Sweet Loretta?


Congresswoman+Loretta+Sanchez+Joins+WGA+Picket+2AP6UjWqRkKlYou can’t blame Californians for being somewhat jaded, if not downright disinterested, in statewide elections. Just look at the numbers.

Jerry Brown won last year’s gubernatorial contest by 20 points without working up a sweat (or bothering to run ads). He also won by a shade under 13%, back in 2010. As for presidential contests, America’s nation-state hasn’t gone with a Republican since George H.W. Bush back in 1988. The average spread in the last five presidential years is 17 points, ranging from a 24-point Obama win in 2008 to a 10-point George W. Bush loss in 2004. Then there’s the U.S. Senate, which will be in play in 2016 with Barbara Boxer stepping down after four terms. Will a Republican take her seat? Don’t bet on it. The average GOP Senate loss in years coinciding with a presidential election — this is going back to 1992, when Boxer and Dianne Feinstein were first elected — is the same 17 points. Take out Boxer’s 5% win in 1992 and it’s over 20%.

But that doesn’t mean the Senate race won’t be fun to watch, especially when the two Democrats in the race cross paths. That would be State Attorney General Kamala Harris and Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez.

When Ronald Reagan was Shot


notePage1-1200Some of you may have seen this already; the Dallas Morning News published this four days ago, but if you’ve got a Sunday morning free to read, this is gripping. It’s a really well-researched account of George H. W. Bush’s role in the days after Reagan was shot.

Whenever I see a good, in-depth article like this called a “longread” by the paper it’s in, I sigh–this was once the length of any good piece of investigative reporting. Its very hard to say anything new or useful about something like this in fewer words.

Anyway, that was your daily middle-aged kvetch about kids these days and their short attention spans. Lots in this piece I’d never known before, and lots of details struck me as evidence of how much has changed since then. This is an event I remember vividly, but to many Americans alive now, I guess it’s just history, something that happened before they were born:.

‘The Bride at Every Wedding, the Corpse at Every Funeral’


As Troy Senik noted earlier, the music world lost Blues great B.B. King yesterday. Fans around the world shared thousands of photos of the legend and videos of his performances. Then our president did something he always seems to do when a great man or woman passes on: he tweeted a photo of himself.

Culling the Herd


I have a proposal for making the Republican primary debates a bit more manageable: as a condition for participating, each candidate must sign a contract obligating him or her to refrain from appearing as a paid commentator on any television network for two years after his or her last debate appearance.

I think such a requirement would go a long way toward separating the wheat from the chaff. What do you think, Ricochet?

“Knowing What We Know Now”


Much is being made of Jeb Bush’s mishearing of Megyn Kelly’s question on Fox News whether “knowing what we know now” would he have invaded Iraq? Brit Hume’s analysis (IMO) is just right: Bush had a particular point he wanted to make about the intelligence failures (and Hillary’s support for the war) and was looking for an opportunity to make it. He just picked the wrong question to use for that point.


How (and How Not) to Deal with Conservative Insurgencies


shutterstock_80156809On May 5, Albertans voted to end the longest unbroken streak of success that a governing party has ever enjoyed in Canada. The Alberta Progressive Conservative Party had been in power for 44 years straight; in the most recent election, they fell from 70 seats down to a paltry 10, not enough to even qualify as the official opposition. As of tomorrow, the NDP, a socialist party, runs Alberta. In contrast, the British Conservative Party defied the pundits and the pollsters, winning an outright majority on May 6.

Both parties were challenged on the right: the Progressive Conservatives by the Wildrose Alliance, the British Conservatives by the United Kingdom Independence Party. I believe the difference in outcome was due to the different way they handled their respective right-wing challengers.

The Wildrose Alliance has been around in one form or another since 2005. In the 2004 and 2008 provincial elections, it won one and zero seats respectively. In 2012 it jumped to 17 seats. Trouble was brewing for the PC’s and everybody knew it. After an internal struggle to remove a horrible leader — Alison Redford — the ruling Conservatives decided to do something about Wildrose. On Dec 17, 2014 Wildrose leader, Danielle Smith and eight other MLA’s crossed the floor to sit with the Progressive Conservative government. Problem solved, or so it seemed. Unfortunately for the Conservatives, Wildrose climbed from 17 seats in the 2012 election to 21 seats in the 2015 election, more than making up for the defections.

In Which You Answer David Brooks’s Question


shutterstock_128966351David Brooks in today’s New York Times:

The most surprising event of this political era is what hasn’t happened. The world has not turned left. Given the financial crisis, widening inequality, the unpopularity of the right’s stances on social issues and immigration, you would have thought that progressive parties would be cruising from win to win.

But, instead, right-leaning parties are doing well. In the United States, Republicans control both houses of Congress. In Israel, the Likud Party led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pulled off a surprising win in an election that was at least partly about economic policy. In Britain, the Conservative Party led by Prime Minister David Cameron won a parliamentary majority.

A Better Debate Template: July Madness


38557_lotto-madness1This is my first post, so be nice. On the other hand, the screen name is no joke; I’ve been around since the first podcast, months before the site was even launched. I had planned to wait until I retire in a few months before joining, and frankly I was hoping that Rob would get to the point of kneeling, sobbing, and just pleading for people to join. But now I have stuff on my mind …

As I assume everyone knows, the RNC is planning a greatly reduced debate schedule for the 2016 election cycle. The party believes (and without question, many agree) that the large number of debates hurt them in 2012. The committee apparently thought it unwise to give the candidates that many opportunities to say something stupid and waste a lot of valuable campaign time.

On the other hand, many of us (including me) loved having a debate every few days. For political junkies, it was like football season, and there was always another game coming up. For us oddballs, the idea that the schedule will be limited to just three or four debates is a huge disappointment.

The Left Has Abandoned Ideas for Identities


Sen. Harry Reid — who apparently still runs the U.S. Senate despite the GOP being the majority — killed the President’s plan for fast-track authority on the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Leading up to the big vote, Obama traded barbs with free-trade opponent Elizabeth Warren, with the language growing increasingly personal.

In an April conference call, the President rebuffed Warren’s claim TPP was overly secretive. “The one that gets on my nerves the most is the notion that this is a secret deal,” Obama said. “Every single one of the critics saying this is a secret deal, or send out e-mails to their fundraising base that they’re working to stop a secret deal, could walk over and see the text of the agreement.”

First Past the Post?


shutterstock_89599348We don’t have a sovereign and a prime minister, but the one thing we do have in common with our British cousins is the concept of “first past the post,” that is the candidate with the largest vote count in any constituency wins.

This leads to some grumbling among the losers. For example, in the late UK election, the Scottish National Party received 1,454,436 votes or 4% of the total cast. The United Kingdom Independence Party received 3,881,129, or almost 13%. Guess which party got 56 MPs and which one got just one?

Which led to this Tweet this morning:

E Unum Pluribus


Hiding-in-a-closetUK Conservatives had quite a good week–certainly better than the pollsters who predicted a Labour win or a hung parliament. Even exit polls didn’t suggest an out-and-out Tory majority. This raises the possibility that a significant number of people interviewed after voting lied about how they voted.

In a March 18, 2015, column in the Guardian, Alberto Nardelli suggested that the inherent difficulties in “designing the sample population, and the quality of the data available when doing so” were key to explaining why a near-landslide Likud victory in Israel’s recent election was not projected by exit polls. But he only obliquely considered the implication of the statement that the “quality of data” was bad because people simply didn’t tell the truth.

Granted, one or two swallows does not a summer make. But it’s worth wondering if something biases polling away from conservatives, and if so, if there are implications for the 2016 US elections.

Oh Look: Michelle Obama’s Complaining Again


Michelle ObamaLast week, first lady Michelle Obama lectured the leaders of The Whitney Museum at their grand opening, insisting that American museums are unwelcoming to “people who look like (her).” Her stable, middle-class childhood and her Ivy League education — topped with wealth, power, and privilege — can ‘t mitigate her fury at perceived ill-treatment at the hands of a racist America.

This week, FLOTUS registered a new complaint about the bad hand America has dealt her. In a commencement address, she inspired graduates of Alabama’s Tuskegee University by lamenting the pain and emotional distress she has endured as the first African-American First Lady.

“You might remember the on-stage celebratory fist bump between me and my husband after a primary win that was referred to as a ‘terrorist fist jab,’ ” she said.

A Reply to Paul Ryan


paul-ryanDear Representative Ryan,

This is in response to your email inviting me to take the 2015 Congressional Policy Survey because “This survey is one of the best ways for your voice to be heard.” Being asked for my opinion on leaders who spend more time unilaterally disarming themselves than engaging in the battles that I and others sent them to Washington to fight on our behalf is a dicey proposition, after all. It’s rather like being asked, “Aside from the obvious unpleasantries, how was your voyage on the Titanic?”

My first inclination was to print the email out so I could experience the exhilaration of physically tossing it in the garbage, but I thought better of it. You want my voice to be heard? Fine. Here we go:

2015 Gubernatorial Races and the Republican “Red Wall”


BryantBefore we get to 2016, there’s some housekeeping to attend to. Specifically, three gubernatorial contests on tap for later this year. The states in play: Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Will they offer any windows into the health of the two parties? Let’s take a quick look at each one.

1) Kentucky. The state synonymous with horse racing has the inside track on the  nastiest race so far. A college girlfriend says one-time GOP frontrunner and state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer abused her. That, in turn, raised questions as to fellow Republican Hal Heiner’s campaign tactics. How ugly has the GOP fight become? At one point, Comer called Heiner “the Christian Laettner of Kentucky politics.” Why that hurts so badly in Wildcat Nation:


Top Presidential Disqualifiers


shutterstock_106049342The great unwashed have been polled by WSJ/NBC, and have spoken. The top three traits causing voters to be uncomfortable or have reservations about a president candidate are: 1. No previous elected experience (excludes Carson and Fiorina) 2. A leader of the Tea Party movement (excludes Cruz and possibly Rubio); and 3. No college degree (excludes Walker).

While I haven’t been able to dig up the methodology on this poll — and I suspect Democrats are over-sampled, as usual — I believe these results are instructive. The most favorable traits among the general electorate are for an African-American or a woman, which verifies my speculation that Hillary picks up six points just for being a woman, the way Barack Obama picked up six for being African-American. It also tells me that Americans are enamored by what identity politics says about them way more than they are interested in improving the country. I think that’s sad, but true.

The poll also indicates how hung-up the country has become on credentials, and how badly damaged the Tea Party brand has become. There’s also something deeply disturbing about the state of the nation’s moral compass that “corrupt” doesn’t even register as a category. That may be a flaw in the poll or, perhaps — as long as your team wins — it doesn’t matter if your candidate regularly sells her influence to the highest bidder <cough>Hillary Clinton<cough>. Hard to tell without more information.

Why Republicans Should Oppose Term Limits


Today, Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) introduced a bill that would impose a six-year term limit on members of the House, while Senators would be held to 12 years in office. This is a magnificently stupid idea.

I worked on Capitol Hill for eight years back in the ’90s and early 2000s. I came into the job right before the 1994 elections and saw the incoming Republican majority as an opportunity for me and my ilk to do our part to re-make a Constitutional government. Like most Republican staffers on the Hill, I was bright, but young and laughingly inexperienced. As a result, I got my rear kicked day after day by my Democrat counterparts.

Hillary’s the Inevitable Democratic Nominee? Not so Fast


shutterstock_155865410You’ve all heard the conventional wisdom: Hillary Clinton is a sure thing for the Democratic nomination. No one in the party is going to be able to muscle her aside. Don’t be so sure. As things stand right now, Hillary could lose the nomination without Fox News and the rest of the conservative media having to so much as lift a finger.

Don’t forget what happened back in 2008, when Hillary was also supposed to be inevitable. The Clinton machine was unstoppable—right until the moment it was overthrown by the progressive Left. They look at the Clintons and see political opportunists rather than true believers, Wall Street cronies instead of populist champions. They are not happy about this coronation. But, because the Clintons are powerful, wealthy, and ruthless, no one will take them on directly – the strategy has to be making Hillary’s candidacy untenable.

That’s what we saw with the disastrous tour to promote Hillary’s book – the criticisms all came swiftly, and from the left. The stories about the emails? Researched and promoted by the progressive ProPublica. The fact that Peter Schweizer’s book Clinton Cash is being amplified by liberal media outlets like the New York Times (undermining Hillary’s claim that this was just a right-wing smear job)? It wouldn’t be happening if they wanted her to be the nominee.

Taxing Time


shutterstock_216904363Today, the voters in Michigan are going to the polls. A few of them, that is – for no one is on the ballot, and in no one’s front yard will you find a sign. There was no one ahead of me this morning when I stopped by the Hillsdale County Library to cast my ballot, and the parking lot was close to empty. This is, you see, a stealth election – deliberately scheduled at a time when next to no one is paying any attention – and its aim is to raise the sales tax rate throughout the state.

If this were the work of the Democrats, I would not much mind. I do not expect better of them. They are the party of high taxation, of well-funded public-sector unions, and of poor service. Raising taxes and redistributing the fruits of our labors to free-loaders is their raison d’être.

What burns me is that this dirty trick is the work of our Republican Governor Rick Snyder and of the go-along-to-get-along Republicans we elected as state representatives and state senators in 2010 and 2014.

The Nature of Our Nature


In recent threads, there’s been some back and forth regarding Mankind’s nature and some… speculation as to how attitudes about it correlate with political ideology. I’ve my own theories on the matter, but I think more might be gained at this point from asking than guessing (differences tend to get exagerated in debates, so it’s sometimes best to take a step back and explore each other’s first principles). So, Ricochetti, here’s this morning’s assignment:

  1. Do you believe Mankind to be inherently good, wicked, or neither? Explain briefly.
  2. Which philosophers and/or theologians do you identify with on this subject (bonus points for providing a representative quote).
  3. How do your answers above inform your political philosophy?