Noise

Huma is dumping Weiner. Yes, well, noise.

The silly season in the US election is drawing to its Labour Day close and Trump is within hailing distance of Hillary. The polls are tightening but I don’t think that actually matters.

If this indeed a “Change” election the polls are not going to matter much because they will consistently measure the wrong thing: people who have voted before. If Trump is going to win he needs to pull people who have rarely or never voted. And he is going to have to pull people, mainly black, who have never voted Republican before.

Can he do it? Getting those people to the polls is not about a “ground game” or state by state organization. It is about a fundamental shift in the US electorate.

If this election turns out to be people who voted before voting again Hilly wins in a walk. A landslide.

I think it will be a landslide. I am just unsure as to which part of the mountain is coming down.

People talk a lot of nonsense about “preference cascades”. The moment where people say “Hilly really is a crook.” or “Trump is completely insane” and vote accordingly. But a preference cascade can work the other, positive, way: “Hillary will keep us on track”, “The Donald will keep us safe.” The negative cascade is more likely to keep voters at home, the positive will motivate them to get out and vote.

My sense is that a low turnout virtually guaranties a Clinton victory. Unless Trump can put new voters in the booth he loses. Can he?

A few good rallies and a set of really clever, and likely nasty debates, and he might. Hilly is playing defence. Hiding from the press, staging events, letting her surrogates in the media take the fight to Trump. At some point this will get real and Hillary is going to have to go toe to toe with Trump. When that happens we’ll see how fast on his feet Trump is. If he is quick, if he can land more than a few punches while still being a gentleman, the landslide goes his way.

Hillary wins if she dances out of reach. My take is she doesn’t have the footwork.

A Week From the Real Election

Well I was certainly wrong about Trump being Cruz’s stalking horse.

With a week to go until the real election in the US begins Hilly has let loose with a pretty much incoherent speech about how Donald Trump is a racist, KKK loving, Russian pawn of the “Alt-Right” and a racist. Did I mention racist?

My bet is that the Democratic internal polling is suggesting that the critical black vote is less than enthusiastic about turning out for the nice white lady. Which meant that the racist speech was brought forward by several weeks. There was always going to be a “Donald Trump is a big, fat racist” speech, what was interesting about Hilly’s effort was it was so early in the cycle.

My eager children have been badgering me for a prediction for a couple of months now and I have held them off with the fact the great American electorate will not pay much attention to anything until after Labour Day. Political junkies have had lots of fun with Trump’s revolving door campaign management, Hilly’s flat out lying to Congress – certified by the Director of the FBI no less, Trump’s perceived bumbling on assorted issues and Hilly’s failure to hold a press conference in 287 (close enough) days. None of it matters.

Hillary is going into the final stretch as the odds on favorite to win. I mean she’s running against a vulgarian who won’t pay attention to political professionals, has no ground game and very little money. Seriously, how can she lose?

The problem is not so much “How can she lose?” as “How can the race even be close?”. Polls at this point in the game are not terribly reliable but a fair number of national polls have Trump within the margin of error matched up against Hilly. My own view is that if he is within 5 points of her coming out of the Labour Day weekend he’s got a shot.

Elections are decided by the people who actually show up to vote. People who are committed to their candidate. And that commitment needs to be positive as well as negative. Hating Hillary is not sufficient to ensure that a person will show up and vote for Trump. And vice versa.

Hillary’s campaign, for all its professionalism and its money and its celebrities, does not seem to be attracting much positive enthusiasm. Worse, it seems to be predicated on protecting a perceived lead. In hockey terms, Hillary is coming out of the first two periods of play with a one goal lead. Her people have no offence left so they are going to try and run out the clock.

The problem with that strategy is that a lot of things can and will happen in the third period. More emails, more leaks, debates where the single worry for Trump is that he’ll come across as a bully, various October surprises and one huge issue – Donald Trump does not know he’s losing. He does not see the single point on the board as insurmountable or even particularly worrying.

Hillary’s game plan, as revealed in her attack speech, is to paint Trump as “impossible”, not fit to serve, stupid and, of course, racist. But this has all been said before. Some of it may even be true, but none of it is new. In a very real sense this sort of speech is designed to shore up her base and, in particular, put the fear of God into the black voters who are critical to any Hillary victory.

Apparently it didn’t work.

Because none of Hillary’s allegations are new, Trump barely has to respond to them. They have already been discounted out in the electorate. But what Trump can do and has been doing, is point out how badly the Democrats have treated the black community in the US and how badly the black community has fared under even a black Democratic President.

Trump presents the black community as well as the non-elite white community with a hugely simplistic view of “America, Great Again”. He talks about jobs and he talks about law and order. I very much doubt that Trump will win serious numbers of black votes, but his real purpose is to make black voters think twice about voting for Hilly and getting four more years of nothing.

His appeal to non-elite white voters is as much cultural an class based as it is about any particular policy prescription. It is not so much what Trump says – a moving target at the best of times – as who Trump is and isn’t. What to policy elites are his vulgar ways, his speech, his boastfulness, his gross simplifications, are the very things which endear him to more ordinary Americans. The fact he does not have a big sophisticated campaign organization, holds rallies which have line up to get in, does not have a big data driven ground game make Trump more sympathetic rather than less.

Nursing a one goal lead in a hockey game can be a winning strategy. After all, Hillary can count on the major media in the US to run a good defence and, more importantly, run out the clock. She can count on her own party establishment and much of the Republican establishment, to barrack Trump relentlessly. And she can count on Trump and his people to make unforced errors.

Against that she has to know that she’ll be taking some penalties in the final period: its funny how carefully deleted and over written emails have a nasty habit of turning up. Her own husband has a series of skeletons in his closet and the closet of his Foundation.

But the biggest problem Hilly has is that her opponent refuses to play a conventional political game. He takes wild, impossible shots. He’s willing to fight the corners in the hope a puck springs loose. He’ll take advantage of any opening (cf. Louisiana) and make mad down ice rushes simply to get a shot on goal.

A political campaign which is running out the clock on a one goal lead is playing defensively, cautiously and will look it. What little excitement there is about Hillary will slowly seep away. She never was much of a campaigner and a “Katie bar the door” strategy will just make her look old and tired and entitled.

Osama bin Laden is said to have made the observation that people will back the strong horse over the weak horse every time. Nursing a lead and shoring up your base means you are not attracting any new support, you are clinging on to the support you think you have.

The one prediction I have made to my boys is that this election is not going to be close as American Presidential elections go. If Hilly’s support goes a bit soft, a bit flaccid, Trump will beat her by five or six points in the popular vote. If, on the other hand, the great American electorate comes back from vacation, looks at the race and asks, “What is Trump even doing in this race?” Hilly will win by a similar margin.

If I were managing the Hillary campaign what would terrify me is if Trump’s outreach to America’s black community gained even a bit of traction. If his challenge “What the Hell have you got to lose?” is picked up at all in the black community, Hillary would be looking at a key piece of her support either staying at home or, unthinkably, voting for Trump.

Not at all clear which way that is going to go but I expect it will become a lot clearer in the week immediately after Labour Day.

 

Cruz’s Bulldog?

ted cruz, president cruz, cruz beats clintonBack in January, before Iowa, I suggested that one plausible reading of Trump is that he was clearing a path for Cruz.

Whether that is intentional or not, effectively that is what Trump has done. Cruz has hung in winning states and delegates. Meanwhile the GOPe has been entirely flat footed responding to Trump. Around the 19th hole of country clubs across America the donor class had been counting on Jeb!. He plowed. Then they, in a panic, put their faith in Marco Rubio, he’s plowing and will be out of the race unless he can, somehow, pickup from a 15 point deficit to Trump in his home state of Florida.

Meanwhile, the big Republican guns are all trained on the iceberg which is Donald Trump. The thing about icebergs is you can shoot shells into them until the seals come home and, if they are big enough, they just absorb the explosions and the shells.

While GOPe has been shooting at Trump they have pretty much given Cruz a free pass. So has the media. Plus, no matter how he tries, Cruz is simply never going to say anything as outrageous as Trump. Cruz is not news until Rubio is out of the race and, even then, Trump will keep packing the halls and channeling the anger.

GOPe hate Trump and fear Cruz; but where Trump in full spate could embarrass the GOP for years, Cruz might well give Hilly a respectable fight. Now, smart money would say Hilly wins against Cruz. Name recognition alone should do the trick and Sanders has been an excellent sparring partner. Cruz is bright enough to know that and, I suspect, is pleased to have Trump out front hurling accusations and suggesting that Hilly will either be in jail or in hospital before the General. (And he may well be right.)

But, from Cruz’s perspective he wants to run against Hilly. While she may not be in jail by November, she may very well be indicted or named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the vanity email server scandal. She is not particularly well and a few more coughing fits will call her health into serious question. Cruz has to pray she stays out of jail and healthy long enough to keep Uncle Joe Biden at bay. (Yes, he is a poltroon, but Biden is not unpopular and no one is investigating his vanity server.)

So will the GOPe, in a two candidate race, back Trump or Cruz? And will it matter? The math begins to shift Trump’s way this week with winner take all states coming up. The best the GOPe can hope to do is somehow cast doubt on Trump’s capacity to be President. If Rubio is out they have no candidate of their own so all that doubt means votes for Cruz.

Around the net I will occasionally write, Trump/Cruz for the win. But Cruz/and a fairly mainstream, big state, Republican could make a lot of sense. (If Jeb! had not been so pathetic on the trail he might have been a decent pick.)

Cruz running against Hilly would be a less flamboyant but likely more interesting race than a Hilly Trump affray. Cruz is much smarter than Hilly and she knows it. One on one there is every chance he’d use his prosecutorial skills to dig hard.

Cruz speaks Spanish, is 45 to her 68 and has had a remarkable academic, legal, legislative and administrative career. The fact the GOPe is terrified of him suggests that his conservative credentials are in order.

The Trump iceberg will sail on drawing futile fire until, perhaps, it melts of its own accord. Meanwhile, it will have sheltered Cruz for six or seven months.

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Mad as Hell…

Boris Johnson, BrexitBoris Johnson threw his support to the “Out” campaign in England’s referendum on exiting the European Union today. In a stroke he added legitimacy to Brexit, dismissed the wet Tories under Cameron’s weak leadership and positioned himself as the next Prime Minister of England in the event of an “Out” victory.

Perhaps more importantly, Johnson underscored a revulsion with establishment, business as usual, squishy middle politics which has been occurring all over the world.

The rise and rise of Donald Trump and the collapse of the Republican Party establishment is one manifestation of this. But, more interestingly, the challenge mounted by Bernie Sanders – seemingly quixotic – has rattled the Democratic Party establishment. Unlike the Republicans, the Democrats have an effective firewall in the form of super-delegates to push Hilly over the top; but the fact she is being so effectively challenged from what, in America, could be termed the radical left has been a shock. (It will be even more of a shock if Obama does the right thing for once and lets Hilly be charged with the crimes she so obviously and selfishly committed against the national security of the nation she was sworn to protect.)

On the left in England all of the candidates of the squishy center, whether Brownian or Blairite, went down to total defeat at the hands of Jeremy Corbyn and a rabble roused in its hundreds of thousands.

In each case, and there are more examples in Europe with assorted outre parties of the left and the right running up significant voting and polling numbers, what has happened is that large numbers of ordinary people are no longer content with the “offend nobody, do nothing” approaches of mainstream politicians.

What, precisely, was the trigger for this insurgent attitude varies from nation to nation and party to party but my own sense is that unfettered immigration played a huge role in focusing discontent. At least it did on the right. As well, the sense that the office holders were unwilling to stand up for much of anything created the conditions in which Corbyn, Bernie and The Donald could flourish. Finally, the bien pensant‘s endless attempts to shut down debate about immigration with accusations of racism have not been appreciated.

Watching the lines of migrants snaking through the Balkans or landing in Italy or flooding the Southern United States has not gone down well with people who are already struggling to make ends meet. For the English, the Blairite/EU project of largely open immigration has meant that schools, hospitals and benefits programmes have been overwhelmed. Housing has become hard to find. For the Americans, Obama’s abandonment of the enforcement of the southern border has raised the question of just how many people America can absorb on a yearly basis. And it has also raised the question as to whether America should be selective about who it lets in. Again, when the middle class is being hollowed out by economic forces apparently beyond the control of Washington, putting out the welcome mat to millions of migrants is not attractive.

At the same time, the office holding establishment’s dismissal of these concerns as racist or ignorant or both is a stone in the shoe of many voters on the right. While on the left, the unwillingness of the office holders to make a principled case for a more welcoming immigration strategy for fear of alienating the more traditional working class voters destroyed their legitimacy in the eyes of the activist, progressive and very vocal minority. A Saunders or a Corbyn, while they may not have much appeal for the general electorate, are rallying points for the anti-racist, anti-facist, anti-white, anti-Christian, anti-Isreal progressive core in both the Labour and Democratic parties.

At the height of the Middle Eastern refugee hysteria, a poor little boy was washed up on a Greek island. Like a reflex hammer, the sad little child caused every leftie knee in the world to jerk and jerk hard. Suddenly the left at large was demanding “action”. Even the squishy middle seemed to think that “something must be done”. Then, a few months later came first Paris and then Cologne. Oddly, in terms of reaction, I think the rapes and gropings in Cologne were more significant than the slaughter in Paris. Paris was the work of “terrorists” and only tangentially – in so far as several of the perpetrators were carried in on the tide of refugees – related to the migrant crisis.

Then, a few months later came first Paris and then Cologne. Oddly, in terms of reaction, I think the rapes and gropings in Cologne were more significant than the slaughter in Paris. Paris was the work of “terrorists” and only tangentially – in so far as several of the perpetrators were carried in on the tide of refugees – related to the migrant crisis.

Cologne was different. The rapists and the gropers were not “terrorists”; they were plain, ordinary, Muslim migrants. The Germans and, rather quickly the rest of Europe, woke up to the realization that letting millions of people from an alien – if not actively hostile – Muslim culture into your country was going to have big consequences, mostly unpleasant. They also realized that their government was pretending otherwise and, perhaps worse, attempting to censor the media and the internet to keep their citizens ignorant of the real costs – social, cultural and economic – of migration.

In England the EU referendum is very likely to turn on how best to keep the migrants on the other side of the English Channel. Cameron is pitching European co-operation in the face of a Europe-wide crisis. The Outies will say that until and unless England reasserts real control of her borders, Europe’s migrant crisis will become England’s problem. (And, of course, the leftie luvvies will yell “Racist” and will, I suspect, be ignored because overuse and misuse has rendered that term nugatory.)

In the United States the Trumpian Wall is and will be “Yuge”. It is a concept which will attract support from large numbers of non-elite Republicans and, I suspect, large numbers of working class Democrats who are sick of the endless stream of illegal immigrants clogging the social systems they depend on. Major media and the official Democratic party will continue to pretend that only racists object to unfettered immigration. A position which will alienate the white working class and, if Trump is skillful, annoy the struggling black and Hispanic populations. (Saunders, meanwhile, will have the bully pulpit at the Democratic Convention to decry the inhumanity of deportation of illegal immigrants. A position unlikely to sit well with people who live a little closer to the Mexican border than Vermont.)

Perhaps the most important thing which seems to be happening on the left and the right is that people are willing to look at radical action rather than meandering along the pointless path of the status quo. I may think Corbyn is a dangerous lunatic but I also think that he stands for something rather than nothing. Saunders has a healthy dose of the crazy old left wing uncle about him but he too stands for something no matter how impractical. The main objection to Trump is that he is a vulgarian with only a very limited understanding of the nuances of politics. Which may be true; but many voters may prefer that to the warmed over meatless gruel served up by his competition.

Boris Johnson, old Etonian, journalist, Mayor of London has cultivated an image as an endearing, deeply English, buffoon who rides his bike around London getting into scraps. He is, of course, a very sophisticated politician who can read the signals and gauge the political mood as well or better than Cameron. He is placing a huge bet that the English have had enough of rule from Brussels and that the grossly incompetent handling of the migrant crisis will push them over the edge to Brexit. If he is right Cameron will almost certainly have to resign and any member of the British Cabinet who supported the “Inners” will be disqualified to run for the leadership simply because they will be open to the charge that they cannot be counted on to properly negotiate the terms of Britain’s exit. That leaves the Leadership between Boris and Michael Gove and that, I suspect, is an easy win for Boris.

The next few years are going to be about a fundamental political realignment. The current stock of politicians are going to be kicked to the curb by populations unwilling to let their nations be overrun by people with whom they share nothing in common.

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Peace through Strength

Our Russian friends have a funny idea about how to conduct a war: they go and bomb and then dig out the people who are their declared enemies. They support their friends. They are not so much winning in Syria as not losing.

America has a rather vast response capacity. Tomorrow morning President Obama could let lose his heavy bombers and flatten, with a week, every known rallying point of ISIS, all of its oil resources and it’s so called capital.

Obama could send in the attack helios and the AC-130s and kill every formation of ISIS on the ground.

Obama could deploy the several thousand special forces personel at his command and shoot up ISIS at a granular level.

Russia does a lot with, relatively speaking, very little. But what Russia has is a strategic vision. It may be brutal. It may accept civilian casualties. But it gets the job done for Russia.

Tolstoy wrote a little less than a dozen chapters at the end of War and Peace on the philosophy of war. He made the point that the will of an Army and it’s commanders turns destiny in its direction. But without that will nothing occurs. All is chaos.

Pugin, outgunned, knows this. He cannot defeat America, but he can defeat America’s pathetic proxies. Hell, he has them shooting each other. Putin understood Tolstoy… I suspect Obama skipped the last few chapters.

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Venezuela

Well this is a surprise…Honest reporting from the People Paradise: NYT

From the coast, we started inland, a journey that began with the discovery of black gold. Not of oil, of which there is plenty in Venezuela, but of black beans. There are almost none in this country.

Few producers make them anymore for the fixed government price. Octavio Medina bought them for 50 times that price and still sold them for an additional markup on the street. He says dozens of people buy bags, priced at half a day’s work at minimum wage.

Socialism based on an oil economy…Hmmm. With our boy Justin at the helm I am thinking beans might be a good investment this summer.

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Iowa

For Canadians, the US Presidential election is largely a source of entertainment and this one is shaping up as a bonanza.

Trump behind Cruz and a bit ahead of Rubino. The man promises to buy a farm. Trump is, as is universally acknowledged, a buffoon. But he is also Cruz’s bulldog. While Ted is wasting his very fine mind praising Jesus for the rubes, Trump is providing the distraction to move the frame so Cruz sounds plausible.

On the Republican side there will now be an Establishment push to get behind Rubino – poor Jeb! spent $2600 a vote…he’s done – Inside/Outside. Trump is hated, Cruz is feared; Rubino is business as usual. Hard to call. Trump should win New Hampshire. And South Carolina becomes the make or break. I doubt Trump can win – and am a bit relieved at that – but he gets to make the deal. Which is interesting because there is really nothing Trump wants. Sec State…Please. Trump needs to be the top dog or no dog at all.

But I am actually more interested in the Democratic race. That criminal bitch Hilly (and indeed I don’t like the fat skank) is down to coin tosses and lost ballots to beat Bernie by a whisker. I wrote a pal of mine in the US suggesting that, as a Canadian used to the NDP and the further reaches of the Liberal Party, Bernie holds no terror. Nothing Bernie stands for is anything more than the middle part of the Liberal Party of Canada. But Hilly is a whole other story.

It is very clear indeed that she, as Sec State put the nation’s secrets at risk with her vanity server. It is also clear that, at best, she did not stand up for her people in Benghazi. But it is worse than all that. Somehow she has lost some essential spark of humanity. She is described as robotic but that does not quite capture what is wrong. Long before her conk on the head Hilly was going through the motions. A wind up doll. More or less a political zombie marching relentlessly in the general direction of the Presidency, not because she wants to be President but rather because it compels her.

Like Gollum and the ring.

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To be fair Justin was about 10

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wrote on Twitter: ‘I’ll never forget hearing Under Pressure for the first time – David Bowie was a fearless original with the power to charm. We’ll miss him.’ (the Telegraph)

Wonderful as Bowie’s version of Queen’s “Under Pressure” was – particularly at the Freddie Mercury Memorial concert with Annie Lennox- JT might have mentioned a song Bowie actually wrote.

Update: Hmmm…JT is partly right and I am partly wrong. Bowie is credited as a co-writer on the song.

It’s over

As I write the world’s media, having hyped global warming and the Paris COP21 for the last six months, is trying to figure out what is in the so called historical agreement.

The short answer is: not much. There are some pious promises to meet each country’s goals – promises which are to be monitored by the countries themselves. And there is a really sincere promise to “mobilize” that 100 billion to help the developing world which was promised at the last COP and, as I recall, the COP before that.

There is inadvertently honest paragraph 17 which acknowledges that the national promises will lead to 55 gigatons of CO2 emissions in 2025 and 2030 which is 12 percent rise from the 2014 level of 49Gt. Para 17 also notes that the promised reductions will lead to a rise in temperature over 2 degrees.

Naomi Klein is disappointed and James Hansen has declared COP21 a fraud in the Guardian.

For those of us who are sceptical about the CO2 theory of global warming, the entire Rio to Kyoto to Copenhagen to Paris  exercise has always been more annoying than substantive. the great and the good were meeting to discuss a “problem” and a “solution” which rested on shakey, untested science.

But the good news out of Paris, the signing of an entirely toothless, legally non-binding, document hailed by media and politicos alike as “the end of the fossil fuel era” is the high water mark of the loony Green war on CO2.

Never again will the green world manage to get the media attention that COP21 has received. And without that attention an already indifferent public will turn to other issues.

Better still, the global warming/climate change scam needed increasing temperatures to keep it alive. It needed shrinking sea ice and rising sea levels. It needed “the evidence” to either support the “consensus view” (itself a statistical fraud) or at least not contradict that view. There is every indication that the “pause” may be a prelude to a decade or two of global cooling.

There is not a climate model used by the IPCC which predicts or even has a mechanism which might explain a statistically significant fall in temperature. When this year’s El Nino is finished -likely quite soon – the temporary goosing of the temperature record will be done as well. Normally, after an El Nino there will be a cooling La Nina. Depending on how cooling that turns out to be, it may very well be sufficient to turn the global temperature record negative in the face of continuously rising CO2 levels.

Given that the bogus Paris document is predicated on the IPCC models linking temperature to CO2, when those models collapse the scientific scam will be over. Without the “science” the overall “climate change to transfer wealth” scheme will lose the little momentum it has left.

With the Paris flim flam in hand the political classes will have “saved the world” and will, I expect, start trying to change the subject. Quickly.

It’s over.

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Saturday Pleasures

Taking a break from the rain and the phony delight of the warmists faced with the half-baked loaf of Paris, I was reading a wonderful appreciation of Anthony Powell written by the much missed Christopher Hitchens in 1998 for the New York Review of Books. At the very bottom of Hitchens piece was this lovely footnote which will, perhaps, only amuse me. No matter, it is my blog:

  1. Sir Charles Powell, former chief political advisor to Margaret Thatcher, pronounces his name Pole-style. Jonathan Powell, chief of staff to Prime Minister Tony Blair, is a staunch Towellist. The fact that the two men are brothers makes Anthony Powell seem more of an English social realist than he is sometimes credited with being.
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