a force. If he doesn’t, it’s time to move on to Marco.


October 27, 2015

Whither Trump and Carson?

  3:12 pm

After three months in the lead, Donald Trump is now in second place in the new CBS national poll. After winning four consecutive Iowa polls, Ben Carson is now leading nationally. There is no certainty that the CBS poll will be replicated. It’s margin of error is +/- 6%, after all, but there is little doubt that Donald’s trajectory is down and Ben’s is up.

Trump’s appeal has always largely been about himself being larger than life, hence his constant referral to others in the race in pejorative terms, constantly employing out and out insults, generally calling them losers, and bragging how he is personally responsible for their demise.  Large portions of his speeches have been about how he’s ahead everywhere, endlessly citing polls showing him with “YOOOGE’ leads.  Could there be any approach to a campaign more geared to bandwagon psychology?

Donald has correspondingly been very light on details.  His one foray into the weeds was adopting Jeb’s tax plan and inserting a clever twist:  all business taxation at 15%, incorporated into personal returns, giving America an ultra-competitive advantage in international trade and business formation.  Aside from that and an immigration stance guaranteed to lose Republicans the Hispanic vote by overwhelming  margins for a generation or two, he’s relied on a few platitudes and a brilliant acumen for dodging the gist of questions.

Trump has carefully cultivated an aura of invincibility that is being shattered in front of our eyes.  One wonders what he can do without it.  Since the latest polls have come out he has simply looked apoplectic, has shaken his head and lamented “I don’t get it.”  He’s even suggested that polls aren’t very scientific.  He’s actually looked a little lost and in over his head.  It will take time for the fact that the raison d’etre of his campaign, along with his lead, has gone with the wind to fully register in the polls.

What does he do for a second act? He can’t fall back on substance or his record in office because he doesn’t have either one.  He could, of course, talk about the very real benefits of his tax plan to the lives of everyday Americans.  The problem is that Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, among others, also have well-crafted plans to revise the tax code in ways that will also offer very real benefits to voters.  Does he want to battle it out on the details of the relevant plans?  He’s simply not a ‘details’ kind of guy.  As he starts to fall in the polls he can only get back to the top by fundamentally reinventing himself.  The man is 69 years old.  It’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks.

The front-runner mantle is therefore being passed on to Carson, who has been even lighter than Donald on details.  In fact, for a man who has been running for the presidency for lo, these many months, he’s almost a cipher.  He offers practically nothing on policy.  When he tries to he gets tongue tied.  He had a very difficult time explaining his views on Medicare and Medicaid when pressed by Chris Wallace on Sunday.  You could discern that he sort of knew his stance on the issue, but it didn’t seem like anyone had ever asked him about it in a serious way before, and he floundered in trying to defend his view.  Face it, the man is a doctor, a world renowned neuro-surgeon.  You might think that Medicare and Medicaid and the government’s approach to it, would be in his proverbial wheel house.

These are the facts of the Carson candidacy:

  • He has yet to face serious scrutiny.  Voters will demand to know whether he can answer tough questions.
  • The depth of his policy positions is simply untested and will be carefully evaluated during the next three months.
  • He is notoriously gaffe prone.  Some of that has redounded to his political benefit, e.g., saying that no Muslim should be elected to the Presidency.  This is a Republican Primary after all.  But some of it is fodder for what could be devastating ads by Dems, e.g., his admission that he was very violent as a teenager, actually trying to stab someone, but also using things like baseball bats and other weapons.  It’s hard to win in Tennis or Politics when you make a lot of unforced errors.
  • There are serious questions about his relative lack of organization.  For all of his failures in building policy, Trump has put together a robust organization throughout the February states, and has made a nice start in states beyond that.  By contrast, all of Carson’s focus has been on Iowa and he has been assiduously campaigning there for most of the last year.  He’s raised $20 Million in the 2nd Quarter, then turned around and committed more than half of it toward raising more money.

Can either of these guys get elected?  Together they garner about half of the total Republican vote in most polls, but bear in mind that with the singular exception of Wendell Wilkie, no major party has ever nominated a candidate who has never served in a high government or military post.  They are both facing the political spotlight at the moment, and Carson is for the very first time.

Can they hold onto their percentages for another three months?  They might.  They REALLY might.  But I REALLY, REALLY doubt it.



October 26, 2015

The Republican Civil War

  12:18 pm

From Fred Barnes in The Weekly Standard:

“The loudest complaint of the Freedom Caucus is that GOP leaders haven’t waged war against Obama and have settled for poor compromises with Democrats, such as the budget deal Ryan negotiated in 2013 with Patty Murray, his Democratic counterpart in the Senate.

Their clout is enhanced by support from influential conservative groups. Red State, Heritage Action, Breitbart, the Drudge Report, and much of the conservative talk radio universe are allies, as are prominent conservatives Ann Coulter, Brent Bozell, and Sean Hannity of Fox News. Drudge posted five anti-Ryan links in one day last week, and Bozell gave Ryan a grade of “F” on conservative issues.

The dissidents have a problem with two numbers, 60 and 67. Republicans need 60 votes in the Senate to quash a filibuster. With only 54 Republicans, they need 6 Democrats. On the Iran nuclear deal, 4 Democrats voted with 54 Republicans. The resolution to disapprove the deal died. Despite failing to defund Planned Parenthood, the dissidents continue their effort. But it’s futile. And there’s no possibility of getting the 67 votes needed to override an Obama veto. Still, they argue that keeping alive the issue of Planned Parenthood’s sale of fetal body parts is worthwhile.”

Barnes goes on to make the obvious point:  The Republicans in Congress can only go on the offensive on matters that anger the dissidents by shutting down the government.  The problem is that there’s no way to win because the Left controls the media and Obama has the veto pen.  So we come out of a shut down without getting our way on the issue, while being blamed by Americans who watch the main steam media for childish obstructionism.

Paul Ryan and most Republicans in Congress share the frustration with the gridlock in Washington, but caution patience since there isn’t any way of changing things without winning the Presidency next year.  If Republicans get that, it can do pretty much anything it thinks is necessary to turn the country around.  But is there a way to get there from here?

There isn’t any way for a GOP dissident in The House of Representatives to become the Speaker, and if a member of the majority can’t get to 218 votes in the Caucus, John Boehner will either stay on as Speaker or Nancy Pelosi will once again assume that mantle.  The best possible outcome right now is if Ryan gets the Speakership, but it might not be long before there is another open revolt. The debt limit will need to be raised soon, and Obama is in no apparent mood to compromise.  If Ryan yields on the question while getting no significant concessions in return for raising the limit, the Caucus will split apart.

The problems in Congress reflect the greater Republican divide in the country at large, as witness the battle of ‘outsiders’ vs. insiders, aka the “establishment,” in the nomination quest.  Carly Fiorina appears to be fading, but according to polls, about half of Americans who could vote in Republican Primaries and Caucuses favor one of the 3 candidates who have never held political office, and who have been vocally denouncing those who have as being part of the dread political class.  All this, without analyzing what those who have held office want to do to make America better.

It’s possible to see Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, or Ted Cruz winning the nomination, e.g., for the reason that Donald Trump might be forced to go after Ben Carson, no matter how nice he’s been, at least if he wants to win Iowa.  This could hurt both Carson AND Trump.  It’s possible because the field of the so-called establishment candidates will narrow as some are forced to drop out, augmenting the support of those who are left.  And because lots of Super PAC spending that has mostly been on the sidelines, waiting for the main event, will come into play.  And because people will more jealously guard the disposition of their one and only vote in the process and pay more attention to the issues.  And because there are a lot more candidates who have held office in the race than have not, and therefore can personally campaign and reach more people, a factor more telling as candidates get more negative about those at the top of polls.  And because those supporting the outsiders have been shown to be less likely to vote.

But that’s only one possible outcome.  It’s also possible that Trump, Cruz, or Carson might get the nomination, particularly since Trump’s voters and Carson’s voters tend to have the two as both their first and second choice.  And because Ted Cruz could emerge as an acceptable compromise.

The greater problem is that regardless of who wins, there will be great difficulties in consolidating the GOP base by a year from November.  The divide derives from two separate world views that seem to be more diametrically opposed than they even were last time.  Ted Cruz, as an example, has been vociferously crusading on the notion that we lost last time because good conservatives didn’t show up on election day, presumably because one of “them” got the nomination.  He doesn’t seem to realize that a lot of life-long Republicans might not be able to vote for a nominee he might approve of, such as himself.

What could go wrong?


October 25, 2015

Dropout Watch — Jeb Fundraiser: This is a “Death Spiral”

  6:00 am

It seems surreal to even attach the phrase “dropout watch” to Jeb Bush. Even after Friday’s budget slashing and campaign shakeup, I assumed people were too quick to assume he was finished. However, three things happened yesterday that more or less forced me to put Bush on our dropout watch.

1) A fundraiser for Bush’s campaign said this, publicly, to the Washington Post:

“It feels very much like a death spiral, and it breaks my heart. I don’t know anyone who wants to reinvest now.”

It’s one thing to think something like that. It’s a whole other thing to say it on the record. The public statement, by a fund raiser, that nobody wants to give money to the campaign now because it is in a death spiral will quickly become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The only reason someone in that capacity makes a statement like that is because the campaign is beyond saving.

2) Jeb Bush himself gave these revealing remarks in South Carolina today:

If this election is about how we’re going to fight to get nothing done, then I don’t want anything. I don’t want any part of it. I don’t want to be elected president just to sit around and see gridlock just become so dominant that people are literally in decline in their lives. That is not my motivation. I’ve got a lot of really cool things I could do other than sit around being miserable, listening to people demonize me and feeling compelled to demonize them. That is a joke. Elect Trump if you want that.

Yowza. As Phillip Gourevich of The New Yorker said, “That’s very close to the sound a towel makes when being thrown in.”

3) Finally, when a reporter asked Jeb today if he was going to drop out of the race, this was Jeb’s answer:

Blah, blah, blah, blah. That’s my answer: Blah, blah, blah.

I had to make sure I wasn’t reading The Onion when I saw this quote. Amazingly, it is real. This kind of hostile snark sounds a lot more like a candidate going through the five stages of grief than one who is serious about winning a nomination (or anything else, really) any longer.

The death spiral/nobody’s giving money quote by itself might have been enough to land Bush on our dropout watch, but coupled with the words of the candidate himself today, there’s no question he belongs on it now. The only question that does remain is this: how much longer will Jeb stay in the race?


October 20, 2015

Fifteen Candidates; Two On Ballots?

  12:33 pm

Remember when Rick Santorum was the last Anybody But Romney candidate standing, only he wound up off the ballot in Virginia? How is a candidate going to get nominated if he can’t make it onto the ballot?

States have requirements for ballot access, some of which are easy and some of which require organization and planning, and some of which have deadlines for access coming up.  According to an article in Breitbart on October 17th by ‘Sundance:’

“There are events which–if they were transpiring–would indicate who has the best opportunity for success in the 2016 primary race.

Put another way, if a candidate was genuine, there are specific actions needed now in order for that candidate to be reasonably considered ‘making-an-earnest-effort’.  Absent of those actions, the motivation is transparently somewhat “less than” making a real bid to attain the GOP nomination.

A great example is Virginia (again hat-tip to boots on ground) where any candidate must gather 5,000 signatures from ‘registered republican voters’, and include 200 signatures from each of the 11 congressional districts (also registered republican voters), along with the application fees, to be considered a candidate.  All of this must be accomplished by December.

Only two candidates, Jeb Bush and Donald Trump, have efforts underway to qualify there.  No Ted Cruz, no Marco Rubio, no Carly Fiorina, not even Jim Gilmore (former gov) is making a visible effort.  You make up your own mind what that implies, but the reality doesn’t change.

Same thing, same non-players, going on in Illinois, Wisconsin and Florida.”

Think about the ramifications of this.  Donald is to be credited because this is the first time he’s ever run for President, unless you count his running on the Reform Party ticket that one time.  But forget about his dropping out, or his “exit strategy,” because he wouldn’t have put together a disciplined organization that is working hard to gain ballot access beyond the early states unless he was serious about staying the course.

It’s not at all surprising that Jeb is doing the same.  He’s been there before and done that.  But you might think that more than Donald and Jeb, among our fifteen candidates, would be remotely familiar with the basic requirements to run for the office they’re seeking.  Several candidates are, of course, making an effort to get on the four early states. However, once you go beyond February, that’s when things really shrink.  Calling around the various states election offices and republican party offices you find there’s little to no effort except for the Jeb Bush and Donald Trump campaigns:

“Quite simply, and factually, no-one else is extending their efforts beyond those February States.

Initially a supporter of someone other than Jeb or Trump might say: “well the campaign is getting around to it later”; except the “later” part is rapidly running out of time.

Taking the Thanksgiving holidays into account, there’s only about five or six full weeks left to do the ground work and get your nominee on the ballot in multiple states.

Winning in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina or Nevada doesn’t mean squat if the candidate isn’t eligible for North Carolina, Ohio, Illinois, Virginia, Texas etc. and few candidates, well, actually only Trump and Bush, have active efforts underway in every state to meet the qualification efforts for ballot placement.”

One reason a candidate might run for office is to get noticed is as a resume enhancement.  I’ve always suspected that that might be Carly’s motivation, for example.  Another might be to drop the statement “when I was running for President” into a conversation now and then.  It can convey a status that few can obtain to.  Or they might want to write a book about the experience;  one that will sell better for merely having run.  Ben Carson is coming out with his eighth.  Marco paid off his student loans by writing one.  And then, there are those who really WANT to be President.

Right now, we are only certain we have two of those.

Hat tip:  gerry




October 19, 2015

The Immigration War

  12:42 pm

Jeff Sessions:

“Everyone understands that a large increase in the number of immigrants increases the Gross Domestic Product (GDP): More people means more overall consumption. But the question is: who benefits from such a large surge in the supply of labor into a country?

If you suddenly provide legal status to 30 million immigrants, most of whom will be lower skilled, it will simultaneously increase the GDP while reducing per capita GDP–and reduce the wages of the current work force. It will hit the lower-income worker particularly hard. Recent immigration has lowered the wages of native workers by 5.3%.”

In response to this logic, Donald Trump wants to build a wall that would make The Great Wall of China look flimsy.  On top of that he wants to deport all illegal aliens in our midst, including some who have citizenship through ‘anchor baby’ status.  None of our 15 candidates want to accept the status quo on the issue.  They all have some sort of plan to reduce the problem, but except for Trump, none of them have come out for mass deportation.  The commonalities include calls for an e-verify system so that employers know whether the person they want to hire is an American citizen or not.  Employers who hire them if they’re not face criminal punishment.  Proposed by Mitt Romney, this is the backbone of his ‘self-deportation’ idea:  If someone crosses our border to get employed and can’t, there isn’t much of a reason to stick around.

Another commonality is stricter border enforcement.  Every plan increases the number of border patrol agents, and in some of them they are moved right up to the border and given high technology tools such as drones to intercept those that come over.  So far, no one has included ‘shoot to kill’ as part of a plan.  But there seems to be general agreement that something has to be done about aliens who come over and commit crimes, and that they need to be prevented from coming back after deportation and committing more.  One example is Bill O’Reilly’s “Kate’s Law,” a.k.a., the Establishing Mandatory Minimums For Illegal Reentry Act of 2015.

The alien who killed Kate Steinle, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, is a Mexican national and convicted felon who had been deported several times.  Her murder sparked a national outrage that more than any other single incident has pushed Trump into a significant polling lead for the Republican presidential nomination.  It gave credence to Trump’s assertion that the Mexican Government is sending us murderers and rapists, “and some, I assume, are good people.”

All of this has led to a national zeitgeist that is less than friendly to the Statue of Liberty’s inscription:  “Give us your poor, your tired, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free.”  America used to be a land where all are welcome, until such time that they might inflict physical force or fraud on others.  And if a few did, we used to have rigorous law enforcement to deal with the problem.  It’s important to realize that several key elements have changed:

  • The most important change is the immigration law Ted Kennedy was able to pass in the 1960s, which made it far more difficult for people with needed skills or capital to enter the country, with relatively advanced and prosperous nations given legal immigration quotas that made the line to enter the United States from them more than 10 years long in many cases.  But it established much higher quotas for people from relatively primitive countries.  Overnight, our legal immigration system went from being a source of our strength to being a cause of our subsequent decline.
  • The police forces of communities around the nation used to be empowered to do what is necessary to prevent crime from being committed by people who had already committed crimes.  That also started to change in the 1960s.  Liberals began the Civilian Review Board movement to monitor and handcuff police from clamping down on crime.  The right responded with “Support Your Local Police” bumper stickers and rallies, something that had never been needed before.  Even before the 1960s the Miranda decision by the Supreme Court, and the empowerment of lawyers to shut down the legal process, made fighting crime a lot more difficult.
  • An example is the Sanctuary City phenomenon.  There are hundreds of them in our country.  It’s not surprising that the lovely young Kate Steinle was killed in San Francisco.  There are numerous examples of illegal immigrants going to sanctuary cities and committing crimes against innocent Americans, knowing that if they are caught they will not be turned over to federal agents.
  • The most important thing that’s changed is that America’s economy used to be growing.  A growing economy needs expanded employment.  It creates lots of jobs, and as citizens move to higher paying employment, other jobs that have to be performed might as well be performed by immigrants who are willing to come here to perform them.  Unfortunately, Obama has destroyed our economy, forcing many out of an ever-shrinking workforce.  Labor force participation is the lowest it’s been in 40 years.  For the first time ever, more businesses are going OUT of business than there are new ones starting up.

It’s not surprising that there are strong feelings about immigration.  It is blamed for our economic decline, but there is a better case that it’s a symptom of the real causes; too many regulations and too-high taxation, particularly on people who would otherwise create jobs.  An interesting fact is that illegal immigration from Mexico since 2009 has been negative.  The shrinking economic base of the nation has led to shrinking employment opportunities for illegal aliens.  The result has been a lot of self-deportations.

But still there are problems, and  solving them will invove several elements:  economic sanctions against sanctuary cities, incarceration and not deportation for illegal aliens who commit crime, bio-metric tracking, and initiating reforms in our tax and regulatory codes to enhance economic growth to 4% or higher.

Any thoughts?


October 16, 2015

Realities of the Race

  1:23 pm

What we really know about the race is that we don’t know much. Those of us opposed to the outsiders in the race can get depressed by the continuing dominance in the polls by Trump and Carson. We could also wonder why there are so many candidates who have no chance of breaking out. Why do they keep hanging on?

What we know: To break out, a candidate has to have the means to break out. We have candidates with political skills, credentials, good policy ideas, excellent grasps of politics and economics, and far better than average performance in office, and they’re not necessarily going anywhere.

If it seems that nothing is happening in the race, we know that that’s far from the truth. Of the outsiders, Trump and Carson have moved up to very strong positions. Fiorina, on the basis of strong debate performances has also gone up, but absent a debate for quite awhile, has moved back down. Still, as of now, she’s viable, raising about a million dollars more than Marco Rubio in the Quarter.

So the outsiders are looking good in polls and perceptions, and the race will ultimately decide whether the winner of the nomination will be an outsider or an insider.  There are strong arguments on either side of that question.

What the race has accomplished so far is that most of the candidates who have actually accomplished things in office are now effectively out of the race. Former Senator Jim Gilmore, e.g., raised a hundred thousand dollars in the 2nd Quarter. It works out to about a thousand dollars a day. If he dropped out tomorrow he wouldn’t be a footnote in future books about this election.

Add former Governor George Pataki, Governor Bobby Jindal, Senator Lindsey Graham,  and Former Senator Rick Santorum.  Once upon a time they had a chance.  The race has decided that they don’t.

There are two tiers of “politicians” who are still in the race and have at least some chance:

  1.   The top tier has emerged on the basis of expanding organizations, fundraising, or at least latent fundraising, policy proposals, a reasonable level of media exposure, and an ability to draw crowds on the campaign trail, and higher poll numbers than can be found in the second tier..  It consists of Senator Rubio, former Governor Jeb Bush, and Senator Ted Cruz.  All of them have about the same amount of Cash on Hand, prospects for additional large donors, strong organizations that are getting stronger, and ideological claims on the affections of tens of millions of conservatives around the country.
  2. The second tier consists of candidates who have a lot less in the way of prospects, but they have not been weeded out of the process yet.  Governor Chris Christie, Governor John Kasich, Senator Rand Paul, and former Governor Mike Huckabee all raised money in the low seven figures in the Second Quarter, all have a constituency, all poll in the low single digits, and all add to a debate.  Their problems vary but the commonalities are that their poll numbers are lower than they need to be, the amount of money they are raising is barely adequate to run their campaigns,  and they are struggling for media awareness and respect.  By the time the Third Quarter totals come out it’s likely that at least most, if not all of these, will be gone.

How many more debates will take place with more than six candidates on the stage?  My guess is two at most.  So, while there is a lot more that we don’t know than know, the structure of the race is proceeding apace.  The campaign is doing its work.

What we don’t know:

  • Super PACs don’t have to report totals for the second half of the year until the end of January.  But rest assured that a lot of action is taking place that will largely be determinant in how primaries, and to a lesser extent caucuses, turn out.  Will Jeb raise another hundred million dollars?  That could well prove to be unrealistically low.  Will Marco find the billionaire he needs to add to his PAC?  There are indications he might be on the verge of winning one, or more than one.  What is going on in Ted’s PAC efforts?  We have to be impressed by the organization that he’s putting together.
  • In light of the fact that most people have only hazy perceptions about the candidates now and make up their minds very late in the process, we simply don’t know how persuadable they will be.  Rick Santorum, who won the Iowa caucuses last time, was at 1% in the polls there less than a month before they were held, if memory serves.  Perceptions can change as a result of a single statement, a hitherto unimportant line of attack by an opponent, a devastating ad blitz, an illness or worse, and many other causal factors.  We don’t know what is happening now that will change the state of the race down the stretch, and we don’t know what will happen later that will.

So while we have a 95% confidence level that the winner will be one of six people, we should humbly acknowledge that it could be any of the six.  The race will continue to give us a better idea of the possibilities.  What we can do now is hang on for the ride.

Remember:  No one votes for about 3 1/2 months.


October 13, 2015

Democrats Descend to the Depths of Destruction

  2:17 pm

On the eve of the first Democratic Party debate, it’s instructive to look at its current state.  As Republicans look for someone electable to win back the White House, it turns out that just about any solid possibility will get it done. Democrats have roughly quadrupled the money supply since Obama took office, and they have approximately doubled the national debt, virtually assuring a major economic crisis in the near term, and probably before the election a little more than a year from now.

At the same time they have been printing money in quantities large enough to deprive national forests of trees, they have been cratering the economic infrastructure of America, making central banks around the world jittery about keeping dollars as their reserve currencies.  Polls show that most Americans think the country is still in the recession that Obama came into office with lo those many years ago.

Democrats have painted themselves into a corner on law and order.  While murder rates are skyrocketing in cities like Chicago, Baltimore, and even New York, Democrat Mayors have actually been coming down on the police, and in response, police have been getting less proactive in enforcing laws that they would have adhered to as recently as a year or two ago.  In too many urban areas police don’t feel that the Democrats in charge of their cities have their backs.  Meanwhile, blacks and other progressives chant at rallies about how much fun it would be to kill cops.

Remember when the environment was bi-partisan?  It was Nixon who established The Environmental Protection Agency, e.g.  George H. W. Bush wanted to be remembered as “the environmental President.”  Now, President Obama says he is a leader because of the actions he has taken to thwart the global warming that satellite data hasn’t been able to detect since 1998, and Hillary Clinton just came out against the Keystone XL Pipeline despite having said it is safe and something America needs when she was the Secretary of State.  Ironically, the environmental opposition to Keystone has been led by billionaire Tom Steyer, who made his billions in the coal industry.  He and other Democrats cheer on the  environmentalist movement as it kills jobs by creating man-made water shortages in California and attacking the coal industry in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, and even Michigan.

The result of these and other atrocities  is that Democrats have barely a third of the white male vote.  It is losing the support of what’s left of the private sector union vote.  They were all but exterminated in much of the country as a result of the wave election loss in 2014.  Marco Rubio talks about all the great presidential candidates Republicans have, while “The Democrats can’t even find ONE.”

In fact, the biggest single question of the political cycle is whether Democrats can revive Obama’s electoral coalition.  It consisted of:

  1. Blacks
  2. Hispanics
  3. Single White Women
  4. Young Voters

According to many polls Democrats can not take any of these constituencies for granted.  For example, a McLaughlin and Associates poll of more than a thousand likely voters taken late last month gave Hillary Clinton, the highly probable nominee of the party, only 44% among these four groups.  That’s compared with 17% for Biden and 14% for Sanders.  The lack of enthusiasm compared to what members of the four showed Obama couldn’t be more stark.

Fred Siegel in The City Journal says that the reason the party has held together is because:

“Obama has been successful in using executive, judicial, and regulatory power to deliver subsidies and administrative rewards to liberal interest groups, including trial lawyers, feminists, and the Hispanic lobby.”

But he notes that Democrats find themselves at odds with the nation’s swing voters, on crime, the environment, late-term abortion, illegal immigration, free trade, and the Iran nuclear deal.  He asserts that on each of these issues there are serious splits even among Democrats.

Their biggest single worry?  The Cook Political Report has shown that “African Americans accounted for Obama’s entire margin of victory in seven states:  Florida, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.  Without these states’ 112 electoral votes Obama would have lost decisively.”

The biggest fear of Democrats is that they will stay home.  Obama, the nation’s first ever black President won’t be on the ballot.  Look at the internals of polls and you will already note that Ben Carson nets up to a fourth of the black vote in general election match ups.  In the last two presidential elections they have participated at the polls in larger percentages than those of any other ethnic bloc.  Yet polling suggests that they are likely to return to historical norms in terms of turnout.  And that Democrats can’t count on them voting for candidates with the designation ‘D’ after their names in anything approaching a 95 to 5 ratio.

To stanch the bleeding to come, George Soros is funding Black Lives Matter and Democrats in the media have been giving a pass to chants of “hands up, don’t shoot.”

It appears at the moment that that won’t be enough.


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