Thursday, February 11, 2016

Opportunity or Obligation?

Marco Rubio received poor marks for his robotic responses in the last GOP Presidential Debate.

Chris Christie rattled Rubio in that debate that caused him to go into that robot mode.

Jeb Bush was generally considered to have his best performance in that debate.

However, all of these candidates gave what I thought were absolutely loony answers when asked whether young women should be required to sign up for Selective Service in case the draft is reinstated.

This issue has gotten increased attention since Secretary of Defense Ash Carter stated last week that all combat roles in the U.S. military were now open to women as long as they qualify and meet the standards.

Rubio, Christie and Bush spent most of their time talking about the equal opportunity aspect of military service. I agree that qualified women should have the opportunity to serve in any role in which they are qualified on equal terms with men.

However, Rubio, Christie and Bush all missed the big point here on the Selective Service draft. The draft is not opportunity, it is obligation.

I have two daughters and a granddaughter.  There is no way in this world that they should have to be obligated to be drafted into military service. That is the height of lunacy, especially for potential ground combat roles in the Army.

Conscription is normally necessary to fill combat positions in the Army.  For example, 95% of all inductees to the Army during the Vietnam War were draftees while the Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard were able to fill almost their entire quotas via voluntary enlistments. Of course, the threat of being drafted into the Army becomes a great incentive to volunteer for potentially safer and softer postings in the Armed Services.

I have argued in these pages previously that the drafting of women was the next step in the slippery slope of pushing for more equality on the battlefield. It appears that we have arrived at that point.

It is hard to argue that women should not be subject to the draft if you are going to state they are fully capable of handling any combat role. However, that proposition still is dubious in my mind.

This fact was proven very conclusively by a recent Marine Corps study that looked at combat effectiveness of mixed-gender combat teams compared to all male teams over an extensive period of time.

All-male ground combat teams outperformed their mixed-gender counterparts in nearly every capacity during a recent infantry integration test, Marine Corps officials revealed Thursday.
Data collected during (the) experiment showed Marine teams with female members performed at lower overall levels, completed tasks more slowly and fired weapons with less accuracy than their all-male counterparts. In addition, female Marines sustained significantly higher injury rates and demonstrated lower levels of physical performance capacity overall, officials said.

Based on the data in this study the Marine Corps asked to receive an exception to the Obama Administration's order to the Defense Department to open all combat roles to women.

I fully understand the desire to open up more opportunities for women in the military.  It is a fact that serving in combat roles in the military is often necessary in order to advance to the highest ranks.
Therefore, opening up combat roles for women can be very beneficial for the women seeking those promotions.

However, is it the right decision looking at the military and our country at large? Are we putting the advantages for a few over the effects on the many? Let's consider this question from several perspectives.

From a physical perspective, there are women that are stronger, faster and more athletic than many men. I don't think many men would want to challenge Brittney Griner to a game of one-on-one basketball, Serena William to a game of tennis or Allyson Felix to a 100-meter dash.  There are overlapping bell curves with respect to the physical abilities of men and women.  Some women will always have better physical abilities than some men. However, most men will enjoy physical advantages over most women.

If there were not significant physical differences between men and women why are there men's and women's events at the Olympics?  Why is there a WNBA?  Why is there a LPGA in golf?  It is because there is a difference.  What if it is your son who was left on the battlefield because his female comrade could not drag him to safety? Are we going to just ignore these facts in order to push some type of "equal rights" agenda?

There is also a mental perspective.  I think it goes without saying that women are generally constitutionally stronger than men in many respects.  Women live longer, are more resilient and are much more mature in their late teens and early 20's than men, which are the prime ages for military service.  We also have the whole issue of child bearing.  It is not called labor by accident.

As I have written before, women now make up 60% of all recent college graduates.  They have the smarts and discipline to do anything.  They have the courage and dedication to back it up. However, if it was your wife or daughter, how would their mental state deal with the following example posed by Ryan Smith in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal.  Smith was a Marine infantryman in Iraq.

I served in the 2003 invasion of Iraq as a Marine infantry squad leader. We rode into war crammed in the back of amphibious assault vehicles. They are designed to hold roughly 15 Marines snugly; due to maintenance issues, by the end of the invasion we had as many as 25 men stuffed into the back. Marines were forced to sit, in full gear, on each other's laps and in contorted positions for hours on end. That was the least of our problems.

The invasion was a blitzkrieg. The goal was to move as fast to Baghdad as possible. The column would not stop for a lance corporal, sergeant, lieutenant, or even a company commander to go to the restroom. Sometimes we spent over 48 hours on the move without exiting the vehicles. We were forced to urinate in empty water bottles inches from our comrades.

Many Marines developed dysentery from the complete lack of sanitary conditions. When an uncontrollable urge hit a Marine, he would be forced to stand, as best he could, hold an MRE bag up to his rear, and defecate inches from his seated comrade's face.

During the invasion, we wore chemical protective suits because of the fear of chemical or biological weapon attack. These are equivalent to a ski jumpsuit and hold in the heat. We also had to wear black rubber boots over our desert boots. On the occasions the column did stop, we would quickly peel off our rubber boots, desert boots and socks to let our feet air out.

Due to the heat and sweat, layers of our skin would peel off our feet. However, we rarely had time to remove our suits or perform even the most basic hygiene. We quickly developed sores on our bodies.
When we did reach Baghdad, we were in shambles. We had not showered in well over a month and our chemical protective suits were covered in a mixture of filth and dried blood. We were told to strip and place our suits in pits to be burned immediately. My unit stood there in a walled-in compound in Baghdad, naked, sores dotted all over our bodies, feet peeling, watching our suits burn. Later, they lined us up naked and washed us off with pressure washers.

Yes, a woman is as capable as a man of pulling a trigger. But the goal of our nation's military is to fight and win wars. Before taking the drastic step of allowing women to serve in combat units, has the government considered whether introducing women into the above-described situation would have made my unit more or less combat effective?

Finally, there is the emotional perspective. We have a culture that has traditionally given women and children special status in our society.  Sure, we can pretend it doesn't exist and ignore thousands of years of history and tradition.  We could even start now and train our soldiers to ignore how they were raised.  Tell them that is doesn't matter whether Jessica or Jeff is captured.  They are both soldiers.  Forget everything you learned growing up.  Jessica will be able to handle herself with her male captors just as well as Jeff.  Forget those old stories of soldiers raping and pillaging.

Oh, maybe there are other things that we need to worry about with Jessica that we don't have to with Jeff?

There is also the basic biology involved between young men and women.  It is already a huge problem in the military but one that you don't hear a lot about.  When you put men and women together stuff happens.  And it already is happening a lot in the military as it is. For example, just over ten percent of women in the military said in 2008 that they'd had an unintended pregnancy in the last year according to story I read.  That number is significantly higher than in the general public.

The U.S. Navy seems to have had an ongoing problem with pregnancies in maintaining their force readiness.  As much as 34% of the billets of shore commands are "manned" by pregnant sailors who are not available for sea duty.  This causes problems both at sea and on the shore as the Navy must adjust assignments and staffing to deal with pregnancies of which almost 3/4 are unplanned.

Opportunity for women who are truly qualified and who meet an overall general standard (not a watered down female standard) who want to serve in combat roles is fine. However, we should not be sacrificing combat effectiveness for political correctness.

We also need to draw the line between opportunity and obligation.

We have indeed fallen very, very far as a society if we are contemplating subjecting our women to the obligation of serving in combat roles in our Armed Forces.

Rubio, Bush and Christie really missed the point last Saturday night.

One candidate did not miss the point.

I was pleased to see that after the debate Ted Cruz weighed in on the issue this way.

Ted Cruz on Sunday said he opposes requiring women to register for a potential draft, breaking with Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush and Chris Christie, all of whom indicated support for opening up the Selective Service to women during Saturday night's debate.
“I have to admit, as I was sitting there listening to that conversation, my reaction was, ‘Are you guys nuts?’” Cruz said Sunday, speaking at a town hall here. “Listen, we have had enough with political correctness, especially in the military. Political correctness is dangerous. And the idea that we would draft our daughters to forcibly bring them into the military and put them in close combat, I think is wrong, it is immoral, and if I am president, we ain’t doing it.” 

Rubio must now realize that he made more than one mistake in the last debate. Today he announced that he is joining Cruz on a bill sponsored by Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) that would make clear that requiring women to be eligible for the draft could only be done by Congress.

You would not think this legislation would be necessary but all bets are off any more when it comes to our President and the Supreme Court these days. After all, one of the enumerated powers of Congress in the Constitution is "to raise and support Armies".

However, it is of particular concern with the Supreme Court right now as in 1981 the Court upheld the all-male draft based on the fact that women could be excluded because they were not considered fully combat capable. Of course, that reasoning is no longer valid with the recent rulings by the Administration.

A slippery slope indeed.

And, in my opinion, three Presidential candidate slipped on it last Saturday.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

New Hampshire Notes

A few notes and observations on the New Hampshire Presidential Primary results.

Right after the 2012 general election I predicted that if things in our country did not improve over the second term of Obama that it was likely that the Presidential nominees of the Republican and Democrat parties were likely to be much more radical than we had seen in the past.

This prediction seems to be proving accurate based on the election results in the first two states in 2016.

The Democrats seem to believe that the country's failures are due to policies that are not liberal enough. This has led to the rise of the Socialist Bernie Sanders and has caused Hillary to veer even further to the left.

The Republicans believe that mainstream Republican leaders have failed in challenging and stopping the progressivism of Obama and the Democrats. This has allowed for Trump and Cruz to rise to the top in the Republican race.

The next month will tell us a lot of whether this trend will continue all the way to the end.

-------------------------------------
Winners

Bernie Sanders

Sanders beat Hillary Clinton by over 20 points.  This is a landslide by any definition.  However, Sanders now moves to states that will be much more difficult for him from a demographics perspective with many more minority and urban voters.ma

Sanders has great momentum but can he sustain his mojo in states like South Carolina, Nevada, Texas and Alabama?

A couple of interesting stats I heard in the exit poll data tonight.

32% of Dem voters in NH cited honesty and trustworthiness as the most important factor in their choice for President (this actually was the #1 rated attribute mentioned by voters). Of those voters, they chose Sanders by a margin of 93%-5%!

Sanders also won 74% of all voters under the age of 45!

Hillary is in deep, deep trouble if these numbers hold in upcoming states.

Donald Trump 

Donald Trump showed he could win at the ballot box and he won convincingly. As big a win as it was, he still did not best 2nd place John Kasich by as large a margin as Bernie beat Hillary.  Another indication of how badly Hillary did in NH.

The good news for Trump is that he won 1/3 of the vote.

The bad news is that 2/3 of GOP voters supported someone else.

Worse news for him (and GOP voters who would like to win in November) is that 60% of general election voters still hold an unfavorable view of him.

John Kasich

Kasich bet all his marbles on New Hampshire and it was do or die for him. He had made something like 150 appearances in the state over the last six months.

Kasich's problem now is that he will have some momentum coming out of the state but he has little money or organization to employ in the next states. He is unlikely to be able to capitalize on his strong showing in upcoming states.  Those states are also much more conservative than New Hampshire. He does not appear to have anywhere to go from here.

Ted Cruz

It appears that Ted Cruz will finish 3rd in NH after his win in Iowa. This clearly exceeded expectations for him in the state where he beat Bush, Rubio, Christie and the others.

What is most impressive about the Cruz results is how he did it without spending any money.

Here is what each candidate spent in New Hampshire.

$36M    Bush
$18M    Christie
$15M    Rubio
$12M    Kasich
$  4M    Trump
$  2M    Fiorina
$ .6M    Cruz

That's right, Cruz spent less than $600,000 in New Hampshire and Bush spent $36 million.

And as of the time I am writing this (1130pm EST), Cruz has more votes than Bush.

Talk about return on investment.  Even Trump has to be impressed with that ROI.


Losers

Hillary Clinton

I thought I had seen it all but I never thought Hillary could lose to a 74-year old Socialist by 20 points in any election. That says it all.

South Carolina becomes absolutely critical for her. If she loses there the bottom might drop out completely for her. Is Joe Biden warming up in the bullpen? What is Michael Bloomberg going to do?

Marco Rubio

What a difference a week (and one debate) can mean in Presidential politics.

Marco has fallen and may now not be able to get up with both Kasich and Bush beating him in NH. I still think he has more staying power than Bush or Kasich but he has to prove it in this Saturday's debate in SC and in the SC vote.

Chris Christie

Like Kasich, he put it all on the line in NH and ended up with a single digit result. I predict he will be taking himself out of the race in the next few days. His legacy in this race may be that he took both Rubio and himself out with the same shot in the last debate.

Ben Carson

It is almost breathtaking how quickly Carson has fallen.

He tried to blame Cruz and CNN for his troubles in Iowa but Carson has no one to blame but himself. Serious candidates do not go home to get a change of clothes and take three days off of the campaign trail in the week between Iowa and New Hampshire. He took himself out and the people of NH noticed. He ended up with a mere 2% in NH.

Carson is on life support. Good doctors do not pull the plug easily. He may stay in until South Carolina but he will not be a raise any more money. He is done.

Draw

Jeb Bush

Jeb Bush beat two of the three (Rubio and Christie) he had to in order to stay in as a potential Establishment candidate (trailing Kasich). That is enough to keep him viable, especially with the money he has remaining at his disposal. That makes him a winner.

However, when you spend $36 million and finish 4th you still have to feel like a loser.

It is a draw at best for Jeb tonight.

-----------------------------------------

Expect things to really heat up in South Carolina.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Caveat Emptor

Donald Trump makes a big deal of the fact that he is "self-funding" his campaign for President.

A lot of his supporters cite this so-called financial independence as a major reason they are supporting Trump. They believe that this means Trump will not be a tool of special interests if he is elected President. I hear this all the time from Trump supporters.

Meanwhile, Trump appears to think that he is not getting the credit he deserves for funding his campaign.  Witness his tweet from yesterday.




I guess when you lose, it is not worth it. It is only worth it when you win.

What are the actual facts on Trump's self-funding?

Trump has actually contributed very little to his campaign thus far. Most of the money going into the Trump campaign has been in the form of loans from Trump.




Though December 31 (the most recent reporting date) Trump had only contributed $218,567 to his campaign.

On the other hand, he had loaned the campaign $12.6 million!

He had received $6.6 million in individual contributions to his campaign.

Therefore, outside donors have actually contributed 30X more to the Trump campaign than he has has actually contributed himself. (Hat tip to @LPDonovan)

When someone makes a loan to a campaign the expectation is that the loan will someday be repaid. If not, why not just contribute the money?

How will the loans to be repaid? From political contributions to the campaign from other donors. The identical manner in which almost all politicians raise money.

Why is Trump whining that he is not getting credit for his self-funding right now and saying it is "not worth it."

That is because Trump has a clear expectation that he will have his campaign loans repaid by other donors after he wins the nomination or the Presidency. He knows it is easy to raise money when you are on top.

However, if he does not win, no one is going to be interested in contributing to retiring those loans. He will never have the loans repaid. Exactly like the lenders who loaned money to four of his companies who declared bankruptcy over the years.

It is not coincidence that Trump is whining when he is not winning.

It is not only the Trump ego that is threatened.

He is also faced with the fact that he may actually have to self-fund his campaign rather than only appearing to do so.

And there are few people on this planet that love their money more than Trump.

As I have written before, consider the fact that Mitt Romney and the Republicans spent $1.1 billion during the 2012 campaign. Romney spent $336 million in campaign funds that he raised for his campaign, the National Republican Party spent another $386 million on Romney and outside Super PACs and others chipped in another $419 million for Romney.

Is Trump really prepared to spend $1 billion of his own money to get elected?

No, he will not not.

Will he loan his campaign $1 billion?

No. In fact, I question whether he would have anywhere near that kind of liquidity in his portfolio to do so. Is he going to start selling properties to finance his campaign? I don't think so.

He also most assuredly is not going to raise $1 billion through a bunch of $200 contributions.

And if he has to go to Wall Street and other special interests to fund his campaign like everyone else, a big part of the attraction of Donald Trump washes away.

Voting for Donald Trump to be your Republican candidate for President is Risky Business.

Donald Trump is a great salesman. However, be wary about what you are buying.

This is not Costco. After you vote, there are no returns or exchanges. You own it.

Caveat Emptor.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Trump Trip

Donald Trump tripped in Iowa last night.

How did it happen?

What happens next?

A few quick observations.

  • Success in politics sits atop a 3-legged stool. Name id, money and organization. Trump has the name id. He supposedly has the money but he hasn't really spent much on his campaign. For example, his most recent financial report indicates that he spent more on hats in the last quarter ($450,000) than he did on either strategy consulting ($281,000) or on his data vendor ($235,000.


  • Ted Cruz won in Iowa because he had a much better organizational framework than Trump. Cruz visited all 99 counties and he had the ground game to trip up Trump. Cruz also spent heavily on voter data analytics to target the voters he needed and didn't worry about hats. As a Texan, I think Cruz understands what he means to have a big hat but no cattle!
  • Trump also made a major error when he did not show up for the last debate. In doing so, he opened the door for Marco Rubio to surge to within 1% of Trump. It would appear that a good part of the Rubio surge came out of Trump. Worse for Trump is that the aura around him that he is a political and media mastermind is broken.  
  • The final caucus numbers in Iowa also point to some interesting times ahead in this race. If I am Trump I don't like this math----Cruz(28%)+Rubio(23%)+Carson(9%)=60%, Trump=24%. Where does Trump grow his support as the race narrows? He has negatives approaching 50% among all Republican voters. His upside has always looked questionable considering his favorability ratings. Can he convert voters from these other candidates going forward?
  • Rubio clearly set himself apart as the "Establishment" candidate in the race. His 24% compares to 3% for Jeb Bush, 2% for Kasich and 2% for Christie. It will interesting to see whether Rubio can use the Iowa results to springboard past those three in New Hampshire.
  • The Iowa numbers still show that it appears to be challenge to win the GOP nomination in the "Establishment" lane.  Consider the percentage of votes that went to the "Outsider" candidates. Cruz(28%)+Trump(24%)+Carson(9%)+Fiorina(2%)=63%,  All Others 37%. This still points to Trump and Cruz in the inside lane. If Rubio falls, does Trump become the "Establishment" candidate? Can Cruz take out Trump setting up a Cruz-Rubio showdown?
  • Despite Jeb Bush only pulling 3% of the vote in Iowa he reportedly has over $50 million of cash in his SuperPac. Will Jeb stay in the race beyond when he should get out because of this cash lode? If he drops out and still has substantial funds remaining, does that money get spent on behalf of another candidate. It surely will not go to Trump. Will Jeb return to helping Marco despite the bad blood that has developed as a result of this campaign? Will it just be used to beat Trump no matter if it is Cruz or Rubio in the final face-off?
Iowa is a very small sample size so you can't put too much on any of the results. However, they are real votes and Iowa creates and destroys momentum.

On this one night we can summarize it this way.

Cruz is still cruising.

Rubio is resurgent.

Trump has tripped.

On to New Hampshire.

Monday, February 1, 2016

The End of the Beginning

Presidential political campaigns have three phases.

In Phase One (the Beginning) the candidates work to raise money, build a ground game organization and raise their political profile with the voters. This phase ends today and Phase Two begins with the Iowa Caucus votes to be followed in short order with primary elections across the country over the next several months where actual votes are counted.

The Final Phase culminates with the General Election on November 8.

On the GOP side, three candidates appear to have risen above the rest of the field in the Beginning Phase.

Donald Trump (The Jerk), Marco Rubio (The Politician) and Ted Cruz (The Brain).

Trump-The Jerk

Trump has confounded the other candidates in the field and dumbfounded the political experts with his lead in the polls at "The End of the Beginning."  He is the candidate that people either seem to love or hate. There does not seem to be much middle ground.

For example, in the final Des Moines Register poll Trump is the choice of 28% of potential GOP voters but an incredible 47% of likely caucus goers in the state view him unfavorably. This is practically unheard of in politics.

How can almost half of your own party's voters have an unfavorable view of a candidate and he can still be leading?

I attribute it to the fact that Trump is a good salesman. And he sells himself better than anyone. He has proven that in this Beginning Phase. No one has done a better job of keeping his name and profile in the media. No one has also done a better job of successfully putting other candidates on the defensive. No one has done a better job of resonating with voters.

At the same time, even most of those who say they will vote for him admit that he is abrasive and annoying.  Others could possibly think of another word beginning with "a" they would use to describe Trump.

However, due to the times that we are living in today that actually works to Trump's advantage.

Yes, he can be all those things that begin with an "a" but I believe many of his supporters think it is about time that we had someone like that working for America.

"He may be a jerk but I want him in the foxhole with me" may carry the day for Trump.

Marco Rubio-The Politician

Rubio has shown himself to be the dream GOP candidate for 2016. He is young, Hispanic and hails from a critical swing state (Florida). He also has shown himself to be the most articulate and politically polished candidate in the race to this point.

Rubio would present a difficult challenge to any of the potential Democrat candidates (Hillary, Bernie or Biden (who knows what still lurks on her email server?) all of which are older, whiter and a products of deep blue states.

Rubio's weakness is his failed attempt at immigration reform with the Gang of Eight that hangs over his head in the GOP Primary and a background that involves almost nothing but politics.

Rubio is like a lot of officeholders in that his whole adult life he has been in politics. He was elected a City Commissioner shortly after graduating from law school and was elected to the Florida House of Representatives before he was 30 years of age. He found the right calling because he is good as a politician but it is about all he knows.

You know Trump doesn't need politics. He was a great businessman. You know Cruz doesn't need politics. He was one of the best Constitutional lawyers and litigators in the country before running for office. You can't say the same thing about Rubio. Without politics you are not sure where he would be on the success scale.

Marco may have that question mark but the prospect of Rubio on the GOP ticket has to be giving Democrat strategists fits. He is a great political package.

Ted Cruz -The Brain 

Ted Cruz has spent his entire life being the smartest guy in the room. In high school, where he memorized the U.S. Constitution and made money giving speeches about it. In college at Princeton, where he was the U.S. Collegiate Debate champion. In law school at Harvard, where even liberal law professor Alan Dershowitz called him one of the smartest students he ever taught in over 40 years at the school.  On the Supreme Court, where he was a law clerk to Chief Justice William Rehnquist.

Cruz has also shown a very structured and methodical approach to the Beginning Phase of this campaign with impressive fundraising as well as building what many consider to be the best campaign organization of any of the candidates.

The big question mark about Cruz is whether he can prove to be likeable enough for voters to embrace while he also deals with questions as to why fellow Senators and other political pros are not rushing to endorse his candidacy.

As to the latter concern, here again as with Trump, Cruz may actually be able to use this to his advantage as the race plays out. He is actually an outsider who has been inside and has not liked what he has seen. And those insiders don't like it one bit.

It is not always easy being the smartest guy in the room. It is not easy to work with others when you are two steps ahead of everyone else. It becomes all too easy for others to be jealous or bitter of your talent.

However, give me smart every day of the week when I am choosing my President. The issues are too big, the stakes too large, to worry about a rough edge or two along the way. I like Cruz for his smarts.

How Will It End?

The end of the beginning is here. However, how will it really end in November?

That is up to the voters beginning in Iowa. Here is the full primary calendar over the next six weeks. I believe we will have a pretty good idea who the Republican and Democrat candidates will be by the middle of March. Keep an eye on the calendar.

The 2016 Republican primary calendar looks like this between February 2-March 15.

Tuesday, February 2
Iowa caucus (GOP)

Tuesday, February 9
New Hampshire

Saturday, February 20
South Carolina

Tuesday, February 23
Nevada caucus

Tuesday, March 1 (Super Tuesday)
Colorado caucuses
Massachusetts
Oklahoma
Tennessee
Texas
Vermont
Virginia
North Carolina

Saturday, March 5
Louisiana

Tuesday, March 8
Alabama
Hawaii Republican caucuses
Mississippi
Ohio
Michigan

Sunday, March 13
Puerto Rico

Tuesday, March 15
Florida
Illinois
Missouri


I will be happy with any of the three GOP candidates profiled above.

I can live with a jerk, a politician or a brain.

All would be vastly better than having a socialist or a security risk in The White House.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

In the Middle of 5th Avenue

Donald Trump said this over the past weekend,

"I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose voters,"


Who knew that we would find out so soon whether or not he was right?

I believe that Trump just stood in the middle of 5th Avenue and shot himself in the foot by stating that he is not going to participate in the Fox News Channel debate tomorrow night.

His reason---he thinks debate moderator Megyn Kelly is unfair to him. Trump was also not happy with the response that Fox News gave when he asked that Kelly be removed as a moderator.


Credit: TheWrap.com


There are many Trump supporters who disagree with my assessment. They hail the "brilliance" of Trump in standing up to the establishment media and creating another PR media storm that will divert attention away from the debate and on to him right before the Iowa caucus.

Many of those supporters seem to believe that Trump is going to severely damage Fox's tv ratings for the debate and during the election.

As an example, @LriHendry tweeted this last night,

#Trump can win the race without Fox. Fox News needs Trump for ratings! The media will report on what he says wherever he is! #Trump2016

The fact is that Fox News was doing just fine with its ratings before Trump ever entered politics. It is also a fact that Trump needs Fox News and other media outlets a lot more than they need him. Media air time is the oxygen of a political campaign. No one has proven that more than Trump. Without that oxygen, campaigns die.

Trump says that the Fox News response to his threat to boycott the debate was childish. He may be right. However, is he going to take umbrage and complain every time that happens as President? If that is the case he will never get anything done in office.

It does make you wonder what Trump's reaction will be if the votes don't come as easily to him as the poll numbers have. In politics, not everyone is going to like you and it is never going to be fair.

Someone once said that in politics it is not wise to "argue with someone who buys ink by the barrel."

Today you could say the same about someone who controls 24 hours of content every day on cable tv that also reaches almost 100 million American households. And the households that are watching FNC regularly are the ones that Trump most needs to win the Republican primary.

It seems to me that Trump is bleeding in the middle of 5th Avenue and he now has to figure out which side of the street he goes to.

One choice is to push ahead across the street as he has done consistently in this race. He doubles down again and risks looking like a petulant child. And he hardly looks Presidential at a time that real votes are cast for the Republican candidate for President.

He risks looking even worse with this strategy over the next few days because in 2011 he praised Megyn Kelly for her skill as a debate moderator.


Here is the story as reported in The Blaze.


Republican frontrunner Donald Trump once complimented Fox News host Megyn Kelly for her performance moderating a GOP debate in 2011.

Trump spoke to Kelly in 2011 about his frustration with candidates refusing to participate in a debate he was set to host with NewsMax. The businessman implied the Republican candidates declining invitations to attend his debate lacked “courage.”


He then heaped praise on Kelly.

“Do you really think you’re a better moderator than I am?” Kelly asked.

“No,” Trump promptly replied. “I could never beat you. That wouldn’t even be close. That would be no contest.”

The billionaire added, “You have done a great job, by the way. And I mean it.”


How many times will we see that clip on TV over the next few days? 


I guess Megyn Kelly only does a "great job" when she is not questioning Donald.

His other choice is to retreat to the safe side of the street and agree to participate in the debate. However, doing that bursts the bubble on Donald Trump. He begins to look just like every other politician. That move will be particularly dangerous with Trump's core constituency.

Of course, if he retreats he will never admit he erred. He will make some grandiose claim about his decision to rejoin the debate. However, the Trump campaign will no longer be the same.

Trump is in no-man's land in the middle of 5th Avenue.

Trump is like the high wire performer at the circus who performs without a net.

You just have to watch. You think you should turn away but you just can't.

However, supporting Donald Trump is Risky Business as I wrote in my last blog post.


If he wins the GOP Primary, it is not just him up there on that high wire.
All Republicans and other Americans who want to change the direction of the country are up there with him.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Risky Business

Donald Trump built his real estate empire by taking big risks. A great many worked out well but he also had his share of losers. Companies that he controlled went into bankruptcy four times.
In fact, Money magazine reports that no U.S. company over the last 30 years has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy more than Trump's casino empire has.
 
He only avoided personal bankruptcy because he was in so deep with his lenders that they figured that it was better to have him as their "partner" as they tried to work off, write off and restructure the debt in his deals than have him as an adversary in Bankruptcy Court.

Risk has defined Trump's business career. In my view, it is also the most important consideration in evaluating whether to support Trump for President.

Make no mistake, I believe that Trump has had a positive impact on the Presidential race. He has confounded and dumbfounded all the political experts. He has taken on tough issues with tough talk. He has brought a lot of energy and enthusiasm to the process.

All the polling and the political punditry is fun early in a Presidential primary race. Trump has made it even more fun this year. However, it is time to start casting and counting real votes.   

The first votes in the Presidential primaries will be cast in one week.The dating phase is almost over. It is time to decide who you are going to live (or die) with for the next four years. 

It is my opinion that there is real risk for Republicans in voting for Trump. Everyone needs to ask themselves whether the potential return is worth the risk? I understand the motivation to vote for him. However, are you going to get what you want in return? I don't think so.

2016 should be the year for Republicans in the Presidential race. Eight years of Obama have left the American public weary of unfulfilled promises of "hope and change" and leery of more liberal "solutions" to our problems.

The Democrats appear to be giving America a choice between a 69 year old former First Lady who 60% of Americans believe is untrustworthy and dishonest and a 75 year old Socialist who wants to hand out "free" stuff by taxing everyone by an additional $19.6 trillion over the next decade. To put that in context, that would be 47% more in tax revenues than the U.S. Treasury is currently collecting from all of us. No one will be left unscathed.

When looking at these options it is hard to see how the Republicans can lose.

However, with Trump, the risk is real.

Why do I say that?

First, let's look at polling data. Trump likes to cite polls (especially when they are favorable to him).

While Trump sits atop national Republicans polls right now, he still has a lower favorable rating (+27) than Ted Cruz (+51), Ben Carson (+47), Marco Rubio (+46), Mike Huckabee (+40) and Carly Firoina (+30) among all Republican voters. There are clearly a lot of Republicans who like Trump. However, there are a sizeable number of Republicans who dislike him. That is a potential problem for him in the primary battles when the size of the field narrows. However, it is potentially fatal flaw in the general election. The GOP has to turn out its base for its candidate to have any chance of winning. There is a real risk that Trump causes a lot of Republicans to stay home and not vote in November. RISK!




Even worse, Trump's net favorable rating with Independents and Democrats is terrible. He is -27 with Independents. That is double Jeb Bush's net unfavorable rating with the same group. Trump is -70 with Democrats. That does not bode well in the General Election. RISK!

How do you win an election if a 1/3 of your own party does not have a favorable opinion of you and you have a net negative favorable rating of -27 with Independents? RISK!

Second, when will Donald Trump's mouth catch up with him? Through gaffes, guffaws and grumbles, Trump has thus far been immune to any damage to his poll numbers. However, there most certainly is going to be a point when his mouth gets him in big trouble. I would prefer that it not be after he is nominated and is the GOP candidate. RISK!

It seems you can almost sense a fall may be in the offing when Trump said this over the weekend,

  
 "I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose voters,"
 

Third, how many skeletons lurk in Trump's closet? One of the major gripes that many had about Barack Obama's candidacy in 2008 was the fact that the press never seemed to be interested in vetting him like they did other candidates.

The same has been true thus far with Trump.

We have heard about Ben Carson threatening his mother as a 13-year old.

We have heard about Rubio being arrested as an 18-year old when he was in a park after hours. 

We have heard that the freshman roommate of Ted Cruz at Princeton did not like him.

What have we heard about Trump? Almost nothing.

Will he continue to get a free ride? I doubt it.

This is a man who has been involved in the rough and tumble world of real estate development and construction for almost 50 years. A world where special political influence is often critical on issues such as zoning and eminent domain. A world where the labor has increasingly been drawn from immigrant populations (how much was illegal?). A world where many jobs were created but where a lot of workers also got laid off. A world in New York construction in which labor unions and the Mob were always close by. RISK!

This is a man who has been married 3 times. Questions of infidelity?  RISK!

This is a man who has stated he does not think he has ever asked God for forgiveness in his almost 70 years of life. Really? RISK!

This is a man who has previously expressed support for abortion, universal health care, a wealth tax, income tax increases and has changed his political affiliation at least five times over the years. RISK!!
     
I will sum this up as Donald Trump might say it.

I really like Donald Trump. He seems like a nice guy. However, he is better suited to taking risks in the business world. He is not the kind of guy I want to bet our country's future on.

It is really risky, risky business voting for this guy to represent our party in November.

It doesn't matter whether you like what he says and how he says it. I like a lot of it myself. 

It is placing a very, very big bet with a lot of risk attached. A very big bet. And the odds are that some how, some way, at some time, Trump's luck is going to run out as surely as it did with his Atlantic City casinos. If it happens after he has the nomination it will insure that Hillary or Bernie will follow Obama into The White House. And there will be nothing we can do about it then.

However, we can do something about it now. Avoid that risk to begin with. Not one vote has yet been cast.

A vote for Trump is Risky Business. 

It is that simple.

Credit: NBC via Breitbart.com