Monday, August 31, 2015

Is Today's Equity Sell Off for all the Wrong Reasons?

By definition any attempt to predict the market has to be done with caution and humility-I say this as a guy who has certainly lost money by trying to time the market in this way or that before. 

Sumner has been talking about how you can't forecast the market in his debate with Bob Murphy over Rational Expectations:

" Bob’s frustrated that I’m not making market forecasts that can be refuted, but that’s because I don’t think it’s possible to forecast the market."

I'm never sure just where the RE theory starts and ends. I get Sumner's point though I wonder if he's construing the theory so broadly it's impossible to  be anything but a truism. 

I mean if it simply means that you can't forecast the market you have to wonder why you need an economic theory for that. 

Don't get me wrong, I don't buy Murphy's arguments at all here. His Austrian Business Cycle Theory (ABCT) seems to leave him a permabear who as Sumner says is almost always wrong-since 2003, the S&P has been down one year. 

For Bob to grab on one strange day last week when the Dow is down 1000 points in the morning and declare himself the winner after the market has been up for six straight years is a bit meager. 

But in any case I am willing to go on something of a limb on today's market action. The futures were down as much as 200 last night and in today's action the Dow was down as much as $150. What seems to be driving it is-as usual these days-China. 

However, what makes me think the market may be mistaken today is the China news is the government there isn't going to try to prop up stocks by buying lots of them anymore.

I mean shouldn't that be a good thing? The consensus of all the analysts I've heard is that buying stocks is not exactly a great way to stabilize the economy-or even the stock market at least long term. 

It might work for a little while but once you stop then all the stocks that weren't allowed to fall, crash twice as fast. 

So if China is going from buying stocks to easing its central bank isn't this a good thing? And the market has mitigated it's losses down not to just 50 points. 

Meanwhile the one stock I have bet on again-BAC -it did get three upgrades last week and the huge fines are finally behind it-is now just $.03 cents down. We'll see. 

P.S. As usual Sumner is defending China-it's numbers aren't cooked.

There is something rather touching though in Sumner's China fetish however when you realize his wife is Chinese. 

All Democrats Have to Say This: There is no Legitimate Questions on Hillary's Emails

None. Usually even Democrats preface this conversation by saying 'Well she did show poor judgment here...' and thereby largely conceding the narrative that there is at least something here though what it is keeps changing.

Even Hillary has now made this concession on August 26 and I think that was a mistake.

Please remember that no one cared about her email until she ran for President.

"This issue has nothing to do with her email. Nobody cared about Clinton's email until she ran for president. Clinton said as much at a campaign rally. She should dispense with the formalities of her Oct. 22 appearance before the House "Benghazi" Committee and say that to the Republicans' faces during the hearing."

"It should be clear to anyone paying attention that Clinton did nothing wrong. She followed every law and protocol that was in place when she was Secretary of State. She did what others in similar and other offices have done."

"Republicans have actually conducted business from non-governmental accounts anderased millions of emails. There was no howling about that from outraged Republicans."

"Never mind about what she "should have known" or "could have known." None of that matters. The Republicans have continually leaked information, much of which has proven to be false and misleading."

In truth she has cooperated way too much with this phony issue. Colin Powell and Susan Rice never did when they got FOIA requests.

In my last post I noted that Dick Cheney wants Biden to run.

I don't think this is the mandate Joe Biden wants.

Speaking of Cheney-who Sumner rightly says may have been our worst VP ever-he and Bush destroyed millions of emails and this hasn't been brought up once by the vociferous Beltway media.

"Even for a Republican White House that was badly stumbling through George W. Bush's sixth year in office, the revelation on April 12, 2007 was shocking. Responding to congressional demands for emails in connection with its investigation into the partisan firing of eight U.S. attorneys, the White House announced that as many as five million emails, covering a two-year span, had been lost."

"The emails had been run through private accounts controlled by the Republican National Committee and were only supposed to be used for dealing with non-administration political campaign work to avoid violating ethics laws. Yet congressional investigators already had evidence private emails had been used for government business, including to discuss the firing of one of the U.S. attorneys. The RNC accounts were used by 22 White House staffers, including then-Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, who reportedly used his RNC email for 95 percent of his communications."

"As the Washington Post reported, "Under federal law, the White House is required to maintain records, including e-mails, involving presidential decision- making and deliberations." But suddenly millions of the private RNC emails had gone missing; emails that were seen as potentially crucial evidence by Congressional investigators."

"The White House email story broke on a Wednesday. Yet on that Sunday's Meet The Press, Face The Nation, and Fox News Sunday, the topic of millions of missing White House emails did not come up. At all. (The story did get covered on ABC's This Week.)"

"By comparison, not only did every network Sunday news show this week cover the story about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton emails, but they were drowning in commentary. Between Meet the Press,Face The Nation, This Week, and Fox News Sunday, Clinton's "email" or "emails" were referenced more than 100 times on the programs, according to Nexis transcripts. Talk about saturation coverage."

"Indeed, the commentary for the last week truly has been relentless, with the Beltway press barely pausing to catch its breath before unloading yet another round of "analysis," most of which provides little insight but does allow journalists to vent about the Clintons."

"What has become clear over the last eight days however is that the Clinton email story isn't about lawbreaking. "Experts have said it doesn't appear Clinton violated federal laws," CNN conceded. "But that hasn't stemmed the issue that has become more about bad optics and politics than any actual wrongdoing." The National Law Journal agreed, noting that while the story has created a political furor, "any legal consequences are likely to prove negligible."'

I'm asking you, I'm begging you, liberals Democrats. Say it with me: the issue over Hillary's emails is pure politics and nothing else. Full stop. 

Democrats should not do any hand-wringing in public over it as it just feeds the media narrative it's so hungry to keep spinning. 

Like Obama's 2008 campaign, let's agree that over emailgate at least there is no bed-wetting allowed.

UPDATE: While it's sort of a peripheral point-as Chris Christy is a peripheral candidate at best-he too used private email.

Dick Cheney Wants Biden to Run

If you are thinking that a Biden run will for some reason be a good thing, need I say more? If Cheney thinks it's a good idea how could it possibly be?

"Former Vice President Dick Cheney said he hopes Vice President Joe Biden jumps into the 2016 presidential race."

"I'd love to see Joe get in the race," Cheney said Monday morning during a joint interview with his daughter Liz on CNN.

"Go for it Joe," Cheney added when asked why he thought Biden should run. "He's tried twice before, he obviously is interested. I think there's a lot of support for him in the Democratic party. I think it would stir things up. They're short candidates on their side."

Cheney also slammed Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton for using a private email server during her time as U.S. secretary of state.

"I think she should've known better," Cheney said.

Cheney said there was a "notion" that Clinton had "inherited" the nomination, but argued she faces more of a challenge now because of the email scandal.

"She does have some opposition now, and my bet is Joe’s going to run," Cheney said.

I mean ask yourself: for what possible reason would Cheney want this? Becuase he thinks it will fuck up the Democratic race. 
As we're having so much fun seeing Trump royally fuck up the GOP race why do Democrats want to give the GOP anything to hang their hats on?
I've had some friends on Twitter take issue with my posts on Biden. They feel I'm attacking Joe. Nothing if further from the truth and I understand with the personal tragedy of his son Beau's loss, this is very difficult for him. 
My point is that from the standpoint of the Democratic party this is a terrible idea. The only reason to get bheind it is to accede to the GOP narrative that Hillary is a terrible person for using private emails even though so many ohter government officials at all levels both federal and at the state level have done the same.
As Biden and Hillary are pretty similar on the issues-if anything she''s to teh left of him on some issues-what is the basis of his campaign? A single issue campaign on emails. That's it.
"If anyone out there believes Biden is a great American and should be president, then by all means let them try to persuade him to run.

"But, if the chicken-hearted Democrats out there want him to run because of fears about Hillary Clinton's poll numbers, as represented by this latest Washington Post story then they are not only making a big mistake, they are handing Republicans a victory they don't deserve."

"The best way to explain the situation is to look at a classic American comic strip,Peanuts, which is still republished in original form (not new cartoons) even though its creator, Charles Schulz, passed away 15 years ago."

"In this parable, the Republicans are Lucy. They are forever putting down footballs, knowing what kind of response they will get. For purposes of this analogy, the "football" is the unprovoked, inaccurate, continually repeated attack. The latest iteration is the Clinton use of private email."

"This issue has nothing to do with her email. Nobody cared about Clinton's email until she ran for president. Clinton said as much at a campaign rally. She should dispense with the formalities of her Oct. 22 appearance before the House "Benghazi" Committee and say that to the Republicans' faces during the hearing."

"It didn't start there, of course. It started with the unfortunate incidents in Benghazi. But after a raft of reports and investigations, including from House Committees with Republican majorities, cleared Clinton, Republicans moved on to the issue of her email after establishing yet another committee and spending more government money to "investigate" further."

"It should be clear to anyone paying attention that Clinton did nothing wrong. She followed every law and protocol that was in place when she was Secretary of State. She did what others in similar and other offices have done."

"Republicans have actually conducted business from non-governmental accounts anderased millions of emails. There was no howling about that from outraged Republicans."

"Never mind about what she "should have known" or "could have known." None of that matters. The Republicans have continually leaked information, much of which has proven to be false and misleading. "

"Just as Lucy puts down the football every fall, the Republicans start in with the attacks. It's what they do."

"How far back do you want to go? Investigations of a crappy little land deal ended up in an impeachment. Al Gore, one of the most honest, forthright and intelligent people you would ever meet, ended up portrayed as a congenital liar. John Kerry, a decorated war hero, had his war record challenged. There's a verb for that now, "Swiftboating." Never mind that the charges were false. They were repeated and repeated until people accepted them."

"If the Republicans are Lucy, who is Charlie Brown? The Democrats, that's who. They play right into the hands of the GOP attack dogs by quivering in their boots and not looking at the big picture. Of course, Clinton's favorable are down."

Thank you Huffington Post. That is a great point. I would say it's not just the Dems who are Charlie Brown but the media who buys into every fake GOP scandal totally credulously. When does the little boy suffer loss of credibility for crying wolf- or the little girl with the football?

After being burned this many times when does Lucy get any skepticism?

P.S. By the way too much is being read into her favorables dropping from when she was not running for anything and had a basically nonpartisan role as Secretary of State. 

The Rise of Trump and the Coming GOP Civil War

It seems to me that this may be where we end up.

Assuming that Trump continues to dominate the polls-and why wouldn't he as he contiues to dominate the news cycle; and when you see what stiffs guys like Jeb and Scott Walker are why wouldnt' he continue to do this?-then the question is whether or not this poll domination translates in any meaningful way into the actual primary votes.

If it does then the next stop is a party civil war that leads to Trump forming a third party and taking sizable chunk of the GOP base with him. I mean, if he's able to win the primaries then either:

1. The GOP accepts him as its nominee

2. Or it blackballs Trump. This is where the party insiders in each state simply refuse to line up behind Trump. Even though he gets most of the votes, the GOP state delegates pledge for someone else-probably Jeb Bush.

I don't see the doing 1 very quickly for a couple of reasons.

1. He will get creamed in the general by Hillary

2. He's really not a Republican. If you take away immiration which is to be sure his dominant issue, on no other issue is he a conservative. He does claim to be prolife but this story of his conversion certainly sounds convenient and he also has defended Planned Parenthood.

Now he's coming out clealry for a liberal Democrat position:in raising the capital gains tax for the rich.

However, if they go 2 then it's real trouble with the base. So the question for the GOP is do they prefer:

1. Trump as their candidate

2. Him as a third party candidate

Either one is sucide for the GOP so it's not clear what the good answer is. I think 2 risks giving this Trump thing legs and splitting the party even beyond 2016. But the idea is already being talked about in GOP circles.

"GOP leaders already have been floating trial balloons of keeping Trump’s name from appearing on primary ballots. This is, by far, the most dangerous option. One that would infuriate his sizable bloc of supporters and all but guarantee a third-party bid. It also is the gutsiest, which pretty much ensures that GOP leaders won’t try it."

Doing this will give him legitimate grievance to go third party and many of the base will follow him there-maybe even Ann Coulter, Howie Carr and Rush Limbaugh at least wont criticize Trump for doing it. 

There is the option of accepting it:

"This is the last available option. Stop scheming ways to upend Trump’s campaign and just accept the following: Donald Trump is the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination. He is not going to be easily thrown off his game. And every day that passes makes it less likely he’ll self-destruct. Toss out the campaign playbook you’ve constructed, and adjust everything accordingly."

"Acceptance is hard—not only because it requires a change in thinking. But because acknowledging that Washington politicos can’t stop Trump or control voters’ thinking exposes their declining influence. And that’s what’s really ticked everyone off about Donald Trump."

Read more:

But again, he's not a Republican on most other issues and too much of one on immigration. Anyway, as long has he continues to lead all the polls this going to be fun. As Politico observes,, even if he dropped out this has mutated the 2016 race once and for all. 

"Should he step out of the race tomorrow, Donald Trump has changed the shape of the 2016 race forever. The only question for the rest of the candidates in the field is what to do about it. All of the available options offer serious risks—and most have already failed."

Sunday, August 30, 2015

We are Living in the Golden Age of Bipartisanship but Trump May be the end of it

The political scientist John Sides says something that I have some difficulty agreeing with:

"Polarization may be necessary for warfare, but it is not a sufficient cause of it. Parties that are divided over policy can have a serious and honest debate, which can even be heated."

He believes that in a normal, healthy political environment it's possible still to agree without being disagreeable. This is an idea that's been around ever since 1994 when the start of really nasty polarization got started.

This feeling is accurate. However, the question is why? Why did the relentless polarization of the two parties start with the rise of the Gingrich Revolution of 1994?

In a world: bipartisanship. Yes, you see the wrong presumption that all the Very Serious People in the Sensible Center operate under is that bipartisanship is a good thing. No. Bipartisanship means we get nothing done-to say that it leads to gridlock seems redundant as it basically is gridlock. 

Certainly l have learned a lot in reading Sides but I would like to ask him when this agreeable disagreement between the parties took place? I will argue the answer to this is it never happened ever, anywhere. 

The reason Congress pre-Republican takerover was so agreeable and 'collegiate' is twofold. 

1. To an extent it's true that the parties weren't always so partisan. There was a time not so long ago when Southern Democrats were more conservative than liberal Republicans up in New England. 

2. But the main reason is that before 1994, the Democrats completely dominated both Houses of Congress though especially the House of Representatives. 

And the GOP minority was pretty well-behaved prior to the rise of Gingrich in the late 70s. Again, we live in a bipartisan era that dates back to the rise of Nixon of all things. So there is the folly of thinking that bipartisanship is this airy, fairy thing. It was started by Nixon. 

Nixon's election was the end of the era that started with FDR's election in 1932 during which the Democrats controlled the Presidency and both Houses of Congress 28 out o 36 years. 

Most of our history has not been bipartisan then. Before 36 years of Democratic dominance, the GOP had dominated for twice that time from 1860 to 1932 starting with Lincoln. In that time the GOP took the White House 56 of 72 years and had the WH and both Houses of Congress for 42 out of the 72 years. 

Prior to that the Democrats dominated winning the WH 56 of 60 years between the defeat of the Federalists in 1800 and the rise of Lincoln in 1860. 

Since 1968 the two parties have been in an more or less perpetual thumb war, each side desperate to get some advantage no matter how fleeting. 

There was one 'realignment' during that time in the early 90s. Between Nixon and 1992 the GOP had taken five of six Presidential elections, the last  four with at least 41 states and 432 electoral votes each time. 

But at the same time the Dems continued to own Congress-though the GOP did take the Senate for the first 6 years under Reagan. 

In 1992 the Dems with Bill Clinton figured out how to win the Presidency again and in 1994 the GOP under Gingrich's Contract With America learned how to win Congress again. Since then the parties roles have reversed in the last 24 years what they were in the previous 24 years that ended in 1992-with the GOP becoming the Congressional party and the Dem's have become the Presidential party. 

As Sides documents in his other book there have been lots of calls for game-changers or realignments in recent years all proving to be stillborn.

Still, at the risk of just being a partisan optimist. it seems to me that Trump really could change the bipartisan dynamic-which is gridlock-perhaps y starting up a third party that could challenge the GOP across the country post 2016. 

I've gamed this out and if Trump is able to come remotely close to replicating the numbers he has in these polls in the many primaries, then this has a good chance of becoming out and out civil war. 

I imagine the delegates of the states that Trump won simply refusing to do so and Trump saying 'Well you guys obviously weren't fair to me' and then its third party. 

On Bullshit: Trump. Nietzsche, and Waite

I've had a very interesting discussion with my favorite reader Tom Brown-I like you other guys but too catch Tom try commenting 10 percent of his output! LOL

Tom understands my basic Trump Democrat argument.

But nevertheless, the Trump phenomenon still makes him rather nervous in some ways. And undeniably we had the recent attack of two Trump loving meatheads who attacked a homeless Hispanic man-initially Trump had little to say but his fans are passionate.

He has since repudiated violence of any form-so this is the right thing but  it was belated.

That is terrible and worrying though now that he says he doesn't condone it this might give others pause. Still, Tom and I have also been recently discussing Scott Sumner. Listen I've had lots of differences but the one thing I understand thanks to reading his blog and by extension other econ blogs is that correlation is not causation.

These two meatheads who invoked Trump may have found another alibi for doing the same thing without Trump.

At the end of the day they are responsible for their own actions just like James Holmes can't blame Batman

I do agree that Trump is a bullshitter. A bullshitter according to Harry Frankfurt is not the same as a lie-ie may be true or even say many true things but obscure other things that might make us conclude differently.

I'm still not sure Sumner is never guilty of this-you can argue this is basically just framing an issue in an advantageous way for yourself.

I do find Frankfort's argument very interesting-and I ordered the book after Tom alerted me to it. It sort of makes me think of the anti-Nietzsche book of Geoff Waite.

As I say on my home page I'm a big fan of Niezsche's.

Here is Waite's 'decelebration'-his word- of Nietzsche.

Perhaps bullshitting at least in part is Waite's charge against Nietzsche-though it is a very fascinating and complex argument for which 'bullshitting; just scratches the surface. 

I think Waite would probably agree that Nietzsche is a bullshitter-though much more than just that. 

Waite's book is based on a very specific kind of moral essentialism. His main charge against Nietzsche is that he is an esoteric writer-who spoke not just to everyone inclusively but to different audiences at once. 

For Waite, it is morally self-evident that esotericism is bad. It means you have something to hide that should be shared with everyone. If you weren't up to no good you would operate solely on the exoteric realm. 

UPDATE: For an interesting primer on Waite see Ralph Dumain.

These are highly complex leftist academic arguments by their very nature. 

To be sure, even Waite admits taht there can be legitimate uses of esoteric modes of speech-he uses the extreme example of the Italian Communist philosopher's imprisonment in Fascist Italy.

But in principle all authors should be exoteric. I'm not sure I agree even with that-maybe some facts only reveal themselves esoterically and literally can't be expressed exoterically but I won't delve too deep into this here-it certainly needs to be on another day. 

Anyway, what has struck me is the sense that this Trump campaign really has been esoteric. 

   Furthermore, Limbaugh seems to be showing a little perceptiveness by pointing out that he had read about Trump's comments about 'blood coming out her eyes' in all the various papers-NY Times, Washington Post-etc. and he didn't notice any criticism by the 'liberal media.'

    Rush says it was just straight objective reporting with no condemnation or snark. He said he found that interesting and that no way would there be that kind of response from the LM for any other Republican making similar comments. He did say that he's not sure how to interpret this (!)

Rush was on to something but let it go. He just chalked it up to  the liberal news anchors being scolded by Tea Party Americans to treat Trump more fairly. 

I mean that is quite an insight: why are there so many Trump Democrats and so many liberals that aren't nearly as hostile to Trump as you would expect?

But Rush and his Tea Party friends as usual have no sense of context. So it doesn't worry them. 

And this is why in some ways I'm convinced that whether call it 'bullshit' or whatever has paradoxically been more helpful for us at getting at truth. 

"Before Donald Trump, Republican presidential candidates could deflect tough questions on immigration with vague promises to secure the border and oppose all “amnesty” for illegal immigrants."

Now there is a real debate! So in a strange sense Trump's bullshitter somewhat esoteric campaign has been very efficacious in getting us at the truth of the GOP on immigration-and all the major candidates have records that are no better than Trump's wild-eyed proposals.

And I think that Trump has been a very esoteric candidate. We don't really know what his true views and motivations are-it seems that outside of immigration he has many centrist, liberal or at least unconservative views. Yet I can honestly say I would sooner vote for him for President than Jeb, Rubio, or Walker?

For the most part the conservative Republican movement is very exoteric. You might think that W was a terrible President, one of the worst ever-as I do-and Sumner says that at least Cheney was one of the worst Vice Presidents ever.

But we knew where W stood. There was no ambiguity. He meant what he said and said what he meant but what he meant was pretty awful mostly. If I have one candidate who says what he means and means what he says but what he's saying is awful and another candidate who seems not to really be taking what he's saying all that seriously I actually would rather take him.

Of course this might give us some real uncertainty. But Trump has said enough to show that he's in many ways very rational and understands how the world works-like when unlike Scott Walker's big talk about 'Ripping up the Iran deal on day one'-without even reading it presumably-Trump understands what the economists call the time-path problem.

Even if

1. The Obama deal is in many ways sub-optimal and if we had it to do over again we should have done differently-in this case 'been tougher'

2. We don't have it to do over again and this better deal is no longer accessible to us. So we have to work with what we have and with this new deal we have to make some kind of peace and find out how to make it better and how to make it work-as all our allies have signed on.

He shows this same understanding on healthcare too. An important point he's made is with the endless media criticism that he has no 'specifics'-which is selective anyway. I've seen no one hounding Jeb on the specifics that get him 4% GDP.

But Trump points out that it's one thing to make lots of campaign promises-but this also limits your options when you're on the ground.

He points out that when he does a business deal he doesn't come up with an essay with a first, second, and third step.

This is the problem with Mr. Smith Goes to Washington-how does he know he can fix everything as he doesn't know how it works? If I came to you and said 'I won't to be your new pilot and I have no experience whatsoever, isn't that refreshing?' you'd have a heart attack.

Apparently there's an assumption that politics is very different than this. There there is no problem of implementation-just 'Speak Truth to Power' and all will sort itself out. 

As Garry Wills says, there is a huge gulp between political activists and politicians.

One reason why campaign promises are broken is that they should never have been made in the first place. Bush the Father should never have promises 'Read my lips... No new taxes!!' as it was pure pandering. 

FDR and JFK-two Presidents I hold in generally high regard-both ran on campaign promises that they didn't keep but this is a good thing as the promises themselves were wrongheaded. 

FDR ran on balancing the budget and cutting government spending (!) In the middle of the mother of all depressions he thought that was the focus. We can be grateful that he wasn't so bullheaded as to insist that he will keep this promise come hell or highwater. 

Still FDR was hardly a Keynesian and when the two meet they didn't understand each other.

Kennedy ran against an imaginary 'missile gap' with the Soviets. 

In that sense Trump''s argument that you have to kind of play the context when you get on the ground that you can't prescribe your actions too tightly makes a lot of sense. 

But we've had a much better GOP discussion about immigration than we normally do-normally there is no discussion at all. So Trump's bullshitting and esotericism is proving strangely efficacious.

UPDATE: Speaking of the esoteric-exoteric problematic, this book is fascinating. It's the idea that Cass Sustein of the Obama Administration was trying infiltrate the 9/11 Truthers. What is interesting is that the author Griffin suggests that Sustein is esoteric-but maybe that's because he's really 'one of us'-the Truthers. So unlike Waite he thinks that an esoteric author can be on the side of angels. 

Trump Making GOP Nightmares Come True on a Daily Basis

Tom Brown nails it here:

"If you dissuade people from using and practicing critical thinking skills long enough (so they're more malleable in the short term), can you really be surprised when they eventually turn into paranoid and enraged superstitious reactionaries? Willing to believe what any bullshitting jackass with a blog or radio show tells them?"

If you want to see why I'm a Trump Democrat-indeed, am 'The King of all Trum Democrats'

just read this:

"Right now, Trump has his hand on the third rail of Republican politics. He’s arguing that wealthy people shouldn’t get a pass on paying regular federal income taxes. “The middle class is getting clobbered in this country. You know the middle class built this country, not the hedge fund guys, but I know people in hedge funds that pay almost nothing, and it’s ridiculous, okay?”

"For almost any candidate, promising to reduce taxes on rich people is the price of admission into the Republican primary. Trump, by contrast, is poised not only to survive this apostasy, but to singe any of the more orthodox rivals who challenge him."

"Senator Marco Rubio’s tax plan represents the most pointed contrast to Trump’s middle-class populism. Rubio proposes not just to lower the top marginal income tax rate, but to completely zero out capital gains taxes. To escape scrutiny for offering such a huge sop to the wealthy, Rubio plans to fall back on his origin story—as the son of a bartender who worked at a hotel financed by investors, Rubio can elide the typical criticisms of trickle-down economics, by claiming to be a direct beneficiary of it. This might be an effective diversion against a Democratic politician promising to increase people’s taxes, but against a rapacious developer like Trump, it falls completely flat. Trump would love nothing more than for a career elected official like Rubio to lecture him about the impact tax rates have on investment and growth. Trump has managed to survive in the business world at a number of different capital gains tax rates, whereas Rubio has struggled to stay afloat, and racked up high levels of credit card debt, in the working world."

"If Trump were running an insurgent candidacy against Rubio and one other viable Republican, a supply-side platform would fare pretty well. Republican base voters aren’t as doctrinaire about taxes as Republican elites are, but they still support cutting taxes by a significant margin. In a smaller field, Rubio might be the standard bearer. Instead, the standard bearer claims to want to raise taxes on the rich. And much to the dismay of just about everyone else in the Republican Party, he isn’t going anywhere."

And it's all about immigration. Because of Trump's nativism on immigration-and that he gets away with calling women names and Mexicans rapists-they can accept anything else he says

As Greg Sargent said on Friday, this could even be an economically progressive policy agenda by Trump.

So of course, I love, he totally screwing up the Republican party. More and more I'm coming to think that the endgame here may be genuine GOP Civil War where there is Trump third party run and maybe this party lasts behind this election cycle.

If this party has a groundswell-and when you see who's behind Trump: Rush, Howie Carr, Ann Coulter-how can you say it won't?-it could be the American version of the Scott Independent party with a happy reversal-for me as a liberal.

In Britain the SNP is decimating the Labor party-which is from my standpoint a horrible state of affairs.

But this new party of Trump could do the same thing to the GOP. What if it started running candidates at the state and local level too? Well a boy can dream.

But what ever happens beyond 2016, I think there is a real collusion course in the GOP if Trump keeps cleaning up in the pols like he is. If this does translate into winning primaries will the state GOP delegates do what voters are asking and vote for him or do they refuse?

I can see the latter happening and if that does, Trump will obviously be able to say he hasn't been treated fairly and his fans will be incensed.

In that case third party is the likely outcome. He won''t  win the general but the base will still feel vindication in destroying the establishment and then the Trumpist party expands to be a party with candidates in many parts of the country.

Has Anyone Ever Been Taken out of Context as Much as Jeb Has

It's more or less constant. Both his father and his brother had their verbal tics.

"Bush comes by this naturally — congenitally, even. His brother, of course, was one of the world’s great malapropism artists during his eight years in office: “Is our children learning? . . . I know how hard it is for you to put food on your family . . . Families is where our nation finds hope, where wings take dream . . .Make the pie higher . . . Too many OB/GYNs aren’t able to practice their love with women all across the country.”

"A writer once suggested Bush’s condition was a medical one, to which he replied: “That woman who knew I had dyslexia — I never interviewed her.”

"George H.W. Bush, though more in command of his syntax, had an ear for the awkward phrase, as in: “We’re enjoying sluggish times, and not enjoying them very much.” Or: “It’s no exaggeration to say the undecideds could go one way or another.” Or: “For seven and a half years I’ve worked alongside President Reagan. We’ve had triumphs. Made some mistakes. We’ve had some sex — uh, setbacks.”

So he has a history working against him. Jeb's thing is saying things that don't sound at all good and then complaining he was taken out of context:

"During his first run for Florida governor, in 1994, Bush was asked what he would do for the African American community other than welfare. “Probably nothing,” he said. He recently said that the answer, part of a longer answer about the need for “equality of opportunity,” was “taken out of context.” During that same campaign, he said welfare recipients “should be able to get their life together and find a husband, find a job, find other alternatives in terms of private charity or a combination of all three.” When his primary opponent pounced, Bush said it was “totally out of context.”

"But Bush’s context, alas, is often difficult to contextualize. Consider his attempts in May to say whether he would have invaded Iraq, knowing what we know now about Saddam Hussein’s lack of weapons of mass destruction. First it was “I would have,” followed by “I don’t know.” Next, he said the hypothetical question is “a disservice for a lot of people that sacrificed.” Finally, he answered the question: “I would not have gone into Iraq.”

"Bush had a reasonable claim that his “longer hours” comment was misinterpreted. He was attempting to say that incomes would be higher if more people could find full-time rather than part-time work."

Yes and I did defend him in that case and argue that he seemed to just be talking about underemployment.

"But it’s dubious for him to claim that his remark about phasing out Medicare was misconstrued. He said it at a town-hall meeting in New Hampshire as part of a call for entitlement reform: “We need to figure out a way to phase out this program for others and move to a new system that allows them to have something — because they’re not going to have anything.”

Yes it's just happened too much:

"In July, he said that “people need to work longer hours”as part of an economic recovery. Then he said his remarks had been misinterpreted."

"A couple of weeks later he said “we need to figure out a way to phase out” Medicare. Then he complained that critics were taking his remarks out of context."

"A week or so after that, he proclaimed that “I’m not sure we need half a billion dollars for women’s health issues.” Then he said he misspoke."

Always he misspoke and the media took him out of context. Howie Carr mocks this tendency of his too.

"Juan’s poll numbers are lower than whale excrement, and dropping. But he’s still running around the country, sticking his foot in his mouth on any almost daily basis. Just google “Jeb Bush” and “misspoke.”

I take that as a real good sign how negative Carr has been on him as Carr is another heavy hitter among the Tea Party folks-yes he's been calling Jeb, Juan.

The sad thing is that his brother is turning out to be the smart brother. 

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Scott Sumner Dares Call it National Socialism

I wrote a piece a couple of weeks ago-'None dare call Trumpism National Socialism'-other than Krugman at the time.

But now, rather ironically, in light of Tom Brown and my current conversation Sumner has gone there. Now Tom had asked me if I could see Sumner in the Democratic party:

"Hey Mike, I've had a thought recently that I don't know how you'll react to: I could see you hating it, loving it, or being indifferent to it. I really have no idea."

"I think Sumner (and people like him) belong in the Democratic party. The right wing (perhaps even the far right wing) of the party maybe, but definitely the Democratic party."

"Like I expressed before, I don't think he's full on delusional, he doesn't despise and fear science, nor do I think he's a liar or even much of a bullshitter. He doesn't think the Earth is flat (or the equivalent: i.e. 6000 years old) or that Obama is a Marxist Kenyan who's directing FEMA to build concentration camps for white people. I'd bet he has no use nor much respect for air heads like Palin, or Bible thumpers like Cruz or Huckabee. He's not a gold bug nor a conspiracy lunatic nor an "End the Fed" Paulite, and he believes in progressive taxes (true, consumption taxes, but still). He literally has no place in today's GOP."
My basic reaction is no to that. Not that I don't want Sumner in the Democratic party-I'll take anyone who wants to vote Democrat of course. But knowing Scott, that will never happen. From what I get, he probably used to vote Republican but realizes in recent years that the GOP has totally jumped the shark.

Still, he won't join with the Dems. His usual line is that he hates both parties-implicitly he seems to want a third party that would be socially liberal but economically conservative.

His post on National Socialism buttress' my intuition.
"The German tight money policy of the early 1930s led to a surge in vote support for two groups, the nationalists and the socialists. Today in America the nationalists and the socialists have all the momentum. Consider:

"1. Dick Cheney might have been the worst Vice President in American history (at least Agnew didn’t do anything.) Now add to the list his choice to be one heartbeat away from the presidency—Sarah Palin. Palin is now gushing praise over Donald Trump, who campaigns on the same mix of statism and xenophobia that you see among the neo-fascist parties in Europe, with militarism thrown in. For years I could take pride in the fact that America largely avoided that particular policy mix. I don’t think even Pat Buchanan was a militarist."

"Update: Well that must be one of the most epic brain freezes in my 6 1/2 years of blogging, it was obviously McCain who chose Palin. Cheney didn’t chose anyone, unless perhaps himself, when he headed Bush’s VP search committee."

So far in line with Tom's premise as he shows contempt for the GOP. I have nothing to add to his assessment of Cheney except a hearty 'Amen!'

I too was befuddled about Cheney picking Palin. At least he corrected himself.

But listen to how he frames the Democratic party-as nothing more than socialists-as if its just like Chavez's party. When do you think Sumner is going to join a party of socialists?

"2. The heart of the Democratic Party is now with Bernie Sanders, whatever the polls show. And let’s not have anyone accuse me of McCarthyism, he calls himself a “socialist.” When asked, the head of the Democratic Party couldn’t think of a single difference between socialists and Democrats. And please don’t insult my intelligence by talking about Sweden. Sweden is not a socialist country. Venezuela is socialist. When Sanders starts advocating free trade and investment, liberal immigration rules, privatization, zero inheritance tax, 100% nationwide school vouchers, a $0/hour minimum wage rate, then come back to me with your Sweden talk. For now, he just wants the bad parts of Sweden."

So he's not joining the Democratic party anytime soon. His claim that because Bernie calls himself a socialist means that the Democratic party is now socialist, on the same level as Hugo Chavez is a risible case of exaggeration.

First of all, Bernie calls himself a 'democratic socialist' ie, he wants to achieve 'socialism'-and he doesn't really explain what socialism is-via democratic means.

To be sure Chavez did begin with democratic means but even if Sanders won-and he won't-there is not the political infrastructure to do what Chavez did-assuming Sanders wants to nationalize the entire economy-he's said nothing about this.

To be sure, Sweden isn't 'socialist' but you do have politicians there who call themselves socialist-as you do in all of Continental Western Europe. So because Bernie calls himself a Socialist and because he has some supporters among white left-liberals hardly means the party is socialist.

I do know what he means in saying that the ''head of the Democratic party couldn't say what the difference between socialists and Democrats are'-but Debbie Wasserman Schultz was not in the mood to get into a theoretical brouhaha there. 

What Scott is doing is not distinguishing between socialist country like Venezuala and a democratic country where a single candidate calls himself 'socialist'-but with no other members of this socialist party. 

But regardless, Bernie is not the preference of the whole Democratic party but just a minority of white left-liberals. 

"The official Democratic platform now advocates a nationwide $15 minimum wage. Whatever you think of extreme Reagan era supply-side economics, the GOP never went that far off the rails on economic policy. The GOP platform said considerthe gold standard, not adopt the gold standard. I suppose the Seattle case is debatable, but a nationwide $15 minimum wage law would literally destroy the economy in many low wage/low productivity parts of the country, such as Puerto Rico. It would also create even more crime, a massive underground economy."

We can debate the minimum wage or a $15 MW but in any case this is nothing to do with Socialism. Socialism would be the nationalizatoin of the entire Foruitne 500 and ultimately the entire economy.

So Far Chip Kelly Looks Much Like a Mad Genius Than Simply Mad

Many including yours truly have been puzzled as to what Kelly is trying to do. He lets LeSean McCoy go and then signs DeMarco Murray and trades Sam Bradford for Nick Foles after letting Desean Jackson go after last season.

I myself argued that he's either a super genius-as he seems to believe-or the village idiot.

Many others weighed in with the very same meme.

I myself was leaning towards village idiot. It seemed to me that to get rid of McCoy and then take Murray made little sense-was he just wining it? Was he reacting to all the criticism for letting McCoy go by getting Murray? Though as a Giants fan it does have the benefit of weakening Dallas-which also helps the Eagles.

In my view the Foles for Bradford trade also made little sense-after all Bradford after a promising 2010 had been mostly on the bench and Foles had a year for the ages in 2014 with 27 TDs and 2 INTs. Ok, he'll never be that great again but still, how do you give up on this guy?

Then there was the Stephen A. Smith argument that Kelly just wants 'certain types of players' where this is read as racism or at least Kelly's discomfiture with assertive black players.

Smith admits there's no proof or smoking gun exactly but says that he has spoken to lots of 'brothers with this perception'-and that the optics of keeping Riley Cooper-a white player who made some wild racial slurs in 2014 while inebriated-while getting rid of McCoy and Jackson speaks volumes.

I'm not sure about that argument. My perception is that 'Kelly's tye of players' may mean cultural-and not a dog whistle for racial-where he likes players who don't rock the boat and do what they're told.

It seems that he likes it to be his show and maybe there is some desire to show that no superstar is bigger than the team.

Maybe it's not that he's racist but that he is kind of  insensitive and doesn't really care if it looks racist to Smith or others.

At the end of the day though it's just preseason but right now Kelly sure doesn't look like the village idiot. To the contrary the village idiot in every game so far has been the Eagle's opponents.

They have been totally dominant through three games. They just gave up a garbage TD to the Packers but are still up 39-20 early in the 4th. Put this in context with a 36-10 win over the Colts in week one and 40-17 over the Ravens in week two with today's third successive blowout of one of the leagues consistently top teams and the Eagles have been a total juggernaut.

Of course, this is preseason and you can't read too much in it-just like you can't read too much in Trump's 52-24 blowout of Ted Cruz in the Senator's home state of Texas today.

Rogers didn't play tonight. But just like Trump's domination of the GOP polls has nevertheless been shocking, so has the Eagle's early dominance.

Tonight Mark Sanchez again hit close to 70% of his passes for 2 TDs and a 127.1 QB rating while Bradford was a perect 10 for 10 with 3 TDs and a 156.7 QB rating.

So it's hard to say anything about Kelly now. It will be fascinating to see if this carries into the regular season or if this is just a chimera.

UPDATE Green Bay just had another TD, so in the course of me writing this post, the Packers have come back from 25 down to within 13-they have scored 2 TDS but missed both attempts at a two point conversion.

Why Nobody Likes Political Scientists

I'm currently reading a book by political scientist John Sides where he analyzes and explains the 2012 presidential race.

Once I finish with this, I'll read his next book on polarization.

But taken together it seems that political consultants and campaign managers must not really want these guys around too much during the heat of a campaign. Here's' the bottom line according to political scientists like Sides.

1. For the most part for the incumbent party the election is a referendum on the economy.

2. This is not welcome news because economists tell us there's not that much the President can actually do to control the economy.

So if 1 and 2 are both correct what does that leave you as the President's campaign manager other than to pray to the Corn God for a great harvest?

What it really tells us is that a campaign has very little control. It has to spend millions on attack ads because so will its opponent. But assuming both campaigns are well-funded and professional as Sides says both Obama and Romney were, you basically have to do all this stuff because the other guy does it too.

Yet how do you get yourself in a winning, positive mindset if you believe you have no ability to exert any control over the situation? Praying for a good harvest doesn't exactly give you confidence.

This is yet another way that the Trump campaign is fascinating. Trump so far has totally bucked what we believe is the laws of political gravity.

Now I agree it probably won''t go on forever-I still wouldn't say he's going to win the nomination but then he can do a lot of good work even if he doesn't-the longer he's' in the better it is.

At the end, my guess is the GOP delegates will simply refuse to pledge to him or say his name no matter how many votes he gets an even if he spends his own money. Ie, he could win South Carolina or Florida and yet the state Republican delegates would refuse to pledge for him.

But then that could also lead to a third party which would be the optimum outcome-though him somehow winning the nomination is close.

Still I'd be interested to see what Sides has to say about Trump. He definitely has already broken all kinds of rules and his campaign hardly seems like its dissipating for now.

"After delivering an energetic 50 minute speech using no notes or teleprompter, GOP frontrunner Donald Trump easily won a presidential straw poll conducted at the annual convention of the National Federation of Republican Assemblies, garnering 52 percent of the votes cast."

"Tea Party favorite Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) finished second with 24 percent, and Dr. Ben Carson, another political outsider and Tea Party friend, finished behind Cruz in third."

"The overflowing crowd of more than 1,000 attendees displayed a number of Trump signs, which they waved with enthusiasm . In his speech, Trump focused on his theme of making America great again through common sense, strength, and negotiations."

Look, the usual caveat-it's s straw poll that means nothing. That said, isn't this an embarrassment for Ted Cruz in his own state? Sure it means nothing, but shouldn't Ted Cruz win Texas? Just like both Jeb and Rubio trail Trump in Florida right now. 

And 52%?! I understand the party may just simply refuse to give Trump the delegates. They will simply disregard what their own voters told them to do. But wouldn't that lead to simple civil war within the party?

If this happens a third party run doesn't seem so crazy. 

P.S. It seems to me that the GOP elites will never support Trump. It's not just that he can't beat Hillary though this is true. It's also because: he''s not a Republican. Immigratoin is actually the only issue in which he agrees with both the establishment and the base on.

GOP Chases Trump Down the China Bashing Rabbit Hole

In the last post we looked at the ways in which Trump is a brilliant strategist in the best military traditions.

He has totally controlled the tempo.

"I started thinking about this with the "anchor baby" rathole he's sent the GOP field scurrying down. Jeb among others gets tangled up in not wanting to use the term but also not wanting to get out-immigrant-hated by the other candidates for not using it. So he finds himself saying it but saying he's only quoting others saying it. Then he clumsily says it's mainly about "Asians" not "Mexicans." And then before he can even deal with that goof, Trump is on Twitter mocking himfor his "Asians" comment and also crapping again on Megyn Kelly and stomping her increasingly hapless boss Roger Ailes in a statement to Politico. And this itself comes almost simultaneously with Trump using grade school "Asian" speak to attack Chinese and Japanese trade negotiators who he claims walk all over 'loser' American leaders. "We want deal!"

"The dynamic was most palpable comparing Jeb's painful and drawn out efforts to grapple with and find some non-ridiculous rationale for his use or non-use of the phrase "anchor babies", lashed to the unpredictable tempo of impromptu reporter questions with Trump jumping from one attack to another on Twitter, entirely at his own pace and on his own terms, and sustaining a total indifference to whatever contradiction there may be between ridiculing Jeb for his offensive Asians comment and channeling an old Charlie Chan movie in one of his campaign speeches."

Another rabbit hole he's led them down-ie, the GOP is again Elmer Fudd-is China bashing.

"With the GOP candidates falling all over each other to be tough on China,the New York Times has a good rundown of all the ways their China bashing is making them look ridiculous. Also:

"Rightly or wrongly, Mrs. Clinton is considered to be more confrontational with the Chinese than Mr. Obama has been…the Republicans know that, if Mrs. Clinton emerges as the Democratic nominee, it will be difficult to cast her as soft on China. A bigger problem may be in their own party: The American opening to China was, of course, a Republican president’s project. It is considered one of the greatest accomplishments of Richard M. Nixon’s checkered presidency, and today’s mainline Republican foreign policy takes a very nuanced view of balancing Chinese power."

"But no matter. The GOP candidates have apparently decided that demagoguing on China is the new way to be Trumpier than Trump."

Now on this issue, I'm not entirely sure how much I buy into this whole 'Getting tough on China narrative'-I mean isn't free trade supposed to be a good thing?

What's really embarssing for the GOP is that they are the party of free trade purists and yet they are all following Trump into talking like they want to go out and start the mother of all trade wars.

"Most have not tried. Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin recently called for the cancellation of next month’s state visit by President Xi Jingping. But in 2013, he did what most governors do: He traveled to China, promoted Wisconsin products there, hailed the importance of the Chinese market for American firms and had his photo taken with Chinese leaders. Former Gov.Rick Perry of Texas was there last September advertising his state as a business-friendly climate for Chinese investors."

"Donald Trump Jr., the candidate’s son, has been put in charge of new investments for the Trump hotel empire, including, according to the group’s website, deals in mainland China. When his father suggested the other day that the state dinner for Mr. Xi should be replaced by a McDonald’s hamburger, the Chinese must have been tempted to point out that they need no introduction to such American fare. There are more than 2,000 McDonald’s in China, including some a very short walk from Mr. Xi’s official residence."

"In a speech in South Carolina on Friday, Mr. Rubio presented a familiar list of grievances with Mr. Xi’s government: a “campaign to push America out of Asia”; the development of “weapons that threaten our bases and naval assets” (the Chinese say the same about the United States.); and an effort “to make the 21st century a Chinese Century” (though American politicians have no compunctions about calling it an “American Century”)."

"He talked at length about Chinese efforts to round up human rights activists, oppress Christians, detain dissidents and control the Internet. “This is a disgrace,” he concluded. “And we must stand against it.”

I've never bought into China bashing. But for the GOP to get into this narrative makes them look ridiculous as it's 180 degrees away from their free trade ideology.

However, listen to this Reason piece about Mitt Romney in 2012:

"Take trade: Both candidates agreed about the need for energy independence, fewer imports, and—above all—more retaliation against Chinese currency manipulation."

"They are both wrong. But Romney's shrillness on China is more troubling. Obama is only pandering to his party's base, but Romney seems at odds with his party's free-trade beliefs."

"Every president since Richard Nixon has promised and failed to deliver energy independence—and that's a good thing. When America imports more oil than it produces, it's usually because foreign oil is cheaper. Attempts to ramp up domestic energy production artificially—through subsidies and politically correct renewables such as wind or solar (Democratic plan) or ethanol (Romney's promise)—only makes American consumers poorer and kills American jobs by drawing resources away from their most productive uses. There is only one noble goal for any energy policy: cheaper, baby, cheaper."

"Equally illiterate is the notion that the hoarding of dollars—by selling more to other countries (exports) than we buy from them (imports)—is the road to riches. Adam Smith debunked this mercantilist fallacy over 200 years ago pointing out that countries maximize their wealth when they trade what they value less for what they value more—whether money or wine."

"Yet this fallacy lived on as Romney and Obama each strove to out-China-bash the other. Obama bragged that he had imposed tariffs to deter Chinese tire imports and, with his auto bailout, was selling cars to China rather than buying them from it (a claim that is both false and silly)."

"Romney harrumphed that Obama hadn't done enough to stop China from taking away American jobs by deliberately undervaluing the renminbi to keep its exports cheap. He promised to declare China a "currency manipulator" on day one, something candidate Obama promised in 2008 but never did."

China bashing is actually very popular on the Right as well as the Left and Center too as Ross Perot showed. So when Trump goes in full tilt on getting tough on China this is smart as there are a lot of voters who this appeals to.

Do We Really Want to Elect Another Bush?

Trump has had lots o zingers of Jeb but that to me is gold and maybe should become the theme of Jeb's campaign.

Remember when Trump used Jeb's mom's comments against him?

Donald Trump delivered another well-placed jab at Jeb Bush on Monday with a video quoting the former Florida governor’s mother, Barbara saying “We’ve had enough Bushes” run for president.

The video, which the campaign posted on the real estate mogul’s Instagram account, quotes a 2013 clip of the former First Lady responding to a question from NBC asking whether she “would like to see her son run for president.”

“No,” Barbara Bush answers in the clip. “I really don’t. I think its a great country. There are a lot of great families. There are other people out there that are very qualified, and we’ve had enough Bushes.”

“Mother knows best, Jeb!” the text in Trump’s video says tauntingly over footage of the former first lady saying her son should not run for president.

So Josh Marshall has had an interesting disucssion about Trump the last few days. Sure he's a doofus but a very successful doofus warrior during this campaign.

"Yesterday we looked at how a doofus and blowhard, awash in derp, can nonetheless have a tactical genius that allows him to defeat all enemies again and again. I focused on an analogy I'm familiar with: increased mobility as a key to victory for Northern Civil War generals. But something funny happened in response to this post. Over almost 15 years of doing this, all of my best ideas and insights and certainly most of our best news tips have come from email exchanges with readers. But in all that time I'm not sure a post has struck the same chord - and a quite specific and technical one at that - with so many readers at once. A number of readers wrote in and said they agreed with the Sherman analogy but that a much tighter conceptual framework comes from a highly influential American military theorist who died almost 20 years ago, Colonel John Richard Boyd."

Well whether Trump is more like Colonel Boyd or General William T. Sherman, he is unquestionably light years ahead of the rest of the GOP field who all look like Elmer Fudd.

Here Trump plays the classic 'Your strength becomes your weakness' by mocking Jeb for getting endorsed by Eric Cantor.

Again, I can't deny I agree with Trump on one thing: the Hippocratic Oath says First do no Harm but for this election lets first agree not to elect another Bush.

Trump can be ccompared to many more mobile military campaigns. The danger is in always fighting the last war. In GOP primaries the rules of engagment are long settled.

Trump is coming in and seemingly breaking all the rules of physics and rather than falling to his deaht, is floating above everything like Birdman.

You can think of the American Revolutionary War where the British fought in their standard rows and columns in their elegant red coats while the Americans hid behind rocks and trees and totally frustrated British expectations.

You have the French fighting the last war with their disastrous Maginot Line.

"As some of you know, I've long been fascinated by the innovation of more mobile forms of warfare during the American Civil War. Out in the West, Grant and Sherman began streamlining and eventually even abandoning conventional supply lines to allow themselves figuratively and in some cases almost literally to run circles around their enemies. The Civil War fielded huge armies which needed constant replenishment of vast amounts of stuff - food, clothes, weapons, ammunition and more - which in turn required well organized supply lines, all of which limited mobility. More mobility is better than less of course. But in warfare, increased mobility reaches a point where it ceases to be an incremental or quantitative advantage and becomes a qualitative and transformational difference."

There's just no question that Trump has a transformational advantage over the other GOPers.

What the Hillary Haters Don't Get: It's not 2008

They keep waiting for her to be eclipsed like in 2008 and what they miss is there is no Obama this time. He was already very well known after 2004. He was a very credible candidate that many wanted to run.

To compare Bernie to Obama is to compare apples to Styrofoam-there is just no comparison at all. To win a nomination you have to get endorsements and win delegates. Which is what may ultimately be the undoing of Trump-though he has the credible threat of a third party run.

Hillary has already locked up huge amounts of delegates.

"Hillary Clinton delivered a show of force on Friday meant to make one thing abundantly clear to Democratic leaders, Bernie Sanders, and Joe Biden: She is the boss."

"Coming off two weeks of breathless speculation about the vice president’s ambitions, Clinton now looks like she’s nearly locked up the support of party elites, something she critically failed to accomplish in 2008."

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That was what Obama beat her at in 2008-the delegate count. Biden is surely not Obama 2008 either. By the way Nate Silver gets it right on a Biden run and those 'helpfully' suggesting that a Biden run would help Hillary.

Yeah right and Edward Kennedy running in 1980 helped Jimmy Carter!

"The irony is that the media has exaggerated all sorts of threats to Clinton, who remains in good shape for the nomination. But then you have the one thing that would be a tangibly bad sign for her campaign — the vice president of the United States running for the nomination against her! — and there are lots of “smart takes” about how it could help Clinton."

"Well, first of all, it’s not just that Biden would be a more formidable competitor to Clinton than Sanders. I don’t know that Biden would be all that great a candidate, in fact. But Biden running would signal that concern about Clinton among Democratic Party elites had gone from the bedwetting stage to something more serious."

"But the other big problem (as we and others have pointed out before) is that Biden doesn’t have much rationale to run other than if Clinton has “trust”/scandal problems. He might never come out and say it, but that would be the whole basis for his campaign. They don’t really differ in any meaningful way on policy."

While I don't blame Biden for this as he's suffered the unthinkable loss of his son I would if he messed up the race. And running on emailgate would be unforgivable.

But what's interesting is that this 'advice'-Get Biden in the race it will help Hillary, recalls the 'advice' Obama was getting on Biden from the GOP and MSM in 2011. Then the narrative was Drop Biden he's a gaffe machine.

Silver I think had pointed out that this would have been a terrible sign for the Obama campaign and a suggestion that the first term was a failure. Similarly a Biden run would suggest that Hillary is in deep do-do which is exactly what the lamestream press has been trying to baselessly suggest for months.

As to those polls that show Biden doing better than Hillary-it's not so meaningful as he's an undeclared candidate. Someone not running for anything always does better than someone who's running 

"I don’t think you can compare a declared candidate in Clinton — who’s been getting a ton of scrutiny from the press, some deserved and some not — against a hypothetical candidate who has a halo around him because the press would love to see a huge fight for the nomination.

Over the long run, Clinton’s favorability numbers have been no worse than Biden’s. Often a little better."

"General election polls of candidates who aren’t running in the primary are ridiculous. Once he enters, all of Biden’s faults will be put on the table. And there are a lot to play with. If there weren’t, he’d have done better when he ran in past elections."

Jeb Just Lost Three Big Donors

There is a new line out now about Jeb and those of us who remember his father's term recognize it. Talk of a wimp factor are rearing it's ugly head. This was a knock on his dad as President as well.

Which in some ways seems unfair as this is a guy who was shot down twice in WWII. He also: wasn't captured.

Ok, I shouldn't have gone there but it was irresistible.

At least Jeb's dad became President albeit just one term. It's becoming very questionable if this is slipping away for Jeb. To compare him to Mitt Romney in 2012 forgets that even when he was eclipsed at various times by Rick Perry, Gingrich, or Herman Cain, Romney was always a strong second, consistently getting at least in the mid to high 20s in the poll numbers.

"Trump’s attack on Jeb isn’t mostly about issues. As with most things Trump, it’s mostly about persona. The Donald thinks Jeb is a dud. “He’s a man that doesn’t want to be doing what he’s doing,” Trump said in June. “I call him the reluctant warrior, and warrior’s probably not a good word. I think Bush is an unhappy person. I don’t think he has any energy.”

This is the reccurring media narrative about Trump-that he isn't issue oriented. But my answer is compared to who? First of all there have been many Presidential campaigns that I can think of where someone one without disucssing issue specifics at all.

Secondly point to the GOP candidates who are going into depth on policy right now. It sure isn't Jeb. But it's not even so true of Trump. I think his attack on Jeb on women's issues is substantive:

"Asked to respond to Republican Gov. Charlie Baker’s remark that some of his comments about women have been “reprehensible,” Trump said, “He must’ve been talking about Jeb Bush,” and pivoted back to a favorite target: the former Florida governor’s statement earlier this month that he’s “not sure we need half a billion dollars for women’s health issues.” (Bush later said he had misspoken.)"

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That really is a great answer as it is risible to attack Trump on women when you see Jeb's history on a woman's right to choose.

Then Scott Walker even goes further and says a woman can't have an abortion if her life literally depends upon it. You have Mike Huckabee saying that an 11 year old rape victim must be forced to bring the rapist's baby to term.

How does a party with that record get to lecture anyone on women's rights?

Ok so does Jeb Bush have the Rick Perry Syndrome? Well I don't want to exaggerate too much. But it is rather shocking to hear that Jeb is really losing some top fundraisers.

"Three top Jeb Bush fundraisers abruptly parted ways with his presidential campaign on Friday, amid internal personality conflicts and questions about the strength of his candidacy, POLITICO has learned."

"There are different versions of what transpired. The Florida-based fundraising consultants — Kris Money, Trey McCarley, and Debbie Alexander — have said that they voluntarily quit the campaign and were still working with Bush's super PAC, Right to Rise Super PAC. Others said the three, who worked under the same contract, were let go because they were no longer needed for the current phase of the campaign."

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Again, it's not quite Rick Perry but his fundraising has slowed down. 

"Donors last week told POLITICO that they still felt good about Bush’s chances and that they weren’t worried about Bush’s recent slip from second to third place in averages of national polls. As the son and brother of former presidents, the former governor of the third-most populous state in the nation has a deep and seasoned donor base. Some said they’re less concerned with the campaign than with Jeb’s candidacy, which has so far failed to ignite Republicans."

"But Bush’s fundraising pace has slowed in the late summer months. He’s likely to remain the GOP campaign’s top fundraiser, but Bush is also spending more than other candidates because he has a mammoth operation."

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Meanwhile Hillary's is large and in charge-no matter what media flaks want to claim:

"Hillary Clinton delivered a show of force on Friday meant to make one thing abundantly clear to Democratic leaders, Bernie Sanders, and Joe Biden: She is the boss."

"Coming off two weeks of breathless speculation about the vice president’s ambitions, Clinton now looks like she’s nearly locked up the support of party elites, something she critically failed to accomplish in 2008."

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Biden's name didn't come up. I think Nate Silver is right about Biden-and big surprise, Maureen Dowd is wrong:

"Contra Maureen Dowd or whatever, this isn’t necessarily a personal decision for Biden, or at least not entirely one. He’s a party guy. He’s the vice president. He’s not likely to run unless he thinks it’s in Democrats’ best interest."

I understand it's been tough for Joe after the tragic loss of his son-no parent should ever have to bury a child. But I do think if he cares first and foremost about the Democrats' best interest who won't run.

As Mike Tomasky says the only basis of his campaign would be Hilary's emails. That's a tough way to win a Democratic primary-bashing her on the talking points of Rush Limbaugh.

P.S. At the end of the day the best line is simply 'Do we really want another Bush?' Trump actually had a commercial with Jeb's mom saying we don't need any more Bushes!