Five Things You Need to Know About the Iowa Caucus

By on 2.2.16 | 11:56AM

Last night was the most exciting night in Iowa since the invention of the ethanol mandate. Ted Cruz pulled ahead in the early hours and pulled out a substantial win over Donald Trump, with Marco Rubio running a close third, only about 2,500 points behind Donald Trump. Ben Carson rounded out the top four with a decent showing (10%), and both Martin O'Malley and Mike Huckabee dropped out by night's end (both of them should probably have dropped out a month ago).

This morning, the Iowa hangover is evident. The media is gloating over Donald Trump's fallibility. Ted Cruz is probably still giving his victory speech. And the Democrats are still wondering exactly who won their caucus, as the difference between the two candidates is hovering around .2%. 

So, now, what's next? Well, here are a few things you need to know about the Iowa Caucuses.

Mean Girl

By 2.2.16

Those who hate too much become like the people they hate, and so it is with Jane Mayer, whose Dark Money, a 450-page screed of unrelenting venom, portrays a vast right-wing conspiracy controlled by a small number of libertarian donors. Like the John Birch Society of days gone by, Mayer sees a cabal of dark forces that secretly dominates American politics. And like Joe McCarthy, people two or three degrees of separation from her villains are tarred with their brush. Fifty years ago Richard Hofstadter said that the Birchers and McCarthyites exemplified the “paranoid style” of American politics, but now it’s the Mayers who have debased American politics.

Political Hay

The Trump Dynamic

By 1.29.16

Call it the “Trump Dynamic.”

When used as a noun, the dictionary defines “dynamic” this way:

A force that stimulates change or progress within a system or process.

Over at CNN, one of my fellow commentators, Mel Robbins, understands what I call the Trump Dynamic exactly, and she expresses it in business terms.

Robbins headlines the point this way:

Why Trump is beating Fox News — and GOP rivals

She writes in part, this:

If you understand nothing else about Donald Trump, understand this:

He has a particular mindset we see all the time in business — he’s “the disrupter.”

The disrupter is someone whose entire “brand” is to break the mold, to turn the way we do things on its head. Amazon did this with retail, Uber did it with taxi services, Airbnb did it with travel, Tinder did it with dating, Slack is doing it with email, Spotify is doing it with music, peer-to-peer lending is changing banking.

And Trump is disrupting politics.

Mike Huckabee Releases Bizarre “Hello” Ad

By on 1.27.16 | 1:39PM

To be fair to Mike Huckabee, although this ad might be the most bizarre thing we've seen in the Presidential horserace yet, it did remind me that, yes, Mike Huckabee is still in the horserace for President, and that's 90% of why it was released. 

By all rights, Iowa is Huckabee's golden land. Most of Iowa's caucus-goers are solidly Evangelical, many of them are social conservatives (in fact, Iowa is one of the few places where social conservatism is still a thriving and reliable demographic). Iowans have a reputation for embracing crony Capitalism, often in the form of ethanol subsidies, and, in the past, they've been very open to Huck's message of big government Republicanism - a state that embraces limited government where possible, but also prefers a presence in your refridgerator and your bedroom. 

And yet, Huckabee can't get any traction anywhere in the US. So he's forced to make a spoof Adele video to remind you he exists. Which I shall now bless you with.

Is Trump Afraid of Megyn Kelly…Or Ted Cruz?

By on 1.27.16 | 1:30PM

Donald Trump has pulled out of the Fox News debate in Iowa, ostensibly because he was terrified that Megyn Kelly might ask him tough questions.

Last time, the Fox prime time talking head had the nerve to make things difficult for Trump, asking him detailed questions about his past affiliations and activities, and whether he truly felt he was a serious candidate for the American Presidency. After a two day temper tantrum, which included an alleged threat made by Trump's camp to Fox News regarding Kelly's safety - at least according to Fox News - the network refused to pull Kelly as a questioner and the Donald dropped out.

U.S. Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump withdrew on Tuesday from a debate with party rivals this week out of anger at host Fox News (FOXA.O), leaving the last encounter before Iowa's pivotal nominating contest without the front-runner.

Houston Grand Jury Investigates Planned Parenthood Videos, Indicts CMP Investigators

By on 1.26.16 | 1:13PM

Judging by the reaction from the Left, you'd think the Center for Medical Progress and its leadership, including President David Daleiden, were being dragged away to be tarred, feathered and covered in Planned Parenthood literature. But no.

We don't have many details on the individual charges - or a Houston grand jury determined they were committing crimes while attempting to expose Planned Parenthood's baby parts trade but suffice it to say, it's a bit scary for the organization, which worked tirelessly to publicly demonstrate not only Planned Parenthood's bizarre involvement in human experimentation, but also its callous approach to its "womens health" focus. According to the Washington Post, Daleidin and his associate will face off against the Houston DA on two counts: one of organ trafficking (which is a misdemeanor), and one of "tampering with a government record"  (I assume over presenting false identification, a felony). 

Conservative Tastes

William F. Buckley Questions National Review on Trump

By 1.26.16

The video is old, grainy and in black-and-white. Yet there is no mistake.

There is a young William F. Buckley, Jr. citing the American columnist Franklin Adams, saying the following (hat tip: Legal Insurrection):

As Franklin Adams once said, I think the average American is a little bit above average. And under the circumstances I rejoice over the influence of the people over their elected leaders since by and large I think that they show more wisdom than their leaders or than their intellectuals. I’ve often been quoted as saying I would rather be governed by the first 2000 people in the Boston telephone directory than by the 2000 people on the faculty of Harvard University.

Catch that line? That the American people “show more wisdom than their leaders or than their intellectuals.” 

Conservative Tastes

Trump-Cruz 2016

By 1.22.16

It’s time to unite.

Trump-Cruz in 2016.

Yet here is the headline from the New York Times.

Donald Trump or Ted Cruz? Republicans Argue Over Who Is Greater Threat

The story reads in part:

WASHINGTON — With Donald J. Trump and Senator Ted Cruz battling for the Republican nomination, two powerful factions of their party are now clashing over the question: Which man is more dangerous?

Conservative intellectuals have become convinced that Mr. Trump, with his message of nationalist-infused populism, poses a dire threat to conservatism, and plan to issue a manifesto on Friday to try to stop him.

Clinton Email Investigators Needed Clearance Upgrade “Beyond Top Secret” to Search Server

By on 1.20.16 | 1:20PM

Last night, as America girded its loins - or its livers - for the Trump/Palin Iowa rally, NBC News dropped a bombshell about the Clinton email investigation. Thankfully for Hillary Clinton who had just received news that she was running a full 20 points behind Bernie Sanders in the latest poll, Team Trump's Iowa antics ensured that the story flew mostly under the radar, but she may not escape the long term legal repercussions. 

According to NBC News and letter issued yesterday to Congress, the Inspector General's team looking into Clinton's private server use had to have their security clearances upgraded before they were allowed to read content in around 20 emails, some of which were marked 'Top Secret/Special Access Program,' above even the Top Secret designation found on emails before.

Charles McCulllough, the intelligence community’s inspector general, said in a letter to the chairmen of the Senate intelligence and foreign affairs committees that he has received sworn declarations from an intelligence agency he declined to name.

El Chapo Busted With Weapon Obtained in ‘Fast and Furious’ Operation

By on 1.20.16 | 12:47PM

Yesterday, a Federal judge quashed a motion by the Obama Administration claiming that the administration had "Executive Privilege" over documents and testimony pertaining to an Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms operation that sold firearms to drug dealers under the assumption that the ATF could then track the guns back to affiliates in the United States. The ATF, of course, eventually lost track of most of the weapons.

The Obama Administration initially claimed executive privilege because there were a number of emails between the White House and the Department of Justice discussing the Fast and Furious operation directly. The Federal judge saw it differently, noting that the Administration's claim on privilege is too broad; there may be some emails that are, indeed, subject to protection, but not all of them.