3/11/2016 Mid-Day Mist Reads

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 12.35.34 PMBen Carson endorses Donald Trump

“He’s actually a very intelligent man who cares deeply about America,” Carson said at a press conference at the Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Forida. “There’s two different Donald Trumps. There’s the one you see on stage and the one that’s very cerebral, sits there and considers things very carefully.”

“We buried the hatchet,” the retired neurosurgeon said. “We moved on because it’s not about me. It’s not about Mr. Trump. This is about America.”

Why Donald Trump’s Defense of Social Security is Brilliant

Saying “let’s not panic about Social Security” puts Trump closer to liberal economist Paul Krugman than Ted Cruz.

It’s this kind of busting ideological barriers has made Trump the leader. He’s broken with GOP policies on entitlements, on the individual mandate that was central to Obamacare and on trade. He’s not a liberal or a Democrat but he is charting new waters and given the total ossification of both parties, this kind of glasnost has to be welcomed.

There’s much that’s creepy about the Trump campaign—the pummeling of protestors at some of his rallies, the loopy, ugly proposed ban on Muslims entering the country “until we figure out what the hell is going on.” (When is that?) But the fresh air of having a candidate, a Republican candidate, say that campaign contributions buy influence and that America was not safe on 9/11 isn’t something that should be discounted.

Uncommitted GOP strategists win Virgin Islands contest, denying delegates to Cruz and Trump

Six delegates were up for grabs in the U.S. Virgin Islands on Thursday. None of them went to one of the four Republican candidates still running for president. In a surprise that sneaked up on every campaign, Republican strategists who were uncommitted to any candidate swept the contest, led by the (formerly) northern Michigan-based strategist John Yob and his wife.

Marco Rubio Campaign Urges Supporters to Back John Kasich in Ohio

Alex Conant, Mr. Rubio’s spokesman, made the comments in an interview with CNN. He said that he hoped supporters of Mr. Kasich and of Senator Ted Cruz would support Mr. Rubio in his home state primary in Florida, and that he would suggest Mr. Rubio’s backers in Ohio do the same by supporting Mr. Kasich there.

“I’m just stating the obvious,” Mr. Conant said. “If you are a Republican primary voter in Ohio and you want to defeat Donald Trump, your best chance in Ohio is John Kasich, because John Kasich is the sitting governor, he’s very close to Donald Trump in some of the polls there.”

The Party of Reagan Is No More

Voters are complicit in this too; many of them have come to confuse cruelty, vulgarity and bluster with strength and straight talk. And Republican lawmakers compounded a problem they had promised to solve, promoting rather than ending corporate welfare and crony capitalism.

There’s another explanation as well–political and intellectual sclerosis, by which I mean the failure to apply enduring principles to changing circumstances. This is something that Reagan did quite well. He developed a policy agenda–on taxes, monetary policy and regulations–that addressed the problems of his era, including high inflation, high interest rates and high unemployment. He understood the hardships facing ordinary Americans. He gave voice to them. And he offered concrete solutions to them. He adjusted to the realities of his time.

Which Presidential Candidates Were Supported by Sports Stars

I love stuff like this!


3/8/2016 Mid-Day Must Reads

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 12.35.34 PMWhy Ted Cruz might torpedo the strategy to stop Trump

The payoff for Cruz is clear. Rubio is struggling tremendously in the primary so far. Even if he wins Florida, it’s really hard to envision him getting to 1,237 delegates. If he doesn’t win Florida, it could be so embarrassing for him that he could drop out of the race.

The Republican establishment wants to stop Trump. Ted Cruz wants to beat Trump.

The problem is that if Rubio doesn’t win Florida’s 99 delegates, someone else will. And that someone is likely to be Donald Trump. Then, he’ll be on pace to win an outright majority of delegates by the end of the primary.

That’s the “stop Trump” crowd’s worst nightmare.

Donald Trump Would Be Easy To Stop Under Democratic Rules
By Nate Silver

Trump will have a chance to improve on his pace as the calendar turns toward states that have more aggressive delegate allocation methods — especially winner-take-all Florida and Ohio, which vote March 15. If Trump wins both states, he’ll have a good chance of eventually getting a delegate majority. If he loses both, we might be headed to a contested convention in Cleveland. And if Trump splits them — perhaps the most likely outcome based on where polls stand — we’ll continue to be on knife’s edge.

If the Republican nomination were contested under Democratic delegate rules instead, Trump would find it almost impossible to get a majority of delegates, and a floor fight in Cleveland would already be all but inevitable.

But switching to Democratic rules would make a big difference. Between the highly proportional allocation method and the large number of superdelegates, Trump would have received only 306 delegates so far, more than any other candidate but still just 34 percent of the total. It would be hard for Trump to ever get a majority under these circumstances; he’d have to get at least 72 percent of the elected delegates from the remaining states, or he’d need help from superdelegates who might not be willing to provide it to him.

Mike Huckabee wins Naples Derby

We have all watched the Presidential election this year and all know that candidate Mike Huckabee gave it all he had. He graciously bowed out in February. Although not in the Presidential campaign his four-legged namesake posted a winning campaign in the $50,000 Naples Fort Myers Derby series and finished on top on March 5th.  Brindle kennel’s Mike Huckabee a strapping 80-pounder and the bet favorite, thrilled both on and off-track fans that watched the handsome black son of Trent Lee and Twinkles come from behind and win in a powerful five-length victory over the 660-yard course.

Ted Cruz’s risky detour to crush Marco Rubio in Florida
By Margaret Carlson

It’s been a huge week in the presidential campaign. We’ve gone from Donald Trump having an unstoppable path to the Republican nomination to the possibility that he could be beaten.

That’s the good news for the majority of Americans who believe that an authoritarian, ill-informed, bellicose real estate mogul is unsuited to be president.

The bad news is that the vehicle of Trump’s defeat is turning out to be Sen. Ted Cruz.

With his faux-folksy recitations of Dr. Seuss and “The Princess Bride,” his singular insistence that Obamacare could be repealed, and non-stop obstruction fueled by his self-regard as the only principled man in Washington, he helped grind governing to a halt in recent years. One of the few points of bipartisan agreement on Capitol Hill is antipathy to Cruz. Vice President Joe Biden captured the feeling at the annual Gridiron Club dinner on March 5, joking that if President Barack Obama really wanted to put his mark on the Supreme Court, he should name Cruz to the open seat. “Before you know it, you’ll have eight vacancies.”

The emergence of Cruz as the savior of his party offers the painful choice between a fast death by gunfire (Trump romping to an unbeatable plurality of delegates within days) or a slow one by poison, as Cruz chips away at Trump’s lead with his latest wins in Kansas and Maine. But there’s no time to waste. The most super of Tuesdays is coming up on March 15 with the winner-take-all contests in Ohio and Florida. If Trump were to win both, the fat lady has sung.

Kasich’s survival strategy
By Kyle Cheney

Blanked in the first 20 Republican presidential nominating contests, the Ohio governor is desperate for a breakout performance Tuesday night in Michigan and a win next week in his home state. That’s because even if he pulls it off — no guarantee when polls show him down by double digits to Donald Trump in Michigan and statistically tied with the mogul at home — his advisers rarely mention what’s likely to come next: another six weeks of winless hell.

That’s because Kasich won’t have another chance at a marquee day until April 26, when five northeastern states — including Pennsylvania, where he grew up — hold Republican primaries.

2:23 Mid-Day Must Reads

ASFLife From Death: How the Scalia Funeral Mass Became a Triumph of Evangelization

By KATE O’HARE – Catholicvote.org

There’s no question that the death of Antonin Scalia is a sad moment that opens up many troubling questions for the nation. But, it was also a gift in a tumultuous time, a sacred moment of love and respect on a loud and fractious news day — ending as the assembled clerics stood on the outdoor steps and sang “Salve Regina” a cappella as the casket was carried to the hearse.

Trump Tops Kasich in Latest Ohio Poll

Quinnipiac University Poll

Not even native son Gov. John Kasich can stop the Donald Trump steamroller as Kasich falls behind the Republican front-runner 31 – 26 percent among Ohio likely Republican primary voters, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas is at 21 percent with Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida at 13 percent and Dr. Ben Carson at 5 percent.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton leads Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont 55 – 40 percent among Ohio likely Democratic primary voters, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh- pe-ack) University Poll finds.

Rubio takes “Ankeny Strategy” national!

Internally, the campaign calls this “The Ankeny Strategy.” In the run up to the Iowa caucuses, rival campaigns mocked the Rubio operation for being so obsessed with Ankeny. They joked that it felt like Rubio was running to be mayor of the Des Moines suburb. His headquarters was there, and his state chairman represents the city in the state Senate. But it paid off: Rubio’s surprisingly strong third place finish in Iowa was possible because he ran up his margin in Polk County.

My commentary: The only problem with this is that it lead to a third and second place finish, not a victory. Rubio needs to win, not simply do respectively well.

24 Years Later, Joe Biden’s Words Haunt Democrats


Several elements of the old Biden speech are problematic for Democrats, most notably his position at the time as the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, making him the party’s voice on the handling of judicial nominations. The comments are also directly at odds with what President Obama and Mr. Biden, now the vice president, have been saying in demanding fair consideration for any nominee after the death of Justice Scalia on Feb. 13.

Rubio in Search of Mormon Support Tonight


Hutchison is, among other things, the chair of Rubio’s Nevada campaign and a prominent member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. These two facts are not unimportant in the context of today’s Republican caucuses in Nevada. Mormons are only 4 percent of Nevada’s population, but they have exercised outsize influence in the state’s past two caucuses, accounting for 25 percent of Republican participants in 2012 and 26 percent in 2008; Mitt Romney, America’s most famous Mormon, won their vote by 88 and 95 percent, respectively.

Cruz changes tune on rounding up undocumented immigrants


Ted Cruz moved to a more aggressive deportation policy in an interview on Monday night, saying he would look for and deport undocumented immigrants using Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, marking a change from a January interview with CNN.

Appearing on “The O’Reilly Factor” on Fox News, Cruz was repeatedly pressed on the specifics of his deportation plans by host Bill O’Reilly, who asked Cruz, “Would you go look for them, though? As (Donald) Trump would look for them to get them out, would you do that if you were president?”

“Bill, of course you would, that’s what ICE exists for,” Cruz said. “We have law enforcement that looks for people who are violating the laws, that apprehends them and deports them.”




2:22 Mid Day Must Reads

MMHead of Bush Super PAC Reportedly Rakes in $14 Million


Murphy has long been one of Bush’s closest advisers — and the political world was in awe last year when Right to Rise raised $100 million just as Bush was launching his candidacy.

Now, the super PAC will go down in history as yet another failed Murphy juggernaut.

Murphy’s failed effort to help Bush follows his strategic oversight of another expensive losing campaign: the $177 million effort of 2010 California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman. Despite her campaign’s lavish spending, Whitman lost to Democrat Jerry Brown, who spent a mere $36 million by comparison.

Cruz’s Hard Pitch To Evangelicals May Be His Downfall


In his concession speech, Sen. Cruz tried to spin the results as “remarkable” and proof he exceeded expectations. Those comments are clearly just a brave attempt to put on a happy face after a sobering loss.

Saturday’s results certainly got to Cruz superfan Glenn Beck. The radio host urged his listeners to join him in fasting in order to better secure divine help for Cruz’s candidacy. This statement comes after Beck said God possibly allowed Antonin Scalia to die so America would wake up and vote correctly.

The ramblings of Beck, besides being indicators of his declining mental health, are actually an extreme expression of Cruz’s electoral strategy. The senator’s campaign has done everything possible to win over the religious right this election cycle. Cruz announced he was running for president at Liberty University. Throughout his campaign, the Ivy League-educated lawyer has cited Bible verse and expounded upon his faith. He secured the endorsement of dozens of prominent evangelicals and social conservatives, many of whom quickly became surrogates for his campaign.

These statements are only likely to appeal to the declining demographic of churchgoing evangelicals while at the same time alienating the other parts of the party. Not only that, but the religiously-devout seem to care more about how a candidate will steer the economy and protect the nation than they do about how well a given contender can recite scripture.

It’s a fact that our society is becoming more secular and considers religion as more of a private matter than a public obligation. You can only change that through the culture, not the ballot box.

Cruz campaign forced to apologize yet again.


“It’s every single day, something comes out of the Cruz campaign that’s deceptive and untrue, and in this case goes after my faith. So I understand, I guess one of their spokespersons apologized and I’ll accept his apology, but this is a pattern now and I think we’re now at a point where we start asking about accountability,” Rubio said.

Donald Trump’s Perfect Foil

The Atlantic

In a bizarre twist, Donald Trump has become an instrument of class vengeance. I don’t know how many of his voters really believe he can stop the “losing” that has characterized white working-class life for decades. But he has now accomplished at least one thing for his supporters. He’s given them the satisfaction of watching Jeb Bush lose, too.

Nevada GOP Caucuses could be a real mess


Republican campaigns and state operatives point to a number of factors creating the cloud of confusion: a cash-poor state party in disarray, a public unaccustomed to the caucus process and a state that’s notoriously difficult to poll. Nevada doesn’t have a lot of experience running caucuses – the state picked up its first-in-the-West status in 2008, but it has yet to run smoothly and some campaigns are bracing for possible chaos again.



Mid-Day Must Reads

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 12.35.34 PMBelow are a few of the outstanding article that have been published this morning.

Jeffrey Toobin of the New Yorker writes a great piece on the looming Supreme Court confirmation battle, more specifically how we ended up at a place where the party in control of the Senate holds all the cards.

Edward Morrissey writes in The Week about how the confirmation process itself is overshadowing the life and accomplishments of Justice Scalia. A fantastic read.

If you are looking for some lighter material, check out James Poniwozik’s piece in the New York Times that argues how Donald Trump is actually bad for late night comics. Say what? I love articles like this that are enjoyable and light reading, but bring up valid points we may have otherwise overlooked.

Finally for you political nerds, Eliana Johnson from National Review writes a great synopsis on why South Carolina is a critical test for Ted Cruz. There are some great insights there.

The Brute-Force Politics of Judicial Confirmations

On nominations to the Supreme Court and for other judicial vacancies, the rule has been simple. The side with the most brute force has won.

Reid had the power to invoke the nuclear option, and he did it; McConnell has the power to protect the Scalia seat, and he is doing it, at least until the next election. It is thus clearer than ever that the future of the judiciary is decided at the ballot box, not in the courtroom.

How Antonin Scalia became an afterthought in his own demise

That brings us to today, when one of the longest-serving members in the court’s history has largely been forgotten in an unseemly scrum over who replaces him, and when. Republicans have adopted Schumer’s 2007 position, while Democrats forget that the Senate has no obligation to approve nominees — and that it was Democrats who were largely responsible for dispensing with deference to elected presidents in judicial appointments.

Scalia, ironically, spent nearly three decades attempting to move the court back to a less activist model. Had that effort succeeded, it would have made his own passing remarkable in itself rather than a bugle call for both sides to divvy up the spoils.

Even with that, the epic breadth and depth of Scalia’s impact on American jurisprudence may take several more decades to be fully appreciated. At the moment, though, the nearly 30-year tit-for-tat judiciary battle between Republicans and Democrats only deepens the belief among voters that America’s institutions are failing its citizens, and that will be yet another reason for voters in both parties to look outside those institutions to make them work once more.

Donald Trump Is a Conundrum for Political Comedy

How do you spoof a candidate who treats campaigning like a roast?

Mr. Trump is now a serious candidate — often a self-serious, angry one — with a serious chance. But stylistically, he works in the mode and rhythms of a stand-up. He riffs. He goads. He works blue. When he gave a victory speech in New Hampshire, feinted at congratulating his opponents, then pivoted — “Now that I’ve got that over with … ” — he sounded like a sketch comic doing an imitation of himself.

His style has rendered him, weirdly, almost comedy-proof. Election parodies traditionally exaggerate candidates. But Mr. Trump exaggerates himself — he’s the frilled lizard of politics, inflating his self-presentation to appear ever larger. Satire exposes candidates’ contradictions and absurdities. But Mr. Trump blows past those, while his supporters cheer.

And while the get-along guy Jimmy Fallon has a technically fine impression of Mr. Trump, it’s all hair and no teeth.

Ted Cruz: South Carolina is a Big Test

South Carolina, which votes Saturday, will give a good indication of just how sturdy that firewall is. The state is demographically similar to its southern neighbors, with both a large evangelical population (evangelicals constituted nearly two thirds of Republican primary voters in 2012) and a strong tea-party presence. A loss here would be a warning sign that the campaign has overestimated its ability to identify and persuade the voters it needs to carry the South.

In the past, candidates who have run a campaign with explicitly religious themes, and who have cobbled together narrow coalitions — Rick Santorum in 2012, Mike Huckabee in 2008 — have never proved widely successful. Both men won the Iowa caucus and a host of Southern states, but they didn’t fare well in South Carolina. The Palmetto State will provide a more reliable predictor of whether Cruz’s candidacy has the potential to be widely successful, and to make history in the process.

Cruz has the money and the infrastructure Santorum and Huckabee did not, and his campaign is amplifying the tactics that produced victory in Iowa here in South Carolina. As the dual Camp Cruz locations suggest, it remains a ground-focused operation that emphasizes person-to-person contact. “This campaign I believe is gonna be decided by the grassroots,” Cruz told reporters on Monday. “It’s gonna be decided friend to friend, neighbor to neighbor, pastor to pastor, South Carolinian to South Carolinian.”

But Iowa, as a low-turnout caucus state whose voters are pre-conditioned to organizing through their religious institutions, was ideally suited to Cruz’s candidacy. He amassed 28 percent of the vote there. Will he fare as well in South Carolina?




Remembering Justice Scalia

Antonin ScaliaJustice Scalia will Lie In Repose At The Supreme Court on Friday

Much has been written about Justice Scalia’s passing, but below are a couple of articles written by people who were his ideological adversaries. The true mark of a man isn’t just what his friends and allies say about him when he’s gone, but also what those he did battle with have to say about him as well.

Click on they hyperlinks to read each article in full.

The Scalia I knew Will Be Greatly Missed – Cass Sunstein

[quote]Volumes can and will be written about Scalia’s approach to the law. Even those of us who disagreed with him (as I often did, sometimes intensely) owe him an immense debt, because the clarity and power of his arguments forced us to do better.[/quote]

Antonin Scalia Will Be Remembered as One of the Greats – Mark Joseph Stern

Liberals—and, as a shorthand, many journalists—labeled Scalia a “conservative.” That was true as far as political temperament went; from his notorious friendship with Dick Cheney to his thinly veiled delight at the outcome of Bush v. Gore, Scalia was a Republican at heart. But to call him nothing more than a “conservative” would be to overlook the remarkable nuance and complexity of his jurisprudence. Scalia cast a decisive vote in the most important free speech case of the 1980s, Texas v. Johnson, which held that flag burning qualified as constitutionally protected expression. He wrote the landmark majority opinion in 2011’s Brown v. EMA, a double victory for First Amendment advocates that protected both depictions of violence and minors’ rights. And he dissented in Maryland v. King, arguing that the Fourth Amendment forbids law enforcement from collecting DNA from arrestees. (His fierce dissent sounds like it could have sprung from the pen of Edward Snowden.)

Stern closes with the following.

When I was younger and angrier, I expected to cheer Scalia’s retirement, elated by his absence from the court. Today, I only feel overwhelming sadness. In my time covering the court, I’ve grown to admire the gruff, cantankerous man who lobs bombs and quips at nervous lawyers and bemused justices alike. Scalia was the justice you either loved or hated, relentlessly opinionated, representative of everything that was right or wrong with the Supreme Court. He was witty, unpredictable, caustic, indignant, and brilliant. He was an American original. And after the partisan howling over his legacy fades, that is how his country will remember him.

South Carolina Voters on Jeb Bush: It’s Complicated

Photo by Dave Davidson – Prezography.com

Byron York talked to 41 attendees at Jeb Bush’s South Carolina rally that featured his brother, former President George W. Bush, only four said they absolutely decided to vote for Jeb.

Nearly everyone expressed deep admiration for W. But that admiration did not mean blanket approval of his actions as president. So when I asked whether, looking back, going to war in Iraq was a mistake, here is what I got. Seventeen said yes, it was a mistake. Seventeen said no, it was not a mistake. And seven said some variation of, “It’s complicated.”

Read the full article here.

Things Look Good for Donald Trump in South Carolina per PPP Poll

Photo by Dav e Davidson – Prezography.com

Public Policy Polling is out with their latest South Carolina poll. It shows Trump with a significant lead over the rest of the Republican field. Trump is at 35 percent compared to 18 percent each for Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, 10 percent for John Kasich, and 7 percent each for Jeb Bush and Ben Carson.

As interesting as all that is, that’s not why you should take the time to read the poll. The more interesting thing about this PPP poll is that they take the time to ask respondents how they would vote in head to head matchups. Now that might not matter in South Carolina, but it could give us a glimpse as what the race will look like moving forward.

Here is the key nugget:

There continues to be evidence that the race for the Republican nomination will get a lot tighter down the line as more candidates drop out. Trump leads Rubio only 46/45 in a head to head match up, with supporters of Bush (73/10), Cruz (67/26), Carson (54/34), and Kasich (50/29) all strongly preferring Rubio to Trump if those were their choices. If Rubio can make the race in South Carolina more into a choice between him and Trump he has the potential to end up with a strong second place finish. Trump has wider leads in head to heads with Bush (50/40) and Cruz (48/38).

I also find it fascinating that South Carolina voters have an unfavorable view of Sen. Ted Cruz. Only 72 percent have a favorable view of the Texas Senator, while 48 percent have an unfavorable view of him. That’s problematic a week out of an election. South Carolina is a place where Cruz should run strong. Something is either clearly a miss with the poll or Cruz’s campaign.

Read the entire poll by clicking here.