Thursday, April 07, 2016

Cruising the Web

George Will explains how Cruz is going to turn Trump into a Loser.
On the eve of Wisconsin’s primary, the analytics people here knew how many undecided voters were choosing between Cruz and Trump (32,000) and how many between Cruz and John Kasich (72,000), and where they lived. Walls here are covered with notes outlining every step of each state’s multistage delegate-selection process. (Cruz’s campaign was active in Michigan when the process of selecting persons eligible to be delegates began in August 2014.) Cruz’s campaign is nurturing relationships with delegates now committed to Trump and others. In Louisiana’s primary, 58.6 percent of voters favored someone other than Trump; Cruz’s campaign knows which issues are particularly important to which Trump delegates, and Cruz people with similar values are talking to them.

Trump, whose scant regard for (other people’s) property rights is writ large in his adoration of eminent-domain abuses, mutters darkly about people “stealing” delegates that are his property. But most are only contingently his, until one or more ballots are completed.

Usually, more than 40 percent of delegates to Republican conventions are seasoned activists who have attended prior conventions. A large majority of all delegates are officeholders — county commissioners, city council members, sheriffs, etc. — and state party officials. They tend to favor presidential aspirants who have been Republicans for longer than since last Friday.

Trump is a world-class complainer (he is never being treated “fairly”) but a bush-league preparer. A nomination contest poses policy and process tests, and he is flunking both.

Regarding policy, he is flummoxed by predictable abortion questions because he has been pro-life for only 15 minutes, and because he has lived almost seven decades without giving a scintilla of thought to any serious policy question. Regarding process, Trump, who recently took a week-long vacation from campaigning, has surfed a wave of free media to the mistaken conclusion that winning a nomination involves no more forethought than he gives to policy. He thinks he can fly in, stroke a crowd’s ideological erogenous zones, then fly away. He knows nothing about the art of the political deal.
Eliana Johnson has a nice study of why Trump went down to defeat in Wisconsin. A lot of the blame goes to Trump himself who made unforced error after error and played into all the criticism his foes had of him. And Cruz was ready to pounce and consolidate all the anti-Trump forces into support for him. What remains to be seen is whether the strategy used in Wisconsin can be replicated in upcoming states. New York and Pennsylvania are very different terrain. But at least we have seen Trump suffer a big loss in a state that a few weeks ago he was, in the polls, winning by double digits.
Yes, Trump’s errors were, strictly speaking, unforced, and Wisconsin was never a gimme. But his foes will argue that the results there are definitive proof not only that the race is headed to a convention but also that if conservatives mount a collective offensive on the front-runner, he can be defeated there, too. “I think that what shifts now, and we’ve been saying that all along, is that if we can win Wisconsin, then this is going to Cleveland, and so, this is going to Cleveland,” says Packer Gage.

The top GOP strategist notes that, thanks in part to the outside pressure brought to bear on Trump in Wisconsin, the mogul is “literally now, I think, one Megyn Kelly tweet away from this being over, one Heidi Cruz tweet away from this not being recoverable.”

His foes, who until the Wisconsin battle had been unable to mount a credible offensive, are crossing their fingers.

Allahpundit looks at complaints that Trump supporter Roger Stone has been making about all the organizational mistakes that the Trump campaign is making. Apparently, there is a lot of infighting within the Trump campaign about how his campaign manager Cory Lewandowski and everyone else. The newest battle is between Lewandowski and the guy tasked with corralling delegates at the state level. Gee, if only the campaign had someone with supposed skills at leadership and a self-proclaimed ability to hire the very best people to sort out the conflicts among the employees.

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Hillary Clinton doesn't seem to know what Bernie Sanders is.
Here's Clinton: "He's a relatively new Democrat...I'm not even sure he is one. He's running as one. So I don't know quite how to characterize him. I'll leave that to him." The quote comes from an interview Clinton did on a podcast hosted by an (unusually) fedora-less Glenn Thrush from POLITICO.

This, of course, is odd, because Bernie Sanders is the longest serving independent in the history of the United States Congress. Perhaps Clinton missed the weeks of media coverage early on in the race where virtually every outlet went into the history of Sanders the independent, and his embrace of Democratic Socialism.

Or when Chris Matthews asked her to define the difference between a Democrat and a Socialist. Clinton didn't have an answer then, nor does she have one now.

But she does think, apparently, there is a difference.
She's been very wary of criticizing his socialist policies because she knows that those policy proposals are quite appealing to most of the Democratic electorate. What a conundrum.

Just as the Republicans are trying to argue that Trump is not really a Republican, the Democratic front-runner is trying to do the same thing to Bernie Sanders. We'll see if voters care about such labels.

Daniel Henninger draws the connection between Bernie Sanders' politics and the Panama Papers.
Spare me the crocodile tears over the immorality of tax avoidance. Panama is an indictment of government greed.

After World War II, the governments of the West established tax regimes to support the reconstruction of their nations. Six decades later, that tax machinery, which runs the social-welfare states in the countries Bernie Sanders cites in every campaign stop as a model for America, has run totally amok—an unaccountable, devouring monster. Billionaires aren’t the only ones who run from it.

Most governments, including ours, overtax their citizens to feed their own insatiable need for money. Then the legal thieves running the government and their cronies, unwilling to abide the tax levels they created, move their wealth offshore to places like Panama. Arguably, all the world’s people should be able to move their assets “offshore” to escape governments that are smothering economic life and growth, which has stalled in the U.S., Europe and Asia....

Other than their national health-care systems, many of which are effectively bankrupt, most Europeans would be hard put to explain what it is their high-tax governments actually do with their money.

Suppressed for generations by high tax rates and regulatory minutiae, most Europeans survive in an economic half-life of gray and black markets, with their assets protected by cash-only transactions, bartering, and endless hours devising off-the-books deals involving family real estate, inflated art prices and anything else they can hide from the taxman. The Beatles actually wrote a song about it in 1966—“Taxman,” a grim ode to all this.

Governments with unsated “needs” for revenue exist in Europe, Africa, Russia and South America. The Associated Press this week reported that in Russia today shell companies exist simply to pay the bribes that are the price of daily life.

One way or another, most people living in the countries run on the Obama-Sanders-Clinton model eventually go searching for their own private Panama. When private capital is under public assault, it will hide. From the wealthiest to the poorest, it creates a world of chiselers, not productive citizens.

Venezuela's government has so downgraded the country that it doesn't have enough electricity to run the country. This is despite having huge oil reserves.
Venezuelan workers will get Fridays off for the next two months as part of an emergency plan to save electricity, the president said.

Venezuela has the world's largest proven oil reserves but its economy is a mess, with rampant inflation, shortages of goods as basic as soap and toilet paper and constant blackouts.

Now, because of a severe drought that has left levels at hydroelectric dams at extremely low levels, in order save on electricity the government is effectively shutting the labor force down for a three-day weekend, starting this Friday and lasting until June 6.
This is what Chavismo has done to the country.

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Jonah Goldberg is not impressed by the Candidate Who Won't Leave.
John Kasich is this election season’s The Thing That Wouldn’t Leave.

After investing everything in New Hampshire, Kasich came in second, doing worse than Jon Huntsman had in his race-ending performance in 2012. Kasich’s response? He didn’t just declare victory, he proclaimed, “Tonight, the light overcame the darkness.”

Since then, Kasich has lost some 30 contests and won one — in his home state of Ohio. But still, he just won’t go.

It’s not just that Kasich can’t take a hint, it’s that he appears to be living in a kind of fantasy world, largely defined by three myths or delusions.

The first is the most endearing. Kasich has the best résumé of the remaining candidates. Heck, he arguably had the best résumé of the entire 2016 field, if by “best” you mean the longest and deepest government experience. He’s not delusional about that.

What he is confused about is the idea that a lot of people care that he was, say, the chairman of the House Budget Committee two decades ago. According to legend, a supporter once shouted at Adlai Stevenson, “Governor Stevenson, all thinking people are for you!” Stevenson shot back, “That’s not enough. I need a majority!” Even if Kasich is right that his résumé makes him the best qualified to be president — a debatable proposition — the simple fact is that after nearly three dozen contests, relatively few voters agree with him.
I've been struck by how, in this anti-Establishment year, Kasich continually tells us how long he's been around the corridors of power. It just doesn't seem to be selling well.
Of course, what that leaves out is the fact that Kasich is running as a hopeful, positive, uplifting champion of light over darkness. That brings us to yet another Kasich delusion, and this one is shared by many of his backers as well. Call it the myth of Kasich the hugger.

In South Carolina, a college student asked the Ohio governor for one of his supposedly famous hugs. It wasn’t until later that we learned the huggee worked for the hugger’s super PAC. More to the point, Kasich is simply not the touchy-feely guy he’s pretending to be or that he perhaps thinks he is.

The man is famously irascible, pugnacious, and sanctimonious. He’s prone to defending his policies, such as his expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare in Ohio, by insinuating that he cares more about his eternal soul than his critics.
Many politicians sell a persona that is different from their own. In a year when so many in the party are recoiling from the front-runner because his persona seems to be very much his real one, it's ironic that the guy in last place is trying to pretend that he is someone that he really isn't.

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The French flight attendants' union has won a victory for stewardesses everywhere.
Kudos to the Union des Navigants de l’Aviation Civile and its allies for forcing Air France to back down from its effort to bend female flight attendants to the Islamist demands of Iran’s government.

Thanks to the global end of sanctions after President Obama’s nuclear deal, Air France will resume flights to Tehran this month.

But the regime has strict rules on what women must wear in public — and the airline moved to enforce them on its staff.

It sent out a notice to female crew members warning they’d have to don headscarves on arrival in Iran — and switch uniforms from knee-length dress to pants and long-sleeved jacket for the flight.

Coming just months after Islamists slaughtered 130 innocents in Paris, this cultural kowtow was too much.

The attendants called foul, and their union and its labor sisters spoke up.

“They are forcing us to wear an ostentatious religious symbol,” which is illegal in France, noted union leader Françoise Redolfi.

On Tuesday, Air France backed down: Attendants will get to refuse flights to Iran

NPR looks at how the Trump brand do after this election year. Remember that Trump makes most of his money nowadays from licensing his name.
"Among this higher-income group — the group that, at least for his hotels and golf courses and things like that would be the target group — we do think that this data is showing there could be significant problems," said Will Johnson, president of BAV Consulting, a division of the Young & Rubicam Group, which regularly surveys public attitudes about brands.

Among people with household incomes over $150,000 a year, the number who equate Trump with being "upper class" fell by 53 percent in the past two years ending in December.

Similar declines took place in the perception of Trump as "prestigious" (39 percent), "glamorous" (30 percent) and "intelligent" (29 percent). Trump did gain in the percentage of people who saw him as being "traditional," a word often associated with conservative values.

Meanwhile, a survey conducted for Forbes by the polling and consulting firm Penn Schoen Berland found that 45 percent of U.S. residents who earn at least $200,000 annually said they will make a point of not visiting a Trump hotel or golf course over the next four years.
Since his company is private, we have no idea whether it is already seeing a drop in business. But he may well do so in the future as a result of how the campaign has devalued his brand. The irony is delicious for a man who is campaigning based on his brand.

You can't buy Ivanka Trump's scarves now because they've been recalled. Maybe the Trumps need to stop producing their brand-name products in China.

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I bet the Philadelphia sports public will regard 76ers GM Sam Hinkie's departure as the second best sports news the city had this week after Villanova's thrilling NCAA victory. Whoosh! His practice of successive tanking year after year has been a disaster.

Sports lawyer Michael McCann looks at Atlanta Hawks forward Thabo Sefolosha's lawsuit against the NYPD for their arrest of him that resulted in several injuries that necessitated his missing the rest of the Hawks' run in the playoffs last year and required surgery. He might have a tougher case than I would have thought for someone who was, apparently, doing nothing, but got injured while being arrested.