Archive for the ‘United States’ Category

Lessons from Iowa

February 6th, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

USA Today has some good lessons from Iowa:

The numbers leave little doubt that Trump made a serious mistake in boycotting the Iowa debate. More than a third of Republican voters (35%) said they made up their minds about which candidate to support in “the last few days.” Among these late deciders, Rubio led the way with 30%, Cruz finished second with 25%, and Trump lagged badly with just 14%. By contrast, among those who had decided earlier than “the last few days,” Trump tied Cruz (both drawing 30%), while Rubio drew only 19%. The Rubio momentum in the final days of the campaign undoubtedly reflected his strong performance in the Iowa debate four days before the caucuses, while Trump’s weakness among last-minute deciders (with less than half the support he got from those who made their choices previously) stemmed at least in part from the bone-headed strategy of failing to appear on that crucial Iowa stage.

Trump thought the debate needed him more than he needed the debate. He was wrong.

Hillary remains profoundly vulnerable on the issue of personal integrity. Among Democratic caucus participants, 24% said the quality that mattered most to them was that a candidate should be “honest and trustworthy.” Among these voters, Bernie Sanders slaughtered Clinton by a staggering 83% to 10%. If the Republicans choose a candidate who conveys a sense of ethics and authenticity, they should be able to peel away some of these Democratic voters — as well as scoring big gains among the independents who care about the honesty issue.

Clinton also has a huge problem with younger voters. Look at the age skew in the entrance polls for Iowa:

  • Under 30s: Sanders +70%!!!
  • 30 to 44: Sanders +21%
  • 45 to 64: Clinton +23%
  • 65+: Clinton +43%

Winners and Losers in Iowa

February 3rd, 2016 at 7:36 am by David Farrar

The Washington Post looks at the winners and losers in Iowa:


  • Ted Cruz – won despite 2nd in polls
  • Marco Rubio – came close to beating Trump and now leading “establishment” candidate
  • Clinton – needed to win, and did – just
  • Sanders – lost by only 0.2%, shows he is in for a longer game


  • Donald Trump – his campaign is based on he is a winner, and he lost
  • Martin O’Malley – withdrawn after a humiliating 1%
  • Jeb Bush – a pitiful 2.8% after so many millions spent
  • Jim Gilmore – got 12 votes!!

We should start to see the Republican field narrow soon – maybe not before New Hampshire but probably before Super Tuesday.

Cruz and Clinton leading

February 2nd, 2016 at 3:54 pm by David Farrar

Hillary Clinton has a narrow lead of 51% to 49% over Sanders in Ohio with 67% reporting. That gap has been closing but I’d say she’ll hang on.

On the Republican side Cruz is 29%, Trump 25% and Rubio 21%. Cruz’s lead has been expanding. Only 57% reporting.

How is this compared to the polls:

  • Clinton 51% vs 48% in polls
  • Sanders 49% vs 45% in polls
  • Trump 25% vs 31% in polls
  • Cruz 29% vs 24% in polls
  • Rubio 21% vs 17% in polls

If Clinton holds on, then she’ll lose New Hampshire but start winning all the stats after that.

The GOP side is more interesting.

Trump’s whole campaign has been about he is the best and is beating everyone and everyone else is stupid. How he copes with a loss will be fascinating.

Cruz will be delighted with a win and will try and win over anti-establishment votes from Carson and eventually Trump.

Rubio will be pleased to do better than polling, and I suspect we will see some candidates drop out in the next month and endorse him.

UPDATE: Cruz has won on 28%, Trump 24% and Rubio 23%. One the Democratic side it is a squeeker – Clinton is ahead 629 to 626 (equivalent state delegates) with 10% still to report. Sanders may beat her yet.

Rubio can beat Clinton

January 31st, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

David Wasserman at 538 blogs:

This is the story of Barack Obama, but it could also be the story of Marco Rubio. The striking parallels between the two, beyond the obvious ethnic barrier-breaking nature of their candidacies, make Democratic strategists terrified to face Rubio in the fall. Yet the notion that Rubio is the “Republican Obama” also makes some GOP voters hesitant to support him.

There are a lot of complex analyses of the 2016 election floating around. My own theory is quite straightforward: If Hillary Clinton is the nominee — and she remains a heavy favorite over Bernie Sanders — her fate largely rests with Republican voters’ decisions over the next few months.

If Republicans nominate Rubio, they would have an excellent chance to beat Clinton by broadening their party’s appeal with moderates, millennials and Latinos. The GOP would also have an excellent chance to keep the Senate, hold onto a wide margin in the House and enjoy more control of federal government than they have in over a decade.

I agree. I think Rubio can win and win fairly easily. I think voters will choose a fresh face over an old one, especially one so associated with the current President. Only 30% of Americans think the country is heading in the right direction and want something better.

If they nominate Ted Cruz, Clinton would probably win, the GOP Senate majority would also be in peril and GOP House losses could climb well into the double digits. A Donald Trump nomination would not only make Clinton’s election very likely and raise the odds of a Democratic Senate; it could force down-ballot Republicans to repudiate Trump to survive, increase pressure on a center-right candidate to mount an independent bid and split the GOP asunder.

There is a lot at stake.

Select Rubio and you have the chance of a Republican President, Senate and House. But arguably even more importantly it may fix the make up of the Supreme Court for the next generation.

By the end of the next presidential term, the four oldest Supreme Court justices could retire. Their ages by the end of 2020 would be:

  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 87
  • Antonin Scalia, 84
  • Anthony Kennedy, 84
  • Stephen Breyer, 82

If either Ginsburg or Breyer retire (or die) then the ability to pick and ratify the replacement will give conservative justices a majority that could last a generation or more.

Likewise if Kennedy retired, then the swing vote would become a conservative vote.

But if they pick Cruz or Trump and Clinton becomes President, not only won;t this happen, but for the first time in decades you could get a liberal majority. If Scalia retires or dies, the liberal Justices will gain a 5th member and the majority. The same applies if Kennedy retires.

In other words, if you’re a member of the Republican Party who wants to win in November, it’s basically Rubio or bust. The “Rubio or bust” theory relies on a process of elimination rather than an assessment of his biography, skills or ground game.

Polling shows Rubio can beat Clinton with white women, independents and seniors.

It’s hard to imagine Clinton matching the share of Latino voters that Obama won in 2012, 71 percent, against a Spanish-speaking son of immigrants who supported a bipartisan immigration reform bill. It’s also hard to imagine Clinton matching Obama’s 60 percent among 18-to-29-year-olds against a candidate two decades younger than she is. Finally, unlike in 2012, Democrats wouldn’t have the luxury of portraying the GOP nominee as a corporate robber baron who has never walked in voters’ shoes.

Clinton will not excite the left. She will play one the 1st women president card, but I don’t think that is enough against Rubio.

Will TPP get ratified by the US Congress?

January 30th, 2016 at 8:54 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

New Zealand shouldn’t rush to sign the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement given its “extremely remote” chances of passing into law in the United States, according to an American trade analyst and critic of the deal.

However, Prime Minister John Key has dismissed the concerns, saying he is confident American politicians will ultimately support the free trade deal.

Trade analyst Lori Wallach, who is in New Zealand to speak at a series of anti-TPPA public meetings, said the deal was “in a certain amount of political trouble” in the United States.

“One of the big questions in political Washington is why New Zealand is rushing towards both the signing right now but also the notion of passing implementation, given the prospects that the US Congress passes the TPP as it is – ever – is extremely remote.”

Wallach said the TPPA was “dozens of votes short” in the House of Representatives, with Democrats concerned about the changes to environmental standards and drug patent changes and Republicans opposed to the “carve-out” excluding tobacco control measures from the investor state disputes mechanism.

It is true that Republicans complain Australia and NZ negotiators were too tough and got too good a deal in the TPP. But this does not mean they will let TPP die.

First of all the likely vote is in the lame duck Congress, which will mean there will be some retiring Democratic Representatives and Senators who will be able to vote for it as they don’t need to worry about the Labor unions trying to get them thrown out if they support it.

But you also have to look at the history of major trade agreements in the US. NAFTA was way more controversial than the TPPA, yet it got ratified by the Congress with a 234-200 vote in the House and 61 to 38 in the Senate.

Trump defends Putin

January 28th, 2016 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Telegraph reports:

Donald Trump has defended Vladimir Putin after a British public inquiry found the Russian president “probably” sanctioned the assassination of Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko in London.

Mr Trump waded into the case saying he had seen “no evidence” of Mr Putin’s involvement, adding: “They say a lot of things about me that are untrue too.”

The front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination has previously said he felt a “great honour” when Mr Putin praised him as an “absolute leader”.

A 327-page report released last week by retired High Court judge Sir Robert Owen concluded Mr Litvinenko was murdered by former KGB agents Andrey Lugovoy and Dmitri Kovtun.

But Mr Trump told Fox Business: “Have they found him (Mr Putin) guilty? I don’t think they’ve found him guilty. If he did it, fine but I don’t know that he did it.

“You know, people are saying they think it was him, it might have been him, it could have been him. But in all fairness to Putin – and I’m not saying this because he says ‘Trump is brilliant and leading everybody’ – the fact is that he hasn’t been convicted of anything. Some people say he absolutely didn’t do it.

This just shows how appalling Trump is. Putin controls the Russian state so of course no court in Russia would find him guilty of anything, just as no authority would ever charge him – unless  they wanted to end up dead also.

Also Trump has now pulled out of the next Fox News debate because they won’t give in to his demands to veto Megan Kelly as a moderator. Her sin was asking him tough questions in the last debate. His response is to call him a bimbo on Twitter. Just imagine a guy so thin skinned with a nuclear arsenal!

If Bloomberg runs, would the House pick the President?

January 27th, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Former NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg is looking at a third party run for President. He can self fund a $1 billion campaign and at a time where there is disdain for the establishment parties he could do quite well.

Bloomberg has been a Democrat and a Republican. He is broadly economically conservative and socially liberal. He could well do as well or better than Ross Perot did in 1992.

I an’t see him winning the presidency, but he could win several states, and deny a majority in the electoral college to the GOP and Democratic candidates.

If that occurred, then the House of Representatives would elect the President, and it would almost certainly be the Republican candidate.

So overall Bloomberg standing may be a bigger risk to the Democrats.

How the US electorate see the Republican candidates

January 24th, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

538 looks at the favourability ratings of the Republican contenders. They tell quite a story.

First what do Republicans think of them:

  1. Ted Cruz +51%
  2. Ben Carson +47%
  3. Marco Rubio +46%
  4. Mick Huckabee +40%
  5. Carly Fiorina +30%
  6. Donald Trump +27%
  7. Chris Christie +23%
  8. Jeb Bush +13%
  9. John Kasich +7%

So all get positive ratings, but luke warm for Kasich and Bush, moderate for Christie, Trump and Fiorina and strong for Cruz, Carson, Rubio and Huckabee. This shows who may be best at turning out the Republican base.

But most Republicans will vote for the Republican nominee regardless. They key is winning Independents. What do they say?

  1. Ben Carson +5%
  2. Marco Rubio +4%
  3. Carly Fiorina +1%
  4. John Kasisch -1%
  5. Chris Christie -3%
  6. Ted Cruz -3%
  7. Mick Huckabee -6%
  8. Jeb Bush -13%
  9. Donald Trump -27%

So Carson, Rubio and Fiorina has slight favourability with Independents. Most have slight unfavourability and Trump has severe unfavourability. You really want someone from the top six to have a good chance of winning Independents.

Now what about Democrats. They won’t vote for the Republican candidate but the more they dislike them, the more likely they are to actually vote.

  1. John Kasich -4%
  2. Carly Fiorina -20%
  3. Chris Christie -24%
  4. Ben Carson -26%
  5. Marco Rubio -28%
  6. Jeb Bush -30%
  7. Mick Huckabee -34%
  8. Ted Cruz -37%
  9. Donald Trump -70%

Democrats really hate Trump.

And when you combine them all together, what do Americans say:

  1. Ben Carson +0%
  2. Marco Rubio -1%
  3. Ted Cruz -7%
  4. John Kasich -7%
  5. Carly Fiorina -8%
  6. Mick Huckabee -12%
  7. Chris Christie -13%
  8. Rand Paul -16%
  9. Rick Santorum -22%
  10. Jeb Bush -22%
  11. Donald Trump -25%

Trump winning the nomination would make Hillary Clinton the President.

Compulsory union funding under threat to US and UK

January 22nd, 2016 at 7:04 am by David Farrar

In the UK, the Conservative Government is changing the law so that workers are no longer forced to fund the Labour Party through unions.

And USA Today reports on a related US Supreme Court case:

The Supreme Court left little doubt Monday where it stands on forcing teachers and government workers to contribute to public employee unions against their will: It’s ready to strike the requirement down.

The court’s more conservative justices sharply criticized the current system in which public employees in 23 states and the District of Columbia must pay for the cost of collective bargaining, even if they disagree with their unions’ demands. The problem, those justices said, is that virtually everything the unions do affects public policy and tax dollars.

Unions are major political players. The unions are so strong in the US that almost every Democratic candidate has to oppose trade agreements, or risk union funds being spent against them.

Hence they should not get compulsory funding from workers. They should only get funding from people who wish to join them, as is the case in NZ.

But Justice Anthony Kennedy, a Californian who led much of the criticism of the mandatory union fees, said teachers challenging the requirement disagree with union positions on issues such as tenure, merit pay and class sizes. “The union basically is making these teachers ‘compelled riders,'” he said.

Awful to be forced to fund an organisation so it can advocate for policies you strongly disagree with. Imagine for example being a gay man forced to fund a church that preaches homosexuality is wrong – well that’s how conservatives feel when forced to fund unions.

The 325,000-member teachers union, which spends more on politics than any special interest group in the state

The biggest money in politics is often from unions – certainly in NZ. Look at registered third party campaigners – almost all unions.

Will Obama visit?

January 14th, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

US President Barack Obama hopes to visit New Zealand this year – just the third time in history a United States president has been here.

The visit could have been as early at February 4, for the signing of the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. But Cabinet minister Simon Bridges is pouring cold water on that, saying that agreement will be signed by trade ministers, not by leaders.

Instead, it appears Obama will tack his New Zealand visit onto one of two trips to Asia: either May or September.

if President Obama does come, he could dedicate or open a US memorial at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park.

Trump created by the politically correct left

January 10th, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

A very astute article at The Daily Beast:

When I say “the left,” I do not mean the Democratic Party—or, solely the Democratic Party. Rather, the pestilence that is the Trump campaign is the result of a conglomeration of political, academic, media, and cultural elites who for decades have tried to act as the arbiters of acceptable public debate and shut down any political expression from Americans with whom they disagree. They, more than anyone else, created Donald Trump’s candidacy and the increasingly hideous movement he now leads.

The author is no Trump fan:

It’s pointless to try to explain Trump in terms of political platforms because Trump himself is too stupid and too incoherent to have any kind of consistent political views about anything beyond hating minorities and immigrants. Nuclear weapons? “With nuclear, the power, the devastation is very important to me.” Drugs? “That whole heroin thing, I tell you what, we gotta get that whole thing under control.” A random word generation program could do better.

They like how he says it, not what he says.

Today, however, we have a new, more virulent political correctness that terrorizes both liberals and conservatives, old-line Democrats and Republicans, alike. This form of political correctness is distinctly illiberal; indeed, it is not liberalism at all but Maoism circa the Cultural Revolution.

The extremist adherents of this new political correctness have essentially taken a flamethrower to the public space and annihilated its center. Topics in American life that once were the legitimate subjects of debate between liberals and conservative are now off-limits and lead to immediate attack by the cultural establishment if raised at all. Any incorrect position, any expression of the constitutional right to a different opinion, or even just a slip of the tongue can lead to public ostracism and the loss of a job.

It starts on campuses and spreads from there.

Note, for example, how Trump turned the incident in which Black Lives Matter activists humiliated Sen. Bernie Sanders to his own advantage. He didn’t bother drawing partisan lines or going after Sanders. Trump and his supporters couldn’t care less about any of that, and Trump until that point almost had almost never mentioned Sanders.

Instead, he made it clear that he’d never allow himself to be shut down by a mob. That, for his loyalists, was the money shot, especially when Trump pretty much dared BLM to disrupt a Trump event, in effect inviting them for an ass-kicking. A lot of people loved that shtick, because they want to see someone—literally, anyone—stand up to groups like BLM, even if it’s in defense of poor Bernie, because they worry that they’re next for that kind of treatment.

Trump loves it when people try to disrupt his events.

For the record, I despise Donald Trump and I will vote for almost any Republican (well, OK, not Ben Carson) rather than Trump. I’m a conservative independent and a former Republican. I quit the party in 2012 because of exactly the kind of coarse ignorance that Trump represents. The night Newt Gingrich won the South Carolina primary on the thoughtful platform of colonizing the moon, I was out. If in the end God turns his back on America and we’re left with only the choice of Trump or Hillary Clinton, I will vote for a third candidate out of protest—even if it means accepting what I consider the ghastly prospect of a Clinton 45 administration.

I know a lot of Republican voters like this.

Trump’s staying power, however, is rooted in the fact that his supporters are not fighting for any particular political outcome, they are fighting back against a culture they think is trying to smother them into cowed silence. What they want, more than any one policy, is someone to turn to the chanting mobs and say, without hesitation: “No, I will not shut up.” How long this will go on, then, depends on how long it will take for those people to feel reassured that someone besides Trump will represent their concerns without backing down in the face of catcalls about racism, sexism, LGBTQ-phobia, Islamophobia, or any other number of labels deployed mostly to extinguish their dissent.

Trump will not win, but he is changing the landscape for those who will follow.


January 9th, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Spent New Years Eve at Disneyland. The good thing was they stay open until 2 am and have lots of fireworks. The bad thing is it is their busiest day of the year.

As we had to be up at 5 am to catch a flight, the plan was to leave around 9.30 pm after the first fireworks. But we kept wanting to do just one more ride and we finally left very happy but tired at 1.30 am.

Here’s how I rated the attractions we did:

  • Hyperspace Mountain 9.5/10
  • Star Tours 9/10
  • Indiana Jones Adventure 9/10
  • Splash Mountain 9/10 (did twice)
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad 8.5/10 (did twice)
  • Matterhorn Bobsleds 8.5/10 (did twice)
  • Pirates of the Caribbean 8/10
  • Haunted Mansion Holiday 7.5/10
  • Jingle Cruise 7/10
  • Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters 7/10
  • It’s a Small World 6.5/10
  • Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage 6.5/10
  • Disneyland Railroad 6.5/10
  • Casey Jr Circus Train 6/10
  • Peter Pan’s Flight 6/10


This was the Jungle Cruise renamed the Jingle Cruise for the season.


Enterting into It’s A Small World.


Young padawans being trained up during lunch breaks


This was one of the longer queues, around 30 minutes. Some of the top attraction had two to three hour queues but we used Fastpass for them, and then did less popular ones between. Also after 9 am the queues got a lot shorter and we managed to get on some popular rides such as Matterhorn bobsleds with only five minute queues!


The enchanted castle.


A scene from the Finding Nemo submarine.


Getting ready for Hyperspace Mountain.


A scene from It’s A Small World.


And the dolls to represent NZ!


After the fireworks at 9 pm everyone headed towards the middle of Disneyland – either to exit the park, or join the party there. This caused total gridlock – moving say a metre per second. If you are ever there on NYE, do not go towards the centre in the evening – use the more remote paths.


Peter Pan’s Flying adventure.


Some toys we purchased. Sadly not for me, but certain little girls.


One of the real highlights was Fantasmic. I thought it would be like World of Colour, and all done with fountains and lights. But this one had actors and props galore. It is a battle between good and bad in Mickey’s dreams and was superbly done.


Captain Hook’s boat turns up.


As done Mark Twain’s!

Despite the crowds was a great day at Disneyland. We spent almost 18 hours there!

Some general advice for others going:

  • Get there early and stay late
  • Get fast passes as soon as they are available for you again
  • Book your lunch and dinner venues well in advance unless you want to do burgers
  • Make sure you see the shows as well as do the rides

Disney California Adventure Park

January 8th, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Spent the 30th of December at Disney California Adventure Park, and another fun day.

They don’t have a front of pass ticket, but they do have a system where you can acquire a fast pass ticket for a popular ride every two hours. These are critical to having a good day and so the moment you can get a new fast pass, you should.

Here’s how I rated the attractions we did:

  • Radiator Springs Racers 9.5/10 (the most popular attraction by far)
  • Aladdin – 9.5/10 (hilarious, the genie is a star)
  • California Screaming 9/10 (literally screaming)
  • Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 9/10 (think of an elevator that drops several floors at a time)
  • World of Color – 9/10 (incredible light show)
  • Soaring Over California 8.5/10
  • Grizzly River Run 8/10
  • Monsters Inc 7.5/10
  • Toy Story Midway Mania 7/10
  • Silly Symphony Swings 6.5/10
  • Goofy Sky School 6/10
  • The Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Undersea Adventure 5.5/10

Not a lot of photos here as hard to take then while doing the attraction!


The big ferris wheel.


This is the most fun (in a terrifying sense) ride – California Screaming. You do drops, a loop and lots of twists. And people do spend most of the ride screaming!


The World of Colour show in the evening is quite fantastic. All done with lights and 1,200 fountains.

Universal Studios Hollywood

January 7th, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar


Spent the 29th of December at Universal Studios Hollywood, and no surprise had a great day. Some great rides, fascinating history and fun shows.

For those who have not been, but may one day, my strong advice is buy a Front of Line pass. For the extra $50 or so you’ll easily get to do every attraction and with five minute queues instead of one hour ones.

Here’s how I rated the attractions:

  • Transformers The Ride 3D – 10/10
  • Studio Tour – 9/10
  • King Kong 360 3D – 9/10
  • Revenge of the Mummy – 9/10
  • Simpsons Ride – 8.5/10
  • Shrek 4D – 8/10
  • Despicable Me Minion Mayhem – 8/10
  • Fast & Furious – 8/10
  • Jurassic Park – 7.5/10
  • Waterworld – 7/10
  • Animal Actors – 6.5/10
  • Special Effects – 5.5/10

The Transformers Ride was amazing. The moment we did it with Front of Pass, we queued up to do it again.


You can also go down the CityWalk, which is free, next to the park. Lots of great restaurants including Bubba Gump and Hard Rock Cafe.


Lots of very bad food.


This was quite cool. Basically you fly with a huge fan propelling you up.


These signs are up everywhere. Even the toilets warn you they have chemicals that can kill you. Public Health bureaucracy gone crazy,


This was the set for Animal Actors. The falcons were a highlight. The dogs very cute.


The star though was an owl from Harry Potter.


Who remembers Kit?


And the Flintstones of course. They had several dozen cars on the studio tour.


They produced their own flash flood for you as you drove by.


And this is the remains of an actual plane that they have as wreckage. Whenever there is a plane crash, they’ll use this site. The entire studio site was huge – scores and scores of studios ncluding Wysteria Lane.


In April they open their Harry Potter ride, and you can see Hogwarts already built on the hill.


A scene from Waterworld.

As I said, it was a really good day. Doesn’t get as crowded as Disney and the rides have cool themes to them – they basically tell a story.  Definitely will visit again the next time I am in LA, or in Orlando.

Trump vs political correctness

January 6th, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Washington Post reports:

Cathy Cuthbertson once worked at what might be thought of as a command post of political correctness — the campus of a prestigious liberal arts college in Ohio.

“You know, I couldn’t say ‘Merry Christmas.’ And when we wrote things, we couldn’t even say ‘he’ or ‘she,’ because we had transgender. People of color. I mean, we had to watch every word that came out of our mouth, because we were afraid of offending someone, but nobody’s afraid of offending me,” the former administrator said.

All of which helps explain why the 63-year-old grandmother showed up at a recent Donald Trump rally in Hilton Head Island, S.C., where she moved when she retired a year ago.

The Republican front-runner is “saying what a lot of Americans are thinking but are afraid to say because they don’t think that it’s politically correct,” she said. “But we’re tired of just standing back and letting everyone else dictate what we’re supposed to think and do.”

This is the years and decades of resentment that Trump has tapped.

In an October poll by Fairleigh Dickinson University, 68 percent agreed with the proposition that “a big problem this country has is being politically correct.”

It was a sentiment felt strongly across the political spectrum, by 62 percent of Democrats, 68 percent of independents and 81 percent of Republicans. Among whites, 72 percent said they felt that way, but so did 61 percent of nonwhites.

And what does political correctness mean:

‘Political correctness’ are the two words that best respond to everything that a conservative feels put upon,” added pollster Frank Luntz, who has advised Republicans. The label is, he said, a validation that what many on the right see as legitimate policy and cultural differences are not the same as racism, sexism or heartlessness.

“Allegations of racism and sexism have turned into powerful silencing devices,” Galston agreed. “You can be opposed to affirmative action without being a racist.”

I recall being shouted at and abused at the press gallery party once because I had written that I thought the Maori seats should be abolished. I was told this meant I was racist.

Kiwi dairy farmer doing well in Colorado as a cannabis farmer

January 5th, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

John Lord once walked into a federal government building with $2 million in cash in his backpack to pay his taxes for the cannabis he sells. 

Due to federal laws, he couldn’t get a bank account to bank his drug profits. It’s different now. His customers still have to pay cash, but he can now transfer money to the Internal Revenue Service come tax time.

Lord is the chief executive of Livwell – the largest marijuana dealer in Colorado, one of a few states that have legalised cannabis.

He sells in excess of $80 million worth of product annually. He won’t talk profit margins.  

Not too bad for a one-time Te Aroha dairy farmer. He moved to the States back in 1998, first to manufacture and sell baby products. He sold that business in 2008. Cannabis is much more lucrative.

Lord has a staff of 500, owns 20 retail stores and is acquiring more this month.

500 staff is a pretty large business.

“The business itself has grown. The company pays full health care, which is a big deal over in the States. We have a retirement plan for employees, paid leave and we try to train and hire from within so it gives our employees the chance of climbing the ladder.

Sounds better than being a black market operator.

But like any good drug dealer, he knows his products inside out, not least because he uses it.

“It’s not a product that had touched my life. I was ambivalent to it. I was aware of its existence. I just wasn’t interested in trying the product then. 

“I was 54 when I first tried it. I use cannabis topically every day. I’ve got a busted up knuckle from rugby days.”

He’s not the only senior citizen who uses the products. Every week, a bus load from the local retirement village hobble into his stores to stock up. 

Heh, the best outing of the week.

When cannabis was legalised in Colorado, he opened up a shop and undercut the gangs. They buy off him now, after they taught him how the business worked. They then take the product to sell it in states where it’s still illegal. 

“Those meetings were interesting. Never held in a boardroom – that would have intimidated them,” Lord said.

Not only have the gangs gone, Lord said crime has dropped in Colorado. And alcohol consumption is down.  

“Just a couple of months ago, cannabis taxes exceeded alcohol taxes in the state by double. It’s huge,” he said. 

Lord has a vested interest but I’ll be very interested to see an analysis of the change in crime rates, health problems etc after say three years of legalisation.

“New Zealand and Australia controversially legalised prostitution and the world was going to come to an end and it simply did not and so society was mature enough to handle it. The same has happened with cannabis in Colorado and several other states and we just haven’t had the social problems.

“Those who are using the product are usually those who were traditionally using the product prior to legalisation anyway. And those people are now using a safe product, at a safe retail store and a well-lit-up car park outside and a security guy standing there and not a dark alley somewhere. It’s made for a safer situation for something that was existing anyway. 

It sounds like it has worked well, but again this is a vested interest.

As of a month ago, the Colorado Cannabis Industry was directly employing 25,500 people in legitimate, high-paying jobs.

“It became a little difficult for politicians who were perhaps feeling out of their depth, once they understood there were a huge number of genuine jobs coming from this and people were not sitting around in a circle singing Kumbaya and were doing a great job, with prospects, with benefits, all of that sort of thing. 

“It’s been interesting watching the evolution of the politicians in their regard to the industry.” 

Local law enforcement is with the industry, too. 

“The local police have embraced the legalisation completely. If they go to break up a party, they usually put their backs to the giggly guys in the corner and watch the drunkards in the other corner. And I think you would find every policeman would tell you that.

Probably true, but the mix can turn some people very aggressive.

“It’s a polarising topic. Other people sell alcohol. Other people milk cows. I grow cannabis. You can turn around and rail on any industry. You can turn around to somebody brewing beer and say: your product causes all sorts of social problems. With cannabis, we are finding way less social problems compared to alcohol and the great Colorado social experiment is proving that.”

As I said I look forward to some independent reviews.

Cosby charged

January 2nd, 2016 at 2:33 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Bill Cosby was arrested in the twilight of his life and career Wednesday and charged with a decade-old sex crime after a barrage of accusations from dozens of women made a mockery of his image as TV’s wise and understanding Dr. Cliff Huxtable.

Holding a cane, the 78-year-old comedian walked slowly and unsteadily into court on the arms of his lawyers to answer charges he drugged and sexually assaulted a woman less than half his age at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004. He had no comment as he was released on $1 million bail.

It’s good to see at least one of the 50 separate allegations against Cosby will be tested in court. It is hard to imagine that 50 different women have all conspired to allege such similiar behaviour over so many decades.

But the court case will be on this one allegation only. They may find it hard to find a jury who have not heard of all the other allegations, and hence are contaminated. They also may find it hard to find a jury that could be convinced beyond reasonable doubt that the guy who played the nice Dr Huxtable could be a monster. So who knows what the outcome will be, but from now on it is a judicial process.

A trick question poll

December 26th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Guardian reports:

More than 530 Republican primary voters were polled this week on their support for Republican candidates and foreign policy issues including banning Muslims from entering the US, Japanese internment camps from the second world war and bombing Agrabah, the kingdom from Disney’s animated classic, Aladdin.

In its poll, Public Policy Polling asked the 532 Republicans: “Would you support or oppose bombing Agrabah?” While 57% of responders said they were not sure, 30% said they supported bombing it. Only 13% opposed it.

Public Policy Polling also polled Democratic primary voters: only 19% of them said they would support bombing Agrabah, while 36% said they would oppose it.

People are getting excited about this, but it doesn’t really say a lot except that people don’t like to admit they don’t know where a place is.

I suspect most respondents just thought Agrabah is a city in Syria. And the question was asked as a direct support/oppose. The majority of Republicans actually said they were not sure, which is what everyone should say.  Also of note is 19% of Democrats said they support bombing it.

Thomas Lumley at Stats Chat damns the poll question:

I’m pretty sure that less than 30% even of Republican voters really support bombing a fictional country. In fact, I’d guess it’s probably less than 5%. But think about how the question was asked.  You’re a stereotypical Republican voter dragged away from quiet dinner with your stereotypical spouse and 2.3 stereotypical kids by this nice, earnest person on the phone who wants your opinion about important national issues.  You know there’s been argument about whether to bomb this place in the Middle East. You can’t remember if the name matches, but obviously if they’re asking a serious question that must be the place they mean. And it seemed like a good idea when it was explained on the news. Even the British are doing it. So you say “Support”.

The 30% (or 19%) doesn’t mean Republicans (or Democrats) want to bomb Aladdin. It doesn’t even mean they want to bomb arbitrary places they’ve never heard of. It means they were asked a question carefully phrased to sound as if it was about a genuine geopolitical controversy and they answered it that way.

When Ali G does this sort of thing to political figures, it’s comedy. When Borat does it to unsuspecting Americans it’s a bit dubious. When it’s mixed in with serious opinion polling, it risks further damaging what’s already a very limited channel for gauging popular opinion.

I agree.

Not one of 75 Trump claims is actually true

December 23rd, 2015 at 8:57 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Of the 75 political claims by Donald Trump during the current campaign that have been vetted by the Pulitzer Prize-winning fact checking organisation Politifact not one – not a single one – has been rated as “True”.

Politifact has a six-point rating scale from True to Pants on fire. It rates five of Trump’s comments to be Mostly True and 13 to be Half True. It considers 16 to be Pants on Fire, 29 to be False and 12 to be Mostly False.

By comparison Politifact has rated 140 claims by Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton and found 39 of them to be True, 32 Mostly True and two to be Pants on Fire.

In the last debate Trump’s latest idea was that the US should proactively target and murder innocent people if they happen to be related to terrorists. We’re not talking collateral damage here, but actually go out and execute people because of who their sister or brother is etc.

His ability to not just get things wrong, but refuse to ever concede he got something wrong is what his fans like about him, but it is what you expect more from his good friend Putin, than a potential US president.

No TPP vote in US for a year

December 20th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The AFR reports:

The Trans-Pacific Partnership suffered a serious setback to being implemented by the pact’s lead economy, after the powerful United States Senate leader stunned trade watchers by declaring Congress should not vote on the accord until after next November’s presidential election.

The plan is probably to have the vote during the lame duck session of Congress between the election and the new representatives and senators taking office.

The White House is aiming to convince the Republican-controlled Congress to pass the agreement by mid next year, but unless Senator McConnell backflips on his vocal resistance, that goal will likely prove near impossible.


Senator McConnell and Senate finance committee chair Orrin Hatch have misgivings over the deal the Obama administration struck among the 12 countries. They are particularly incensed by the US failing to secure a longer monopoly period for pharmaceutical drugs known as biologics.

The US pushed for as much as 12 years. Australian Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb successfully held the line at five years in the final deal, prompting Senator Hatch to last month accuse Australia of being “greedy”.

This is critical. The resistance in the US is because they think Australia and NZ got too good a deal with our negotiators were too tough.

It is possible Republicans are trying to bargain with the administration, to try and force the US back to the negotiating table with the 11 other countries or to extract concessions on domestic political policies.

There’s no way the deal can be renegotiated. It passes or it is dead. Concessions on domestic policies may come into play though.

538 on who will drop out next in the Republican primaries

December 17th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

538 staff chat about whom they think will drop out next in the Republican primary.

Those already dropped out (in order are)

  1. Rick Perry
  2. Scott Walker
  3. Bobby Jindal

So whom do they predict next (ignoring Jim Gilmore):

  1. Rand Paul
  2. Lindsey Graham
  3. John Kasich
  4. George Pataki
  5. Carly Fiorina
  6. Rick Santorum
  7. Jeb Bush
  8. Ben Carson
  9. Donald Trump
  10. Mick Huckabee
  11. Chris Christie
  12. Marco Rubio

So by default they think Ted Criz may win the nomination.

Trump wants to “close up” the Internet

December 11th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar reports:

Speaking at a campaign rally at the USS Yorktown in South Carolina, Mr Trump said he would look at “closing up” the internet to stop Islamic State from recruiting Americans.

While most people with common sense understand the enormity of such a task, Mr Trump thinks it is as easy as getting Bill Gates on the phone.

“We’re losing a lot of people because of the internet,” he said.

“We have to see Bill Gates and a lot of different people that really understand what’s happening.

“We have to talk to them about, maybe in certain areas, closing that internet up in some ways. Somebody will say, ‘Oh freedom of speech, freedom of speech.’ These are foolish people.”

He gets more deranged every day.

Why doesn’t Trump just call for Muslims to be tatooed?

December 8th, 2015 at 10:51 am by David Farrar

AP report:

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump says he is calling for a “complete and total shutdown” on Muslims entering the United States.

Trump says in a statement released by his campaign Monday that his proposal comes in response to the level of hatred among “large segments of the Muslim population” toward Americans.

Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski says Trump’s proposed ban would apply to “everybody,” including Muslims seeking immigration visas as well as tourists seeking to enter the country.

So no Muslims as migrants or tourists. And presumably no diplomats from other countries can be Muslims so half the embassies must close. Tim Groser is a Muslim, so he would be banned. And no visits from Heads of States that are Muslims. And of course the logical next step is to tattoo Muslims in the US so they can be identified and deported.

You expect this sort of call from the fringe of politics, but not from the leading US contender for the republican nomination.

Trump is going to destroy the Republican Party.

I quote the First Amendment to the US Constitution:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances

Donald Trump would ban Malala Yousafzai from entering the US who won the Nobel Peace Prize for standing up to the Taliban!

Despite his lead in the polls, he must be recognising he doesn’t have a path to win the nomination, so he is getting desperate.

My matches for US President

December 6th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

USA Today has a survey where you can try and match which US presidential candidate is closest to you.

Like all surveys like this, it has flaws with multi-choice answers. For example on the issue of same sex marriage there was no option for supporting same sex marriage, but not regarding it as a constitutional right.

Anyway my closest match was Bobby Jindal on 62%. That’s pretty low for a closest match, which reflects how there are very few candidates who are fiscally conservative and socially liberal. The full list of matches for me is:

  1. Bobby Jindal 62%
  2. Chris Christie 54%
  3. Jeb Bush 46%
  4. Marco Rubio 46%
  5. George Pataki 38%
  6. Lindsay Graham 38%
  7. John Kasich 38%
  8. Carly Fiorina 31%
  9. Ben Carson 31%
  10. Rand Paul 31%
  11. Jim Gilmore 31%
  12. Lincoln Chafee 31%
  13. Martin O’Malley 31%
  14. Bernie Sander 31%
  15. Hilary Clinton 23%
  16. Ted Cruz 23%
  17. Mick Huckabee 23%
  18. Jim Webb 15%
  19. Donald Trump 15%
  20. Rick Santorum 8%

I’m so happy I live in New Zealand!

The growing reach of Islamic State

December 5th, 2015 at 7:38 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

One of two people accused of killing 14 in California apparently pledged allegiance to a leader of Islamic State militant group, two US government sources said on Friday (Saturday NZ Time), as intelligence officials in her native Pakistan pressed the investigation overseas.

Tashfeen Malik, 27, and her husband, Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, were killed in a shootout with police hours after the Wednesday (Thursday NZT) massacre at the Inland Regional Center social services agency in San Bernardino, about 100 km east of Los Angeles. The attack was the deadliest mass shooting the United States has experienced in three years.

US investigators are evaluating evidence that Malik, a Pakistani native who had been living in Saudi Arabia when she married Farook, had pledged allegiance to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, two US officials told Reuters. They said the finding, if confirmed, could be a “game changer” in the investigation.

If these reports are correct, this is significant.

In Europe, factors in people who become jihadists are often cited as poverty, non-integration etc. And they are factors.

But episodes like the above scare people more arguably, because this is a guy who had a good well respected job. Got on well with his neighbours. Had a wife and a kid. But seemingly got radicalised through his wife who had pledged allegiance to Islamic State. And bang 14 people are dead.

Security agencies can spot and monitor the obvious radicals and extremists. But how do you prevent this from occurring?

And in three weeks, Islamic State has managed to kill significant numbers in Russia, France and now the US. That’s a major successful attack every week.