What Happens When Two Historically Unpopular Candidates Face Off?

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The presidential election of 2016 is considered by many to be the most important election in our lifetimes. I consider that sentiment nothing more than a cliche. We literally hear it every 4 years, and sometimes in between. Technically every election is the most important one yet.

But this election is the rare open contest with no incumbent, either directly or by succession (VP running after serving 8 years). The last one was just 8 years ago, but before that you have to go all the way back to 1952 to find an election without a sitting president or vice president running.

In all that time there has not been an election that could come down to two equally unpopular candidates. We won’t know for at least a month or two when primary votes are officially cast who each party’s nominee will be, but both current frontrunners are historically disliked.

Hillary Clinton’s favorability rating right now is bad and getting worse. It started dropping the moment she left office as President Obama’s first Secretary of State, and it’s been underwater nearly a year.

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As pollster Adrian Gray has shown, such poor favorability ratings even this far out from the election are usually correlated with general election losses, at least since 1992.

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Oregon and Civil Disobedience

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Been trying for the last several days to make heads or tails of the Oregon civil disobedience case where two ranchers did their best to set controlled fires but were pinched by the government, served a little time, had their case revisisted by a pretty questionable federal prosecutor, and were sent back to jail. And then some social justice activists — and that is what the Bundys are — got involved and took over a federal building while bearing arms and disgruntled (self?) righteousness.

There are all kinds of opinions, some, like HotAir.com, saying there’s a justifiable reason the ranchers occupied the federal building, others, like The Cato Institute, pointing out the bad actors on all sides.

But I, personally, finally got a handle on what I think about after seeing this piece from Patterico’s Pontifications, sepcifically this passage, and the graphic at the top of the page (see above):

Everything takes place in the context of the Fish and Wildlife Service buying up all the land around the Hammond ranch for a wildlife refuge. Apparently owning half the land in the West was not good enough for the feds; they had to have more and more and more and more. Then, the feds allegedly took many seemingly retaliatory actions against the Hammonds after they refused to sell. Then, we come to the arson fires, which as presented on the Internet is a hodgepodge of one-sided accounts.

Obama Bypasses Law to Import More Foreign Workers

A few days ago I indulged in a dose of intellectual masochism by engaging in a Facebook debate with a liberal. The main gist of his argument was that he applauded Obama’s use of executive orders, his selective enforcement of the law, and his use of the federal regulatory apparatus as a bludgeon to enforce his will when Congress “would not act”. In short, he approves of Obama’s petulant tantrums when Republicans don’t give him his way. These tantrums and abuses of power will be Obama’s legacy.

One can’t help but wonder if they’d have such a favorable view had George Bush engaged in such lawlessness as president. For example, what if Bush had issued an Executive Order directing the IRS not to pursue collection of capital gains taxes, or to cease auditing wage earners who fall in the Top 1%? What if he had directed the Border Patrol to focus on deporting Mexicans, but to ignore those trying to get into the U.S. from Cuba (Cubans tend to vote Republican)? What if he issued an EO directing the IRS to set up an mechanism whereby the Social Security taxes of American workers were directed into a private investment account of their choosing (you know, since Congress had “failed to act” on Bush’s efforts at partial privatization of that bloated, bankrupt program)?

Yet because Obama shares their progressive, statist, totalitarian worldview, they embrace a powerful executive who implements his agenda by sheer force of will, regardless of the Constitution, our traditions, or the will of the people. Yet if they were intelligent they would fear such a precedent, realizing that “their guy” will not always hold the reins of power, and precedents, once set, are hard to reverse.

The War against Cash, Part II

This is part two of a series that originally ran at International Liberty. ~ Ed.

 

I wrote yesterday that governments want to eliminate cash in order to make it easier to squeeze more money from taxpayers.

But that’s not the only reason why politicians are interested in banning paper money and coins.

They also are worried that paper money inhibits the government’s ability to “stimulate” the economy with artificially low interest rates. Simply stated, they’ve already pushed interest rates close to zero and haven’t gotten the desired effect of more growth, so the thinking in official circles is that if you could implement negative interest rates, people could be pushed to be good little Keynesians because any money they have in their accounts would be losing value.

I’m not joking.

Here’s some of what Kenneth Rogoff, a professor at Harvard and a former economist at the International Monetary Fund, wrote for the U.K.-based Financial Times.

Donald Trump is the Democratic version of Operation Chaos

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I have an old friend who attended the Donald Trump rally in Biloxi, Mississippi this weekend. He dressed up in his crispest red button-down, overalls, and white #MakeAmericaGreatAgain hat. He cheered, he waved, he tweeted and posted to Facebook about his excitement for the rally and Trump’s slogan of change. If he were ever called by a pollster, I have no doubt he would enthusiastically register his support for the orange-coifed billionaire.

There’s just one problem. My friend is a Democrat. And polls show he’s not alone. Not only is Trump supported by mostly liberal and moderate Republicans, he also attracts a fair amount of Democratic support.

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We’ve all heard of Reagan Democrats and locally Republicans for John Bel Edwards, the recently elected governor of Louisiana. But my good friend isn’t supporting Trump’s campaign because a great leader has convinced his usual opponents of his worth. He doesn’t agree with Trump’s “ideas” (such as they are) or support his “vision” for America (such as it is). He does all this because he knows Donald Trump is Hillary Clinton’s best shot at the White House. And polls show he’s right there too.

Poll: Significant minority supports religious freedom for some, not all

I’ve previously argued that the current “religious freedom” bandwagon is little more than a smokescreen for Christian theocracy, especially since it seems to have been an explicit reaction to the marriage equality victories around the country. A new AP poll suggests I’m right, but not to the extent I thought.

Eighty-two percent said religious liberty protections were important for Christians, compared with 61 percent who said the same for Muslims. About seven in 10 said preserving Jews’ religious freedom was important, while 67 percent said so of Mormons.

I expected the Muslim number to be far lower, but that leaves 21% of adults who think, like Rick Santorum in a recent GOP debate, that religious liberty applies to Christianity but not Islam.

And surprisingly, the numbers aren’t that different for Republicans and Democrats.

2015 Predictions Mostly True — With Some Surprises

Some had hoped Zuckerberg’s generosity would be the story of the year. They were disappointed.

 

As 2015 comes to a close and we begin the start of a new election year — and, fingers crossed, a new trajectory for the country away from hyper-focus on social issues and more of a balanced approached toward leadership — it’s interesting to look back and see if what the pundits predicted about the last year came true, and what they may have missed.

The Washington Examiner, back in January, laid out a list of five stories they thought would top the news cycle for the year, leading with the horse race for the GOP nomination. They also wondered if anyone would challenge Hillary Clinton, and if the economy would be the primary policy issue for office seekers.

While their musings on what Obama’s next move would be fell flat — turns out he really isn’t all that much a man of action — they certainly got the GOP presidential race right because who in their right mind could have predicted the ascendency of Donald Trump (and, hopefully, his slow fade to black as more and more people get wise to his brand of beat-you-over-the-head-with-your-basest-desires brand of advertising)?

The Electability Argument: Romney 2012 vs Rubio 2016

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It might seem counterintuitive, but losing an election doesn’t mean you weren’t “electable”.

In 2012, one of the main arguments for Mitt Romney as the Republican nominee was that he was the most electable. This point is usually supported by favorability polls and subtle campaign factors like wide, not specific or tribalist, general election appeal.

Romney’s claim of electability in 2012 was based on this data. His favorability varied quite a bit, but was positive from early summer right up to election day. More people liked him than didn’t, in the end. Unfortunately Obama had a comparable favorability rating; he wasn’t the unpopular figure most Republicans assumed he was.

As we all know, Romney lost. He wasn’t as electable as he thought, but he was still the most electable of the Republican candidates at the time. Rick Santorum’s favorability rating was almost never in positive territory. Newt Gingrich was one of the least popular politicians in the country, two weeks after he won the South Carolina primary.

This year the electability argument has come back around again, primarily as a point in favor of Marco Rubio. As a young, well-spoken conservative with minority immigrant parents, a middle-class history, and solid grasp of current cultural trends, his appeal is broader than the Republican party has seen in ages.

The War Against Cash, Part I

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This is the first in a two-part series, originally published at International Liberty. ~ Ed.

 

Politicians hate cash.

That may seem an odd assertion given that they love spending money (other people’s money, of course, as illustrated by this cartoon).

But what I’m talking about is the fact that politicians get upset when there’s not 100 percent compliance with tax laws.

They hate tax havens since the option of a fiscal refuge makes confiscatory taxation impractical.

They hate the underground economy because that means hard-to-tax economic activity.

And they hate cash because it gives consumers an anonymous payment mechanism.

Let’s explore the animosity to cash.

It’s basically because a cashless society is an easier-to-tax society, as expressed by an editorial from the U.K.-based Financial Times.

Obama Welcomes Terrorists, Shuns Allies

If we have learned nothing else from the Obama years, it is that Obama cannot be trusted. In his first days in office he insulted one of our strongest allies, England, when he returned a bust of former Prime Minister Winston Churchill (and in the first attempted assassination by boredom, Obama later sent to Queen Elizabeth an iPod containing a collection of his speeches). This was followed by truly dangerous actions, which put our allies in harm’s way, as with his decision to renege on our commitment to Poland and the Czech Republic to build a missile shield in Eastern Europe as a firewall against Russian aggression. Obama instead sent Hillary to Russia with a “reset” button for Putin, and we all know how disastrously that turned out.

Yet none have felt the consequences of Obama’s betrayal as harshly as have our allies whom he abandoned in Iraq and Afghanistan after making the decision to unilaterally withdraw U.S. forces against the recommendations of his senior theater commanders and top military advisers. Claiming he was leaving behind a “stable, sovereign, and self-reliant Iraq”, Obama left them to fend for themselves. In the vacuum created by the exit of American forces, we have witnessed the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan, as well as the rise of the most brutal, murderous Islamist terror regime we’ve seen to date, ISIS.


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