Trump Vs. Clinton, Round 1: More Tedious than Titanic.

So, the moment we were all waiting for! The big show! Monster versus monster, in an epic throw-down between two of the most dreadful candidates ever nominated… Or was it? Not being in favor of either of these contenders, though perhaps being slightly more against Hillary (we have a longer history of enmity), I didn’t feel that I had a dog in this fight. However, I was looking forward to an epic clash, hoping to at least see a good show and momentarily forget that one of these horrors will afterwards end up leading the country! This was supposed to be the one joy I was to going to get out of the remainder of this election, watching Trumpzilla and Mecha-Hillary savage each other for 90 minutes! “Cry ‘Havoc!’ and let slip the dogs of war.” Unfortunately, it was hopelessly anticlimactic and very disappointing. How could this be? All of the drama of the campaign was building to this point! This was THE moment that a candidate like Trump was chosen for, but in the end it was a huge let-down.

TrumpensteinTrump came out strong, at first. Trying to take charge and even slyly doing his thing where he shows disrespect by being respectful. Hillary initially fumbled, trying out a few pet names for Trump policy and failing miserably. She really ought to leave the name-calling to Trump; she doesn’t do it with the same panache. Don’t get me wrong, Donald wasn’t really winning on substance. Trump was using his usual shtick of saying anything he needed to, if he thought it would help him, leaving the voters to sort through and decide which parts he meant and which ones he didn’t.  His answers were often confused and often off-topic, but at least in style, this served him well. However, things quickly went downhill.

Donald let Hillary get away with calling him out on the birther issue without retorting that it was originally the Hillary camp that aired this conspiracy theory during her previous failed bid for the Democrat nomination. This was a clear error. Also, his actual defense against this came off as very weak. And as if this wasn’t bad enough, Trump didn’t know where to quit on the e-mail issue. He had a chance to address her challenge about releasing his tax returns with a curt retort asking when she was going to release the 30,000 e-mails she deleted from her illegal private server. Instead, he ruined an otherwise excellent opportunity to leave his audience wanting more by ineffectively going on and on about it, pitiably adding how much his lawyers advised him that he doesn’t need to release his tax returns. This is where things really started to turn against the Donald.

After this, Hillary started to get her pace. She was even able to let Trump make the case for her, tacking onto Trump’s boorish quip with her own version of “There you go again.” And Trump, as if trying to assist Hillary, started talking about the areas where they agreed, clearly trying to appeal to his own tribe of liberals. At one point, Trump endorsed the “no-fly, no-buy” proposal, an unconstitutional abridgement of the second amendment! Although he’s been in favor of U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton gestures from the stage at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denverthis for a while, never before has this particular position received this kind of public airing. It is likely to cost with his base. Even his interrupting himself on this topic to remind the audience of his NRA endorsement will probably do nothing to help him mitigate the damages.

Most excruciating of all, at least for those of us who tried to reason with the Trump crowd during the primary that this was likely to happen should Donald become the nominee, Hillary laid into Trump on his bad record with women and race! Donald could not properly parry this. He was so much on defense that he wasn’t able to strike back effectively. Even his well-worn claim of how his opponent was “unfair” couldn’t save him. Trump ridiculously commented on how nasty Hillary had been to him in ads and so forth, and how he was going to hit her back by saying something nasty as well. Mercifully, he thought better of it, but made sure to let us all know that he held himself back! Who is Trump getting his debate advice from? Mike Huckabee? Pathetic.

Although Hillary presented like an automaton, I have to agree that she came off much better than Trump in this debate and is likely to get a small bounce in the polls. Trump came of as rambling, uninformed, and weak, not at all like he’d prefer to be seen: the alpha male. Hillary appeared prepared and with a working knowledge of the issues, while Trump appeared underprepared and was ill-served by his usually effective off-the-cuff extemporaneousness. Though not a KO (more like a TKO), It’s clear that Hillary won this one. Too bad. I was so much looking forward to something more decisive, dramatic, and entertaining; I had little else to look forward to with a binary choice of essentially two Democrats. However, I was even denied even this! And to think, the GOP nominee could have been Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio, someone who understands the issues and could have really sunk the knife into her highness! Instead, what we ended up with was a candidate who shows himself to be, in almost every way, out of his depth. I think that this race is once again Hillary’s to lose. The Trumpster will fight again, but this time he woefully underestimated his opponent, and I’m not sure that he has it in him to turn this thing around.

– Ryan Thorson

Debate Night, Texas Style!

Now, that was a debate! A diminished field of Republicans gathered in Houston to continue the process of selecting a standard bearer to take the GOP to the general election and then to victory, hopefully. The most important take away from this debate is that Donald Trump has been bloodied. Please join me as we go through a few of the details.

The winner of this debate was clearly Marco Rubio, with Ted Cruz coming in next, and ending with Donald Trump. I don’t really consider Carson and Kasich a part of this race any more, but having said that, I think Kasich did fine, and I think that he’ll do well in upsetting Donald in Ohio. Carson was Carson: quiet, a bit whiny, but essentially irrelevant.

Before this debate, I had decided that Cruz had to do a few things to Donald Trump in order to preserve his candidacy. Trump’s a blunt instrument, and to appeal to his followers Cruz needed to out-smash him. What I thought he should do is hit Donald hard on the pro-life and immigration issue, get some good one-liners in (like “Donald, for a tough guy, you sure whine a lot!”), hit Trump on his white nationalist support, and his threats to the Cubs’ owners. Additionally, he needed to pursue Rubio on immigration and pin him down with a pledge to not grant amnesty, something that Marco would be loath to do as his money and establishment support seem devoted to this idea. I also thought that Cruz could appeal to people to google the facts if Trump or Rubio called “liar!” Some of these things happened, such as the appeal to internet fact-checking, but not like I expected. However, it was not altogether a bad outcome; in fact it was quite the opposite. What did happen is a colossal and almost tag-team effort of Rubio and Cruz hammering Trump. Rubio did more of the ridiculing attacks, embarrassing and rattling the Don. Cruz came at Trump, as Steve Deace put it, treating him like a “hostile witness.” At first I was disappointed that the first half’s good attacks came from Rubio and not Cruz, and I tweeted out the Rubio was “Christie-ing Trump,” and that’s when it occurred to me what happened to Christie. Before New Hampshire, Christie went after Rubio, and hurt him, but he didn’t help himself. Cruz most likely made a strategic decision to let Rubio be the snarky one and fight his battles for him, preserving an appearance of Presidential dignity. Only time will tell, but it is possible that Trump was hurt enough to lose supporters, but they may not go to Rubio. Cruz, the only candidate who’s truly against amnesty, might be a better fit for disgruntled Trump supporters. In the end, Cruz may have made a good decision in allowing Rubio to be his junk-yard dog.

Cruz pursued Trump as an expert lawyer, hounding him into a corner. He displayed Trump’s lack of knowledge on issue and policy, punctuated the Don’s consistent losses to Hillary in a potential match-up while contrasting with his own consistent wins, and pointed out that Trump as the nominee would take away the single greatest weapon that the GOP has against Hillary: her corruption. In fact Cruz had the best line of the night when, in response to a Trump attack, declared the he would never apologize for defending the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, a line that made Trump appear very small. Cruz made clear in many examples just how ill-prepared and ill-equipped Trump is to be President. Trump doesn’t know the law or the Constitution and he thinks he can just wing it like he does everything else. Tonight showcased exactly why Trump should not be the nominee, and I think America saw it. Additionally, Cruz landed some good punches on Rubio concerning immigration and Libya. He also seemed vindicated from the “liar, liar, pants on fire” attack, when a Telemundo reporter categorically called Rubio out on denying his stance on DACA in the previous debate, and also when Cruz cornered Trump on his prior statements and aspersions of Cruz’s character, demonstrating Trump’s difficulty with the truth and asserting that baseless accusations of lying are in themselves a lie. Donald didn’t really know what to do, and couldn’t make Cruz let up.

It was immensely fun to watch Rubio go to work on Trump. However, I think Cruz’s prosecution of Trump in the second half was a little more effective, certainly in the long run.  Rubio may be out of the race, by the latest March 15, as he’s not expected to take his home state of Florida; the kiss of death. However, it was nice to see them work together when it was assumed that it would be Trump and Rubio against Cruz. I think Trump was surprised as well.

My predictions for the impact of this debate are as follows. Trump will lose 5-10% support ahead of Super Tuesday. He’ll still win a lot of states, but the margins will be smaller, allowing Cruz or Rubio to pick up a near equal amount of delegates. Rubio will stay the same or pick up 1-2% in the polls. He will not win a single state on March first. Cruz will see his numbers increase by 5-7%. He will take Texas handily, the biggest haul of Super Tuesday, possibly even reaching that threshold of over 50% where he doesn’t have to share any delegates.  Additionally, he will win in Arkansas, and probably one or two others. It’ll be close, but Cruz may come out of Tuesday in a tie or even ahead of his rivals in the delegate count. It’ll come down to messaging and voter turnout over the next few days. Whatever happens, it is clear that Trump is not inevitable.

 

– Ryan Thorson

Cruz or bust!

It’s been a while since my last posting, so I’ll quickly sum up the important points on the GOP side of the Presidential race. The Republicans hosted another South Carolina debate about a week ago, where it looked like Trump had self-destructed. Trump, in his most Democrat-ish performance defended Planned Parenthood, * ended up blaming Bush for 911, * and said also that Bush lied us into the Iraq war (a war that Trump claimed to be among the first to oppose). * However you may feel about those issues, it should be stipulated that traditionally they have been anathema to Republicans, confined to rantings of wild-eyed leftists. Additionally, evidence was put out during a few Trump town-halls that he lied about being against the Iraq war (in a pre-war Howard Stern interview, he supported it), ** he confused himself with Bernie Sanders (including his universal healthcare stance), *** and he admitted he liked the mandate (aka Obamacare)… and he still won SC! It seems that Trump supporters either don’t care, don’t know, or don’t mentally register their likely differences with Trump, proof that the low-information crowd isn’t limited to the left. Trump supporters see his tough guy affectation and that alone gets their support; everything else is just white noise. Whatever they’ve internally argued to justify their support, whatever they suppose that Trump will do if put in office, IF, I think they will be sorely disappointed along with the rest of us.

Ted Cruz barely lost second place in SC. **** Not good. Not insurmountable, but not good. Bush dropping out is good news, however. **** This race has really become about finding the anti-Trump candidate, and the more of the low-performing candidates that drop out the better. However, the ever hopeful Kasich and the drowsily angry Carson are hanging on ***** just so they can tie-up enough of the vote to prevent a non-Trump candidate from emerging and prevailing, or for whatever other non-winning reason they have to justify their continued campaigning. The longer they stay, taking 8% or 7% away from a viable candidate, the more certain it is that Trump will win.

Rubio should be happy at doing better than normal, but the fact that he had every SC VIP behind him and still couldn’t win, not to mention that he still hasn’t a single win to his name yet, should concern his supporters. Also a concern for Conservatives is his last minute bailing on the Conservative Review Convention, ****** where he was scheduled to speak. It could be that Marco has conceded Conservatives and is instead hoping to rely solely on establishment support. If so, it’s a risky strategy, considering that Trump is also competing for that support block. If you combine this with the fact that in the polls Rubio is not leading in a single state, ******* then you have near insurmountable issues to a Rubio win. Unless something radical happens to change the course of this election, Marco is unlikely to be anything more than a spoiler for Trump.

In the meantime, Cruz is using the proper tactic of emphasizing his win in Iowa and his consecutive double placing in New Hampshire and South Carolina (almost taking second in SC) as evidence that he is the candidate that has and can beat Donald Trump. Additionally, polling has indicated in a head to head match-up between Trump and Cruz, it’s Cruz by +16 points. ******** Additionally, Trump almost consistent loses across polling in potential match-ups with Hillary ********* whereas Cruz more often than not beats Hillary. ********** For those that are concerned with the Don’s elect-ability and also the drag to the left that Trump represents, they really have only one choice. Unless it is desired to see a Trump Presidency, or (even worse) a Hillary Presidency, Ted Cruz is the only lane left to avoid such a fate.

– Ryan Thorson

* http://townhall.com/tipsheet/katiepavlich/2016/02/13/the-craziest-gop-debate-of-the-cycle-trump-loses-control-cruz-and-rubio-spar-audience-boos-n2119366

** http://www.buzzfeed.com/andrewkaczynski/in-2002-donald-trump-said-he-supported-invading-iraq-on-the

*** http://national.suntimes.com/national-world-news/7/72/2619220/donald-trump-confuses-himself-with-bernie-sanders/

****http://patch.com/south-carolina/columbia-sc/2016-south-carolina-gop-primary-results-voting-under-way

***** http://www.redstate.com/jaycaruso/2016/02/20/jeb-bush-john-kasich-ben-carsoon-get-out/

****** http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2016/02/19/their-guy-bailed-out-mark-levin-slams-rubio-for-skipping-conservative-convention-as-rift-between-rubio-and-cruz-deepens/

******* http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2016/president/march1GOP.html

******** http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/gop-primaries/269749-cruz-tops-trump-nationally-in-poll-surprise

*********http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2016/president/us/general_election_trump_vs_clinton-5491.html

**********http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2016/president/us/general_election_cruz_vs_clinton-4034.html

Trump Does a Cameo on the Rubio Show!

Last night, audiences all over New Hampshire (and the country) thrilled to the on-screen debate adventures of the remaining Republican candidates in an ABC hosted venue! Gone was the undercard debate (leaving Carly in the cold); Huckabee, Paul, and Santorum are out of the race; although the absent Gilmore might still be in… somewhere… if it matters. Once again, ThunderStruck brings you the latest GOP debate analysis!

Trump – Grumpy Cat returns! That’s right, after a one debate hiatus that might have very well cost him the Iowa Caucus, the orange-one, Donald J. Trump, once again scowled his way into the hearts of all Americans, gracing the viewing public with his oratory skill and his expert command of framing the issues of the day with ease… Actually, that last part I made up. Trump connects with his hard-core supporters only on an emotional level; other than that, if Trump can complete one sentence before starting a new one, it’s the most he can do. Trump’s greatest line of the night, concerning how to deal with Muslim

trump-cat
from http://www.chicagonow.com
extremism/immigration, was “We have to have a temporary something, because there’s something going on that’s not good.” Trump = modern day Cicero.  Other than that, Trump really had no high points. He even lost ground in a skirmish with the stuttering Jeb Bush on eminent domain, in somewhat of a reversal of a previous debate clash where Trump came out on top, chiding Jeb as a “tough guy”. And while this time Trump tried the same retort, this time Jeb had the shaky upper hand, challenging the toughness of a guy who tried and failed at seizing an old lady’s house for a limo parking lot. The exchange elicited boos for Trump, to which he responded in attacking the audience booing him, saying they were all donors of his non self-financing opponents. Trump won more boos.

 The Don also did very poorly when he was asked to define what a Conservative was; all he could really come up with was that a Conservative wants to save money, this before he reverted back to his usual shtick. Trump even tried to mention the founding fathers (a possible first for him), but came off as very inauthentic, revealing only that he has little clue about the founders or the Constitution. It was almost as bad as Trump’s thinly veiled pandering to Evangelicals which made obvious to anyone but his supporters that he’s out of his depth. In his defense, I can’t blame Trump too much for not having these matters in his heart; there’s not much room, after all the Trump he’s got stuffed in there. Despite these low points, Trump still had time to double down on socialized medicine, while at the same time reversing himself on medicine of the socialized variety, saying it would only be for the needy.

After last night, Trump might lose ground with some of his fringe supporters, but not with his core devotees for whom Trump is more like a cult leader, and as such, what Trump actually says and does is of little concern, just as long as he fulfills his prophetic role in their lives. After all, a false prophet is better than no prophet. To anyone who believes that the country’s future depends on Constitutional reform and reducing the size and reach of the federal government, Trump remains an unacceptable choice, despite the areas where he agrees with Conservatives.

Cruz – Cruz may have had a lot riding on this one. After the circumstances that have tainted, to some extent, his victory in Iowa, Cruz needed to handle this one just right. I think he did. In an unusual move for a Presidential candidate, Cruz expressed regret, repeating his private apology to Ben Carson for his campaign’s actions in Iowa. Cruz offered a brief and understated explanation for why the mistake happened, which was the right way to respond. In other respects, Cruz was quite capable (as always) in his answers, with no big mistakes or gaffs, although his time on stage seemed lighter than usual. Cruz may not have convinced many in NH to vote for him, but I think he safely put the charges against his good name to rest.

Rubio – This debate was really the Rubio Show. Not that I was on hand with a timer, but it seemed that he got the lion’s share of the debate. However, I’m not really sure that it helped him. He gave a little speech about how Barack Obama is not incompetent, but rather deliberate in what he’s doing to the country. Good enough. However, Christie then chimed-in to loudly point out Rubio’s pattern of giving a small retort followed by a 25 second speech. Next, as if to prove Christie right, Rubio gave him a retort, followed by the same 25 second speech. And just to make things clear, he gave virtually that same speech two more times throughout the night! It was almost as if he couldn’t help himself; he had to say those same words again and again! In most other matters, Rubio was pretty good, but I got the unmistakable impression that, with Rubio, less is more. Look for Marco to hold or lose a little ground in NH.

hqdefaultCarson – I think that this is one of the worst offerings from this candidate, to date. For starters, Dr. Carson caused an embarrassing traffic jam during the entrances of the candidates. Not hearing his name being called, for minutes Carson stood unmovable in front of the camera as stage help tried to usher him on. The whole scenario was bizarre. Additionally, he played the whole why isn’t anyone talking to me card one time too. Lastly, understandably upset that some of his supporters in Iowa may have voted for Cruz, mistakenly, Carson took an opportunity to rise above and wasted it on sour grapes. Most of the blame can be placed on CNN for falsely insinuating that Carson may be dropping out, some blame falls to the Cruz camp for not properly checking with the Carson Camp before putting out the info to supporters and without follow up, but Carson has not yet openly dealt with his campaign’s stupid decision to put out a statement that communicates the same message that a wounded animal does to a predator. Additionally, while Cruz came out of this looking like a leader that is not beneath taking responsibility, Carson, who until now has enjoyed a tremendously good natured reputation, looked bitter in his half-hearted acceptance of Cruz’s apology and his insistence of something nefarious lurking in the Cruz camp. He didn’t sound like Ben, the guy that brushed off Trump’s comparison of him to a child molester. That’s too bad. Either way, I think that the Ben Carson candidacy is TRULY finished; his campaign’s future suspension is merely a formality, now.

Kasich – Yes, he’s still here! The candidate that most resembles Despicable Me is actually gaining some traction in NH. On the debate stage he was awkward, as usual. At one point, listening during a Christie retort to Kasich’s attack on Christie’s record, he resembled a bemused boy being scolded by his Mom, this even though the response was mild and laced with a bit of praise for his record. His explanation for his comment about his plans to change the definition of Conservatism was fumbling and strange. At one point, he revealed that his plan to work with Congress was to go to them and “plead,” which should appeal to those who believe a President’s role is to be shut in a locker by the bigger kids. I think Kasich may have soundly defeated his up-tick in the polls with one fell swoop!

Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Donald Trump
Republican presidential candidate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Republican presidential candidate, businessman Donald Trump spar as Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., listens in the middle during a Republican presidential primary debate hosted by ABC News at the St. Anselm College Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016, in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Bush – Jeb did pretty well. Don’t get me wrong, Jeb is no wordsmith, but he definitely had a few average to good moments in the debate, such as the fore-mentioned exchange with Trump. However, the bar had already been pretty low. Any subsequent mediocre performance would have looked great by comparison. Jeb didn’t blaze a trail to take him to the top, last night, but look for Bush to absorb some of Kasich’s surge, making him a contender for the new standard bearer for the moderate wing of the Republican Party.

 Christie – Christie did well, and he only mentioned that he was a former federal prosecutor once, this time. He was the beneficiary of every exchange he had with Marco Rubio. However, his seeming zeal for abortion allowances was a bit weird. The topic of ending the life of a pre-born child is unpleasant enough, but to tout your allowances on that matter with such gusto was a bit… dark. He should have just said that he believed in exceptions and moved on. Christie may woo some Rubio voters away from the surging candidate.

So that’s it for NH. Expect at least two candidates to drop out before South Carolina, depending on how this one goes. Carly seems a sure bet, though I will admit that I will miss her as I usually appreciate her and what she has to say. Other than that, one or more of the Governors will not make it into SC, hopefully. I’m looking forward to a debate with significantly less mouths on stage.

– Ryan Thorson

Corn-Shucking Debate Fun!

We’ve finally arrived! The last debate before the Iowa Caucus, and no Trump! As many are no doubt aware, the Don skipped the Des Moines debate, citing unfair treatment by Megan Kelley, who was set to moderate the debate, as the cause. Whether it was that or just wanting to rest on his laurels, Trump didn’t show, and the result was that the debate was surprisingly topical! Also, reports suggest that ratings didn’t drop for not having Trump at the center, and I’m sure that displeases him. Here’s my brief summation of the main stage debate.

Ted Cruz – Ted had a good showing. He got the Trump jokes out of the way rather quickly (some worked, some didn’t), and proceeded with a sans-Trump debate. His high point was when he was confronted with why Cruz didn’t support ethanol subsidies like his colleagues. Cruz, in a courageous move, with Iowa on the line and the Iowa Governor who discourages Cruz support big on camera, didn’t back down and even redoubled his assertion that there should be no government subsidies for anyone. Honestly, how often does that happen in a Presidential race? I hope such guts pays off in votes. His low point was when he tried to force a turn when the moderator spoke his name; he needs to stop doing that. Overall, Cruz did well, spoke with passion and optimism, and he at least didn’t lose any supporters if not gained some. We’ll find out Monday.

Marco Rubio – Marco also had a good night. Marco was lucid, if dour, but always on his toes. His high point was either when he wondered aloud if a President Hillary would pardon herself or that Bernie Sanders, as a Socialist, would make a good President… of Sweden! His low point was a toss-up between his exchange with Bush defending his immigration stance or his interchange with himself (via video) explaining how he twice switched regarding amnesty. Cruz was likewise challenged, but really did a better job of making his case. Nevertheless, Rubio did well, but as many have noted, he needs to cheer up a bit!

Ben Carson – Ben did his thing. He had no real stand out moments, but nothing objectionable, either. I don’t think he did anything to advance himself.

Chris Christie – Chris got to remind everyone that he was a former Federal Prosecutor… again. He also tried to play hall-monitor to the tête-à-têtes of other candidates… again! He did add that he would prosecute Hillary Clinton, but it wasn’t abundantly clear that he meant in court rather than the court of public opinion in a debate situation. Chris was kind of meh, and he didn’t help himself in Iowa, but he may have held his own in New Hampshire.

Jeb Bush – Jeb had his best debate yet. He was still a little stumbly, but he got the better of Marco, his current chief rival, in an exchange on amnesty. His performance supposedly has helped him in NH, but probably not in Iowa.

John Kasich – There are some times when I think John is in a debate all by himself, almost as if we’ve stepped into another dimension when the camera points to him. He seems to have been doing well in the polls in NH, but I don’t see that he helped himself last night; I have nothing else to say about him.

Rand Paul – Rand was back. He spoke well, as usual, but he really didn’t have any high or low points. I’m sure it wasn’t his goal, but I think he helped Cruz more than he did himself. Cruz, as the stage’s front-runner could stand back and let Rand be his attack dog and make his case for him. Even when Rand attacked Cruz, it didn’t really amount to much. In spite of having his very vocal supporters in the audience cheering him on, I don’t think Rand aided his campaign.

The winner of this debate was clearly Ted Cruz. However, I will admit that this was not his strongest debate, but he managed to score a few points beyond his fumbles, more than anyone else, and he also learned to take a knee when was proper. Second place I would have to award to Marco Rubio. He definitely helped himself, possibly in both Iowa and New Hampshire.

Next time is certain to be a smaller stage as some will have dropped out by then. Who it will be isn’t certain, but I could make a good guess. Jim Gilmore, who returned to the undercard debate, will most likely disappear again. Huckabee and Santorum are pretty much done, since the pair committed political suicide together by going to Trump’s alternate event and appearing on stage with the orange one, a tacit endorsement from the both. Also, Rand may be gone by next debate. Now, on to the Iowa Caucus!

-Ryan Thorson

 

Vegas Nights, Revisited

Well, that does it for the last GOP debate of the year. While I’m sure it won’t sustain us through Christmas quite like visions of sugar plums do, I think it was an interesting mash-up. Here are my thoughts on that Vegas evening.

Jeb Bush – Much like I assumed, Jeb tried to do something spectacular, and failed. Although I can say that he was a little better than last time, making a fair point to Trump that if he so sensitive about people not treating him nice, what does he expect from the world as President? However, his whole interrupt exchange with Trump was still awful to see unfold and played out like a re-run from the previous debate. Jeb Bush was a loser for not convincing anyone that he’s the one. If he continues, it’ll be only as a wraith.

Ben Carson – Predictably, Ben tried hard to prove his foreign policy chops and discussed his threat to leave the GOP because of party boss interference. On the former, I thought his call for Congress to declare war on ISIS, his moment of silence for San Bernardino, and his discussion about his conversations with Syrian refugees and their desire to remain in the Middle East were all well done. On the later, Ben declared that he had reassurances from GOP leadership that no such interference would take place, rather than renewing his threat to leave the GOP, and I think many were pleased to hear this. Ben is still in this thing, but while he did overall better than he has, I’d be really surprised if his poll numbers change radically, because he really didn’t have the watershed moment he needed to get back on top.

Chris Christie – Chris did very well in overall performance, showing himself to be a potential tough leader. His best moment was when he flat-out called the current POTUS a “feckless weakling”, which everybody wanted to hear, but no one had yet said. However, it was also the endcap to his worst moment, for the POTUS insult followed Chris’s declaration he would shoot down Russian planes in a no-fly zone in Syria, an assertion which Senator Paul proceeded to stomp on. Paul correctly pointed out that if the Russians already fly in Syria, you can’t just establish a no-fly zone and shoot them down, unless you want to start World War III. Paul even got in a dig about Chris’s bridge scandal, to which Chris chose to ignore rather than confront. Additionally, Chris probably didn’t help himself by forgetting that King Hussein of Jordan was dead, making it difficult for him to ally with. Chris’s biggest obstacle is that he’s a big-government Republican who champions power and security over individual liberty. However, his performance was strong. Look for his numbers to go up nationally and in New Hampshire.

Ted Cruz – Ted had a good night, but not all was well. He was cheerful, humorous, and his answers were spot-on. In fact, I don’t think that Rubio, his immediate contender, landed a single blow. In fact, it almost seemed like a tag-team with Rand and himself, the two big constitutionalists, taking on Rubio. I almost expected them to switch off, saying something like, “Rand, I got this one.” However, Ted shot himself in the foot when he tried to interrupt another candidate and was repeatedly told by the moderators to stop talking; that was bad. However, overall, he was really good and finished strong. Also, he had the best joke of the night, saying that he would build a wall that works and get Trump to pay for it! In terms of holding ground or helping himself, Cruz was in first or second place. Look for Cruz to go up in the polls.

Carly Fiorina – Carly, as always, had something intelligent to say whenever called on, and that normally would have helped her. However, she really negated her gains with all her interruptions. Whenever two candidates were called on for a little rhetorical pugilism, you could always hear Carly’s voice above it, making some criticism, and it really sounded bad. Additionally, her comments about first-term Senators didn’t go over right. Carly may go down a bit in the polls, and she may even have hurt her viability as a Vice-Presidential Candidate.

John Kasich – John interrupted less this time, but much like Carly or others, his frequent assertion about America not wanting their leaders to bicker failed to land a solitary punch. Furthermore, he kept referring to what his daughter had to say on this matter, which didn’t help him at all. Seriously, if he had mentioned his daughter one more time, I’d be leading a petition to have her replace Kasich as a candidate. By the end of the evening it was clear that John had failed to justify his candidacy.

Rand Paul – If we’re going just on debate performance, Rand was consistently the best debater. However, I’m not sure that his performance will translate into better polling, but I think he did help Cruz’s numbers when he and Cruz fought Marco. Ultimately, the Vegas debate may have been a grand farewell for Rand, but there’s no denying that he did well.

Marco Rubio – Marco was eloquent and pithy, but ultimately a failure. What he needed to do was take out Ted Cruz and promote himself… he did neither. Additionally, Rubio failed to properly deal with his stances on amnesty and his favoring of the bulk-collection of American’s phone metadata. Truthfully, Cruz cleaned his clock. A lot of pundits are claiming that this race will become a three or four way race very soon, and that may be, but if Rubio’s performance in Vegas is any indication, that race may not include him. Rubio’s poll numbers will probably take a hit.

Donald Trump – If in terms of mostly holding his own, the Don was the big winner. Frankly, that’s the only way Trump can win something like this. He can’t win on substance or clarity, but he’s definitely got style. Contrary to my prediction, he was reserved and only attacked when confronted or interrupted. This is definitely a point in his corner. However, Trump also made nice with the GOP establishment by complimenting them and renewing his pledge to run only as a Republican, a point that might go down hard with his supporters that are pro-Trump only as much as they are anti-establishment. Additionally, Trump took back his “maniac” comment about Ted Cruz, probably because he realizes as Cruz does that neither has much to gain from mutual attacks, but when it comes to making a compliment sound like an insult, no one on that stage is better than Trump. His lowest point came at the hand of Rand Paul, when Paul correctly criticized the Don’s intention to control the internet and kill the families of terrorists, requiring the repeal of the first amendment of the Constitution and also our withdrawal from the Geneva Convention. Expect Cruz to be the beneficiary of former Trump supporters who just figured out that Trump is not a conservative, but also expect Trump to stay on top for the time being.

 

– Ryan Thorson

Debate Night, Vegas Style

Tomorrow night, the GOP candidates for President face off in another debate, this time from Las Vegas, which will be focused on foreign policy and terrorism. Before the big night, I thought I’d share my brief thoughts and predictions for the candidates who will participate on the main stage.

Jeb Bush – Is he still here? The establishment’s lost hope continues to hang in there, though not much else. Since the last debate, he’s spent quite a lot of money attacking his rivals, but that hasn’t translated into better polling numbers. Expect Jeb to try to do something dramatic to bring the focus to himself, but don’t expect it to work.

Ben Carson – At the last debate, Ben was the lead candidate in some polls, now much of his support has drifted to other candidates in the wake of recent terrorist attacks. Ben will try very hard to show off that he does indeed have foreign policy chops in an attempt to gain back some of his previous losses. You may even hear him take the GOP establishment to task on their rumored primary interference intending to prevent Trump, Cruz, or other perceived anti-establishment candidates from taking the nomination.

Chris Christie – After a very impressive show at the kiddie table last time, Chris is back to have another crack at seeming like a relevant candidate. With the NH primary approaching, Christie will try to make a big enough splash that will carry him to victory in New Hampshire, although he has a tough road ahead of him if he wants to convince conservatives that he’s one of them, and that they should just forgive or forget his past misadventures such as his post-hurricane seeming endorsement of Obama, his shaky history with the second amendment, or his adversarial relationship to the coal industry.

Ted Cruz – Ted returns, second only to Trump, and his numbers continue to rise. Right now, he’s favored to win the Iowa Caucuses in February, with a few points over Trump. Look to Ted to continue to play a disciplined debate game and not to go after any candidate, even as they will try to goad him to do so. He’ll try to keep his attacks to the administration, Hillary, and the terrorists, and if he has to answer a charge against himself from another candidate, he’ll try to be as general as possible, knowing that by attacking candidates directly he runs the risk that their supporters will take it personally. Ted will continue to position himself to be the beneficiary of disillusioned supporters of Trump, Carson, or Rubio.

Carly Fiorina – Carly has had a lot of trouble trying to recapture some of that lightning that she had in the first couple of debates. She’s not much on running negative, but she might be OK at doing this with Trump because of the history that they have together. Expect her to predict Trump attacks and be ready with something biting.

John Kasich – Expect John to interrupt a lot and make himself as much of a stench in the nostrils of as many potential voters as possible in his desperate attempt to save a candidacy that really has no purpose. This should be fun to see. Kasich is likely to drop out soon, but he may wait and see if he makes more than a blip on the NH primary radar, hoping for some East Coast good-will for a former Ohio governor.

Rand Paul – Just squeaking by, Rand avoids being exiled to the lower tier debate. With recent affairs dramatically shifting what voters believe is the most important issue (terrorism), Rand’s foreign policy beliefs put him at a distinct disadvantage. Look for him to attack many of the candidates on stage as being supportive of allowing terrorists into the country by not securing the borders, in an effort to recast his beliefs as strong on foreign policy.

Marco Rubio – Marco had a brief moment where he was occupying a number two or three slot in the polls, but enthusiasm has waned a bit, most likely because it seems that the GOP establishment is grooming him to be their guy since Bush and Kasich are going nowhere. Look for him to deliver a good performance, perhaps take a few shots at Cruz or Trump, but don’t expect his poll numbers to shift significantly unless Bush or another establishment candidate drops out, because in the eyes of many GOP voters, he’s seen as the guy who sold his soul to the devil. Marco is most likely to try to throw down with Cruz and Paul, and their efforts at ending the collection of bulk data from ordinary Americans.

Donald Trump – The Don’s numbers continue to rise, this in spite of the fact that he continues to take reactionary emotive stances and fails to have any detailed proposals of what he intends to do. Yes, I’ve heard of the wall. No one really knows what he wants to do, apart from making America great. No one knows what he believes in, besides Trump. Sure, he doles out a healthy amount of red-meat, but pandering can only go so far, and at some point he’s going to need to show that he really believes this stuff, that he has principles and not just platitudes. Look for the other candidates to attack him here, where he’s weakest. Much like Obama, the less you know about the guy the better he seems. Once his supporters start weighing what he says now against what he’s said in the past, then that may be the end of the Trump show. I anticipate that Trump will not be as reserved as he was last time, resting on his laurels; expect Trump to attack and insert himself as much as possible.

– Ryan Thorson

Milo and Gender Inequality

Milo Yiannopoulos, author at Breitbart.com, participated in a debate with feminist Rebecca Reid at Bristol University. The following quotes are from his closing remarks, and I think they sum up the state of affairs for gender equality better than any I’ve heard, and so I wanted to pass them along. I hope you enjoy them.

-Ryan Thorson

“I want to address the men in the audience—sorry ladies, I love you, but this is for boys. The question posed to us today was whether we’ve reached an age of gender equality. I don’t think we have. We’ve overshot the age of gender equality—by a long stretch, and men of your generation are going to be the primary victims of this era. In secondary school you will have experienced a system that is tilted against boys. Your exams will have been primarily modular, not linear, a system that favors girls. Teachers will have tried to control and pathologize your boisterous behavior, branding you “young offenders” for pranks, or “cyberbullies” for typical male teenage trash-talk (taunting, after all, is how men bond).”

“Your female peers will be encouraged at every stage of their educational journey. They will be told to join a STEM field; they’ll be given—showered, in fact—with grants and awards, prizes, and encouragement. And when they do get to applying for those jobs, you will be discriminated against, just because they’re a girl. You’ll be the recipients of nothing. There are no programs for men. The suggestion for having a Men’s Officer at York University was laughed at by the student union. At University, you will be told that you’re rapists-in-waiting; that you need to attend consent classes. Your natural love and affection for women will be neutered. You will be faced with an impossible choice: suppress your natural, healthy, romantic interest in women, or risk a charge of rape or sexual harassment. And if you speak out against this hostile and unfair environment, you will be persecuted by rabid mobs of politically correct lunatics, as well as the full force of the establishment media.”

“When your studies are completed, you will enter a jobs market that is stacked against you. With companies pressured from all directions to hire women, you will be at a 2-to-1 disadvantage if you are in STEM subjects, and possibly worse in others. If you do happen to land a job, a single accusation of an inappropriate remark or any unsubstantiated allegation can destroy your reputation forever.”

“Despite all this, I’m not worried for you—because you’re men. Your incalculable, intolerable, impossible obstacles have been placed before you precisely to overcome. And overcoming is what men do best. It is the nature of men to battle on under impossible odds. We do that in war, we do that in all sorts of things, and we will do it here. Throughout your education, you will have been fed a grim history of what men have done through the centuries. You’ve been told that straight white men are worse than the Nazis. You have been told nothing good about your sex, your race, or your orientation, but I’m going to tell you something good, and it is: If the patriarchy exists, women should be grateful for it. It is what took us to space, it is what builds roads, it is what built the internet, [and] it is what protects and provides for women. If it exists, thank God it does! With their strength and determination, men have tamed the wilderness. Men built cities and the walls around us. They built the buildings that we’re in. Men’s curiosity led us to explore the oceans; their ingenuity has allowed us to reach the moon. And whenever feminism rises up and tries to ridicule you, to demean you for what you are,” “Don’t pay attention to it. Don’t listen to it. We’re not in an age of gender equality; straight white women in the West are the most privileged class in the history of our species. But we’ll be fine.”

-Milo Yiannopoulos

Greetings!

Jeremiah 6:16

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Ryan Thorson