Sunday, August 30, 2015

High Walls Make Good Neighbors?

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker said in an interview broadcast Sunday that building a wall along the U.S. border with Canada is something worthy of further study.
"That is a legitimate issue for us to look at," the Republican presidential candidate said on NBC's Meet the Press program.

Walker said the issue was raised to him during a campaign event earlier this month in New Hampshire. He and other Republican presidential candidates have more commonly called for building a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.
As he's fallen behind Republican frontrunner Donald Trump in national polls and those in the critical state of Iowa, Walker has taken a more aggressive stance on the immigration issue, including backing the billionaire's calls to build a wall along the entire border with Mexico.

The United States has 5,525 miles of border with Canada and 1,989 miles with Mexico, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Iowa Voters Are "Mad As Hell"

The latest poll from Bloomberg shows wide spread discontent among Iowa Caucas voters.

There aren't a lot of happy feelings in America's heartland as Republican and Democratic presidential candidates campaign in Iowa ahead of the state's lead-off caucuses.

Activists planning to attend the Feb. 1 precinct meetings, the first balloting of the 2016 nomination season, are a fairly grumpy bunch, the latest Bloomberg Politics/Des Moines Register Iowa Poll shows.

Just 1 percent of Republicans and 4 percent of Democrats declare themselves to be "happy" with the U.S. government, while just 2 percent in each party will say that of Wall Street.
Read the methodology and questions here
What's making them mad?
For Republicans, the top items tested that elicited a "mad as hell" response were Hillary Clinton (58 percent), Barack Obama (57 percent), Democrats in Congress (48 percent), the Internal Revenue Service (43 percent) and the amount of money in politics (40 percent).

For Democrats, the top "mad as hell" items tested are the amount of money in politics (61 percent), Republicans in Congress (44 percent), Donald Trump (39 percent), Wall Street (26 percent) and politicians in general (22 percent).

Friday, August 28, 2015

China Bashing and Political Reality

Past Presidents, starting with Ronald Reagan  have engaged in China bashing while on the campaign trail only to relent when elected. Here are the details:

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Trump Soars in Latest Poll

Donald Trump's lead in the race for the GOP presidential nomination reached an all-time high in a national poll conducted by Gravis Marketing. The survey shows Trump leading the Republican field with a whopping 40 percent, up from 31 percent in Gravis' July poll.

Ben Carson, who placed second in the new poll, had just 13 percent — 27 points behind Trump. Jeb Bush came in third at 10 percent, followed by Ted Cruz at 7 percent, and John Kasich, Carly Fiorina, and Marco Rubio at 5 percent each.
Source: One American News Network

I heard Trump being interviewed on Bloomberg TV this afternoon and when he was asked what his chances were if being elected President he said 25%. He may have underestimated himself.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Did we just get stabbed in the back by the British?

So, the British have re-opened their embassy in Tehran, and they have done so while the graffiti extolling "Death to the Queen" remains above a portrait of the queen herself. Not only did the Brits go an re-open their embassy, they also brought with them a representative from Shell oil and other representatives who are hoping to start trading with Iran.

I have to admit, reading this story was pretty bizarre  Even with all the graffiti remaining in place and opposition from the hard liners in Iran, the Brits are going there just four years removed from having their embassy overran by radical idiots.

I tried to concede on a post that it is probably not entirely guaranteed that we go to war with Iran if the current deal is not accepted. The logic that a lot of the left uses in their argument is that if this deal is rejected, we will not have the support of the rest of the world in keep Iran boxed up and suffering under sanctions. The Brits, it seems, have a much different view of the situation than either the US or Israel. Honest question, at a time when there are many who flat out reject this nuclear deal, did we just get betrayed by a country who is supposed to be an ally? My feelings on taking the deal are clear, but I'd really like to hear from those opposed to the deal how they view the Brits here.

Is a recession inevitable.

1:  The latest report from the New York Federal Reserve Bank shows that manufacturing activity in New York has dropped to the lowest level since 2009.

General Business Conditions

2.  The Institute for Supply Management’s Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) for manufacturers dropped from 53.5 in June to 52.7 in July. While that isn’t horrible, the export component of the index dropped from 49.5 to 48, clear evidence that US exports are in deep trouble.

3.  Export woes for American companies. According to Trade Stats Express, US exports are down 4.16% in the first six months of 2015.

4.  The most telling is the capacity utilization rate.  Capacity utilization is the unemployment rate for American factories.

5.  The US isn’t the only place whose factories are dangerously slowing down. Despite the Chinese government’s best efforts to reinvigorate its slowing economy, the latest Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) readings dropped to 47.1 in August, a 77-month low.

American factories are falling into deep trouble—and when combined with the horrible fundamentals of the transportation industry it is clear that our economy is showing a lot of recessionary symptoms.

Is a recession inevitable.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Made In Mexico ( and China)

Donald Trump has identified one of our enduring labor problems. Most of our consumer products are manufactured overseas, China mainly but also Mexico and other Latin American and Asian countries. He has said that he will correct the problem if elected through good management. So, I was amazed and amused to learn today that both his and his daughter's fashion lines are manufactured in guess where?

Sunday, August 23, 2015

It's time to raise interest rates

Along with the other usual daily propaganda that hits my inbox, I got an email that begged me to sign a petition to tell the Fed not to raise interest rates. Though the left has been in the tank for trickle down economics for a long time now, I felt like there probably could not be any better sign that it is long overdue to raise rates.

For years now, we have been subsidizing those who make a living off the markets. I'm not going to rehash this. But, I found it truly fascinating that after years and years and years of being fed pure bullshit by Greenspan et al., the intelligentsia of the left now believes in trickle down economics. IE, if we raise rates, we kill the opportunity for someone else to come along and create more shitty service jobs and crunch their face up in indignation when it's noted they are just creating more shitty service jobs that have no future whatsoever.

I've opined before that I believe it would be painful to those with assets to raise the strength of the dollar and start deflating the paper value of those assets. This isn't going to help the middle class in the short term, but then again, perpetuating this endless cycle of inflation for goods with no raises for workers while profits remain at ridiculous levels isn't doing a damn thing either. A stronger dollar for a person with money but no assets would give workers a teeny bit of power they don't have now.

I gave Bill Clinton the benefit of the doubt for falling for Greenspan like the rest of the world did. Now that that hack Greenspan is gone, it's time to start ending the perpetual subsidy for banks and investors. Maybe people who save money rather than spend it might actually be able to look forward to a day again when they actually get to make some money on their savings rather then just letting the free loaders in the bank live like the leeches they are.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Knowledge does not equal understanding.

It was nice out this morning

And then I remembered
Obama sucks
The Democrats suck
The Iran deal sucks
The ACA sucks
The size of our debt sucks
The EPA sucks
Regulations in general suck
Taxes suck
But our corporate tax sucks even worse
Now apparently the Cuba negotiations suck too, and I await a thread for that
Our border sucks
Our unwillingness to enforce immigration laws sucks
The middle east would suck less is Obama wasn't president, but then again, so would most things
Anchor babies suck
The Fed sucks
Pork spending sucks
Poor people suck because they want free shit
Food stamps suck because ALL people who get them live like Kings
While we're at it, all government programs suck because......well they just do
Federal control of anything sucks
The IRS sucks
Our trade deals suck, but are better than having unions because....
Unions suck
Teachers suck
Public education sucks
The VA sucks
Publicly funded pensions suck
In fact all pensions suck because they let stupid people retire with a luxury they don't deserve
Social Security sucks
Medicare sucks
Alternative energy sucks
Basically, everything sucks and will continue to suck until a Republican is again elected.

Now that we've covered a typical week worth of responses, how bout some of you bitter people take a break for a day and risk going outside a smiling at something.

Charles Krauthammer Socks it toTrump

I was surprised this morning to read Charles Krauthammer's opinion article. I think he is exactly right about Trump.  Krauthammer is of course a paragon of conservatism, but everyone should pay heed to this warning:

Our Legacy

I've been thinking a lot about the legacy the Baby Boomers will leave to the X generation or the millennials or the other subsequent and expectant generations lately.  We have been made to feel guilty of our expectations of big government, but we have also funded what we think is our share of such.  The problem is that we have all been made to expect that the government will cure every problem that will ever crop up. We will be OK no matter what.  Our system of crony capitalism and corporation citizenship has yielded our individualization meaningless.  In order to have our voices heard by our DC reps, we must join a group of big money supporters who may have completely different views than our own. We have a few contrary voices that will never have a chance of winning national office.  We know that they will have no chance of winning national office and that our current direction is non-sustainable, but we feel that we are part of a counter vote by backing these oddball candidates.  How is it that we can create a true counter establishment movement?  Is it really too late for it?  

Friday, August 21, 2015

If we don't sign up for this agreement it means war so says the Prez.

A secret agreement.

The Iranians will inspect themselves.

Separate arrangement II agreed by the Islamic State of Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency on 11 July 2015, regarding the Road-map, Paragraph 5
Iran and the Agency agreed on the following sequential arrangement with regard to the Parchin issue:
1. Iran will provide to the Agency photos of the locations, including those identified in paragraph 3 below, which would be mutually agreed between Iran and the Agency, taking into account military concerns.
2. Iran will provide to the Agency videos of the locations, including those identified in paragraph 3 below, which would be mutually agreed between Iran and the Agency, taking into account military concerns.
3. Iran will provide to the Agency 7 environmental samples taken from points inside one building already identified by the Agency and agreed by Iran, and 2 points outside of the Parchin complex which would be agreed between Iran and the Agency.
4. The Agency will ensure the technical authenticity of the activities referred to in paragraphs 1-3 above. Activities will be carried out using Iran's authenticated equipment, consistent with technical specifications provided by the Agency, and the Agency's containers and seals.
5. The above mentioned measures would be followed, as a courtesy by Iran, by a public visit of the Director General, as a dignitary guest of the Government of Iran, accompanied by his deputy for safeguards.
6. Iran and the Agency will organize a one-day technical roundtable on issues relevant to Parchin.
For the International Atomic Energy Agency: Tero Varjoranta, Deputy Director General for Safeguards
For the Islamic Republic of Iran: Ali Hoseini Tash, Deputy Secretary of Supreme National Security Council for Strategic Affairs

Another great idea sure to deter Iran from building a bomb.  Self inspection.

Presidential Candidate Deez Nuts Makes Big Strides

Deez polls close to 10% in North Carolina, beating a number  of the major party candidates.

Another ACA success story.

The Transitional Reinsurance Program is one of three mechanisms in Obamacare created to protect insurance companies from the risks associated with entering into the new marketplaces. This temporary program was designed to help insurers recoup large claims.

The goal was for these funds to pay 80 percent of a high claimant in excess of $45,000 up to $250,000. In other words, the government had you pay to fund insurance claims that insurance companies normally would have paid, but only for those who purchased individual insurance plans through qualified health plans.

In order to receive reinsurance funds, insurance companies had to offer Obamacare compliant plans. The funds they receive can only be used to fund claims for the people who enrolled in these plans. According to, they estimated that in 2014 there were approximately 16.3 million people (on and off exchange) that had purchased individual qualified health plans.

Even though only 16 million people were in the eligible risk pool, funding for this program came from every single person who has private insurance. In 2014, the fee for each person was $63. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reported that they received a total of $8.7 billion into this program. Based on these figures there were over 138 million people who paid the fee.

In the June 30th CMS summary report, we learned that the government has paid out $7.9 billion to insurance companies. Since reinsurance contributions exceeded the requests for reinsurance payments, CMS decided to increase the coinsurance rate to 100 percent.
For those keeping score allow me to recap:
  1. Over 138 million people paid a total of $8.7 billion to a reinsurance fund.
  2. Only 16.3 million people were in the risk pool that this money was set aside to fund claims.
  3. The money in this fund was supposed to reimburse insurance companies 80 percent of the large claims.
  4. Instead the government paid the insurance companies 100 percent of the large claims.
  5. The total paid out was $7.9 billion.
So the government collected more money from you than they needed, gave more money to insurance companies than the original agreement, and kept $800 million of your money for insurance companies in the future. Yet for 91 percent of those who paid in, it didn’t help whatsoever.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Jimmy Carter

Someday soon, probably within a year or two, Jimmy Carter is going to die. At that time, there will undoubtedly be a resounding roar of the bitter to denounce him and hope that he rots in hell, just as a segment of idiots on the left did after Reagan died. I admire Carter immensely and believe the world will be worse off when he passes. I was very young during his Administration, but I remember pretty vividly how often he was lampooned, particularly on SNL. Historically, people seem pretty bitter about his time in office, and if that was the only thing he'd ever done, I might look less favorably on him too.

After he left office, I believe that Carter the man superseded Carter the POTUS. Instead of just heading off to do nothing but play golf and give speeches to homogenous crowds, Carter went out and did things to try and help make the world a better place. I'm sure there are some who will crap even on those efforts. History and a chorus of idiots will likely always have scorn for Carter, and admirably, he could care less because he is busy doing important things. Give Carter another ten years of life, I bet he'd spend 8 of it counting ballots or building houses in some crappy part of the world. We need more people like him.

How Trump IS doing us a favor

Yesterday, I watched a teeny bit of Trumps town hall meeting. One point that I appreciate that he keeps pounding is that the other candidates MUST answer to the people who are backing them. Trump is free of this of course and he has been making clear he corrupt our election process is. The irony, of course, is that he is also indirectly making the case that only independently wealthy people should run for POTUS. I have a problem with that, but the reality is that Trump is a moderate Republican at best, and for once, the far right and their money is NOT dictating the discussion. Heard yesterday that the super pacs are all getting ready to attack Trump with negative ads, but are keeping their powder dry for just a bit longer. They must be seething right now that they can't do anything but sit there and wait for something stinky to stick to Trump.

Another thing that Trump is doing is that he is SLOWLY educating the screaming masses that you can't solve everything by just being a pompous asshole and that once in awhile, you are handcuffed by a reality you can't change. Trump is now going to have a panel of "experts" look into the anchor baby situation, and the only outcome I can see from that is a lot of people are going to have to unhappily accept this particular issue will not go away just because they are pissed off about it. A guy like Trump can eventually say, "Look, I explored this, found out there's nothing I can do about, and I'm moving on" NOBODY in politics is ever allowed to say this, at least they are not allowed by those who are so fucking pissed off about everything that they simply will not accept how ridiculously out of reality their anger is.

On another point, Trump was pressed about not releasing more details about his policy. Here, Trump basically said, "I can and I will, but the reality is that you need to be flexible. If I negotiate a deal, I may have 17 points I want to address. If I lose on one point, it's going to affect all the other points. If one point doesn't work out, I may change my approach and try to get something better on that point, or try to get something better on a subsequent point." This, of course, is not anything a Tea Party type is going to want to hear, nor any other person who believes they are flexible but ultimately is just another ideologue. Again, here is an irony, IMO, this is how things used to get done in our system, through negotiation and compromise. People are supporting Trump, arguably, because they believe he is going to stick it to everyone they believe is their enemy. I think Trump is starting to show that on the contrary, he's going to approach being POTUS the same way he has everything else, which is to be a better negotiator.

If Trump continues at his current pace, I think people are going to start to realize that their rigid beliefs about politics are not really accurate, or they are going to realize he is not the night in shining yellow armor who is going to stick to everyone they hate.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

New Poll: Trump vs Clinton

A new poll out Wednesday found that real-estate mogul Donald Trump is only 6 points behind former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a theoretical general-election matchup.

According to the CNN/ORC survey, the Democratic front-runner leads Trump just 51% to 45% among registered voters.

If the poll is accurate, it represents a sharp improvement for Trump. Though Trump has surged to the front of the GOP field, polls have previously found him lagging in general-election matchups.
A CNN/ORC survey in June, for example, found that Clinton would crush Trump 59% to 34% — by 25 points — in the hypothetical matchup.

The problem with government

Federal policies rely on top-down planning and coercion. That tends to create winners and losers, which is unlike the mutually beneficial relationships of markets. It also means that federal policies are based on guesswork because there is no price system to guide decision making. A further problem is that failed policies are not weeded out because they are funded by taxes, which are compulsory and not contingent on performance.

Legislators often act counter to the general public interest. They use debt, an opaque tax system, and other techniques to hide the full costs of programs.

Civil servants act within a bureaucratic system that rewards inertia, not the creation of value. Various reforms over the decades have tried to fix the bureaucracy, but the incentives that generate poor performance are deeply entrenched in the executive branch.

The federal government has grown enormous in size and scope. Each increment of spending has produced less value but rising taxpayer costs. Failure has increased as legislators have become overloaded by the vast array of programs they have created. Today’s federal budget is 100 times larger than the average state budget, and it is far too large to adequately oversee.

Is the only way to create a major improvement in performance to cut the overall size of the federal government?

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

20th on the freedom index

The Human Freedom Index presents the state of human freedom in the world based on a broad measure that encompasses personal, civil, and economic freedom. Human freedom is a social concept that recognizes the dignity of individuals and is defined here as negative liberty or the absence of coercive constraint. Because freedom is inherently valuable and plays a role in human progress, it is worth measuring carefully. The Human Freedom Index is a resource that can help to more objectively observe relationships between freedom and other social and economic phenomena, as well as the ways in which the various dimensions of freedom interact with one another.

The index published here presents a broad measure of human freedom, understood as the absence of coercive constraint. It uses 76 distinct indicators of personal and economic freedom in the following areas:
  • Rule of Law
  • Security and Safety
  • Movement
  • Religion
  • Association, Assembly, and Civil Society
  • Expression
  • Relationships
  • Size of Government
  • Legal System and Property Rights
  • Access to Sound Money
  • Freedom to Trade Internationally
  • Regulation of Credit, Labor, and Business

The Human Freedom Index (HFI) is the most comprehensive freedom index so far created for a globally meaningful set of countries. The HFI covers 152 countries for 2012, the most recent year for which sufficient data is available. The index ranks countries beginning in 2008, the earliest year for which a robust enough index could be produced. This preliminary report will be updated (using data for 2013) and subsequently presented and updated on a yearly basis.
On a scale of 0 to 10, where 10 represents more freedom, the nonweighted average rating for 152 countries in 2012 was 6.96. The level of global freedom stayed about the same compared to 2008, but almost all countries experienced changes in their ratings, with about half of those increasing their ratings and half decreasing.
The top 10 jurisdictions in order were Hong Kong, Switzerland, Finland, Denmark, New Zealand, Canada, Australia, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and Sweden. The United States is ranked in 20th place. Other countries rank as follows: Germany (12), Chile (18), Japan (28), France (33), Singapore (43), South Africa (70), India (75), Brazil (82), Russia (111), China (132), Nigeria (139), Saudi Arabia (141), Venezuela (144), Zimbabwe (149), and Iran (152).
Out of 17 regions, the highest levels of freedom are in Northern Europe, North America (Canada and the United States), and Western Europe. The lowest levels are in the Middle East and North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, and South Asia. Women’s freedoms, as measured by five relevant indicators in the index, are most protected in Europe and North America and least protected in South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Middle East and North Africa.

Top Freeist countries:
1.  Hong Kpng
2.  Switzerland
3.  Finland
4.  Denmark
5.  New Zealand
6.  Canada
7.  Australia
8.  Ireland
9.  United kingdom
10.  Sweden
20.  USA

Guess the home of the free and the brave is not so free in the new America.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Are cheap fruits and vegetables worth it?

On July 24, two burglars allegedly broke in to Marilyn Pharis’ home as she slept. They sexually assaulted and beat her. Pharis, 64, a U.S. Air Force veteran, died in the hospital Aug. 1. It turns out that one of the two men charged for the crime, Victor Aureliano Martinez Ramirez, 29, is an undocumented immigrant against whom Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued a detainer in 2014.

Santa Barbara, California, law enforcement first booked Ramirez in 2009 for driving without a license. In May 2014, authorities booked Ramirez on felony sexual assault and drug possession. The charge was changed to misdemeanor battery. It was not reduced, Santa Barbara District Attorney Joyce Dudley told me. “The standard for arrest is probable cause.” Last month, authorities charged Ramirez with felony possession of a concealed dirk or dagger and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia. On July 20, he pleaded “no contest” to a misdemeanor knife charge; he was supposed to start serving a 30-day sentence in October.
For his part, the Santa Maria police chief is steamed because he has watched state and federal law work together to undermine law enforcement.

The case seems like Kate Steinle all over again. On July 1, Steinle was strolling on Pier 14 in San
 Francisco with her father, when a bullet pierced her heart. Authorities charged Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, a seven-time convicted felon and undocumented immigrant who had been deported five times, with murder. He pleaded not guilty. If the San Francisco sheriff had honored an ICE detainer, Lopez-Sanchez would not have been in San Francisco on July 1.

The accused 45-year-old shooter, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, admitted to killing Steinle in a jailhouse interview with reporters, saying he was on sleeping pills when he found the gun wrapped in a T-shirt on the ground on July 1.
The Mexican national pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, as it was revealed the .40 caliber handgun used in the slaying belonged to a federal agent, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Federal authorities say Lopez-Sanchez, whose criminal history includes seven prior felony convictions, is an undocumented immigrant who has been deported from the U.S. five times, most recently in 2009.

An illegal alien brutally murdered Laura Wilkerson’s 18-year-old son in Texas, tied his body up, and then doused him with gasoline before burning him. 

Police say RoKrentz, whose family has been ranching in southern Arizona since 1907, was gunned down early Saturday morning by an illegal immigrant while out on his ATV tending to fences and water lines on the family's 34,000-acre cattle ranch.

On October 19, 2003, the 29 year old, ex-quarterback for the University of Colorado football team, John Hesler, was driving his Honda Accord on Interstate 76 in Colorado when it was clipped by an SUV sending it across a median and into the path of a pickup truck, causing a horrific accident. The driver and passenger of the SUV that caused the accident fled the scene and haven't been found. The Colorado State Patrol told Hesler's family that they most likely are in Mexico.   

Police chief of the Needville Independent School District, Chief Ernest V. Mendoza lost his life when he was hit head on by drunken illegal alien Guillermo Paniagua Paniagua who veered into his lane. Paniagua had four previous drunken driving convictions. Paniagua fled the scene on foot but was captured latter. Mendoza, a 25-year-veteran of law enforcement, leaves behind a wife and four children. 

Min Soon Chang, a freshman from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, was killed by drunk driving illegal alien Jorge Humberto Hernandez-Soto, who hit him while going 100 MPH the wrong way on the highway. Hernadez-Sot had been previously deported to his native Mexico 17 times. That is not a typo.

Cheryl Ceran, 47, and two of her children, 15-year-old Ian and 7-year-old Julianna were killed on Christmas Eve by drunk driving illegal alien Carlos Rodolfo Prieto, 24, who ran a red light and slammed into their car. Also injured in the crash were Cheryl Ceran's husband, Gary Ceran, 45, their daughter, Clarissa, 19, and a son, Caleb, 12. Prieto had at least two other drunken driving arrests and did not have a license.

Kelly Bergen, 25, a teacher, was crushed between two potato trucks, an accident caused by an illegal alien driving without a license or insurance.

Deputy Loren Lilly, an 18 year veteran of the Cobb County, GA, police department was killed Christmas Eve morning on his way to work when an illegal alien swerved into his lane. The driver,

Joel Camacho Perea, faces charges of hit and run, failure to maintain lane and driving without a license.

Marine Corporal Brian Mathews, 21, and his girlfriend Jennifer Bower, 24, were killed by a drunk illegal alien Eduardo Raul Morales-Soriano who slammed into their car when it was stopped at a traffic light. Corporal Mathews was on leave, after just returning from duty in Iraq. Morales-Soriano had a blood-alcohol level that was four times the legal limit.

20 year old Natalie Housand was killed when illegal alien Jesus Garcia Lopez hit her car while going 100 MPH, driving drunk. Amazingly, after the head-on collision, Lopez fled the scene.

Donna and Sean Wilson of Juliet Tennessee, were killed by illegal alien Gustavo Reyes Garcia who had been, arrested 14 times in the previous five years prior to when he ran into and killed them, again driving while intoxicated. Garcia had previously been arrested 5 times on DUIs.

Tricia Ann Taylor, 17, lost both her legs above the knees when she was pinned against a wall by a drunken illegal alien with seventeen prior violations who hit her while drag racing.

Ryan Ostendorf, a 28 year old paramedic, who was also a Kansas University student and who dreamed of becoming a doctor, was killed by illegal alien Victor Anzua-Torresa who had ignored an order to receive treatment after his previous drunken-driving conviction. Anzua-Torresa had also been previously deported in 2000 and been arrested for several other offenses, including possession of drug paraphernalia.

5-year-old Felix Leon was killed in a hit and run accident by illegal alien Carlos Jaramillo.

James F. Rogers Jr., 18, of North Jackson, TN was killed by Luis Oscar Garcia, a Mexican who had been living in the U.S. without a green card for three years. Garcia ran a red light. In addition to the vehicular homicide and DUI charges, Garcia faces counts of driving without a license, registration or proof of insurance. When police did a check on his license plate, it did not come back under his name.

Joshua Morrow, 4, and his uncle, Ronald Bishop were killed by an illegal alien who left the scene of the accident.

Christopher Shackleford, 19, Julieanne Pascoe, 18, and Kelli Bourgeois, 18, were all killed in
 Marietta, Georgia, by an illegal alien drunk driver. He did not have a valid driver's license or insurance but did have a blood alcohol level at twice the legal limit.

Brandon Haley, 31, was killed while riding his bicycle in a hit and run by illegal alien Lazardo Lobaton.

The Marti family, pictured here during a happy moment that no longer exists. Sean, just 24 years old, and his daughter Sage, 5 months old, were killed by a drunk illegal alien who was driving the wrong way on Highway 84 in Idaho. Natalie Marti was in a coma for two weeks after the head-on crash, spent two months in the hospital, and has suffered brain damage from a traumatic head wound.

Chicago Police Officer Michael Gordon lost his life to a drunken illegal alien driver. Officer Gordon was in the driver's seat of his squad car when it was struck by Luis Calle, a Guatemalan, whose blood alcohol level was 0.177, twice the legal limit.

Helen Hughes, 22, Jennifer Carter, 18, and Hughes' stepbrother, 16-year-old Ben Leonard were all killed by an illegal alien, who allegedly was driving drunk, and already had a long record of crime in the United States.

22-year-old Amy Kortlang was killed by an illegal alien driving without a license and while drunk. The illegal alien driver had been previously deported, barely six months prior to causing the accident.

Oakland Police Officer Will Seuis was killed on his ride home by an illegal alien. A sixteen-year veteran of the Police Department, Officer Seuis was remembered at his funeral as a hard-working cop who had received 33 letters of appreciation from citizens, including one from a motorist he had ticketed. The illegal alien had a long history of traffic convictions.

Peggy Keller, dean of distance education at Yakima Valley Community College, was killed by a twice deported illegal alien who was driving under the influence of methamphetamines.
19 year old Travis Smith was killed when he was struck head-on by a vehicle driven by an illegal alien who was transporting four other illegal aliens to Pennsylvania.
Six year old Annie Cumpston was killed in a hit-and-run accident in downtown Baltimore by a truck driven by illegal alien Guillermo Diaz when it veered into the crosswalk as she and her family were leaving the circus. When Diaz was arrested, he did not have a driver's license, the tags on the truck were expired and his blood-alcohol level was 0.07 percent. Diaz had been in the United States illegally for four years doing construction work. He received 10 years in prison but is eligible for parole in just two years.

No to mention a person I worked with a few year back was turkey hunting.  He was shot by an illegal while using his turkey call.  The illegal fled to Mexico.  As Colorado has the death penalty Mexico refused to extradite the illegal to Colorado to face charges.   Jeff, 28 years old at the time was survived by his wife and 2 year old son.

How many more Americans will be killed for cheap labor?


Hillary Clinton's Sneaky Scheme

I always enjoy reading the letters to the editor in our local paper. Sometimes they are too much though, like one of yesterday's letters wherein the writer revealed Hillary's hidden motives.

The writer declared that Hillary was supporting free college tuition to induce more young people to attend colleges where they would invariably be converted into liberals by those sneaky professors.

Never mind that most, if not all, the Republican candidates are college graduates. And never mind that almost 97% of the good jobs created in the last 5 years have gone to college graduates.

Then the writer ended with this enigmatic quote: "Freedom is not equality, Equality is not freedom". See what great stuff one can learn from reading the local news paper.

Would a third party fix anything?

I think just about all of us here have said at one time or another, "This is why we need a third party?" This is something I continually think about, and while I appreciate the idea in a "Go to my happy place" kind of thinking, I'm not sure it is really the answer we are seeking. For anyone who is further right of center, there already exists the Tea Party. Unlike the Green Party, the Teas have actually gotten something done with grass roots efforts...........and a shit ton of money from people like the Kochs. They have almost single handedly gridlocked congress and are undeniably partly to blame/applaud for forcing Boehner to rely on Democrats to pass anything meaningful. And just to be clear, 50 votes to repeal Obamacare is not meaningful legislation. Still, while they have handcuffed Boehner from openly conducting business as usual, business nonetheless continues to move more or less as usual, meaning that those well connected get what they want while we just bitch about it. 

Bernie and Elizabeth Warren are exciting left of center choices, who I will admit have gotten my attention. They represent, to me, something distinctly different from Hillary, who I find to be running her campaign oddly like a Republican, circa anytime before the Trump offensive. I like what they are saying and while they may be just the start of something refreshing for those left of center, only time will tell if they can cause the kind of wedge the Teas are causing on the right. I'm not sure they will. But the Teas and a Sanders/Warren wing don't really offer a true third party choice. Instead, they are just more radical visions of what both parties used to be. As such, they are just mirror images of each other. They may offer some choice to voters who are committed to either party, but this means they are just diluting each base. 

A true third party, IMO, would have to be one that is truly in the center. Probably along the lines of that mythical voter who is fiscally conservative and socially moderate. That's well and good, and I'd support it, but I keep coming back to a particular sticking point, or several actually. The first is that if we are demanding a third party because we are so disgusted with the two we have, I contend that this implies we WANT our government to function. This means, to me, compromise and the reality that in true negotiations, nobody gets everything they want. A related point, that I always belabor, is that we get what we vote for. Half the people who could vote in general elections chose not to. Those that do go to the polls to vent their spleens only to go home and tune into whatever partisan they favor to listen to commentary on why their candidate won or lost. A third party in this backdrop doesn't seem feasible to me. Put another way, I think it's kind of a hope that those of us who are within arms distance on either side of center, can elect someone who will go and fix everything we don't like. 

Much as I like the idea of a quick a fix, I think we would all be much better served if every one of us went into our community and volunteered our time with someone less fortunate. At the least, this would certainly shape our thinking much better than linking into whatever truly partisan news source we favor. What would a good third party look like to you?

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Is Donald Trump the Next Ronald Reagan?

Many of his supporters think so, and perhaps they are right. Here is the rationale:

Are they really any different then the rest of us?

Tea Party Lawmaker Faked Gay Sex Scandal To Hide Affair With Female Rep

Friday, August 14, 2015

A small look at propaganda

So, today we have a story that Ben Carson actually worked with aborted fetal tissue back in the 90's. While there will predictably be shills on the left who scream about hypocrisy, I see a bigger issue. Having worked as a nurse now for 10 years, I have seen plenty in the medical field that I know would make the average person, "uncomfortable" to hear about. As a practicing MD, which he was at the time, I tend to believe Carson probably had a much more matter of fact of view about the tissue he was working with and probably didn't give it much thought, almost certainly not as much thought as he gave to the importance of whatever work he was doing. Now that he has stepped back and is running for POTUS, he is able to reprioritize his views to fit his presidential aspirations, rather then his aspirations as a member of the medical field.

Another article I read, which is long, makes another good example. This article, I think, offers a much fairer perspective of the whole PP fiasco. It's not about violating the law, it's about abortion, and clearly, there is NOT a common thread that runs through the videos that indicates PP is out to intentionally break the law. Without a doubt, there are many uncomfortable things said, and there are also clearly attempts by the makers of the video to suck PP representatives into saying something that can be used for a case to defund them. And without a doubt, there are also clearly indications that other members were acting very in line with the law. One person in PP and one incident in Carson's life does not describe the entirety of either.

In response, Carson has said he doesn't apologize for using that tissue, and also that it would be silly to ignore what he learned from that research just because we are queasy about how the tissue was obtained. Someone could have a field day with that quote by taking it out of context, and that would be extremely dishonest. Likewise, the entrapment videos against PP are basically the same thing. The propaganda of today is become more sinister because of the availability of media and ease with which things can be edited and spun any number of ways. I don't think many people have to time or patience to really look into what is being presented. Further, given the abundance of truly biased media sources, both left and right, it is easy to sit back and let others think for you.

Thursday, August 13, 2015




 08.12.154:50 PM ET

After months of denials and delaying actions, Hillary Clinton has decided to turn over her private email serverto the Department of Justice. As this controversy has grown since the spring, Clinton and her campaign operatives have repeatedly denied that she had placed classified information in her personal emailwhile serving as Secretary of State during President Obama’s first term. (“I am confident that I never sent nor received any information that was classified at the time it was sent and received,” she said last month.) Her team also denied that she would everhand over her server to investigators. Now both those assertions have been overturned.

Hillary Clinton has little choice but to hand over her server to authorities since it now appears increasingly likely that someone on her staff violated federal laws regarding the handling of classified materials. On August 11, after extensive investigation, the Intelligence Community’s Inspector Generalreported to Congress that it had found several violations of security policy in Clinton’s personal emails.

Most seriously, the Inspector General assessed that Clinton’s emails included information that was highly classified—yet mislabeled as unclassified. Worse, the information in question should have been classified up to the level of “TOP SECRET//SI//TK//NOFORN,” according to the Inspector General’s report.

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You may have seen acronym lists like these on declassified documents before—and glazed over them. This is the arcane language of the cleared cognoscenti so let me explain what this means:

• TOP SECRET, as the name implies, is the highest official classification level in the U.S. government, definedas information whose unauthorized release “could cause exceptionally grave damage to national security or foreign relations.”

• SI refers to Special Intelligence, meaning it is information derived from intercepted communications, which is the business of the National Security Agency, America’s single biggest source of intelligence. They’re the guys who eavesdrop on phone calls, map who’s calling who, and comb through emails. SI is a subset of what the intelligence community calls Sensitive Compartmented Information or SCI. And these materials always require special handling and protection. They are to be kept in a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility or SCIF, which is a special hardened room that is safe from both physical and electronic intrusion.

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• TK refers to Talent Keyhole, which is an IC caveat indicating that the classified material was obtained via satellite.

• NOFORN, as the name implies, means that the materials can only be shown to Americans, not to foreigners.

In short: Information at the “TOP SECRET//SI//TK//NOFORN” level is considered exceptionally highly classified and must be handled with great care under penalty of serious consequences for mishandling. Every person who is cleared and “read on” for access to such information signs reams of paperwork and receives detailed training about how it is to be handled, no exceptions—and what the consequences will be if the rules are not followed.

People found to have willfully mishandled such highly classified information often face severe punishment. Termination of employment, hefty fines, even imprisonment can result.

In the real world, people with high-level clearances are severely punished for willfully violating such rules. At a minimum, those suspected of mishandling things like NSA “signals intelligence”—intercepts calls, emails, and the like—have their clearances suspended pending the outcome of the investigation into their misconduct. Any personal items—computers, electronics—where federal investigators suspect the classified wound up, wrongly, will be impounded and searched. If it has TOP SECRET//SI information on it, “your” computer now belongs to the government, since it is considered classified.

People found to have willfully mishandled such highly classified information often face severe punishment. Termination of employment, hefty fines, even imprisonment can result. Yes, people really do go to jail for mishandling classified materials. Matthew Aid, a writer on intelligence matters, served over a year in prison for mishandling TOPSECRET//SI information from NSA, for example. The well connected tend to avoid jail, however. Sandy Berger and John Deutsch—who both served in high-level positions under President Bill Clinton, did not go to prison for mishandling TOP SECRET intelligence (though Berger got probation and was fined $50,000).

What, then, does all this means for Hillary? There is no doubt that she, or someone on her State Department staff, violated federal law by putting TOP SECRET//SI information on an unclassified system. That it was Hillary’s private, offsite server makes the case even worse from a security viewpoint. Claims that they “didn’t know” such information was highly classified do not hold water and are irrelevant. It strains belief that anybody with clearances didn’t recognize that NSA information, which is loaded with classification markings, was signals intelligence, or SIGINT. It’s possible that the classified information found in Clinton’s email trove wasn’t marked as such. But if that classification notice was omitted, it wasn’t the U.S. intelligence community that took such markings away. Moreover, anybody holding security clearances has already assumed the responsibility for handling it properly.

As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton had no authority to disseminate IC information on her own, neither could she make it less highly classified (a process termed “downgrading” in the spy trade) without asking IC permission first.

It is a very big deal and less connected people who do this sort of thing ruin their lives, as any IC counterintelligence official can attest. During my NSA time, I saw junior personnel terminated for relatively minor infractions of security regulations. While the U.S. government unquestionably does over-classify items on the policy side, where almost everything in the Defense and State Departments gets some sort of classification stamp, not usually at a high level, intelligence reporting by its very nature is classified. If you don’t want the responsibility of a high-level government position, which inevitably brings with it TOP SECRET//SI access, then don’t accept that burden.

There’s still a lot we don’t know about Hillary’s Emailgate. Exactly how many emails contained TOPSECRET//SI information is unclear. We may never know since thousands of emails were already destroyed by Clinton. Who exactly placed the classified information in emails—it may not have been Hillary Clinton—and how did they access the information in the first place? How many of Hillary’s staffers at Foggy Bottom were also using her personal server?

Underlying all this is the question of why Hillary Clinton decided to employ her own private email and server to handle so much of her official State Department business. This is, to say the least, highly irregular—not to mention a violation of numerous U.S. government rules and regulations—so there had to be a compelling reason to do this. What was it?

The Clinton campaign was concerned enough about the issue to send out an email blast Wednesday afternoon with the subject line: “A note about Hillary Clinton’s emails.” 

“You might hear some news over the next few days about Hillary Clinton’s emails,” began the email from Jennifer Palmieri, the communications director for Hillary for America.

“Because you are an important part of this team, we wanted to take a few minutes to talk through the facts—we need your help to make sure they get out there. There’s a lot of misinformation, so bear with us; the truth matters on this.” 

Underneath the greeting were several bolded bullet points, including, “Hillary didn’t send any classified materials over email.” There was also a link to a longer,4,000+ word explanation of why Clinton used a private email address and server in her official capacity as Secretary of State.

The FBI is now on the case and one hopes they will exercise due diligence in their investigation of what may be a serious leak of classified information, made worse by the fact that Clinton’s personal server was wholly unencrypted for three months, leaving it wide open to exploitation by foreign intelligence services.

The number of spy services interested in the communications of the U.S. Secretary of State numbers more than a hundred. Given their technical proficiency, it’s naïve to assume that the Russians and Chinese aren’t among them—a fact that John Kerry, the current secretary, recently admitted.

It’s safe to assume, then, that Moscow and Beijing know what Hillary’s “private” emails as Secretary of State contained. Let’s hope that the American public will someday as well.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Inside the GOP Clown Car: On the campaign trail in Iowa, Donald Trump's antics have forced the other candidates to get crazy or go home



The thing is, when you actually think about it, it's not funny. Given what's at stake, it's more like the opposite, like the first sign of the collapse of the United States as a global superpower. Twenty years from now, when we're all living like prehistory hominids and hunting rats with sticks, we'll probably look back at this moment as the beginning of the end.

In the meantime, though, the race for the Republican Party presidential nomination sure seems funny. The event known around the world as hashtagGOPClownCar is improbable, colossal, spectacular and shocking; epic, monumental, heinous and disgusting. It's like watching 17 platypuses try to mount the queen of England. You can't tear your eyes away from it.
It will go down someday as the greatest reality show ever conceived. The concept is ingenious. Take a combustible mix of the most depraved and filterless half-wits, scam artists and asylum Napoleons America has to offer, give them all piles of money and tell them to run for president. Add Donald Trump. And to give the whole thing a perverse gravitas, make the presidency really at stake.

It's Western civilization's very own car wreck. Even if you don't want to watch it, you will. It's that awesome of a spectacle.
But what does it mean? Or to put it another way, since we know it can't mean anything good: Is this enough of a disaster that we shouldn't laugh?
I went to Iowa to see for myself.
Rockwell City, Iowa, evening, July 30th. I've just rushed up from Des Moines to catch my first event on the Clown Car tour, a stump speech by TV personality Mike Huckabee, whom the Internet says was also once governor of Arkansas.

Traditionally, in these early stages of a presidential campaign, very little happens. Candidates treat their stump work like comedians practicing new material between the lunch and dinner hours. In the old days, they tiptoed their positions out before small audiences in little farm towns like this in an effort to see what minor policy tweaks might play better later on in the race, when the bullets start flying for real.
That's what one normally expects. But 2016 is very different, as I found out in Rockwell City right away.

Two factors have combined to make this maybe the most unlikely political story of our times. The first is the campaign's extraordinary number of entrants. As The Washington Post noted last fall, this is the first time in recent memory that there is no heir-apparent candidate (like a Bob Dole). For some reason, during the last years of the Obama presidency, the national Republican Party chose not to throw its weight behind anyone, leading a monstrous field of has-beens and never-weres to believe that they had a real shot at winning the nomination.
So throughout this spring and summer, a new Human Punchline seemingly jumped into the race every week. There were so many of these jokers, coming so fast, that news commentators quickly latched onto the image of a parade of clowns emerging from a political Volkswagen, giving birth to the "clown car" theme.
But the more important factor has been the astounding presence of Donald Trump as the front-runner. The orangutan-haired real estate magnate entered the race in mid-June and immediately blew up cable and Twitter by denouncing Mexicans as rapists and ripping 2008 nominee John McCain for having been captured in war. 

Both moves would have been fatal to "serious" candidates in previous elections. But amid the strange Republican leadership void of 2016, the furor only gave Trump further saturation among the brainless nativists in his party and inexplicably vaulted him to front-runner status. The combination of Trump constantly spewing crazy quotes and the strategy actually working turned his campaign into a veritable media supernova, earning the Donald more coverage than all of the other candidates combined.
This led to a situation where the candidates have had to resort to increasingly bizarre tactics in order to win press attention. Add to this the curious dynamic of the first Republican debate, on August 6th, in which only the top 10 poll performers get on the main stage, and the incentive to say outlandish things in search of a poll bump quickly reached a fever pitch. So much for the cautious feeling-out period: For the candidates, it was toss grenades or die.
Back in the Rockwell City library, the small contingent of reporters covering the day's third "Huckabee Huddle" was buzzing. A local TV guy was staring at his notes with a confused look on his face, like he couldn't believe what he read. "Weirdest thing," he said. "I was just in Jefferson, and Huckabee said something about invoking the 14th and 5th amendments to end abortion. I'm really not sure what he meant."

This GOP race is a minute-to-minute contest for media heat and Internet hits, where positive and negative attention are almost equally valuable. 

A moment later, Huckabee sauntered into the library for an ad-hoc presser, and was quickly asked what he meant. "Just what I said," he quipped. "It is the job of the federal government to protect the citizens under the Constitution."
He went on to explain that even the unborn were entitled to rights of "due process and equal protection." The attendant reporters all glanced sideways at one another. The idea of using the 14th Amendment, designed to protect the rights of ex-slaves, as a tool to outlaw abortion in the 21st century clearly would have its own dark appeal to the Fox crowd. But it occurred to me that Huckabee might have had more in mind.
"Are we talking about sending the FBI or the National Guard to close abortion clinics?" I asked.
"We'll see when I get to be president," he answered.
Huckabee smiled. Perhaps alone among all the non-Trump candidates, Huckabee knows what kind of fight he's in. This GOP race is not about policy or electability or even raising money. Instead, it's about Nielsen ratings or trending. It's a minute-to-minute contest for media heat and Internet hits, where positive and negative attention are almost equally valuable.

Huckabee launched his campaign on May 5th, running on a carefully crafted and somewhat unconventional Republican platform centered around economic populism, vowing to end "stagnant wages" and help people reach a "higher ground."
But emphasizing economic populism is the kind of wonky policy nuance that doesn't do much to earn notice in the Twitter age. After an early bump pushed him briefly up to fourth place, Huckabee began a steady slide in the polls as the unrestrained lunacy of Trump began seizing control of the race. By late July, Huckabee's numbers had fallen, and he had to be worrying that he would land out of the top 10.

But then, on July 25th, Huckabee gave an interview to Breitbart News in which he shamelessly invoked Godwin's Law, saying that Barack Obama's deal with Iran "would take the Israelis and basically march them to the door of the oven."
The quote hit the airwaves like a thunderclap. Virtually everyone in the English-speaking world with an IQ over nine shrieked in disgust. The Huckster's "ovens" rant brought MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski to near-tears on air. Huckabee even prompted an Israeli transportation minister to exclaim, Dirty Dancing-style, "Nobody marches the Jews to ovens anymore."
Even in Huckabee's own party, he was denounced. Jeb Bush, anxious to cast himself as the non-crazy, Uncola Republican in a field of mental incompetents, called on everyone to "tone down the rhetoric." Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, known as one of America's most dickishly unscrupulous hate merchants, said, "You're not hearing me use that sort of language."
But far from being deterred by all of the negative attention, Huckabee shrewdly embraced it. Much like the Donald, Huckabee swallowed up the negative press energy like a Pac-Man and steamed ahead, and was soon climbing in the polls again.

Huckabee had stumbled into the truth that has been driving the support for the Trump campaign: That in this intensely media-driven race, inspiring genuine horror and disgust among the right people is worth a lot of votes in certain quarters, irrespective of how you go about it. If you're making an MSNBC anchor cry or rendering a coastal media villain like Anderson Cooper nearly speechless (as Trump has done), you must be doing something right.
In Rockwell City, it seemed like Huckabee was consciously trying to repeat his "ovens" stunt. He smiled as the media in attendance filed out of the presser, surely knowing we would have the "we'll see" quote up on social media within minutes.
At the event, he was glowingly introduced by Iowa Republican Congressman Steve King, who revved the crowd by bashing the Supreme Court ruling clearing the way for gay marriage. King had apparently been told on good authority by a lawyer friend that Obergefell v. Hodges meant that only one party in a marriage had to be a human being. "What that means," he said, "is you can now marry my lawn mower."
A reporter next to me leaned over. "King's lawn mower is gay?"

I shrugged. In the modern Republican Party, making sense is a secondary consideration. Years of relentless propaganda combined with extreme frustration over the disastrous Bush years and two terms of a Kenyan Muslim terrorist president have cast the party's right wing into a swirling suckhole of paranoia and conspiratorial craziness. There is nothing you can do to go too far, a fact proved, if not exactly understood, by the madman, Trump.
Huckabee's speech tossed plenty of red meat into the grinder, explaining that America was divinely created by "providence of almighty God," which is the only explanation for the extreme longevity of the Constitution. He stepped down to hearty applause, giving way to a performance by a group of Rockwell City Republican women, who sang what they called a "rap song." There was no beat and each of the 10-odd singers was off from the next by a word or two:

People want the freedom
To make medical and personal choices!
And we want representatives
To listen to our voices!

Listening, I suddenly worried that the International Federation of Black People would detect this "rap" performance from afar and call in an air strike. Sneaking out the front door, I checked my phone to see how Huck's abortion-clinic play was doing: He'd already set off a media shitstorm.
Within 24 hours, he was being denounced across the blogosphere, but he was soon riding up in the polls again, one of the few shoo-ins to get on the main stage of the August 6th debate. 

It was astounding, watching the other entrants try to duplicate Huckabee's feat. Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry was last seen on the national stage choking on his own face in an infamous 2011 debate performance, when he was unable to name the three federal agencies he himself had promised to do away with. He returned to the race this year basically the same gaffe-spewing yutz he was four years ago, only dressed in preposterous "smart" glasses, a deadly error in a fight with a natural schoolyard bully like Donald Trump.
"He put glasses on so people will think he's smart," Trump croaked. "And it just doesn't work!"
Perry was so grateful to even be mentioned by Trump that he refocused his campaign apparatus on an epic response, apparently in an attempt to draw the Donald into a Drake/Meek Mill-style diss war. He tossed off a 3,000-word speech denouncing "Trumpism" as the modern incarnation of the Know-Nothing movement (one could almost hear Trump scoffing, "What the fuck is a Know-Nothing?"). He decried Trump himself as a "barking carnival act" and a "cancer" that the party should "excise" for its own sake — and, one supposes, for Rick Perry's.
Trump, too busy being front-runner to notice Perry's desperate volleys, basically blew the Texan off. A week later, Perry was in a tie for 10th place in the polls. Asked if his campaign was finished if he didn't make the debate cut, Perry replied, in characteristically malaprop fashion, that making the debate was "not a one-shot pony." He ended up missing his shot, or his pony, or whatever, and was squeezed out of the debate.

Many of the entrants tried nutty media stunts to re-inject energy into the race. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul attempted to revive his flagging libertarian-niche campaign by putting out a video. In it, the candidate appears dressed in shop goggles and jeans, curly hair flying, chain-sawing the tax code in half. He looks like Ryan Phillippe doing a Billy Mays ad.
Then there was South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of the few candidates with a sense of humor about how much of a long shot he is. "I do bar mitzvahs, birthday parties, weddings, funerals – call me, I'll come," he cracked. Once in the race, though, Graham immediately trolled Trump by calling him a "jackass," then briefly enjoyed some press limelight when the furious front-runner gave out Graham's telephone number to the public. 
Graham responded to the blessing of a Trump insult by putting out a video celebrating his Trump-victimhood. In it, the candidate chops up his cellphone Ginsu-style, mixes it in a blender in a foul-looking yellow liquid, and whacks it with a nine-iron, or maybe a wedge (note: the Graham camp says it was a nine).
All of this actually happened. Can we be that far from candidates putting out dueling cat videos?

In late July, in a cramped conference room of a Marriott in West Des Moines, Graham showed up to introduce himself to voters. In person, he's an odd character, like an oversize ventriloquist's dummy, with too-bright eyes and cheeks frozen in a half-grin.
He calls his event a "No Nukes for Iran" rally. Clearly gunning for a Cabinet post in Defense or Homeland Security, Graham is running almost a one-issue race, campaigning on being the candidate who most thinks Barack Obama's Iran deal sucks.
Of course, all 17 of the Republican candidates think Obama's Iran deal sucks, but Graham wants you to know he really thinks it sucks. Part of his stump speech is ripped straight from Team America: He thinks the Iran deal will result in "9/11 times a hundred." Actually in Graham's version, it's 9/11 times a thousand.
"The only reason 3,000 of us died on 9/11 and not 3 million," he said, "is they could not get the weapons."

Graham would seem to be perfectly suited for this Twitter-driven race, because he has a reputation in Washington for being a master of the one-liner and a goofball with boundaries issues who not infrequently crosses lines in his humor. "Did you see Nancy Pelosi on the floor?" he reportedly once quipped. "Complete disgust. If you can get through the surgeries, it's disgust."
But in person, Graham is a dud. His nasal voice and dry presentation make Alan Greenspan seem like Marilyn Manson. Still, it doesn't take too long for him to drift into rhetoric that in a normal political season would distinguish him as an unhinged lunatic, which is interesting because pundits usually call Graham one of the "sane" candidates.
First, he firmly promised to re-litigate the Iraq War. "I'm gonna send some soldiers back to Iraq," he said. "If I'm president, we're going back to Iraq."
Promising concretely to restart a historically unpopular war is a solid Trump-era provocation, but Graham then took it a step further. He pledged to solve the Syria problem by channeling Lawrence of Arabia and leading an Arab army in an epic campaign to unseat the caliphate.

Graham, a politician who reportedly once said that "everything that starts with 'al-' in the Middle East is bad news," insisted he was just the man to unite the Saudis, Egyptians, Jordanians, Turks and other peoples in battle, and also get them to pay for the invasion (getting dirty foreigners to pay for our policies is another Trump innovation). "We're going into Syria with the Arabs in the lead," Graham said. "They will do most of the fighting, and they're gonna pay for it because we paid for the last two."
I looked around the room. No reaction whatsoever. An old man in the rear of the hall was picking a cuticle off his middle finger, but otherwise, nobody moved. There were reporters, but Graham's hawkish bleatings don't rate much in an America obsessed with Caitlyn and Rachel Dolezal and the Donald.
Instead, later that same day, news leaked out that a Trump political adviser, Sam Nunberg, had once referred to Al Sharpton's daughter as a "n-----" on Facebook. This is news. It virtually obliterated all other campaign information.

Within a day, polls showed Trump surging like never before. One Reuters poll released on August 1st showed him scoring nearly 30 percent of the vote. The second-highest contender, Jeb Bush, was now nearly 20 points off the lead. When Trump completed the news cycle by giving Nunberg an Apprentice-style firing, his triumph was total.
If the clowns who engaged Trump mostly came out looking awful, the ones who didn't engage him came out looking even worse, including several of the ostensible favorites.
Jeb Bush was supposedly the smarter Bush brother and also the presumptive front-runner in this race. But on July 4th, just a few weeks after entering the race, Trump basically ended the fight in one fell swoop with a single kick in the balls, retweeting that Bush has to like "Mexican illegals because of his wife."

With a wife's honor at stake, most self-respecting males would have immediately stalked Trump and belted him in the comb-over. But Bush stayed true to his effete Richie Rich rep and turtled. He said nothing and instead meekly had an aide put out a statement that Trump's words were "inappropriate and not reflective of the Republican Party's views."
It was such a bad showing that the Beltway opinionators at Politico ran a story asking, "Is Jeb Bush turning into Michael Dukakis?" Game, set, match! Bush has been plunging in the polls ever since.
A similar fate befell Marco Rubio, the boy-wonder Republican. Rubio cruised through the early portion of the race, when voters were impressed by his sideswept, anal-retentive, Cuban-Alex-Keaton persona, rising as high as 14 percent in the polls. But then Trump entered the race and blasted the clearly less-than-completely-American Rubio for favoring a pro-immigration bill. "Weak on immigration" and "weak on jobs," Trump scoffed. "Not the guy."

He battered Rubio with tweet after tweet, one-liner after one-liner. Trump aides hit Rubio for having "zero credibility" and being a "typical politician" who favored a "dangerous amnesty bill." Rubio meanwhile defended Mexicans in general after Trump's "rapists" line, but has passed on engaging Trump's personal attacks. As a result, Rubio's support for a path to citizenship for the undocumented has stood out like a herpes sore, and he's plummeted to five percent in the polls.
The only candidate to really escape Trump's wrath has been Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, and that's because Cruz has spent the entire political season nuzzling Trump's ankles, praising the Donald like a lovesick cellmate. The Texas senator, whose rhetorical schtick is big doses of Tea Party crazy (his best line was that Obama wanted to bring "expanded Medicaid" to ISIS) mixed with constant assurances that he's the most Reagan-y of all the candidates, even reportedly had an hourlong "confab" with Trump. "Terrific," he said of the meeting, calling Trump "one of a kind."

The subterranean Cruz-Trump communiqués are a fantastic subplot to this absurdist campaign, hashtagClownCar's very own Nazi-Soviet nonaggression pact. It could mean the two plan to run together, or it could mean Cruz will plead for Trump's votes if and when the party finds a way to beg, threaten or blackmail Donald out of the race. Whatever it means, it's a microcosm of the campaign: simultaneously disgusting and entertaining.
It's not surprising that Trump's most serious competition will likely come from Wisconsin's Walker, who is probably the only person in the race naturally meaner than Trump. 

A central-casting Charmless White Guy who looks like a vice principal or an overdressed traffic cop, Walker traced a performance arc in the past year that was actually a signal of what was to come with Trump. Back in February, when addressing the Conservative Political Action Conference, Walker answered a question of how he would deal with Islamic terrorists by saying, "If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world."
Like Trump's Mexican remarks, Walker's gambit comparing American union workers to head-chopping Islamic terrorists seemed like a bridge too far even for many Republicans. He was criticized by the National Review and future opponent Perry, among others. But instead of plummeting in the polls, Walker, like Trump, gained ground.
The irony is that this was supposed to be the year when the Republicans opened the tent up, made a sincere play for the Hispanic vote, and perhaps softened up a bit on gays and other vermin. But then the lights went on in the race and voters flocked to a guy whose main policy plank was the construction of a giant Game of Thrones-style wall to keep rape-happy ethnics off our lawns. So much for inclusion!

Waterloo, Iowa, August 1st. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie showed up at Lincoln Park downtown to attend the Cedar Valley Irish fest, a multiday fair with street cuisine, tents full of hand-made crafts, live music and a 5K road race. In a state where a more typical event is a stale VFW hall buffet or a visit to the world's largest truck stop (the I-80 meet-and-greet is a staple of Iowa campaigning), the Irish fest is a happening scene, featuring good food and sizable numbers of people under the age of 60.

Two years ago, Christie's arrival at an event like this would have been a major political event. Back then, Christie was a national phenomenon, a favorite to be dubbed presumptive front-runner for 2016.
Christie's the type of candidate political audiences have come to expect: Once every four years, commentators in New York and Washington will fall in love with some "crossover" politician who's mean enough to be accepted by the right wing, but also knows a gay person or once read a French novel or something. In the pre-Trump era, we became conditioned to believe that this is what constituted an "exciting" politician.

Christie was to be that next crossover hit, the 2016 version of McCain. Washington's high priest of Conventional Wisdom, Mark Halperin, even called him "magical," and Time called him a guy who "loves his mother and gets it done."
But two years later, Christie has been undone by "Bridgegate," and the buzz is gone. When he showed up at Cedar Falls, there were just a few reporters to meet him. One of the Iowa press contingent explained to me that with the gigantic field, some of the lesser candidates are falling through the cracks. "We just don't have enough bodies to cover the race," the reporter said. "It's never been like this."
Christie and his wife, Mary Pat, made their way patiently through the crowd, shaking hands and talking football and other topics with a handful of attendees. It was old-school politics, the way elections used to be won in this country, but it was hard not to watch this painstaking one-person-at-a-time messaging and wonder how it competes in the social-media age.

Trump has perversely restored democracy to the process, turning the race into a pure high school popularity contest conducted in the media.

After the event, I asked Christie whether the huge field makes it difficult to get media attention. "Well, I've never had any trouble getting attention," he said. "I just think it's differentiating yourself. I think it plays to our strengths, because we've always worked really hard."
Right, hard work: that old saw. Later in the day, back across the state in Rockwell City, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum played the same tune at the town's "Corn Daze" festival. Dressed in jeans, a blue oxford and a face so pious that Christ would be proud to eat a burrito off it, Santorum rushed through a speech explaining that it is in fact he who is the hardest-working man in politics.
"I just want to let you know that we've gone to about 55 counties," he said. "Last time, we went to 99. We'll probably have 99 done here in the next few weeks."
I asked how anyone can distinguish himself or herself in a field with so many entrants? "Win Iowa," he answered curtly.

Right, but how? "What happens in August stays in August," he said mysteriously, then vanished to his next event. He had, like, 11 events in three days, far more than most other candidates.
Santorum actually won the Iowa race four years ago with his overcaffeinated, kiss-the-most-babies approach. But watching both he and Christie put their chips on the shoe-leather approach to campaigning feels like watching a pair of Neanderthals scout for mammoth. In the Age of Trump, this stuff doesn't play anymore.
Not that the old guard will go down without a fight. The much-anticipated inaugural Clown Debate in Cleveland was an ambush. Fox kicked off the festivities by twice whacking Trump, Buford Pusser-style, asking him to promise not to make a third-party run (he wouldn't) and sandbagging him with questions about his history of calling women "fat pigs" ("Only Rosie O'Donnell," Trump quipped). After the show, Fox had Republican pollster Frank Luntz organize a focus group that universally panned Trump's performance. "A total setup," one of Trump's aides complained on Twitter.

Trump didn't seem to care. Hell, he didn't even prepare for the debate. "Trump doesn't rehearse," an aide told reporters. All he did was show up and do what he always does: hog everything in sight, including airtime. As hard as Fox tried to knock him out, the network couldn't take its eyes off him. He ended up with almost two full minutes more airtime than the other "contestants," as he hilariously called them on the Today show the morning after the debate. It's the scorpion nature of television, come back to haunt the "reality-makers" at Fox: The cameras can't resist a good show.
Politics used to be a simple, predictable con. Every four years, the money men in D.C. teamed up with party hacks to throw their weight behind whatever half-bright fraud of a candidate proved most adept at snowing the population into buying a warmed-over version of the same crappy policies they've always bought.

Pundits always complained that there wasn't enough talk about issues during these races, but in reality, issues were still everything. Behind the scenes, where donors gave millions for concrete favors, there was always still plenty of policy. And skilled political pitchmen like Christie, who could deftly deliver on those back-room promises to crush labor and hand out transportation contracts or whatever while still acting like a man of the people, were highly valued commodities.
Not anymore. Trump has blown up even the backroom version of the issues-driven campaign. There are no secret donors that we know of. Trump himself appears to be the largest financial backer of the Trump campaign. A financial report disclosed that Trump lent his own campaign $1.8 million while raising just $100,000.
There's no hidden platform behind the shallow facade. With Trump, the facade is the whole deal. If old-school policy hucksters like Christie can't find a way to beat a media master like Trump at the ratings game, they will soon die out.

In a perverse way, Trump has restored a more pure democracy to this process. He's taken the Beltway thinkfluencers out of the game and turned the presidency into a pure high-school-style popularity contest conducted entirely in the media. Everything we do is a consumer choice now, from picking our shoes to an online streaming platform to a presidential nominee.
The irony, of course, is that when America finally wrested control of the political process from the backroom oligarchs, the very first place where we spent our newfound freedom and power was on the campaign of the world's most unapologetic asshole. It may not seem funny now, because it's happening to us, but centuries from this moment, people will laugh in wonder.
America is ceasing to be a nation, and turning into a giant television show. And this Republican race is our first and most brutal casting call.