The Morning Jolt

Trump: Ted Cruz Is a Screaming, Ethanol-Opposing Maniac

We’re all cool with this assessment of Ted Cruz, right, Trump fans?

TRUMP: Look, I don’t think he’s qualified to be president.

WALLACE: Why not?

TRUMP: Because I don’t think he has the right temperament. I don’t think he’s got the right judgment.

WALLACE: What’s wrong with his temperament?

TRUMP: When you look at the way he’s dealt with the Senate, where he goes in there like a — you know, frankly, like a bit of a maniac. You never get things done that way . . . You can’t walk into the Senate and scream and call people liars and not be able to cajole and get along with people.

“Dear Donald, thank you for finally saying what I’ve been trying to tell people . . .”

Kudos to Ted Cruz for the ’80s-flashback response.

Our stalwart principled conservative leader, Mr. Trump, also said this weekend:

“Well look he’s from Texas — to the best of my knowledge, there’s a lot of oil in Texas, right? So, he gets a lot of money from the oil companies, and he’s against ethanol and everything you’re else talking about. And I’m not, I’m totally in favor. And you know it’s a big industry here, it’s a big industry. You know if that industry is upset Iowa’s got problems,” Trump said to the crowd of about 1,500, composed of Iowans from special-interest groups.

Only a TRUE conservative stands for ethanol and Senate collegiality, right, Trump fans?

Finally, a new poll from NBC News this morning shows Hillary Clinton beating Trump 50 percent to 40 percent head to head; she beats Cruz 48 percent to 45 percent. Against Ben Carson, she loses, 46 percent to the doctor’s 47 percent. Marco Rubio beats her 48 percent to 45 percent.

For what it’s worth, Hillary has led six of the past seven head-to-head polls against Trump, and six out of seven against Cruz. She led four out of seven against Carson and just two out of seven against Rubio.

New Study: The Federal Government Keeps Failing to Do Its Job, But It’s Mostly the GOP’s Fault

The Weed Agency comes to life again, as a new study finds the rate of “breakdowns” in government performance is steadily increasing year by year . . . and blames Congressional Republicans, claiming they “have cut budgets, staffs, and collateral capacity to a minimum.”

(The U.S. government spent $3.68 trillion in fiscal 2015, an all-time high.)

The study is from Paul Volcker, the former Federal Reserve chairman; and Paul Light, the spry professor of public service.

If it feels like government is getting less competent over time, that would probably be because it is:

Has the number of government breakdowns increased over time? The answer is yes, and significantly so. A review of news interest surveys since mid-1986 reveals that the government had twenty-three breakdowns in the almost fourteen years to January 2001 (1.6 per year) compared with forty-eight breakdowns in the fourteen years since then (3.3 per year). Government breakdowns were relatively rare during the first decade of the thirty-year period but began to increase during the second decade and accelerated during the third. At the current rate, government will set a contemporary record in the number of post-2001 breakdowns under President Barack Obama. Government is currently running at 3.5 breakdowns per year, which means that the president will exceed the record before his successor is elected.

Did the number of breakdowns vary across the five administrations? As expected from the pre- and post-2001 comparisons, the answer is again yes. The federal government had four breakdowns during the final months of President Reagan’s second term (1.6 per year), five during President George H. W. Bush’s term (1.2 per year), fourteen during President Clinton’s two terms (1.8 per year), twenty-five during President George W. Bush’s two terms (3.1 per year), and twenty-three during President Obama’s first six and a half years (3.5 per year). At the current pace, government may yet set a record in the average number of breakdowns per year before the president leaves office in 2017.

The “mean nasty Republicans” theory takes a hit when you observe this phenomenon:

Second-term presidents face a greater risk that government will produce more breakdowns. Government had a total of twenty-nine breakdowns during the first terms of Presidents George H. W. Bush, Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama (1.8 per year), compared with forty-two during the second terms of Presidents Reagan, Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama (2.9 per year). The differences are significant enough to suggest that government may be somewhat more likely to fail during the last few years of a two-term presidency. This is perhaps because presidents begin to lose focus, appointees begin to look for post-administration jobs, the opposition party becomes more likely to undermine government performance in advance of an open election, and the media looks more diligently for bureaucratic mistakes. All these explanations make sense, but my view is that the lack of presidential attention and appointee turnover are the most important contributors.

The report’s chart offers a glimpse of which breakdowns scored the most and least public interest and awareness in poll surveys, having asked whether respondents followed the news “very” or “somewhat closely.” The 9/11 attacks were at the top with 96 percent, obviously. The three scandals tied for third-from-the-bottom were “State Department e-mail security” — i.e., Hillary’s server — with 39 percent; the General Services Administration conference scandal in 2010 — where the agency spent $822,000 on a lavish four-day Las Vegas conference for 300 employees that included a clown, and psychic readings; and the “government information breach” from earlier this year, where hackers believed to be connected to the Chinese government swiped Office of Personnel Management files on 21.5 million current and former federal employees.

Only one of the bottom five in public interest occurred during the Bush administration, the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal.

Finally, ranking dead last, no pun intended, the Fast and Furious gun-smuggling scandal, at 37 percent.

Convenient for Eric Holder, huh?

Washington Post Tut-Tuts About the ‘Far Extreme’ in the GOP Again

On Saturday, the Washington Post’s Paul Fahri wrote about Alex Jones’s interview of Donald Trump:

The ranting radio host and the leading Republican candidate shared a microphone, and some common ground, last week in what may have been a dubious first — the first time a leading presidential candidate has been interviewed by a media figure from the far extremes.

Longtime readers know my negative views of Trump and Alex Jones. But Fahri’s observation/allegation that Trump had achieved a “dubious first” seemed like a good example of how selective the Beltway’s definition of “far extreme” is.

How much more controversial a figure is Alex Jones compared to, say . . . Jeremiah Wright? Or William Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn? (I mean, Alex Jones is just a verbal bomb-thrower.) Rashid Khalidi?

If we don’t want presidential candidates associating with paranoid conspiracy theorists, I guess Hillary Clinton will have to stop e-mailing with Sid Blumenthal once and for all. Who should the public be more worried about, the guy who rants on the radio all day or the guy giving Hillary advice on Libyan policy?

Is Alex Jones a more repugnant figure to associate with, than, say, Jeffrey Epstein?

A federal judge in Florida has released new details about how high-powered lawyers for billionaire investment manager Jeffrey Epstein managed to delay and water down victim notifications that federal prosecutors sent to more than 30 underage girls with whom Epstein allegedly had sex . . .

Republicans and conservatives have also taken a keen interest in President Bill Clinton’s connections to Epstein, hoping to make trouble for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid. Press reports have noted that Bill Clinton, as well as actors Kevin Spacey and Chris Tucker, used Epstein’s private 727 to travel to Africa in 2002 for a Clinton Foundation tour of AIDS-fighting and development work. Flight logs filed in connection with another lawsuit show at least 10 journeys by Clinton on Epstein’s planes.

“I’d like to know what he was doing with Jeffrey Epstein, how many trips did he take, where was he going, what did he do when he was with this guy?’ Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus told Bloomberg in March.

Who’s done more to harm innocent people: Alex Jones, or Tony Rezko? (Remember, Rezko went to prison for seven years after being convicted of mail fraud, wire fraud, soliciting bribes, and money laundering in connection to a federal investigation into political corruption in the state of Illinois.

As dumb as it seems for Trump to do the interview with Jones and gush enthusiasm for the host, is Trump’s doing the interview really far and away worse than President Obama’s doing an interview with GloZell Green, an alleged YouTube “star” best known for sitting in a bathtub full of milk and Froot Loops?

What, an interview with Jones is beneath the office of the presidency? In September 2012, President Obama did an interview with a Miami radio show host called “the Pimp with the Limp”; the pre-taped interview aired on the 9/11 anniversary.

Fahri’s larger point is that a significant chunk of the Republican party now gets its news and information from fringe sites, chain-e-mails, and other dubious sources, and embraces conspiracy theories and debunked claims. I’ve made a similar argument, but here’s my key difference with Fahri: I think the Democrats are no better and are probably worse. Most surveys suggest the parties are equally paranoid:

Another 2012 national poll asked about fraud in specific presidential elections. Thirty-seven percent of Democrats believed that “President Bush’s supporters committed significant voter fraud in order to win Ohio in 2004,” compared to 36 percent of Republicans who believe that “President Obama’s supporters committed significant voter fraud in the 2012 presidential election.” Again, not much difference. This dovetails with Brendan Nyhan’s findings about “birther” and “truther” conspiracy theories. He found that Republicans were just as likely to believe that President Obama was born abroad as Democrats were likely to believe that 9/11 was an inside job.

More than half of Democrats, according to a 2006 survey, said they believed Bush was complicit in the 9/11 terror attacks. Bernie Sanders claimed CBS News canceled an interview with him at the behest of Monsanto. A group of Sanders’ supporters accused CNN of deleting a poll that showed him winning the first debate.

Do you want to know what the single-most dangerous false belief in the country is right now?

“ISIL is not going to pose an existential threat to us,” President Obama said. “They are a dangerous organization like al Qaeda was, but we have hardened our defenses. Our homeland has never been more protected by more effective intelligence and law enforcement professionals at every level than they are now.”

Obama made that statement the afternoon of Wednesday, December 4, as two Islamist terrorists who had pledged loyalty to ISIS were shooting up San Bernardino.

ADDENDA: Thanks to Julie Gunlock for the kind words about Heavy Lifting over at Acculturated!

Cam and Geraghty offer something quite different and refreshing–an utterly cheerful and optimistic look at the great adventure that awaits men on the brink of marriage and fatherhood. Making a cameo appearance in the book is uber-dad and father Ward Cleaver–the very embodiment of that perfect 1950’s era man and a useful symbol of the once traditional intact, nuclear family.

Edwards’ and Geraghty’s common sense approach to life’s tough issues is a language most men understand and yearn for. Consider Geraghty’s take on how to deal with zero-tolerance policies at schools. He says: “If a seven-year-old with a peanut better sandwich [nibbled into a] gun [shape] frightens you, then you really don’t want to see my reaction to the news that you’ve decided to turn my child into a national headline over your ammophobia.” I’m sure a school administrator would disagree with this missive and would provide advice on how to talk to a teacher in a non-confrontational manner; perhaps offer talking points. But I suspect most men prefer the Edwards/Geraghty approach to handling raw stupidity — head on, decisively, dismissively.

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