Sunday, February 21, 2016

Those Still Standing

Significant attrition has finally befallen the list of contenders for this year's Republican presidential nomination. Here is my take on those who still stand:

Donald Trump
First, I must say that I believe Trump would make a better president than either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders -- but saying he would clear that extremely low bar is very different than saying he would be a good president.

Trump has virtually no knowledge of the Constitution and there is plenty of evidence that if he did know what it says, he would be against it (after all, he fancies himself wielding immense power from on high, which is precisely what the Constitution was designed to prevent).

He is vastly ignorant about matters that are of central importance to the presidency. For example, when the nuclear triad was brought up during a debate, he obviously had no clue what it even is.

He has little regard for free speech and individual rights (other than his own). For example, when his critics and opponents have said things he doesn't like (and which are usually true) he has responded by suing them, threatening to sue them, and issuing cease-and-desist letters... plus, he has abused eminent domain by attempting to use government power to steal acquire other people's property for his own private use.

Because his business success is said to show that he has the executive acumen needed to be president, it's fair to ask exactly what business success he and his fans are talking about. To wit:

The family fortune was produced not by Donald Trump but by his father, Frederick Trump, who set him up in business by buying him a housing development as a graduation present; who installed him in the family enterprise; and who bequeathed him a ton of money upon his death.

When Frederick Trump passed away, his wealth amounted to $400 million in today's dollars. Flip forward to today, and the most thorough analyses of Donald Trump's worth estimate that it is now around $300 million. This suggests that he is actually adept at squandering wealth, not creating it.

The "adept at squandering, not creating" notion is supported by the fact that Donald Trump's ventures have landed in bankruptcy on four different occasions for the same basic reason: He spread them too thin with flippant spending, then tried to escape the jam by borrowing at high interest rates he ultimately couldn't afford (don't high rates indicate that your creditors think you're a bad credit risk?).

On at least one occasion Trump was bailed out of a jam by his father, and on two occasions (so far) he has been bailed out by Saudi Prince Walid bin Talal.

Is this the kind of man you want "scrutinizing" congressional spending for "waste, fraud, and abuse"?

Is this the kind of man who is able to use (or even have) leverage in a tough negotiation with, oh, let's say, the Saudis?

Is this the kind of man you want appointing judges to the federal bench?

Trump's (occasional) refusal to bow to political correctness has emotional appeal. So does his unclarified catchphrase "Make America Great Again." But those are just words, and his words frequently contradict themselves. When it comes to what matters -- actions and core principles -- he has nothing that warrants me voting for him in a Republican primary.

Ted Cruz
The GOP is often criticized for not being conservative enough, and I often agree with that criticism, so I'm happy to say that there is much for conservatives to like about Ted Cruz.

He has proven he will stand on principle and damn the consequences -- as evidenced by him going to Iowa and campaigning against ethanol subsidies; by his solo 21-hour filibuster of Obamacare funding in 2013; by his fearlessness in the face of Democrats threatening to shut down the government and blame it on Republicans; and by him publicly calling Mitch McConnell a liar regarding the Ex-Im Bank.

There is no doubt that Cruz means it when he says he will stay the hand of federal power.

If he ever threatens to veto a bill, even one that has been larded with high-sounding pork for the specific purpose of scaring him away from his veto pen, there will be no doubt he means it.

When liberals ask Cruz dumb (but smart-sounding) questions that are based on false premises, his answers: 1) destroy the premises rather than accept them; 2) are spot-on right; and 3) show that his knowledge far exceeds that of his critics.

But be all that as it may, there is something about him that grates.

On one level, it's good to hear him answer questions in the manner I just described; however, he never answers them gracefully or with any sense that he respects another person's opinion. We conservatives lionize Ronald Reagan, so we should take note that Reagan never came off like that even when he was slapping down an opponent's argument.

While it's good to hear Cruz criticize fellow Republicans when they deserve it, it's not good to hear him speak harshly about them when they don't deserve it -- something he does far more regularly than he will ever admit.

His decision to stake his campaign solely on turning out the far Right while ignoring the "largely Right" and "center Right" seems recklessly narrow even for the primaries, and suicidally narrow for November. And I have to say that it also seems more than a little bit un-American.

Then there is the not-invisible elephant in the room, which is religion. I have nothing against evangelical Christianity and am inclined to believe that Cruz is as dedicated to the faith as he claims -- but nevertheless, his displays of prayer and Scripture-quoting have become so ubiquitous that they are looking staged and carnival-like.

And with those displays happening alongside many credible reports of him engaging in some of his close supporters engaging in dirty tricks (go here and here to read up on that), the words "Elmer" and "Gantry" have risen in my mind. I hate to say that, but it's the truth; and if it's the truth for this right wing grandson of a preacher man, how can Cruz possibly expect to win a general election?

Marco Rubio
Which brings me to Marco Rubio, who, as you might have guessed, is the one I will be voting for when Florida votes on March 12th.

Over the last few months, I have found it surreal to see him portrayed as a squishy RINO moderate who is ensconced in whatever it is that passes for "the establishment." As our British friends would say, that portrayal is codswallop.

Rubio is now in his sixth year in the U.S. Senate, and has amassed a bill-voting and bill-sponsoring record to which we can refer. In evaluating that record, the American Conservative Union gives him a 98 rating for his career while the Club for Growth gives him a 93 and Heritage Action a 91.

Those three organizations are undeniably conservative, and quite unforgiving in calculating their rankings, and they have all scored him above 90% even with him being part of the Gang of Eight that sought immigration reform in 2013.

He has been accused of coming off as too slick and focus-grouped (even I have leveled that criticism) but he does not come across as insincere. Like Charles C.W. Cooke once pointed out: "How many times do we imagine that Ronald Reagan had to repeat that America was great, that the government was out of control, and that the Soviet Union was evil before he became Ronald Reagan?" When Rubio speaks in platitudes he is speaking to the people at large, not to sullen political junkies like me, so what's the problem? (Especially when you consider that his platitudes are on the money -- and just as important, when you consider that his approach is uplifting and positive, in sharp contrast not only to Trump and Cruz but also to Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.)

Oh, and going back to Trump's colossal ignorance about the nuclear triad -- it was Rubio who jumped in and explained exactly what that is, for the benefit of those who were viewing the debate. Doesn't this show that he is not the scripted, programmed, slow-on-his-feet robot that Chris Christie claims some people claim?

To be sure, Rubio's Gang of Eight involvement had to do with a serious topic, and yes, it found him disagreeing with many conservatives. But since when have conservatives been forbidden from occasionally disagreeing over an issue? Aren't litmus tests and lockstep marching the stuff of the Left, not the stuff of the Right?

Since when does a difference of opinion over one issue justify excommunication? Going back to Ronald Reagan, doesn't excommunicating a person over one issue run counter to the Gipper's insistence that a person who agreed with him 70% of the time was his 70% friend, not his 30% enemy?

Gather any more than three or four people in a room and ask for their opinions on a few issues, and you will quickly find that it's almost impossible to get all of them to agree on any one of them -- so how can we demand that our presidential candidates agree with all of us every single time in order to earn our vote?

Meanwhile, since Ted Cruz has made religion a focal point of his campaign, and I have pointed out that he comes across gracelessly and has been credibly accused of dishonest campaigning, I feel compelled to share this link. It shows Rubio answering a question posed by an atheist. For those who consider a candidate's religious devotion to be central to whether that candidate earns your vote, you should take the time to watch it and then ask yourself why you wouldn't vote for Rubio as a man of faith.

And lastly, if you don't mind me circling back to electability, polls have consistently shown Rubio -- but not Trump or Cruz -- being likely to prevail in a general election.

Jeb Bush has dropped out.

As I type this, Ben Carson has not but I suspect he will.

John Kasich has not, and I doubt that he will until after Michigan votes on March 8th -- but he should.

If you were to take all of the votes that went for those three in South Carolina, then divide them in half and give an equal amount to Rubio and Cruz, both Rubio and Cruz would have finished ahead of Trump.

A conservative victory in November is well within reach -- if only conservatives will get out of their own way...

Note: Information from the writings of Kevin Williamson, Ian Tuttle, Michael Barone, and Jim Geraghty was used in this post.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

et ceteras

Scalia, Part I
The nation lost a titan when Antonin Scalia passed away Saturday at the Cibolo Creek Ranch in western Texas. I am rarely at a loss for words, but I am on this occasion.

When I try to think of a starting point to opine about Scalia's influence or commemorate his life, my brain shuts down. All it tells me is that words can not adequately describe the vital role he played in supporting the noble American experiment of personal freedom. (To protect personal freedom, the American experiment calls for government to be restrained by virtue of constitutional limitations and the equitable application of laws.)

Nonetheless, I can not let Scalia's passing go without mention, for among the millions of people whose lifetimes overlap mine, there is nobody other than Thomas Sowell whose intellect and philosophical courage have inspired me as much as his. So I will mention these five things: 1) the U.S. Supreme Court was founded 227 years ago and Scalia was, arguably, the best justice ever to serve on it; 2) he had what Ernest Hemingway referred to as a "built-in bullshit detector," which enabled him to cut through all the hazy legalistic foam and get right to what really mattered in every given case; 3) the opinions he wrote for the Court were unequaled; 4) I loved that when he voted with the majority and another justice was assigned to pen the majority opinion, Scalia still took time to write a separate, concurring opinion, just to make sure that certain vital points didn't get left out of the public record; and 5) taken as a whole, his written opinions laid a philosophical and legal groundwork that will sustain constitutionalism and conservatism (terms that should be interchangeable) for generations to come.

Go here for some of his finest quotes.

Scalia, Part II
I found it unseemly that as soon as news of Scalia's passing broke, many media outlets started pontificating about the politics of replacing him. It had all the tact and class of a dog humping your leg or a cannibal eating raw meat.

But then again, it was Scalia himself who chose to devote his life to high profile public service, so he always knew the topic of who would replace him was bound to come up as soon as he died -- kind of like head coaches in all the major sorts know their employment is almost certain to end with them being very publicly fired -- and therefore it is valid to pontificate about who will take Scalia's seat, and how that person might attain the seat.

For my two cents, I will simply say that the Senate should do precisely what Mitch McConnell said it will do; i.e., it should refuse to even hold a vote for anybody that Barack Obama nominates... Liberals and Democrats will howl "Gridlock!" like stuck pigs, but so what? The Constitution was written specifically to cause gridlock, not prevent it... Lily-livered GOP consultants will fret that taking such a strong stand may alienate the so-called "moderates" whose votes they covet, but so what? Failing to take a strong stand will definitely alienate the base whose votes are truly necessary for victory in November; and it would also alienate the disaffected working Joes who seem ready to deliver an avalanche of not-always-Republican votes to the GOP this November.

Scalia, Part III
Riffing a bit more on my suggestion that the Senate refuse to bring Obama nominees up to a vote, I want to point out that the Constitution does not require the Senate to hold a vote on a nominee simply because the president names a nominee... nor, needless to say, does it require the Senate to vote on a nominee within any particular timeframe... nor does it require there to be a certain number of sitting Supreme Court justices... nor does it require there to be a certain number of justices voting on a case, or even for there to be an odd number of justices voting on a case -- which is obvious once you remember that it's not unusual for justices to be recused due to conflicts of interest, history of advocacy, etc. (in case you're wondering, a 4-4 vote on a case simply means that the lower court's decision stands and that a future case regarding the same issue can still be brought before the Court).

When it comes to Supreme Court justices and their confirmation by the Senate, all the Constitution says is that no nominee can become a justice without the Senate agreeing to the nomination. In other words, the Senate is entirely within its rights to withhold voting on a nominee, or even to withhold voting on a whole class of nominees -- especially when the nominating president is in his final year and has been unambiguously rejected by the public by virtue of its votes in mid-term elections.

If today's Republican and Democrat roles were reversed -- e.g., if the Dems had just won a Senate majority and a final-year Republican president nominated somebody to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg or Stephen Breyer -- you know damn well that the Senate Dems would absolutely do everything they could to prevent the nomination from being approved, up to and including refusing to hold a vote.

Democrat voters fancy themselves as revolutionaries defying the powerful. And for years, many of them have fancied their party as a revolutionary one defying an omnipotent GOP. This is especially true for voters who are currently feeling the Bern -- who are so enthralled with Bernie Sanders that they haven't noticed he's not even a Democrat!

I find it chuckle-worthy that people with this self-conception are so proud to associate themselves with a party that deliberately disenfranchises them.

I find it chuckle-worthy that people who loudly condemn "the powerful" and "the one percent" don't seem to have any problem aligning themselves with a party that crushes the rank and file in order to serve the powerful and one percent.

The Iowa caucus ended with Sanders and Hillary Clinton in a statistical tie. Only four votes (obviously, far less than a one percent margin) separated them, yet Clinton went home with a 23-21 lead in delegates (greater than a 4.5 percent margin). This amounts to more than a 16 percent disparate impact -- which would not happen under the GOP's rules.

Then, in the New Hampshire primary, Sanders beat Clinton by a massive 60-38 margin, while receiving more votes than any presidential candidate from either party has ever received in the history of that state's primaries -- yet Clinton walked away with more delegates than him, thanks to the party's super delegates casting their lot with Clinton without any regard for how their constituents voted. Again, this would not happen under the GOP's rules.

So Clinton is currently winning the two-person race for the Democrat nomination even though far more Democrats have voted for the person who is not her... and so many super delegates have already pledged to vote for Clinton (before the citizens of 48 states have even had a chance to vote) that even if all the uncommitted super delegates were to vote for Sanders, he would still finish behind her in the super delegate count... and, her super delegate lead might be enough to overturn the votes of the nation's citizens at large, and thus deliver the nomination to somebody who the citizens at large reject... and again, this would not happen under the GOP's rules.

So, can somebody please explain how the Democratic Party gets away with portraying itself as the party "of the people" while portraying the GOP as the party "of the powerful"?

But when it comes to the GOP... too is in a pickle, and that pickle is of the GOP's own making, and it is summed up by the words "Donald" and "Trump."

Trump is demonstrably not a conservative. There is no evidence that he has any philosophical moorings about the size and scope of government... and no evidence that he has any philosophical moorings when it comes to the rights of individual human beings who find themselves up against a powerful, politically connected leviathan... and no evidence that he has even the slightest knowledge of the Constitution, much less the slightest respect for it... yet there is evidence that he has at least some beliefs which are anathema to conservatism (for starters, eminent domain and government-dominated health care).

In a sane political world and regular times, Trump would have no chance of winning the nomination of America's supposedly conservative party... but today's is not a sane political world, and these are not regular times... and the GOP has spent the last 15 or so years doing many things which make it clear that when it comes to its moorings, the adverb "supposedly" is a much more accurate word than the adjective "conservative"... and therefore, Trump has found an opening and is exploiting it.

In poll after poll (and, so far, in every caucus and primary) the majority of Republicans vote against Trump. But because so many other Republican candidates are on the ballot (and so many private sector Republicans have been given valid reasons not to trust public sector Republicans) Trump is reaping the rewards by winning with a plurality if not a majority.

In New Hampshire, 65 percent of the votes were against him and only 35 percent for him; but because the 65 percent was split between eight other candidates, Trump prevailed in what he can fairly call a landslide -- and this delivered him enough delegates that he now has a non-insignifcant lead in the all-important delegate count.

If the GOP had spent the Obama years behaving like the party of Ronald Reagan, rather than the party of Herbert Hoover and Theodore Roosevelt, it would not be in its current position. Likewise, if more of the GOP's non-Trump candidates would do the right thing and drop out of the race (thereby clearing the field so non-Trump voters could coalesce) it would not be in its current position. This is a GOP problem, not a Democrat problem, and it is up to the GOP to fix it.

But at the end of the day, conservative primary voters can take the problem out of the party's hands and fix it themselves. They can do this simply by ignoring everybody not named Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio, and punching their ballots for either Cruz or Rubio rather than Bush, Carson, Kasich, zzzzzz.

If that were to happen over the next few weeks, the race would consolidate. Then, people who live in states that vote after March 1st could choose strictly between Cruz and Rubio; and as their votes would make the picture even clearer, I have no doubt that either Cruz or Rubio would read the tea leaves and do the right thing by bowing out and throwing his support behind the other.

Will that happen? Who knows? But it should.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Lincoln's Birthday

207 yeas ago today, Abraham Lincoln was born in a tiny log cabin in Kentucky. Even the “Reader’s Digest version” of his life is impressive: He was almost entirely self-educated; he rose through the ranks of state and federal government to become President of the United States, in which capacity he oversaw the end of slavery and preservation of the country; then he was assassinated by a national celebrity while watching a play.

It is obvious that we all have many reasons to be thankful he won the 1860 and 1864 presidential elections. Rather than recount those reasons, I will simply leave you with some of my favorite Abraham Lincoln quotations:

Our reliance is in the love of liberty which God has planted in us. Our defense is in the spirit which prized liberty as the heritage of all men, in all lands everywhere. Destroy this spirit and you have planted the seeds of despotism at your own doors.

As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master.

No man is good enough to govern another man without that other’s consent.

Property is the fruit of labor -- property is desirable -- is a positive good in the world. That some should be rich, shows that others may become rich, and hence is just encouragement to industry and enterprise. Let not him who is houseless pull down the house of another, but let him work diligently and build one for himself, thus by example assuring that his own shall be safe from violence when built.

Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith let us to the end dare to do our duty as we understand it.

Are you not over-cautious when you assume that you cannot do what the enemy is constantly doing?

I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts.

Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves, and, under a just God, cannot long retain it.

I have always thought that all men should be free; but if any should be slaves, it should be first those who desire it for themselves, and secondly those who desire it for others. Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.

Most people are about as happy as they make up their mind to be.

Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better.

You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot help the wage-earner by pulling down the wage-payer. You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.

Gold is good in its place, but living, brave, patriotic men are better than gold.

The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

Accustomed to trample on the rights of others, you have lost the genius of your own independence and become the fit subjects of the first cunning tyrant who rises among you.

Truth is generally the best vindication against slander.

It has been my experience that folks who have no vices have very few virtues.

If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of free men we must live through all time, or die by suicide.

My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.

When I am getting ready to reason with a man, I spend one-third of my time thinking about myself and what I am going to say and two-thirds about him and what he is going to say.

To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.

As President, I have no eyes but constitutional eyes; I cannot see you.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

A Tale of Two QB's

Super Bowl L (I am sticking with Roman numerals even though Roger Goodell's NFL is not) has come and gone.

A competitive battle whose outcome was in doubt until the final three minutes, it was filled with everything that makes sports great -- except for dazzling offense.

But there is a reason we saw no dazzling offense, and that reason is that we were treated to dazzling defense.

The game put outstanding tackling, powerful hits, and forced turnovers on display from start to finish. Because I love strong defense and firmly believe the adages that "defense wins championships" and "football is won in the trenches," I found Super Bowl L to be one of my favorites.

The media did not ignore the role that good old-fashioned defense played in this game. Von Miller got the nod as MVP, and received a good bit of press for his dominant linebacking and the pair of decisive fumbles he forced. There has been a good bit of talk about how well Denver's top-ranked defense performed on the ultimate stage (though it would be nice if there was also a good bit of talk about how well Carolina's sixth-ranked defense performed on that stage).

However, most of the post-game media chatter has focused on the quarterbacks. This is somewhat understandable these days, especially given the dichotomy between the immobile white 39-year-old Petyon Manning and the mobile black 26-year-old Cam Newton, and I accept that even though I don't agree with it. What drives me to write this post is the uneven nature of that QB-focused coverage.

*     *     *     *     *

Full disclosure #1:  I am an Auburn grad and therefore it would be fair for people to say I'm predisposed to defend Newton (even though I find it off-putting that he named his son Chosen).

Full disclosure #2:  I have a pronounced Peyton problem that I have written about before (even though it's really a problem with the media, not him).

With that said, the way the media has regarded the two quarterbacks since Super Bowl L ended strikes me as atrociously biased.

The media have praised Manning for deferring credit for the win to his teammates. They have praised him for his maturity and effused about the prospect of him ending his career as a reigning champion, which is something that in all of history has been accomplished by only one other QB.

They have acknowledged that Manning looked nothing like a Hall of Famer on Sunday night, but have converted that criticism into praise by saying it shows that he recognized the limitations of his age and opted to play within himself. Of course, "plays within himself" sounds a lot like a dog whistle for "plays smart."

Conversely, the media have butchered Newton for not performing as well as he did during the rest of the season, and torched him for cutting short his post-game interview with their holy selves... Never mind that logic dictates that every quarterback will perform poorer than usual when he faces the league's top-ranked defense for the only time... Never mind that not a one of the media members criticizing Newton has ever been in the situation he was in at that moment he cut them short; i.e., not a one of them has worked his entire life in pursuit of a damnably unobtainable goal, only to put himself within reach of that goal and then come up short... And more to the point, those in the media who have butchered Newton have done so gleefully and with a wholly unmerited air of moral superiority.

Something the media chooses not to mention (even though their own cameras captured it in real time) is that when Super Bowl L ended, Cam Newton approached Peyton Manning on the field and had a smile on his face. They also don't mention that Newton shook hands with members of the team that had just beaten his, and that he appeared to congratulate them on their success against his team and against himself.

Something else the media chooses not to mention is that six years ago, when Super Bowl XLIV ended with Manning as the losing quarterback, Manning walked off the field without shaking hands with a single member of the New Orleans Saints' team that had just beaten his -- and keep in mind that Manning was then seven years older than Newton is now, and thus logic dictates he should have acted more mature than Newton did on Sunday.

The disconnect between the way the media treat Peyton Manning and the way they treat Cam Newton (and in my opinion, between the way they treat Peyton Manning and the way they treat everybody else) is just plain outrageous.

Yes, Manning comes across as humble and ethical and I believe he really is humble and ethical, but didn't he just cap off a Super Bowl victory by saying he was about to "drink a lot of Budweiser," without a whiff of media or MADD criticism coming his way? Do you think the media would have remained silent if Cam Newton said that?

*     *     *     *     *

I have no idea why it is that Peyton Manning receives so much adoration and so little criticism from the press.

I want to say it's because of his bloodline and I do believe that has something to do with it, but then again, Eli Manning gets more criticism than Peyton even though he has just as many rings and is the only QB ever to beat Tom Brady in a Super Bowl (which he has done twice!).

I can not prove than race is the reason for the disconnect between media treatment of Manning versus media treatment of Newton... after all, the media have long been soft on some black quarterbacks (e.g., Donovan McNabb) and brutal on some white quarterbacks (e.g., Jay Cutler)... but I have no doubt -- repeat, no doubt -- that race has something to do with the difference in treatment that has been on display for the last two days.

I have just said a lot, but it all boils down to this: Ignore the media, look at the facts, make up your own mind, and don't judge unless there is a verifiable reason to judge.

Monday, February 1, 2016

et ceteras

Welcome to Homicide
That is the title of my uncle's book. He worked more than 20 years for the Tampa Police Department and more than 11 of those were spent as a homicide detective. I have always liked listening to his stories, several of which are recounted in this book.

Uncle Rick did not write Welcome to Homicide to publish it. He wrote it to give to his kids so they would know more about his experiences. But, thanks in no small part to Aunt Barbara, it has found a publisher and you can purchase a copy for yourself by going here or here. I recommend you do so, and I'm not biased even though I am (and I trust you now what I mean).

9:35 pm
That's what time it is (Eastern) as I start typing this post, and the graphic on TV just showed that with 19 percent of Iowa's precincts reporting, Ted Cruz has 29 percent to Donald Trump's 26 to Marco Rubio's 20... I expect that to change several times before the night is over, possibly by wide margins... Also, the TV scroll shows Hillary Clinton edging Bernie Sanders by 51-49 on the Democrat side... We shall see later, perhaps tomorrow, precisely how it shakes out.

Crack up
There has been much talk among the commentariat about the GOP cracking up, based solely on the ascendancy of the carnival-barking non-conservative Donald Trump. But why has there been no talk about the Democratic Party cracking up, based on its choices being limited to an outlaw one-percenter and a spittle-chomping faux socialist? I'm just asking.

Well said
In a column published today, Kevin Williamson typed something with which I wholeheartedly agree: "As the first real electoral contest gets under way in Iowa, we should spend a minute thinking about real problems vs. imaginary problems. More specifically, we should think about which candidates are using imaginary problems to avoid talking about the real problems, and the extent to which they are doing so."

10:21 pm
So much for my above prediction, typed just 46 minutes ago, that the numbers "will change several times before the night is over." Fox News just called the caucuses in the precise order they were at 46 minutes ago, though the percentages now are not precisely the same as they were then.

Right now, with 99 percent of precincts reporting, Cruz has 28 percent to Trump's 24 to Rubio's 23... And I recall that just a few days ago, all the experts were saying Trump was invincible and Rubio was an afterthought... Well, like Tone Loc once said: Uh-uh, I don't think so. Look out for Rubio because he might be the one... And please note that I typed "the one," not "The One."

10:46 pm
Speaking of Marco Rubio, I have been listening to his "third place speech" for the last several minutes and he sounds, frankly, downright awesome. Again, look out for him. There is something Reaganesque about him.

10:52 pm
Trump just gave a very good concession speech. It was positive, not churlish. And open-hearted, not spiteful. I am not endorsing Trump and I will not be voting for him in the Florida primary, but he just exceeded my expectations.

Super Bowl   
It is six days from now and I will probably post something about it before then, but tonight I will say this: I don't know who to root for!

North Carolina is my favorite state, but I have liked the Denver Broncos since long before the Carolina Panthers even existed... My age (45) would like to see Peyton Manning win another Super Bowl, but I have a big problem with the fawning press he always receives... So I don't know what to do!

But whatever. Who cares? For those of us who don't have a vested interest in either team, may this year's Super Bowl be competitive and may it be a great diversion from the drudgery of life.