Archive for the ‘United States’ Category

Split decisions on Apple vs FBI

March 3rd, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A New York judge says the U.S. Justice Department cannot force Apple to provide the FBI with access to locked iPhone data in a routine Brooklyn drug case.

U.S. Magistrate Judge James Orenstein ruled Tuesday (NZ time). The decision follows a California magistrate judge’s order requiring Apple to create software to help the U.S. hack the iPhone of a shooter in the December 2 killing of 14 people in San Bernardino, California.

As different judges have made different rulings it seems inevitable it will be appealed to a Court of Appeals and if they differ, then eventually the Supreme Court.

Trump in pole position

March 3rd, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Trump has won seven, and maybe eight of the 11 states on Super Tuesday. It is hard to see him not ending up with the most delegates at the convention. However he may not get a majority.

The best chance of stopping him is to make it a two horse race. But as Rubio and Cruz both won states, they will both be in until at least Florida. If Rubio loses Florida, he may quit. But even if it becomes a two horse race, some of the votes of candidates dropping out may go to Trump. There is a path to victory for Rubio, and possibly Cruz, but it is a difficult one.

On the Democratic side it is almost all over. Sanders won four out of eleven and will stay in probably until Clinton gets a majority, but there is no credible path for him to beat her, unless she is charged by the FBI.

The current count on the Democratic side is Clinton 984 and Sanders 347. You need 2,383 for a majority. Clinton is 41% of the way there. Sanders would need to win 60% of the remaining delegates.

On the Republican side it is Trump 302, Cruz 142, Rubio 78, Kasich 24 and Carson 8. You need 1,237 to win so Trump is 24% of the way there.

Trump needs to get 49% of the remaining delegates to win. Cruz needs 57%, Rubio 60% and Kasich 63%.

The next dates for the Republicans are:

  • 5th – Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana and Maine
  • 6th – Puerto Rico
  • 8th – Hawaii, Idaho, Michigan and Mississippi
  • 12th – DC and Guam
  • 15th – Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Mariana Islands, North Carolina and Ohio

The 15th is the next really significant date. It is where Rubio may live or die, and possibly the last chance to stop Trump.

Will Republicans vote for Trump

March 2nd, 2016 at 10:09 am by David Farrar

As Trump looks more and more likely to win the Republican nomination, the question is will Republicans vote for him as a lesser evil to Clinton?

538 has an interesting looks at which elections saw the most defections from a party’s presidential candidate.

The top 10 in order are:

  1. 33% of Democrats defected in 1980 to Reagan
  2. 33% of Democrats defected in 1972 to Nixon
  3. 27% of Republicans defected in 1992 to Clinton and Perot
  4. 26% of Democrats defected in 1984 to Reagan
  5. 26% of Democrats defected in 1968 Nixon and Wallace
  6. 23% of Democrats defected in 1952 to Eisenhower
  7. 23% of Democrats defected in 1992 to Perot/Bush
  8. 20% of Republicans defected in 1964 to LBJ
  9. 19% of Republicans defected in 1996 to Clinton
  10. 17% of Democrats defected in 1998 to Bush

The last four elections have had low levels of defections – under 15%. Will 2016 break the trend?

Bush is out

February 22nd, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Clinton won Nevada by 6% over Sanders. He did well to make it so close, but really needed an upset here. Clinton should win South Carolina easily and be well set up for Super Tuesday.

Trump wins South Carolina, but on 33% only. Rubio just beats Cruz for 2nd place. Bush drops out after a distant fourth on 8% showing once again money only takes you so far.

Kasich will be under pressure to drop out also, and Carson shouldn’t last much longer. So it becomes a three way Trump-Cruz-Rubio race. Rubio did around 7% better than what he was polling.

Next up for the GOP is Nevada. Trump had a 20% lead in the last poll on 15 February.

After that is Super Tuesday.

What has capitalism ever done for us?

February 21st, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Michael Tanner writes at Cato:

A self-professed “democratic socialist” is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, and he is running neck and neck with a party icon. Polls show that more than a quarter of Americans have a favorable opinion of socialism, which might not sound so bad until you learn that that includes 43 percent of those under age 30, and 42 percent of Democrats. Meanwhile, barely half of Americans have a favorable view of capitalism. Democrats, in fact, are as likely to view socialism positively as they are capitalism.

What accounts for this collective historical amnesia?

Tanner reminds us:

After all, if one looks at the long course of human history, our existence was pretty much hand to mouth for most of it. All that began to change in the 1700s with the development of modern — that is, capitalist — economics.

But one doesn’t have to go back 300 years to see the advantages of free-market capitalism. Consider that in the last 25 years, a period during which much of the world has embraced free markets, a billion people have been lifted out of poverty, and the global poverty rate has been slashed from more than 37 percent to less than 10 percent.

It’s not just the decline in poverty that tracks with the adoption of free markets and capitalism. Literacy rates increase and infant mortality declines as countries adopt market-based economies. Life expectancy rises, and people’s health improves. Even the environment gets cleaner.

And opportunities open up for women and minorities. Indeed, nothing challenges entrenched elites like the “creative destruction” of free-market capitalism.

People don’t like the destruction of capitalism but without destruction, you don’t get new businesses.

There was a reason, after all, why West Germany built the Mercedes-Benz, while East Germany produced the Trabant.

Bernie Sanders may think it’s terrible that we have a choice of deodorants, but most Americans would rather not shop in a Venezuelan supermarket.

Need more? According to the Human Freedom Index, more economic freedom correlates with more personal freedom. Just consider countries with state-controlled economies and how little personal freedom they allow. On the other hand, countries with free-market economies tend to be free in other ways, too.

Economic freedom and personal freedom almost always go together, with only a couple of exceptions such as Singapore.

FCC Commissioner sees free speech under threat

February 20th, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Washington Examiner reports:

The American traditions of free expression and respectful discourse are slipping away, and college campuses and Twitter are prime examples, according to a member of the Federal Communications Commission.

“I think that poses a special danger to a country that cherishes First Amendment speech, freedom of expression, even freedom of association,” FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai told the Washington Examiner. “I think it’s dangerous, frankly, that we don’t see more often people espousing the First Amendment view that we should have a robust marketplace of ideas where everybody should be willing and able to participate.

“Largely what we’re seeing, especially on college campuses, is that if my view is in the majority and I don’t agree with your view, then I have the right to shout you down, disrupt your events, or otherwise suppress your ability to get your voice heard,” Pai added.

Sadly very true.

US voters say media bias is a bigger issue than money in politics

February 19th, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Washington Examiner reports:

Media bias is a bigger problem than high dollar donations for 2016 likely voters focused on the presidential election, according to a new national survey.

Rasmussen Reports found that when asked “Which is the bigger problem in politics today,” voters picked media bias over money, 47 percent to 45 percent.

What’s more, the survey found that voters believe that the media has too much power in politics. Some 66 percent said it was too powerful, compared to just 26 percent who said the media wielded just enough influence in the election.

When 90% of journalists back a particular political party, it is no surprise that the public lose confidence.

Two tributes to Justice Scalia

February 18th, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Former Obama advisor David Axelrod writes:

When the shocking news of Justice Antonin Scalia’s passing hit Saturday night, my mind raced back to a White House Correspondents Association dinner seven years ago, when we were seated together.

We bantered about my hometown of Chicago, where he had taught law before ascending to the bench. He opined on wine and music and generally lived up to his reputation as a man who told and enjoyed a good story.

And then our conversation took an unexpected turn.

Justice David Souter, Scalia’s longtime colleague on the court, had just announced his retirement, creating a vacancy for President Obama to fill. Scalia figured that as senior adviser to the new president, I might have some influence on the decision — or at least enough to pass along a message.

“I have no illusions that your man will nominate someone who shares my orientation,” said Scalia, then in his 23rd year as the court’s leading and most provocative conservative voice. “But I hope he sends us someone smart.”

A little taken aback that he was engaging me on the subject, I searched for the right answer, and lamely offered one that signaled my slight discomfort with the topic. “I’m sure he will, Justice Scalia.”

He wasn’t done. Leaning forward, as if to share a confidential thought, he tried again.

“Let me put a finer point on it,” the justice said, in a lower, purposeful tone of voice, his eyes fixed on mine. “I hope he sends us Elena Kagan.”

Very classy.

And another liberal Justice writes the best tribute to Scalia:

Toward the end of the opera Scalia/Ginsburg, tenor Scalia and soprano Ginsburg sing a duet: ‘We are different, we are one,’ different in our interpretation of written texts, one in our reverence for the Constitution and the institution we serve. From our years together at the D.C. Circuit, we were best buddies. We disagreed now and then, but when I wrote for the Court and received a Scalia dissent, the opinion ultimately released was notably better than my initial circulation. Justice Scalia nailed all the weak spots—the ‘applesauce’ and ‘argle bargle’—and gave me just what I needed to strengthen the majority opinion. He was a jurist of captivating brilliance and wit, with a rare talent to make even the most sober judge laugh. The press referred to his ‘energetic fervor,’ ‘astringent intellect,’ ‘peppery prose,’ ‘acumen,’ and ‘affability,’ all apt descriptions. He was eminently quotable, his pungent opinions so clearly stated that his words never slipped from the reader’s grasp.

Justice Scalia once described as the peak of his days on the bench an evening at the Opera Ball when he joined two Washington National Opera tenors at the piano for a medley of songs. He called it the famous Three Tenors performance. He was, indeed, a magnificent performer. It was my great good fortune to have known him as working colleague and treasured friend.

A nice reminder that you can have deep and respectful friendships with people you strongly disagree with.

Will Obama visit?

February 15th, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A senior United States official has confirmed President Barack Obama will try to visit New Zealand this year.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands Matt Matthews said the President would visit “schedule permitting”. Obama would be only the third US President to visit if he makes it.

A New Zealand visit has been on the President’s radar since Prime Minister John Key’s last visit to the White House in 2014 when Obama told media: “We are going to be working with my schedule to see what I can come up with – if not this year then certainly before the end of my presidency.”

Matthews said Key and Obama had a “very close relationship, real friendship in fact”.

One possible date for a presidential visit is June when the annual New Zealand-US strategic dialogue is held.

Matthews said there would be other high level US officials visiting during that period to keep the “momentum” going in the New Zealand-US relationship.

Another milestone in the New Zealand-US relationship could be reached this year if the US accepts an invitation to take part in our navy’s 75th birthday celebrations.

A presidential visit is a rare thing. It is obviously beneficial for our relationship with the US, but also is good for tourism as images of NZ get beamed around the world.

The impact of work for welfare

February 15th, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Daily Signal reports:

In response to the growth in food stamp dependence, Maine’s governor, Paul LePage, recently established work requirements on recipients who are without dependents and able-bodied. In Maine, all able-bodied adults without dependents in the food stamp program are now required to take a job, participate in training, or perform community service.

Job openings for lower-skill workers are abundant in Maine, and for those ABAWD recipients who cannot find immediate employment, Maine offers both training and community service slots. But despite vigorous outreach efforts by the government to encourage participation, most childless adult recipients in Maine refused to participate in training or even to perform community service for six hours per week. When ABAWD recipients refused to participate, their food stamp benefits ceased.

In the first three months after Maine’s work policy went into effect, its caseload of able-bodied adults without dependents plummeted by 80 percent, falling from 13,332 recipients in Dec. 2014 to 2,678 in March 2015.

An 80% reduction in just 90 days!!

Why?

A work requirement substantially reduces welfare fraud because insisting a recipient be in the welfare office periodically interferes with holding a hidden job. Recipients cannot be in two places at once. Faced with a work requirement, many recipients with hidden jobs simply leave the rolls. No doubt, a significant part of the rapid caseload decline in Maine involves flushing fraudulent double-dippers out of the welfare system.

If someone is working for cash, it is very hard to detect.

RIP Antonin Scalia

February 14th, 2016 at 11:20 am by David Farrar

My SA reports:

Associate Justice Antonin Scalia was found dead of apparent natural causes Saturday on a luxury resort in West Texas, federal officials said.

Scalia, 79, was a guest at the Cibolo Creek Ranch, a resort in the Big Bend region south of Marfa.

According to a report, Scalia arrived at the ranch on Friday and attended a private party with about 40 people. When he did not appear for breakfast, a person associated with the ranch went to his room and found a body.

I heard Scalia speak in Wellington a few years ago. A razor sharp mind and someone whose impact on legal thinking has been profound.

As sad as the death is for his family and friends personally, the focus will of course be on the politics of a replacement. An Obama nominee would give the liberal wing a 5-4 majority on the court.

For this reason I suspect the Republican majority in the Senate will either not put his nominee to the vote (if they are qualified) or vote them down.

This means that the vacancy will be filled by the next President. If it is Clinton she will get the first liberal majority court in a generation. This makes the election ever higher stakes than normal.

Now there are six

February 12th, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Chris Christie and Carly Fiorina are out. That leaves Trump, Cruz, Rubio, Kasich, Bush and Carson.

Kasich will drop out at some stage. He has little support so that will have little impact.

When Bush drops out, I suspect most of his support will go to Rubio.

The interesting one will be Carson. Who will his support go to? Trump or Cruz or possibly Rubio?

The exit polls for New Hampshire are interesting. By age on the Democratic side the margins are:

  • Under 30s: Sanders +67%
  • 30 – 39: Sanders +45%
  • 40 – 49: Sanders +22%
  • 50 – 64: Sanders +3%
  • 65+: Clinton +9%

The WP also has their winners and losers:

Winners

  • Donald Trump
  • Bernie Sanders
  • John Kasich
  • Michael Bloomberg

Losers

  • Hillary Clinton
  • Chris Christie
  • Marco Rubio
  • Ben Carson
  • Carly Fiorina

Sanders and Trump win New Hampshire

February 10th, 2016 at 10:22 pm by David Farrar

Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have won their New Hampshire primaries.

This is not unexpected as both had clear leads in the polls.

Sanders is 21% ahead of Clinton. In terms of the expectations games, she will be seen as a loser of his margin is over 20%. If under 10% it is a relative victory.

Kasich is coming 2nd on 16%. He put all his energy into New Hampshire so probably a good enough result to keep him alive for now. But will soon be dead.

Bush got 12%. Still no path to victory for him but money can keep him in for a bit longer.

Cruz is on 11.5% and Rubio 9.8%.  Rubio will be bruised coming 5th and we Cruz will get a bounce.

Trump will declare himself Emperor on the basis of the win, and he is going to win easily. But he is winning with 34% of the vote. Eventually it will become a three way race, and I doubt that will be enough.

The next primaries are Nevada on 20 February for Democrats and on the same day South Carolina and Washington for the Republicans.

Guest Post: Tom Hunter on US election – America is Waiting

February 10th, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

(for a message of some sort or another.)

This has been the craziest US Presidential election in the thirty years I’ve followed them. The cycle of Hope and Change (TM) has turned, except now it’s Make America Great Again, which is a far better but equally vacuous slogan.

Every one of these elections brings up the eternal battle between Good and Evil, touched with the circus element that draws the horrified fascination of a good chunk of the rest of the world. You can search back two hundred years and find the same thing, with the most bloodcurdling claims made; my favourite being the one stating that the result of electing Thomas Jefferson in 1800 would be that: … murder, robbery, rape, adultery, and incest will all be openly taught and practiced … (people Tweeting pictures of Donald cuddling his daughter Ivanka be warned)

But there’s no question that the 2016 election has a genuine tinge of desperation to it. There is a sense that something awful is drawing closer, but it’s hard to describe or identify. If Communists or Nazis were the guys holding up the stagecoach, the feeling now is more that the vehicle is slowly moving forward in fog and darkness while the passengers hold knives behind their backs and eye each other nervously. What is it exactly that is going wrong? Why does it feel that America is rolling ever closer to the edge of an abyss, and why are the drivers so distrusted, even as one after the other is replaced in the driver’s seat by the rowdy crowd below.

Takin’ it again. Again! Again! Takin’ it again.

This feeling exists on both sides of the American political fence. Democrats feel they’ve compromised too much: private health insurers still stalk the land, as do the giants of Wall Street, Obamacare and Dodd-Frank having empowered both. While the usual suspects still proclaim the Lightbringer that is Barack, behind the scenes is annoyance and even bitter angst that things have not turned out as they were supposed to. Ideas such as The Stimulus and Obamacare, and Ending Foreign Wars with Smart Power, were supposed to have made things better at home and abroad.

But the world is on fire – no more so than in the Middle East, where Obama actually helped start a Smart War in Libya – while at home the Stimulus seems to have simply washed into the sand and Obamacare remains as unpopular as ever, reduced to being simply another government program that stutters brokenly along. The idea that bipartisanship would take hold as it could not under the “divisive” GW Bush, was also refuted, as the people who so eagerly threw the GOP from the House and Senate in 2006 waited barely four years to put them back in charge of the former, and then increased the majority in 2014 while adding Senate control! But even in areas of total Democrat control, such as California and Chicago, there is a feeling that things are slowly spinning out of control. The latter is an almost perfect minature of the Democrat nomination race, with Mayor Raham Emanual having moved from being hated and feared to just being hated –

Aside from their Federal success, the GOP now controls almost twice as many states as the Democrats. Yet the GOP voters are angrier than ever, turning on people like Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio, whom they hailed as challengers to the status quo just a few years ago. But one can hardly blame them when they’ve seen things like Rubio’s leadership of the Gang of Eight on immigration and the Omnibus spending bill passed before Christmas, a package so stuffed with Democrat goodies that Pelosi and Reid openly taunted the GOP about it.

Well now… no, no… now, we ought to be mad at the government not mad at the people.

It’s the easiest trap to fall into, but the terrible truth in a democracy is that the government really is the people, for all the fuming about “elites”. Many who are concerned about a $19 trillion debt are barely aware of the $50-60 trillion of unfunded liabilities that is the Social Security System and Medicare/Medicaid. Annual deficits of half a trillion dollars that were condemned as the end of the world a decade ago are now the new normal, not worth talking about. There is no point sneering at politicians who dare not confront the necessary tax increases and spending cuts required to make these systems solvent long-term: they know they’ll get killed by the very people who tell them they’re compromising sleezebags.

Both Democrats and Republicans feel let down by their respective parties, the GOP voters with more reason as the GOP establishment has begged for their vote and then done nothing with the power or done what the Democrats wanted anyway, especially in the budget. But the establishment would argue that they’re facing reality: no US government will take over every hospital and clinic in America, or hack into Medicare.

No will whatsoever. No will whatsoever! Absolutely no honor. No will whatsoever. No will whatsoever! Absolutely no integrity.

American Leftists who demand that the US adopt the myriad systems of Europe are encountering more pushback than ever, as Europe looks less peaceful, advanced and progressive by the day. The flesh is still willing but the spirit is most definitely weakening.

But GOP voters also like their pork. Cruz was condemned by the long-time GOP governor of Iowa, for opposing the ethanol mandate that pours money into the pockets of Iowa farmers. Funnily enough this mirrors Season 6 of The West Wing, but I doubt Cruz will ever gain the respect from the left that was the implied promise of Sorkin’s script. It’s yet another tribute to Cruz that he won running against this rort and a black mark on his opponents who did the required pandering. By the same token, to observe Huckabee cuddling up to Trump and bitterly and jealously sticking it to Cruz on matters of religion was to observe the meaness and pettiness that politics can reduce people to.

I haven’t seen any any any citizen over there stand up and say “hey, just a second.”

The problem is that citizens are effectively pointing at eachother in saying this. The result is the deadlock of swings and roundabouts observed for almost two decades now. The Democrats have won the argument on goverment spending, the GOP on keeping taxes low: the mutually exclusive gap between them is being filled by the Federal Reserve – for the moment.

I mean, yeah, well… wha… what’re you gonna do?

You’re going to pump up Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, two candidates who supposedly represent the extreme wings of each party but who have a frighteningly similar set of policies (yay, bipartisanship!).

Bernie is the real thing, a genuine believer. No more private sector compromises. More money to be spent on all that crumbling infrastructure somehow left untouched by the trillion dollar Stimulus: Wall Street and health insurers finally put to the sword. Free everything. Yet the sad truth is that Hillary and Bernie, two ancient white vessels, are the best the Democrats could produce this time. So much for the youthful, diverse future that would burst forth from the Obama era, as it is always supposed to for Progressive movements. It’s been both sad and amusing to see the Democrat media try to turn them into people who are hip, cool and down with the technology, with the bottom scraped when the woeful SNL used Larry David to portray Bernie as Your Cuddly Socialist Uncle Who’s Fun To Be With.

Trump is merely Trump. He speaks for whatever gets the headline of the day. A master media manipulator with an Obama-type cult following perfectly evolved for the age of the 140 character Tweet. The further construction of Brand Trump, with the GOP as his next Chapter 11 bankruptcy victim. Many of his supporters argue that it’s already bankrupt: whether they would say this with seven Liberal judges on the Supreme Court, among other things, is another question.

America is waiting ….

To talk of three candidates emerging from Iowa is to talk about the horse race. I’ve said for months now that Trump has a ceiling and will fade (though like everyone else I expected this to have already happened), and that as others drop away Rubio will more likely pick up their voters than Cruz or Trump. My bet remains on a Rubio-Cruz fight the longer this goes on, given their organisation, campaigning skills and money, and that Rubio will win with his optimism and unity themes. Cruz can’t fake sincerity as well.

But the bigger question is whether any of these candidates – and I include Hillary and Bernie in this – truly have what America needs and will respond to. I don’t think any of them do, but that probably says more about America than about the candidates.

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:

Winners

  • 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

Losers

  • 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.