Friday, March 18, 2016

HWX: March Madness

It'sa very special midweek episode of HWX, with Brian Ward of Fraters Libertas and Paul Happe of the Nihilist in Golf Pants reconvening to discuss the critical issues of our time. Topics addressed include:
* Barack Obama’s controversial NCAA women’s basketball tournament bracket picks
* A fond look back on Marco Rubio’s now suspended Presidential campaign (with help from Carly Simon)
* The Trump attack ads on Rubio and their potential effect on his future prospects in Florida (including a new attack ad debuting and targeting some of your favorite Ricochet personalities)
* The status of the Hillary campaign and some of her recent advertisements (including a first draft of a rejected ad never before heard in public)
* The #NeverTrump movement among conservatives – high principle or a temper tantrum?
* The enticing potential of an open GOP convention. If a majority of delegates can’t agree on any of the remaining candidates, who to choose? If we could dispense with the dirty business of democratic selection, and you could choose ANYONE in the country to be the Republican nominee, who would it be?
HWX is brought to you by the fine folks at Harry’s Shave. Go to now and Harry’s will give you $5 off if you type in my code HWX with your first purchase.
There are many ways to hear the podcast, including over on the mother ship at Ricochet.  You can be sure to never miss an episode by subscribing via iTunes.  Or you can just use the player embedded in the upper right hand corner of this website.  If all of these fail, send me an email and I'll come to your house and read from a written transcript.  Hope you enjoy.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Lady Sings the Blues

Separated at Birth, former White House leading lady, Lady Bird Johnson

And former lead singer of Stryper, Michael Sweet.

And, of secondary noteworthiness, Ted Cruz.

Bonus for Cruz, he can leverage this resemblance and perform this as his new campaign theme song, which could be equally as effective in the primary and general elections.  

(Via some guy on Facebook).

Size Matters Redux

The latest installment of Prager University addresses a topical and timely political question by asking "How big is too big?" when it comes to size. Size of the government of course.

In this week’s video, author William Voegeli, Senior Editor of the Claremont Review of Books, poses two questions that every American should think about this election year: 1) How much government is enough government? and 2) Should America’s government be as big (or bigger) than that of France, Germany, or Sweden? Mr. Voegeli shows just how big our government has gotten in the past 70 years, and why the cost and size of Washington, D.C. has us on a crash course for European-style unemployment. The amazing thing? Progressives still say -- and will always say -- the government doesn’t spend enough.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Separated at Birth?

Presidential candidate Ted Cruz:

Former Presidential wife, Lady Bird Johnson:

For the record, Cruz's spouse looks nothing like Lady Bird's spouse.   Advantage Cruz.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Sucker Punch

Today’s Trump news flash mob focused on allegations of a disturbing trend of violence at Trump rallies.  From CNN:

Observers have been worrying about heightened tensions at Donald Trump rallies for a while, and now they're turning violent. 
On Wednesday night, a Trump supporter sucker-punched an African-American protester as he was being escorted out of a rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina. 
Last month, a Secret Service agent choke-slammed a Time Magazine photographer after he left the media pen to photograph a group of protesters. 
And at Trump press conference on Tuesday night, a Breitbart News reporter was reportedly yanked by the arm by Trump's campaign manager (though the campaign disputes that account).

And the inevitable lesson of the day of why this man must be stopped:

Such violence, which is unprecedented in the history of modern presidential campaigns, is the inevitable result of the charged anti-protester and anti-media rhetoric coming out of the mouth of the candidate himself, reporters and observers say.

It’s unprecedented and it’s inevitable!  (Is that possible?  How would they know its inevitable then?)
But I’ll accept CNN’s analysis that it’s true.  Charged anti-protester anti-media rhetoric leads to violence.  Although such violence itself is not unprecedented.   In fact I clearly remember the last time an assault happened at a Presidential rally.  From the New York Post, in 2004:

Wise-cracking funnyman Al Franken yesterday body-slammed a demonstrator to the ground after the man tried to shout down Gov. Howard Dean. 
The tussle left Franken’s trademark thick-rim glasses broken, but he said he was not injured. 
Franken – who seemed in a state of shock and out of breath after the incident – was helped back to his feet by several people who watched the tussle. Police arrived soon after. 
“I got down low and took his legs out,” said Franken afterwards.
Franken said he’s not backing Dean but merely wanted to protect the right of people to speak freely. “I would have done it if he was a Dean supporter at a Kerry rally,” he said.
“I’m neutral in this race but I’m for freedom of speech, which means people should be able to assemble and speak without being shouted down.”
Franken emerged from the crowd and charged one male protester, grabbing him with a bear hug from behind and slamming him onto the floor. 
“I was a wrestler so I used a wrestling move,” Franken said.

I remember that incident clearly, but was never clear on the cause.  Now we know it was the dangerous anti-media and anti-protester rhetoric by that carnival barker Howard Dean!  The Democrat establishment and media’s subsequent  #NeverDean movement and their pledges to vote for George W Bush to stop him make all the more sense now.

Actually, no, 2004 was a simpler time when assaults at a Presidential rally were no big deal.

And whatever happened to that Franken fellow?   I hear he got sent to an asylum a few years later, and we all hope he’s getting the help he needs.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Loss Leaders

Following up on Laettner’s Lament, update on the Minnesota Republican party endorsers.  First Norm Coleman, steadfast supporter of Lindsey Graham Jeb Bush Marco Rubio.  I hope he took some pride in Rubio’s victory in the recent Minnesota caucus, because if current polls are to be believed, he may have to apply his ballot box Midas touch to a fourth candidate in short order.

If Donald Trump continues to be the front runner, Coleman may to tap a fifth candidate before all is send and done.   Because we may not know who Norm Coleman will ultimately support in this primary contest, we definitely know who he will not support.   He’s a #NeverTrumpeter.  From his editorial in the Star Tribune:

I won't vote for Donald Trump.  I won't vote for Donald Trump because of who he isn't.  He isn't a Republican. He isn't a conservative. He isn't a truth teller.  He's not a uniter. Donald Trump isn't the leader America needs after eight years of a president who deliberately divided us and fanned the flames of racial and socioeconomic strife — and, by doing so, diminished America's standing in the world. 
I also won't vote for Donald Trump because of who he is.  A bigot. A misogynist. A fraud. A bully.

The obvious first reaction to this is to check the lyrics to “That’s Life” by Frank Sinatra, to do a plagiarism check with Coleman’s snappy last line.   It’s a close call, but I’m absolving him (for now).  Although Coleman’s variation would make for a good Trump campaign song:

I've been a bigot, a bully, a misogynist, a fraud, a pawn and a king
I've been up and down and over and out and I know one thing
Each time I find myself flat on my face
I pick myself up and get back in the race

The second reaction is to note that Coleman thinks people care about who he plans to vote for and why.  You don’t write something that pretentious without the pretense of thinking it means something important.  Arguably, there was a time when Norm Coleman could be considered to be an opinion leader for Minnesotans.  He did received the approval of a bare majority of Minnesotans who happened to vote in an election … 14 years ago.  But that was book-ended by losses to Jesse Ventura (where Norm Coleman was preferred by 34% of voting Minnesotans) and to Al Franken (when he received 42% of the vote).  Not exactly Ronald Reagan landslide leadership levels there.
Coleman is 1 - 2 in statewide elections, receiving a high of 50% of the vote in 2002.  Is that the best Minnesota Republicans can do for an influential opinion leader within the party?

According to my analysis – no.  In fact, Coleman is currently the 10th most influential endorser available to the Republican Party.

The table below shows all Republican candidates for statewide offices since 1970:  Governor, US Senator, Auditor, Secretary of State, and Attorney General.  (Not included in this analysis are Lt. Governor – which is subsidiary to the gubernatorial candidate since merging as an electoral pair in 1974 or State Treasurer, a constitutional office abolished by amendment in 2003.)

Candidates are ranked, in order, by:  Winning percentage, number of wins, highest % of general election vote, and winning streak.   Unranked individuals (shaded cells) are known to be deceased.

(Click table to enlarge)

Earlier I noted about the presence of so many election losers present in the MN establishment Republican attempt to squash Trump:

The traditional “The Party Decides” model assumes prominent endorsements play an outsized role in picking eventual winners.   But decades of loss chokes off the supply of prominent, influential endorsers …. for Minnesota Republicans, that model is broken. 

The table above provides the evidence.  Of these 42 statewide candidates, nearly two-thirds (64%) were one and done, losing in their one and only appearance on the statewide ballot.  Only 6 (14%) have won more statewide elections than they lost.  And only 4 (10%) have winning records and ever earned at least 50% of the popular vote.   A visualization of this data:

(Click chart to enlarge)

The lonely triangles at the bottom of the chart are the cannon fodder served up to the likes of DFL'ers Joan Growe (6-1), Skip Humphrey (4-2), Mark Dayton (4-1), Lori Swanson (3-0), Rebecca Otto (3-0), Warren Spannaus (3-0), et al over the past half century. 
Bobbing their heads above the waterline at the top are the four broadly popular winners the MN GOP have offer since 1970:  Arne Carlson, Dave Durenberger, Judi Dutcher, and Al Quie.

Yes, it’s been a while (the 1990s) since any of these candidates were scoring their victories.  But these people are all still out there, and Minnesotans have long memories.  Why not wake up the echoes and bring these champions back to herald a new era of success for the MN Republican party?

Oh yeah, that’s right, they all became Democrats.   

One of the four officially became a Democrat.  The most recent Republican 50%+ statewide winner, Judi Dutcher, switched parties in 2000 and ran for Lieutenant Governor on the DFL ticket in 2006 (when she and Mike Hatch narrowly lost to Tim Pawlenty and Carol Molnau, 47%-46%). 

By this analysis, Arne Carlson is by far the most popular/influential available Republican, going 5-0 in statewide elections and topping out with 63% of the popular vote in his last election (1994 gubernatorial race).   If any state Republican had the potential to lead opinion, it would be him.  And I’m sure state Republicans would have reached out for him, except for the complicating matters of Carlson endorsing Barack Obama for President in 2008, endorsing an Independent candidate for MN governor and endorsing a Democrat for Congress in CD-1 (instead of GOP endorsed candidates Tom Emmer and Randy Demmer) in 2010, and in 2012 endorsing a Democrat for Congress in CD-6 (over Michele Bachmann).  Although Carlson assures us he still considers himself a Republican.

Dave Durenberger is the only other Republican winning statewide races 3 or more times since 1970, and also topping 60% of the popular vote (in his 1978 US Senate race).  He’s also had a Carlson like post-election career, tacitly endorsing Obama, refusing to endorse Tom Emmer for Governor, and regularly engaging in rhetoric like:

The Republican Party has made a virtue of extremism. It has done so with plenty of help from the old Confederacy, the religious right, the counter-culture hierarchy of the Catholic Church and Brooks' "Bobos in Paradise", who move to the exurbs seeking a world that looks just like them. The list's a long one.

And, curiously, still considers himself a Republican.  A Minnesota Republican.

Finally, Al Quie, a one-and-done statewide candidate, but going out a winner, with 52% support in the 1978 race for MN Governor. Certainly silent Al has been able to hold the Republican banner high without any controversies to strain the perceived loyalty to his party?  Actually, no. Quie got caught up in the great exodus from Tom Emmer as well in 2010, endorsing independent Tom Horner.  

In fact, Quie joined Durenberger and Carlson on MN GOP double secret probation after the Emmer-Horner imbroglio, getting banned from all party activities for 2 years.  Quoth Quie:

“The Republican party is trying to become ... you would call it introverted totalitarianism,” said former congressman and Gov. Al Quie, a onetime vice presidential prospect who plans to stick with the party despite the penalty. “It’s just plain dumb on their part. ... In the long run, if the party persists with this, [it's] going to just become smaller and smaller and eventually something else would come in its place.”

So you can see why the MN Republican party cannot produce influential endorsers or opinion leaders.  Their popular winners from the previous political generation are party pariahs. And their current popular winners?  Referring to that chart above, that big, white expanse in the upper right quadrant are where the popular winners would have been since about 1998, and there’s nobody there.

At the time of the Carlson, Durenberger, Quie purge, then MN GOP Chairman Tony Sutton stated:

“I think a lot of these people are not relevant politically,” Sutton said. “They represent a bygone era, sort of the era of the 'country club Republican' -– when we weren’t opposed to Big Government; we just said we could manage it better. This is [now] sort of the Reagan Era of the Republican Party.” 
“It’s funny, we’ve had more success since we moved away from a lot of these folks,” he added. “You can argue we’ve become more successful as we’ve become truer to our principles.”

You could argue that, if your definition of success, and political relevance, was something other than convincing 50% or more of Minnesotans to vote for you. 

Saturday, March 05, 2016

HWX: The New Centurians

It’s an extra special edition of HWX, with Brian Ward of Fraters Libertas and Paul Happe of the Nihilist in Golf Pants reconvening to celebrate episode 100 of this award winning podcast. Also making a grand return to the folder, the original H himself, John Hinderaker.
Topics addressed include:
* Super Tuesday and analysis of Minnesota’s characteristically unique voting patterns
* Marco Rubio’s Baghdad Bob-like post election analysis of his performance and prospects
* Ted Cruz’s viability and a review of his more creative anti-Trump ads
* Hillary Clinton latest ad campaign “Making America Work for You” with an exclusive sneak preview of latest ad on this theme (with help from Austin Powers)
* An update of Hillary’s latest poll numbers, with a focus on young women, and an update on Madelyn Albright’s “special place in hell” for women who don’t support her.
* A final, fond farewell to the Jeb Bush campaign, Nobody Did it Better than Jeb (according to Carly Simon).
HWX is brought to you by the fine folks from Harry’s Shave. For an amazing shave at a low price, delivered FREE to your door, check out Enter HWX as the coupon code for your first order and get extra special savings
HWX is also brought to you by Hillsdale College and their FREE Constitution 101 course. Sign up today at

There are many ways to hear the podcast, including over on the mother ship at Ricochet.  You can be sure to never miss an episode by subscribing via iTunes.  Or you can just use the player embedded in the upper right hand corner of this website.  If all of these fail, send me an email and I'll come to your house and read from a written transcript.  Hope you enjoy.

Friday, March 04, 2016

Size Matters

Now that it seems increasingly likely that Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee for president (Bart-like shiver of fear) the pertinent question is whether he can actually beat Hillary Clinton come November (assuming she’s not wearing an XL ankle bracelet under house arrest in one of her million dollar homes).

The way I see it there are four groups that hold the keys to Trump’s fate in the general election.

1. Republican voters who like Trump and will vote for him

2. Republican voters who don’t like Trump but will vote for him to stop Hillary

3. Republican votes who don’t like Trump and won’t vote for him (a.k.a. SECRET- Squishy Elite Cuckservative RINO Establishment Traitors)

4. Independents and Democrats who like Trump more than Hillary and will vote for him

Trying to determine the true size of any of these groups is difficult.

The first group probably represents 35-40% of people calling themselves Republicans at the moment. They are the least likely to move into another camp.

The second and third groups comprise the remaining 60-65% of the GOP and it’s anyone’s guess how they are split right now. Whatever the split is today it will almost certainly change based on events and time. Trump could drive more people into the “Never Trump” group or he could coax some back from it into holding their noses and choosing the lesser of two evils. As the calendar moves closer to November and the prospect of President Hillary becomes more and more real I suspect that “Never” may morph into “Okay, But Just This One Time” for some of the third group.

The real wild card is the fourth group. No one really has a good handle on how many independents and Democrats Trump has attracted so far or could attract in November against Hillary. This is the group that’s either going to win or lose the election for Trump.

If he can get enough independents to support him and enough Democrats to cross over-in the right mix of states for electoral college purposes-he could win as long as the size of this group is larger than the group of Republicans who won’t vote for him. If #4 > #3 (again assuming the right electoral college mix) it’s entirely possible that he could become the next president of these here United States.

It still doesn’t seem probable, but eight months ago neither did Trump being the GOP front runner after Super Tuesday.