Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Cruising the Web

If Cruz does wrap up the nomination at the convention, I would predict that Scott Walker would be his choice for running mate. Walker's endorsement was a big help in consolidating the anti-Trump vote. Just think if Walker had chosen to endorse his fellow midwestern governor, John Kasich. But he worked hard for Cruz and put his organization at Cruz's disposal. Walker got out early enough from the race that he wasn't tainted as a loser. In fact, if Walker had stayed in as Kasich has, Walker might have been the one who would be the choice of the anti-Trump vote.

By staying in the race, John Kasich has just revealed his weakness. He should have been able to do well in Wisconsin. It's a midwestern state where Kasich should have had appeal. But, as Philip Klein writes, Kasich has become just a fringe candidate.
In the 32 states to hold preference votes for the Republican nomination (including the District of Columbia), Kasich has only won his home state of Ohio. So that's a record of 1 and 31, or a batting average of .031. Beyond that, he has had five 2nd place finishes; seven 3rd place finishes; nine 4th place finishes; nine 5th place finishes; and one 8th place finish.

But this really understates Kasich's poor performance. To start, the only reason that those finishes have started to go from fifth, to fourth, to third is that other candidates with no shot to win the nomination had the dignity to drop out. Kasich has demonstrated no such shame....

If you add up all of the 31 states that Kasich has lost, he trailed the winner by an average of just over 30 points. He has fewer delegates than Sen. Marco Rubio, who dropped out of the race weeks ago – and even managed to lose to Rubio in Arizona a week after Rubio dropped out.

As for the Midwest, Kasich's supposed stronghold? Outside of Ohio, seven Midwestern states have voted including Wisconsin, and he has done no better than third –losing by an average of 26 points. He was supposed to win in Michigan, but lost to both Donald Trump and Cruz.
Kasich is supposedly hoping that an open convention might turn to him because of his poll numbers against Hillary. Ironically, if he had dropped out after Ohio, he would have been stronger in making that argument. But the longer he keeps in the race, the more he defeats any argument that he should be either the candidate or the vice presidential nominee.

Daniel Horowitz makes several interesting observations from the results in Wisconsin.
Winning Trump Demographics: Many pundits are saying Cruz was expected to win in the Badger State, but most polls had Trump ahead 30-19 before Cruz began campaigning there. This state is an older white demographic with a large share that is not college educated – tailor made for Trump. In fact, there are so few Republicans in the state under 30 – Cruz’s best age group – that the exit polls didn’t even register them as a data point. Yet, Cruz won across the board with every important demographic displayed in the exit polls. He won non-college educated voters and the lowest income voters. Cruz also won every age group including voters over 65 – Trump’s best demographic – by 11 points.

No Gender Gap: For all the talk about the gender gap, Cruz’s win was almost perfectly uniform among men and women, winning women by 15% and men by 13%. Again, this proves that it’s more than just galvanizing anti-Trump demographics. When Cruz is actually able to focus on a state for a full week or two and get out his message to the voters, it’s a different race. For the first time ever, Cruz not only crushed Trump among those who voted based on “shared values” but tied Trump among those who wanted the candidate who would bring the most change to Washington.

Donald Trump likes to claim that his presence on the ballot is driving increased turnout in the primaries. Wisconsin had record turnout that they haven't seen since 1980. But they weren't turning out for Trump but to vote against him. I don't think that is what he was talking about.

Thomas Sowell shoots down
the Trump camp's argument that he deserves the nomination just based on his performance so far as the leading candidate.
But Trump and his supporters want more. They are now talking as if winning a plurality of the delegates ought to be enough to gain him the nomination, despite his failing to get a majority, as required by long-standing rules.

There is a reason why the rules require a candidate for the nomination to receive a majority of the delegates. If you cannot even get a majority of the delegates in your own party, how can you expect to win the November election for President?

Delegates get their first opportunity to choose a candidate by voting according to the way their respective primary voters voted. But, if that process fails to produce a winner, then delegates can vote again, this time on the basis of their own best judgments, for as many rounds of voting as it may take before someone gets a majority.

None of this is new. Yet some Trump supporters are talking as if a failure to change the rules for the benefit of "the Donald" -- by letting a plurality, rather than a majority, choose the winner -- would mean that Trump had been cheated out of the nomination. But what of the voters who voted AGAINST Trump during the primaries? Despite the fog of political rhetoric, we should not lose sight of the fact that those who voted against Trump in the primaries were far more numerous than those who voted for him.

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Donald Trump will hire the best people to run the country. Yeah, sure. He can't even organize his political campaign to surround himself with the best people.
Since March, the campaign has been laying off field staff en masse around the country and has dismantled much of what existed of its organizations in general-election battlegrounds, including Florida and Ohio.

Last month, the campaign laid off the leader of its data team, Matt Braynard, who did not train a successor. It elevated his No. 2, a data engineer with little prior high-level political strategy experience, and also shifted some of his team’s duties to a 2015 college graduate whose last job was an internship with the consumer products company Colgate-Palmolive. Some of the campaign’s data remains inaccessible.

As the final stretch of this hard fought GOP primary bogs down into a delegate fight among party insiders and operatives that likely won’t be decided until the July convention in Cleveland, Trump’s singular star power appears to be no longer enough—and his campaign’s months-long lack of attention to other fundamentals is emerging as a hindrance to his ability to clinch the nomination outright.
“Presidential campaigns are a team sport, and he doesn’t have that mentality,” one high-level GOP operative said. “That's why they're missing a lot of these opportunities that are passing them by. [Trump] might be a great quarterback, but every quarterback still needs a strong offensive line.”
It runs out that there is more necessary to winning the nomination than free media and a Twitter account. That story by Politico details how ad hoc the Trump campaign is. They don't seem to have a plan of how to move beyond having rallies and putting Trump on TV. They don't prepare him for issues so he comes off sounding like an ignoramus on too many issues. Trump seems to think that he is entitled to having the nomination handed because he has won a plurality of the vote so far against a very crowded field.

And doesn't it seem an odd time for the frontrunner to be laying off staff?
At the moment, though, Trump’s team appears to be something of a patchwork group without much experience—partly because so many staffers are being fired.

Only four of 11 Iowa staffers continued on after Trump lost that state’s caucuses in February. More recently, most of Trump’s South Carolina, Florida and Ohio teams have not had their contracts renewed, according to a person familiar with the campaign, who said the lack of organization in Florida was putting Trump at a disadvantage in the delegate selection process…

Multiple staffers and advisors left the campaign last month in protest of the way its management was treating its staff, a source familiar with the departures told POLITICO.

If you haven't read the New York Magazine profile of Trump's campaign, it's worth a look. First it is clear that he put together his campaign team by hiring a bunch of people without very much campaign experience on a national campaign.
Hardly any of Trump’s staffers arrived at their positions with high-level political experience. The last time Lewandowski ran a campaign was in 2002, when he managed a losing Senate reelection bid in New Hampshire. Hicks and Scavino spent zero time in politics before this. Hicks did PR for Ivanka Trump’s fashion line and promoted Trump resorts. Scavino graduated from caddying to serve as general manager at Trump National Golf Club; he spent his free time as an unpaid disc jockey at a local radio station. Trump’s national spokeswoman, Katrina Pierson, is a onetime Obama supporter turned tea-party activist who once was arrested for shoplifting. His foreign-policy advisers include a former banker who writes a foreign-policy blog that quotes Kanye West and Oprah, and an energy consultant whose LinkedIn page cites as a foreign-policy credential being one of five finalists for a model-U.N. summit.

“I would take capable over experienced all day long,” Trump said. “Experience is good, but capable is much more important.”
Perhaps, but there are so very many details and legal maneuvering that must be done in a national political campaign. It would have helped to have had someone who's been to the dance before. But Trump doesn't think he needs such experience because his campaign has....Trump.
Furthermore, he’ll take few over many. Trump’s campaign employs a core team of about a dozen people; his campaign lists 94 people on the payroll nationwide, according to the latest Federal Election Commission filing (Hillary Clinton has 765). Trump has no pollsters, media coaches, or speechwriters. He ­focus-groups nothing. He buys few ads, and when he does, he likes to write them himself. He also writes his own tweets, his main vehicle for communicating with his supporters. And it was his idea to adopt Ronald Reagan’s slogan “Make America Great Again!”

I’m the strategist,” Trump told me. Which would make him, no matter what your feelings about his beliefs or his qualifications to govern a country, one of the greatest political savants of the modern era.
And it's worked for him to this point. But now the campaign is moving into the stage when they need to be making sure that they get the delegates in each state. That takes manpower and they don't yet have the numbers to get it done.

Also, this is the point when leading candidates start moving to the middle with an eye toward the general election. Not Trump.

He still is worried about his hands. The man has a very tender ego.
There is, however, a vulnerability to Trump in private that you don’t often see; he comes across as genuinely wounded that he’s not taken seriously. Rubio, he said, “talked about my hands because he had nothing else to talk about. I said to him, ‘It’s pretty sad when after the long career I’ve had the best he can do is talk about my hands,’ which are really good.” Trump paused and spread his five fingers for me to inspect. “He probably got it from that sleazebag Graydon Carter, who said I had short stubby fingers.”

He seemed particularly upset that his fellow billionaires don’t show him respect. “Murdoch’s been very bad to me,” he said. “Bloomberg’s been quite bad to me. I thought he was a friend of mine; he’s no friend of mine. He was nasty.”
There is also an interesting detail about how Trump got ready for running.
Throughout 2014, the three fed Trump strategy memos and political intelligence. “I listened to thousands of hours of talk radio, and he was getting reports from me,” Nunberg recalled. What those reports said was that the GOP base was frothing over a handful of issues including immigration, Obamacare, and Common Core. While Jeb Bush talked about crossing the border as an “act of love,” Trump was thinking about how high to build his wall. “We either have borders or we don’t,” Trump told the faithful who flocked to the annual CPAC conference in 2014.
No wonder talk radio hosts have been supporting him - he's been echoing what they've been saying for a couple of years.

And there are some more indications that Trump never really thought he would actually win.
When he launched his campaign, Trump suspected it would eventually fizzle and he would return to The Apprentice. “You know, when I first got into this, it was for other reasons,” he told a friend. As weeks and then months passed with him remaining out front, he began to think winning the nomination was a real possibility, even as he resisted calls to professionalize his campaign. Why bother, when what he was doing was working so well? But now the cracks are starting to show.
The author of the story, Gabriel Sherman, has an interesting theory about Trump.
The other phenomenon is that everyone is assumed to be playing a role at some level, so it’s hard to tell what is real and what is just for attention. Trump has already started using this as a strategy to help him try to pivot to the general election. Those terrible things he said about and to women while playing himself on The Apprentice? Oh, he was just in character. He was playing “himself,” not being himself. The way he acted so unpresidentially in the primary? Oh, that was just to break out of the pack of all those pesky other candidates with some good ol’ provocation. And aren’t you glad? Because now that the field is almost clear, he can start to be presidential.

But I suspect Trump will have a hard time pivoting — not because of what he has said in the past, but because this is the script he knows best. He has been cultivating the character of “Donald Trump” for decades now, and it seems apparent that he can’t turn it off. Back at Trump Tower, it was striking how often he kept going back to the well of The Apprentice, unprompted....

Now that his campaign seems more vulnerable, I can’t help but wonder if sometimes he wishes he could go back to a reality show where he can’t be fired.
It's a fascinating deep dive into the phenomenon that is the Trump campaign and well worth the read.

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Alan Grayson behaving unethically? What a surprise.
Representative Alan Grayson, Democrat of Florida, may have improperly used his House office and staff to handle personal financial matters involving a family-run hedge fund as well as political activities related to his bid for the United States Senate, the Office of Congressional Ethics concluded in a 986-page investigation released Tuesday.

The report, which found as many as a half dozen violations of House rules, provoked an angry response from Mr. Grayson, who accused the quasi-independent agency of conspiring with his Democratic opponent for the Senate seat...

Obama's policies on Gitmo continue to make the world more dangerous.
Secretary of State John Kerry praised the Republic of Senegal today “for offering humanitarian resettlement to" two now former Guantanamo detainees. As was the case when the administration transferred detainees to Uruguay in late 2014 and Ghana earlier this year, the Guantanamo jihadists are being portrayed almost as victims in need of rescue from the American government.

But Kerry's statement is inconsistent with what is known about the two jihadists transferred to Senegal. Even President Obama's own Guantanamo Review Task Force deemed one of them "too dangerous" to release from U.S. custody.

Both men, Omar Khalifa Mohammed Abu Bakr Mahjour Umar and Salem Abdul Salem Ghereby, allegedly belonged to al Qaeda-linked Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) and also worked with senior al Qaeda leaders. Joint Task Force Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO), which oversees the detention facility, assessed both of them to be "high" risks who are "likely to pose a threat to the US, its interests, and allies.".

The marvelous United Nations:
A UN-funded Palestinian charity planted more than 200 olive trees in the West Bank over the weekend, each to honor a terrorist who killed or attacked Israeli citizens in the ongoing “knife intifada.”

The Union of Agricultural Work Committees planted the trees to honor men and women who have died while committing numerous stabbings, shootings and vehicular attacks that have killed 34 and wounded more than 400 Israelis since they began in September. The event marked the 40th anniversary of “Land Day,” a Palestinian holiday marking protests of Israel’s decision to take land in Galilee for settlements.
Nice that we can fund the UN so that they can fund a charity that celebrates murderers.

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High state taxes drive out the wealthy with bad consequences for that state?
Who would predict that?
The decision by billionaire hedge-fund manager David Tepper to quit New Jersey for tax-friendly Florida could complicate estimates of how much tax money the struggling state will collect, the head of the Legislature’s nonpartisan research branch warned lawmakers....

His move has state revenue officials on alert.
“We may be facing an unusual degree of income-tax forecast risk,” Frank Haines, budget and finance officer with the Office of Legislative Services told a Senate committee Tuesday in Trenton.

New Jersey relies on personal income taxes for about 40 percent of its revenue, and less than 1 percent of taxpayers contribute about a third of those collections, according to the legislative services office. A one percent forecasting error in the income-tax estimate can mean a $140 million gap, Haines said.

Tepper lived in New Jersey for more than two decades, initially as an executive at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., where he helped run junk-bond trading during the late 1980s and early 1990s. He founded Appaloosa in 1993 and now has an estimated fortune of $10.6 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. That ranked him as the wealthiest person in New Jersey.

New Jersey residents bear the country’s third-highest tax burden, according to the Tax Foundation in Washington. Along with the nation’s highest property taxes, it’s one of two states that levy both an estate tax on the deceased and an inheritance tax on their heirs. The income-tax rate for top earners is 8.97 percent. Democratic legislators have repeatedly passed a millionaire’s tax that would increase the levy to 10.75 percent, but Republican Governor Chris Christie has vetoed it each time.
Gee, who would think that a billionaire would respond to disincentives? Well, anyone with a tiny bit of economics knowledge would. My question is what took him so long?

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We're covering the 1960s in my AP US History class. Who knew that we would be hearing echoes of the Weathermen today. But that is what we're hearing from Trump associate and self-proclaimed dirty trickster Roger Stone.
Roger Stone, the longtime Republican political operative and current ally of Donald Trump, says he’s trying to organize protests at the Republican convention in Cleveland this summer to disrupt any effort by the party to “steal” the nomination from the frontrunner.

Stone tweeted several times on Friday evening about his plans, announcing a “Stop the Steal March on Cleveland” and calling on supporters to get to Cleveland for the convention in July.

Stone told BuzzFeed News over email that he is planning “#DaysofRage,” a seeming reference to the Weatherman-organized Days of Rage protests that took place in Chicago in 1969. Asked to elaborate, Stone said he was talking about “rally-protests -at delegate hotels street theater.”
He's also now promising the disclose hotel and room numbers for delegates who switch their vote away from Donald Trump and to encourage Trump supporters to make their unhappiness clear to those delegates. #DaysofRage? Seriously? This is thuggery pure and simple. Remember when Republicans were appalled at Obama's association with Weather Underground leaders Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn? Now we have Trump's pal bragging about his plans to emulate their tactics.

I guess Stone is one of those "best people" that Trump likes to surround himself with.

Common sense prevails. Jackie, the student in the Rolling Stone article about the University of Virginia, won't get out of testifying in the defamation lawsuit against Rolling Stone just because she claims it would be traumatic for her. There are consequences to pretending to have been raped just to sound important to a reporter. The magazine and the article's author are going to pay the price when they lose the lawsuit. Jackie's phony tale of rape was why that article was written. She should pay the consequences even if she doesn't have to pay actual cash.

Salon, no conservative tool, writes about "the 10 questions that could end her White House dreams."
Unlike loyal Hillary supporters who view the marathon Benghazi hearings to be a badge of courage and countless prior scandals to be examples of exoneration, the FBI didn’t spend one year (investigating this email controversy) to give Clinton or her top aides parking tickets. They mean business, and lying to an FBI agent is a felony, so Hillary Clinton and her aides will be forced to tell the truth. The doublespeak involving convenience and retroactive classification won’t matter to seasoned FBI agents whose reputations are on the line; the entire country feels there’s a double-standard regarding this email controversy.

Imagine if you had 22 Top Secret emails on your computer?

Would you be able to claim negligence?

Also, the issue of negligence is a canard. Clinton and her top aides were smart enough to understand protocol. For every legal scholar saying that indictment isn’t likely (because it’s difficult to prove Clinton “knowingly” sent or received classified intelligence), there’s a former attorney general and former intelligence officials saying that indictment is justified.
And here is a list of the four laws that Hillary and her aides are in danger of being indicted for breaking.
The most serious charges are felonies cited in Title 18 of the U.S. Code of the Espionage Act in sections 793, 798 and 1001. Experts contacted by TheDCNF say these could serve as the foundation for any criminal prosecution of Clinton or her aides.

Section 793 applies to anyone who has been “entrusted” with information relating to the national defense. The law applies to a federal official who “through gross negligence permits” information “to be removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of his trust, to be lost, stolen, abstracted or destroyed.”

Section 798 applies to any government official who “knowingly and willfully communicates” information “to an unauthorized person.” Section 1001 addresses giving “false statements.”

Clinton and her aides also could be charged under section 1924, which is a misdemeanor. This was the April, 2015, charge former CIA Director David Petraeus negotiated with prosecutors for sharing classified information with a mistress who also served as his biographer.

But the felony charges loom large. “A federal prosecutor would naturally focus first on the most serious allegations: willfully transmitting or willfully retaining Top Secret and Compartmented material using a private server system,” says retired Brig. Gen. Kenneth Bergquist who also served as an assistant attorney general at the Justice Department.

“The prosecutor’s charging document would likely include felony counts under 18 U.S. Code, Section 793 and under 18 U.S. Code Section 798 against each transmitting individual as well as separate counts against each receiving and retaining individual,” he told TheDCNF.

Ronald T. Hosko, who enjoyed a 30-year career in the FBI and served as the bureau’s assistant director for its criminal division until 2014, agrees. He particularly looks at Section 793.

“This certainly applies to those who would take classified materials and move it to an unauthorized server in an unauthorized location, in this case to her [Clinton’s] house,” he told TheDCNF.

“The prohibited conduct is the unsecured transmission of highly classified information,” to Clinton’s server, “as well as the receipt and retention of highly classified information in an unapproved manner,” says Bergquist.

She is so lucky that the Democratic Party has rules for the establishment to prop up her weak candidacy. If she and Bernie were running under the rules the Republicans are running under, Bernie would be regarded as the insurgent candidate gaining on the frontrunner and with a serious chance of winning. Democratic voters just don't seem to like her very much.
Not only did she lose to Bernie Sanders by a double-digit margin, but exit polls showed she even narrowly lost female voters to him. A majority of Democrats cited either income inequality (30%) or health care (22%) as their most important issue. Clinton lost those focused on inequality by 2 to 1 and also lost voters who were most interested in health care, once considered her signature issue.

Hillary’s weakest showing came among the third of Democrats who thought the most important issue was whether a candidate was honest or trustworthy. She was crushed in that category by 83% to 17%.

No matter how far to the left that Hillary moves in order to blunt the Sanders surge, she clearly is of limited appeal to rank-and-file Democrats. And much of it isn’t really about issues – it’s her character.

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If you didn't get enough NCAA men's basketball from Monday night, spend some time watching every "One Shining Moment" from 1987 to 2016. I found this link during my planning period at school yesterday and poof! There went the whole planning period.

And if you haven't watched the Kris Jenkins' buzzer-beater enough, you can watch it as called by Spanish or Russian TV.

Ken Pomeroy dives into the statistics to see what a difference it has made for the NCAA men to have adopted the 30-second clock this year.

Oh, and Zach Levine seems like a really great guy.