Monday, February 8, 2016


I last commented on the Republican race for the presidential nomination on November 8, and even though the voting has begun, and even though a few of the weaker candidates have thrown in the towel, nothing in the fundamental dynamics of the race has changed.  There has been plenty of noise but the signal remains the same.

From the moment Trump entered the race, there has been one issue---immigration.  Trump has demanded that the laws be enforced, that a border fence be built, and that any plans for a path-to-whatever for illegals already here be dropped.    Every other Republican candidate, with the exception of Ted Cruz, has a long record of supporting open borders and amnesty for illegals.  Those in leadership positions in the Republican Congress and in local offices (the “Republican establishment”) also support Obama’s policies and even want to loosen border controls further.  Many elected Republicans, and most of the current candidates, have taken campaign contributions from groups and individuals that seek what is called “comprehensive immigration reform.”  These donors include the US Chamber of Commerce, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Warren Buffett, and many others.

Trump’s support comes from Republican voters (a majority of them) who want the border enforced, and want American laws respected.  They feel betrayed by elected Republicans who have promised these things but then broke their promises and allowed millions of illegals into the country.  Some of these immigrants are dangerous criminals.  Some bring disease.  Some bring cultural values (e.g., the inferiority of women and a boys-will-be-boys view of rape) that ordinary folks in San Antonio or Des Moines or Albany find appalling.  Yet there is little effort, even when these immigrants are identified, to expel them.

This issue (and the fact that Trump is not an elected Republican owned by the open-borders money guys), is the reason Trump is leading in the polls.  It is the only reason.  He is a vulgar, inarticulate man with little credibility and no apparent understanding of the Constitution, the role of law in the American republic, the history of our foreign policy or macro-economics, but when he says he will build a fence and enforce the laws, Republican voters believe him because he is the only candidate (except for Cruz), who has not yet lied to them about this issue.

The Republican Party could have taken Trump down at any time simply by taking his (one) issue away and embracing border enforcement, wholeheartedly and without prevarication.  A flat-out, unambiguous statement of a change in policy would do it.  No more “paths” to whatever, no more “dreamers,” no more lies about a fence, no more sanctuary cities, and no more driver’s licenses for M-13 gang members.  Bring back Newt Gingrich for a day and make it a new Contract With America. And that would be the end of the Trump candidacy.

At this point, however, it is clear the Republican Party either cannot or will not abandon amnesty.  This means its only option is to find an open-borders Republican candidate who can beat Trump.

First, of course, there was Jeb(!).  Though he is still nominally in the race, even the good old boys have figured out he is not going to get the job done.  

Then, a couple weeks ago, the party decided they could take down Trump with, believe it or not, Donald Trump.  Feelers went out, overtures---hey, maybe we can work with this guy, maybe once we bring him into the fold and tell him he doesn’t have to spend his own money, maybe he’ll make a deal with us.  He makes deals, right?  He just wants to “win.”  So if he wins and he’s our boy, well, then we can finesse this whole fence problem.

It’s a plausible theory, or at least one can understand why the amnesty forces and donors within the Republican Party would find it tempting.  Trump is a guy who praised Hillary as a great public servant, thought Obamacare was just fine, and was pro-choice about five minutes ago, so he looks very much like someone who doesn’t have any core beliefs but will say just about anything if it will enable him to “win,” (whatever “win” means at any given moment in his strangely un-nuanced mind).

And that plan is still in play, at least on the back burner.  The problem with it is that he is so mercurial that he cannot easily be trusted.  One day, the people of Iowa are wonderful; the next day they are idiots.  One day Megyn Kelly is a brilliant journalist and commentator; the next, she is menstruating all over him.  If he is elected on a platform in which the major plank is building a security fence on America’s southern border, what are the odds he would actually do it?  Personally, I have no idea.  So how can you make a deal with the guy?

Now that Jeb(!) is toast and the co-opt-Trump scenario is at best a desperation back-up scheme, the new champion for the pro-amnesty Republicans is Rubio.  His last-minute surge in Iowa makes him a player, and he has always had some attractive qualities.  He’s young and cute and articulate and Cuban.  (Some of his mannerisms and gestures are reminiscent of JFK, and there is speculation that Rubio has studied film of Kennedy and does this on purpose.)

Rubio is attractive to the good old boys, of course, because of his participation in the “Gang of Eight,” the Senate group of four Democrats and four Republicans who drafted an immigration bill and almost pushed it through.  The problem is that Rubio’s role was so large and so notorious and so dishonest that too many Republicans remember what he did, even though it was a few years ago and Rubio has since recanted his support for amnesty.

Rubio appeared on the national political scene as a tea-party Republican running for the Senate in 2010 against Charlie Crist, former Governor of Florida.  Illegal immigration was a BIG issue in that race, with Crist arguing for a “path to citizenship” and Rubio vigorously denouncing him and demanding the laws be enforced.  Though Rubio was a virtual unknown at the time, he pulled away from Crist in the race largely on the basis of the immigration issue.  It was only two years after this election that Marco Rubio changed his tune and supported amnesty in the Senate.

Candidates like Christie and Kasich and Fiorina all have amnesty skeletons in their closets, but you have to dig for them.  Every serious Republican, however, remembers Rubio’s betrayal on this issue, and those who may have forgotten will be reminded by Cruz and Trump.  With immigration the major issue in the 2016 presidential campaign, Marco Rubio would have to explicitly acknowledge his perfidy, apologize for his error, and pledge to take a hard line on border enforcement and swear he will never support any sort of amnesty in the future.  He hasn’t done that, of course.  No politician ever wants to make that sort of mea culpa, even if he’s caught in the sack with an altar boy.  Instead, Rubio claims he has changed his views.  Sort of.  But it’s just not good enough in the 2016 campaign for the Republican nomination.  Speculating in a theoretical way, Rubio might actually be the best candidate for the general election, and he might be able to beat whatever geriatric white person the Democrats throw out there, but Rubio will not be the Republican candidate no matter how much money Mark Zuckerberg drops on him.

And all of this leaves us where we were when I last addressed these issues in November.  The only way to stop Donald Trump is for the Republican good old boys and donors to give in on the amnesty issue and allow our laws to be enforced.  And they won’t do it.  They won’t do it even though they are convinced Trump would lose the general election.   (On that point, I’m not so sure).  The Republican establishment, in other words, would rather Hillary or Bernie or Joe be elected President than give up on their quest for open borders and amnesty for illegals.


Saturday, February 6, 2016


If you have been paying attention to the last few postings, you know where I come down on this one.  And remember, I’m the guy who told you Phil would see his shadow, Trump would finish third in Iowa, and Bernie would beat Hillary (actually, I still might be right about that one).

I’ve said from the start that Denver doesn’t belong here, and I’m not going to change my tune now just because the Broncos squeaked past the Steelers and the Patriots (in Denver both times, of course).  Carolina, by contrast, crushed two very dangerous opponents, Seattle and Arizona.  Average yards/pass here favors the Panthers 6.0 to 4.6.  The Panthers outscored their foes by more than ten points per game; the Broncos by only three.

The 5 ½ point spread is large, and there certainly haven’t been a lot of blowouts in the Superb Owl lately, but this could be one of those games.  Take Carolina and lay the points.  Also, for those of you who care about such things, Carolina has outscored its two playoff opponents by a combined score of 55 – 7 in the first half.  They tend to come out of the gate like a freight train and then coast a bit.  For games like this, Vegas posts a total not just for the entire game, but also for the first half, and in this case that number is 22 ½.  I like the OVER for the first half. 

Trust me.  But don’t forget the groundhog.


Monday, February 1, 2016


The Iowa caucuses are tonight. Based on recent polls, Trump should edge Ted Cruz, with Rubio a close-up third.  Considering the campaign thus far, however, about the only thing we can realistically expect is a surprise.

That still leaves us with the question: what kind of surprise?  Will Trump actually win big or will he disappoint?

I’m predicting he disappoints.  Over the past few months we have all learned a lot about the unexpected political currents driving this race, and I have been as amazed as anyone.  The one thing I still can’t believe, however, is that Donald Trump, in an Iowa contest against Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum, will take the evangelical Christian vote.  This bloc is a critical part of the Iowan Republican electorate, and it’s hard to see them, en masse, ignoring Trump’s divorces, his boasting about adulterous relationships, and his life-long (until recently) pro-abortion views.

Prediction:  Trump finishes third, behind both Cruz and Rubio, though I express no opinion on which one of the two actually wins.

On the Democratic side, Hillary is 0 -1 against socialists in the Iowa caucuses, and after tonight, she will be 0 – 2.  One thing you need to win Iowa is enthusiastic supporters who are willing to spend hours in a fire hall or a church basement on a mid-winter night in order to vote for their candidate.  Today is the day we learn just how un-enthusiastic Hillary’s minions truly are.

And as long as I’m predicting things, Phil will see his shadow tomorrow morning and we will have six more weeks of winter.

And finally, the Carolina Panthers will win and cover on February 7.

Not that you asked.