Thursday, March 31, 2016

A Cataclysmic Clash of Cultures

Why is it that over the last 40-50 years that Christianity has gotten more liberal and tolerant and Islam has gotten more conservative and less tolerant?

This is a question that I have asked myself a lot over the last few years.

It is a puzzling paradox as conventional thinking suggests that as societies age and mature they tend to become more progressive. For example, they advance from a primitive, barbaric system of justice to a system that recognizes individual rights and equal justice. They become less authoritarian and more flexible.

I have searched for answers on the internet to this question and found nothing that explains the dichotomy adequately as why we are seeing such vastly different arcs to the Muslim and Christian worlds today.

Here are a couple of examples that are in today's headlines.

From the Muslim world...
Saudi government demands death penalty to curb homosexuality
Saudi Arabia currently hands out fines, prison sentences and whippings for being openly gay. Due to an increase in public displays of homosexuality, especially on social media, Saudi lawmakers are considering imposing the death penalty on gay people who show their sexuality in public or on social media. This is currently reserved only for second offenses!

From the Christian world..
Marquette University moves to fire Professor who defended student's traditional marriage views
Marquette, a Jesuit Catholic institution of higher learning, has moved to suspend and fire a professor who supported a student who tried to defend traditional marriage in an ethics class after a teaching assistant for his class said the student's views were "homophobic", "racist" and "sexist".  He was told that he needed to drop the class if he did not change his views.

Professor John McAdams wrote a blog supporting the student and he was then brought before a faculty panel of the Catholic university and told to admit "guilt" and "apologize" or face dismissal for a "blog post that he wrote that was reckless and incompatible with the mission and values of Marquette University"

This is from a Catholic university?

Why is Islam returning to the 10th century and why are Christian institutions like Marquette "progressing" so far that it is hard to recognize the existence of any traditional or core values at all?

How different it was just 50 years ago. What has happened? I wish I knew but, if we cannot figure it out, the world is heading for much more conflict and bloodshed in what is becoming an even bigger cataclysmic clash of cultures.

I have written before of the stunning transformation of countries like Iran, Afghanistan and Egypt over my lifetime. In years past, we looked like we were living in the same world. That is certainly not the case today. And the gap is getting even larger when you compare the two headlines above.

For example, this is a picture of a female soldier in the Iranian Army in 1979.

Credit: Pakistan Defence

These are female soldiers in the Iranian Army in 2011.

Credit: Pakistan Defence

These are Afghanistan women in the 1950's compared to 2014.

These are Egyptian students at Cairo University.



A related question is what causes a young man to strap on a suicide vest or take an automatic weapon into an opera house or office building with the intent to kill or maim shouting "Allahu Akbar"?

I recently came across an interesting paper by Dr. Tawfik Hamid, "The Cause of Jihadist Terrorism and How to Combat It" in a publication by the Air Force Research Laboratory (credit to Viable Opposition for pointing me to this) that attempts to explain this question.

Dr. Hamid knows something about this subject because at one time he was a Islamic extremist himself in his native Egypt.

The radical Islam we see today has its roots in what is called the "Salafi Movement" within Islam. Its followers believe in taking a very fundamental approach to Islam. They believe that Islam has strayed from its roots and has become decadent over the years. They reject any religious innovation and support the implementation of sharia law. One of the key signs of spreading Salafism is for the women to wear the hijab, a key part in the imposition of sharia law.

Interestingly, Hamid sees the wearing of the hijab as an important indicator of increased radicalism in a Muslim community. This is how he describes how this takes hold.

The process begins with the propagation of Salafi jihadist ideology within a community. Increasing numbers of women begin to wear the hijab, which is both a symptom of Salafi proliferation and a catalyst for Islamism (see, e.g.,Mahmood, 2005). In turn, the proliferation of militant Salafism and the hijab contribute to the idea of passive terrorism, which occurs when moderate segments of the population decline to speak against or actively resist terrorism. 

The chart below shows the process of radicalization as well as the reinforcing cycle that continues to make the problem worse as times goes on. Hamid makes the point that while only a small percentage of Muslims become active terrorists, there are a very large number of what he calls "passive terrorists" who support the ideals of the cause but will never become violent.

However, it is a numbers game. The more adherents of Islam who follow the fundamentalist view of Salafism, the greater chance that a few more will become violent extremists. The first step in combating jihadist terrorism is to reduce the number of "passive terrorists" as Hamid calls them.

The solution to all of this is exceedingly complex. "No single, magical solution for defeating Islamism" exists according to Hamid.

However, Hamid sees a critical first step that can be taken is to weaken what he calls the "hijab phenomenon" .

Weakening the hijab phenomenon is pivotal to stopping the growth of Islamism at the ideological level. Wearing the hijab is discussed as a cultural phenomenon, rather than an individual choice, as many Muslim women are peaceful people (Hamid, 2007, pp.120-121). I have observed that, over the last few decades, terrorism was preceded by an increase in the prevalence of the hijab. In Sunni Muslim areas such as Kurdistan in Iraq, most women did not wear the hijab; these areas experienced fewer acts of terrorism than areas where the hijab was common, such as Al-Anbar Province.  
There you have it.

I still am looking for why Islam has become the retrograde force that it is today at the same time that Christianity has become so liberal and tolerant that calling it progressive is using a term that it much too mild.

However, I have a better understanding of why all of the hijabs have appeared over the last 50 years...and what it tells us.

If anyone can explain the more puzzling paradox of Islam and Christianity in the world today, please post a comment below.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Interesting Numbers Made More Interesting

There are 68 million people on Medicaid in this country.

Barack Obama has played golf 281 times since he became President.

$1.4 trillion is now owed in student loan debt in this country.

All of these are interesting numbers that I came across in my reading and research this week.

However, absolute numbers do not mean as much if they are not put in context. Human beings do much better at assessing numbers like these in comparison to something else. Typically that comparison item is something we are more familiar with. It is referred to in behavioral economics as an anchor number. It also makes a big difference in how we respond to numbers based on how those numbers are framed. We do much better in assessing differences than in looking at absolute values.

68 million Americans on Medicaid 
Let's look at the 68 million people on Medicaid. Is that a lot or a little?

What would you think if you knew that when Obamacare was enacted the Congressional Budget Office projected that there would be 34 million Americans on Medicaid in 2016?

In other words, there are twice as many people on Medicaid today as was projected when the law took effect in 2013. The CBO missed the number by 100%. It is also interesting to note that, by comparison, there are  55 million people receiving Medicare benefits in this country. Medicaid now has almost 25% more people receiving taxpayer-paid health care than Medicare.

The CBO also projected when the law took effect that 201 million would have private health insurance in 2016. Now that we are in 2016, the actual number is 177 million. To make matters worse, the CBO projected that there would be 186 million with private health insurance in 2016 if Obamacare did not become law.  By that measure, Obamacare has actually reduced those in private plans.

The only thing Obamacare has done is massively increase Medicaid coverage that is paid by taxpayers who have seen their own coverage reduced (through higher deductibles) while the costs of their health coverage has increased. Of course, they were told by Obama their premium costs would go down by $2,500 per family. Nothing has worked as we were told it would.

It goes to show what a total disaster Obamacare has been. The law has not been close to fulfilling any of its promises.

Barack Obama and Golf

The Washington Examiner reports that President Obama played his 281st round of golf as President this past weekend. In his seven years as President he has spent on average about one day of every week he has been President playing golf.

The number of rounds that Obama has played has increased in his second term as President. If you don't have to attend all those fundraisers it frees up a lot of time.

Since January 1, 2013 alone, President Obama has played 169 rounds of golf. There is actually a website (The Obama Golf Counter) that you can go to for the dates and locales of all of the President's rounds. It has currently not been updated since January 9, 2016 (it shows 270 rounds) so it is not as current as The Washington Examiner count.

What really puts Obama's golf rounds in context is the fact that Obama has played more golf since 2013 than the number of tournament rounds that Tiger Woods has played over the same period.

Granted, Tiger has been battling injuries, but Woods has only teed it up on 154 days over the last three and a quarter years compared to Obama's 169 days on the golf course.

I may question our President's love of our country from time to time. I will never question his love of golf.

$1.4 Trillion in Student Debt

Student debt in this country now totals $1.4 trillion. Ten years ago student loan debt was about $400 million.

Student loan debt is now larger than credit card debt ($883 billion) or auto loans ($750 billion).

However, what really puts this debt in context for me is the fact that student loan debt in the United States now exceeds the entire GDP of Russia ($1.25 trillion) and is just a little short of the GDP of Canada ($1.6 trillion).  In fact, total student loan debt in the United States now exceeds the GDP of all but 10 countries in the world!

And Bernie Sanders wants young people to believe that somehow he is going to make college tuition and debt free for them?

Interesting numbers made even more interesting when compared with other numbers you are more familiar with.

Context is everything when assessing anything.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

All the Difference in the World

How can Barack Obama be President of the United States?

I continue to ask this question even though he has now been in office for over seven years.

Consider this statement that President Obama made last week to a group of Argentinian youths when he offered this advice on what economic system would work for them in their lives,

"There's little difference between capitalism and communism."

This is a statement coming from the President of the United States?

He went on to say this,

"So often in the past there has been a division between left and right, between capitalists and communists or socialists, and especially in the Americas, that’s been a big debate,” 
“Those are interesting intellectual arguments, but I think for your generation, you should be practical and just choose from what works. You don’t have to worry about whether it really fits into socialist theory or capitalist theory. You should just decide what works,” he added.

Interesting intellectual arguments?

I suggest that President Obama say that to an audience in North Korea, Venezuela or Cuba (where had visited just before he made his way to Argentina). How are those communist system working out for them?

I don't think they are too interested in intellectual arguments. They are struggling daily with shortages of every day items that you and I take for granted.

President Obama may think there is little difference between capitalism and communism, but let's be practical (as he also said) and look at facts.

Take North Korea and South Korea. Same people. Same cultural background. Very different results.

There is no better way to view the stark difference than this satellite image taken by NASA in 2014. That dark area between South Korea and China is North Korea at night.

The difference? Communism vs. Capitalism.

Looking at it in graphic terms comparing Gross Domestic Product it looks like this.

Credit: Edward C. Prescott, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics

A similar situation occurred in West Germany and East Germany when Germany was divided after World War II. Same people. Same culture. The West and East both had GDP per capita numbers that were identical in 1949. By 1990 (at the time of reunification), the capitalist West had GDP per capita that was almost double that of the East.

The difference? Communism vs. Capitalism.

It is no different between Communist China and Taiwan (The Republic of China).

China has made enormous strides since it moved away from its "planned socialist economic" system and moved to what it now calls its "socialist market economic" system beginning in 1978. Is it a coincidence that China's economy took off right after they moved from a strict communist system to a more open, market based system?

Credit: International Business Times

By the way, Taiwan has 23 million people in a country of 13,973 square miles. China has a population of 1.3 billion with 3,705,407 square miles. Despite all the advantages of geographic size, natural resources and population that China has, Taiwan's GDP per capita is 3 times larger today even after China's huge step forward with its economic reforms over the last 30 years. That is a lot of additional wealth. That is the difference between capitalism and communism.

But what's the real difference?

The economic system of governance makes little difference to the leaders of countries like Barack Obama.

After all, they lead a life of luxury no matter what the economic system that is in place.

Consider that President Obama had a second Air Force One at his disposal in Argentina last week so that he and his family could do some sightseeing and hiking in an area of Argentina where the airport could not accommodate his Boeing 747 according to this Washington Times report.

After dancing the tango at a state dinner in Buenos Aires Wednesday night, the president and first lady Michelle Obama took their daughters aboard the government plane colloquially known as “baby” Air Force One Thursday to fly to the scenic town of Bariloche in southern Argentina. It’s a Boeing 757 used when traveling to places where the runway is too short for the primary Air Force One.

The larger Air Force One, a 747-200, was parked alongside the smaller plane at the airport in Buenos Aires, according to pool reporters traveling with the president. It costs about $206,000 per hour to fly the larger plane, which the president is expected to use for the 10-plus-hour flight back to Washington late Thursday night.

You can do math yourself on how much all of this cost for seven hours of sightseeing for the First Family.

To him, it did not make much difference. A few extra millions to enjoy a hike in the country with his family. Priceless!

It is no different for Raul Castro in Cuba, Kim Jong-un in North Korea or Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela. They are all living large.

However, the economic system and the level of freedom in a country makes all the difference in the world to everyday people trying to get by every day. Even if our President does not recognize that fact.

That is why the leader chosen by the people also makes a HUGE difference.

Choose wisely in 2016.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Data Dump On Trump

Those who follow BeeLine regularly know that I am not a Donald Trump fan. I like a lot of things about Donald Trump. However, there a number of things I don't like. One of the things I don't like about Trump is how he polls with the the people who are going to vote in November. I want the Republicans to win in November. Trump makes that task much harder to do if you look at the polling data.

In my last post I wrote about the new Fox News Poll that came out yesterday which showed the GOP race tightening with Trump holding a 41%-38% lead over Cruz with Kasich following at 17%.

Don't look at this as another BeeLine post dumping on Trump. This is just data. And the data in that poll is doing the dump on Trump, not me.

I enjoy looking at poll data. Especially the internal tabular data that allows you to look at the underlying factors that are driving the results. This data can really tell a story. And it can also tell you the strategy that a candidate has to follow to move the numbers in their direction during the course of the campaign.

Donald Trump likes to cite polls. I don't think he will be citing the internals in this poll on the various cable channels that love to give him the airtime.

It is hard to imagine anyone polling much worse across so many groups. Men. Women. White. Black.
Rich. Poor. College Degree. High School Degree. This is a man that is not well loved by almost any group when it comes to the country at large. In fact, even among Republicans, 41% have an unfavorable opinion of Trump. Hillary is at 23% with Democrats. Obama is at 14%! If you are in this position with your base party vote, how do you win in November?

General Election

  • Most of the people I hang around with see Barack Obama's job performance in a pretty negative light. I don't talk to many that would give him high marks on his Presidency. However, if you are standing in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles or at your local cable company, you might get a different view. These are totals for all registered voters. The FNC poll shows that Obama has a 49% overall favorable rating. However, what is really astounding about this is that this is higher than every candidate running for President! By comparison, Hillary has a 39% favorable score and Trump is at 31%.
  • Clinton beats Trump 49%-38% among all registered voters in a hypothetical general election match-up.. However, Kasich would beat Clinton 51%-40%. Cruz would beat Clinton 47%-44%. This would indicate the current GOP lineup is completely inverted from where it should be looking for success in November. The same can be said for the Democrats. Sanders beats Trump 52%-38%, he edges Cruz and he only loses by 1% to Kasich.
  • Where are the favorable/unfavorable ratings coming from?
    • President Obama ( no real surprises here)
      • Black  86%/9%
      • White  42%/55%
      • Men    47%/50%
      • Women  51%/46%
      • Under age 35   56%/40%
      • Age 65+   43%/54%
    • Hillary Clinton  (a candidate with major problems)
      • Black   88%/9%
      • White   31%/67%   (Wow!)
      • Men      31%/66%   (Wow!)
      • Women    46%/51%  (Much worse than advertised)
      • Under age 35   31%/67%  ( A major, major problem for her)
      • Age 65+    42%/54%
    • Donald Trump  (a candidate with even more problems than HRC---where is the love?)
      • Black    7%/85% 
      • White    35%/61%
      • Men      32%/62% 
      • Women  30%/67%  (Horrible)
      • Under age 35   22%/75% (Absolutely abysmal)
      • Age 65+    40%/52%  
  • Enthusiastic or Scared about the prospects of this candidate being elected President?
    • Hillary    16%/33%
    • Sanders   14%/25%
    • Trump     13%/49% (58% of those under age 35 said they would be Scared)
    • Cruz        13%/21% (less scary than all of the above)
    • Kasich      8%/8%   (the appeal of being mushy in the middle?)
58% of voters under the age of 35 are "scared" about a Trump presidency? Perhaps that explains this incredible story from my alma mater, Emory University, where students protested to the administration about being "afraid", "in pain", "feeling attacked" and "intimidated" because someone wrote Trump's name in chalk on a campus sidewalk.

I am not kidding. This is the next "Greatest Generation"?

An example of one of the Trump chalk drawings and the comments a student made about it...

"This wasn't ordinary campaigning," "It was deliberate intimidation. Some of us were expecting shootings. We feared walking alone." 

Truly scary! It makes me so proud to be an Emory alum!

It just makes you wonder what the Emory students think ISIS would do to them if they could?

Trump v. Cruz
  • What Ted Cruz needs to do to beat Donald Trump in the stretch run to the Convention.
    • Cruz is beating Trump 44%-36% with white men but losing 38%-42% to Trump with women. The media narrative says that Trump is unpopular with women. Clearly this is not true with white, Republican women. Cruz needs to turn his numbers around with women if he is going to have a chance at defeating Trump in the remaining primaries.
    • Cruz is beating Trump 47%-30% with voters under the age of 45. However, Trump is besting Cruz 47%-33% among voters over the age of 45. Trump has a real problem with young voters, just as Hillary does. However, the older voters are saving him in the GOP primary. Cruz needs to find a message that will resonate with older voters, especially women over the age of 45 to compete with Cruz down the stretch.

The Young Vote

  • One of the interesting data points in the FNC poll is the extent to which the young vote (age 35 and under) is in play for Republicans this year. This voting group delivered the White House to Obama and the Democrats in 2008 and 2012 in overwhelming numbers (over 60% in both cycles voted Democrat). As shown above, Hillary polls horribly with this group. However, Trump polls worse. Look at the polling results on various match-ups. This could be the difference maker in November. 
    • Age 35 and younger Presidential preference
      • Clinton 50%   Trump 32% 
      • Cruz     51%   Clinton 37%
      • Kasich  55%   Clinton 34%

There Is A Long Way To Go

There is still a long way to go. Not only to November but to the GOP Convention.

In fact, it has been just 52 days since the first state caucus in Iowa. All of the primary votes will not be counted until the California primary on June 7---72 days away!

However, it is important to remember that this is just polling data with six months before real votes are taken. At this time in 1988 the polls said that Michael Dukakis would beat George H.W. Bush 53%-40%. Bush ended up beating Dukakis 54%-46% when the actual votes were counted.

The final electoral map looked like this.

Jimmy Carter was similarly leading Ronald Reagan 58%-33% at this point in 1980. Reagan won 51%-41% and ended up winning 44 states in the Electoral College that year.

Donald Trump is more than capable of turning his numbers around. For example, by a margin of 54%-41% voters favor Trump's call for a temporary ban on non-citizen Muslims from entering the U.S. until there is a more reliable process for vetting them.  39% of Democrats favor this action. 56% of women. 55% of Independents. And this was before the Brussels terrorist attack.

Despite the lousy poll numbers now, Trump has a big factor in his favor. The Democrats have to hope that everything stays calm and goes well between now and November. If not, I believe they have very real problems. 

That is not a hand I would want to hold in these turbulent times. Terrorist activity will play into Trump's hands. Economic problems will play into Trump's hands. Immigration problems will play into his hands. He will be viewed as Mr. Fix-It. People may not like him, but if confronted with the choice, they will vote to protect themselves even if they might have other problems with Trump. 

The data may dump on Trump, but count me as someone that is not dumping on him if gets the Republican nomination. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Martian

It is not easy to come in fourth in a three-man race.

However, John Kasich accomplished that feat last night.

Here are the voting totals for the Arizona GOP primary.


Marco Rubio who suspended his campaign a week ago, received 17,500 more votes than John "The Martian" Kasich!

How is that possible?

Only through the misguided idea of early voting.

Arizona allows early voting beginning as much as a month before the election. That probably explains why Jeb Bush also got over 4,000 votes and he suspended his campaign on February 20th!

Voting early in an election with as much volatility as a primary election for President makes absolutely no sense. For those that voted for Rubio, Bush, Carson, Paul  and others it was like taking their vote and throwing it in a trash can rather than the ballot box.

Back to the "The Martian".

What is it with John Kasich?

He is staying in the race although he has no chance of winning the nomination other than by a vote of the party bosses. He is either living on another planet or someone is paying him to stay in to create chaos. (Trump? George Soros? The Clintons?)

As I have written before, there is something that is not right about all of this. A candidate who has only won one primary and 143 delegates when 31 state primaries have been held should not be able to continue to compete. The money is simply not there to do it. Donors do not contribute to losers. Something is amiss.

Kasich recently compared his Presidential bid to the stranded astronaut (played by Matt Damon) on Mars who is working to get back to Earth in the movie, "The Martian." The astronaut is ultimately saved by his resourcefulness, resolve and optimism, the dedication of NASA and the bravery of the rescue crew sent to extract him.

As reported by the Washington Examiner. this is what Kasich told a gathering in Utah last week when he arrived late due to airplane issues enroute to the event.

"On the way over here, on the airplane, I want you to know, I got a chance to watch 'The Martian.' It was a really cool movie. OK? Yeah it was really cool," Kasich said. "'The Martian,' they caught that guy in space just like the voters in the Republican Party are going to catch me and allow me to be the nominee and be elected president of the United States."

He really does appear to be living in another world.

These were the results in Utah last night.

It appears that the people of Utah left him circling out in space.


However, to his credit, Kasich did garner more votes in Utah than Donald Trump did.

Trump campaigned in Utah by saying that Mormons don't like liars.

In a tweet Friday afternoon, en route to a rally, Trump found time to hit the Texas senator, whom he has taken to calling “Lyin’ Ted.”
 “Going to Salt Lake City, Utah, for a big rally. Lyin’ Ted Cruz should not be allowed to win there — Mormons don’t like LIARS! I beat Hillary,” Trump tweeted.

Trump must have thought he was getting a good jab in on Cruz. I guess he really hoisted himself on his own petard considering his dismal showing in the "Beehive" state. (You didn't think that BeeLine would pass up a chance to get that nickname in did you?)

Despite all of Trump's histrionics about "Lyin Ted", it is Donald that has the biggest problem with the electorate on the issue of his honesty and trustworthiness.

A Fox News poll released tonight has some interesting perspectives on the Presidential race going forward, especially on the question of honesty and trustworthiness.

For example, 65% of all voters do not believe that Trump is honest and trustworthy. That is an astounding number for a Presidential candidate.

However, 64% of all voters said the same thing about Hillary.

Forget about "Lyin Ted". We are going to have the "Lyin Election" if we end up with "Dishonest Donald" and "Hokum Hillary" in November based on how the voters view these candidates right now.

Looking deeper at the numbers in the Fox poll shows that Trump may have a bigger problem with voters on the issue than Hillary even though only 1% separates them on their honesty scores.

Although 64% of all voters think Hillary is less than honest, only 30% of Democrats see her as someone they would not trust. 69% of Democrats actually view her as honest and trustworthy.

On the other hand, Trump only has 56% of Republicans seeing him as honest and trustworthy with 42% not willing to trust him.

The overall results of that poll also show that the GOP race has tightened considerably looking at national poll numbers.

Trump leads at 41% but Cruz is now at 38% with Kasich at 17%

Of course, national polls are somewhat irrelevant right now as 31 states have already selected delegates. All that matters are the next 19.

However, the troubling fact remaining for the GOP is that the leading contender for the nomination, Trump, has not once received at least 50% of the votes in any of those 31 state primaries.

This remains the best argument for denying Donald Trump the Republican nomination for President. Even if he goes to Cleveland with the most delegates.

That is why it is time for "The Martian" to leave his fantasy world to allow the only legitimate contenders for the nomination to go head-to-head and see who can command a majority of the voters at the ballot box.

If Trump beats Cruz one-on-one from here on out, he deserves the nomination. If Trump cannot beat Cruz head-to-head, he is not the right candidate to represent the Republican party in November.

The only person that is preventing this from occurring is "The Martian".

Anything less leads to an illegitimate result which only benefits "Hellacious Hillary*" in the end.

*My top suggestion to Donald Trump right now at to how he should describe Hillary building on his "Low Energy Jeb", "Lyin Ted", "Little Marco" and "Crazy Megyn" monikers. If you are going this route, you might as well go all in!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Knowing How To Stay Out Of Trouble

"It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so."
                                                                                         -Mark Twain

This has always been one of my favorite quotes. It seems that the longer I observe the world the more it rings true.

I saw two movies this weekend that confirmed that Mark Twain knew what he was talking about.

The first, The Big Short, based on Michael Lewis's best selling book, about the mortgage debt meltdown, actually uses this quote to open the film.

The movie chronicles a handful of investors who did not follow the pack, who did not buy the hype about the supposed safety of mortgage-backed securities and had the courage of their convictions to bet against Wall Street's biggest players.

Almost everyone on Wall Street believed that there was nothing safer than investing in mortgages. People would do almost anything to avoid losing their home. Of course, the risk of default was small when people had to put 20% down on a house, a stable income and good credit.

That was the case when Lewis Raineri developed the idea of packaging home mortgages and selling them as securities to large financial institutions. A lot of Wall Street bankers got rich. However, the idea proved so successful that the demand for the instruments exceeded the supply. Underwriting standards were loosened until eventually almost anyone, with any credit rating, and with nothing down, could qualify for a mortgage. We now know how that turned out.

The few who did not accept that they knew "for sure" that those mortgage securities were safe, got very, very rich. The others got themselves in trouble (and most of the rest of us as well) as they drove the entire economy into the ditch. What they thought they knew "for sure", just wasn't so.

The second movie that proved Twain's point was an ESPN 30 for 30 documentary on the Duke Lacrosse scandal. It has been exactly 10 years since a team party gone wrong at a small house just across the street from Duke's East Campus erupted into one of the biggest stories (sports or otherwise) of 2006.

You can access the documentary movie, "Fantastic Lies" on YouTube here. (1 hour, 45 minutes)

40 Duke lacrosse players, with presumably nothing better to do during Spring Break when most of their fellow students had left campus, paid two exotic dancers to entertain them at the party. The dancing lasted about 10 minutes of what had been expected to be a 2-hour show.

Each player had chipped in $20 to pay the dancers the $800 agreed price. Predictably, some of the boys were upset because they felt they had been ripped off. Coarse language and some vulgarities ensued. The girls went into the bathroom and then left to some more unpleasant language.

It certainly was not what you would expect from athletes at one of the nation's top universities. However, what came next is what consumed headlines for most of the Spring of 2016. One of the strippers accused three of the players of sexually assaulting and raping her in that bathroom.

As each day went by the media attention of what went on in that small rental house in Durham, North Carolina accelerated. The New York Times, The Washington Post, Newsweek, CNN, Fox News and almost everybody else covered the story incessantly. The story had a mix of elements that were captivating--white vs. black, rich vs. poor, advantaged vs. disadvantaged. All of it taking place with elite college athletes at one of the most prestigious universities in the world.

When I first heard about the story I was shocked but I was also intently interested in everything about the case. A big part of that was the fact that my son was a lacrosse player himself and was a senior in college at the same time. Fortunately, he was not at Duke. However, he had attended the Duke Lacrosse Camp run by Coach Mike Pressler and many of the Duke players were his lacrosse contemporaries that he had seen or may have run across at various recruiting camps during his high school years. That made all of this a more personal experience for me.

Could that be my son?

The early days of the media coverage left little room for doubt about their guilt. These rich, privileged lacrosse kids were guilty as hell. Why weren't they cooperating? It is just another example of pampered college athletes thinking they can get away from anything. What is their problem? Throw the book at them. They deserve it.

However, as the days went by and I listened to the some of the facts trickle out, a lot did not make sense to me. Something did not add up.

Hearing who the accused kids were, the high schools they attended, and the families they came from, only raised more questions for me. I have known a lot of lacrosse players over the years. These kids are generally a cut above most high school athletes. Most are good students from great schools. They generally come from supportive families because lacrosse is an expensive sport to play and excel at. It made no sense to me that three boys from these backgrounds would suddenly and sadistically rape a poor, black stripper in a bathroom in a house with 30 or 40 other guys in the next room.

Yes, these guys were all incredibly stupid in paying strippers to come to a party. Yes, I could see some bad language being exchanged as they realized they may have been ripped off. Yes, male college students do some stupid, idiotic things. However, does that make them guilty of rape?

Of course, there were very few people asking the questions I was asking. Many Duke students, most of the Duke faculty and almost all of the national media tried and convicted these guys every day in the media for months. Why wait for the facts in evidence? They knew "for sure" those three players were guilty and would have to be brought to justice. Right now.

That rush to judgment ultimately caused Duke's lacrosse season to be cancelled (the prior season they had been the NCAA runner-up), the coach forced to resign and the accused players expelled from school.

As days and weeks passed, the evidence I saw and heard seemed to suggest I was right in believing in the innocence of the Duke lacrosse players. It seemed inevitable that the charges would have to be dropped. It never happened.


There had to some other evidence that District Attorney Mike Nifong had that caused him to continue to push forward with his prosecution? Why else would he refuse to drop the charges?

We now know that Nifong had absolutely nothing. He had no evidence. He was in a tough election battle and he wanted the publicity and he wanted black votes in Durham. Justice was not on his mind. In fact, he went so far as to conspire with the lab that he used for DNA testing to attempt to hide the fact that four other men had DNA evidence on or in the accuser. Not a trace of DNA of any Duke lacrosse player was found on her.

The three lacrosse players were later fully exonerated by the State of North Carolina.

D.A. Mike Nifong was convicted of contempt of court for lying to the court and was disbarred.

The three wrongly accused Duke lacrosse players ultimately won what was rumored to be a multi-million settlement in a civil action against Duke University.

The remainder of the Duke lacrosse team that year also reached some form of financial settlement from Duke University for the cancellation of the season and the emotional distress they were put through.

All told, I saw one report that suggested that Duke University may have spent as much as $100 million in cleaning up the mess of the Duke Lacrosse Scandal.

What about the media? What about the faculty members and the campus agitators who were quick to jump on the bandwagon to convict these players without any evidence?

Mary Katherine Ham writes about this in an article in The Federalist.

To this day, most of the Duke faculty and leadership who prejudged the lacrosse players remain in their positions and have never apologized. Media figures who apologized or retracted are few and far between. Instead, most coverage offered grudging reporting on the dismissal of charges.

One media figure that I remember vividly hammering those boys night after night was Nancy Grace. To this day I don't think she has ever uttered anything close to an apology for dragging their names through the mud each night.

Another media figure I remember from those days covering the case was a young reporter named Megyn Kendall for Fox News. She was one of the few reporters who seemed to bring a balanced view in her reporting on the case. She was a lawyer and really seemed to know what she was talking about. I was impressed with her reporting, her legal perspectives and her balanced view of the case.

Ten years later Megyn Kendall is now Megyn Kelly. She has come a long way in ten years.

Of course, Donald Trump undoubtedly does not agree with my assessment of Megyn who has now taken to calling her "Crazy Megyn" in his Twitter tirades. Does he know that "for sure"?

If I could give The Donald one piece of advice I would probably tell him to remember that,

"It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so."

In fact, that's good advice for anyone who wants to stay out of trouble.

Spend more time thinking about how you may be wrong than thinking about why you are right.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Road to Cleveland

The "Road to the Final Four" starts tomorrow. You win and you advance towards the Final Four in the NCAA Basketball Championship. You lose and you go home.

The "Road to Cleveland" is similar. You win and the road gets smoother on the way to Cleveland and the nomination. You lose and and the road gets rougher with more twists and turns.

After yesterday, Donald Trump's ride got a lot smoother. He now has more than one-half of the delegates he needs for the nomination. If he can win just over 50% of the remaining delegates at stake he will lock up the nomination on the first ballot.

He is driving towards Cleveland on I-80 on a clear path with little traffic in his way.

Ted Cruz's ride got a lot rougher. There is no interstate for him. His route to Cleveland involves a tough drive with three vehicles fighting for space on a two-lane road that also has plenty of twists and turns along the way.

John Kasich, despite winning Ohio, has no route to Cleveland as I have written previously. Kasich now has 143 delegates of the 1,237 required. He needs an additional 1,094. There are now only 1,061 left to be allocated. If he wins them all he is still 33 delegates short.

I had to laugh last night when John Kasich's campaign tweeted this out.

A whole new ballgame? Do they think this ball game has 109 innings? The game is over for Kasich and has been for a long time.

At this point, Kasich is nothing more than a skunk at a garden party. All he can do is disrupt the process.

Can Donald Trump be stopped now?

It appears unlikely this deep into the primary process.

Trump could be stopped short of 1,237 but he will still undoubtedly have the most delegates leading into the convention which will make it difficult to deny him the nomination even if it becomes contested.

I only see one way that Trump  could be denied the nomination with any legitimacy and that is if from here on out in the race he is still not able to see his popular vote totals rise above the 50% level.

There would then be an argument that although he has the most delegates in hand he has not been able to attain a majority of Republican voter support.

To date, there has not been one state that Trump has received more than 50% of the total voter support.

As an example, look at last night's percentage totals for Trump.

Florida                     46%
North Carolina       40%
Ohio                        36%
Illinois                     39%
Missouri                  41%

In a one-on-one race with Ted Cruz, if Donald Trump were to lose upcoming races in Arizona, Utah, North Dakota and Wisconsin, this race would look completely different and a whole new narrative would unfold in the media. Everyone would start questioning whether Donald Trump is as strong at the ballot box as he appears.

The all-important momentum in the race would also change leading into big delegate states such as New York (95), Pennsylvania (71)  and California (172).

However, with John Kasich in the race we will not get the needed clarity that is needed to see that picture. A 3-way race muddles the potential momentum Cruz could gather.

Consider the difference in optics between Cruz defeating Trump 55%-45% compared to Trump polling 40% to Cruz at 35% and Kasich at 25% in a 3-way race.

To put that in context, a 55%-45% win would be a bigger defeat than Barack Obama put on either John McCain or Mitt Romney. That was considered by the media to be an overwhelming victory.

On the other hand, Trump polling at 45% (and winning) feels completely different. As Donald says, it is all about winning.

You might think that it is unrealistic for Cruz to be able to defeat Trump 55%-45% in a two-way race.

However, consider this data from last night's exit polls.

44% of the Republicans who voted for someone other than Trump yesterday stated they would not support him in November. These are not Democrats or Independents. These are Republican voters!

Or how about this on how many Republican voters would consider a 3rd party candidate if the choice in November is between Hillary and Donald.

Yikes! And this is who looks to be the Republican on the freeway headed to Cleveland?

The fact is that I think this race has now congealed to the point that it is really only a simple choice for most voters.

Are you voting for Trump or are you voting against Trump? That is what is really in the minds of most voters when they cast their ballot now.

I think one of the ironies of yesterday's vote was that John Kasich believes he beat Donald Trump in Ohio due to the job he has done as Ohio's governor. I don't believe it for a second. I think he won because he was not Donald Trump yesterday.

If Kasich had not been in the race and it had been Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz one-on-one with Trump, I think they would have also beaten Trump yesterday in Ohio. Look no further than the numbers of those exit polls above.

It is possible that Trump cannot be beaten in a one-on-one race. If he cannot, he deserves the nomination. However, Republican voters also deserve the straightforward choice of Trump, and the one other candidate who still can gain the nomination on his own merits at the ballot box, Ted Cruz.

John Kasich, get off the road to Cleveland. You are driving in circles as if you are in a Demolition Derby. And in a Demolition Derby no one reaches the finish line, only one car limps to the end among the wreckage left along the way.

This is where the Republican Party is headed right now and John Kasich is not helping in any way.


Sunday, March 13, 2016

A Vote for Rubio or Kasich Is A Vote for Chaos

More people from Florida (1st) and Ohio (2nd) read BeeLine than from any other states.

Here is graphic from Google Analytics that shows the geographic readership of my blog over the last 30 days. The darker the color, the more reader views.

Illinois (5th) and North Carolina (7th) are also in the top 7 states for readership.

Interestingly, all four of these states have GOP primaries on Tuesday.

The Republican nomination for President could very likely be decided that day in those states. At this time, there are only two candidates that can win the nomination at the ballot box---Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.

Yes, Marco Rubio and John Kasich remain in the race. However, the only result that can come from a vote for either of these gentlemen on Tuesday is a vote for chaos.

This is a message for those of you who live in those states that will vote this Tuesday.

You may like John Kasich. You may think he has been a good Governor. You may even think he could be a great President.

The same is true for Marco Rubio. You may think he is an attractive, articulate young man. You may think he has a bright future ahead for himself. You may even think he could be a great President.

It does not matter.

Neither Kasich or Rubio has any path to the nomination through the ballot box this year. No way. No how.

Even if John Kasich wins the Ohio Republican Primary onTuesday, he would need 90% of the remaining delegates to secure the nomination. Simply impossible!

Likewise for Marco Rubio. Even if he wins the Florida Republican Primary, he would need to win 79% of the remaining delegates. Clearly beyond improbable!

It is not going to happen for either of them.

What will happen if you vote for John Kasich or Marco Rubio?

You will either make Donald Trump the Republican nominee or your vote will lead to a contested or brokered GOP Convention in Cleveland.

It is that simple. Those are the only two outcomes.

Split votes between three or four candidates benefit Trump, especially in winner-take-all states like Florida and Ohio. Trump can get as little as 26% of the vote in those two states on Tuesday and walk away with 165 delegates. That alone would provide him with more than 20% of the remaining delegates he needs for the nomination at this time.

On the other hand, if Trump loses in Ohio and Florida, even though he would still be the leader, he would need 63% of the remaining delegates to gain a majority of delegates. That is possible, but unlikely. A contested convention would be the most likely result.

Either outcome will result in chaos for the Republican Party and greatly enhance the prospects of another four years of a Democrat in the White House.

Why do I say that? I had two conversations this week with very, very conservative Republican women who both told me that they would vote for Hillary over Trump in the general election if it came to that. How does Trump beat Hillary Clinton if you have this type of chaos within the Republican Party's core voters?

Trump's unfavorable rating average is 64.4% in the five most recent national polls that have been taken. His net favorability is -34%! Compare that to President Obama. His unfavorable rating is 47% and his net favorability is only -1%!

Even within the Republican Party primary and caucus elections thus far, Trump has not once gained more than 50% of the votes cast.

Of course, you can only imagine the chaos at the convention if Trump has the most delegates (but lacks a majority) and loses the nomination. It promises to be less than pretty. Have you seen his rallies? Cruz is the only one remaining who can prevent that from occurring at the ballot box.

In addition to the chaos created, a vote for Rubio or Kasich will also mean you wasted your vote and your chance to change the arc of this Presidential race.

The time has long since passed where it is realistic that Kasich or Rubio could gain the nomination. In normal times, their money and support would have long ago dried up. I guess we know by now we are not living in normal times.

24 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have held primaries or caucuses thus far. Kasich has not won one of them.

1,037 delegates have been selected. Kasich has 63.

Rubio has won one state (Minnesota), the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. He only has 163 of the 1,237 necessary.

So why are Kasich and Rubio still in the race?

I cannot pretend to answer that question. Perhaps Kasich and Rubio can provide an explanation in the face of the undeniable facts I have outlined above. My guess is that the Republican Establishment is encouraging and funding their efforts to attempt to get to a brokered convention in a desperate attempt to keep both Trump and Cruz from the nomination.

I do know where a vote for Kasich or Rubio leads on Tuesday. It is simple arithmetic.

None of it is good if you would rather not see Donald Trump as the Republican nominee for President. None of it is good if you would like to see the GOP win the White House in 2016.

In exit polls in Michigan, voters indicated that in a head-to-head match between Trump and Cruz, they favored Cruz 46%-37%. By the way, 37% is the percentage of votes that Trump received in the 4-way race in Michigan last week. In other words, Cruz would have picked up all of the non-Trump votes with the exception of 7% who stated that they would stay home when faced with that choice.

What does this mean to GOP voters on Tuesday?

If you are thinking about voting for Kasich or Rubio, think again.

It is a vote for chaos. Either with a Trump candidacy or with a chaotic convention that Kasich or Rubio has no hope of winning in the end but could cause irreparable damage to the GOP.

There is only one choice left if you want to stop Donald Trump or avoid chaos in Cleveland.

That is a vote for Ted Cruz. That is your only hope if you want to change the tone and tenor of this race when there is still time. On Wednesday, it may be too late.

Remember, a vote for Kasich or Rubio is a vote for chaos.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Staring Into The Abyss

Politicians are often hard to figure out.

What drives them?

Patriotism? Principles? Popularity? Passion? Profit?

This is particularly true for those that run for the office of President of the United States.

It is grueling. It can be glitzy. You are always trying to avoid the campaign-ending gaffe. Although I am sure it is also gratifying seeing those cities and crowds as you crisscross America.  It can also be especially gruesome if you are on a debate stage with Donald Trump.

When you put so much of yourself into it, I am sure it is not easy to say, "It's time to quit."

Most don't go voluntarily into the night. They only exit when the campaign contributors stop writing checks and the money runs out.

You can also be sure that the consultants and advisors of most candidates are not going to push a candidate to the sidelines as long as there is money in the bank. That candidate is more than the message and issues to them---he or she is their paycheck as well.

I am reflecting on all of this tonight as I survey the GOP Presidential race.

I am a numbers guy. And the numbers in this race do not lie.

As of today, these are the delegate counts looking to the 1,237 necessary to gain the nomination in Cleveland in July.

Trump  458

Cruz  359

Rubio 151

Kasich 54.

Let's put that in context.

Trump needs to win 54% of all of the remaining delegates to secure the nomination.

Cruz 61%.

Rubio needs an impossibly large 76%.

Kasich needs a completely insurmountable 82%.

However, you begin to see how ridiculous it is for Rubio and Kasich to still be in the race when you calculate where they will be if they both win their home states next Tuesday. In that event, Rubio would need 78% and Kasich would need 88%!

How can it actually be worse for them than it is now? Even though they each may win their home state they will clearly lose the other state to the other guy and get shut out on those delegates. That makes gaining the necessary delegates that much harder with fewer states in play on the day after next week's primary elections.

Talk about hopeless, Kasich did not even submit enough signatures to qualify for the upcoming Pennsylvania primary ballot. He also failed to submit enough qualifying signatures for the Illinois ballot but he is being allowed to keep his name of the ballot because no one has filed a formal challenge. I guess it shows what his opponents think of his chances in that state!

The train that might take Marco Rubio or John Kasich to the Republican nomination for President has left the station.

However, they are still trying to entice donors and voters to get on a train with them to nowhere. There they were on the debate stage tonight talking about what they were going to do as President! Who are they kidding besides themselves?

At the same time, their actions are standing in the way of letting Republican voters weigh in on a head to head match-up between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.

A three or four way race is tailor made for Trump who seems to have difficulty in getting above 40% of the vote.

A good example is last week in Michigan. Trump got 37% of the final vote. Cruz got 25%, Kasich 24% and Rubio 9%. However, when voters were asked in exit polls how they would vote in a 2-way race between Trump and Cruz, Cruz beat Trump 46%-37%. That's right, Cruz effectively captured all of the anti-Trump vote. For many voters it is as much voting against Trump as voting for him.

You begin to see how important Florida and Ohio are in determining the GOP nominee when you look at the calculation with regard to Trump and Cruz.

If Trump wins both, he only needs 45% of the remaining delegates to capture the nomination. Cruz would then be placed in a position that he would need to win 69%. That would be very, very difficult unless Trump totally imploded along the way.

If Cruz could win both, he would need 56% of the remaining delegates to win the nomination outright. However, Trump would then need 61%. All of sudden Cruz would be in the driver's seat although a contested convention would still be a possibility.

A sure path to a contested convention is if Rubio and Kasich both win their home states. As shown above, it does little to help those two but Cruz would need 69% of the remaining delegates and Trump would need 61%. It would be highly unlikely anyone can gain the nomination short of a convention fight or brokered convention in this scenario.

You have to believe that this is why Rubio and Kasich have not dropped out. The Republican Establishment is funding and encouraging their kamikaze mission because the only hope for the Establishment to have any influence at this point is a brokered or contested convention.

Otherwise the choice is Trump or Cruz, the two worst nightmares that can be imagined for the Republican Establishment right now.

I can't help but think that the Republican elders are playing with fire with the political theatre they are trying to orchestrate behind the curtain.

Looking at the votes to this point, how can the Republican Party Establishment think that they can take the nomination away from either Trump or Cruz and have any party left when it is all over?

Politicians are hard to figure out.

However, the political parties this year may be even harder to figure out than the politicians.

The earth is shifting under their feet (the Democrats are no different with Bernie Sanders giving the Democrat Establishment and Hillary a run for their money) and they are not quite sure how to hang on without falling into the abyss.

They may both avoid the abyss but the political landscape will likely be very different going forward in the wake of this election year.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Crunching The Numbers At Crunch Time

It is crunch time in the race for the Republican Presidential nomination.

The next 8 days could very well determine whether Donald Trump is going to go to Cleveland with enough delegates in hand to win a first ballot nomination...Ted Cruz surges to an upset in the delegate count...or we end up seeing a process that requires two or more ballots to select a nominee.

Here are the current delegate counts pointing to the 1,237 delegates required to garner the


To this point, 887 delegates have been selected with another 1,585 not yet allocated. Therefore, a little more than one-third of the delegates have been chosen but two-thirds are still in play.

Trump has received 43% of the delegates thus far, Cruz 34%, Rubio 17% and Kasich 4%.

Trump can get what he needs for the nomination by winning 54% of the remaining delegates at stake.

Cruz needs 59%. It would appear to be feasible for Cruz to reach that number in a two-way race with Trump. It would seem impossible if he is splitting votes with Rubio and Kasich.

The numbers also show that it is all but impossible for either Rubio or Kasich to win enough delegates in the remaining primaries to get to the 1,237 necessary.

Rubio needs an impossibly large 69% of the remaining delegates and Kasich needs a completely insurmountable 76%. There is no logical reason for either Rubio or Kasich to remain in the race when you crunch the numbers.

Presumably both Rubio and Kasich want to see how they do in their home states next week, which are both winner take-all, and could give them a boost in delegates.

However, even if Rubio wins Florida, he would still need over 66% of the remaining delegates.

Assuming Kasich wins Ohio, he would still need 75% of the remaining delegates!

It is not going to happen. It is Mission Impossible for those two. It is not for Cruise  Cruz if Rubio and Kasich face reality and drop out of the race.

The best hope for the Republican Party to avoid Donald Trump as its nominee is for both Kasich and Rubio to have disappointing nights tomorrow.

This would hopefully cause Kasich and/or Rubio to get out of the race and not risk an embarrassing defeat on their home turf. At the same time, they would gain valuable political capital with the Party.

If they proceed, they could ruin their reputations and provide a clear path for Trump to the nomination even though they have no realistic path themselves.

The performance of Ted Cruz in Kansas, Maine, Kentucky and Louisiana on Saturday is also interesting from a numbers perspective.

Cruz got 230,209 votes combined in those four states on Saturday. Trump had 230,443. In effect, Cruz battled Trump to a draw even with Rubio and Kasich on ballot.

Cruz garnered 37.55% of the votes to Trump's 37.59%.

The remaining 25% was split between Rubio (13.9%) and Kasich (11.0%).

What was especially interesting in the numbers from Saturday was how Cruz surged much higher than the polls had him heading into election day. This was also apparent in a comparison of the early voting in Louisiana compared to the voting on election day.

Trump beat Cruz 47%-21% among those that voted in the several weeks before the election in Louisiana.

However, Cruz beat Trump 41%-40% of those who voted on election day.

That is a huge shift in voter sentiment in a short period of time.

Is this the beginning of a trend?

Is Trump standing atop a fault line?

Have we reached a tipping point for Trump?

Or is this just further evidence that Trump's ceiling is right around 40% and not much higher?

Are the considerable number of Republicans who do not have a favorable opinion of Trump realizing that Cruz is much more viable than Rubio or Kasich?

My advice to those voters who do not want to see Trump as their preferred GOP nominee is to not squander their vote on Rubio or Kasich.

They are wasting our time and your vote by staying in the race.

They have no chance at this late date.

The numbers do not lie. Crunch the numbers yourself if you do not believe me.

Voting for them is either voting for Trump or for chaos at the convention.

It is crunch time and that means it is also now Cruz time.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Math and Momentum

Party nominations in the modern era are determined by two factors---math and momentum.

The math---you have to amass a certain number of delegates pledged to support you at the party convention to gain the nomination.

For the Republicans that number is 1,237 delegates.

The momentum---in the modern media age the primary process normally evolves such that only one or two candidates can gain the media attention and the money necessary over the long term to appear as credible candidates to the voters. Candidates that finish out of the top two places in the early primaries simply do not have the mojo to have much of a chance with voters in the later primary states.

So how does the math and momentum look in the Republican primary right now?

15 states have selected delegates in either primary or caucus elections. This is a graphic view of how the delegate count looks right now compliments of Bloomberg News.

Donald Trump has earned just 319 of the 1,237 required delegates---which is only about 1/4 of the total that he needs.

Trump leads Ted Cruz by less than 100 delegates. In fact, Ted Cruz has a bigger lead over 3rd place Marco Rubio than Trump has over Cruz.

Looking at the math, there is a long way to go and plenty of future delegates in play for Trump to be defeated.

A big reason for the relatively small difference in the delegate count between Trump and Cruz is the fact that the early Republican primary states typically are required to proportionally allocate delegates. This will change on March 15 when Florida and Ohio are among the first of 8 states that have "winner take all" votes. Ohio has 66 delegates and Florida 99 delegates. Of course, Marco Rubio of Florida and John Kasich of Ohio remain in the race. Will either be able to hold their state against Donald Trump's momentum?

And Trump has considerable mojo going for him right now.

How can his momentum be stopped?

Who is capable of stopping it?

It seems clear to me that if Trump wins Ohio and Florida he will be almost impossible to stop. Winning just these two states will put him almost halfway to the nomination without considering any other states. And big states such as New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania are still ahead on the schedule which should favor Trump.

Republicans who want to stop Trump need a game changer. And they need it right now.

It is not likely going to occur by Trump saying something stupid or outrageous. There does not appear anything that he could say that would turn his supporters against him.

It will have to be externally driven. A revelation from an outside source about something regarding his business success, finances or taxes that would undermine Trump's credibility would be the most damaging to him. However, I have a feeling that Trump is guarding this information as closely as Barack Obama has protected his college transcripts.

It will also require a two man race. Cruz, Rubio and Kasich cannot all stay in and have any hope of defeating Trump.

Cruz and Rubio getting together on a unity ticket as President/Vice President would put the Republicans in the best position they could be in to take on Trump. If we are dreaming, also announce that John Kasich would be their OMB Chief in charge of the federal budget and Ben Carson would be the head of HHS to assist in dismantling Obamacare.

Trump has shown that it is no longer politics as usual.

If he is going to be defeated, the opposition has to respond in new ways.

Egos also cannot get in the way.

Math and momentum require it.

My math on getting egos out the way and thinking in new ways?

Chances are about 1 in 1,000,000,000,000,000.