Monday, February 29, 2016

Donald Trump on Federal Lands

In an interview with Field and Stream Magazine, Donald Trump accidentally revealed his understanding of Federalism, by declaring that states would not know how to best manage land which ought to be under their own sovereignty.

As the graphic displays, the federal usurpation of state sovereignty via federal property management is not a big issue on the East side of Manhattan, or frankly East of the Mississippi. But in Nevada, 83% of the state is federally controlled.  Based upon Trump's assertion, the Federal government should be in charge.  

In contrast, Senator Ted Cruz advocates devolving federal control of public land in the West to states. Guess that Cruz trust the people to wisely exercise their sovereignty rather than spotty federal oversight. 

Hope that no one thinks that Trump respects Federalism or will shake things in Washington up to have smaller government 

Decency in Presidential Politics

Max Lucado on Decency and Donald Trump

For the first time in his 61 years of life, influential Christian preacher and author Max Lucado has spoken out about politics.

Lucado shared his decency test when vetting prospective suitors for his teen-aged daughter with the crucible being evident decency.

Lucado wonders why in Election 2016 that Donald Trump, the current front-runner in the Republican Presidential Primary race, would be turned away from Lucado's door as he persistently fails the decency test.

Some polling from the first four Republican primary contests show that Trump grabs a good amount of support from self proclaimed evangelical voters. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) who had expected to earn the support of most evangelicals, posits that Trump is getting lots of self-described "Born Again" votes but not real evangelicals.

The logic is that evangelicals who are serious about their Christian walk in faith care more about being biblically correct than eschewing political correctness through Trump support.  It is similar to the political divide between Mass going Catholics (25% of the total) and those who are C-I-N-Os (Catholics in Name Only).

After electing Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, Americans should have learned the lesson that despite triangulating promises and eloquent oratory that character matters.  When some one shows you who they are, you ought to believe them.

Decency is a good gauge of character.

Primary Promise from John Kasich

Melissa Harris-Perry Axed from MSNBC Claiming Racism

Melissa Harris Perry on Quitting MSNBC
For four years, Melissa Harris-Perry hosted a little watched weekend progressive political talk program on  MSNBC. Harris-Perry made a name for herself by outrageous antics such as wearing tampons as earring.and claiming that kids belong to whole communities. Well, Harry-Perry got in a tizzy with her bosses and played the race card one too many times and now has lost her hostess position.

MSNBC had embraced a "Lean Forward" mentality towards news, striving to become the default progressive news and opinion channel. Since 2012, MSNBC has raced to the bottom of cable newser ratings and seemingly could not rise with the "Lean Forward" strategy.

As the Election 2016 has been generating lots of interest (particularly for the Republican primary challenges), MSNBC had been focusing more on live political news coverage. Consequently, some shows had been pre-empted.

Melissa Harris-Perry was in a huff because her low rating Saturday show was being pre-empted by live news coverage for the third time in a row, so she walked off the set. More consequential was the email that the Wake Forest University Presidential Chair of Politics and International Affairs and The Nation columnist in which she refused to be a TV token for her liberal news executive overlords. Perhaps she thought that playing the race card would make a different while assuaging her ego. But  Harris-Perry was quickly terminated when word of the email became public.

Harris-Perry saw racism everywhere. Harris-Perry railed about one of Mitt Romney's children adopting a biracial baby. Harris-Perry saw racist overtones in Darth Vader of Star Wars.  Thus her polarized perspective was pretty pronounced.  But the rapidity that MSNBC did away with her show because she turned the racial grievance gun towards Manhattan liberals who program several no ratings shows with questionable minority talent (e.g. Al Sharpton) to front diversity shows or assuage African American activist agitators is telling.

Alice Walker on Power

Alice Walker on Power

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Il Duce Donald?

The 2016  Republican Presidential Primary have flummoxed politicos for turning rewriting the rules of campaigns.  Manhattan Mogul Donald Trump has soared to the top of the heap amongst the GOP without expending much for paid media by having celebrity styled rallies, constantly attacking his opponents and ripping down the party which he is seeking to lead, generating gobs of earned media through outlandish outbursts and capitalizing on social media.

But he who rises by the sword can also perish by the sword.  Trump Twitter account has been quite active after the Houston GOP debate.  However, it appears as if the Donald was doing some drunk tweeting (though Trump professes never to touch alcohol unless it's in a communion cup) by virtue of the odd orthography when insulting Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), calling him a "chocker" and typing "honer".  Well, occasional typos or misspelling are par for the course when quickly texting on mobile devices. But forwarding fascist phrases is less excusable.

On Sunday morning, the @realDonaldTrump account re-tweeted a Darwinesque political pearl of wisdom.

However, Trump (or his staff) did not carefully scrutinize the social media sharing.  The account was @IlDuce2016, which is a parody account created by a snarky political blogger.  Oops. Those who wish to Dump Trump quickly took notice of the unforced error and sought to educate the electorate.

Trump supporters can spin this as a conspiracy or another one off mistake.  But considering the subject matter and Trump's unprincipled populism, it does reveal the Trump campaign's druthers. And as the sympathy for a strongman sinks in, it may be another ceiling of support for those who are committed to the Constitution rather than favoring Populist bromides.

Furthermore, Trump is embroiled in a controversy concerning KKK inspired endorsements.  Ex-Klansman David Duke has expressed support for Donald Trump, though not formally endorsing "the Donald".  On CNN's State of the Union, Jack Tapper asked three times if Trump would condemn or reject Duke's support.

Trump refused to do so on camera (but to be fair, a Trump PR flack did distance himself from Duke).  What is telling is Trump claimed no knowledge of Duke or his controversial KKK background.  This is contrary to his own history.  When Trump was contemplating a Presidential run in 2000, Trump condemned the Reform Party for being associated with David Duke.

The unmoored approach to issues which the Trump campaign takes, the inclination to attack journalists who do not lick spit polish his boots and the Can Do spirit of making the trains run on time without reference to constitutional powers makes comparisons to Duke or Il Duce pretty damning to Americans who appreciate having a democratically elected Constitutional Republic.

UPDATE: 02/29/2016 After a day of bad press and being ridiculed on the campaign trail for now disavowing David Duke and KKK support for his candidacy, Donald Trump affirmative disavowed David Duke's support. Trump blamed the kerfluffle on having a bad ear piece for Tapper interview.  Sure.  Just like the IlDuce retweet, it's just technical difficulties.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Lindsey Graham on Senatorial Discourtesy

Failed 2016 Presidential hopeful Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) had some sharp barbs at his rival Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) while speaking at the Washington Press Club Foundation Dinner.

Graham joked that that homicide could be committed on Cruz and there would be no conviction in the Senate. It is disgusting that Graham is echoing the homicidal hypothetical that Donald Trump used about to justify his cult of personality.  Graham might want to consult with Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX 18th) on homicide

Graham may have revealed an inconvenient truth that Cruz upsets the apple-cart of the go along to get along Cocktail Party Club setup of the Senate, hence he's unpopular.

But if you parse Lindsey's language, no one in the Senate would convict. Perhaps that is to say that no Senators have convictions. Aside from Senators Mike Lee (R-UT), Rand Paul (R-KY), Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Ben Sasse (R-NB), this train of thought might be on track.

Lindsey fancies himself to be a funny guy.  That may be true. But he shouldn't quit his day job. On second thought, leaving his day job might not be so bad. There may be some audiences in the Distict of Calamity that are craving political puppet shows. 

Sheila Jackson Lee on Homicide

Sheila Jackson Lee on Homicide

John Leguizamo on Latino Republicans

John Leguizamo on Latino Republicans

The quintessential thought process of a Hollywood celebutard on politics-- 1) unfailing allegiance to the Democrat party 2) addition to identity politics 3) presupposing group think 4) intolerance of opposing ideologies while demanding diversity.

As Leguizamo uttered as Miss Chi-Chi Rodriguez in To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar (1995):

John Leguizamo in To Wong Foo (1995) 
"Lets throw you two a pity party. Two fraidy ol' ladies. You gotta live live before it lives you, you stupid... You gonna be second class you gonna be second rate your whole life."

Leguizamo's Raid rant is a salsa version of Crabs in a Barrel. Got to pull anyone who is trying to escape back.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Cupcake Kasich's Casuistry on Religious Liberty

As a Republican Presidential hopeful, Governor John Kasich (R-OH) has been bold about practicing his faith on the campaign hustings.  Kasich has used modern Manichean metaphors which crib from scripture of allusions to Prince of Darkness and Light Worker. Kasich justified his expansion of Medicare thru Obamacare as what one tells St. Peter at the pearly gates for personal divine judgment.

Thus it seems incongruous that Governor Kasich takes such a restrictive view on religious liberty.  While campaigning for President, Kasich tipped his hand towards appealing to LBGTQQ? voters by noting that bakers should make cupcakes for everyone.  Prima facia, this seems fair.

Of course, this is a fallacious simplification of the Sweet Cakes Oregon bakery.  A lesbian couple sought out a Christian bakery to make a same-sex wedding cake but Sweet Cakes owners Aaron and Melissa Klein refused to do so on religious grounds. Homosexual activists advocated a boycott of Sweet Cakes.  Moreover,  Oregon prosecuted them on state discrimination grounds which includes homosexuals and denied their First Amendment Religious Liberty claims.  The Kleins were fined $150,000 and had to close their retail shop.

Selling cupcakes to everyone is quite different than being participants in a wedding ceremony.  The Kleins take their Christian convictions seriously and did not want to be made party to the ceremony, but had no problems selling cupcakes to any customer.  This was not an isolated incident. The rural Indiana pizzaria which was harassed when asked a hypothetical on whether it would cater a same-sex wedding not to politically correct responses also was lambasted, even though they do not cater.

It is not about selling cupcakes.  It is about abrogating American's fundamental freedom in the First Amendment, namely the right of religious liberty and the free exercise thereof.  After the United States Supreme Court usurped marriage contract authority from states in Hodges v. Obgerfell (2015) through Justice Anthony Kennedy's nebulous "right to dignity" claim, faithful Americans must not only tolerate same-sex marriages but must be willing to participate in facilitating the ceremony despite what their consciences dictate. 

So taking Kasich's comment for what it's worth, he believes that there is a freedom to worship behind the doors of a church but there are no rights for ordinary citizens to live their faith in the public square.  

No wonder Tim Allen thinks that Kasich is a Republican that a Democrat would like-- it's tool time!

Harry Reid on Presidential Appointments

Bertrand Russell on Stupidity

Bertrand Russell on Stupidity

Michael Jackson on Education

Michael Jackson on Education

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Al Sharpton: Trump is Like the White Don King

Al Sharpton on Donald Trump and Don King

Mitch McConnell on SCOTUS Lame Duck Confirmations

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has taken a firm stance against holding confirmation hearings and votes on a replacement for Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court during President Obama's last year in office. 

While President Obama has the right to put forth a name for the Supreme Court nomination process, the Constitution provides that the Senate shall give Advice and Consent to approve a Supreme Court candidate.  The Senate's deliberation process can involve doing nothing.

Taiwanese animators did not understanding this Constitutional nuance as they depicted the SCOTUS replacement situation.

But it should be noted that since the Senate will not hold hearings, there is no reason that a candidate would be "Borked".  Besides, Borking is a Democrat trick.

John Kasich on Purpose

John Kasich on Purpose

Walt Disney on Disposition

Walt Disney on Disposition

Voltaire on History

Voltaire on History

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Trump Trashes Caucus System

On the eve of the Nevada Caucuses, in which Republican hopeful Donald Trump is polling with a substantial lead, the Manhattan Mogul cast some doubtful aspersions on the Caucus system. 

Trump told Hugh Hewitt that he does not think that the Caucus system is a good one. It seems Trump is afraid that a low information voter's mind might be changed by debate and persuasion.  

It goes unsaid, but the Caucus process might require some extra time for participants to perform their civic duty, which might dissuade some new caucus participants.  

In the back of Trump's mind might be the inconvenient truth that he underperformed in the Iowa Caucuses, where he came in second despite leading in pre-Caucus polling. 

The polls for Nevada are sketchy, often consisting of 240 or so likely participants so a twenty point margin might evaporate when people go to Caucus.

Of course, downplaying expectations is a customary procedure for a political professional, so it is no surprise that Trump does so too.  But Trump positioned himself to ignore the results if he does not come out on top but claim success if he does. 

The Nation's Attic Takes In A House of Cards

Jonathan Yeo on House of Cards President Frank Underwood Hung at the Smithsonian

In conjunction with the fourth season of the Netfilx series "A House of Cards", the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery now features a large portrait of the fictional "President Frank J. Underwood". 

The six-foot by six-foot  portrait of actor Kevin Spacey in character is currently on loan from artist Jonathan Yeo as the museum seeks to find a buyer.

Frederick Douglass on Republicans

Frederick Douglass on Republicans

Monday, February 22, 2016

Lindsey Graham Crackers on a Potent GOP Ticket

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), a 2016 Republican Presidential who dropped out before the first ballot was cast, is again trying to play king-maker.  Graham's ignominious exit from the race in December paved the way for establishment Republicans, to back former Governor Jeb Bush in New Hampshire and South Carolina.  Graham's endorsement of Jeb did not hold sway in the Palmetto State Primary and Jeb honorably dropped out of the race.

Nonetheless, Graham fancies that there might be a potent Republican ticket by cobbling together Governor John Kasich (R-OH) and Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL). Kasich did come in second in the New Hampshire primary, primarily by practically moving to the Granite State and holding 100 town hall meetings. Rubio came in third in Iowa, fourth in New Hampshire, and was basically tied for second in South Carolina with Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX).

Graham's  modest proposal epitomizes the Republican establishments animus against Donald Trump and their thinking on how to win over an angry electorate, by heralding two candidates who project a nice guy image and whose records incorporate some centrist tendencies (like Rubio on Gang of Eight immigration compromises and Kasich on Obamacare accommodations).

It would be interesting to see if Graham's proposed dream team are able to win their home state's of Florida and Ohio for the winner take all primaries on March 15th.  As it stands today, it is dreaming an impossible dream for both proposed potentates.  Graham's prognostication serves as a reminder that he was raised above a liquor store.

On Earned Media and Enabling

Campaigns must be able to spread the word about their campaigns when doing wholesale politics.  Thus campaigns must either buy media spots (paid media) or generate free media coverage (earned media).  This may be accomplished from  a spectacular campaign event, an unusual comment which is considered "newsworthy" or from media hits.

The 2016 Republican field has used different media strategies to varying effect. For example, former Governor Jeb Bush (R-FL) and his independent (but sympathetic) Right to Rise Super-PAC gathered a huge war chest to sway voters.  The Jeb! strategy was to earn legitimacy in Republican voters eyes by amassing a cornucopia of endorsements and shape the field by flooding the airways with paid media.

Obviously, this strategy did not work out well for the Bush scion.  Pointing to a score of retired generals who endorsed Jeb did not prove to have much sway.  Some of the name endorsements, like former Senator Bob Dole (R-KS) really seemed dated.  And Jeb bringing out his mother and former President brother in South Carolina smacked of desperation. This was too little too late and did not generate significant (or particularly positive) earned media

More telling was the money that Jeb and the Right to Rise Super-PAC burned through tens of millions of dollars on paid media.  The Jeb campaign and Right to Rise  flooded the airwaves in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina but Bush fell in towards the back of the pack and suspended his campaign early in the voting.

The Washington Post published a telling graphic to illustrate the cost benefit of Republican Primary campaigns on paid media and actual votes.

The only campaign which spent more per vote than Jeb Bush did is Dr. Ben Carson. But as Carson Campaign's Business Manager (tellingly NOT a Campaign Manager) Armstrong Williams knows, branding can be quite expensive.  But it can also be lucrative for those charged with placing the ads.  Bush confidant Mike Murphy worked at the Jeb oriented Right to Rise Super-PAC but reportedly earned $14 million for buying the earned media.  Nice job if you can get it.

On the other end of the campaign publicity spectrum,  there is earned media.  Capitalizing on earned media has been one of the keys of Donald Trump's current success in the 2016 Republican Presidential Primary race.  Donald Trump has been a master creating controversy to keep the spotlight focused on him and earning lots of earned media. During the summer of 2015, Trump received saturation media coverage by the networks.   Trump's experience doing reality television already established name recognition and a branding of successful businessman in the eyes of many non-political low information voters.  By saying outrageous things and constantly attacking opponents who threaten his perch, Trump generates tons of earned media.

Another characteristic of the 2016 Trump campaign is a persistent attack on the media. Trump complains seemingly whenever a media organization reports something critical.  Trump will label them nasty, unfair or stupid.  Trump has gone so far to eject credentialed media with whom Trump does not like the line of their questions.

Trump has a trend of disparaging journalists who challenge him, from benign interviews with Katy Tor to hostile news conference exchanges with Jorge Ramos.  Most famously, Donald Trump launched myriad mysogenic slurs against Megyn Kelly, a Fox News anchor who questioned how Trump treated women. Several months later, Trump claimed that he was boycotting Fox News debates because of Megyn Kelly's inclusion, but later relented when Trump discovered that missing debates could hurt him amongst the electorate. To be fair, it might also have been a Trump technique of truthful hyperbole to further self promotion.

The attack dog mentality plays well for the angry electorate but Trump's tirades against Fox News seem somewhat counter-intuitive. Fox News has long been considered the major media outlet most friendly to Republican voices. Despite what Trump-eteers trumpet on social media, much of Fox News is friendly towards Donald Trump.  Trump has long done weekly call ins with Fox & Friends.  Judge Janine Pirro has a longstanding friendship with Trump and has formally endorsed him.  In addition, Sean Hannity is a personal friend, as is Bill O'Reilly.  Both are happy to give the Manhattan mogul airtime, but these shows do not necessarily endorse the candidate, although O'Reilly was obsequious in begging Trump to participate in debates (even promising to take milkshakes off the ledger).

So why does Trump peseverate on complaining about Fox News? The answer may be several fold. Trump loves positive news stories about himself. Despite all of the earned media, news hooks and friendly airtime through the auspices of Fox News, Trump has not won over Megyn Kelly thus he feels justified to rail against Fox.  Cynically, Trump might deduce that attacking Trump may appeal to his "silent majority" of blue collar (Reagan) Democrats that are poised to support a populist like Trump but their perspectives have been poisoned by constant Democrat lambasting of Fox News.  From a Machiavellian mode, by intimidating a strong opponent, it sends a bully message to the rest of the media and harbors a hint that they might lose access if they do not say nice things about Trump.

For running a comparatively shoe-string budget campaign, Trump has done well trading on celebrity, controversy and earned media access.  Cable channels love to run with Trump quips because they attract eyeballs and create controversy, which improves ratings. Trump tends to speak unscripted, so you never know what he is going to say.  As many campaign rallies have been at large venues, live media coverage can be justified as being newsworthy. Trump is not shy about doing interviews with those he can rely upon not to be hostile interviews, so he gets lots of airtime.

It is a curiosity that progressive channels like MSNBC and CNN have also been Trump obsessed. Is it because it is newsworthy? Does it attract eyeballs? Or could it be media manipulation to help pick the Republican nominee who will be easiest for a progressive to beat? Enabling through earned media isn't always an endorsement.

Some might conclude that Trump is brilliant in leveraging earned media to his advantage in the 2016 Election. But glowing coverage and earned media can only get a candidate so far.  And those who live by the media can perish by the media.  Senator John McCain had such a chummy relationship with the media on his Straight Talk Express, but the media mob turned on him after he won the 2008 Republican nomination. NBC News has bought all of the footage from Selena Scott's BBC documentary on Donald Trump but is holding the damning information until after the convention. The Lamestream Media has not focused on some of the business connections of the real estate tycoon.

Unless the Republican electorate is convinced that it is a Trump landslide, it is difficult to see how an earned media oriented strategy works to appeal in nine separate primary races during the so called SEC primary on March 1st.  Then on March 15th, there are several big winner take all states in Florida, Ohio and Illinois which have many media markets and are not built for quick barnstorming campaigns.

But Trump is not the only seriously competitive candidate in the Republican nomination race.  Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) campaign relies heavily on endorsements and paid media.  Rubio and his independent (but aligned) Conservative Solutions Super-PAC had amassed a vast war chest.  Moreover, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and his four independent (but aligned) Keep the Promise Super-PACs have raised lots of money and have been have resisted the temptation to blow the war chest early.  This paid media, combined with strategic earned media news hooks and organized Get Out the Vote drives, could deflate the Trump balloon.

Trump is short on specifics but loves to taut his poll ratings and his greatness on media availability, might not look as promising for earned media if the so called Trump Train is slowed down.  For example, Donald Trump accepted his second place finish in the Iowa Caucus' gracefully and did not use social media much the next day.  Consequently, Trump disappeared from the media spotlight.  The next day, Trump cranked up the smear machine questioning Cruz's eligibility and other outrageous claims that Carson had votes stolen from him during the Iowa Caucus.  That media circus strategy works well  for Trump when everyone is concentrating on the next state.  But when there are many simultaneous contests in diverse regions, that might not be a successful strategy, especially if the media (or the establishment) has anointed the new "golden boy" for saturation coverage.

Looking forward to the General Election, once the Republican nomination is decided, even friendly foils in the media become fierce foes. This is to maintain impartiality, to create controversy to become newsworthy and often reflects the liberal Lamesteam Media bias.  If a candidate is overly reliant on earned media from chaos campaigning and chummy Manhattan media ties, it could endanger the viability of such a candidacy. Oppo research leaks to the media about a candidate's shortcomings (or even silly stuff like crating a dog on top of a station wagon for a summer vacation) can dominate the media landscape and besmirch the reputation of a former media darling. While such jaundiced journalism would not alienate the hardened core of Trump supporters, it would bolster the ceiling of popularity and drive the debate to terra incognita

Ted Cruz on Federal Lands

Ted Cruz on Federal Lands

George Washington on Association

George Washington on Associations

Friday, February 19, 2016

Tool Time: Kasich A Republican Democrats Would Like

Tim Allen on John Kasich

Tim Allen, the star of Home Improvements and Last Man Standing, is one of the relatively few outspoken Republicans in Hollywood. Allen recently skewered the Clinton's as something from which American just can't get away. 

When interviewed on Fox New's The Kelly File, Allen offered some serious remarks regarding the Republican Presidential primary campaign.  The analogy that Governor John Kasich (R-OH)  is a Republican that Democrats would [almost] like will be tested tomorrow in the South Carolina Primary.  

It is dubious that there will be many crossover votes for Kasich, considering the populist appeal for Trump-eteers and the close nature of the Democrat's South Carolina Primary on February 27th.   

Despite Kasich picking up endorsements from two prominent South Carolina's newspapers, I suspect that Allen's offhanded endorsement may be the kiss of death for the Ohio Governor in the Palmetto State.  Nevertheless, I would not suspect that Kasich would drop out before March 15th, when the winner take all Ohio primary occurs.  Maybe a favorite son candidate like Kasich could win 99 delegates.  This would help him if there is actually a constested convention for the Republicans in Cleveland.

Ted Cruz on Special Forces

Ted Cruz on Special Forces

Ben Carson on Faith and Immigration in America

Ben Carson on Faith and Immigration

Responding to Pope Francis' extemporaneous remarks after a pastoral visit to Mexico, Republican Presidential hopeful Dr. Ben Carson had a sagacious comment. 

Thomas Sowell on Lying

Thomas Sowell on Lying and Washington

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Nuge Endorses Trump

Ted Nugent endorses Donald Trump for President

Trump Confuses Obama with Carson

According to Politico,  Republican Presidential hopeful Donald Trump repeatedly confused the names of Dr. Ben Carson with President Barack Obama while at a South Carolina rally.

Trump echoed a favorite attack which supposedly champions Ben Carson's case that he was "cheated" by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) in the Iowa Caucuses.  However, in this instance, he kept inserting the name Obama.

Trump's crowd corrected him and this one one time that the Donald did not double down on a mistake and he quickly corrected himself on the stump, yet the Manhattan mogul slipped up again.

In the swing of the primary fight, campaigning for President is exhausting. It is understandable that one might make a verbal miscue, especially with names that sound alike.  Even former Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) would interpolate Obama's name with Osama bin Laden, despite his eventual strong support of  Obama's Presidential campaign.. But such a faux pas is  premised on a something that seem alike--by sound, character or sight.

How on earth could Trump associate Barack Obama with Dr. Ben Carson? That's a yuuyge (sic) mistake. It seems that Carson has made quite an impression on his newest, best buddy Donald Trump.

Antonin Scalia on Principles

SCOTUS Justice Antonin Scalia on Principles

Richard Branson on Respect

Richard Branson on Respect

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

On Politicians and Profanity

Senator Ted Cruz Rebukes Donald Trump's Foul Mouthed Campaigning

Republican Presidential hopeful Donald Trump has successfully generating lots of earned media coverage by being a bombastic loose cannon who may launch an "F" bomb at any time.  This may thrill those Trump supporters who are always spoiling for a down and dirty fight and who abhor political correctness, but it has also driven Trumps unfavorable rating  to over 60%.

This circus campaign strategy worked well before voters started casting ballots.  But as the race became serious and is focused in the Bible Belt, this boorish bluster does not play so well.  

In fact, Trump promised not to use foul language on the campaign trail.  This promise lasted about twenty minutes, as Trump relapsed into crass asides later in the same speech.

An MSNBC Focus Group in  South Carolina  had participants visibly cringe at Trump's profane presentations.

Opponents are eager to capitalize on this Trump shortcoming.  Thus, Ted Cruz opined: "It is not a good thing if parents would be embarrassed to have their children repeating the President."  Last week, the Cruz campaign released a video ostensively  about "Eminent Domain", but the puerile playtime imitating Trump with chagrined parents watching reinforced themes rebuking crass campaigning, which certainly would include profane politicians

If polls are to be believed five days before the South Carolina primary, Trump has a commanding 20% lead.  But one needs to parse political polling to discern its true worth.  And South Carolina has a history of making sudden shifts at the last minute.

The Republican South Carolina primary will be held on Saturday Feburary 20th 2016.

Parsing Political Polling

In the 2016 Election Cycle, the Republican Presidential Primary has been driven by plethora of political polls.  In fact, Donald Trump regularly trumpets his lead in “all the polls”.  Yet Trump was surprised when he underperformed in the Iowa Caucuses, which has prompted bizarre tangents that the Manhattan Mogul really should have won the contest.

To try to educate enthusiastic but unsophisticated political partisans, here are some things to look for when considering  the merits of polls.

Internet polls are unreliable.  If this were not the case, former Representative RON Paul (R-TX 14th & 22nd) would have been the GOP nominee in 2008 and 2012 based on Internet Polling.  There is no sampling, nor fail-safe ways to prevent over-voting.  Internet polls do give an indication of social media enthusiasm, but this can be gamed and is not indicative of real grassroots support.

For the primaries, national polls are misleading as they mainly give a gauge of name recognition. If a candidate is well known, such as Hillary Clinton (D-NY) for the Democrats or Donald Trump competing in the Republican primaries, national polls can seem skewed towards them.

Given this reality, such candidates may craft their message to be one of inevitability.  This pitch can be a perception that the nomination process is a coronation or that the leader in the national polls will sweep the table.

There are some sources, such as Real Clear Politics, which will combine polls to give a national average. This can give some indication about movements by candidates, but since this merges different methodologies, it is dangerous to rely upon the specific numbers.

 In our system, however, states hold primaries.  These states have different primary electorates, and often vote on different dates  so candidates’ messages are often tailored to appeal (perhaps pandering) to particular audiences.  For example, Ohio Governor John Kasich started to drop his “n”s in  and be downhome in evangelical appeal at the last South Carolina primary. Sometimes this strategy works, but it can come off as unctuous and inauthentic.

While state polls can be more illuminating, there are still lots of details one must discern in the cross tabs.  Most casual consumers of campaign news only listen for the top line results, either the pecking order or the purported percentage of support.  The crosstabs involve the margin of error.

For example, this CBS GOP bar graph for the South Carolina polling has a Margin of Error (MOE) of 5.7%.   A useful rule of thumb is that ANY poll with a Margin of Error of more than 5% is practically meaningless.   In this instance, Senator Ted Cruz could have  25.7% support or as little as 14.3%. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) could vault into second with up to 20.7% or drop into a tie for fourth place at 9.3%.  That large range makes most of the pecking order suspect.

Then there is the question of who makes up the body of those who are polled.  Asking any American is dubious for primaries as most of those contests are closed. So if a poll’s sample is skewed 80% Democrats for a Republican primary, the results will be apple-sauce.  A slightly more reliable class is registered voters, but without separating party affiliation, this will still be suspect.  The gold standard is likely voters for a given party.

In order to find a pool of likely voters, pollsters will ask vetting questions to ensure that the surveyed voter has cast ballots in several past elections.  This takes time and costs the pollster money, but is much more reliable than something like an internet poll with trolls clicking out of their parents’ basement.

Polling is both an art and a science.  The pollster needs to predict what is the right turnout model for an election.  Grassroots Republicans are more likely to turn out in off-year elections.  There were extraordinary turnouts of new voters and African American voters who turned out for President Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012.  Will the same numbers of voters return in elections where Mr. Obama is not standing?  It can be a major mistake for pollsters to use the wrong model when predicting elections

Determining the right sample is imperative and may explain the disparity between the polls and the Iowa Caucus results.  Prior to the Hawkeye Cauci, it was postulated that Trump needed to turn out a large swell of new participants to the caucus.  The Trump campaign did not concentrate on Get Out the Vote efforts.  Nevertheless, there was a large contingent of “new voters”, but the new voters were disinclined to support Trump.

Public polls are only news if a news source determines that it is fit to print and advances their narrative.  Some news sources have sat on poll results which do not augment their desired narrative, or they will bury them with Friday afternoon releases or on the back pages.

It used to be Gallup that was the standard, but they seemingly have bowed out of election polls. But not every polling company is the same For instance, Public Policy Polling tends to be a Democrat operation. So their results may be crafted to make mischief for Republicans or have flawed methodology.

The manner which a prospective pollee is contacted may influence the results.  It used to be that telephone polling was pretty reliable. However, now that many households have dropped land-lines, results including cell-phone callers can be questionable.  When you call also matters. If pollsters will reach fewer Republicans at home during weekends, which may adversely affect the numbers. There is some thought that people are more likely to tell pollsters that they support Trump if it is an automated call rather than person to person.

Robo-call polls are not really meant to measure support for an election field but are the cover for push polling.  In puah polls, if a voter indicates that they like candidate X, they may be told adverse information meant to dampen support for that candidate. Trump has been complaining about Cruz’s robo calls about Trump dropping out, but it seems like Trump is fulfilling that premise with insinuations that he might quit if the GOP does not treat him right.

Exit polls, which are conducted on election day, after a voter has casted his ballot, often are instructive in the eleventh hour.  These exit polls can be off the mark if there is too small of a sample, if the chosen precincts are not representative of the electorate and the reality of some voters will not tell the whole truth to their interviewers.  Exit polls give news organizations a heads up on probable election results before the polls close and facilitate in forecasting end of the evening winners. Aside from inquiring about the actual candidate, exit polls can be a barometer about what were the real hot button issues for voters and give the media something to talk about as the election returns start to come in.

It is unfortunate that in the 24/7 news cycle, many media sources will use horse race polls of dubious merit to fill their time and create excitement in the electorate.  This can create false expectations by those who just scan the headlines.

There are internal polls which are commissioned by campaigns.  These internal polls can give politicians a real reading of the electorate.  These internal polls can also be enlisted to hone a message to find out what are hot button issues or what is a better way to couch a policy proposal.  But these internal polls can also convey wishful thinking.  When a campaign leaks an internal poll, they may be giving credible alternative information ignored by the drive-by media.  Or it could be releasing agiprop to staunch waning support or to create a perception of a surge.

Instead of premising political support on the bandwagon effect, voters should make up their own minds and not be framed by the primary polls.  The reality is that the only poll that counts is on Election Day. If the eventual winner of the primaries is not one’s cup of tea, other metrics may be called for in the General Election.