Sunday, January 31, 2016

Can Donald Trump Run the Table in February?

On the eve of the Iowa caucus let's forget the polls again and look at the odds:

Candidate 11/11/20151/31/2016
Hillary Clinton 45.7% 50%
Donald Trump 9.9% 16%
Marco Rubio 15.8% 11%
Bernie Sanders 7.9% 10%
Ted Cruz 3.0% 9%
Michael Bloomberg - 2%
Jeb Bush 5.7% 1%
Chris Christie 1.9% 1%
Ben Carson 3.8% -
John Kasich 1.6% -
Carly Fiorina 1.3% -
Mike Huckabee 1.0% -
Rand Paul 0.5% -
Martin O'Malley 0.5% -
Rick Santorum 0.4% -
Bobby Jindal 0.4% -
Lindsey Graham 0.3% -
George Pataki 0.3% -

For now, the smart money is still sticking with Hillary Clinton. Since November, Donald Trump has moved up a slot and Marco Rubio has moved down. It's fair to say that Trump was always leading Rubio, but there was some expectation Trump would fade and Rubio would become the front-runner. Ted Cruz has also moved up, despite questions about his eligibility.

Moreover, Trump is poised to run the table in February:
Candidate Iowa
New Hampshire
South Carolina
Donald Trump 69% 82% 68% 50%
Ted Cruz 29% 4% 30% 33%
Marco Rubio 1% 4% 5% 15%
John Kasich 1% 4% 1% 1%
Jeb Bush 1% 2% 1% -

That would put Trump's raw odds (if these were just coin flips) at 19% to run the table and win all four delegate contests in February. However, these are not independent events, and a sweep would create tremendous momentum going into the Super Tuesday primaries and caucuses in 13 states on March 1.

Update 2/2/2016:Trump didn't buy the farm in Iowa, but he did say he was thinking about buying one in his second place victory/concession speech. His odds of sweeping the remaining 3 contests in February has dropped to 13%. I'm guessing he saw his shadow in New Hampshire on Groundhog Day.

Update 2/10/2016:Trump's win in New Hampshire put him back on track. His betting odds to sweep both South Carolina and Nevada are now at 32.5%. But while Donald Trump's 100,406 NH votes beat the 95,252 for Hillary Clinton they finished second to the for 151,584 Bernie Sanders. In total, the 246,836 votes cast for Hillary and Bernie on the Democratic side trailed 279,130 for the Republican field. Uh oh.

Update 2/21/2016:Trump has won all the delegates in South Carolina on the strength of his 32.5% first place showing and is now the 82% favorite to win Nevada. Cruz, the Iowa winner, has had to settle for 2 third place finishes and may suffer another Tuesday in Nevada.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Two Corinthians Walk Into a Lapsed Presbyterian

Donald Trump has reportedly gaffed away the evangelical vote. He failed the shibboleth by reading the New Testament verse 2 Corinthians 3:17 as "Two Corinthians" rather than as the more authentic-sounding "Second Corinthians" in a speech Monday to students at Liberty University, a Southern Baptist college in Lynchburg, Virginia.
And the Gileadites took the passages of Jordan before the Ephraimites: and it was so, that when those Ephraimites which were escaped said, Let me go over; that the men of Gilead said unto him, Art thou an Ephraimite? If he said, Nay;

Then said they unto him, Say now Shibboleth: and he said Sibboleth: for he could not frame to pronounce it right. Then they took him, and slew him at the passages of Jordan: and there fell at that time of the Ephraimites forty and two thousand.

Judges 12:5-6 (KJV)
Let's consider the possibilities here:

(1) Trump doesn't know his Bible.

(2) Trump got his Bible learning from reading rather than listening. That is, he's seen it written 2 Corinthians and so that is how he assumed it was said. When I went to college I got laughed at for mispronouncing Sigmund Freud's last name. We knew who he was in rural Southwest Iowa where I grew up, we just didn't sit around on the couch all day talking about him.

(3) Trump got his Bible quote from his speechwriter, who wrote the citation in shorthand rather than in the longhand way Trump would speak it, and Trump tripped over it in the delivery because he knew it was wrong as he was reading it.

(4) Trump got the habit of saying 2 Corinthians from his mother, Mary Anne MacLeod, who was natural-born Scotswoman. No true Scotsman says Second Corinthians, proving Trump is not a natural born U.S. citizen. But I digress. It was probably the speechwriter.

Trump gave himself away a long time ago, by insisting to reporters "I'm a Protestant, I'm a Presbyterian" in response to questions of whether he really was a Christian. No true Presbyterian would tout that to get votes. It doesn't work, as you'd be sure to lose the Baptist vote.

And how did the Bible verse that Trump correctly but "inauthentically" cited go over among the students of Liberty University:
Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
On the word "liberty" the snickering of the Liberty U. students turned to cheering. For that audience, Trump had the right shibboleth.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Edward IX Is Not Eligible to Be President of the United States of America

If Ted Cruz's theory of natural-born citizenship is correct, had King Edward VIII of Great Britain, Ireland, and of the British Dominions beyond the Seas and Emperor of India not abdicated his throne when he married American Wallis Simpson, they could have given birth to a child, I'll call him Edward IX, who would have been eligible under the Constitution to be President of the United States of America.

That's essentially Ted Cruz's legal situation. He was born on December 22, 1970 in Calgary, a city in the Canadian Province of Alberta, to an American mother and a non-American father. While he may have been eligible for U.S. citizenship at birth, he was also a natural born citizen of Canada and a subject of the monarch of Canada, Queen Elizabeth II. He says he renounced that citizenship, which he claims he didn't know he had, in 2014.

But how do we know where his true allegiances lie? The Constitution doesn't take any chances:
"No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States."
So where does that leave Rafael Edward Cruz, or Edward IX as I shall now call him? It leaves him waving his mother's birth certificate to prove his natural-born citizenship, not his own, the one that proves he is not eligible.

He can run for President, there is no Constitutional prohibition on running just on eligibility to serve. If he wins, I suppose that Edward IX could serve as a kind of faux President in the figurehead style of current European and Canadian monarchs. So long as his Vice President meets the Constitutional requirements for the Office of President and countersigns all of Edward IX's official acts, who can complain? Well, everyone can complain, we all know that.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Obama to Rape Survivor: You'll Shoot Your Eye Out

I am a supporter of a well-regulated militia, and the sensible regulations that term calls for in connection with the right to keep and bear arms under the Second Amendment. However, finding sensible politicians who can write and enforce sensible regulations can be a problem.

President Obama kicked off the CNN town hall on Guns in America hosted by Anderson Cooper this Thursday with this eye-rolling story about campaigning in Iowa:
"OBAMA: I'll tell you a story that, I think, indicates how I see the issue. Back in 2007, 2008, when I was campaigning, I'd leave Chicago, a city which is wonderful -- I couldn't be prouder of my city -- but where, every week, there's a story about a young person getting shot.

Some are gang members, and it's turf battles. Sometimes it's innocent victims.

COOPER: Fifty-five people have been shot in Chicago in the last seven days.

OBAMA: Sometimes it's happened just a few blocks from my house, and I live in a reasonably good neighborhood on the south side of Chicago. So that's one image. All right? Talking to families who've gone through the pain of losing somebody because of violence in Chicago, gun violence.

Michelle and I are, then, campaigning out in Iowa, and we're going to farms, and we're going to counties, and at one point, Michelle turned to me, and she said, you know, if I was living in a farmhouse where the sheriff's department is pretty far away and somebody can just turn off the highway and come up to the farm, I'd want to have a shotgun or a rifle to make sure that I was protected and my family was protected. And she was absolutely right."
I've heard the President tell this story before and it always makes me laugh, because my grandparents lived in Iowa farmhouses for their first 70+ years, and I've lived there myself, most recently for 2 months in the summer of 2011. The chances of becoming a victim of violent crime in the city of in Chicago is 1 in 111 (much higher in some neighborhoods, lower in others). In Iowa, the chances are 1 in 368. In other words, Iowa is 70% safer than Chicago.

Note: The chances of becoming a victim of violent crime here in Cambridge on the left bank of the Charles River is 1 in 292, which is pretty close to Iowa levels. Neighboring Somerville is even safer at 1 in 410. Across the river in Boston the chances are 1 in 119, which is one reason I always advise that nothing comes from crossing the river.

There was more:
"OBAMA: And so part of the reason I think that this ends up being such a difficult issue is because people occupy different realities. There are a whole bunch of law-abiding citizens who have grown up hunting with their dad or going to the shooting range, and are responsible gun-owners, and then there's the reality that there are neighborhoods around the country where it is easier for a 12- or a 13-year-old to purchase a gun and cheaper than it is for them to get a book."
Now think about that. You can buy the President's two books at, $7.00 for The Audacity of Hope and $8.74 for Dreams from My Father. You can check them out for free at the Cambridge Public Library (I checked, they have several copies of each available). But in certain neighborhoods te President thinks it's easier and cheaper to purchase a gun. That's a different reality, for sure.

Then President Obama gave a little lecture on consumer safety:
"OBAMA: There's nothing else in our lives that we purchase where we don't try to make it a little safer if we can. Traffic fatalities have gone down drastically during my lifetime, and part of it is technology, and part of it is that the National Highway Safety Administration does research, and they figure out, you know what? Seat belts really work.

And, then we pass some laws to make sure seatbelts are fastened.

Air bags make a lot sense, let's try those out. Toys, we say, you know what? We find out that kids are swallowing toys all the time, let's make sure that the toys aren't so small that they swallow them if they're for toddlers, or infants. Medicine, kids can't open Aspirin caps.

Now, the notion that we would not apply the same basic principles to gun ownership as we do to everything else that we own...

COOPER: ... but you...

OBAMA: ... just to try to make them safer, or the notion that anything we do to try to make them safer is somehow a plot to take away guns -- that contradicts what we do to try to create a better life for Americans in every other area of our lives."
But after a very sensible speech from Taya Kyle, author of American Life: A Memoir of Love, War, Faith and Renewal, who is the widow of Chris Kyle, former Navy SEAL and author of American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History, the President was backpedaling:
"OBAMA: What you said about murder rates and violent crime generally is something that we don't celebrate enough. The fact of the matter is that violent crime has been steadily declining across America for a pretty long time. And you wouldn't always know it by watching television, but overall, most cities are much safer than they were 10 years ago or 20 years ago."
So it seems he acknowledges that we are getting a little safer from gun deaths every year. I'd suggest that Chris Kyle might still be alive if he had taken a veteran who was suffering from PTSD and on anti-psychotic medication to a doctor rather than a gun range for therapy, but nobody wants to talk about that.

But where the President really hit the wrong note was in his reply to Kimberly Corban, who was raped in 2006 by a man who broke into her apartment when she was a college student in Colorado:
"CORBAN: As a survivor of rape, and now a mother to two small children -- you know, it seems like being able to purchase a firearm of my choosing, and being able to carry that wherever my -- me and my family are -- it seems like my basic responsibility as a parent at this point.

I have been unspeakably victimized once already, and I refuse to let that happen again to myself or my kids. So why can't your administration see that these restrictions that you're putting to make it harder for me to own a gun, or harder for me to take that where I need to be is actually just making my kids and I less safe?"
The President's reply got off to a good start:
"OBAMA: Well, Kimberly, first of all, obviously -- you know, your story is horrific. The strength you've shown in telling your story and, you know, being here tonight is remarkable, and so -- really proud of you for that.

I just want to repeat that there's nothing that we've proposed that would make it harder for you to purchase a firearm. And -- now, you may be referring to issues like concealed carry, but those tend to be state-by-state decisions, and we're not making any proposals with respect to what states are doing. They can make their own decisions there.

So there really is no -- nothing we're proposing that prevents you or makes it harder for you to purchase a firearm if you need one."
He should have stopped there, but he continued:
"OBAMA: There are always questions as to whether or not having a firearm in the home protects you from that kind of violence, and I'm not sure we can resolve that. People argue it both sides.

What is true is, is that you have to be pretty well trained in order to fire a weapon against somebody who is assaulting you and catches you by surprise.

And what is also true is there's always the possibility that that firearm in a home leads to a tragic accident. You know, we can debate that round or flat.
And so, you know, if you look at the statistics, there's no doubt that there are times where somebody who has a weapon has been able to protect themselves and scare off an intruder or an assailant, but what is more often the case is that they may not have been able to protect themselves, but they end up being the victim of the weapon that they purchased themselves. And that is -- that's something that can be debated."
Giving Barack the benefit of the doubt on whether he was calling Kimberly a flat-earther, he sure is suggesting that she will shoot her eye out. Oh fudge.

Mark Kelly, the former astronaut and husband of former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot 5 years ago in a Tuscon mass shooting where six others were killed, had this rhetorical question:
"So, I would like you to explain with 350 million guns in 65 million places, households, from Key West, to Alaska, 350 million objects in 65 million places, if the Federal government wanted to confiscate those objects, how would they do that?"
Mark and Gabby support expanded universal background checks, understandable as her shooter Jared Loughner would not have passed a background check to purchase firearms if anyone in the process were to have spent 5 minutes talking to him.

Any sensible legislation needs to start with the recognition that it's nonsense to think the Federal government can take away the few hundred million guns in the hands of tens of millions of law-abiding citizens or their right to purchase more of them. Those who do put forward such proposals are part of the problem too.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Eating My Way through the Holidays

Taco salad in Beaverton on November 21.

Tillamoo, the latest way to consume Tillamook cheese.

Salmon burger at Skyline Restaurant on November 23.

Salmon ball with Brussels sprouts and squash at New Seasons Market in Raleigh Hills, Portland on November 24.

Salmon ball with brussels sprouts and ham turnover at New Seasons Market in Progress Ridge, Beaverton on November 25.

Thai food on Thanksgiving Eve in Beaverton.

Thanksgiving punch. I could give you the proportions, but that would be telling.

Thanksgiving dinner in Beaverton. The turkey is in there somewhere.

Black Friday ham with leftovers.

Thai roll-ups in Garden Home on November 29.

George's Giant Hamburgers on Pacific Highway in Tigard on November 30.

Christmas Eve dinner in Cambridge. Tenderloin steak and zucchini covered in Stilton cheese with onions, pears and port.

Christmas dinner of sautéed fish at Changsho in Cambridge.

Cookie tray at New Year's Day party in Cambridge.

Reuben sandwich at The Independent in Somerville on January 2.

Apple slices and Danish blue cheese in Cambridge on January 2.

Grilled liver and onions in Cambridge on January 3.

There were 3 or 4 more bloggable meals in that stretch, including a lovely meal in Hillsdale and a great office holiday party at Park, but I don't have pictures.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Oh Say Does the ISIS Flag Yet Wave?

That's not the black ISIS flag flying under the Star-Spangled Banner at Flagstaff Park, although you might be excused for needing to take a second look: