Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year-- But Not In Dubai


You may know that I'm an inveterate traveler-- and have been since I first left my parents home in Brooklyn at age 16 and hitchhiked-- with $48 in my pocket; there were no credit cards back then (at least that I am aware of)-- to Los Angeles in order to stow away on a ship-- a series of ships-- to go make a new life on Tonga. I never got to Tonga, having been caught on the first ship, bound for Hawaii. But eventually I managed to travel to 100 countries-- theoretically a member of the Century Club-- normally just ones I want to visit. One country I visited that I didn't chose to was Dubai, a grotesque, feudal dictatorship where half the population lives in effective slavery.

3 years ago I decided to spend December in Kerala, a lovely state in southwest India that I had liked a lot when I was there in 1970. The easiest way to get to Kochi (Cochin) from L.A. was by Emirates Air from L.A. with a very short stop in Dubai. Roland and I flew back to L.A. on January 5 on a flight that left Kochi at 4:35 am and arrived in Dubai at 7:05 am for an hour-and-a-half layover. I was flying in business class and Roland was in economy. When the plane landed, the airline attendants hustled me off the plane and fed me some cock'n'bull story, as it turned out, about the plane not going on to L.A. What they did was give my seat-- and the seats of several other business class passengers-- to some people connected to the Dubai "royal" family, which is the sole owner of Emirates and which they treat like a family asset. So I got stuck in the godforsaken country overnight. I really hated Emirates Air-- whose attitude about the whole incident was shocking-- and I disliked Dubai as much. What a hellhole!

And yesterday, as you've probably seen on TV they had a double bread-and-circuses event: a fire in a skyscraper next to an amazing fireworks show.

Look, it wasn't Donald Trump or even P.T. Barnum who first said, "the show must go on." It was-- even before Freddie Mercury, Leo Sayer and Pink Floyd-- English playwright and composer Noël Coward (who wrote a song, Why Must the Show Go On? in 1953). Yesterday, though, it was an official of the Emirate of Dubai who made a show must go on decision as the 63-story luxury Address hotel and residences burned. It took 5 minutes for the fire to spread from one floor to 40 floors but it took an hour for the first firetruck to arrive. The Address is part of the same Downtown Dubai development as the 160 story Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, which was at the hub of Dubai’s New Year's firework spectacular, which went ahead despite the fire. The Address had been advertising itself as "the perfect place to watch the New Year’s Eve fireworks." If you can forget you're in a desperate hellhole the western powers play footsie with.

Labels: ,

Where Does Trumpism Come From?


Writing at Vox yesterday, David Roberts has a classic explanation for the rise of fascism or, more particularly, explains where the hell Trumpism comes from and how it took over the Republican Party. His support comes the intersection of a group losing both its economic status and it's cultural status-- not an either/or proposition. As he explains, economic anxiety and racism can't be easily distinguished when looking closely at the hard-core Tumpists. It's very much a part of Us vs Them politics, rather than right vs left.
Most politics is interest group politics, about securing benefits and protections for a particular Us and in some cases denying benefits and protections to particular Thems perceived as undeserving or in competition with Us for scarce resources.

This is most clear when the interest group in question is a demographic group systematically excluded from power-- in the US, nonwhite non-men, basically. That's why we call feminism or Black Lives Matter or LGBT movements "identity politics." They manifest as political or economic demands tied to group identity.

...The interests of the politically and culturally dominant group are woven into the status quo; they are simply "politics." Maintenance of the status quo is the assumption; changes to the status quo, which would shift the distribution of benefits and protections, are "demands." The dominant group is rarely seen as, or thinks of itself as, a distinct identity with common interests. It is simply the norm, the baseline. The dynamic is no different for white, Christian, working-class men and their wives in the US.

There's a unique political dynamic that develops when the dominant group begins to lose power due to demographic and economic changes. It becomes a group, one identity among others, fighting for benefits. This is a profound and unsettling shift, inevitably seen as a corruption of the proper order, an assault by the undeserving on the resources of those entitled to them. The group experiences diminution as humiliation and seeks someone to blame, usually various subaltern groups. The process often involves backlash, even violence.

Contra Sanders, Trump did not "convert" their economic anxiety into xenophobia and racial resentment. Rather, from their perspective, he correctly identified the roots of their economic anxiety, something other politicians fear to do because of "political correctness." ...
The Republican base thinks they face a victorious Democratic Party that is intent on expanding government to increase dependency and therefore electoral support. It starts with food stamps and unemployment benefits; expands further if you legalize the illegal immigrants; but insuring the uninsured through the Affordable Care Act will dramatically expand the number of those dependent on government. They believe these policies are part of an electoral strategy-- not just a political ideology or economic philosophy. If Obamacare is fully implemented, the Republican Party may be lost forever.

While few explicitly talk about Obama in racial terms, the base supporters are very conscious of being white in a country with growing minorities. Their party is losing to a Democratic Party promoting big government and whose goal is to expand programs that mainly benefit minorities. Race remains very much alive in the politics of the Republican Party.
To these voters, Democrats are a) hurting the economy by b) taxing productive, upright citizens in order to c) funnel benefits to minorities and immigrants who will then d) vote for Democrats and reinforce the cycle. The economic and demographic anxieties are part of the same story.

Admittedly, Trump supporters do not overlap neatly with the Republican base. He has drawn in many people who were entirely disconnected from politics. But if anything, reactionary sentiments are stronger in the cross section of Americans drawn to Trump.

To the bafflement of the GOP elite, Trump's supporters haven't objected to his various dissents from Republican orthodoxy-- his promise to protect Medicare and Social Security, his odd mix of isolationism andbelligerence, his relentless, crass mockery of Republican politicians. His voters are not animated by abstractions like small government and low taxes, or by party loyalty. They are animated by demographic interests.

They don't mind government benefits as such. They mind losing some of their benefits to others who haven't worked for them, who don't deserve them, lazy minorities and illegal immigrants. Trump is standing up for Us, and denouncing Them, in a clearer way than any other politician.

This kind of ethnic chauvinism-- socialism for me, Darwinian capitalism for thee-- is orthogonal to the policy disputes between the two US political parties. For years, it's been subsumed under the plutocratic economic agenda of the GOP elite; Trumpism reflects its full flowering. (Such chauvinism is more familiar, and better represented, in European splinter-right parties.)

For the Americans rallying around Trump, economic insecurity is tied to the rise of minorities. Traditional white, Christian, small-town, patriarchal culture, along with the high-paying jobs that sustained it, is being assaulted, invaded, corrupted by the rise of demographic groups that do not share its values and a political party that manipulates those demographic groups to further its own power.

To be very clear: I'm not saying, as Sanders is sometimes accused of arguing, that racism is merely an expression of economic anxiety, or that solving economic anxiety would solve racism. That would, in fact, be naive. Racial resentments and stereotypes have their own independent reality and power, which extend well beyond what can be explained purely through recourse to economics.

But by the same token, it's important to understand that from the perspective of the beleaguered white working-class voters supporting Trump, there are not two stories, the loss of economic power and the loss of cultural power, but one story: Their America is being degraded and displaced in favor of another America in which they don't belong. Trying to understand them without grasping that unified story is politically fruitless.
If you'd like, you can contribute to Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign here.

Labels: , ,

If Florida Voters Want More Of What George Bush And Marco Rubio Gave Them, Alan Grayson Isn't The Way To Go


Tuesday Paul Krugman was ruminating on how lucky the GOP establishment is that the noisy mess that is Herr Trumpf is keeping people from focusing on "the hard right turn even conventional Republican candidates have taken, a turn whose radicalism would have seemed implausible not long ago. After all," he wrote in his Times column, "you might have expected the debacle of George W. Bush’s presidency-- a debacle not just for the nation, but for the Republican Party, which saw Democrats both take the White House and achieve some major parts of their agenda-- to inspire some reconsideration of W-type policies. What we’ve seen instead is a doubling down, a determination to take whatever didn’t work from 2001 to 2008 and do it again, in a more extreme form." He goes on to discuss the doubling down on Bush's failed economic policies by all the Republican contenders and on his catastrophic foreign policies by most of them.

The decision to reject Bushism (again) will come for Florida voters not just in November, but in the Democratic Senate primary two months earlier, on August 30. That's when brilliant and pugnacious Alan Grayson will have to overcome the supremely well-financed but supremely mediocre establishment puppet, Chuck Schumer and his Wall Street bankster allies have picked for the seat, Patrick Murphy, the weakest possible bulwark against a Bush agenda.

This week, Grayson wasn't talking about Murphy, an "ex"-Republican, but about the current Republican whose seat he is hoping to fill, Marco Rubio. Many of his criticisms of Rubio, however, apply equally well to Murphy. "You know how it is. Politicians chop up the law into little pieces, sell those pieces to the highest bidder, and then gorge on the proceeds. They raise all the sewer money that they can-- from lobbyists and PACs alike-- and then they spend it on personal indulgences. I’m running for Marco Rubio’s seat in the Senate. Just ask Marco Rubio about that free back-waxing he got from the Florida GOP. I’m serious."
Marco Rubio is now third in the GOP Presidential polls. The media repeats, ad nauseam, just two things about Rubio: (1) he’s a good-looking young man; and (2) he’s Hispanic! They somehow never mention that when he was Speaker of the Florida House, he obtained a Florida GOP credit card amply funded by corporate campaign contributions, and he charged thousands upon thousands of dollars of personal expenses on it.

Including a back-waxing. You can look it up.

Why doesn’t the media ever mention that? Why doesn’t Rubio ever get questioned about it at those frequent food fights called the GOP debates? I don’t know-- maybe they all feel about Rubio the same way that Marc Antony felt about Brutus at Caesar’s funeral-- “Brutus is an honourable man.” Not.

Yes, so much in campaign contributions are diverted to graft by “leaders” like Marco Rubio that no one even bothers to mention it anymore.

How about we try something else with campaign contributions: I reach out to you and other small donors to power our People Power campaign-- and you help. First, it was to take an “R+4” House seat that nobody thought we could win. (In 2008, I beat a four-term GOP incumbent in a red district that the GOP had held for 34 years.) Now, it’s winning a seat in the Senate for our movement. After that, when I’m in the Senate in Rubio’s seat, I foreswear the lobbyist-funded back-waxing, I spend exactly 0 minutes kissing up to special interests and lobbyists, and I devote all my time to getting good things done for The People. Wouldn’t that be something completely different?

...Here’s something else worth mentioning about Marco Rubio-- as far as I know, the only legislation that he has passed during his five years in the Senate is a resolution renaming September as National Spinal Cord Injury Month. Now, admittedly, September is overdue for a renaming. September is Latin for “seventh month,” and it’s not. But couldn’t Marco Rubio grapple with a more serious and pressing problem?

Rubio hasn’t renamed a Post Office yet. Maybe he should try that, next.

So tell me: Why, oh why, doesn’t the media ever mention Rubio’s infinitesimal list of accomplishments?

In contrast, the last bill that the House passed before the current recess had four Grayson provisions in it-- one increasing funding for environmental protection for estuaries, one reversing GOP cuts for senior housing, and two extending “green energy” tax credits. I literally accomplished more in one day in the House than Rubio has accomplished in his five years in the Senate-- by a wide margin.

How about we try something else with the power the comes from being an elected official: I reach out to you and other small donors to power our People Power campaign-- and you help. Then, when I’m in the Senate in Rubio’s seat, I foreswear renaming months, and get lots and lots of good things done for The People. Wouldn’t that be something completely different?

...This is the path forward, toward the oldest new (and newest old) form of government: Government of the People, by the People and for the People. This is how to make real change, and make change real. Will you help, right here and right now?

Yesterday we updated a post about how dishonest, scammy campaigns try it manipulate donors and referred to a phony match qualification offer from the worst of the Schumercrats, Florida conservaDem and scam-artist Patrick Murphy. Soon after, he followed that e-mail up with another Beltway burn-the-lists classic:
This news just hit. Roll Call just said that this race "is a virtual must-win for Democrats to get back to the majority."

The pressure is ON.

There is no way we can miss our FEC goal now. We only have 24 hours. Some of our best supporters are matching gifts right now.
Have you had enough of corrupt career politicians with their hands in the cookie jar?

This time a staffer at Grayson's campaign responded with an e-mail of their own, mocking Murphy and the rest of the corrupt little sleaze bags like him who flood our in-boxes with this junk:
Our primary opponent, Patrick Murphy, sent me a fundraising email this morning claiming I’d “qualified” for a match program. I’m sure you’ve seen emails like this before. Politicians trying to trick you into donating by saying your contribution will be doubled-- or even tripled.

I’m here to tell you, your contribution will not be matched.

It’s a slick trick-- and I’m sure it works-- but our campaign doesn’t need to lie to supporters in order to motivate them. All we have to do is tell the truth, and let you do the rest.

Your gift will not be matched, but it will 100% support sending a progressive champion like Congressman Alan Grayson to the United States Senate. That’s better than qualifying for a fake match.

Labels: , , , , ,

The Latest GOP Civil War Is About Stopping Ted Cruz In Iowa. Or Is That Just A Rubio Sneak Attack?


Something that's been circulating on the fringes of the political right, a new plan to undermine progressive accomplishments-- everything from consumer protections, health care, safe air and water, marriage equality... you name it-- is a crackpot scheme, called Convention of States to rewrite the Constitution. Someone told Marco Rubio about it and he endorsed it yesterday, hoping that can help him win over extremists in Iowa next month. Rubio isn't the first to sign on to this crackpot scheme, which has been embraced by the whole panoply of right-wingers including all the usual suspects like Hate Talk Radio hosts Mark Levin, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and politicians like Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, Bobby Jindal, Tom Coburn, Allen West and even the relatively "mainstream" John Kasich. (As soon as Cruz got wind of Rubio using this against him, he had a spokesperson go out and say he's into it too, of course.) I guess no one has mentioned it to Herr Trumpf yet.

Interestingly, it's now part of the GOP establishment's Stop Cruz "movement" in Iowa, where they are desperate to derail him and Trumpf-- who together have the support, according to the latest CBS poll of Iowa Republicans, of 71% of likely caucus participants. The Anybody But Cruz attack was exposed by the Tim Alberta and Eliana Johnson at the National Review yesterday, though it sounds like a lot of pointless noise by backers of also-rans from the failed Santorum and Huckabee campaigns, rallying around a Rubio campaign they have equal disdain for. Republicans are weird!
As the Texas senator solidifies his front-runner status with just over a month to go before the February 1 caucuses, a loose network of social-conservative activists has undertaken a quiet effort to defeat him by any means necessary-- even if that means rallying together behind a more electable rival to their own preferred candidates.

Many supporters of Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum, the last two winners of Iowa’s Republican presidential contests, are grappling with a pair of grim realities as the 2016 caucuses approach. Not only have their candidates been stuck in the low single digits for months in Iowa, but they also view Cruz, the new front-runner, as a phony opportunist who has pandered to Evangelicals for political gain, particularly in Iowa. And they fear that if Cruz notches a win in the Hawkeye State-- especially if he does so by a wide margin, which many Republicans now view as a distinct possibility-- he will emerge as the overwhelming favorite to capture the nomination.

These assumptions have led to a pair of common conclusions: First, that preventing Cruz from winning Iowa is more important than promoting their own preferred candidates. And second, that if the only way to accomplish that is by throwing their support to another candidate, it should be Marco Rubio.

“This is real. There exists this feeling that Senator Cruz is only the most recent Christian conservative presidential candidate, and that the two individuals who preceded him in the 2008 and 2012 caucuses have not been given the respect that they deserve as voices in the Christian conservative movement,” says Jamie Johnson, a former member of the Iowa GOP state central committee who supported Santorum in 2012 and has not thrown his weight behind a candidate after supporting former Texas governor Rick Perry earlier this cycle.

“It is absolutely clear to me that many Huckabee and Santorum supporters are going to swing toward Marco Rubio, because he is a Christian conservative who they feel embodies more of the character traits that Huckabee and Santorum embody,” Johnson says. “That’s what I’m hearing from both camps.”

Why the antagonism toward Cruz from those who largely agree with his message? Some of it can be chalked up to sour grapes; backers of Huckabee and Santorum are angry and disappointed that their candidates have been unable to rekindle the magic of elections past. Yet sudden talk of an anti-Cruz effort has echoed in many recent conversations with Iowa Republicans, some of whom are supporting different candidates and others who are unaffiliated.

...Cruz, says Santorum’s senior adviser Matt Beynon in response to the recording, “makes Mitt Romney and John Kerry look consistent.”

...“Ted Cruz is not your classic social conservative,” says Craig Robinson, the former executive director of the Iowa Republican party. “Ted Cruz is fine with 50 different marriage laws. Ted Cruz is fine with 50 different laws defining when life can begin. Ted Cruz has been extremely fortunate that a guy like Rick Santorum hasn’t been on the debate stage with him, because Santorum would flesh out those differences.”

There’s also the matter of experience, which has likely exacerbated frustrations. Cruz is brand-new to the national stage, having served just three years in the Senate with no legislative accomplishments to his name. Santorum and Huckabee are both prior winners of the Iowa caucuses and runners-up for the Republican nomination. During his House and Senate tenure, Santorum fought for the passage of legislation banning partial-birth abortion and worked to draft a major welfare-reform bill. Huckabee, a celebrated figure in social-conservative circles for two decades, is a past chairman of the National Governors Association and remains the longest-serving governor of Arkansas.

Rubio has ties to Huckabee’s political apparatus: He endorsed Huckabee for president in 2008 and served as his Florida co-chair, a decision he attributed at the time to Huckabee’s standing on social issues. “I want the Republican party to be the party of life and family, and Mike Huckabee is the best candidate on those issues,” Rubio told the Tampa Bay Times in 2008.

The Florida senator lacks any such connection to Santorum, but that has not kept some Santorum supporters from privately voicing their admiration for Rubio. In public, Santorum has sided with Rubio in recent spats with Cruz over immigration and foreign policy, two issues on which Cruz has faced nagging questions about his consistency and authenticity. “There isn’t a substantive policy difference between Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz,” Beynon says of the immigration dispute. “The difference is, Marco Rubio is honest about his position. So while Senator Santorum disagrees with both of them, at least Senator Rubio is being honest with the American people about what his position is.”

If they’re serious about it, time is running short for Cruz’s opponents to orchestrate an effort to stop him. Neither Huckabee nor Santorum is expected to make the main debate stage in South Carolina on January 14 or in Iowa on January 28, robbing two of Cruz’s chief antagonists of high-profile platforms from which to attack him directly.

The most obvious way for Huckabee and Santorum to swing the race against Cruz would be to drop out and throw their support behind Rubio. But according to sources familiar with the candidates’ thinking, it’s highly unlikely that either would do so before Caucus Day. 
Of course.

Labels: , , , , ,

Herr Trumpf And The Iowa Evangelicals


Would even one evangelical anywhere fall for a candidate pandering to them this way? This is how Herr Trumpf, waving around a Bible and claiming "plenty of pastors" support him, opened his rally in Council Bluffs Tuesday night:
"I even brought my Bible-- the evangelicals, ok? We love the evangelicals and we’re polling so well. This Bible was given to me by my mother, going to Sunday school… So, we love the Bible. It’s the best. We love The Art of the Deal, but the Bible is far, far superior, yes."
How offensive is that to someone who patterns their life, on some level and with some degree of sincerity,  around Jesus Christ? Most of the rest of the rally consisted of Trumpf boasting about his polling numbers although there was a tiny bit of self-reflection-- rare for the comedian insult dog canddiate-- when he suddenly said "If I don’t win, I would never have done it again because it would have been a waste of time. To me it would have been a big fat, beautiful waste of time, and I really mean that... Unless we win, I couldn’t care less. It’s really true."

The most recent CBS poll of registered Republican voters in Iowa predicts a possible bad night for Trumpf February 1:
Cruz- 40%
Trumpf- 31%
Rubio- 12%
Dr. Ben- 6%
Jeb- 2%
Fiorina- 2%
Huckabee- 2%
Rand Paul- 2%
Santorum- 1%
Kasich- 1%
Christie- 1%
When asked which candidate was someone they could relate to, Trumpf scored the lowest of any of the top tier, just 28%, compared to 53% for Dr. Ben, 46% for Cruz and 32% for Rubio. And did Trumpf's subliminal swipe at Cruz in Council Bluff make any sense to anyone? "To the best of my knowledge, not too many evangelicals come out of Cuba, okay? Just remember that, okay?" What does that even mean? I'm not an evangelical nor a Republican, but it sounds like it would offensive-- or at least confusing-- to evangelical Republicans. As for Rubio, Trumpf's now harping on some craziness about Rubio not being a patriot because his ads have a black background instead of an American flag, which, if nothing else, at least gives us an idea about with Trumpf's soon to be unfurled "millions of dollars" in ads are going to look like.

Wednesday morning, Politico was speculating that Trumpf may be coming to terms with the fact he's going to lose in Iowa next month.
"If I come in second by 2 points, they'll say 'Ooh, this is a terrible defeat,'" he said, referring to media and pundit pronouncements. "It's not terrible."

It seemed like a classic case of expectations-setting common to presidential campaigns, but rarely seen from Trump, who has consistently led both in national and early-state polls. He heaped praise on Iowa's first-in-the-nation status and warned of political plots to bump Iowa "to the back of the pack" in future primary seasons. He said that if he wins, he'd ensure that Iowa remains the first state to hold a nominating contest.

It comes as he foreshadows a sustained ad blitz-- at least $2 million a week-- in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. He also told Iowa rally-goers to expect him to be there so often "You're going to get so sick of me."

"I really want to win Iowa," he said, adding, "We're going to give it our best."

Trump's comments came toward the end of a typically free-wheeling speech that ran more than an hour and featured an accusation that the Obama administration makes it more difficult for Christian foreigners to get into the country than Muslim foreigners.

"We take only the Muslims," he said. "We don't take the Christians. If you're Christian, it's almost impossible to get into this country."

Trump also spent time criticizing Caroline Kennedy, President Barack Obama's ambassador to Japan and the daughter of President John F. Kennedy. He argued that she's unqualified to be the nation's liaison to Japan and has been too eager to accept the wining and dining of her host country.

"She's a very nice person. I say that because my daughter Ivanka says she's a very nice person," Trump told the crowd. "She has no experience at this."

Trump pivoted from that critique to a broader indictment of Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton. As he launched into a hypothetical scene in which Clinton is president, he began to say "Madame President" and then paused.

"Can you imagine?" he said. "If it's gotta be a woman, which I'm all in favor of someday, it shouldn't be Hillary."
Yes, I'm sure he's all in favor of it. He once wrote "I know Hillary and I think she'd make a great president." Andrew Kaczynski:
Less than a decade ago, Donald Trump could be spotted on TV or in print gushing over Hillary Clinton. He publicly praised her health care plan (it had an individual mandate). He said he liked Clinton and her husband “very much.” He said she would do a good job negotiating with Iran.

During the heat of the 2008 campaign, Trump took to his own blog to praise Clinton, writing that she’d make a great president.

“Hillary Clinton said she’d consider naming Barack Obama as her vice-president when she gets the nomination, but she’s nowhere near a shoo-in,” wrote The Donald about the heated Democratic primary in 2008. “For his part, Obama said he’s just focused on winning the nomination, although at least one member of his team said Clinton would make a good vice-president. (I know Hillary and I think she’d make a great president or vice-president.)”
I have a feeling she never said-- or thought-- he's make a great, or even plausible, president or vice president. I'm no Hillary Clinton fan but I know she isn't insane. How many Iowa caucus goers are? You can contribute to Bernie's campaign here.

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Who Lets The Rich Get Away Without Paying Their Fair Share Of Taxes?


Earlier this evening, we looked at how the rich and politically-connected have used their wealth and power to lower their tax rates and we looked at a Robert Reich video about how they've undermined the concept of inheritance taxes. This morning Reich had an interesting Facebook post up that explains the chart above.
One of the major feats of the American oligarchy has been to use their political power to reduce their tax rates, so they can accumulate even more while contributing even less. The chart below shows how effective they've become since 1990. Bear in mind that in the 1950s, when America's super-wealthy raked in a far smaller fraction of the nation's total personal income, the highest marginal tax rate was 91 percent-- and their effective rate (after deductions and credits) was well over 50 percent.

Their goal is to gain control over most of the nation's assets, while paying little or no income, capital-gains, or estate taxes on any of it. The current batch of Republican candidates are all offering tax plans that would advance this goal.

It's time to get serious-- if you haven't already-- about breaking with the corrupt and corrosive establishment, not by heading off towards the "strong-leader," fascist approach that animates the campaigns of Herr Trumpf and Ted Cruz, but by committing to electing the one leader who has analyzed this correctly from Day One and has been working on solving it for three decades: Bernie Sanders. Hillary Clinton isn't going to do anything but preserve the status quo. If Cruz and Trumpf are reactionaries, she is the conservative in this race. Please watch this short video and then consider making a contribution to Bernie's campaign. Happy New Year?

Labels: , , ,

There Are 7 House Democrats Enabling Anti-Working Family GOP Tax Policies, Like Kyrsten Sinema


Last night we briefly touched on a NY Times article by Noam Scheiber and Patricia Cohen, For the Wealthiest, a Private Tax System That Saves Them Billions, in regard to relatively esoteric tax evasion schemes wealthy and politically-connected scofflaws use to avoid paying taxes. Scheiber's and Cohen's quick look at the well-funded mania of the very wealthy to abolish the estate tax isn't something we got to. So let's.

The inheritance tax has been a primary target. In the early 1990s, a California family office executive named Patricia Soldano began lobbying on behalf of wealthy families to repeal the tax, which would not only save them money, but also make it easier to preserve their business empires from one generation to the next. The idea struck many hardened operatives as unrealistic at the time, given that the tax affected only the wealthiest Americans. But Ms. Soldano’s efforts-- funded in part by the Mars and Koch families-- laid the groundwork for a one-year elimination in 2010.

The tax has been restored, but currently applies only to couples leaving roughly $11 million or more to their heirs, up from those leaving more than $1.2 million when Ms. Soldano started her campaign. It affected fewer than 5,200 families last year.

“If anyone would have told me we’d be where we are today, I would never have guessed it,” Ms. Soldano said in an interview.

Some of the most profound victories are barely known outside the insular world of the wealthy and their financial managers.

In 2009, Congress set out to require that investment partnerships like hedge funds register with the Securities and Exchange Commission, partly so that regulators would have a better grasp on the risks they posed to the financial system.

The early legislative language would have required single-family offices to register as well, exposing the highly secretive institutions to scrutiny that their clients were eager to avoid. Some of the I.R.S.’s cases against the wealthy originate with tips from the S.E.C., which is often better positioned to spot tax evasion.

By the summer of 2009, several family office executives had formed a lobbying group called the Private Investor Coalition to push back against the proposal. The coalition won an exemption in the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform bill, then spent much of the next year persuading the S.E.C. to largely adopt its preferred definition of “family office.”

So expansive was the resulting loophole that Mr. Soros’s $24.5 billion hedge fund took advantage of it, converting to a family office after returning capital to its remaining outside investors. The hedge fund manager Stanley Druckenmiller, a former business partner of Mr. Soros, took the same step.

The Soros family, which generally supports Democrats, has committed at least $1 million to the 2016 presidential campaign; Mr. Druckenmiller, who favors Republicans, has put slightly more than $300,000 behind three different G.O.P. presidential candidates.

A slide presentation from the Private Investor Coalition’s 2013 annual meeting credited the success to multiple meetings with members of the Senate Banking Committee, the House Financial Services Committee, congressional staff and S.E.C. staff. “All with a low profile,” the document noted. “We got most of what we wanted AND a few extras we didn’t request.”

After all the loopholes and all the lobbying, what remains of the government’s ability to collect taxes from the wealthy runs up against one final hurdle: the crisis facing the I.R.S.

President Obama has made fighting tax evasion by the rich a priority. In 2010, he signed legislation making it easier to identify Americans who squirreled away assets in Swiss bank accounts and Cayman Islands shelters.

His I.R.S. convened a Global High Wealth Industry Group, known colloquially as “the wealth squad,” to scrutinize the returns of Americans with incomes of at least $10 million a year.

But while these measures have helped the government retrieve billions, the agency’s efforts have flagged in the face of scandal, political pressure and budget cuts. Between 2010, the year before Republicans took control of the House of Representatives, and 2014, the I.R.S. budget dropped by nearly $2 billion in real terms, or nearly 15 percent. That has forced it to shed about 5,000 high-level enforcement positions out of about 23,000, according to the agency.

Audit rates for the $10 million-plus club spiked in the first few years of the Global High Wealth program, but have plummeted since then.

The political challenge for the agency became especially acute in 2013, after the agency acknowledged singling out conservative nonprofits in a review of political activity by tax-exempt groups. (Senior officials left the agency as a result of the controversy.)

Several former I.R.S. officials, including Marcus Owens, who once headed the agency’s Exempt Organizations division, said the controversy badly damaged the agency’s willingness to investigate other taxpayers, even outside the exempt division.

“I.R.S. enforcement is either absent or diminished” in certain areas, he said. Mr. Owens added that his former department-- which provides some oversight of money used by charities and nonprofits to further political campaigns-- has been decimated.

Groups like FreedomWorks and Americans for Tax Reform, which are financed by the foundations of wealthy families and large businesses, have called for impeaching the I.R.S. commissioner. They are bolstered by deep-pocketed advocacy groups like the Club for Growth, which has aided primary challenges against Republicans who have voted in favor of higher taxes.

In 2014, the Club for Growth Action fund raised more than $9 million and spent much of it helping candidates critical of the I.R.S. Roughly 60 percent of the money raised by the fund came from just 12 donors, including Mr. Mercer, who has given the group $2 million in the last five years. Mr. Mercer and his immediate family have also donated more than $11 million to several super PACs supporting Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, an outspoken I.R.S. critic. and a presidential candidate. [Mercer's contribution to Cruz's campaign is now at $30,000,000.]

Another prominent donor is Mr. Yass, who helps run a trading firm called the Susquehanna International Group. He donated $100,000 to the Club for Growth Action fund in September. Mr. Yass serves on the board of the libertarian Cato Institute and, like Mr. Mercer, appears to subscribe to limited-government views that partly motivate his political spending.

But he may also have more than a passing interest in creating a political environment that undermines the I.R.S. Susquehanna is currently challenging a proposed I.R.S. determination that an affiliate of the firm effectively repatriated more than $375 million in income from subsidiaries located in Ireland and the Cayman Islands in 2007, activating a large tax liability. (The affiliate brought the money back to the United States in later years and paid dividend taxes on it; the I.R.S. asserts that it should have paid the ordinary income tax rate, at a cost of tens of millions of dollars more.)

In June, Mr. Yass donated more than $2 million to three super PACs aligned with Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, who has called for taxing all income at a flat rate of 14.5 percent. That change in itself would save wealthy supporters like Mr. Yass millions of dollars.

Mr. Paul has suggested going even further, calling the I.R.S. a “rogue agency” and circulating a petition in 2013 calling for the tax equivalent of regime change. “Be it now therefore resolved,” the petition reads, “that we, the undersigned, demand the immediate abolishment of the Internal Revenue Service.”

But even if that campaign is a long shot, the richest taxpayers will continue to enjoy advantages over everyone else.

For the ultra-wealthy, “our tax code is like a leaky barrel,” said J. Todd Metcalf, the Democrats’ chief tax counsel on the Senate Finance Committee. ”Unless you plug every hole or get a new barrel, it’s going to leak out.”
When Paul "Muslim Beard" Ryan was reviled by his party's far right-wing for compromising with the Democrats on the Omnibus recently, he defended himself by listing several "wonderful" aspects of the bill. Number one, of course, was a giant wet kiss for Big Oil in the form of a repeal of the oil export ban. As Mike Huckabee pointed out, working families don't care about that, only wealthy political contributors do. In his explanation of GOP attempts to further cripple the IRS, Ryan tried spinning it as a boon for ordinary Americans. It isn't. "The IRS continues to act with impunity against the interests of hardworking taxpayers," lied Ryan. "This bill freezes most IRS operations and maintains budget cuts necessary to ensure this agency roots out wasteful spending and redirects resources to serving the American people."

Last summer we looked at a video from the History Channel about how Andrew Carnegie, John Rockefeller and JP Morgan worked together to subvert the 1896 election and steal it from William Jennings Bryan (D) for Wall Street shill William McKinely (R). Their machinations led to the greatest wealth inequality in American history and, inevitably, the Great Depression. That kind of inequality-- nearly half the wealth in the country in the grasping paws of just 1% of the people-- is back... and not by coincidence. Republicans and conservative Democrats-- Blue Dogs and New Dems-- have worked to build the foundations for the rise and dominance of an American aristocracy based on inherited wealth. Robert Reich, working with MoveOn, talks about an antidote to this anti-democracy scourge in the video up top.
At a time of historic economic inequality, it should be a no-brainer to raise a tax on inherited wealth for the very rich. Yet there’s a move among some members of Congress to abolish it altogether...Today the estate tax reaches only the richest two-tenths of one percent, and applies only to dollars in excess of $10.86 million for married couples or $5.43 million for individuals.

That means if a couple leaves to their heirs $10,860,001, they now pay the estate tax on $1. The current estate tax rate is 40%, so that would be 40 cents.

Yet according to these members of Congress, that’s still too much.

Abolishing the estate tax would give each of the wealthiest two-tenths of 1 percent of American households an average tax cut of $3 million, and the 318 largest estates would get an average tax cut of $20 million.

It would also reduce tax revenues by $269 billion over ten years. The result would be either larger federal deficits or higher taxes on the rest of us to fill the gap.

This is nuts. The richest 1 percent of Americans now have 42 percent of the nation’s entire wealth, while the bottom 90 percent has just 23 percent.

That’s the greatest concentration of wealth at the top than at any time since the Gilded Age of the 1890s.

Instead of eliminating the tax on inherited wealth, we should increase it-- back to the level it was in the late 1990s. The economy did wonderfully well in the late 1990s, by the way.

Adjusted for inflation, the estate tax restored to its level in 1998 would begin to touch estates valued at $1,748,000 per couple.

That would yield approximately $448 billion over the next ten years-- way more than enough to finance ten years of universal preschool and two free years of community college for all eligible students.

Our democracy’s Founding Fathers did not want a privileged aristocracy. Yet that’s the direction we’re going in. The tax on inherited wealth is one of the major bulwarks against it. That tax should be increased and strengthened.

It’s time to rein in America’s surging inequality. It’s time to raise the estate tax.
A few months ago the Associated Press released a poll showing that most American voters are very aware that the wealthy aren't paying their fair share of taxes and that the burden falls on the shoulders of the middle class. It looks like the Bernie Sanders/Elizabeth Warren message has finally started making inroads in the collective consciousness of the country (if not the Congress).
According to the poll, 68 percent of those questioned said wealthy households pay too little in federal taxes; only 11 percent said the wealthy pay too much.

Also, 60 percent said middle-class households pay too much in federal taxes, while 7 percent said they paid too little.

Obama laid out a series of tax proposals as part of his 2016 budget released this month. Few are likely to win approval in the Republican-controlled Congress. But if fellow Democrats were to embrace his ideas, they could play a role in the 2016 race.

One proposal would increase capital gains taxes on households making more than $500,000. In the survey, 56 percent favored the proposal, while only 16 percent opposed it.

Democrats, at 71 percent, were the most likely to support raising taxes on capital gains. Among Republicans and independents, 46 percent supported it.
Since then, Republicans have ratcheted up their war against the Estate Tax and are moving to abolish it entirely. If they keep control of both Houses of Congress and win the White House in 2016, there will be no Estate Tax, which is great news for around 5,400 wealthy families-- and bad news for everyone else. Killing off the estate tax would increase the deficit by $269 billion over a decade. On April 16, the House passed an Estate Tax repeal 240-179. Only 7 right-wing House Democrats voted with the GOP:
Brad Ashford (Blue Dog-NE)
Sanford Bishop (Blue Dog-GA)
Jim Costa (Blue Dog-CA)
Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX)
Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN)
Dutch Ruppersberger (MD)
Kyrsten Sinema (Blue Dog-AZ)

Labels: , , , ,

No More GOP? The Democratic Party Will Welcome You, No Questions Asked


Tuesday morning I woke up at 4am. It was still dark so I reached for the channel changer and switched the TV on. It was Eugene Robinson, one of the only bearable Morning Joe regulars, and he was talking about an opinion piece he had just written for the Washington Post, How Donald Trump Destroyed The Republican Party in 2015. When I came downstairs and turned on my computer, it's the first thing I looked for. His point isn't that the party is actually going to disappear, but that it has been so altered that it will be barely recognizable. (But, then again, anyone bemoaning the loss of the Eisenhower-era GOP can find it as the dominant force inside a Democratic Party that would make Wall Street's own senator, Chuck Schumer, Senate Leader and pick another of their creatures, Hillary Clinton, over Bernie Sanders. The day of the New Dems and Schumercrats is nigh. But that isn't what Robinson was concerned about. Rhetorically, he asked if he was exaggerating when he declared the GOP as we know it on its last legs.
Hardly. I’m not sure it’s possible to exaggerate how the Trump phenomenon has torn the party apart, revealing a chasm between establishment and base that is far too wide to bridge with stale Reagan-era rhetoric. Can you picture the Trump legions meekly falling in line behind Jeb Bush or Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.)? I can’t either.

Trump didn't blow up the part on his own. He had help from a field of presidential contenders that was touted as deep and talented but proved shallow and wanting. Bush raised shock-and-awe money but turns out to lack his father and brother’s skill at performing on the national stage; he seems to want to be crowned, not elected. Rubio is like the teacher’s pet who speaks eloquently in class but doesn’t do his homework. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was slow off the mark, perhaps having been stuck in traffic on the George Washington Bridge.

Who else would be acceptable to the GOP establishment? Certainly not Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.). Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee and Ohio Gov. John Kasich all had their glory days in the last century. Carly Fiorina has never held elective office. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Rick Perry, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) have come and gone.

At year’s end, the campaign is dominated by three candidates who appeal over the heads of the establishment and straight to the unruly base: Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.), who negates the fact that he is a sitting senator by waging all-out war against the party leadership; Ben Carson, a distinguished neurosurgeon who seems increasingly out of his depth; and Trump, the undeniable front-runner.

What Trump has done is call out the establishment on years of dishonest rhetoric. Progressives often asked why so many working-class whites went against their own economic interests by supporting the GOP. The answer is that Republicans appealed to these voters on cultural grounds, subtly exploiting their resentments and fears.

The nation’s demographics are changing, with a rapidly growing Latino population-- and an African American in the White House. Globalization has hollowed out the middle class. The country is vulnerable to terrorism, and there is no way to impose a Pax Americana on today’s multipolar world.

The Republican Party promised-- with nods, winks and dog-whistle toots-- to change all of this and make everything the way it used to be. In practice, however, party leaders were compelled to deal with the world as it actually is. Hence, for example, the establishment view a couple of years ago in favor of comprehensive immigration reform.

Enter Trump, who has the temerity to point out that the party establishment says one thing but does another. He launched his campaign by calling the GOP’s bluff on immigration: If the 11 million people here without documents are really “illegal,” as the party loudly proclaims, then send them home. Other candidates were put in the position of having to explain why, after claiming that President Obama was somehow “soft” on immigration, their position on allowing the undocumented to stay is basically the same.

Similarly, many leading Republicans were careful not to offend the “birthers” who denied Obama’s legitimacy as president. An unabashed birther long before he was a candidate, Trump still refuses to say whether he accepts the proven fact that Obama was born in the United States.

Also, the party has long sought to capitalize on fear of terrorism by haranguing the president for not using the exact phrase “radical Islamic terrorism” (as if semantics could bring peace to Syria). So when, after the attack in San Bernardino, Calif. , Trump called for banning Muslims from entering the country, much of the Republican base was receptive. Other candidates had to backpedal and remind voters that George W. Bush made clear his “war on terror” was not a war against Islam.

Trump has given voice to the ugliness and anger that the party spent years encouraging and exploiting. He let the cat out of the bag, and it’s hungry.

The party might nominate Trump, in which case the establishment will have lost all control. Or party leaders might somehow find a way to defeat him, in which case they will have lost the allegiance of much of the base. In either event, the GOP we once knew is irredeemably a thing of the past.
"Democrats" with more traditional Republican hearts-- Rahm Emanuel, Steve Israel, Chris Van Hollen, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Steny Hoyer, Chuck Schumer, the New Dems, Blue Dogs and whatever the DLC calls itself these days-- will continue welcoming them with open arms, even running them for office as "Democrats." the way they're doing this year with Patrick Murphy and Charlie Crist in Florida, Monica Vernon in Iowa and, among others, Mike Derrick in New York. Alas, the Republican Wing of the Democratic Party is no longer just a wing.

Labels: , , ,

The Great American Schlonging Will Not Be A Disaster For Both Parties-- Just For One


Trump claims-- on twitter , of course-- that he will finally be opening his legendary purse strings. Beware the moths that fly out. To date he hasn't though-- something that fits his cheapskate personality and the conventional wisdom he's helped create about how spending millions has sunk the poor Jebster. Spending tens of millions of his donors' money hasn't helped Bush; that's for sure. As of Nov. 16, Herr Trumpf's campaign had raised $5,828,922 and spent $5,574,149. His campaign had further debts of $1,804,747 and his cash-on-hand was down to $254,773. So, if he's really going to start spending what it takes to win in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada, he's going to be using Trumpf-cash... and I'll believe that when I see it.

Besides, is it too late? In Iowa, it probably is. That's Cruz-country now, irretrievably so. Trumpf can still-- and probably will-- pull out the win in New Hampshire, where his rivals (Rubio and Christie) are weak. But as Chris Weigant pointed out at HuffPo Monday, "[s]ometimes, figuratively speaking, all the money in the world can't change a political outcome." He was writing about the poor Jebster (as well as twin California Republican failures Fiorina and Whitman] when he opined that "[f]or all those that decry politicians who 'buy' elections, sometimes outright attempts to do so are met with nothing more than sheer indifference from the voters."

Herr has a different sort of problem though. If this is a significant part of your base of support, how do you make sure they go to the polls? His fans are alienated, very much life's losers who want to see the whole system collapse. In their most recent poll, CNN detected that the widespread disillusion with "the government" is much more pronounced-- virtually universal-- among Trumpf fans than among normal people or even among garden variety always-angry-about-everything Republicans.
According to a new CNN/ORC Poll, 75% of Americans say they are dissatisfied with the way the nation is being governed, and 69% are at least somewhat angry with the way things are going in the U.S., both metrics about as negative as they were in fall 2014.

While majorities across party lines express dissatisfaction and anger, Republicans are most likely to feel that way. And both sentiments are particularly strong among those Republicans who back Donald Trump in the GOP race for the nomination. Overall, 90% of Republicans are dissatisfied with the way the nation is being governed, and 82% express anger with the way things are going in the U.S. today. Among Trump backers, 97% are dissatisfied with government, 91% at least somewhat angry.
Republican establishment operative, Frank Luntz, in a behind-the-paywall OpEd for the Financial Times, writes that in a country Trumpf has helped render more divided than any time since the Civil War, the Trumpf fans will be there for him, all the way through November.
The simple truth is, the more provocative his language, the deeper and more passionate his support. He is no dummy; there is a method to his proverbial madness. Mr Trump says-- to the growing legions who will listen-- what tens of millions of Americans are already thinking. Respect or revile him, the man has hit a vein.

I spent three hours in a deep dialogue focus group with 29 Trump supporters. The phenomenon of “The Donald” is rooted in a psyche far deeper and more consequential than next November’s presidential election. His support denotes an abiding distrust in-- and disrespect for-- the governing elite. These individuals do not like being told by Washington or Wall Street what is best for them, do not like the direction America is headed in, and disdain President Barack Obama and his (perceived) circle of self-righteous, tone-deaf governing partisans.

Trump voters are not just angry-- they want revenge.

Mr Trump has adroitly filled the vacuum of vitriol, establishing himself as the bold, brash, take-no-prisoners megaphone for the frustrated masses. They see him as the antidote to all that Mr Obama has made wrong with America. So to understand why millions love Mr Trump so much, you have to take a step back and listen to why they hate Mr Obama so much.

Here, my Trump voter focus group was particularly illuminating. Some still believe the president is not Christian. Many believe he does not love America. And just about all of them think he does not reflect the values the country was built upon. Indeed, within this growing faction, Mr Trump has licence to say just about anything. As we have seen repeatedly, the more outrageous the accusation, the more receptive the ear.

Mr Trump delights in unleashing harsh attacks on Jeb Bush, the Republican establishment and the “mainstream media.” His childlike joy in ridiculing his critics is tantamount to healing balm for the millions who have felt silenced, ignored and even scorned by the governing and media elite for so long. Is it any wonder that his declaration of war against “political correctness” is his most potent and predictable applause line?

Straight-talking candidates are nothing new in American politics. From Ross Perot in 1992 to John McCain in 2000, from Howard Dean in 2004 to Sarah Palin in 2008, they rise like a rocket on the fuel of their seemingly fresh and unencumbered aversion to traditional politics. They purport to say what they mean and mean what they say-- bucking established electoral trends and ruffling established political feathers. Then they crash. The media turn sour. The message grows stale. The electorate gets bored.

Mr Trump is different. The media attacks on him have been fast and furious. Yet he has defied electoral gravity because the blows are delivered by an institution that is distrusted and an elite political and business establishment that is detested.

Meanwhile, voters consistently tell pollsters like me that negative attacks do not work; they hate the ad hominem assaults. Mr Trump? He dines out on them. As his devotees see it, it is not Mr Trump going negative. It is him telling the truth. And when he fights back, he’s throwing punches on their behalf. He said something outrageous? “He’s simply raising an important issue nobody else has the courage to talk about.” He insulted someone? “That’s just him campaigning. He won’t do that as president.” He changed his position? “That was a long time ago. Everyone’s entitled to change their mind.” He doesn’t have many policy specifics? “He doesn’t need them. He’ll surround himself with smart people.” They will justify any action, explain away any contradiction, and dismiss any criticism because they are so personally and passionately invested in him.

And here is the prediction that will furrow brows on both sides of the Atlantic. Mr Trump’s supporters today will be Mr Trump’s supporters next November if he is still a candidate-- no matter what party banner he runs under. Half will follow him out of the Republican Party if he breaks his promise and declares as an independent. For better or worse, his supporters will follow him to the ends of the Earth-- or to the White House. Whichever comes first.
What Luntz, of course, will never say is that the GOP has made this bed... and now they have little choice but to lay down in it... and get schlonged by that grotesque person and the monsters around him.

Labels: , ,

When Will The GOP Also-Rans Drop Out?


Another way of putting it is... when does the Deep Bench disintegrate into the inevitable Ted Cruz vs Marco Rubio slugfest? And this isn't a post about why George Pataki dropped out of the race yesterday, which is barely worth even noting. No, this is about the Republican candidates who for whatever reason have thought they could actually win the presidency (or maybe the vice-presidency). First of all, let's keep the Republican primary/caucus calendar at the top of our minds.
Feb 1- Iowa caucuses

Feb 9- New Hampshire primary

Feb 20- South Carolina primary

Feb. 23- Nevada caucuses

March 1- Confederate SuperTuesday:

Alabama primary
Alaska caucuses
Arkansas primary
Colorado caucuses
Georgia primary
Massachusetts primary
Minnesota caucuses
North Dakota caucuses
Oklahoma primary
Tennessee primary
Texas primary
Vermont primary
Virginia primary
Wyoming caucuses

• March 5-

Kansas caucuses
Kentucky caucuses
Louisiana primary
Maine caucuses

• March 6- Puerto Rico

• March 8-

Hawaii caucuses
Idaho primary
Michigan primary
Mississippi primary

• March 12-

Guam- convention
DC- convention

March 15-

Florida primary
Illinois primary
Missouri primary
North Carolina primary
Ohio primary

• March 22-

Arizona primary
Utah caucuses

• April 5- Wisconsin primary

• April 19- New York primary

• April 26-

Connecticut primary
Delaware primary
Maryland primary
Pennsylvania primary
Rhode Island primary

• May 3- Indiana primary

• May 10-

Nebraska primary
West Virginia primary

• May 17- Oregon primary

• May 24- Washington primary

• June 7-

California primary
Montana primary
New Jersey primary
New Mexico primary
South Dakota primary
OK, now it's time to go out on a limb and make a bunch of predictions. Obviously, circumstances could change and upend my whole timeline which begins in Iowa with a Cruz win, Herr Trumpf coming in a respectable second and either Dr. Ben or Rubio a distant third. That should trigger towels thrown in by Huckabee and Santorum. New Hampshire comes a week later and it still looks like Herr Trumpf is going to win this one with a close and crucial bunch-up for second place between Christie, Rubio and Cruz. If Cruz comes in second or if Rubio doers significantly better than Christie, it's bye-bye Christie. It's also bye-bye Kasich and, unless Cruz wants her to stay in the race for some strategic reason, it's also bye-bye Fiorina. Two weeks on and we have South Carolina, which looks like Cruz is going to win. After South Carolina, Dr. Ben, the poor Jebster and, if he's still in the race, Christie, all start admitting to themselves the party's over. Unless Trumpf is in a full-fledged ego-driven war against the enemy-of-mankind-from-Calgary, he'll probably drop out or start making plans to. Nevada is next and it's the pivotal state for Rubio, who once lived there. He either wins it or he's probably washed up. Yesterday's Gravis poll of Nevada Republicans showed Rubio a distant third to Trumpf at 33% and Cruz at 20%. If Cruz wins Nevada, much of the party may actually start rallying round him. I think Adelson and the newspaper he just bought still have a shot to pull off a win for Rubio there though.

Now it's looking like a Cruz vs Rubio race, just as Confederate Super Tuesday comes the next week. This is Cruz Day with sure wins in Texas, Alabama, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, Virginia, Georgia, Colorado, North Dakota and Wyoming. Are Massachusetts and Minnesota Republicans going to opt for the relatively mainstream Rubio? Can Vermont Republicans write-in Bernie? By the end of the day, if Herr Trumpf is still running, he packs it in. Rand Paul probably thinks his career will benefit by holding out a few days til the Kentucky caucuses which he'll win-- and then drop out. That same day should be more good news for Cruz: Louisiana and Kansas and a probable win for Rubio in Maine's caucuses.

March 8th is Rubio's last stand. Cruz will win in Idaho and Mississippi and Rubio either wins Michigan or makes a deal for a cabinet position with Cruz. If Rubio does win Michigan and lives to fight another day, that other day is a week later where Cruz will win Missouri and North Carolina and Rubio has a fighting chance in Illinois, Ohio and Florida. If Cruz wins any 2 of those states, Rubio might settle for a sub-cabinet position to drop out. If Rubio has been doing well enough to still be in the race after that, his chances dramatically increase. Cruz will score in Arizona, Nebraska, Indiana, maybe West Virginia. But the rest of the delegate-rich states up for grab are good territory for Rubio, especially if the Party apparatus is firmly behind him. Neither he nor Cruz will walk into the convention the presumptive nominee. But at least Herr Trumpf won't be on the TV everyday any longer and the threat of him being president is gone, probably forever.

Labels: , , ,