Why Did the Pollsters Blow It on Kentucky?



Ladies and Gentlemen of Ricochet, I meant to spend the day taking you on a dreary tour of European Nazi-land, but I got so caught up and excited about following the results of the off-term elections that I didn’t write that post. I figure the Nazis will still be here tomorrow, though, and that you’ll forgive me for taking a detour, because these election results really are pretty interesting, no?

Bernie Sanders Does Not Understand How the Economy Works (Because He’s a Socialist)


Bernie Sanders doesn't understand how the economy works because he's a socialistOne of my neighbors recently wrote a letter to the editor of our local newspaper lamenting that someone had stolen his Bernie Sanders sign from the end of his driveway. While I do not support Sanders — I prefer candidates who have a basic understanding of the economy — it is despicable to remove political signs. The thief is not only interfering with my neighbor’s right to political speech but also violating his right to private property. A few weeks ago someone stole a pumpkin from the end of my driveway. A pumpkin! Speaking of thievery, Mr. Sanders is a self-described socialist. Under socialism, there is no right to private property and no free speech.

Mr. Sanders does not understand how the economy works. He believes it is “rigged” in order to benefit the “billionaire class.” What Mr. Sanders does not grasp is that no one can control the economy. Socialism seeks to exert control but fails, miserably and inexorably, every time. It’s not that “real” socialism has never been tried, as its defenders often assert, but that real socialism has been implemented repeatedly and has repeatedly degraded the human condition.

One need look no further than the difference between North and South Korea for the truth. Or consider that under socialism, life expectancy in the USSR fell while in the West it rose. Or look to Venezuela, where they don’t even have toilet paper any more — that is what an economy rigged by socialism looks like. In Cuba, dissidents seeking to exercise free speech are beaten in the streets by Castro’s thugs, jailed on trumped-up charges, or killed. Indeed, more than 100 million people died under socialism in the 20th century alone.

Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review cheer MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough for pointing out that every one of the top network television news positions is held by a liberal and has been for 50 years.  They sigh as the Republican candidates turn frustration over the CNBC debate into a circus of endless demands.  And they slam New York Times “conservative” columnist David Brooks for saying he will move to Canada if Trump wins.

Republicans Are Being Told to Quit Talking About Entitlement Reform. Should They Listen?



Almost every Saturday I do a 30-minute segment on my pal Larry Kudlow’s national radio show. Often the other two guests are John McIntyre of RealClearPolitics and Steve Moore of the Heritage Foundation. During last weekend’s show, Kudlow asked whether Republicans were taking a risk by talking about entitlement reform. McIntyre thought it was “politically dangerous,” and they would do better to focus on economic growth. And Moore had this to say:

I think the Republican message that we’re going to cut entitlements is a loser. I just think it’s a loser. If the Democratic message is, “We’re going to make your benefits,” and the Republican message is, “We’re going to make them worse,” I’m sorry, I don’t think that’s a winning message. … If we get this economy growing at three and a half, four percent a lot of these problems, especially with Social Security go away. … I think this message that we’re the root canal party, I’m worried about that. …

Well, That Was a Disaster


For all the conventional reasons, I’ve been bullish about Republican chances in 2016: Democratic policies are unpopular; President Obama’s not running; It’s been eight years; We’ve got a strong bench; and everyone’s tired of Hillary Clinton. Stipulating that it’s generally not a good idea to put much stock into a single poll — let alone one this early into the cycle — this piece from the WSJ has me re-evaluating:

The number of people who are unsatisfied with [Clinton’s] response to questions on the attacks on a U.S. diplomatic compound dropped to 38% in the poll, from 44% in a poll taken before she testified before the House Select Committee on Benghazi on Oct. 22. The new poll found Republicans’ opinion remained largely unchanged, but among Democrats and swing voters, there was a significant rise in satisfaction with Mrs. Clinton’s response.

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Marco Rubio’s support amongst New Hampshire GOP primary voters has tripled since Septemer, according to a new poll released today by Monmouth University. Rubio now has 13%. According to the same poll, other candidates are essentially static, though Chris Christie’s share in the poll did increase by 3%. Donald Trump remains on top with 26%, […]

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One of the most important conservatives of the 20th century now has his definitive biography, in Russell Kirk: American Conservative, by Bradley J. Birzer of Hillsdale College.

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Birzer describes the life and legacy of Kirk, how he became the first researcher to gain complete access to Kirk’s papers, and what Kirk would think of the conservative movement today, a generation after his death.

Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review are cautiously pleased with House Speaker Paul Ryan’s vows to champion conservative solutions and stay away from immigration while Obama is in office.  They also slam Bill Gates for suggesting we need to abandon the free market to address climate change.  And they pay tribute to the late Sen. Fred Thompson.

Jeb at His Campaigning Peak Just Won’t Do


This is Jeb at his peak from the 1998 gubernatorial debate–before first winning statewide office against an incumbent party. In a few minutes you can appreciate how he faced a weak candidate and didn’t show in 1998 the qualities that we need in an America thrust to the left by his brother’s successor. Despite the conservative temperament on display, it was a different era: before 9/11, Iraq, the financial crisis, Obamacare and the Tea Party. The wonky folksiness could play in another era.

Does anyone seriously think that this is what is needed against Hillary in 2016?

My Attempt to Explain “The Establishment”


It’s a word that gets thrown around with more frequency than anyone would really care to know. For some it means, “Those who will not commit political suicide,” while for others it means, “Those who have no spine.” But despite being near useless in explaining who is at the top of the Republican Party, the word “establishment” does have a meaning, and it does have members. The power of the establishment is debatable. On one hand, the performance of the national party inside Washington DC is more than capable of being orchestrated by these select few. After all, what good is having a leadership apparatus if it cannot exert some form of influence within its own sphere. However, on the other hand, it’s powerless to influence individuals like you or me to do anything when it comes to campaigns, including vote, if you do not succumb to their efforts. I will explain this.

First, the political establishment is made up of the folks one might expect. These would be the people in high positions of power in the Republican National Committee (RNC) and the leadership positions in the House and Senate. So yes, Reince Priebus and Sharon Day, the second in command at the RNC, would fit this description. We all know about Priebus, but who is Sharon Day? Day is someone described by the Florida paper The Sun-Sentinel as an “uber [sic] Republican.” She hails from Florida, obviously, and was elected to the number-two spot in 2011. She stays behind the scenes mostly, speaking to dedicated GOP crowds during elections, and trying to wash the smears of “War on Women” off of the GOP. Since she is from Florida, it is hard to imagine that she has not had close contact to folks like Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio, but that is pure conjecture and not enough to go on to claim that she is secretly a leftist, as many wish to paint the Establishment as being.

Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review cheer Marco Rubio for defending his description of Hillary Clinton as lying about Benghazi and eviscerating Charlie Rose’s efforts to defend her.  They’re also worried that Pres. Obama is still not serious about wiping out ISIS with his very limited deployment of special forces to Syria.  And they react to the women of “The View” referring to Carly Fiorina’s smile as “demented” and a “Halloween mask.”

The Hearings that Were More Important than Benghazi


Writing in The American Interest, Eliot A. Cohen notes to his chagrin that Hillary Clinton’s appearance before the committee investigating Benghazi eclipsed everything else in the news that day. This is unfortunate, he notes, because on the same day, he took part in another hearing, before the Senate Armed Services Committee, on Capital Hill.

“Vanity aside,” he remarks, “I wish that my hearing had received a bit more attention.” My vanity isn’t at issue here, but I too wish that his hearing had received more attention.

Rubio/Fiorina: Does it Matter Who Leads the Ticket?


Fiorina-RubioMany said during the debate last night that they would love to see a Rubio/Fiorina ticket or a Fiorina/Rubio ticket, and they didn’t care how the ticket was ordered. Does it matter who leads the ticket? I believe it does. The best order for that ticket would be Rubio/Fiorina for the following reasons:

  1. Fiorina would be much more effective attacking Hillary from the VP slot. Doing so from the top of the ticket would risk making her look mean and unpresidential to all those mushy independents out there — the people that want everyone to play nice. Nobody is too concerned if the #2 person on the ticket goes into attack mode. Besides, I think Carly would be more effective attacking Hillary, and that would allow Rubio to play the forward-looking optimist. Although it would be fun to see Carly debate Hillary, we saw last night that Marco could easily handle her.
  2. Fiorina’s CEO experience would make a fat target for the Dems, who would accuse her of being a heartless Richie Rita laying off thousands of common folk while wiping her feet on the poor. They did it effectively to Romney and they can do it to Fiorina. Those attacks fall flat against a VP candidate.
  3. I believe the Dems will have a very hard time mounting a successful smear campaign against Rubio. The stuff they’ve tried so far via their media organs has been very weak tea. Barring some hideous unknown scandal, they won’t be able to lay a glove on the young, handsome, Hispanic, middle-class Senator.
  4. Fiorina is not much younger than Hillary. Nominate her and you lose the youth advantage Rubio brings. It would be harder for Carly to appeal to the kids.
  5. The Dems would attack Fiorina’s complete lack of political experience. I know it doesn’t matter to some people, but it will matter to a lot independents. Attacking Rubio’s short career in the Senate doesn’t really fly given the current occupant of the White House.

I love Carly and would love to see her on the ticket, but I really think she would be better in the number-two slot. No matter who gets the nomination, they could do much worse than Carly. If she won’t take the job, give it to Susanna Martinez. We need a woman on the ticket to balance Hillary who, despite my doubts, says she’s a woman.

By most accounts, the third GOP debate was a circus which strangely pitted the Republican candidates banding together to fend off their foes–not the Democrats, but rather their moderators from CNBC.

To shed light on the proceedings–if there was any of political value–we turn to a fine panel. In studio, Richard Baehr and Ed Lasky of American Thinker, Larry Sabato of the Center for Politics and Sabato’s Crystal Ball, and Jonathan Last and Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard.

Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review are glad to see a unified GOP conference as Paul Ryan is elected speaker and are optimistic in his potential as speaker.  They also hammer CNBC for its horrible management of Wednesday’s GOP debate and loved the rebuke from Ted Cruz.  Jim calls out Ben Carson for lying about his connection to Mannetech.  And, of course, we have a blimp reference.

How Many More Debates?


Last night’s debate was refreshing in that it brought out some fight in the candidates. Unfortunately, the fight was born of necessity thanks to another biased, unprofessional performance from the moderators.

Republicans have endured three of these debacles so far, but the only unifying issue is that, in each case, the moderators tried to make themselves the story. Fox News — a supposed bastion of objective media — showed its sensational circus act and it has been downhill since then. Meanwhile, on the Democrat’s talking point presentation programs debates, we get to see how who can promise the most benefits and who the moderators will most want to get selfies with. To make matters worse, the Democrats have five more opportunities to roll out their agenda and polish Hillary’s crown, while we’ve got seven more of these fiascos scheduled.

My Big Worry About This Election Cycle


The world, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, is right now extremely unstable. I worry that we’re sleepwalking toward a catastrophic war that no one (save ISIS, perhaps) wants. I worry that the 2007 crisis did vast harm to our sense of national competence, optimism,  and unity. I worry that the loss of two major wars has precipitated in us a loss of confidence in our geopolitical competence; that we no longer believe America fit to lead the world. Rapid technological change has created a social revolution that no one asked for, making many of us obsolete on the job market. It has fractured the media environment, too, leading to polarization, to the glorification of those who express the loudest opinion, rather than an appreciation of those who quietly learn and consider the facts. I worry this has given rise to a style of political expression that’s increasingly rude, shrill, and hostile to other Americans. I doubt that Americans have been so deeply divided since the antebellum period.

I’m concerned that people on our side, that is to say, people who see a Leviathan state crushing the very qualities that made America a global superpower and a model of freedom the world around — to wit, a limited, small and responsive government; a constitution based on the principle of a balance of power; the rule of law; a spirit of innovation; all in the context of free-market capitalism — have made us frantic at the prospect that we’re losing not only the greatest country in the history of human endeavor, but our country, the only one we’ve got.

Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review applaud House Republicans for pursuing impeachment charges against IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.  They also scold House Republicans for contributing to the resurrection of the Export-Import Bank.  And they have no patience for the campaigns griping about their green rooms prior to the presidential debate at Colorado University.

Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review give credit to MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski for calling Hillary Clinton “pathetic” for playing the gender card against Bernie Sanders.  They also question the choice of liberal John Harwood to moderate Wednesday’s GOP debate on CNBC.  And they shake their heads as MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry tells her guests to be wary of using the term “hard worker” because she somehow connects it to slavery and single moms.

It’s no secret that Russia is and has always been a propaganda state. Their efforts to control information and influence public opinion at home and abroad are are aggressive and extensive. But Putin’s Russia has a greater goal: to control the internet–the greatest tool in bringing about a total surveillance state.

But there’s another side to Big Comrade. It’s a legion of brilliant programmers and hackers who serve as a counterbalance to Putin’s goal of totalitarianism. It’s an epic struggle waged not with guns and bombs, but with mouse clicks and websites, disinformation, misinformation and leaks.