February 29, 2016

Last time I checked, I'm still on Twitter

I checked 5 minutes ago.  I posted a tweet with a hashtag "FreeStacy" and a rant about Twitter Gestapo last week.  Despite working for years trying to build up a following of over 12,000, I'm prepared to get kicked off to prove a point about the Orwellian overlord tactics Twitter is taking against conservative bloggers and personalities.

But it's not happening.  Perhaps I'm small potatoes and maybe I'm the type of tweeter they can point to and say "See, we're not targeting conservatives".  Maybe.  But it doesn't make any of the rest of their actions any less despicable.

Super Tuesday tomorrow

Tomorrow is Super Tuesday. Donald Trump is going to win the majority of the delegates on the GOP side. At least 2 candidates must drop out if Republican voters want 'anyone but Trump' as the nominee.  If Ted Cruz doesn't win by enough of a margin in Texas, he has to drop out.  If Rubio performs poorly in Florida, he has to drop out.  Kasich and Carson should be out already but they aren't.  The longer this drags on, the harder it is going to be to beat Trump.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton is going to win most every state tomorrow. Sanders will do well in some of the upcoming states if his losses aren't too terrible tomorrow but at this point, it's looking more and more like a miracle would be needed to see Sanders as the Democratic nominee.

After tomorrow barring any upset results, it's about 80% likely that the presidential election will feature Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Just, wow. 

Trump apparently is leading Hillary in New York.  Maybe with Chris Christie he can also win in New Jersey. That's probably going to be necessary since he could conceivably lose a few Republican stronghold states.  Then again if Bloomberg jumps into the race as an independent it could topple that logic as well, as far as New York goes.

The results of this election are looking more and more bizarre as well as potentially disastrous for conservatives. One thing for sure, it's the most interesting election cycle on the GOP side since 1980. But it isn't a TV show, it's the future of the country that hangs in the balance.


February 27, 2016

Saturday Learning Series - Geography (Albania)

More European geography.


Of course you might be old enough to remember this geography lesson from the 80's:

February 26, 2016

A comparison of debate qualities

In 1980 the Republican debates between Reagan and Bush were specific, and civil.



As an aside, Reagan turned out to be closer to correct than Bush but that's a discussion for another time. By contrast, here's last night's 3 way slugfest between Trump, Rubio and Cruz.

Looks like Chris Christie will be Trump's VP choice

Chris Christie has endorsed Trump as the nominee. Smart political move for Christie and probably somewhat beneficial to Trump prior to Super Tuesday.


Friday Musical Interlude - Rock It For Me

Caravan Palace live at Le Trianon, Paris 2012.

February 25, 2016

Foreign leaders decrying Trump are helping him

The Pope disagrees with Trump - no damage. China is worried about Trump causing a trade war - no damage. Vincente Fox, former leader of Mexico is angry about Trump winning.  My prediction - no damage. 

In fact these people are helping Trump.  He promises to give America backbone in its dealings with foreign nations.  These leaders being upset proves his point.  That doesn't make Trump the right candidate.  But it does help make his case.

February 24, 2016

#TwitterGestapo #FreeStacy

I spent a long time building up over 12,000 followers on Twitter. I'm prepared to walk away from that because Twitter it seems, is run by Nazis. I don't have nearly the audience through other outlets like Google+, but I don't care. To be honest, very little of my traffic comes from Twitter anymore.  But it's actually the principle that matters to me.  


#BoycottTwitter #FreeStacy


The NYPost sums it up like this:
When Twitter sanctioned popular right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos last month for bad behavior, conservatives were concerned. Two weeks ago, when the social media platform picked a bunch of leftist groups to write its new harassment policies, they grew worried.

Now, in the wake of Twitter’s recent decision to ban conservative blogger Robert Stacy McCain, is it time for full-fledged panic?

There’s no telling what Twitter’s endgame is, but it’s unlikely to be good for users who don’t want the company to enforce overly broad harassment and hate-speech policies at the expense of open dialogue.
And that's not all they've done. 
Twitter recently formed the Orwellian-named “Trust and Safety Council” to propose changes to the company’s use policies. The goal, according to a press release, was to find a middle ground between permitting broad free speech and restricting actual abuse.

But practically none of the 40 people chosen to be part of the council are all that concerned about free speech. In fact, most of them work for anti-harassment groups and seem likely to recommend further limitations on online expression.

One such council member is Anita Sarkeesian, a feminist blogger and opponent of the GamerGate movement.
Go ahead and ban conservatives Twitter. You're Nazis with a failing business model.  Ban me, I do not care.  Conservatives will find other outlets for our opinions. 

Twitter does not have to respect the First Amendment to the Constitution, they're a private company and can run their business into the ground if they like.  But be prepared to reap the whirlwind.

Conservatives will abandon you in droves.  Any business prepared to give up 50 percent of their users is not a business that will survive.

Now let's see if this opinion gets me banned.

I already said that

It looks like columnist Sally Kohn @ CNN agrees with me on Democrat Superdelegates:
The Republican Party has superdelegates, too, but they have a lot less power. GOP superdelegates are only about 7% of the nominating vote, and according to Republican convention rules, superdelegates must vote in accordance with their state primary outcomes.

It's in the Democratic Party that the outsized power and lack of accountability of superdelegates is supremely, well, undemocratic.

Specifically, after the Democratic caucuses in Nevada, CNN estimated that Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders were almost tied for pledged delegates, with 52 and 51 of them, respectively. And yet Clinton was leading by a much wider margin in the total delegate count because a whopping 445 superdelegates -- out of a total of 712 -- pledged to support her. By comparison, just 18 superdelegates pledged to support Sanders.
Yeah.  I already mentioned that. But at least someone at CNN noticed that the superdelegate system is wildly elitist

February 23, 2016

Nevada GOP caucus predictions

Predicting that Trump is going to win in Nevada is not exciting given recent polling. Who comes in second or third also isn't all that big a deal.  What I'm going to focus on is who is going to drop out after tonight.

Ben Carson.  Just a hunch.  But he can now say he lasted longer than Jeb Bush. 

And that's it.  Even though he should drop out to benefit the establishment and also because his chances of winning are approaching zero, Kasich is going to stay in for at least another week.  It's pointless for him to continue, but I don't believe he's going away.  For better or worse, Trump is benefiting from a split field.  Until Ted Cruz drops out, the eventual departure of  candidates will benefit Rubio first, and Cruz second.  

The longer this carries on, the more likely it is that Trump will be the nominee.


February 22, 2016

Pleasant thought for the day

Jeb Bush has dropped out of the running as a candidate for president.  Now if we could only get Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders to do the same...

February 20, 2016

Sucker play

In looking at the RealClearPolitics head to head polls lately, I'm having trouble reconciling what I'm seeing.  Every candidate except for Donald Trump in poll after poll beats Hillary Clinton.  Even Trump beats her in some of the polls.  On the other hand, Bernie Sanders seems to beat every Republican in most polls in head-to-head contests. Not all.

But we're continually told that it's inevitable that Clinton wins the nomination and that she beats the Republican no matter who it might be.  

I'm struck by the fact that middle of the road voters who won't vote for Clinton would turn out for Bernie Sanders should he bee the nominee.  Or perhaps more of the very liberal voters would turn out for Sanders than moderates who would sit out should he win than the reverse case for Hillary.  The conclusion, as someone pulling for a conservative president, is that we're supposed to be cheering for Hillary to beat Sanders.  I don't buy that.

America is not a socialist, and for moderates or conservatives, I'd expect people to be pressed to turn out against Sanders as much as for his eventual Republican opponent.  Cheering for Hillary is a sucker play as a Republican.  She's the harder candidate to beat.

So why do the polls say otherwise?  Are pollsters like PPP secretly trying to get out the vote for Hillary on the Democrat side?  Are they trying to entice independent voters into Democrat primaries and caucuses to boost Hillary's chances in the primaries and after she's won the polls will turn in her favor once again?  Is she going to be billed as Comeback Kid 2?

I'm not suggesting voters are misleading pollsters, or that the pollsters are off.  What I'm suggesting is that the polling is skewed in such a way as to show that Sanders would be a harder opponent for Cruz/Trump/Rubio than would Clinton.  And in the case of some pollsters, it's deliberate.  The only other possibility that I can come up with is that the pollsters are talking to younger voters than in previous cycles thanks to changing technology. But pollsters can oversample various demographics to account for that potential bias. I'd expect they would.  I haven't taken detailed looks a the individual polls yet.  It's too early for that.  But I don't believe they'd overlook sample bias.  Like I said - as a conservative cheering for Hillary as a general election opponent for the Republican is a sucker play.


Saturday Learning Series - Geography (Austria)

A little Europe today.

February 19, 2016

Friday Musical Interlude - Dramaphone

More Caravan Palace this month - Dramaphone from 2012. This looks like it might be a theme year by month for Friday Musical Interludes.

February 17, 2016

Thursday Hillary Bash - Lobbyist = Superdelegate

This is how business gets done in Washington D.C. or at least in the Democratic party. Lobbyists get to not only influence in Congress, they get to help decide who gets to run for president.
Lobbyists are not only staffing and financing Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, they’re also tipping the nomination process in her favor by serving as so-called superdelegates to the Democratic National Convention.

Bernie Sanders won the New Hampshire Democratic primary by more than 22 percentage points and by doing so, earned 15 delegates to Clinton’s 9. So it came as a shock to many observers when Clinton, despite losing the second biggest rout in state history, walked away with the same number of delegates.

That’s because Clinton had the support of six New Hampshire unpledged delegates — better known as superdelegates... An Associated Press survey found that superdelegates nationally overwhelmingly supported Clinton.

...Although they make up only a small proportion of the superdelegates, the presence of lobbyists in such a potentially decisive role adds fuel to the critique that the Democratic Party is influenced by monied special interests. In recent months, the DNC quietly repealed rules instituted by Barack Obama that banned lobbyists from donating to the party.

Asked about the role of lobbyists as superdelegates, DNC spokesperson Deshundra Jefferson referred us to a blog post on Medium by Patrice Taylor, the director of party affairs and delegate selection. The post does not explain why professional influence peddlers were designated as superdelegates.
The article actually provided specific examples.  Corruption. Elitism. The Democrat party is truly disgusting if this is the state of affairs.

February 16, 2016

Establishment not getting it

The establishments in both the GOP and Democratic parties don't get it. They think that business as usual is fine. But on main streets across America, people see that the status quo - business as usual - is not working. Jobs are disappearing even though unemployment is supposedly under 5%. People still working are finding it harder and harder to maintain their own status quo inflation is supposedly low. But the establishment people seem interested in maintaining their own status and interests and are tone deaf to everyone else. Interestingly, they seem to not realize the interdependence of all people. To the business elite a customer is a customer - it doesn't matter if it's someone in Asia, Europe or North America. A government is a government - regardless of where it is or what it is founded on (democracy, totalitarianism, whatever(. That's because they are rich and powerful and they believe that they can bribe or work with these governments regardless of how others are affected.

There is evidence in the offshoring of jobs. There is evidence in the political corruption of people like Charles Rangel. They see themselves as above the law.

In the Democratic party after two states have caucused or had their primaries Hillary Clinton leads in delegates for her nomination. Given that she won Iowa by a hair and lost in a rout in New Hampshire, how is that possible? Superdelegates.

Via Google
A brief history of Superdelegates, via Wikipedia:
After the 1968 Democratic National Convention, the Democratic Party made changes in its delegate selection process...to make the composition of the convention less subject to control by party leaders and more responsive to the votes cast during the campaign for the nomination.

Some Democrats believed that these changes had unduly diminished the role of party leaders and elected officials...

In 1982, the Hunt Commission recommended and the Democratic National Committee adopted a rule that set aside some delegate slots for Democratic members of Congress and for state party chairs and vice chairs.[7] Under the original Hunt plan, superdelegates were 30% of all delegates, but when it was finally implemented for the 1984 election, they were 14%. The number has steadily increased, and today they are approximately 20%.[8]

...In February of 2016, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chair of the Democratic National Committee, was asked by CNN's Jake Tapper, "What do you tell voters who are new to the process who say this makes them feel like it's all rigged?" Schultz's response was, "Superdelegates exist really to make sure that party leaders and elected officials don't have to be in a position where they are running against grass-roots activists."[16] This clarification was hailed by Clinton supporters as a wise policy to maintain steady, experienced governance, and derided by Sanders supporters as the establishment thwarting the will of the people.
On the GOP side there is a concerted effort to to ensure anyone that is not an establishment candidate (Trump, Cruz, Carson, Fiorina) does not win the nomination. The establishment Republicans can argue that it is being done to protect the growth and stability of America from its radical fringes and to avoid abrupt changes that could topple what has been built and what is being built upon it. But ultimately this has been leading to it's own eventual implosion. Peggy Noonan is right.
We’re in the midst of a rebellion. The bottom and middle are pushing against the top. It’s a throwing off of old claims and it’s been going on for a while, but we’re seeing it more sharply after New Hampshire. This is not politics as usual, which by its nature is full of surprise. There’s something deep, suggestive, even epochal about what’s happening now.
The self-interest of the establishment class has translated into an aversion to the common good for the GOP and a fear of the common man for the Democrats.
...some members of the Democratic elite see Sanders as unelectable due to his self-proclaimed democratic socialism and age, among other factors. Why step aside and allow him the nomination?

“They probably see this as an example of why superdelegates were created in the first place. If the voters want to commit political suicide, the party leaders can step in and restore reason,” writes Martin Longman at the Washington Monthly, sarcastically.
Both political parties have institutionalized attitudes that have imbued the country with laws which allow or even encourage the rich to leave with their assets and jobs. They are unintentionally, or unconcernedly mandating successor states with more freedom to invest spring up in place of America.

There are plenty of examples on both sides of the aisle that indicate these attitudes exist. The protection of illegal immigrants as a voting block - coupled with a desire cheap labor at the expense of domestic workers ensure that illegal immigration doesn't stop. . Red tape strangles small businesses but is manageable by super-firms ensures a lack of competition for establishment businesses happy with the status quo.

Reagan once said a raising tide lifts all boats. But this is no longer the situation in America. Elites on both sides of the political aisle have ensured that the rising tide only lifts the yachts, and the other boats will instead take on water. What's needed is a shake-up. Unless America is full of boiling frogs, it's going to happen this election cycle. The next president is more and more likely to be Trump or Cruz or Sanders. Unless those super-delegates have their way.

But even if one of those men win, there are still an enormous number of hurdles to overcome before America is set on the right path (or even further down the wrong path).

February 15, 2016

The Fundamental Flaw in the American Governmental System


I greatly admire the American political system. The way the Constitution structured government is brilliant in it's methods of addressing a major concern of the founding fathers. The Constitution is eloquent in its design. It still is, and will always be, important and necessary. But it does contain a design flaw.

The Constitution was constructed to protect the American people against tyranny. Tyranny can come in many forms but the founders appeared to have focused on two crucial forms - the tyranny of an elite rulership (a King, or a dictator) and the tyranny of a mob. Of course that the Revolution against the British Crown drove the thinking of the framers is obvious. Government was divided into three separate but equal branches - the Executive, the Legislative and the Judicial branches. Each had their own mandate as to what their areas of responsibility were, and are. This was to ensure that too much power did not end up in the hands of one person, or one small group of people.

Later the Bill of Rights introduced a number of protections like the second amendment to ensure the people could protect themselves against the tyranny of a future Julius Caesar who might try to usurp power. The tenth amendment delegated any powers not specifically enumerated to the federal government to the states or the people. This was designed to prevent the slow encroachment of federal purview into every aspect of life.

But the other form of tyranny, mob rule, is a danger to a freedom too. In a representative republic, unlike a democracy, rights of minorities are less subject to the whims of the day. If for example there was a rampant culture of fear concerning Muslims today, in a democracy people could vote in some sort of referendum that being a Muslim is a capital crime and that it requires the death penalty (never mind that my example overlooks the notion of freedom of religion, the absurdity is merely to prove a point). In a representative republic, that simply could not come to pass. Two separate but equal branches of government would have to agree that the idea should become law. The third branch would arbitrate whether the law, once passed and then challenged, is actually Constitutional or not.

That all serves as a brake on mob rule and gut reactions to crises or issues of the day. Further, the Senate with it's longer election cycle, allows senators to be less beholden to the electorate than congressmen and therefore able to take a longer view on the implications for the country of each legislative vote. Again, that sober, second thought is a brake on the tyranny of mob rule. This is also true to an extent for the presidency with its inherent responsibility to sign legislation onto law.

The Constitution even protects itself from being rewritten by requiring such a high threshold for amendments that it ensures re-writes don't happen to it all of the time.

What the Constitution does to prevent radical and/or ill-considered changes at unwise speeds is brilliant. But I did mention a flaw, and it's become apparent to me that it is kind of a critical one.

What made it hard to change the system makes, it hard to change the system when bad decisions have become institutionalized. The welfare state. Obamacare. Public education. Common core. Byzantine tax code as a tool for social policy. Redundant government departments sucking up taxpayer money for repetitive and overlapping social programs. Ever-thickening red-tape that is grinding industry in America to a standstill. All of these have become ingrained in the system and are perpetuated by government after government.

Reversing those bad decisions that have snowballed from small problems into major ones is proving to be as difficult as getting them going was initially. In fact in some cases, even harder. The government is set up to minimize change.  When the bad ideas are part of the institution, they cannot just be wished away. Worse still, there are also institutionalized practices that are not even law -- crony capitalism, lobbyists, and government and big businesses being in bed together to stifle potential competitors and enrich the big companies and the politicians who support them. In the case of these unseen 'institutions' there are no public accountabilities. There is no policing them as it were.

Yet we are asking politicians to change these things, to fix these problems. Government is part of the problem. What we see among voters is a reaction to bloat. Conservatives view the solution to this as reducing the size of government. Liberals see the same problem but believe the solution is to grow the government to keep these large evil companies accountable. That they do not see that asking one thief to watch the other is a bad idea, is comical. But the conservative position is also flawed. Yes, government bureaucracies are too large and not accountable. But the bigger problem than their size is how they operate, and how they are also not held to account for their actions.

Is America stuck with bad systems that cannot be changed? No. Paradigm shifts are possible, but the longer this bloat remains, the more they require incremental momentum to make that happen. We've gone from having to move a house to having to move a mountain. Adding to that mountain no longer makes sense. We're moving ever closer to complete stagnation in the name of progress. It's time to chip away at the stone, not add more stone. A new intelligent mechanism is required for dealing with the size, scope and relationships of government - one that is beholden to the ideals of the Constitution and not the government itself. The details of that are important and it must be given a great deal of thought. Just like the framers of the Constitution did in their day.

February 14, 2016

Impressions from the South Carolina GOP debate

The Republican debate last night in South Carolina left me with a few impressions and the strongest two of them were not about the candidates directly. That said, here's a quick summary of my immediate thoughts.

(1) The crowd was far too involved.  Disproportionately involved is probably a better way to put it.  The crowd seemed to be firmly behind Bush first, then Kasich and then maybe Rubio.  That does not reflect polling in the state and often did not reflect what was being said by the candidates.  At times it seemed like they were booing for the sake of booing a specific candidate. Trump claimed they were all Bush donors.  What's more likely is that each candidate tried to stack the hall with supporters/volunteers provided with instructions on how to respond.

(2) The moderator John Dickerson was both prepared and unprepared.  As a moderator Dickerson asked measured, intelligent questions. He deserves credit for that.  Secondly as to the audience stepping on candidates' responses he did not seem prepared for it and made no obvious effort to control it.  Similarly he allowed the back and forth between candidates to go on too long in many cases.  I applaud him for not stepping on candidates' talking and allowing more back and forth.  However, he did not manage the perfect balance between allowing the back and forth, and keeping the debate from bogging down in tit-for-tat talking.  All that said, on balance he did a good job overall, especially when compared to many previous GOP debate moderators in the past 8 years.

(3)  Donald Trump seemed to take a lot of the jabs from Jeb too personally. It came across as bitter. He started strong on the SCOTUS issue suggesting openly that the GOP controlled senate should delay on any Obama nomination.  Then he got into it with Jeb and made the debate about the two of them.  It's been called swinging down and it helps Jeb and hurts Trump.  Trump should stop it if he wants to win. Trump did manage to even himself out later in the debate and finished strongly.

(4) It was Jeb's strongest performance yet in terms of actual debating.  He did the right thing by attacking Trump because it kept him in the limelight more than his ranking merits. It did nothing to change his image as an establishment RINO.  

(5) Kasich's message of not attacking fellow Republicans was a good one but...  Two problems: (i) It's not practical right now for the candidates to do that. The need to show they can mix it up for when they face Clinton or Sanders, and more urgently, they need to gain or protect their existing support levels among primary voters. (ii) It would carry more weight if he had not started the debates by slagging Donald Trump really hard. It's a bit hypocritical or at least a flip flop.

(6) Rubio did much better than his New Hampshire debate. He probably did not do as well as he needed to make up most of the ground he lost as a result of the Chris Christie tussle last time around.

(7) I did not get a strong enough sense on the positions of most of the candidates on the Supreme Court.  Perhaps that was too much to expect at that debate, but a strong answer from a candidate could have been a boon.  None of the answers on the death of Justice Scalia were particularly bad, but they were certainly not enough to make an impression.


Sunday Verse


February 13, 2016

RIP Scalia

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has passed away. My prayers go out for his family.  Also for America.  There's going to be a firestorm around his replacement.  Given president Obama's abysmal nominations, this is critical for America to get right, and that means not leaving the nomination process unquestioned in the Senate.

The debate in South Carolina that is about to start HAS to focus on each of the candidates' positions on the Supreme Court.  It's imperative.

Saturday Learning Series - Geography (Chile)

A geography lesson on Chile from Geography now.

February 12, 2016

Friday Musical Interlude - Clash (live)

Not The Clash, but rather Caravan Palace's song Clash, live at Le Trianon in Paris, 2012. Electro-swing.

Humility

I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks like this. Humility is a virtue with which far too many people are unfamiliar.  Cam Newton's just one example of someone not handling defeat well. The same for success. Sure, he handed game balls to kids. But he also gloated.

Perhaps maturity can only come with life experience. Perhaps it can only come with defeat. In that respect, perhaps Cam Newton will emerge an even better NFL star from this.

But Cam Newton is not the problem.  The problem is a culture of bling. The problem is a coarse society that does not respect its elders' experiential knowledge, or does not respect grace.  A culture has issues when winning replaces civility and honesty and hard work.  Winning is, or should be, a result of doing those other things and possessing those virtuous qualities. Even then, not always.  When winning becomes the only goal, you get short cuts, you get cheating, you get winners who do not have the experience of hard work to get there.  That sews the seeds of eventual defeat - for individuals, and for nations. Wait and see.

At least, that's just my humble opinion.

February 11, 2016

Thursday Hillary Bash - outsourced today

Busy today so I'm outsourcing my Thursday Hillary Bash to this very informative visual post over at Vanden Brink's Blog.

It's must see stuff. Well done.

February 10, 2016

Chris Christie torpedo theory

Do you think it's possible that Chris Christie took his shot at Marco Rubio in the last New Hampshire debate, knowing that if he could successfully torpedo him it would make him a prime candidate as the #2 on the ticket for someone else who is polling better and isn't going to drop out of the race this week? Indications are that Christie is about to drop out

I'm just speculating.  I know a lot of people are thinking that other candidate might be Donald Trump. But I was thinking Jeb Bush. Sure, Trump makes sense, but so does Jeb.  All Christie had left to offer was his steamroller tactics. Not money, not sufficient support.  Both Trump and Bush have support and money.  Both could use Rubio out.

BUT...

Would Trump really go for a NY Republican - NJ Republican ticket and think that it might be a winner for him?  Jeb might think Florida NJ is a good geographic mix.  Would Trump want Christie on the ticket if he could ask for Cruz who offers him some grassroots support. Jeb Bush doesn't appear to be interested in the grassroots voters.  He appears to want an establishment running mate.

Plus, there were rumors that Bush, Christie and possibly Kasich were colluding to take out Rubio prior to the debate. Where there's smoke, there's fire.

Again, I'm just speculating, but I think Christie is banking on Jeb.  Then again, he could have deals with both Bush and Trump.  

Socialist Pope redux

I'm not sure how I missed this back in July of 2015. But it's worth noting. Supposedly Pope Francis was 'surprised' by this, but the fact that Bolivian president Evo Morales felt in a position to offer this to the Pope, says a lot about the image he has projected - at a minimum.  I for one, am not surprised that this happened. I don't think the Pope really was either, unless he wants to be a stealth socialist Pope and this blew his cover.

Yes, that's a hammer and sickle crucifix.

(CNN) The look on the face of Pope Francis says it all.

Why am I being presented with a wooden crucifix laid on a hammer and sickle, the Communist symbol conceived during the Russian Revolution?

The Pope received the gift from Bolivian President Evo Morales on the latest stage of his South American tour. He later celebrated Mass with nearly 1 million Bolivians in Santa Cruz.

The links and battles between Communism and the Catholic Church are an extremely sensitive subject in Latin America, the Pope's home continent. While he was an archbishop in Argentina, Francis tried to strike a delicate balance between championing the poor and avoiding class warfare.

According to reports, Morales told Francis that the "Communist crucifix" was modeled on a design created by the Rev. Luis Espinal, a politically active priest murdered by right-wing paramilitaries in Bolivia in 1980. The Pope stopped and prayed at the site of the shooting on Wednesday evening.
That is not cool.

February 9, 2016

Et tu FOX?

Fox News has it in for Trump. Like him or not you have to be concerned about Fox using MSNBC tactics against someone they don't like.  Fair and Balanced?

Trump did not use the F word, even though Fox made it appear he did:


Rupert Murdoch loves Hillary Clinton, remember? Oh, and Jeb Bush.

Blind Handicapping New Hampshire for fun

I haven't had a chance to follow any polling updates today to see how the New Hampshire primaries are trending.  So, rather than  reading up, I'm going to blindly handicap the outcome, just for fun.  Here's my stab in the dark.

GOP:

Trump - 34%
Kasich  - 16%
Rubio  - 14%
Bush  - 9%
Carson - 8%
Cruz  - 6%
Christie - 5%
Fiorina - 4%
Gilmore - 1%

Democrats:

Sanders - 58%
Clinton -  42%

I'm not even sure the percentages add up to 100%. I'll just attribute any shortage or overage to rounding errors.

UPDATE:

After I posted, I read up.  Here's Allahpundit's prediction. I may be not as far off as I thought. At least on the order, except for Cruz.  I'll take it.
Prediction time: Trump 26, Kasich 18, Rubio 16, Bush 14, Cruz 14
POSTED AT 4:41 PM ON FEBRUARY

February 8, 2016

New Hampshire - dumbest Republicans in America

Polling in New Hampshire shows Jeb Bush with a late surge. Really New Hampshire?  Jeb BUSH? The name that can't win ever again?  And why the establish-candidate rush in that direction?  His debate performance was lackluster.  Chris Christie was the one with the effective attacks on Rubio, and you're even putting Kasich ahead of Christie. 

WHAT. THE.HELL?

What did Jeb Bush do to earn a surge? Not a thing.

The only redeeming thing about New Hampshire Republicans (the dumbest Republicans in America it seems) is that your opinion doesn't matter. South Carolina will not pick a Bush, or a Kasich.  Your New Hampshire opinions will die a muted death. Well, that and the fact that at least the best Bush can hope for is a distant second.

I really hope the poll is wrong.

February 7, 2016

Sunday Verse

28 Hast thou not known ? hast thou not heard , that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary ? there is no searching of his understanding. 29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. 30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary , and the young men shall utterly fall : 31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run , and not be weary ; and they shall walk , and not faint .
~Isaiah 40:28-31

February 6, 2016

GOP Debate winners and losers

This debate was an easy one on which to provide post-analysis. Kasich, Bush and Christie did indeed go after Rubio even though they had claimed there was no agreement to do so.  Trump played it safe, protecting his lead.  Rubio did an okay job defending himself against Chris Christie, but not as well as he should have done.  Jeb Bush was not as effective at the Rubio attack as Christie, or the I can govern message as well as either Christie or Kasich.

Ben Carson had some good lines and some humorous answers.  He did not stand out enough though.  

Ted Cruz held his ground, though right now, CNN is claiming he's evil because he's misrepresenting what CNN reported about Ben Carson leaving the race/not leaving the race.

3 hours and that's about the most notable stuff.  The only other point I'd note was that it seemed like there were a lot of Bush supporters in the crowd.

Winners:

Donald Trump - he was smart to play it safe and stay above the fray because the attacks were all focused elsewhere.  He's protecting his lead and did nothing to hurt it. He did nothing outstanding, but he did what he had to do.

Chris Christie - Most effective attacks on Rubio came from Christie.  He'll be more memorable than Bush or Kasich.

Losers:

Marco Rubio - He like Trump, needed to protect his position.  He didn't respond well and came across as needing more time to refine his resume and his skills.  He didn't come off badly, but he needed to better than he did.

Jeb Bush, and Ben Carson - Wallflowers with no memorable moments.

Carly Fiorina - MIA. Not her fault but she didn't make it to the stage.

Meh:

John Kasich and Ted Cruz - For very different reasons. Kasich did better than the losers.  Cruz on the other hand was stilted.  He had some very good moments and some flat ones as well.  He did himself no harm, and New Hampshire is not going to be his state.

Saturday Learning Series - Geography (Argentina)

Another geography lesson? Yeah, geography is kind of important like history.  It's fundamental stuff when it comes to geopolitics.  Today, Argentina.

February 5, 2016

Crowder - Hitler was a socialist

On the right we've all pointed this out countless times: Hitler was a socialist. The truth doesn't seem to be sinking in fast enough. Steven Crowder however does it especially well, and provides evidence along the way. So it's worth sharing.

Friday Musical Interlude - Comics

Caravan Palace's Comics (2015). Oh, the French. So odd.

This is good advice

Bill whittle, dispenses some of his considered wisdom.  As usual, well said.

February 4, 2016

Thursday Hillary Bash - Disingenuous

Defending her speaking fees from Goldman Sachs. Cringey.

Jeb Bush and "Please Clap"

There's validity in the notion that the Jeb Bush candidacy missed it's window. In 2012 maybe he could have outperformed Mitt Romney if he'd had the guts to run against an incumbent Obama. Maybe not.  A lot of people, unhappy with Obama, still had the taste of the previous Bush that they didn't like.  Two Bushes in and two faux conservatives, out of touch with blue collar America, out of touch with conservatism make a third Bush a pretty risky bet for both conservatives and the GOP.

I'm not unhappy to see this video, Jeb Bush asking an audience to 'please clap'. He's not the right choice for the GOP. But it does make me wonder - this looks like a SuperPAC ad but the watermarks on it say YahooNews and MSNBC. 

February 2, 2016

The Best Argument for [Insert your candidate here]

Thomas Sowell today succinctly put one of my primary thoughts about the next president into two sentences;
With 4 of the 9 Supreme Court justices being more than 75 years old, the next president will probably be appointing replacements who can help determine the direction of American law well into the next generation. This is just one of the many very serious things that we can only hope the voters keep in mind, instead of voting on the basis of just one issue or on emotions.
This speaks entirely to why Hillary (I'll put Obama on the Supreme Court) Clinton , or Sanders cannot be allowed to win the general election come November. Beyond that, it is among the Top 3 reasons for choosing wisely this election cycle - the economy, national security, and the Supreme Court - an entire separate but equal branch of government with huge power to influence the future of the country. As Indiana Jones was once required to do, choose wisely.


My Iowa predictions: Good, Bad and Ugly

Yesterday I hastily added my predictions to the outcome of the Iowa caucuses. Time for a brief analysis of my efforts. Results in terms of vote percentages and delegate count that I'm basing my post analysis on, can be found here.

February 1, 2016

Fearless predictions about Iowa caucus results

My predictions can best be qualified as "wonky".  That's on a good day. But what the heck, I might as well take a stab at what is going to happen in the Iowa caucuses today/tonight.

2016 seems to be shaping up as the year of the outsiders on both sides.  My predictions are being made in light of that assumption. So they should be relatively obvious. 

Bernie Sanders is trailing Clinton in the latest polling but has rapidly been gaining ground.  I think his momentum will carry him across the finish line first. It'll be close, but I think he's going to win.

On the GOP side, weather impacts aside (snow is expected), I think Trump is going to win.  It'll be a test of how deep his support runs, rather than how wide.  How loyal will his caucus-goers be if the weather is bad, or if the caucus gets heated?  We'll see.  But I think he'll pull it out.  What will be more interesting is to see how the rest of the rank ordering plays out. I think Cruz, Christie and Rubio fare the best and Jeb Bush will do decidedly poorly.

Let's see if I'm right tonight.  Tomorrow is Ground Hog Day, so maybe I'll get to be Bill Murray and get a do-over.
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