Days of Change

Fear of Failure

October 20, 2016
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Richard Nixon was probably the last Republican to use his Republican credentials to successfully run a presidential campaign. Reagan ran against Nixon in the 1968 primaries and had to run against Gerald Ford twice. George W. Bush was an outsider, a Texas governor who wasn’t expected to be the nominee. No one wants to be part of the system, and nearly all of them are.

Donald Trump is certainly not a GOP insider. He’s changed parties five times and ran for the Reform Party nomination in 2000. In a weird way, however, he represents the GOP better than anyone. He’s their spirit animal. Trump and the GOP are so afraid of losing that they will give up long term gains to prevent short term and temporary losses. Every time Trump tried to moderate his position, he lost the adoration of the tiny fraction of the voting population who go to his rallies or forward racist Twitter memes to him.

Since the 2004 election, Republicans have had two good runs. In 2014, the GOP learned to coordinate their efforts with establishment Congressional candidates, but also to work with Tea Party candidates who found success, like Joni Ernst. However, 2010 may have been the most important lesson. That lesson wasn’t to listen to Glenn Beck or run against Obamacare. It was to put yourself in front of the voters with the full knowledge that you could either win or lose.

One reason why Republican candidates did so well in 2010 is that Tea Party supporters ran in races where other Republicans did not dare to run. Too many House races (and some Senate races) are uncontested, mostly because potential candidates fear the consequences of failure. Hopefully, even if Hillary Clinton is elected president, Republicans won’t lose their House and Senate majorities.

The Republican Party does its best work at the state and local level, winning races for Congress and governor, especially since most states are Republican, even if they have lower populations. Since population density pretty much determines party affiliation, Republicans need to make their stand in low-density states. In many countries, there isn’t even a president. The legislative majority chooses the leader. In the United States, the Congress theoretically controls important decisions.

This year may be the first where ticket splitting (in this case, voters choosing a Democrat for president and Republicans for other elected offices) has a significant impact on the federal government. If that is the case, the GOP needs to learn that winning the presidency is not the brass ring, especially if they exercise the power of Congress.

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It Worked Before

October 19, 2016
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It took about 2 minutes for me to know what the debate was about, after the debate was over. Donald Trump was pressed on the question of whether he would accept the results of an election where he lost. Despite all the cries about a constitutional crisis, this is old news.

Remember, the GOP was very worried about a populist Trump candidacy destroying the Republicans’ chances. The pledge was created, and Trump swore to it… during most of the primary campaign.Everyone but maybe Jeb and John Kasich eventually supported Trump as the nominee. The pledge, of course, was an attempt to give the GOP cover if Trump did run as a third party or told his minions to stay home.

The problem is that Trump saw the opportunity to drum up excitement with his base by basically refusing a new pledge to accept the results of the national election. Why should he? In fact, there was no real reason to accept the Republican pledge, except as a way to help a campaign that was briefly beaten by Ted Cruz. Being a man who stands alone worked with Republican primary voters. I wonder how dumb the rest of the population is.

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The Well of Dispair

October 18, 2016
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If the cote total in the election is about the same as in 2012, 120 million or more people will cast a ballot. Between the Republicans and the Democrats, just over 60 million people voted for a candidate. Less than half voted for the eventual nominee of their party. The point is that by November 9, only 13% of the people who voted in the general election will have voted for the winner in the primaries as well.

The 44% of Republican primary voters who chose Trump are not even as excited as they were 6 months ago. I have to assume the Hillary supporters are delusional, as the disturbing information about her campaign and tenure at State have had no impact on her “popularity.”

I was actually pretty happy to vote for Romney and McCain, once he added Sarah Palin to the ticket. Most of that was due to how much I despised the Democrats and their crap. Now that Trump is giving as dirty as he’s getting, I find myself kind of indifferent. I don’t care to reward the Republicans or Trump with my vote this year. Instead, I’m giving the Libertarian Party a chance, despite Gary Johnson’s obvious inability to use the media.

I think most Americans are just becoming resigned to their choice, whichever that may be. Usually, they would have accepted their decision by now, but it’s hard to accept the reality that America’s two choices are two egomaniacs who either don’t have the temperament or morals (or either) for the job. My only consolation is that for one group of die hards, their dream dies in 3 weeks and for the other group, their dream dies more slowly over a matter of months.

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The Media is for the Media

October 17, 2016
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One of the many ironies of this election is that the media propped up the Trump campaign and was lured by ratings to interview him as much as he’d appear. Now, they’ve decided that Trump is not their guy for president and Hillary Clinton is the closest thing to Bernie Sanders they’re going to get. The inevitable turn has happened, yet again. One of the early lines of attack (remember the rape stories the first month of the campaign?) was resurrected.

The minor difference this year is that Trump supporters seemed to think that he was using the media. He got his free air time and brought up all the protectionist stuff his opponents wouldn’t and made the networks cover a hotel opening instead of birther remarks. Of course, McCain thought the media liked him because he was a maverick.

The Republicans are in desperate need of a media strategy. People seem to think that the Democrats are simply the media’s choice. No, the Democrats reinvented themselves into a party that said the stuff the media agrees with. Look at something like gay marriage. That is the culmination of decades of pandering to gays, who found themselves gravitating toward entertainment and media. How about abortion, the solution for young starlets who got themselves in trouble before the universality of birth control.

Trump’s mistake is that he hitched his wagon to a group that had beliefs. He thought all he had to do was talk about the old days and blame everything on foreign immigrants and hostile foreigners. The problem is that many of the people who believe in things know that Trump does not. Worse yet, the media now realizes Trump is not one of them anymore.

Now, Trump is back to his core beliefs, that he is a god among men and only cheating and duplicity can (temporarily) bring him down. The media is watching the fall, because even if Trump has no chance, it’s getting ratings.

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Is a Trump Upset a Good Thing?

October 16, 2016
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After the Perot bubble from 1992-1996, presidential polls have been maddeningly close. In 2000, people thought there may be an Electoral College crisis, but one where Bush would get the majority vote and Gore would take the Electoral College. 2016 is not so much close, but a victim of the margin of error.

A wired “landline” phone is demographically skewed toward the elderly or middle aged people set in their ways. Cell phone users don’t want to get polling calls when they are about their business. Internet polls tend to bring out people with a vested interest. The LA Times has tried something different, using a large cohort of people and sub-sampling them on a regular basis. Those polls are pretty favorable to Donald Trump.

The polls people hate the most are the ones that counter their own interests. There’s also a psychological aspect to polling where the observer effect influences the outcome of an election. Predictions of Gore winning before most states closed their polls may have reduced Bush’s overall vote and made him the popular vote loser. The Clinton campaign has made full use of data mining, defining each American adult to a score of how easy it is to get them to press the button for Hillary.

I’m all for a set of randomness in the electoral process. If Donald Trump wins, that’s not what will happen. Remember, in 2008, big data was inaccurate at best. A lot of the Obama campaign was selling Barack Obama as an idea. He was the guy who would bring both sides together. He was cool and calm and didn’t inflame passions, except for those who wanted to vote for him. The media created that narrative because McCain was more qualified and an outsider was the best sales job available.

In the case of Trump, the metrics that defined him were buzz, Twitter mentions and free air time. If that becomes the new model, loudmouths will be the standard bearers of democracy. Donald can run with the likes of Hoard Stern (who briefly ran for governor of New York) or the late Morton Downey Jr.All in all, I’d rather have the polls.

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Sun Tzu, Political Strategist

October 15, 2016
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If you know others and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know others but know yourself, you win one and lose one; if you do not know others and do not know yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.

-Some illegal Chinese guy

To the surprise of no one, Donald Trump refused to let Republican campaign staff do opposition research on himself after he had the nomination. I’m sure his opponents tried but failed to find anything that wasn’t already well-known and disqualifying. The media, however, had a much easier time because much of it was in the media (Apprentice contestants, Miss USA contestants, Access Hollywood videos) and waiting for October.

Donald Trump operates in lizard brain territory, so why he has support has little to do with what he says, but how it resonates with the consistent level of support he’s had for at least a year. One thing most conservatives can agree on is that the media is 1)made up of Democrat-leaning people and 2)willing to produce content intended to uphold their political beliefs and tear down the ones they oppose. Trump’s utter contempt for the media has never wavered. He went on show after show, most of the time leaving the victor. The media likes Republican primary candidates. They hate Republican Party nominees.

If you don’t know the enemy or yourself, you are doomed to failure. Given that candidates like John Kerry, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton can be competitive, it’s not these idiots and their non-existent charisma that is endangering the Republicans, it’s the media’s enabling of them. Julian Assange can violate John Podesta’s e-mails all he wants. They don’t exist in the news because a new woman makes a charge against Trump every night, and Trump disparages their looks and importance every afternoon.

Today, I’m mostly dealing with strategy. The reason Trump was doomed to fail is because he’s Donald Trump. The particular method of destruction was increased by lack of vetting of Trump himself by whatever campaign staff is left and no real plan to fight the media, which is a hallmark of Republicans for the last couple of decades. Fox News was a nice try, but it will never be the same after 2016.

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Tell That to Ted Cruz

October 14, 2016
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Journalist Tucker Carlson tells the story of a phone call he got from Donald Trump in the early 2000’s at a point where he was dating his current wife Melania. In response to a Tucker Carlson remark about Trump’s hair, he heard this gem.

“It’s true you have better hair than I do,” Trump said matter-of-factly. “But I get more pussy than you do.”

We have apparently degraded as a country to a point where the grabbing is the issue rather than the getting. Trump’s affairs are well-known and are essentially baked into the cake. He was perfectly willing to level the playing field when a tabloid story appeared about opponent Ted Cruz and a story about alleged affairs.

I have no idea whether or not the cover story about Ted Cruz in this week’s issue of the National Enquirer is true or not, but I had absolutely nothing to do with it, did not know about it, and have not, as yet, read it.

“Likewise, I have nothing to do with the National Enquirer and unlike Lyin’ Ted Cruz I do not surround myself with political hacks and henchman and then pretend total innocence. Ted Cruz’s problem with the National Enquirer is his and his alone, and while they were right about O.J. Simpson, John Edwards, and many others, I certainly hope they are not right about Lyin’ Ted Cruz.”

Now, the New York Times and CNN don’t have the journalistic gravitas of the National Enquirer, which was right about John Edwards’ affair, but multiple women have come forward on their own to tell stories of groping, kissing, pinning and barging in to changing rooms with underage beauty contestants. Unlike Trump, I don’t surround myself with sexual harassers, bigots and possible mistresses of Ted Cruz. Still, Trump could be completely innocent of one thing out of the dozens of things he should be ashamed of.

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The Return of Egg McMuffin

October 13, 2016
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A poll in Utah puts Trump and Clinton even at… 26% each. Gary Johnson has a decent 14%. The surprise, however, is that Evan McMullin, the hope of the NeverTrumpers, is at 22%. That puts him in the margin of error of the top two candidates. It also means that Mormons, who currently have a choice between Johnson and McMullin, could actually achieve a state victory, and not just the moral kind, by switching to him.

This could mark the first time since 1968 when a third party candidate was actually represented in the Electoral College. Utah is only good for 6 Electoral votes, but it would surpass the 0 votes Ross Perot or John Anderson got. McMullin is on few state ballots and has very little chance in any of them but Utah. It does, however, indicate how many of the actual conservatives are over the Republican Party.

The good news is that if the name or just the organization of the Republicans fades away, a new, stronger party could take its place in just a couple of election cycles. The religious and fiscal conservatism of the Reagan coalition was mostly limited to Reagan and Bush (43). Carter won the Evangelicals in 1976 until he went full leftist. Nixon and most of his predecessors were big government anti-Communists.

In a sense, this reckoning has been coming for at least a decade since the GOP abandoned the Contract With America’s promises to limit terms by 2006. Now, the party is running on an imperial presidency in the hopes that Trump rally goers will break the rules of mathematics and multiply their votes in the polling booths. Too bad Hillary supporters have already voted.

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Trump 0.0

October 12, 2016
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You are released.

Unfortunately, politicians like Ted Cruz are screwed. Reince Priebus applied pressure last month in what was the peak of “That Trump idiot might accidentally win this thing” fever to tell GOP candidates that they had to respect the almighty pledge specifically designed to make Donald Trump not run against the Republicans if he lost. Surprise! Trump got the nomination and he STILL ran against the Republicans.

The rank and file Republican, like me, can now join the war Trump started last week and not vote for him. That doesn’t mean voting for Hillary. In fact, even Trump supporters are getting so desperate that they’d rather have die hards vote for Gary Johnson or Evan McMullin because a vote for them is now not a vote for Hillary.

In 2012, the right was talking about this preference cascade where Obama’s support would crater and Romney would win comfortably. Obama did lose a lot of his 2008 support, but he still won. The weapons-grade Donald Trump that emerged last week has taken a stand. If you are less than 100% dedicated to him, get the hell out. That’s the new pledge and I accept. He created his own preference cascade that will crater his coalition.

Again, the GOP tried to shape democracy and ended up with the worst outcome. Releasing the delegates at the convention could have stopped Trump. Changing the rules could have stopped Trump. Encouraging donations and support toward Ted Cruz early in the race could have stopped Trump. Now, nothing can stop Trump from doing what they feared, killing the Republican party in 2016.

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One Person is Running for President Now

October 11, 2016

Trump is running for deity.


And he’s doing it badly.

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