Monday, August 31, 2015

Until Dawn Review

Wikimedia
I decided to purchase Until Dawn because the trailers, gameplay, and plot got me interested. After a week of playing, I can truly say that I loved the game because of how interactive it was. Until Dawn, created by Supermassive Games, is similar to The Walking Dead created Telltale Games and Heavy Rain created by Quantic Dream. For those who are familiar with those games, you should like Until Dawn. For those of you who don't like games that have an emphasis on making decisions and quick time events, this game is not for you. If you have had no experience with interactive adventure games, then Until Dawn could be your introduction to them, but I would not recommend it for those who can't handle horror.

The plot focuses on eight friends who have decided to spend their winter vacation at a private lodge on a mountain in Canada. Their vacation comes a year after a terrible accident on the mountain in which two friends disappeared without a trace. When all the friends reunite on the mountain again, it becomes clear that someone or something very dangerous is on it with them. It is the job of the player to make sure that all of the friends survive until dawn when a rescue party will arrive. The game is conducted like a television series where there are ten episodes and each is roughly an hour long.

As I said before, the choices you make can change the game. When engaging in a conservation with other characters, the player can say multiple things that will change a relationship for better or worse. The choices that are made can change the situation quickly or much later in another episode. The creators of Until Dawn make a huge point of the butterfly effect, which a player will learn as soon as the game starts. To help solve the mystery, players can pick up several items during the game that are clues to find out what is going on. The game is made to be replayed several times. A player can change what happens to the characters and their relationships each time they play. It should also be remembered that (like all games in this style) there are several plot points that have to be followed.

The graphics in the game are wonderful. They clearly put a lot of work into making the game look good. The setting is perfect because the lodge and other locations on the mountain do give an eerie feeling thanks to the heavy emphasis of detail all over the game. Overall, I liked the game and if you have an interest in interactive games, then Until Dawn is perfect for you.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

What are Strategic Voters?

CNN
While many people vote on who they like the most in both political parties, there are also many people who vote for a candidate they think is the most likely to win in a presidential election even if that particular candidate does not match-up identically to their own personal political ideology. This is often called strategic or tactical voting and there are many Republicans and Democrats who do vote in that way. Strategic voting can also affect third party candidates who are unlikely to win. If a Libertarian or a Green knows that their candidate is unlikely to win in a presidential election, then they have might have an incentive to vote for one of the two major party candidates who agrees the most with their views.

Many academic papers have been conducted on strategic voting and it does play an important role in the political process. One way people vote strategically is by examining polls in a general election match-up. It's obvious Democrats and Republicans want their candidates to win. Politics, after all, is about conflicts between political parties that hope to achieve power in order to push their agenda. That means voters want a winner and if they see that a candidate is unelectable, then there is a good chance that those who vote strategically won't vote for that candidates even if he or she is their first choice.

The reason I bring this up is because of the two surging presidential candidates. In the Republican Party, Donald J. Trump has the lead. In the Democratic Party, Bernie Sanders is catching up to Hillary Clinton. Both men are very unconventional and have won a lot of support by being that way. Everyone knows 2016 will probably be a close presidential election. The country is not in a liberal mood like it was when Franklin Roosevelt won a landslide in 1932. The country also isn't in a conservative mood like it was when Ronald Reagan won a landslide in 1980. There is still time for events in the world to change the attitudes of the voters, but right now it looks like the independents will matter more than ever.

On the right is a billionaire with no political experience who constantly throws red meat to the Tea Party. He says a lot of things, but no one knows if Trump is practical or not. Nobody knows how competent he will be as a leader. It doesn't look like Trump can win a lot of independents. At the same time, the Democratic Party is dealing with the rise of a far-left democratic socialist. Bernie Sanders represents the other extreme for independents and questions arise on how they will view him. Both campaigns are gathering big crowds with enthusiastic supporters, but what will happen with strategic voters when the first primaries and caucuses roll around?

Strategic voters are the Republicans who say, "I like Trump, but I don't know if he can win." They are also the Democrats who say, "I like Sanders, but I don't know if he can win." Those Republicans aren't saying they won't vote for Trump and those Democrats aren't saying they won't vote for Sanders. What they are concerned about is how these two candidates will look when presented to the voters who matter.

In the RCP average, Trump is still losing badly against Clinton. They are better from a few months ago because of Clinton's scandal, but he is still losing by over 8 percent. Other candidates having closer polling numbers against her. Sanders isn't fairing much better and most Democrats think he would lose in a presidential election because he is too politically polarizing. He is in a tight match-up with Bush, Rubio, and Trump according to the latest poll from Quinnipiac University. Sanders doesn't even get 45 percent support or higher like Clinton does, showing that she has larger appeal. The poll tells Democrats that if Trump is the GOP nominee, then they have a choice between someone who beats him easily and can attract centrists or someone who is so radical that there will be a struggle to win.

Sanders and Trump both have a pathway to victory, but the reason they are unlikely to win is because of their electability. Both parties want a winner. If Sanders and Trump can't prove they are, then voters will look for someone else. So far, I can't see either of them of changing their campaign styles. They don't exactly have bad strategies since their anti-establishment rhetoric has worked to get them to the top. If they are able to woo enough voters and keep disciplined campaigns, then they could very well win in the primaries, but it does not hurt to broaden support and prove to be a competent candidate who can track independents. That's what Sanders and Trump need to do in order to win strategic voters.

Third parties are a bit different. Usually a third party acts as a "spoiler" to another party. In the 2000 presidential election, many political analysts believed that voters who decided to vote for the Green Party candidate Ralph Nader were hurting the chances of Vice President Al Gore and the Democrats to win a third term in the White House. Gore did win the popular vote with 48.4 percent, but elections are decided by the Electoral College and he only won 266 electoral votes. The Republican candidate, Governor George W. Bush of Texas, won 47.9 percent and 271 electoral votes. Nader, an environmentalist and consumer advocate, won 2.74 percent of the popular vote and no electoral votes. The point is that most people who voted for Nader are liberals who would have voted for Gore. When Nader ran for president as an independent in 2004, he didn't come close to the votes he won in 2000 because many liberals thought he ruined Gore's chances.

Nader's candidacy isn't the only example. The Republicans have lost more elections from third party candidates. Former President Theodore Roosevelt had the strongest third party candidacy in history by running as the Progressive Party's candidate in 1912 against Republican incumbent William Howard Taft and Democratic challenger Woodrow Wilson. Unfortunately, the former Republican president split GOP voters and allowed Wilson to win the presidency easily with just 41.8 percent of the popular vote. At the end of the twentieth century, Ross Perot's candidacy in 1992 led to a split of Republican support between him and President George H.W. Bush. Democrat Bill Clinton won the presidency with 43 percent of the popular vote, Bush was in second with 37.5 percent, and Perot came third with 18.9 percent. Perot's candidacy in 1996 had similar results.

Not all third party candidacies have been spoilers. In the 1980 presidential election, Republican Representative John B. Anderson of Illinois decided to run as an independent after losing the Republican nomination race to Reagan. He initially had a lot of support, but as the election drew closer many voters decided to go strategic because they knew Anderson wouldn't be elected. In the end, Reagan did win 50.8 percent of the popular vote, President Jimmy Carter won 41 percent, and Anderson won only 6.6 percent (still impressive for a third party).

Trump is considering a third party candidacy. RealClearPolitics has an average for polls between Clinton as the Democratic nominee, Bush as the Republican nominee, and Trump as an independent candidate. They find that Clinton wins easily with a double-digit lead. Let's say Trump did run third party and starts drawing conservative voters, but then Election Day gets close. What is to stop those conservatives from deciding to vote more strategically for Bush since Trump will not win? Trump could be Ross Perot or he could be John Anderson. Hopefully, the Donald won't go third party in this presidential election because it does hurt Republican chances.

Friday, August 28, 2015

My Five Favorite Political Websites

The internet has been in many ways a mixed bag for politics, but one of the things I love is the many websites that now exist providing accurate political analysis and information. I don't usually go on websites are on the far-left or the far-right, but what I prefer to read are the respected websites that provide heavy political evidence and statistics to back up their arguments. These five website do report on policies, but for this list I'm only talking about election coverage. These are the websites:

1: RealClearPolitics

One of the best political websites out there. The website offers every respected poll that is published and puts them into an average. That way there's no bias since all the polls are combined into one. They offer averages for the presidential election, elections in Congress, and gubernatorial elections. The analysts on RCP like Caitlin Huey-Burns, Sean Trende, and Tom Bevan offer very sharp insight on a wide range of political issues and strategies. The company that owns RealClearPolitics owns many other websites with similar names. These include RealClearSports, RealClearWorld, RealClearHistory, and RealClearMarkets.

2: FiveThirtyEight

As the 2012 presidential election came to a close, political analyst Nate Silver made the most accurate prediction of that election. He was correct on how each of the fifty states would vote. He and Harry Enten offer very detailed election information loaded with plenty of data. Owned by ESPN, the website also has articles for sports, science, and economic topics. One project from their website that I have found most useful is the "Endorsement Primary" where every endorsement from a politician to a candidate is added together. Usually, the candidate with the most endorsements just after Iowa and New Hampshire wins the nomination. A representative is worth one point in terms of an endorsement because they only represent one district, a senator has five points because they win elections across a whole state, and governors have ten points because they always operate in a state.

3: The Cook Political Report

A website and newsletter that studies elections on all levels. Their website is read by man influential political and economic leaders. I will admit that I only read the free articles. In order to get all the articles, I would have to buy a subscription, but I don't have $350 to spend for political news at the moment. Maybe in the future when I have more income. Overall, it is still worth a look even if the number of articles that can be read is limited.

4: Sabato's Crystal Ball

Larry J. Sabato is a political scientist who works for the University of Virginia's Center for Politics. Like the others, Sabato and his team do their own political predictions and they have been accurate in the 2004, 2008, and 2012 presidential elections. Like the other websites, they follow all the candidates, but they are unique in that they put them into a tier system for those more likely to win and those unlikely to win.

5: The Wall Street Journal

I don't subscribe to the newspaper, but the WSJ offers great political and economic news. They also do polls with NBC. The Washington Wire, which is part of the WSJ, offers in-depth political analysis on the 2016 election. The many writers there are clearly dedicated to their work!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Chaos Helps Donald Trump

Billionaire Donald Trump - The Huffington Post
Donald Trump rose to the top of polls after it seemed to many conservatives that his criticisms of illegal immigration were justified following the homicide of Kate Steinle in the sanctuary city of San Francisco by an illegal immigrant. The timing of her tragic death was very important. Trump has continued his tough rhetoric on amnesty and illegal immigration. Although the New York billionaire is wrong to say that the subject wasn't on anybody's mind until his presidential announcement, it is true that many people support him because he is talking about illegal immigration in a way that no other candidate can.

Now I think the recent stock market crash is going to help the Donald as well. Since last week, all three stock market indexes have been making massive net losses. Are we on the verge of recession like we were in 2007 and 2008? I can't be sure because recessions are very hard to predict. The stock market has crashed before, but the crashes don't always lead to recessions. One ideal case is the 1987 crash, which didn't cause a reversal in the booming economy. It is also argued by many historians today that the stock market crash of 1929 did not primarily lead to the Great Depression, but that several circumstances caused a bad economic situation to get worse.

Trump has predicted before that the current stock market crash will happen, which he says is the result of China manipulating their currency. With the stock market falling, Trump will use financial uncertainty to his advantage and could potentially raise his poll numbers again. Charles Gasparino, a financial and political commentator for the Fox Business Network, posted an article in the New York Post about how the market crash helps Trump:
You’d think that in such tenuous times, voters would opt for the steady hand to guide them. But history teaches us voters often take chances when times get rough by electing candidates who challenge the status quo.
Sometimes they get lucky, as they did when they elected an agent of change named Ronald Reagan. Sometimes they don’t — and they get a Barack Obama.
Either way, as the economy becomes ever more speculative, Trump’s chances of becoming president grow. I personally like The Donald and admire his ability to rebuild and rebrand himself and his business from near ruination when, in the early 1990s, he was best known for a messy divorce and lots of underwater real estate.
He’s now by most estimates a legitimate billionaire with one of the best-known brands ever created.
It makes a great deal of sense for voters to go for someone who has a very different approach. Trump, with the notable exception of Carly Fiorina, is the only presidential candidate who has spent his life in the private sector. Aside from those two, Ben Carson has no political experience, but his experience is more in the medical field than as a businessman.

Donald Trump may not be that specific (at the moment), but he knows what many voters need to hear in a time when trust is low and anxiety is high. As with every Republican candidate, I like to be fair and I believe they all have a chance to win. Trump is running a very successful campaign at the moment. When Trump was leading earlier, I noted that Michele Bachmann was leading at the same time in 2012. At this time in 2012, Rick Perry already had his chance in the limelight and failed. If this were 2012 now, I would be blogging about Herman Cain. What I mean is that Trump has sustained his lead, but part of that is because there aren't as many debates as last time for candidates come under scrutiny.

What Trump needs to do is keep that support and confront any future attacks as the Iowa caucus gets closer. If he does that and provides a plan for all important issues, then he should win it. Despite his current success, there is still plenty of time for Trump to lose support. Every opposing Republican candidate is preparing to start his downfall once the CNN debate rolls around.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Is the U.S. Running out of Oil?

American Enterprise Institute
For decades people have been worried about the United States running out of important resources, but these predictions have been constantly wrong. Let's use oil as an example. Our weekly crude oil production started to decline in the late 1980s, but now we've seen an unprecedented turnaround in production thanks to shale as the graph from the Department of Energy shows above. The impact this has on our country is important. We had oil problems in our country starting with the energy crisis of the 1970s, but now our production has broken the last record.

America has oil production growth again. The fears that many environmentalists had for the country's oil resources are fading again, but I'm sure they will return. Peak oil predictions have been made for centuries, yet they are always debunked. They were made in 1885 and they were made in 1956, but we keep finding news ways to extract oil, which energy reporter Russell Gold of The Wall Street Journal has written about in an article from September of last year:
With the recent boom have come arguments that peak oil underestimates the power of innovation. Indeed, many oil experts say, the industry has a history of turning up new supplies just when prospects look bleak.
A century ago, the energy industry found giant new oil fields in Texas and California just as fears spread that oil output had peaked. As production in the U.S. began to decline, other regions picked up the slack: the North Sea, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia. Technical innovations such as using sound waves to locate oil fields through thousands of feet of water and rock spurred a boom in deep-water drilling.
The virtues of free market capitalism are real. Since fracking was never regulated before it existed, companies have been able to expand without any limits from the government. Part of economics actually is scarcity, so chances are at some point in the future there will be alternative resources more efficient than even shale whenever oil truly runs out. As of now, let's enjoy the terrific production that shale is doing! If only we can get the Keystone pipeline built, which is a very safe way to transport oil. Too bad Democrats are blocking it and there has to be more transportation on roads and railroads, where accidents are more hazardous to the environment and people.

On an international level, we are winning in an oil war against Saudi Arabia. The best efforts of the Saudis to bring prices down to a point that shale producers could not compete hasn't worked. We are increasing the efficiency and lowering the production cost of oil. It is significantly better than coal because it will reduce CO2 emissions. We are also reducing the number of oil rigs thanks to fracking since the efficiency of it keeps oil production steady. There are around 1,000 less oil rigs from the peak in 2014:

American Enterprise Institute
From this information we can easily conclude that the United States (and therefore the world) is not running out of oil. Let's keep on fracking!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Thank You for 5,000 Views!

This blog isn't even a year old, but I'm amazed at the growth it is getting from viewers. I never imagined that it would grow this much so fast! It helps me to know that so many people read my posts because that means I should continue posting on my blog. You guys are the best and I will continue to provide posts with quality and factual information. Hope you are all still reading when I reach 10,000 views!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Rise of the Conservative and Liberal Bases

Trump rallies conservatives in Alabama - NY Daily News
It's fair to say that this election is already deeply divided. This can be observed through the candidates with the rising poll numbers. The Tea Party is embracing Donald Trump while liberals flock to Bernie Sanders. This gives political analysts a picture of politics in America. Both men are loved by their own voters and viciously hated by those who oppose them. As Sanders and Trump garner voters, the moderates in both political parties are starting to lose control. Jeb Bush, the favorite of the GOP establishment, is gathering very small crowds after the Fox News debate. Hillary Clinton was once thought to be the inevitable Democratic nominee, but I didn't think it would be that easy for her. It think my prediction has been proven correct with the email scandal continuing to intensify (it doesn't mean she won't be the nominee though).

Truth is that I am still not convinced that either Trump or Sanders will win the nominations of their respected political parties. Each candidate has different reasons. Trump is usually polling above 20 percent. He is now trouncing Scott Walker in Iowa and Bush in New Hampshire. As I have argued many times before, the conservative base loves Trump because he has terrific rhetoric. Liberal readers of this blog might find his speeches to be rude and annoying, but he isn't asking for your vote is he? I'm a conservative, so I know that when Bernie Sanders opens his mouth he isn't addressing me (or those who think like me).

It's amazing to see how far we've come from two decades ago. In 1995 politics was partisan, but politics always is. In fact, if we had the same technology back then, I would probably be blogging about an upcoming government shutdown between a Democratic president who wasn't willing to cut spending and a Republican Congress that was eager to get the deficit under control. Nevertheless, that government shutdown brought a new cooperation between President Bill Clinton and Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. I don't think the most recent government shutdown has achieved such a thing.

In our time, both political bases have become highly organized and enthusiastic for candidates that have strong principles. The Tea Party has had a huge impact on elections since 2010. Occupy Wall Street was widely considered the liberal alternative. Even though it did not last as long, that doesn't mean those who were part of the movement are dead, they just simply don't have one clear organization. In this decade, both sides are angry at the opposing candidates and lack the appetite for moderates. That usually means more people are active in campaigns and more likely to attend campaign events for their candidates. After the very close 2000 presidential election, many people who never voted or didn't vote often are voting:


The important question is if the political bases will succeed in getting their candidates nominated. Donald Trump is the big leader in the Republican race, but that makes him a bigger target. In the next debate, other GOP candidate know who they need to attack. Trump doesn't have enough support to make him unbeatable and most candidates leading in summer with poll numbers similar to his have lost. Even if he does fall apart, however, the Tea Party has Ben Carson and Ted Cruz to replace him. Right now, Trump has the nomination to lose and he is doing a great job getting support. His speech in Mobile, Alabama gathered thousands of supporters. You can find it here:


If Trump does not win and endorses another candidate when he drops out, I can easily seem him donating money to ensure the defeat of Bush. Trump seems to have the least respect for him out of all the other Republican candidates. His fierce opposition to the former Florida governor would wound the establishment. If they won't accept Carson or Cruz, then it is possible that moderates will embrace someone with broad appeal to conservatives like Walker or Rubio. The fact that Bush is doing terribly shows just how little appeal he and the center-right establishment has from the Tea Party. Nevertheless, it wouldn't be the first time the conservatives have defeated the moderates in the GOP (see the 1964 and 1980 elections). 

In the Democratic field, things are very different. There are five current candidates, but three are complete wastes of time. I do not foresee Martin O'Malley, Jim Webb, and Lincoln Chafee making big impacts anytime soon on this presidential election. It's Clinton vs. Sanders right now, but the only way the race can change is if Vice President Joe Biden finally decides to run for president. One of the biggest problems Sanders has is that he has not received a single endorsement from other elected Democrats. Having that kind of support matters if he's in for the long haul. 

Sean Trende at RealClearPolitics has analyzed how Clinton could lose the nomination. While it is true that late entrants don't do well running for president (like Rick Perry in 2012, Fred Thompson in 2008, and Wesley Clark in 2004), Biden is different because he is the sitting vice president who has decades of experience at the national level. The last three who were late entrants all failed because they lacked that kind of experience. If Biden does enter, then we could be looking at one of the most interesting primary battles in decades. I think many Democrats and the party establishment would be truly divided. 

Friday, August 21, 2015

Scott Walker's Awesome Healthcare Plan

Scott Walker presents his healthcare plan. - Yahoo
Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin has released his healthcare plan that will replace the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) at a speech in Minneapolis, Minnesota on Tuesday. While his plan doesn't have specific expenditures yet, it's his first major policy proposal and gives us the general idea to how he will reform the healthcare system in the United States. You can find that plan on his website.

One of the most important parts of Walker's plan is to provide tax credits to consumers that are not given health insurance from employers according to age. Those from birth to the age of seventeen receive a credit of $900. Those from eighteen to thirty-four will receive $1,200 in a credit. Those from thirty-five to forty-nine will receive a credit of $2,100 and finally those from fifty to sixty-four will receive a credit of $3,000. Medicaid will be reformed in order to address the rising growth of costs that are making the program unsustainable. It will be reformed into three parts that address low-income families, seniors, and long-term care services. Each part gives the states less regulation from the federal government.

The individual mandate will be removed under Walker's healthcare plan, so people will not have to pay fines if they don't have health insurance. At the same time, his plan gives states more leeway in deciding their own healthcare plans. He would do this by giving the states money that they can then use for healthcare plans of their own. In Wisconsin, Walker has not expanded Medicaid to its fullest extent in order to avoid massive costs. Other Republican governors outright refused to expand it while some like John Kasich chose to expand it. It is important to be careful with programs like Medicaid because it is causing a black hole with government revenue.

Overall, Walker's plan provides the right actions to save the healthcare system. That nice tax credit gives assistance to those who need it. It is not a tax rate reduction, but the credit gives people the ability to save money for healthcare, which they can use for Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). The rules for those accounts will be changed by raising the annual contribution limit on individuals to $6,250 and on families to $12,500. Anyone starting a new HSA would get a one-time $1,000 credit to start the account. These policies enact market reforms to a system that badly needs it.

Walker also took time to take a shot at the Republicans in Congress for not doing more to prevent the continuation of the implementation of Obamacare. As someone who is outside of Washington, Walker is not part of the problems that are created from Congress and the White House. He is using that to his advantage by explaining that what can work in Wisconsin will work at a national level. While he might be down in the polls, he hopes that his new healthcare plan will get his campaign back on track.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Misinterpreting CEO Carly Fiorina

Carly Fiorina at the Iowa State Fair - Des Moines Register
Following an excellent debate performance, former HP CEO Carly Fiorina is rising in the polls. A CNN/ORC poll that has been released on August 18 shows her at 5 percent. You might be thinking that's nothing because there are plenty of candidates with higher poll numbers, but you would be mistaken because the previous poll from CNN/ORC had her with just 1 percent of support. To have 5 percent while facing sixteen other Republican candidates is a very good thing, especially with the current debate rules. CNN is going to host the next televised GOP debate along with Salem Media Group and the Ronald Reagan Library Foundation. The debate will be on September 16 at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California.

As Fiorina receives more attention, she will get positive and negative news. Her most important asset is her business experience. She was the first woman to become the chief executive officer of a Fortune 20 company. Her tenure as a CEO  and business executive gives her the same economic credibility that Donald Trump has. Since that is where her strength is, it will be the job of other Republican candidates to attack her business career. Many liberal pundits have already started even though she is not the Republican nominee.

In response to her critics, Fiorina said "we doubled the size" of Hewlett-Packard. Research from PolitiFact found her statement to be mostly true. She was essentially right because revenue did double from her actions of acquiring HP's rival Compaq. Revenue went from $45.7 billion in 2001 to $73 billion in 2003 following the acquisition. The only problem with her statement is that profits didn't go up with that business decision even if the size of the company doubled.

I think a lot of critics are missing something important about Fiorina's business record. It seems to me that a lot of them believe that CEOs are supposed to be miracle workers who turn their companies into dominant worldwide empires. The job of a chief executive officer is to run the company, but every situation is different. In the case of Fiorina, she became a CEO in 1999 just months before the tech bubble inevitably burst. This should be expected. When a new industry arises and skyrockets to success, it will usually face a market correction. Fiorina's job when the bubble did burst was to save HP from bankruptcy. She achieved that, but disagreements over her strategies led her to be fired in 2005.

For more, columnist Holman W. Jenkins Jr. explains her situation in the article from The Wall Street Journal that I hyperlinked in the above paragraph:
Big tech companies become big by birthing technology revolutions, but the next revolution usually comes from somewhere else. Google didn’t invent Facebook, Facebook didn’t invent Spotify, etc. Don’t make an expectation out of Steve Jobs’s improbable second act. His story only proves that, in our infinitely rich world, you can find one example of almost anything that isn’t proscribed by the laws of physics.
What’s reasonable to expect is something else: CEOs who make conscientious choices and diligently execute them, knowing that superlative results will happen only if a lot of things beyond their control fall into place too. Look at HP’s stock chart under Ms. Fiorina, who had the misfortune to arrive eight months before the tech bubble burst: It’s indistinguishable from Microsoft, Intel, Oracle, Cisco, etc. By the idiotic standard her critics apply, John Chambers is the worst CEO in history, since in 15 years he never made back the wealth Cisco lost in the crash.
CEOs are not supposed to be titanic innovators, the position they hold is to make sure that their company continues in the future. They might bomb or become legendary with the results they receive, but most don't. Carly Fiorina is a smart woman who broke the glass ceiling and did her job. She may have been booted from the company, but many successful people do face setbacks in their lives. Fiorina is just one of many who do so.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Rick Perry is in Trouble

Rick Perry at RedState Gathering - AJC
At this time in 2011, Rick Perry was surging in the polls. Conservatives drew to the Texas governor because he had an excellent record as a state executive. He was becoming the chief opponent to Mitt Romney. While he would lose in the primaries due to poor debate performances, Perry has returned for the Republican nomination in 2016. This time, however, there has been no surge in the polls. He and the only other 2012 Republican presidential candidate, Rick Santorum, were both at the televised debate for candidates with low poll numbers.

At that debate I thought Perry did well compared to his 2012 debate performances, but he hasn't received a bump in the polls like Carly Fiorina has. In the national RealClearPolitics average, Perry only has 1.5 percent. His campaign is running out of cash and he has stopped paying his South Carolina staff. In the second quarter, Perry's campaign received only $1.1 million. That's a far cry from candidates like Donald Trump (self-funding), Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, and Marco Rubio. Even though he has more national experience with presidential runs than they do, he simply isn't getting support from voters or big donors.

While Perry has noticeably improved, the reason for his financial woes actually comes from his previous presidential campaign. In this world with a vast landscape of media in different forms, many candidates only get one chance through their first impressions. If they flop, then they will fail. Perry flopped in his first national appearance and many Republicans remember those debates. Four years later, you can easily find those debate performances online. Most importantly, you can find his "oops" moment even though it wasn't decisive in killing his campaign (it was already dead):


With the former governor of Texas running low on funds, many political scientists are curious to see how his super PAC will keep him afloat. We've only had super PACs since 2010 and while they are powerful organizations, I'm eager to observe if it can keep Perry going all the way to Iowa while his own campaign sinks to financial instability. Opportunity and Freedom PAC has raised $17 million for Perry in this cycle. That's money they can use for ads and outreach for the next several months as we approach the Iowa caucus.

Even with Opportunity and Freedom PAC providing its own funds to support Perry, it doesn't look like his image will be rehabilitated. With his current image, it's not possible for Perry to win the Republican nomination. Perry has been trying to improve that image and after seeing his debate performance I think he has made improvements, but not in the eyes of the voters. That makes his chances of being the nominee almost fatal. While Senator John McCain was at this same point in 2008, the 2016 field has more candidates than the the field from two elections ago. Perry needs to get more aggressive on Washington if he wants a chance to win (people are angry at the political establishment), but even that strategy is slim for a candidate who seems to have run out of time.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

How to Devastate an Economy by Herbert Hoover

President Herbert Hoover - The Blaze
Herbert Clark Hoover was a good and respected man. Most famously, he organized food relief to Belgium during World War I, where many people were starving under German occupation. He later served in the U.S. Food Administration under Woodrow Wilson. He's the perfect example of American individualism. Hoover was born into a middle class family, but rose to wealth through an excellent career in business and as a mining engineer.

During the 1920s, Hoover served as commerce secretary to Republican Presidents Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge. Those were times of prosperity and economic growth, but when Hoover won the Republican nomination and the presidency in the 1928 election he dropped the ball. The country went into the Great Depression and Hoover's name became synonymous with presidential failure. Last year, I worked on an essay about the Great Depression. Part of that was examining Hoover's policies, even though my thesis was directed at the New Deal. August 10 was the anniversary of President Hoover's birth in 1874, so I felt it was fitting to explain in this post why his policies failed.

Another reason I wanted to do this post is because the lessons of the Great Depression, Herbert Hoover, and Franklin Roosevelt are not remembered today by many people. Surprisingly, Hoover's policies resemble those of one Democratic candidate (*cough* Bernie Sanders *cough*).  Here's Hoover's big three economic program, which were in many ways a New Deal Lite:

1: Pass Tariffs to "Save American Jobs"

A tariff (a tax on foreign goods) wasn't anything new to the United States. The Republican Party of the early twentieth century and the late nineteenth century was protectionist, but by the time of the 1920s tariffs were already lower than during the Gilded Age. Harding and Coolidge were both pro-tariff presidents, but not in the way Hoover was. In the Republican Congress, the Smoot-Hawley tariff bill was making it's way through Congress. It was a symbol of American protectionism because the rate would be 60 percent on 3,200 imported goods. This was one of the campaign promises that handed Hoover a landslide in 1928. While the stock market crash of 1929 did create economic uncertainty and destroyed investments, it was not the sole cause of the Great Depression. The United States could have easily been saved by fiscal policy from the White House and monetary policies from the Federal Reserve. That did not happen and that's why the economy continued to tumble.

While farmers and workers urged Hoover to pass the Smoot-Hawley tariff, academics had something else in mind. In May 1930, a petition was signed by 1,028 American economists urging Hoover to veto the bill. Hoover refused and the stock market continued to tumble as the president prepared to sign the bill into law. When it did come into law, the economy spectacularly exploded. Foreign relations were destroyed and imports fell by 40 percent two years after the law was passed. The global economy was devastated. In retaliation, other countries implemented their own tariffs, which caused a decline of exports by $1.57 billion from the pre-tariff volume to 1933.

2: Fix Wages to "Preserve Incomes"

Tell that to the good American workers who didn't have wages left when their companies fired them. It was Hoover's intention to keep wages high rather than allow businesses to lower them during the Great Depression. He was able to organize this between businesses and labor unions. Amity Shlaes, president of the Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation, wrote about Hoover's wage policy in her book, The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression:
Hoover's wage ideas sounded good to some. And they were indeed the opposite of federal policies in the last downturn. But they did not really make sense: to force business to go on spending when it did not want to was to hurt business. And in some areas - wages especially - the president's policy was dramatically counterproductive. As the crash continued, profits began to drop. Yet businesses could not adjust: if they wanted to be good citizens, they had to keep their pledge to Hoover and sustain employment and wages.
If we look at this unemployment rate graph, we see that his policy failed because businesses literally committed suicide. When they ran out of capital, they went bankrupt and more workers lost their jobs than what could have been lost if wages were allowed to be lowered:


Lee E. Ohanian, an economics professor at the University of California in Los Angeles, wrote a paper that was published in the Journal of Economic Theory. In it he finds that President Hoover's wage policy raised labor costs above their competitive levels. If wages were not kept high, then the flexibility of businesses would make the Depression less severe. 

3: Tax-and-Spend for "Economic Growth"

Today it's clear which political party supports what economic programs, but back in the 1920s both parties were "big tents" that held wide varieties of political positions. Policies like tariffs, which were very prominent in the early twentieth century, have been proven to not be effective today. Both parties are generally against protectionism in the modern world. Those who just glance at the political positions of both parties can easily determine which party endorses demand-side Keynesian economics and supply-side Reaganomics. 

Herbert Hoover is a perfect example of a tax-and-spend Keynesian. In 1932, the top income tax rate was raised from 25 percent to 63 percent, the lowest rate from 1 percent to 4 percent, and a 38.5 percent gift tax for the purpose of generating revenue that could balance the budget and provide more spending on public works projects. The policy inevitably failed because it is absolutely silly to think that economic growth can be created through tax increases. In 1929, total federal receipts were at $3.86 billion, but in 1933 that figure was at $2 billion. As for total federal outlays, they were at $3.1 billion in 1929, but were at $4.6 billion in 1933 which calculated to a deficit of $2.6 billion. The gross domestic product of the United States decreased by over 25 percent. 

We can conclude from Herbert Hoover's presidency that interventionist government policies do not help an economy. His tariff policy destroyed world trade, his wage policy killed jobs, and this budget policy led to a wider deficit with massive economic consequences. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The State of the DNC: Clinton Holding Together

Clinton - Reuters
Weeks ago I looked at the state of the Republican Party, now I want to look at the state of the Democratic Party. While Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont might be increasing his support, Clinton still has the advantage and the most voters. Her views are more attractive to mainstream liberals and moderates, but she is also raising a lot of money for her campaign. Sanders is gathering heavy grassroots support and his speech in Portland, Oregon with 28,000 people in attendance is evidence of that. Political analysts should take note of the turnout, but Oregon isn't going to decide the Democratic nomination.

Sanders is getting many endorsements from labor unions, but an important question is how large his surge in the polls will be. Some political experts believe Sanders' surge has finished. His rising poll numbers are slowing, but he has become competitive in New Hampshire, where it is imperative that he win if he wants his campaign to remain viable.

Meanwhile, former Governor Martin O'Malley of Maryland has been complaining over the lack of debates that the Democratic National Committee decided to organize. There will only be six televised debates for the Democratic nomination at the moment. Four will be before the Iowa caucus and two will be after it. I disagree with O'Malley's complaints. Unlike the GOP, which has a huge bench, the Democrats only have five candidates. That means each candidate will receive a great amount of time to explain themselves and their policies.

The other two Democratic candidates, Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee, haven't gained any traction and don't even poll 4 percent. The liberal media continues to drum up Joe Biden as another Democratic candidate because of Clinton's massive baggage with her lack of credibility in the email scandal, which isn't going away. Like I posted before about Biden, I think a lot of Democrats are willing to go for the vice president and abandon the former secretary of state. For this reason, Biden is still counted in most major pollsters. That being said, let's check out the latest ones:

National

Fox News (7/30-8/2): Clinton 51%, Sanders 22%, Biden 13%, Webb 1% - Clinton +29
Monmouth University (7/30-8/2): Clinton 52%, Sanders 16%, Biden 12%, Webb 2% - Clinton +36
CBS News (7/30-8/2): Clinton 58%, Sanders 17%, Biden 11%, Webb 2% - Clinton +41
NBC/WSJ (7/26-7/30): Clinton 59%, Sanders 25%, Webb 3%, O'Malley 3% - Clinton +34
Quinnipiac University (7/23-7/28): Clinton 55%, Sanders 17%, Biden 13%, Webb 1% - Clinton +38

Clinton has a majority of support in all the recent polls from the RealClearPolitics average. Clinton has 55 percent on the average while Sanders has 19.4 percent and Biden has 12.3 percent. Sanders has received more support, but he is still fighting an uphill battle. Everyone else is trailing.

Iowa

PPP (8/7-8/9): Clinton 52%, Sanders 25%, O'Malley 7%, Webb 3% - Clinton +27
Gravis Marketing (7/29-7/29): Clinton 51%, Sanders 24%, Biden 6%, O'Malley 5% - Clinton +27
NBC/Marist (7/14-7/21): Clinton 55%, Sanders 26%, Biden 10%, O'Malley 3% - Clinton +24

In the nation's first caucus, the polls look very similar to the national level. Clinton has 50.7 percent, Sanders has 24.7 percent, and Biden has 8 percent. Sanders has a bump of support here too, but not enough. Biden usually polls behind him and O'Malley has gathered roughly 5 percent of support. Webb and Chafee trail behind the former Maryland governor.

New Hampshire

Boston Herald/FPU (8/7-/8/10): Sanders 44%, Clinton 37%, Biden 9%, O'Malley 1% - Sanders +7
Gravis Marketing (7/31-8/3): Clinton 43%, Sanders 39%, Biden 6%, O'Malley 2% - Clinton +4
WMUR/UNH (7/22-7/30): Clinton 42%, Sanders 36%, Biden 5%, O'Malley 1% - Clinton +6
NBC/Marist (7/14-7/21): Clinton 47%, Sanders 34%, Biden 12%, O'Malley 3% - Clinton +13

The nation's first primary shows a tight race and Sanders has the lead in the latest poll from the Boston Herald and Franklin Pierce University. I think Sanders, who is from neighboring Vermont, has some room here and needs to establish good campaign infrastructure to keep his support. Biden is third in the four most recent polls, while the others are behind him. On the RCP average, Clinton has 41 percent, Sanders has 37.8 percent, and Biden has 8 percent. One thing to quickly note is that NBC/Marist poll is a little messed up on the RCP average. They show Clinton leading 10 on it, but when I looked it up she was leading by 13.

South Carolina

Gravis Marketing (7/31-8/3): Clinton 78%, Sanders 8%, Biden 6%, O'Malley 1% - Clinton +70
Morning Consult (5/31-6/8): Clinton 56%, Biden 15%, Sanders 10%, O'Malley 3% - Clinton +41

Clinton has a smashing majority in this state. Unlike Iowa and New Hampshire, Sanders hasn't even received 20 percent in these polls. She has 67 percent, Biden has 10.5 percent, and Sanders has 9 percent. This is partly because former President Bill Clinton is a southerner from Arkansas. He knows southern Democrats and is probably providing his wife's campaign a lot of strategy to win the state. Democrats in deep southern states tend to be more moderate because liberal ideologues can't win there anymore. That's why Sanders' left-wing rhetoric doesn't woo them. Like the other states, Biden has a basis of support, but no one else does.

Clinton still holds the lead in all states that vote for the Democratic nominee first, at least in the averages. It is her task to deflect these email scandals, which are bleeding her of potential voters. Sanders has risen as her main competitor, but he needs more to really be a threat other than in New Hampshire. That will mean a strong debate performance. Sanders does not have to go after Clinton, he just has to appear presidential and provide great rhetoric at the debate. Carly Fiorina did great at that early Fox News debate. Sanders should want to be like her, but for the Democrats. There are still many Democrats who don't know enough about Sanders. The first debate will be his opportunity to unleash a world of trouble against Clinton.

Monday, August 10, 2015

What Happens if Trump Runs Third Party?

Gary Varvel
The first question at the Fox News debate was very important. The candidates were questioned on if any of them would potentially run third party. They were told to raise their hand if they might do so. Donald Trump was the only candidate who raised his hand. This begs analysis on what would happen if Trump decided to run as an independent candidate. I find that Trump running third party would split the Republican vote and give the Democrats a powerful chance at winning the White House for a historic third term.

One of the reasons the Democratic Party is having such a hard time winning the 2016 presidential election is because at this time the American electorate wants political change in the country. It's a common historical trend. After eight years of one party usually the next party wins. After eight years of Republican Dwight Eisenhower, there was eight years of Democratic rule under John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. After them came another eight years of Republicans in the White House with Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford as presidents. Fast forward to the 1990s and we have eight years of Democrat Bill Clinton, then came eight years of Republican George W. Bush, and finally eight years of Democrat Barack Obama.

There have been times that parties have won the presidency for twelve years or more, but it is usually with Republicans because their policies are more successful. In the twentieth century, Republicans held power for twelve years or more on three different occasions. Right at the start of the century, Republican incumbent William McKinley won his second term. He was assassinated a year later, so Theodore Roosevelt became president and won an election of his own in 1904. William Howard Taft won another Republican victory in 1912. After eight years of Democrat Woodrow Wilson, the Republicans won three more victories with Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover. Finally, the Republicans controlled the White House for twelve years under Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

In that century, there is only one example of the Democrats remaining in power for just as long. This period was from 1933 to 1953, but it was mainly because of the unusual circumstances. Franklin Roosevelt decided to run for a third and fourth term in the midst of World War II. Harry Truman didn't have to win an election to become president when FDR died in 1945. Aside from those victories, the only other time Democrats have held the presidency for twelve years or more was when Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren were presidents. That was from 1829 to 1841.

Before the debate, Donald Trump had a lot of Republican support. There are no polls that have been conducted after the debate, but I do know that the Republican establishment doesn't want him elected. We don't know how or if Trump's campaign will fall apart. We do know that Trump has a lot to prove with his presidential run and there are many points where he can collapse. Right now he's in trouble for viciously attacking Fox News host Megyn Kelly over tough debate questions that would have been asked at a later debate anyway. The conservative website RedState has disinvited Trump from their gathering of conservatives. As we get close to the Iowa caucus, other candidates will attack Trump for his past policy positions and his support might fall. This happened with Newt Gingrich at the debates in 2012.

Let's say Trump does run third party. What would happen? Harry Enten at FiveThirtyEight looked at this in an article. He found that a ABC News/Washington Post poll showed Trump taking 19 percent in a presidential election. Hillary Clinton garners 47 percent of the vote while Jeb Bush only has 29 percent. The poll also asked about Bush and Clinton without Trump. In that situation, Bush has a better chance with 41 percent of the vote to Clinton's 51 percent. The RealClearPolitics average has a one-on-one between them where Clinton polls 47.2 percent and Bush polls 43 percent based on polling data from July 9 to July 28.

While an independent Donald Trump would severely hurt the chances of a Republican presidency, that doesn't mean a victory for Jeb Bush or Scott Walker or Marco Rubio is impossible. A poll from Rasmussen Reports does show that 18 percent of voters are very likely to vote for Trump, but that number can change. There's two examples of how third party candidates have affected Republicans in presidential elections. Back in the 1992 election, Texas billionaire H. Ross Perot ran as an independent against Republican incumbent George H.W. Bush and Democratic challenger Bill Clinton. According to the Roper Center, Perot won 17 percent of Republicans and 13 percent of Democrats. Since he took more Republicans than Democrats, he took the GOP's chances of keeping the presidency for four more years. He was once leading in the polls, but eventually flaked out.

Perot isn't the only third party candidate who lost support as Election Day came closer. Many people forget John B. Anderson, a representative from Illinois who ran for the GOP nomination in the 1980 election. He was an ideological moderate and he through a tantrum when the party nominated conservative Ronald Reagan over him, so he decided to run as an independent candidate. In order to have bipartisan appeal, he was able to get Democratic Governor Patrick Lucey of Wisconsin as his running mate.

Anderson's candidacy is probably forgotten because it didn't spoil Reagan's chances. Anderson actually won more Democrats than Republicans, but either way it wasn't significant to Reagan or Jimmy Carter. Anderson was polling 20 percent at the start of the race, but when the election results came through he only had 6.6 percent of the American electorate backing him. Part of it was that he bombed a debate against Reagan (a debate Carter refused to participate in), but most people figured out by then that Anderson was bound to lose. Here we have a case where a Republican decided to run third party and didn't kill the Republican presidential victory in the election. Reagan won by a landslide.

I don't know what a Trump third party will seem like. Maybe people believe he would want to hurt the GOP, so he could pick a conservative vice presidential candidate. If he wanted to even it out, then he could pick a moderate. That might give him a better chance at winning the White House, but I won't make any predictions to what Trump will do if he runs independent. All I can say is that it probably helps whoever the Democratic nominee will be.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Thank You President Truman for Nuking Japan!

Truman - Pinterest
The seventieth anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bombs has come and gone. Today several people find the atomic bombings very controversial, even though those actions ordered by President Harry S Truman ended World War II. I never understood why people believe dropping the atomic bombs was a horrible decision. If we didn't do that, then there would have been no other choice but to invade Japan and that would have cost both sides many more lives.

While many people say that the dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan was a very barbaric action by the United States, they forget how horrifying Japan was while occupying other foreign countries. The infamous Rape of Nanking in December 1937 lead to the deaths of 300,000 captured soldiers and innocent Chinese civilians. When the Japanese conquered territories of the western empires, their occupation was far more brutal on the native populations than imperialism by the British, French, and the Dutch. When critics say it was terrible for America to nuke Japan, they seem to forget that Japanese imperialism wasn't anything to brag about and has a worse record than whatever the United States did in it's entire existence.

The statistics for invading Japan are shocking. The U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff estimated that invading Japan would cost 1.2 million American casualties, of which 267,000 would be deaths. A study from physicist William Shockley for the War Department estimated that there would be between 1.7 million to 4 million American casualties and specifically between 400,000 to 800,000 American deaths. Around 5 to 10 million Japanese would die in the fighting, either defending their homeland or as civilians trying to avoid violence. The atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima killed 90,000 to 166,000 people in four months. The one that was dropped on Nagasaki killed between 39,000 to 80,000 during that same time period. Those two bombings killed less people combined than an invasion of the islands would.

The Soviets already had an epic clash with the remains of Nazi Germany in Berlin. The last major battle in Europe would be pale compared to a battle that would conquer Japan. The Japanese were getting ready for their final defense against the Americans. In the July 2013 issue of Armchair General, military historian D. M. Giangreco wrote an article titled, "Truman's Nightmare: U.S. Invasion of Japan, 1945-46," in which he described how difficult an invasion would be:
Beyond the facts that the Imperial Army was in somewhat better shape than is commonly assumed today and that the Japanese had correctly deduced the designated landing beaches and even the approximate times of the American invasions, a host of lethal tactical challenges faced GI invaders. For example, although the Japanese had never perfected central control and massed fire of their artillery, this fact would be largely irrelevant to the type of defense they were organizing. 
The American landings were to be launched on the southern island of Kyushu on November 1, 1945. The Japanese, who learned from their previous mistakes when defending Okinawa and the Philippines, had a new set of defenses prepared against the American invasions. They knew about American cave-busting tactics and built new defensive areas where the power of American self-propelled guns could not be effective. American tanks would have trouble travelling through Japan's rough terrain, especially in valleys where rice farms could not be bypassed.

The Japanese were not ready to surrender as proven by many government documents. Some argue that the Soviets won the war by invading Japanese territory in mainland Asia, where there were many Japanese troops. When the Soviets did break their pact with Japan, the island nation did not surrender immediately. The bulk of the Japanese government was stubborn and wanted to fight until the very end. The Grand Alliance could not tolerate that. Major targets needed to be hit for Japan to capitulate. World War II historian Sir Max Hastings examined the political situation further in his book, Inferno: The World at War, 1939-1945:
By the high summer of 1945, Japan's rulers wished to end the war; but its generals, together with some politicians, were still bent upon securing "honourable" terms, which included - for instance - retention of substantial parts of Japan's empire in Manchuria, Korea and China, together with Allied agreement to spare the country from occupation or war crimes indictments. "No one person in Japan had authority remotely resembling that of an American president," observes Professor Akira Namamura of Dokkyo University, a Japanese historian.
These terms would have kept millions of people under Japanese control. Is that something the allies should have allowed? I don't think so, which is why I think dropping the atomic bombs were the best decisions to achieve the best terms and the least casualties. Without them, World War II would have went on for one or two more years. More American troops would have been sent from Europe to fight in Japan. This might include some of my ancestors as well as many of your own who fought in World War II. That means they would be increasingly risking their lives in a invasion that thankfully didn't happen. I don't know if I or one of my friends would be here today if that invasion happened because of the many Americans who would have lost their lives. That's why I thank Truman for doing the right and dropping the atomic bomb.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Who Won the Debate on August 6?

GOP candidates on the debate stage. - Newsweek
First off, I want to say that this is the 100th post on my blog. I want to thank all of you who read it because without you as viewers I wouldn't be as encouraged to post as much as I do. Now to the debate. This debate was the first major Republican debate on television. A lot of candidates wanted to get their points out and raise their appeal. Today some candidates did that, some candidates played safe, and others fell on their face. At times the debate was positive, but there were also times when candidates decided to attack each other.

Donald Trump did not have a good night. In my opinion he stumbled right from the start when asking about running for a third party if he didn't get the Republican nomination. Trump left the window open and was immediately booed. He also lacked a lot of specifics. I used the Fox News Election Headquarters app. I believed Trump dodged three questions and my rating with him was a -2, the worst record of all the candidates. In the future, Trump might have a problem with women voters because he didn't shy away from what he called some women previously on television or social media.

For being the primary opponent of Trump, Jeb Bush wasn't that substantial either. He came into conflict with addressing his support for Common Core. He had a good response, but Marco Rubio (his challenger) made the better argument with education reform. Overall, he wasn't spectacular and I only had a +2 from him, but I don't think he was wounded politically at the debate. Scott Walker did better than Bush, but was also safe during the debate. He made no big gains and no big losses. I had a +4 with Walker. I would say both men will stay in their places, but if Trump falls then they can both gain from collapsing poll numbers. Both men did well on foreign policy where they have the least experience.

Ben Carson had a good night and I can see him easily benefiting if Trump falls in the polls. I think this way because Carson, like Trump, hasn't held a political office. While the Donald appeared to become a politician, I think Carson stayed more on point and didn't waiver. He needed that on foreign and domestic policy questions. I got a +2 with him, which doesn't make him that distinct, but I don't think he did anything wrong. Mike Huckabee also did well, but I expect his poll numbers to stay where they are. A top concern for me with Huckabee is that it's difficult to maintain Social Security and other policies as they run out of money, which the former Arkansas governor . I only had a +1 from him.

Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz did as good as they usually do. I can see Cruz being another candidate who would benefit from the fall of Trump (if it happens). A lot of Cruz supporters are Trump supporters right now because both have a considerable amount of voters from the Tea Party. Cruz and Rubio looked experienced and presidential. They did what they needed for their bases and I think they could rise in the polls. With Cruz I got a +1 and with Rubio +3.

Rand Paul and Chris Christie battled it out a bit. Overall, I felt that Rand Paul lost against Christie and tied in arguments with Donald Trump. Paul gets a +3 for trying to stick out by going after his opponents in a way that his father didn't, but I did not think he won the debate. I didn't really find anything appealing about Christie, who got a 0 on my app scorecard. I think one of these two are likely to lose supporters depending on who the Republican voters think won. The candidate polling last was the one I agreed with the most. With Kasich I got a +5, but I felt he played it safe like Walker. I think he will remain in the top ten.

Finally, I'm going to briefly point out the early debate where the candidates with low poll numbers participated. There wasn't much conflict during the debate, but of all the candidates I think Carly Fiorina was the best. My second choice would be Rick Perry. The other candidates did not really stick out to me. While I do think the former HP CEO and the former Texas governor did the best, they better hope that their poll numbers rise following this debate otherwise they will continue to be in a bad situation. Overall, it truly was a JV debate in my opinion.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

First Major Debate to be Held on Thursday

Politico
Fox News will host the first major televised Republican presidential debate on August 6 in Cleveland, Ohio. The debate will air on Fox News at 8:00 pm central time. Facebook is also a sponsor of the debate, so many questions will be asked through their social media. The top ten Republican candidates will be allowed to attend based on the data from an average of five polls recognized by Fox News and they will debate for two hours. The remaining Republicans will debate much earlier for an hour starting at 4:00 pm. I might post about this early debate briefly, but those who are in the early debate will have to do more to boost their poll numbers for the next one at prime time.

For many candidates, this is the first debate where voters get to see their ideals and visions for the future. It also allows these candidates to exchange views between themselves and defend any criticisms made by Democrats or even fellow Republicans. What is most important in this debate is a strong performance for the audience. These debates matter and whoever has the strongest performance will get the most reward.

We do know that the front-runner will be there. All eyes will be on the very unpredictable Donald Trump. What will he do during the debate? I believe he should focus on attacking Hillary Clinton and President Obama in perfect Trump style. He can attack other Republican candidates, but he isn't a debater. All the other candidates will get their time to respond to his attacks at this debate. That means they can make their case to Trump and he will have to deflect any attacks on himself. His weaknesses don't just include his John McCain comments, but also his past policy positions which prove that he was not a Tea Party conservative throughout his life.

Coming just behind Trump is Jeb Bush and Scott Walker. Like Trump, both are known nationally, although not as much. That means this debate is important for them. If they look competent, presidential, and are able to make a conservative case then they should keep their current poll numbers or even improve on them. Right now they are doing well and they want to do better, but the last thing both men want is to go down in the polls. Walker has had some problems with immigration and Bush has had some problems with amnesty and Common Core. They are probably preparing for questions on those issues.

Ben Carson gained media attention for being a neurosurgeon who criticized Obamacare right in front of the president. He speaks with credibility on medical questions and that's where he's best. If he continues with some strong criticisms at Obama's signature domestic policy, then he will do well. At the same time, Carson has to prove that he is knowledgeable on other issues from taxes to ISIS. Many political pundits say Herman Cain started to fail from his lack of knowledge on foreign policy. Carson will need to work on that too.

Mike Huckabee will benefit from social issues. He will do well when attacking Planned Parenthood, which is suffering trouble from recent videos that have leaked officials openly discussing the altering of abortion procedures in order to manipulate prices to accommodate tissue harvesting requests even though that might be illegal. Topics like these are where the former preacher is best and he should use those topics to gain attention. At the same time, he has to provide clear conservative fiscal and foreign policies, which is where Republicans have doubts about the former Arkansas governor.

Coming behind Carson and Huckabee are the big three Republicans in the Senate. Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Rand Paul all have their own bases and their own legislation that they want passed. These three senators should talk about what they have done in the Senate. Most of the time, voters feel that everyone in Congress is part of the problem. It is the job of these three senators to show that they have solutions to our problems. Each one might want to throw some red meat to their supporters. Cruz is a Tea Party conservative, Rubio is also conservative but doesn't mind compromise, and finally Rand Paul is a libertarian dove.

Finally, there is a lot of talk about who will fill the last two spots on the debate stage. While the polls are close, I predict that John Kasich and Chris Christie will be in the debate. Kasich's timing was perfect with his presidential announcement. The Ohio governor will be proud to know that he will be on the debate stage in his own state, which was a big concern. Christie has been keeping his name appeal higher than others, so he should squeeze into the debate with the last spot. Both men, like Walker and Bush, should talk about their gubernatorial careers. By having executive experience, both men can talk about specific policy implementation that senators cannot.

I think that no matter what, all the candidates want to play nice during this debate. They want to get a feel for the big stage, but the bigger question is if the moderators will let them. Usually the first few debates go well. When there's less candidates and the contests get close you can easily expect mudslinging. The biggest problem is the Trump factor. We do not know how Trump will act during this debate. His actions could steer it in any direction.

Monday, August 3, 2015

What if Joe Biden runs for President?

Vice President Joe Biden - MSNBC
With Hillary Clinton's situation not getting any better and the media constantly on her back over the email scandal, Vice President Joe Biden has continued to express interest into running for president in 2016. It's a door that's still open for him and many supporters and donors in the Democratic Party are eager to hear from the vice president with bated breath. The reason is because if Vice President Biden does run, the whole Democratic field could be heavily split between two giants in their party.

Joe Biden is in many ways the opposite of Hillary Clinton when it comes to personality. Biden seems to be an easy-going and fun individual. Clinton seems too serious and is viewed as regal by many pundits in this election. With her popularity ratings so low (except in her own party), it is in my opinion that many establishment Democrats and liberals who backed President Obama are looking for someone else rather than the former secretary of state. This large group of Democrats is not part of the far left, so they wouldn't have an interest in the democratic socialist Bernie Sanders. They also find Martin O'Malley and Lincoln Chafee lacking. Jim Webb is simply too far right. They are supporting Clinton, but reluctantly.

Biden also has similarities with Clinton, but these are political. They have similar views, but at least Biden doesn't seem like someone who feels that they don't have to be under scrutiny from the media, pretends to connect to the middle class, and is now having emails investigated for a possible conflict of interest. What I mean is that Joe Biden is authentic and Clinton is not. He is a family man who always seems optimistic and likes a good laugh. On a more emotional level, his son Beau died back in May. Before his death, Beau Biden tried to make his father promise him that he would run for president.

I think there is a lot of room for another Democrat that can fill a void which exists between Clinton and Sanders. If Biden does run for president, he would effectively be running on his work as vice president in the Obama administration. Unlike Clinton, he's the president's second-in-command and would make the argument for Obama's third term, just like when George H.W. Bush was thought to be running on a third term for Ronald Reagan in 1988 or when Al Gore was running on Bill Clinton's third term in 2000. Voters in the nomination contest will be interested in what he advised President Obama to do during his tenure. At the same time, Biden should have a vision for the future like the other Democratic candidates are trying to give right now.

If the vice president does join the election, then he would easily see a nice bump in the polls after his speech. Democratic donors and establishment will have to ponder who to support because Clinton and Biden both have perceived electability (even if Clinton's has declined). The debates will be between Biden and Clinton, rather than Clinton and Sanders. Biden is the most favorable Democrat of those polled. What a Biden candidacy does is make the Democratic caucuses and primaries far more competitive and interesting than they are now.

That isn't to say Biden has some disadvantages. The fact that he is ideologically similar to Clinton would mean that few voters will be able to describe their differences. Biden would be entering the race late into the game and that means many fundraising opportunities have been lost while Clinton has received major support from the Democratic establishment. The only thing to be sure about is that a Joe Biden candidacy has the possibility of either tearing the Democratic establishment apart or doing nothing that will peel support away from Clinton. If the former happens, then the race for the Democratic nomination could be just as tight as the Republican nomination.