Days of Change

National

June 27, 2016
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Polls are tricky. While they seem to be a snapshot of reported sentiment, the numbers can be affected by the questions, the respondents and the way data is “weighted.” It is entirely possible for a poll to be inaccurate, biased or insufficiently thorough as a basis for action.

However, many have been sacrificed by claiming bad polling as an excuse for a failing campaign. Polling gadfly Nate Silver was made more powerful by Republicans adamant that polling data was inherently biased and their candidate (Mitt Romney) was winning.

So, I take it with a grain of salt when Trump supporters try to spin the mountain of polls showing Trump at a disadvantage by grabbing at one outcropping of a poll where Trump is within the margin of error. One of my favorite justifications to watch is citing state polls, because the president actually wins the Electoral College.

There are three problems with this theory. First, state polls have smaller sample sizes. You can poll an entire country with 1,000 respondents, but if you poll fewer people than that, even for a smaller overall sample, your error potential goes up. Polling 50 states is difficult and expensive and any polling usually has huge time gaps, so seeing trends is impossible.

Next, while there is no national popular election, the popular vote almost always follows the presidential results. In the year 2000, George W. Bush won the presidential election even though Al Gore won more votes. However, there has only been one election in US history where a losing candidate (Samuel Tilden) won the majority of the popular vote. Popular sentiment is a 95% accurate predictor of the presidency.

The third problem is unique to Donald Trump. Except for a series of speeches / rallies, has no targeted advertising and virtually no surrogates in key states. He is running the most national campaign in the modern era. If he is doing slightly better than Hillary Clinton in a state, she can target data mining, advertising and GOTV efforts there. Trump has shown no interest in doing that.

In four months, the excuses are over.


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The Perception of Intelligence

June 26, 2016
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The movie Idiocracy has come up a lot lately because it provides the narrative for calling Donald Trump an idiot. The movie’s President Camacho is loud, dumb, famous and angry. He has little use for an intelligent person, but will use one to get ahead. The premise of Idiocracy is that people are getting dumber because the kind of intelligence gained from nature and nurturing is being lost when smart, financially stable couples don’t get around to having children and dumb hicks with nothing better to do than have babies are the majority of the next generation.

Just for fun, let’s look at the people demanding a new Brexit vote and assume they are smart. About 27% of the UK did not vote either way and some people claimed to vote Leave to “send a message,” I assume to the EU. They chose to not take the vote seriously enough to show up, or to screw around and vote for something other than what they wanted as a sort of protest. That alone tends to invalidate the request.

On a larger scale, 25 years ago, Pat Buchanan was telling Americans of European decent than if they didn’t have more than 2 kids, the population would shift to groups that have less stake in the history and culture of Western civilization. Those young yuppie couples instead voted for Bill Clinton and had one or maybe 2 kids. Now, they have no grandchildren and they’re ardent Trump supporters. Somehow, Mexican criminals and shady Muslims started shifting the population. I wonder how that happened.

I remember when Oprah Winfrey, even as a confirmed bachelor, wanted to tell women that having it all required having the kids before they turned 40 as a matter of biology. While artificial insemination was all the rage, certain things are impossible after a while. Unfortunately, biology is self-correcting. If some people wait too long, nature finds the one who won’t wait. Sometimes there are no do-overs, no matter how smart you think you are. Survival is the ultimate victory.


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Deliberative

June 25, 2016
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If you see the name Howard Beale mentioned in terms of either the Brexit story or the Trump campaign, even Bernie Sanders, there is one key phrase to remember. Beale was a character from the movie “Network” whose catch phrase was “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.”

While I admire the spirit of Brexit and to a lesser extent the Trump campaign, it is a disorganized public response to decades of government interference. In the case of the United States, it is possible to replace every member of Congress and an average of 5 Supreme Court Justices in a span of 18 years. We never do it.

What infuriates me is how all the political revolutions in the last 40 years (Reagan, the Gingrich Congress, the Tea Party) are all conservative. It makes me think that these people, my people, wander around in a daze for about a decade before they realize the country has gone to crap and finally get off the couch to vote for the right people. In their defense, the Republican Party does tend to cater to the right when all other options have been exhausted. Still, people can still vote and they choose to vote for the face on their screen the most.

So, now we have Donald Trump. He is very much the parallel to Obama. He’s animated by media attention, he promises vague and sweeping improvements to the world by being elected to a job which used to have the Constitutional authority to merely sign trade agreements and declare war. Trump wants to use the same Executive Order power to end the Executive Orders of Obama. I have an idea. Why not lobby Congress to reduce or end the power to issue Executive Orders in the first place?

The founders of the United States had an idea of how government should work. The House and especially the Senate should be deliberative bodies, deciding the issues of the day. The president decides if a simple majority is sufficient to pass that law and the Supreme Court works to avoid collusion by the other two branches.

Political parties make that nearly impossible. Obamacare exists because Barack Obama needed to promise health care to beat Hillary Clinton. The Congress needed to get some money from insurance companies and the Supreme Court had just enough members ready to declare it Constitutional. With the exception of John Roberts, it was all made possible by only Democrats and Democrat appointees.

The last check or balance left is the voter. For all the bitching and moaning about how the Republicans are the same as Democrats, the GOP has been the sane party for decades. If you don’t like the Republicans in office, the last 3 elections have proven that primaries work. Unfortunately, the GOP’s decision to game primaries against Ron Paul gave us Donald Trump. He’s part of the family (for now). We’ll have to figure out if he will listen to an intervention or if he will self-destruct.


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Well, This Week is Over

June 24, 2016
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Trump campaign shake ups, Bernie Sanders non-endorsements and the crack up of the EU and possibly the UK. IT really seems like the world economy goes to crap every 8 years. It did in 2008, in 2000 and in 1992 (sort of). I get the feeling I’m going to be glad in my decision not to max out my 401K because there’s a decent chance money will go out of it this year rather than go in.


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No One Wants to Be Here

June 23, 2016
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In the past couple of decades, national borders have been stressed with demands of one group to separate from another. 20 years ago, Canada held a referendum to decide if Quebec could leave and become a separate country. The referendum lost by a slim majority. Recently, Texas has made noise about seceding from the United States. Upstate New York has discussed separating from downstate. Now, we have Brexit.

Brexit is the proposal that Britain leave the EU and operate as a fully independent government. The Maastricht Treaty about 20 years ago started the inclusion of European nations into an economic and political union. The problem in recent years is that certain countries maintain economic dominance (Germany) and tend to dictate terms to the rest of the union, especially when it comes to economic aid. The biggest hot button issue is the desire of the German government to bring in a nearly unlimited number of so-called refugees and migrants from Islamic countries without regard to their ability to be assimilated.

If you believe Trump about how bad the Muslim presence in America is, it’s nothing compared to much of Europe. Proximity and a globalist mindset has truly reached invasion levels. Massive cultural differences are more stark as fewer first generation immigrants care to assimilate and second generation immigrants are starting to find ISIS and other terror groups on the internet.

It’s quite possible that Brits are sick of it. Of course, many are not and others have such close associations with Muslims that they don’t even consider that this new, even less skilled and useful crop of immigrants might not be a good group to bring in. Unlike the sheer boredom of last night’s Democrat Party media stunt, the Brexit vote is a real nail biter. It’s 51% for withdrawal with 25% of the vote in and there’s no clear indication where the rest of the ballots are headed.

These days, the world is getting smaller and smaller and some people just want to be left alone.


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You Can’t Win for Losers

June 22, 2016
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One of the things that drives many Trump supporters wild is when he attacks people who attack him. Much of the time, his targets choose to go after him at the same level, which is a mistake because it usually is shooting down. Trump’s insults are rarely substantive, but vague impressions (Lyin’ Ted, Crooked Hillary, Disgusting Kasich) along with ludicrous charges interwoven with legitimate complaints. Most of the time, anyone Trump doesn’t like is judged a “loser” or about to fail. In some cases, they just aren’t as sexually experienced as Trump. At least he hasn’t used that insult on Hillary Clinton yet.

Negative campaigning is an unfortunate reality of the political process. It does not sway voters, but discourages voters from coming out for a candidate they had been considering by tarnishing their image. At the same time, it is an effective method to contrast one candidate’s qualities with another’s. Since it is a toxic weapon, most political candidates save that vitriol for advertisements that distance them from the attacks. Trump does not, and it is what’s currently dragging down his aspirations to appear presidential.

Everyone on the Trump Train is planning for an election season where the omnipresence of Trump talking about Benghazi or the Clinton Foundation will educate ignorant voters into choosing him over Clinton. The fact is, however, that these undecideds are dumb and relatively few. They go on impressions and media analysis. Even though Hillary Clinton is a lying monster, when she gives speeches, she sounds reasonable and presidential to the uninitiated. Trump’s attacks have an effective level of a couple of months. That’s long enough to get the nomination, but not to win the presidency.

I know the Trump people are deluding themselves, I’ve done it for a few losing Republican years myself. When Trump comes up close to even with Clinton is swing states, those numbers are worthless. The Democrats can point to 2-3 big cities in each state, run some ads about how Trump hates non-whites and bus people into early voting stations to drive turnout sky high. Trump has to decimate Clinton and he needs to get along with Republicans to do it. Instead, supporters would rather call me an idiot and spend all their time framing the Lewandowski firing into a use less diatribe about how this won’t help Michelle Fields’ career anyway. Who in the hell cares? This is about the future of the country.


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Is There a Chance?

June 21, 2016
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Most people look at the government and think we know the answers. But most of us have been beaten down by life and come to the conclusion that no one wants to hear from us. Billionaires have a different background and think everyone wants to listen to their pedestrian plans. Ross Perot essentially ran for president because Larry King suggested it. How else could he get Bill Clinton elected… twice?

When billionaires like Perot and Trump come up against reality they can reach a point where instead of fighting to maintain their delusions, they decide everyone else is wrong and they disengage. This is essentially what Trump did when dropped out of the Reform Party nomination contest in early 2000. It may be happening again. Trump’s kids had to step in to remove Corey Lewandowski because Trump couldn’t see how lousy he was. Trump’s been dropping in the polls so he cites one poll where he’s losing within the margin of error.

More importantly, Donald Trump is trying to spend as little money as possible. The money he has spent was to pay his own hospitality business for services rendered. When Mitt Romney had the needed delegates in 2012, he chose not to borrow from his own pile of money until the convention released GOP funds. That lack of media may have cost him the election, and Trump is doing the same thing, except there is no money in the bank, either.

Ross Perot was not afraid to take donations, but he also never met a conspiracy that wasn’t out to get him. He fired much of his team and essentially quit during the general election season before coming back in just long enough to spoil the race in Bill Clinton’s favor. Unfortunately, he ran again in 1996 to much less fanfare but just as much of a distraction to win Clinton a second term with less than 50% of the popular vote.

If we are very lucky, Donald Trump will get tired of being called a loser this early, decide to blame the GOP elite, the media, Mexicans, Muslims or soem other group and drop out. It’s the best scenario left. A quitter will leave many fewer defiant former Trump supporters. Unfortunately, that outcome relies on an unstable tycoon.


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I am a Man of Constant Sorrow

June 20, 2016
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During the 1992 presidential campaign, H. Ross Perot hired veteran campaign manager Ed Rollins. Rollins resigned two months later on July 15 as Perot started to dip in the polls. Later, Rollins wrote about how the campaign was in disarray and filled with paranoia from the original Perot supporters who feared a real campaign team. He was accused of being a Bush plant from the CIA.

It’s still unknown whether Trump’s firing of loutish incompetent Corey Lewandowski for more competent Paul Manfort is a sign of a campaign superior to Perot’s or simply just a longer waiting period for the team to explode. What really disturbs me is the level of cognitive dissonance necessary for Trump supporters to claim that keeping Lewandowski on after the Michelle Fields fiasco was the right move and that leaving him around for 3 months until Trump’s poll numbers sank was also a great decision.

Donald Trump hasn’t cast his spell on me like he has so many other Republicans. This election, more than others, seems to rely on that kind of cult of personality. I see this election as a wasted opportunity for Republicans to elect someone who understands how government works, not another Obama whose ego dwarfs his abilities. Even if Trump wins, the same people who liked him will turn on him when he fails to meet their expectations. George W. Bush was almost entirely defined by the media and he was fully qualified for the job.

This is what my indifference is all about. I’m not going to be happy if Trump loses. It will only confirm my suspicions. If he wins, it will be four years of Democrats winning the narrative because Trump will negotiate everything away or be blamed for blocking everything. That’s what happens when the No-nothing party wins. I’m just sad for the future.


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Assault on Semi Automatic Weapons

June 19, 2016
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In a way, I think I have a unique perspective as someone who favors gun owners’ rights while knowing very little about guns themselves. From what I understand, most gun control advocates don’t know much, either.

Liberals have painted a picture of the NRA as an organization that used to be more reasonable about gun control but was overtaken by crazy gun nuts who want every child to have a rocket launcher. What the NRA figured out long ago was that the left does not want responsible gun ownership. They want government to be the owner of all guns as the only responsible party. That’s when the NRA understood that weapons bans and “gun control” were only means to an end of making guns practically nonexistent.

The plan for getting rid of guns is similar to the plan for eliminating smoking, only with a pesky Constitution in the way. We’re in the second hand bullet phase. Responsible gun ownership isn’t enough. The left is trying to prove that it is too easy to get a gun and the guns people get are far too deadly. The next step, of course, is to use gun ownership as an excuse to look at everyone’s medical and financial records.

The current myth is about the deadliness of so-called assault weapons. Depending on the definition of the day, the term usually refers to weapons that have features that make it easier to operate, but not necessarily any more effective. Some TV comedians have complained about “semi-automatic” weapons, a class that includes both rifles and handguns.

Politically, handguns are a non-starter, but rifles are scary looking and seem like something regular people don’t need. There are two problems, however, with trying to restrict rifles instead of handguns. Most of these killers bring rifles and handguns because of problem two. Semi-automatic weapons shoot at about the same rate and in a mass murder, the slightly increased accuracy of a rifle is not a factor.

That’s why most of the legislative push is for restrictions on licenses. In reality, Chicago has some of the worst gun violence because they have strong restrictions on ownership, but weak punishment for unlicensed gun owners. Then there are all the personal assaults and knife attacks in countries without private gun ownership, not the mention the occasional mass murder by firearm. And that’s why the government does nothing good when they do something for the sake of doing something.


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Prize of Newt

June 18, 2016
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By not running for president this year, Newt Gingrich managed to avoid the Donald Trump rhetorical assault on every other contender, including ones who now support Trump. Gingrich fills the role of a Biden or Cheney, someone with gravitas to balance out a less proven candidate. Of course, Newt is something of a loose cannon. Compared to Trump, however, he’s Winston freaking Churchill.

My opinion on VP selection is that they should actually be able to be president. Almost every time a president dies in office, the man who takes over was the last person the deceased president wanted for the job. Given that standard, Trump could pick Joe Biden and I’d be comfortable with Trump stepping down.


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