Days of Change

Strong and Wrong

October 29, 2017
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There are two important propositions about the 2016 election.

Hillary Clinton would be the worst possible president.

Only Donald Trump can beat Hillary Clinton.

About 52% of the voting public believed #1, but #2 is shrouded in grays. Given the vote on Election Day, there was no one else who could have kept Clinton below the majority of Electoral Votes. But what if NBC had offered Trump a lot more money to do The Apprentice in 2015 or Trump got hit by a taxi. Would the Republicans really have not been able to beat Hillary? Given the fact that people were tired of Obama and hardly anyone ran against Hillary in the primaries, I’d say she’d have lost to any number of people, Jeb and Marco included.

In politics, the definition of winner or loser is subject to the date. Trump was a loser in 1999 when he announced and then withdrew his run for the Reform Party nomination. Hillary Clinton was a winner at the same time, dominating the New York Democratic Party machine and running essentially unopposed for Senator. In 2017, Clinton is now the loser and Trump is the winner. Who knows what will happen in a few years?

Trump is like Barack Obama in that he has a unique relationship with the American public. He can demand legislation be pushed through, but not be involved in writing it. Also, like Obama, Trump can blame Republicans when that process fails. Trump doesn’t accept failure because he usually side steps it. He’s good at cutting his losses. He doesn’t declare bankruptcy. He sells off businesses and the next guy declares bankruptcy. If he loses in 2020, he’ll blame the swamp and move on.

This is one reason Trump can be strong and wrong without worrying about a 35% approval rating. He’s not a politician. Unfortunately, most Republicans in office are. Their loyalty is as strong as what Trump can do for them and he knows this. They will also cut their losses, especially if a Roy Moore loss leads to a 51 Senator majority.

Welcome to the do nothing constructive Congress,


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Downwind of Culture

October 9, 2017
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If you were to coin the phrase “Breitbarting,” to define what Andrew Breitbart did, it could refer to taking hidden camera footage and then rolling it out slowly, to blow up the fallacy of the “isolated incident” excuse. However, Andrew was about more than that. He had some awesome interviews with leftist media, bringing up their failings. He even destroyed a hit piece before his “Big Hollywood” site opened, by actually asking for the tape they tried to use to prove Breitbart said what they quoted. The tape never materialized and the quote was retracted.

Although what little we know about Breitbart’s opinion on Donald Trump was negative, mostly due to the fact that Trump has been a Democrat for decades, he is certainly Breitbarting the media. He’s also following Breitbart.com, the outlet for Steve Bannon’s war on an increasing share of the Republican Congress. Andrew famously said that politics is downstream from culture, which means that cultural icons in the media affect how most people define political differences. At the same time, Andrew also sought Republican victories and made efforts not to attack Republicans who had already won elections.

Speaking of culture, I’ve recently become interested in the book Moneyball. While the movie was good entertainment, it was twisted into an Aaron Sorkin reality where the general manager had to overcome everyone else to prove he was right. The actual story focuses on Billy Beane, a player turned scout for the Oakland Athletics who adopted the principles of sabermetrics early on and used them to great success in the early 2000’s.

It turns out that what makes a good baseball player isn’t always what a scout or a team uses to pick one. Not only did Oakland have to develop new stats to find qualities that won games, they also had to find the best bang for their buck. Oakland has one of the smallest budgets in baseball and finding bargains with solid skills was the key to success against teams with 4 times the budget.

The Trump administration is essentially a test of using Moneyball thinking in the political realm. Trump won the election and between his campaign and outside groups, spent half the money of the Clinton campaign. Winning the presidency is important as a defensive play, but did Republicans get the proper bang for their buck?

So far, Trump has taken executive action and nominated a conservative Justice who was confirmed by the Senate. In Moneyball terms, he was able to get on base or win the election. Any other Republican would have done what Trump did legislatively, but was anyone other than Trump able to win?

This is something of an intangible and the sample size is limited to Donald Trump alone. Trump is skewering the sacred cows of liberalism and globalism on a daily basis. He is a culture warrior. Of course, showiness and bravado also makes for high-cost baseball players who underperform. We may need new metrics to figure out how well this worked.


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What I’ve Been Listening To All Day

October 2, 2017
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    2016 Polls

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