Thursday, March 31, 2016

"Hamilton" - A Discriminating Musical Hit

Ah, non-traditional casting has hit a snag. Finally someone has noticed that organizations cannot discriminate according to race when it come to hiring. That means that even a massive hit on Broadway like "Hamilton" may not be allowed to publish casting calls with notices that clearly discriminate against white performers. Yeah, it's happening now.

"Hamilton" is a runaway hip-hop musical about Alexander Hamilton, with music, lyrics, and book by Lin-Manuel Miranda. The show was inspired by the 2004 biography Alexander Hamilton, by historian Ron Chernow. All of the characters (except George III) including our Founding Fathers in the musical are played by minority actors and this is where the problem started.

The producers of the show recently posted an announcement on their website about open casting calls for companies in NYC, San Francisco and Los Angeles. The ad announced:
“Hamilton” is “seeking NON-WHITE men and women, ages 20s to 30s, for Broadway and upcoming Tours..."
Whoa! Not only has this notice run afoul of our NYC Human Rights Commission, but when brought to the attention of Actors' Equity Association, the union for actors and stage manager of which I used to be a member, they were annoyed. Union officials stated that it clearly violates their rules because Equity stipulates in its guidelines that all actors must be considered “without discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, creed, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression or political persuasion or belief."

As someone pointed out in the NYDN article, if the notice stated that only white actors need apply, Al Sharpton, Black Lives Matter, and La Raza would be staging a huge protest. Probably true, but a notice like that would never be published to begin with.

Of course the producers decided to change the notices, but not the casting policy. None of this really matters except that it points out that it is still okay to openingly discriminate as long as one does not put it in writing. Nothing changes.

Afterthought: Though I have not seen the musical because it is impossible to get tickets, I have it really good authority that is truly inspiring and even better than even all of the stellar reviews. Hamilton was one of our founders who was exactly why this country was founded. He proved that someone who was not "to the manner born" could rise to greatness based on ability. To their great credit, the producers have made tickets available free of charge to students in the NYC school system.

Anyway, the floor is open.
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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Understanding Common Core

"Common Core is a plot by communists to turn my kid gay and put dirty illegal Mexicans under my bed!!!" Not quite. Colorado adopted Common Core some time ago and my kids have been in it for two years now. I have seen what it does, how it works and how it doesn't. Let me explain what Common Core is, what it does right and what it does wrong.

Let's start by stating what Common Core is NOT. Common core is not a conspiracy against Jesus. It is not radical Islam's nose under the tent. It does not suggest atheism. It is not a socialist conspiracy. It has nothing to do with gays. Indeed, it has no political, religious or anti-religious content. It was not kept secret from the public; you can actually see it online any time you want. In fact, none of the conspiracy theories pimped by people like Glenn Beck and Drudge are true... and they know that.

So what is it?

Common Core is a program developed by a large number of experts with the intent of creating national minimum standards that every state should meet. This is actually a conservative idea we've argued for for years: that American education needs standards (or better standards) and testing to confirm that children are satisfying those standards. Indeed, conservatives should be jumping for joy. But you know...

Anyways, what these experts created was a thorough, yet bare-boned curriculum intended for K-12. It is thorough in the sense that it outlines the specific areas of learning, concepts and skills that children should learn at each grade level. In this regard, it covers everything. It is not just wishful thinking: "Wouldn't it be nice if our kids were smart by fourth grade?" Instead, it provides a long list of requirements students should be able to meet at each grade level. At the same time, however (and this is key), it is also bare bones. This means that while it lists skills the students should be able to master, it does so without providing details on how that should be done. In other words, Common Core outlines key ideas and concepts that should be introduced at each grade level but it does not explain how those concepts should be taught. For example, a fifth grader might be required to write a five paragraph essay, but it does not state what topic those essays should be about nor does it prescribe a method for making them write the essay. In some areas, it does offer suggestions, like listing examples of books they might read, but those are only examples. They are not part of the curriculum.

That is Common Core.

Now, that said, there is another level to Common Core. Once Common Core got adopted by the individual states, it was up to the states themselves to fill in the blanks. In other words, Common Core gave them a long list of requirements, but it was up to the states to figure out how to teach students to satisfy those requirements. Most states took their existing educations plans and simply upgraded them to add the new Common Core requirements. In the end though, most of what happened was that these bare-bones requirements were simply pushed down to the school/class level and the teachers were told, "Here's what your kids need to be able to do, go figure it out yourself."

So consider this for a moment. If you had been told: "Common Core is a new set of minimum standards which are more strict than what is currently taught in 40+ states. It works by giving teachers a list of 8-10 math/English skills the kids in their class must be able to meet. And then kids will be tested periodically to ensure they are meeting the standards." Would that have bothered you? I doubt it.

So where do the complaints of Beck and Drudge and these other scaremongers come from? Well, when you see a Drudge headline about some school doing something pro-Islam, pro-gay or pro-whatever, those are decisions made by individual teachers or school administrators. They do not spring from Common Core. And the fact that they are happening in single classrooms only rather than district-wide, state-wide or nation-wide should prove that.

Anyways, there is one problem with Common Core. Testing and standards are a conservative idea. To give liberals something, Common Core was based on the idea of... let's call it mental diversity. The idea is this: "not all kids learn the same way. So rather than force all kids to learn one method, let's teach multiple methods and let the kids pick the one or two that work for them." That's what liberals got, and honestly, I think that's a good idea. For one thing, it is true that people learn differently. And if two kids need to use different methods to perform the same skill, what sense does it make to force them both to use the same method? Further, learning different methods is likely to give kids a bigger picture of what they are doing, so that their understanding of each skill will be both deeper and more broad. That's a good thing too. So I have no problem with this either and I'm not sure why anyone would?

But this is also where the real problem has arisen.

The problem is this. Rather than making sure that each method taught is a good method, the people who got into the nitty gritty proved to be idiots. In particular, a lot of states are using a guidebook designed by "experts" in New York. These morons included every method they could think of in their guidebook whether they were good methods or not. Hence, when students are taught from this guidebook, they are taught tried and true methods, they are taught secondary methods that take more time but are probably easier for some kids, and they get taught methods that make no f***ing sense whatsoever. This last category is responsible for the periodic posts you see online where parents complain that they don't understand their kids' homework and can't help them.

It's important to understand, however, that these nonsense methods are in addition to the good ones -- they do not replace the good ones.

I can tell you from personal experience that we've run into some of these. Indeed, some of the problems we've run into include the use of methods that make no sense, methods that require you to know the answer to work the problem, and methods that absorb a vast amount of time to reach an answer that could be gotten in seconds using any other method. Fortunately, the idea behind Common Core is that once the child has learned these methods, they are free to choose whichever method works best for them. Hence, we have guided our daughters to the traditional methods that work best and we tell them to forget the stupid methods. Their teachers seem to do the same.

In any event, this issue could be remedied by removing the idiotic methods from the guidebook without changing the rest.

So let me sum this up. Common Core has no political content. It is about education skills. At the level of "Common Core" (the federal level), it's actually a total victory for conservatives. At the state level, it did little more than force states to raise their standards, but left them free to decide how to achieve those standards. At the classroom level, Common Core is doing what it is supposed to do -- it has raised standards and thereby improved the quality of education -- but with a caveat. The caveat is that it also wastes some time teaching some nonsense methods which students disregard.

That is Common Core.
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News Flash: Republicans Embarrass Kerry

Yesterday while Christian families, woman and little children were celebrating a beautiful Easter Day in a park in Lahore, Pakistan, Taliban terrorists interrupted by blowing them up. 70 people were killed and hundreds were injuried.

Last week while our President was yucking it up with Cuban dictator Raul Castro, ISIS terrorists set off two bombs at the American Airlines terminal at the Brussels airport and one bomb at the Maalbeek metro station. A third bomb at the airport was defused by a bomb squad. 35 people were killed including at least 4 Americans, and over 300 injured.

Yesterday, Sec't of State John Kerry went on Face The Nation, to lament that world leaders are "shocked at the rhetoric of our current Republican Presidential campaign. Here is a link to a HuffPo article that explains (even though the clip does not state this) that... the "Republican Primary Race Is ‘An Embarrassment’". Now I don't necessarily disagree, however who cares what the "leaders of the world" think.

Kerry went on to say that these same world leaders "don’t know where it’s taking the United States of America. It upsets people’s sense of equilibrium about our steadiness, about our reliability, and to some degree I must say to you, some of the questions, the way they’re posed to me, it’s clear to me that what’s happening is an embarrassment to our country.”

This made me laugh. Kerry should be more embarrassed by the actions of the "world leaders" than Donald Trump. Neither the collective leaders of European Union (EU) nor the worthless body we call the United Nations have done anything while Europe is being overrun by people fleeing Syria, Iraq, and other Islamic countries and many dying while trying to escape. But they are worried about our "reliability"? Innocent people are being blown up all over the world by Islamic terrorists and these same "world leaders" can't even accept there is a problem.

But hey, the Obamas had a lovely time in Argentina dancing the Tango while the body parts were being sorted...

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Sunday, March 27, 2016

Philosophical Question: Walt Disney On Jobs

I've been reading a book about Walt Disney. What an amazing man! It's no wonder the people who knew him seemed to revere him. Almost every page includes some amazing insight from Disney himself. Anyways, there's something Disney said which I would like to discuss and see what you think.

Disney obviously became a very rich man. Hence, he had more than enough money that his family never needed to work again. At one point, his daughter wanted to get a job but Disney refused to let her. His reasoning was "you'll only take a job from someone who needs it more."

This was fascinating to me. My first thought upon reading this was that this is not a great way to raise kids. Indeed, rich kids often don't work because they see work as beneath them and they end up as wastoid garbage. So I was surprised Disney would take this stance, given how much he normally represented the traditional values associated with a strong work ethic and honest labor. But the more I thought about it, the more impressed I became.

Here's the thing, the traditional reasons for getting a job weren't relevant in this case. Normally, you want kids to work because it teaches them the value of hard work, it teaches them discipline, the ability to meet schedules, to deal with good and bad employees, and to appease reasonable and unreasonable bosses. Without those things, kids grow up out of touch, feckless, incapable of dealing with other people or adversity, and generally worthless.

But none of that was likely here because Disney was teaching all of these things to his daughter through his own example and through the work she did with him in his Disney efforts. So there really was nothing lost by not letting her get a job. Still what's the harm, right?

Well, that's what impresses me. I doubt most people would see a harm, but Disney did. Disney had such a big picture view that he understood that while his daughter would not be getting much out of a job, she would be depriving someone else of that job and it could be someone who needed that job to earn a living or learn the values that would help them earn a living. Honestly, it impressed me immensely that Disney would think this way. This is almost a form of charity to make sure his family doesn't take something that could be needed by another.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that rich people shouldn't work or that everyone should make this decision. What I'm saying is that this was a fascinating decision that I think showed Disney's strong caring character. It shows that he understood the real value of a job and that it had so much more value to someone else than it did to him or his daughter. I see that as truly insightful... it's also the first time I've ever heard anyone make this connection.

Anyways, I think this should give our politicians pause. Think about this. Disney understood that even a single job could change someone's life. Yet, our politicians seem to treat jobs as nothing more than a tool in a broader game of control. The left in particular seems to lack a grasp of how important jobs can be. They see welfare as the equivalent of a job. They whine that entry-level jobs don't offer the benefits and salary of jobs people must work their way into. They want to make it impossible to fire people who don't take their jobs seriously. They impose policies that kill jobs. And they tax jobs into oblivion. I think it would help our country immensely, if our political class came to realize what Disney knew, which was that a true job can be vital to most people's lives.

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Happy Easter

"He is not here, for he is risen." —Matthew 28:6

I personally believe the best Easter seen is from the 1970s mini-series, Jesus of Nazareth:

"Don't be afraid, I am with you every day until the end of time."

Have a Happy Easter.

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Friday, March 25, 2016

(Good) Friday Book Review: Seven Deadly Virtues

By Kit

We can name most, if not all, of the seven deadly sins: lust, greed, wrath, envy, pride, sloth, and gluttony. But how many of us can name the seven virtues? Let’s be honest, if most of us were asked we would probably give something akin to those embarrassing man-on-the-street interviews where the person is asked to name the nine (currently eight) Supreme Court justices and they pop out answers like Judge Judy or, if the interviewee is older, maybe the judge from Night Court.

So, let’s name them: Justice, Prudence, Temperance, Courage, Faith, Hope, and Charity, or Love.

Now let’s be honest, the virtues don’t get the recognition the sins do because, well, sin is cooler than virtue. Virtues are boring. But in the hopes of bringing virtue back to some level of public awareness, The Weekly Standard’s Jonathan V. Last has round up about 18 conservative writer for a book called The Seven Deadly Virtues: 18 Conservative Writers on Why the Virtuous Life is Funny as Hell. Seven of whom, eight if you count P.J. O’Rourke’s brief introduction to the section, discuss the seven virtues with the rest providing insights into a variety of other, “Everyday virtues” such as Simplicity, Integrity, and Perseverance.

Now, within conservatism there are two strains of thought; libertarianism and traditionalism. Libertarianism, or classical liberalism as the non-pot smokers might prefer to be called, focuses on the importance of freedom for the individual and the rights and liberties, political and economic, he should be allowed by society. The traditionalist, on the other hand, focuses on the importance of virtue both for the individual and for society. Given my dropping of the word “virtue” in my definition of traditionalism, you can probably guess into which strain this book falls.

As with all books in the traditionalist strain, there is a streak of pessimism, beginning with Last’s list of what he describes as the 7 modern virtues (Freedom, Convenience, Progress, Equality, Authenticity, Health, and Nonjudgmentalism) which he says are not in themselves bad but vastly inferior to the classical virtues they have supplanted. This streak continues with Michael Graham’s almost fire-breathing rant on the decline of fortitude in modern society. But it’s not all rants that threaten to burn off your kindle. You also have Jonah Goldberg’s melancholy lament on popular culture’s disregard for Integrity, instead praising a sort of Nietszchean morality where moral principles are not things driven by nobler goals, such as justice or protecting the weak, but are crafted by the individual himself to suit his own personal goals and as such may be amended at his leisure. They give him the pretense of a moral code but the flexibility that comes without one, which means he doesn’t really have one at all.

But if I have given the impression that this book is nothing but a weeping, raging Jeremiad on the immorality of modern society then I should apologize because the book is also quite funny. The subtitle of the book, after all, states the book is about “Why the Virtuous Life is Funny as Hell,” which implies at least some amount of humor. And humor the book has in abundance. Jonah Goldberg’s essay may be a rather mournful dirge on how integrity has been supplanted by a “whatever you want” morality but Jonah Goldberg could not write a mournful dirge without throwing in at least a few funny references to either Star Trek or the Simpsons.

After all, Last points out in his forward that Robespierre, a man who, with the aide of a certain Madame Guillotine, used terror to try and instill virtue within French society, probably didn’t have much in the way of a sense of humor about virtue. And there is humor throughout the book, giving it some of it’s best moments such as Larry Miller’s amusing argument for theism in “Faith” that, though it is nowhere near as mature as those of C.S. Lewis, should certainly make all but the most hard-hearted atheist smile and wonder. There is also David Burge’s (Iowahawk on Twitter) meditation on what he’s learned about Hope from his family of Chicago Cubs fans.

At the beginning of this review we admitted that while we can name all or most of the sins we stumble on the virtues. Which makes a book such as this much-needed. One virtue, or even two or three, are not enough. We must have all the virtues. When Prudence, Justice, Temperance, Courage, Faith, Hope, and Love are working hand-in-hand with themselves and the “everyday” virtues we display the best of ourselves and humanity. We become a bit closer to what we were meant to be.

Available on LINK

Have a Happy Easter.
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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Obamacare 6th Anniversary Open Thread

For those of you who may not remember, today was the 6th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act a/k/a Obamacare. So how's it going so far?

1. Did you get to keep your doctor and/or insurance that you liked?
2. Did your premiums and/or healthcare costs go down $2500 as promised?
3. How are those deductibles holding up (...and up and up)?
4. Has your healthcare coverage improved and is it "affordable" as promised?

No need to answer. Those were just rhetorical questions.

Here's a pie chart that spells it out pretty clearly:

-UConn Poll

Look, someone must be doing better, right? Be honest. Let us know.

Otherwise, please feel free to talk about Cuba, Brussels, or Trump.

On a related note: Oral arguments were held today before the Supreme Court for The Little Sister of Poor Home for the Aged, Priests for Life, Southern Nazarene University, Geneva College, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Washington, and East Texas Baptist University v. Burwell.

The issue is:
"[W}hether the HHS contraceptive-coverage mandate and its “accommodation” violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act by forcing religious nonprofits to act in violation of their sincerely held religious beliefs, when the government has not proven that this compulsion is the least restrictive means of advancing any compelling interest."
With the untimely death of Justice Antonin Scalia, there is no guessing what the 8 remaining Justices will decide. My understanding is that if they cannot come to a decision, the lower court orders will stand thereby tossing religious conscience and conscientious objection into the dustbin of history.
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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Philosophical Question: Conservative Balance

Let's get philosophical. I'm going to give you two quotes which I think together define conservatism at its fundamental core. You tell me if I'm right or wrong and add your thoughts.

The first quote comes from a man who was a communist, but started reading things like the Federalist Papers and slowly morphed into being one of the founding generation of modern American conservatives, along with the likes of William Buckley. He's known for trying to fuse libertarianism and traditionalism into one cohesive belief. To his mind, libertarians made the mistake of undermining moral values whereas the traditionalists failed to grasp the importance of the individual and individual freedom.

Here's the quote:
"Truth withers when freedom dies, however righteous the authority that kills it; and free individualism uninformed by moral value rots at its core and soon brings about conditions that pave the way for surrender to tyranny."
As I read this, I translate this thought thusly: Any government that strips its people of their freedoms, no matter how noble the purpose, is tyrannical. Hence, freedom is paramount and government limits on individual freedoms are evil. However, pure freedom without regard for moral value also leads to tyranny. Therefore, the ideal government is one which seeks to preserve as much freedom as possible without reaching the point where unfettered freedom begins to oppress others, and the guideposts that tell us where that point lies comes from the principles of traditional morality.

The second quote is one I would add to temper this thought slightly. This quote comes from the Roman comedy Andria (166 BC), and it says:
"Moderation in all things."
The irony in that quote is kind of fantastic, but its meaning is actually amazing advice in all facets of life. And the reason I would say that it is relevant here is to point out that absolute freedom is not good nor is hyper-morality... moderation is key. Freedom, for example, is great when it leads to people's lives being healthier and happier and when it makes society stronger, happier and more secure. But freedom becomes bad when it leads to strife or forces people to behave in wasteful manners. In fact, I would say that freedom becomes bad when it forces people to respond in any way.

The real point to adding this moderation quote, however, is to limit the morality aspect, which is meant as the brake on freedom. The problem with morality, as we see with people like Santorum, is that (1) people confuse this with religion, which it is not, and (2) they define it much more broadly and rigidly than is appropriate.

To address the first point, morality existed long before the major religions and it has largely been defined apart from them. Moral values are the traditional behaviors the Greeks called virtues and the ideas philosophers debated under titles such as ethics and morals. Morality is not "faith" and it does not require any particular belief in Jesus, God, Allah or anything else. Nor does it cover ideas that are unique to those beliefs, such as religious duties imposed by God.

On the second point, moderation is key because the moral code we use to define the acceptable boundaries the government may draw around individual freedoms cannot be a sort of strict construction of lip-service morality from the past, nor can it be inflexible. Indeed, it is vital to understand that while many things have traditionally been considered immoral, society has always been more subtle/moderate in the application of those rules. For example, lying is considered immoral, yet society has always excused white lies. Even more to the point, society actually excuses almost all lies. It does this by letting reputational harm be the punishment for lies rather than legal punishment (unless those lies are done in such a way to undermine the legal system, such as lies told to the police or under oath). Much of the morality that certain groups freak out about today and want to see the law enforce has never been enforced by law or has only been done so on rare occasions. Further, morality is a flexible concept which rests upon the agreement of society. That means that society can change what it considered to be moral (at that point, I would say that freedom must act as a boundary on morality). Adultery is one such concept which has gone from stoning to a mere reputational matter over the years. Gay marriage is another instance where society changed its mind.

Ergo, I take these quotes to define conservatism thusly: while the goal of government should be to maximize individual freedoms, those freedoms cannot interfere with the order of society, which is maintained by the moral code of its people.

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Sunday, March 20, 2016

Romney: Out-Of-Touch and Effete

One of the things that has long bothered me about conservatism is how out-of-touch so many of its representatives are with the public. Now, more than ever, conservatives need to speak the language of the public if they are to fend off the challenge of Trump. Unfortunately, they keep relying on people like Mitt Romney. Romney just attacked Trump and the way he did it highlights the problem. Observe.

Here's the problem. Too many conservatives don't seem to grasp the American psyche and they come across as naive Boy Scouts, mouth-foaming ministers or silver-spoon wusses. Enter Mitt Romney. Romney decided to dive into the War on Trump even though he is the last man who should lead an attack on Trump. For one thing, Americans despise losers. Whether it’s losing an election or the Super Bowl, number two is sh*t in the eyes of America. Seriously, Super Bowl losers have often commented that people viewed them as the worst team in the league despite actually being second best. Losing politicians become the butt of jokes. Losers like Carter, Mondale, and Dukakis all found themselves ostracized. So bringing back a loser like Romney is stupid to begin with and shows a fundamental misunderstanding of whom the American public respects.

Secondly, even if Romney had never lost, Romney comes across as out-of-touch. This is particularly bad against Trump, who is speaking the language of the public much more clearly than any politician. Indeed, Trump speaks to the very people who find Romney and the rest of the GOP “establishment” to be losers, effete, cowards, and unwilling to speak to the issues that bother them. What good can it possibly do then for Romney to come out and lead the attack against Trump? That only confirms to the Trumpsters that they are right to back Trump.

Even worse though, let’s look at some of what Romney said. Romney began by attacking Trump as a vulgar, sexually debased bully who is unfit for the presidency. Golly gee gosh! Trump is "vulgar"! So the fuck what?

This is the GOP blindspot. For as long as I’ve watched politics, the GOP has had this Boy Scout wing that can’t stand the idea that people swear and say nasty thing. This is amazingly out of touch. Look, I try to limit how much I swear, but I cuss regularly... almost every American does. Ditto on making sexually suggestive insults. It’s just not a big deal for 90%+ of Americans. Get over it, GOP. You are living in a fantasy world if you think the public doesn’t swear and doesn't say nasty things. And when Romney levels a charge that Trump is "vulgar," he sounds like some weirdo wanna-be Victorian who can't relate to the modern world or like Thurston Howell III whimpering, "Luvie, that man is vulgar!" That's not something people respect.

And what’s this sexually debased crap? Has Trump engaged in sex on stage? No. Is he a hard-core pornographer like Larry Flynt? Nope. So what has he done that Romney thinks qualifies as sexually debased? Multiple divorces? Come on. The American public doesn't care about any of this. None of it's even considered controversial outside of a tiny conservative circle, and using it as an attack only shows that conservatives remain weirdly obsessed with stopping unapproved sex.

So right out of the gate, Romney has leveled an attack which doesn't resonate in American culture except to show that Romney himself is out of touch with modern America. This is what it feels like listening to Romney champion conservatism:
Trump: Yo' Mama so fat.
Romney: It's not proper to insult another's mother.
Trump: Yo' Mama so fat her belly button gets home 15 minutes before she does.
Romney: That's not true. My mother is quite svelte.
Trump: Yo' Mama so fat she's got more chins than a Hong Kong phone book.
Romney: I declare, Sir. Cease and desist.
Trump: Yo' Mama so fat her ass has its own area code.
Romney: Do not use that vulgar word or I shall become irate! I'm thankful my country club would never let someone like you join.
Trump: Yo' Mama so fat the moon orbits her.
Romney: You will be receiving a sternly worded letter from my lawyer.
And it didn’t stop there. Consider these comments:
“I understand the anger Americans feel today. In the past, our presidents have channeled that anger, and forged it into resolve, into endurance and high purpose, and into the will to defeat the enemies of freedom. Our anger was transformed into energy directed for good. Mr. Trump is directing our anger for less than noble purposes.”
This statement is exactly what got Trump’s followers upset in the first place! Romney claims to understand the anger Americans feel, yet rather than addressing it, he suggests that the job of a president is to use that anger for some “high purpose.” Seriously, how insulting is that? Rather than understand that the problem is the things the political class has done, Romney openly says the problem is that Trump won't manipulate the public's anger the right way? WTF?! “Sure you’re pissed that I had an affair, honey, but why don’t you use all that angry energy to go bake me a cake.” Not only is this condescension, but he thinks the public isn't smart enough to realize that he's telling them this to their faces: vote for us, we will manipulate you better.

Then he said this:
“Here’s what I know. Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud. His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University. He’s playing the American public for suckers — he gets a free ride to the White House and all we get is a lousy hat.”
Finally, a real attack calling Trump a phony and a fraud! (Wanna bet he felt all weird and trembly using the word "suckers" in public.) But how does Romney back up his name calling? Does he offer proof? Not really. He suggests proof by mentioning Trump University. But therein lies the danger. Most people don’t know about Trump University or they see the fraud charge as disputed and likely a litigation smear. So it doesn't register as an attack. Even worse though, this has an air to it of Mitt Elite-Ivy-School-Grad Romney blasting a for-profit college of the very kind that a vast number of lower and lower-middle class Americans are using to improve their employment chances. "You didn't go to a real school!" Then he actually accuses Trump of wanting “a free ride.” Really? If anyone got a free ride, it was Mitt. The average person scrimped and saved and took out tons of loans to pay their way through a local or non-fancy state college, or they worked manual labor jobs to get what they have. Mitt and his silver-spoon types are the ones we think of when it comes to elites getting free rides. This was an ill-advised attack which shows that 49% Romney doesn’t get that he’s seen as a trust fund baby. All of this comes across as disdain for normal people.

Romney won't even say what's on his mind. Rather than call Trump a fake, he says, “There are a number of people who claim that Mr. Trump is a conman, a fake.” This reeks of cowardly legalese. If you have something to say then say it, don’t hide behind the “gee, some people have said” line. That’s for cowards, lawyers and rumor sites trying not to get sued. Romney then doubles-down on his wimp status: “There is indeed evidence of that. Mr. Trump has changed his positions not just over the years, but over the course of the campaign.” Oh no!! You mean like you did? You mean like every other politician anywhere? That makes him a conman? Bullshit. And how in the world can you be such a wimp that you can’t just speak your allegation without adding the wimpy qualification about evidence? “Gee, there might kind of sort of be some evidence that might maybe back up the things those other people kind of said.” Can you get more cowardly, Mitt?

Finally, Romney again shows that he fails to understand people’s anger: “[Trump’s] personal qualities would mean that America would cease to be a shining city on a hill.” Do you honestly think that anyone who supports Trump thinks America remains a shining city on a hill? Or do they see a land of unemployed because of an influx of Mexicans, a land where free speech has been killed in the name of political correctness, where rape culture is randomly savaging your men in college, where the attorney general actually claims that civil rights laws only apply to help blacks, where taxes keep rising to pay for vast numbers of lazy people, where big business gets trillions in bailouts paid for by small business owners in the hinterlands, where the stock market is rigged, the military fights endless wars against terrorists who get set loose once captured, where cops are gunned down in the streets, etc. Right or wrong, do you really think those people are worried that Trump's "vulgarity" will make America worse?

Look, I despise Trump. He’s a fraud and a turd and his supporters are stupid. But the reason Trump exists at all is that conservatives have lost touch with real Americans. Romney is a cold fish with no knowledge or connection to the American culture. He frets and ninnies about things that haven't mattered to Americans in seventy years, if ever. If conservatives want to win Americans, they need to learn to speak the language the public speaks, to address the things that concern the American public, and to stop sounding like weirdo outsiders. As long as conservatives sound like effete fops who tremble at swearing, fear sex, look down on people who don’t have trust funds, and remain incapable of understanding what has upset or turned off the American public, conservatism will be nothing more than a cute debating society for nostalgiacs.
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Friday, March 18, 2016

Friday's Thoughts: Politicians, Their Lies, and Us

By Kit

"Put not your faith in princes" —Psalm: 146:3

It’s an old cliché that politicians lie. But no one ever wants to point out why they lie. They lie because they have good reason to believe those lies will get them elected, or re-elected. They speak the lies they speak because they believe, again with good reason, that those are the lies we want to hear.

Which makes the relationship between the people and their elected officials a lot like the relationship between an abusive man and his wife or live-in girlfriend. Every few years we consider ditching the man but until he starts telling us what we want to hear. Some of the lies are the same, only he truly understands our concerns, but some are different, albeit with a similar tune; only he can protect us from the big bad Chinese currency manipulations. This is more apt than you think when you realize that while Congress as a body has very low approval ratings, around 11%, the individual congressman typically have high approval ratings with those they represent. If Camille Paglia was right when she said, “Any woman who stays with her abuser beyond the first incident is complicitous with him” what does that say about our relationship with our politicians?

But with the presidency the relationship is a tad different, not quite the long-term abusive relationship that makes up the plots of many Lifetime Original Movies but the revolving door of live-in boyfriends and husbands. Three times since the end of the Cold War, every 8 years to be precise, we have changed parties in the White House. In 1992 Bill Clinton promised a presidency “for the people for a change,” in 2000 Bush promised to bring integrity to Washington, and in 2008 Barack Obama promised “the change we can believe in,” a phrase must have annoyed the Clintons, for obvious reasons. And each of them were elected.

When you have a thrice-divorced woman who, speaking from her own personal experience, claims that all men lie it is occasional remarked, though out of her ear-shot, that there was one common denominator in each of her three marriages; her. The common denominator of the past 25 years has been us. Each time we have been promised by a candidate that he can fix Washington because he is a “man of integrity” who will govern “for the people” by bringing to Washington the “change we need.”

The former publisher of National Review Bill Rusher had a quote that Jonah Goldberg loves to use, “politicians will disappoint you.” The reason being is that politicians want to get elected and re-elected. For obvious reasons, no one wants to get lose his job and we all want a promotion. But taking risks, like pointing out at a shareholders’ meeting the financial decisions of the company will end in disaster or telling your constituency that we must cut back on spending their welfare benefits and their spending grants lest we end up like Greece, is rather dangerous. So our elected officials do not.

Washington was built on a natural swamp and since then it has been a human swamp. It has been so because, like Albany, New York and the Chicago City Hall, it is a great locus of power. Power and money and, if you are really careful, sex. The power to do great things for your constituents and for yourself, the money to live well, and the sex, well, you can figure that one out. So politicians, both the current and the would-be, strive for our votes because we, being their boss, can give them power. Some of them seek to use it for good, a few naive enough to think they can succeed, while others have less altruistic motives.

But, ah, now things are different. A large number of Americans are convinced we now have a man who will Make America Great Again. How do they know this? Because he has become incredibly popular saying the things millions of Americans have been wanting to hear from a politician for ages.


From the above, you can probably guess where I think this GOP nomination is going. I’m holding out some hope for Ted Cruz but I’m more or less resigning myself to the inevitable. However things go in November, Larry Correia summed it up well, “I have a feeling I will be spending the next four years telling people I told you so.”

Also, Rick Springfield had a better shot at Jessie’s girl than John Kasich has the the GOP nomination.

On other current events, given the arrest in Belgium, I thought I should post this article by Tom Nichols at The Federalist: "Terrorists Kill Because They Hate Themselves For Loving The West"

So, let’s turn to happier things, shall we?

I saw Deadpool, rather fun, if you are into R-rated comedies with lots of blood splatter. I also saw Risen. Surprisingly good. No plans on seeing either Young Messiah or God's Not Dead 2. I would rather stick my hand in a woodchopper than see the latter.

AS someone who has been studying Latin I liked this: "Why Studying Latin, More So Than Business, Is Ideal Training for Actually Running a Business."

I hope you all had a happy St. Patrick's Day.
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Thursday, March 17, 2016

St. Patrick's Day Open Thread

Happy St. Patrick's Day to all. Just in case you want to know more about the real St. Patrick, here's a LINK.

If all you want to do is enjoy yourself with a few adult beverages, might I suggest a lovely Irish whiskey - The Irishman*. Enjoy the parades, wear green so you don't get pinched, and just relax.

Trust me, it could be worse politically speaking. I know it looks crazy now and we still have a long way to go, but it will be over in November.

If anyone has any jokes they want to tell to lighten the mood, please feel free.

Here's an Irish saying to keep you going:
May there always be work for your hands to do,
May your purse always hold a coin or two.
May the sun always shine warm on your windowpane,
May a rainbow be certain to follow each rain.
May the hand of a friend always be near you,
And may God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.
I am out of pocket today, but will join later...

*Though I am not a great connoisseur of fine whiskeys, I went to a whiskey tasting last weekend and The Irishman whiskey is quite smooth especially the higher the price.
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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Trumpty Thoughts: What Andrew Said Next Will Shock You!! (warning: Click bait)

Ok, some thoughts on last night.

● Trump could have wrapped things up last night, but he didn't. Ohio left a slight glimmer of hope for the Rebel Alliance.

● I think Florida said it all though. Trump has gone from a 30% candidate to a steady 40% candidate. He's still growing and will be a 50% candidate soon.

● The only reason Cruz was close in North Carolina and Missouri was evangelicals (plus the states surrounding Texas, like Missouri, have been best for Cruz). In the big states, Cruz remains a distant third place candidate. And there are few "good" states left for Cruz. Kasich has better states coming up.

● Kasich won Ohio, but that was his own state. I had thought Trump might take it and win it all last night, but he didn't. I suspect this is the best Kasich will ever do, however, and he didn't cross 50%. In any event, Kasich and Cruz stay in the race for a bit.

● I think Rubio fading helped Kasich. So does this mean that the new Rubio-Kasich vote will beat Trump? No. Florida and Illinois show us that. Trump is drifting above 50% soon and that's the end.

● At this point, either Cruz needs Kasich to leave the race and then needs to get around 70% of the Kasich/Rubio voters (highly unlikely) or Kasich needs Cruz to leave and he needs to get 90% of Cruz's voters and 100% of Rubio's voters. I don't think either is possible, given human nature, or the history of this election.

Oh yeah, the click bait... I'm endorsing John Kasich as the last sane man in the race. God help us all.
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Monday, March 14, 2016

Ides of March Primary Day

Yeah, March 15 hasn't been too kind to political leaders and movements over the millennia. Why should today be any different. Just like the mighty Julius Caesar, today may be the day that the Republican Party gets stabbed in the back and through the heart by our own...or not. But again, while we wait for the results, let see where it stands with delegates won as of today and what is up for tomorrow.

                        DELEGATES Won  
Ted Cruz                    370
John Kasich                  63
Marco Rubio              163
Donald Trump            460
Carson                            8
Bush                               4
Uncommitted                 6

Need 1,237 to clinch nomination

STATE               DELEGATES
Florida   (WTA)            99
Illinois   (P)                   69
Missouri (WTA)            52
North Carolina  (P)        72
Ohio (WTA)                   66
N.Mariana Isle (WTA)     9

WTA - Winner take all
P - Proportional


                          DELEGATES Won     
Hillary Clinton        766/461* (1227)
Bernie Sanders         551/55*    (706)

Need 2,383 to clinch nomination

STATE               DELEGATES
Florida                      246
Illinois                      182
Missouri                     84
North Carolina         121
Ohio                         159

As far as the Republican ticket goes, it's not over until it's over. No one is anywhere near the 1,237 yet, not even Trump. As far as I see, it is still open and could lead to an contested Convention vote. But there are still major states to weigh in - California and New York. And beyond all comprehension, it looks like New York will go for Trump.

The Democrat ticket is much more clear. Unless something drastic happens, Clinton will be the candidate they will run. She has the super delegates to put her over the top and Sander's supporters have decided to go militant and that can only help Trump.

Let's discuss while we're waiting.

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Sunday, March 13, 2016

Stick With The Electoral College

One of our own asked what everyone thought about the issue of the popular vote versus the Electoral College. As a conservative, you should be in favor of the Electoral College for several reasons. Avante!

Reason One: Principle. If you respect the Constitution and the balance that it struck, then sticking with the Electoral College is important. The Electoral College is ensconced in the Constitution to protect the country from the dangers of democracy and because the Founders wanted to balance the interests of large and small states and rural and urban voters. I’ll deal with democracy in a moment. What is relevant here is that switching to the popular vote will make most of rural America and small states entirely irrelevant.

Right now, politicians visit North Dakota and Wyoming because they can sway the election. Even though they only have a handful of voters compared to Los Angeles or New York, they still control enough electoral votes that the candidates spend time trying to win over those voters. If we switched to the popular vote, a candidate could win the election simply by winning over a handful of large cities.

Imagine Candidates X and Y spending all their time in New York City, Los Angeles, Washington, and Boston. You would see no attempt made to address land issues, farming, manufacturing, etc. The issues of those cities would be the issue of American presidential elections. By keeping the Electoral College, the candidate who ignores the small states does so at his peril. Switch to the popular vote and they will ignore small states because it makes sense.

Reason Two: Philosophical. The point above feeds into the second. Democracy is inherently more dangerous than a republican form of government. In a popular vote system, the tendency of the candidates will be to pander to the single largest group at the exclusion of all the minority groups. That not only promotes group hate/exclusion, as well as feelings of not being represented, but it also leads to the dominant group robbing the minority groups -- a common form of “government” in Africa.

Imagine Candidate X pandering to white trash America and promising to squeeze every other class and race to their benefit, or Candidate Y promising black/Hispanic America that they will rob white America blind if elected.

The Electoral College prevents this because it forces people into different groups. In other words, the election is no longer about black or white or male or female or whatever differences we find ourselves, instead it becomes an “us v. them” fight between small states and large states, rural and urban voters, etc. Switch to the popular vote and those distinctions become meaningless and will be replaced by more obvious differences like race, gender and class. (Right now, race, gender and class are only some factors that the parties use. The key difference is "rural culture" versus "urban culture.")

Reason Three: Practical. Finally, let’s look at this realistically. Right now, liberal America has neutered its voting power by moving to a handful of states en mass. Keep this in mind, in an Electoral System, every single vote beyond 50% + 1 vote is wasted because it’s not needed to carry the state for the candidate. Thus, when California votes 60-40% for the liberal, those extra 20% of voters are essentially throwing away their votes. If they could spread out, they could swing other states. Indeed, in 2012, California had 2.3 million extra Democratic voters. That’s more excess voters than the number of voters in 35 different states.

Switching to a popular vote system would be the equivalent of spreading these liberals out perfectly. Essentially, California and New York’s excess liberals could be used to offset conservative margins in North Dakota, Colorado, Alabama, etc. The result would be ugly for conservatives.

If you exclude second terms (where popular vote always rises... except in the case of Obama), only Reagan, Bush Sr. and Ike won the popular vote, and Bush Sr. was riding Reagan’s coattails. We haven’t won the popular vote (except for Bush’s second term) since 1992. What’s more, with shifting demographics, the gap in the popular vote will continue to grow over time. It’s only because liberals cluster in a handful of cities that they don’t control the White House in perpetuity.

Strikes me as a bad idea all around to switch.

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Thursday, March 10, 2016

Open Thread Thursday

I am tapped out, so it's up to you to come up with something to talk about today.

But just in case you can't think of anything, here's something to ponder:

Question: If Trump gets the Republican nomination, can you pull the lever or check that box for him?

Just asking for a friend...

Otherwise, the floor is open.
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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

A First: Obama Tells The Truth!

Wow! Team Obama has finally told a truth. This is a first for them! Anyways, this was a surprising announcement that came out a couple weeks ago and has gone largely un-commented-upon for all the wrong reasons. It is an important piece of information, however. Observe.

What Obama announced a couple weeks ago was simple, accurate and a heck of a warning which everyone seems intent on ignoring. They said that if you currently earn less than $25 an hour in your job, expect that a machine will take your job within the next couple decades.

Let me repeat that: If you currently earn less than $25 an hour in your job, expect that a machine will take your job within the next couple decades.

The talk radio right thinks that dirty Mexicans are killing 'merikn jobs. The left thinks that greedy American bosses (probably dirty Jews) are killing American jobs. And to a minuscule degree, there is some truth there. American companies have outsourced jobs overseas and illegal labor does take jobs in this country. But the truth is that few jobs in the scheme of things are outsourced and few of those would have survived here even if they hadn't been. The high-end estimates for outsourced jobs is about 2.4 million in the last decade, or 240,000 a year. That's less than 0.1% of the 150 million jobs in the US. Similarly, few of the jobs taken by illegals, who are clustered in six "border" states, are jobs Americans are willing to take. Some, but not many.

The real cause of job loss in America is technology.

This is vital for people to understand because it means people need to prepare themselves by getting educated and moving up the food chain. If you think you can spend the rest of your life working at McDonald's, being a laborer, or just hanging tight in some low-level clerical job, then you better think twice. Those jobs are going to vanish. Seriously, just as the car killed the horse, the word processor killed the typing pool, the robot killed the autoworker, the leaf-blower replaced three illegals with rakes, and video killed the radio star, the next seemingly small invention will kill your jobs. They are already introducing those horrible electronic things in low-end restaurants (Olive Garden, Chilis) to kill waitress jobs. Kiosks are here to kill those McDonald's workers who wanted $15 an hour. Electronic editors have killed book editors. Tablets are killing inventory clerks. Etc. It is coming.

I find it interesting that Obama openly said this. That seems like a truth neither side wants to let slip. The right is happy whipping up its low information types against Mexicans and the left is happy whipping up its low information types against rich bosses, evil banks and non-union labor. There isn't much room in that debate for the truth, especially as it is a hard truth: you can't stop it. So I guess kudos are in order for Obama actually warning people that they need to make themselves more valuable than the machines that can replace them.

OT: As expected, Cruz's revival last weekend was an anomaly. All Hail President Trump... please don't f*ck up the country too much. On the other side, it's interesting that Hillary can't shake the weasel, er, Bernie.
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Monday, March 7, 2016

Meanwhile In New York City...

While we have been agonizing over the 2016 Presidential election cycle, Mayor DeBlasio and the City Council of New York City have been hard at work making our city just better and better. Well, better for themselves anyway. Let's see where to begin...

1. On February 5, the City Council voted themselves a 32% raise retroactive to January 1, 2016. Our City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverto (Socialist) said that the poor, poor council members who already made a 6-figure salary, just could not live on $112,000 a year even though the average pay of workers in NYC is somewhere around $55,000-ish. In their defense, they have not had a raise since 2006 (neither have I, btw), so raising their pay to $145,000 just seems like a no-brainer to them. Oh, the Speaker goes from $145,000 to $165,500 and the Mayor gets a bump from $225,000 to $258,750. The main reason for this raise is so they won't feel so inclined to steal from the taxpayers. Really.

2. The City Council have decided that there is just too many people going to jail. More specifically to Riker's Island, our city lock up that is by any description a hell hole. It is so hard to fix the problem, so their idea is to just shut it down. Just as an aside: I live my life so that I don't ever have to go to Rikers, but hey, whatevs.

3. Let's see then there is "Broken Windows" policing. That was a very effective plan instigated in the early '90's to stop early stage criminals before they escalated to the bigger crimes. Now the City Council has decided that those little quality-of-life crimes like public urination, public intoxication, graffitti, and breaking windows that could once result in arrest and a trip to Rikers, will now be downgraded to a summons.

Unfortunately for the City Council, they won't get credit for this one. Our Police Commissioner Bill Bratton decided that it was time to undo all that he started in the early 90's that cause crime to drop to almost unheard of low levels for a city the size of NYC. Oh, did I tell you that crime has gone up dramatically since DeBlasio and our City Council took control of our fair city?

4. Next...raising the minimum wage to $15 @hour. Gov. Cuomo is pushing this very hard with our Mayor and City Council. As a matter of fact, it is probably the only issue in which they all can agree. I am all for it except no has been able to rationally explain what will happen to those current employees who worked hard, improved their skills who already earn $15 @hour.

5. Today, Mayor DeBlasio signed a executive order all city-owned buildings—schools, city offices, gyms and recreation centers, some museums and public parks—that have single-sex facilities allow people to us the bathroom or locker room of the gender with which they identify. Yeah...'kay this is going to fun.

And finally -
6. Now comes the final blow of our City Council...they are seriously considering giving voting rights to non-citizens including illegals (Yeah, "illegals" get over it!). The reasoning is that they live here (illegally) and deserve a vote. We are a sanctuary city after all. This is still in the early stages, but no doubt they will vote to approve this on some Friday afternoon with no imput from the actually citizens of the city.

Yes, fun times in NYC these day. One question keeps coming to my mind though. If the City Council can unilaterally give themselves a raise, change the law with no imput from the citizens, and allow non-citizens the right to vote, shouldn't I have the valid right to unilaterally decide not to pay local taxes? Just a thought.


I am sure that Trump has probably done something today that will render all of this irrelevant, so feel free, as always, go change the subject.
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Sunday, March 6, 2016

The KKK Issue and the MSM

A quick thought on the KKK issue. This KKK thing is starting to bother me. I'm no fan of Trump, but this sounds like the kind of sabotage that the MSM engages in regularly when smearing conservatives and the GOP is so upset about Trump that they fell for it.

The scam works like this. All over the country, heinous losers endorse candidates on all sides. You never hear about Pedophile for Clinton or White Power for Sanders however, because the media ignores those people as cranks. But once you get anyone unsavory claiming to support a conservative, the media goes into overdrive acting like this is typical of their supporters. Then they demand that the candidate disavow them -- usually on some leftist terms that would result in a massively over-broad disavowal that sweeps in normal conservatives and conservative ideas as well. The candidate does the disavowal, but the issue doesn't die. The next MSM interviewer repeats this. As does the next. And the next. Soon, the candidate has spent weeks repeatedly disavowing the same irrelevant thing.

This creates the impression that the party must be a bunch of racists or else "it wouldn't be an issue." Similarly, the MSM writes articles in which they claim that there must be something to it or else the issue would have died off. But the reason the issue didn't die off is that the MSM is busy keeping it alive by repeatedly asking the candidate to disavow it.

The GOP should have thought about the long-term on this and shot down the MSM's game rather than attacking Trump for not disavowing it. Believe it or not, Trump did the right thing (sort of). His response was awkward, but he should have said, "I'm not playing that game. You know I have nothing to do with those people nor will they find anything to like in my administration. Issue over, don't ask again."


P.S. I see more evidence this weekend that Trump has won. The combined Trump and Cruz vote is in the high 70%. That tells me that about 10% points of moderates are now supporting Trump. That means he will likely win Ohio and Florida and the rest.
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Wednesday, March 2, 2016

We Need A Break From The Pending Reality...

After the last few days we've had, maybe we just need a little break from the trauma and the drama. With the likely nomination of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, maybe we just need to regroup and gather our thoughts. And what better way to clear our minds than to ponder... puppies and kittens! So put on some soothing music, take a deep breath, hug your loved ones, clear your mind for awhile, and let the cuteness wrap around you like a warm blanket...

You just can't be mad when there's a kitten in a hat!

Can you use a friend?

Take a deep breath...

Aaaahhh, now wasn't that better?

Oh, wait, one more. This is my impression as to what will happen after the January 20, 2017...

Just kidding...maybe.

Questions or comments are always welcome.
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Sadly, I think the race likely ended last night. Trump winning in Vermont and Massachusetts shouldn't have happened. Similarly, the "moderate" vote in Minnesota was about 10% points below what it should have been. That makes it just above 50/50 for Trump in the moderate states, which is enough for him to win. That's also before whatever momentum he gets from increasing respectability. We won't know for sure until the 15th, but I now suspect Trump will win Ohio and maybe even Florida.


BTW, to be clear, I'm not super sad about this. For one thing, I think Trump will do some things that need to be done. I'm pretty sure he'll fix the immigration system (and yes, he will sign an amnesty). I suspect he'll rid the party of its obsession with abortion and gays too. I think he'll do surprising well with women too because I suspect he's going to appoint a lot of them to cabinet posts and key positions. Each of those things go a long way toward fixing the GOP's electoral handicaps. Beyond that, I doubt he'll do much more than enjoy the perks of office.
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Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Super Tuesday Special Open Thread Update.


Our backs are against the wall, fellow Conservatives!  Let the games begin...

Texas will be the big state to win and this is Cruz's state, so he should win.  But all bets are off.

Fun Fact - All of today's primaries are proportional, not winner-take-all.  So if Trump does win 49%, he will still only get 49% of the delegates.

Republican Primaries
Ben Carson
Ted Cruz
John Kasich
Marco Rubio
Donald Trump

Alabama                 50
Alaska                    28
Arkansas                40
Georgia                  76
Massachusetts        42
Minnesota              38
Oklahoma              43
Tennessee              58
Texas                   155
Vermont                15
Virginia                 49

Democrat Primaries
Hillary Clinton
Bernie Sanders

Alabama               60
American Samoa  10
Arkansas               37
Colorado               79
Georgia               117
Massachusetts     116
Minnesota             93
Oklahoma             42
Tennessee             76
Texas                  251
Vermont               26
Virginia              109
Dems. abroad       17

And now it begins.  I will keep updating, but if you live in any of these states, let's us know how it's going.

Until then, share your thoughts.

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