Monday, March 28, 2016

For the First Time Most Democrats Are Feeling the Bern

The coverage about the Democratic delegate race overlooks a very important development last week. For the first time during the 2016 campaign cycle a poll showed Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders leading former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The poll by Bloomberg has Sanders at 49% and Clinton at 48%.  While that's well within the margin
Sen. Bernie Sanders
of error, in June of 2015, polls showed Clinton as much as 60% ahead of Sanders. It's been quite a rally by Sanders.

Clinton leads Sanders 1243-975 in pledged delegates. That is a margin that could be bridged especially in light of recent Sanders' momentum, as evidenced by landslide victories in five recent state caucuses.  However, Clinton's commanding 469-29 lead in superdelegates makes it virtually impossible for Sanders to win.  While the superdelegates could switch their allegiences, I think that is unlikely to happen. 

For the record, I don't buy the Clinton talking point that she will be a better general election candidate than Sanders. Clinton's negatives are extraordinarily high (exceeded only by Republican Donald Trump) and every poll shows Sanders, not Clinton, the stronger candidate against the GOP in the fall.

Friday, March 25, 2016

April Contests in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania Loom Large for Republican Presidential Candidates

Next up for Republicans is the Wisconsin GOP primary which awards its 42 delegates to whichever candidate wins each of its 8 congressional district and statewide.
Presently Donald Trump is about 500 delegates short of the delegates he needs for a first ballot victory.  Another way of looking at it is Trump can only lose about 272 more delegates to fall below the necessary 1237 required for a first round win at this summer's GOP national convention to be held in Cleveland this Summer..  If Trump falls short, then he probably loses the nomination.  Second place Senator Ted Cruz's organization has actively worked behind the scenes to put his people in place as delegates regardless of the state's outcome.  As a result, those delegates, once unbound if there is a second round of voting at the convention, are likely to favor Cruz over Trump.

There has been limited polling done in Wisconsin.  However, Emerson College filled that gap releasing a poll on Wednesday with Cruz leading Trump 36% to 35% and Ohio Governor John Kasich running third at 19%. The poll also revealed that Kasich voters had a more favorable view of Cruz than Trump and, thus, his presence in the race, at least in Wisconsin, are a drag on Cruz's support.

The contrary may be happening in Pennsylvania, another key state coming up on April 26th.  Polling there shows Trump leading Kasich 33% to 30% while Cruz trails with 20%. That state is critical to Trump's quest for 1237 because it awards 71 delegates, including 3 for who wins each of its 18 congressional districts.  Those 54 Pennsylvania delegates representing the districts are unbound, even on the first round of voting.  Thus, even if Trump "wins" the delegates on election night, those delegates don't have to support him at the convention on the first ballot.   Yes, you heard that right.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

As Transportation Revolution Dawns Indianapolis Needs to Put Brakes on Mass Transit Plans

A couple years ago, the Indiana legislature authorized Indianapolis and adjoining counties to hold a referendum to increase local taxes to pay for a massive new mass transit system. Now, as Indianapolis leaders are preparing to move forward with the referendum. a new transportation era, indeed a revolution, is appearing on the horizon.  Indianapolis needs to put the brake on the referendum until we're sure which direction the revolution will take us.

How people will move from one place to another, particularly in an urban environment, will change rapidly over the next decade. The first salvo in the revolution was the explosion in the popularity of
Driverless Bus Used in Greece
Uber, the system by which people can use smartphones to book travel in private automobiles.  Next came the rapid development of driverless cars, an innovation which has been in the works for awhile but made possible by today's GPS technology. Several companies plan to introduce driverless cars to the consumer by 2020 and some may well beat that deadline.

We are quickly moving toward a future in which private car ownership, especially in cities, will be a thing of the past.  A BBC report from a few days ago describes:
Your current car (unless you’re a Domino’s delivery guy) is only in motion about 5 per cent of the time, on average. It is, however, depreciating in value 100 per cent of the time, which makes it a pretty bad investment. Personal ownership (with its insurance, maintenance and other hassles) will cease to make sense as autonomous vehicles reach saturation. You’ll be either paying by the mile (a la future-Uber) or subscribing on a monthly basis. You’ll pay based on the trim package of your robot ride, but also based on demand and congestion, and as soon as your car drops you off, it will disappear into the fleet....
That change will dramatically reduce if not eliminate completely the need for on-street parking.  On that score the BBC article points that out:
Autonomous cars don’t need to park near their drivers — who, incidentally, will be dropped off right at the door of their destination — so parking garages can be under a new city park, or an infill housing complex, or way out in the ‘burbs. And even if they remain where they are, garages will be much smaller, or hold a lot more cars, since autonomous vehicles can pack themselves more tightly....
A little more than five years ago, the City of Indianapolis entered into a 50 year contract with Dallas-based ACS for the privatization of its parking meters.  Of course, the contract obligates the City to pay ACS even if the meters are no longer needed.  That contract was an abysmal deal before the era of the driverless car.  Twenty years from now it will be looked upon as colossal mistake.

That transportation is about to experience dramatic changes is why Indianapolis should not repeat the ACS parking contract mistake.  Engaging in a large-scale built out of a system costing up to a billion dollars, and entering into the inevitable long-term contracts with vendors, removes the flexibility a city needs to respond to the rapidly changing transportation environment. It could well be that public transportation will remain important, though inevitably that will involve driverless, and most likely much smaller, vehicles. Indianapolis' plan to build out its mass transit system by buying large, heavy buses that carry 40-50 passengers may well not be the future. Instead it might be better to go with airport shuttle-sized, driverless buses such as the one seen above.

The fact is nobody knows what the future might bring.  Why not wait a few more years until we know where the new technology is going to lead us?

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Trump, Cruz, Sanders Score Impressive Western State Wins

Donald Trump
Donald Trump on Tuesday scored a huge victory in Arizona, winning all of the state's 58 delegates in the winner-take-all contest.  What is most significant about the victory is that Trump outperformed his poll margin by an unprecedented 9.4%.  His next closest is Arkansas where his margin was 6.3% bigger than projected.  Trump had underperformed the margin during 15 of 20 contests.

Looking at the individual poll numbers v. results, Trump was 9.1% better while Texas Senator Ted Cruz exceeded his raw poll numbers by only .3%.  Cruz almost always outperforms the polls by a significant percentage but in Arizona, despite out organizing Trump, he was trounced by the New York businessman 47.1% to 24.7%.  Ohio Governor John Kasich finished last with 10.0%.

The Utah GOP caucus though was a completely different matter.  There Cruz cruised with 69.2% of the vote, receiving all the state's 40 delegates.  Trump finished an astonishing third, tallying only 14.0% support among the record turnout.  Kasich finished second with 16.9% of the vote.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton won the Arizona primary over Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders 56.6% to 39.9%.  But then Sanders blew out Clinton winning Utah and Idaho caucuses, with 79.3% and 78% of the vote respectively.

It is astonishing that we could be this late in the campaign season with the front-runner in both parties not having the support of 4 of 5 members of their party in some state contests.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Arizona Primary Looms Large in Trump's Search for 1237 Delegates

Tonight features GOP contests in two states, a caucus in Utah and a primary in Arizona.  Both rate as very important in terms of the remaining candidates accumulating delegates.

In Utah, Texas Senator Ted Cruz is a solid favorite, leading his next closes rival by more than 20% in
Donald Trump
two polls.  The newest one, by Y2 Analytics, actually has Cruz breaking the 50% barrier at 53% and Donald Trump in third place at 11%, behind Ohio Governor John Kasich who is at 29%.  The slightly older poll by Deseret News has Cruz at 42%, Trump 21% and Kasich at 13%.  The vote totals are very important because of how Utah awards its 40 delegates.  If a candidate who gets more than 50%, that candidate gets all of the delegates. Otherwise they are awarded proportionally, to candidates who are above 15%.  Trump and Kasich are below that 15% threshold in the two separate polls, while Cruz exceeds 50% in one of them.  My guess is Cruz's numbers will land in the 40% range, with Trump being second in the low 20s and Kasich below 15.  That would mean that Cruz walks away with most, but not all of Utah's vote.

One other thing is noteworthy about the Utah Republican Caucus...and makes it more difficult to predict.  The Utah Republican Party offers the opportunity for its members to vote over the internet instead of requiring voters to show up at their caucus site.  People will be watching closely to see what difference this unique system has on the outcome.

Arizona, which has 58 delegates, will also be holding its winner-take-all primary today.  Trump has had a consistent 12-14 point lead over Ted Cruz lead in that state's polling, with the current Real Clear Politics average of polls at 13%.  But Trump usually underperforms his poll numbers while Cruz almost always does better than his.  While I think the race will be closer (single digits certainly), I think Trump pulls it out.

I would rate the odds of Trump obtaining the necessary 1237 delegates to avoid a brokered convention at 65%.  If he loses Arizona, then I think it declines to 55%.  If Trump wins Arizona's delegates, then I'd move his chance of getting the necessary delegates from 65% to 70%.  That 15% swing makes it a big state.

In addition to similar contests being held today in Arizona and Utah, Democrats also have a caucus in Idaho.  My guess is Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders wins Idaho and Utah, but loses Arizona.  As Democrats award their delegates proportionally, it is virtually impossible for Sanders to catch Hillary Clinton.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Indiana Gets Its Wish for "Meaningful" GOP Presidential Primary

For years, politicos have complained that Indiana's primary is too late to be "meaningful."  Well, that is about to change.  We are just a couple weeks away from the Republican presidential candidates coming to Indiana for a fierce battle over Indiana's 57 delegates.

Donald Trump leads with approximately 678 delegates.  He needs 1237 for a first ballot victory.  Before Indiana's primaries there will be 369 delegates awarded in other state primaries and caucuses.  Even if Trump wins all of them,  which is highly unlikely, he still come to Indiana more than 200 delegates short.

The candidate who wins Indiana state-wide gets 30 delegates.  The candidate winning each congressional district gets 3 for each district win.  So a strong candidate could walk away with all or almost all of the Indiana delegates.

There has been no polling in Indiana.  But at first glance all three candidates, Trump, Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Ohio Governor John Kasich, would seem to have a chance to win delegates in the Hoosier state.

Here is another factor suggesting Indiana's GOP presidential primary will be a huge event.  The election falls on Tuesday, May 3rd, the only state holding a primary on that day.  There is no other contest for a week leading up to Indiana's contest and no contest until a week after.

Yep, we Hoosier Republicans are about to get a lot of attention. 

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Trump Resort Turns Away Americans for Jobs While Hiring Foreign Workers

When GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump complains about foreigners taking away jobs from American citizens, he doesn't practice what he preaches. CNN Money did a followup story on the hiring practices of Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida after the news outlet obtained additional data from the U.S. Department of Labor:
The U.S. Department of Labor has confirmed to CNN that between 2013 and fall 2015, Trump's Mar-a-Lago club posted 250 seasonal job openings and filled four of those jobs with American workers. The club requested the rest of the staff be temporarily imported through the Federal government's H-2B visa process. Basically, Mar-a-Lago brings in its seasonal staff from overseas.
Donald J. Trump
Mar-a-Lago is a mansion that Donald Trump has turned into a members-only private club in Palm Beach, Florida. The wife of New York stockbroker E.F. Hutton built it in 1927. Mrs. Hutton, who would become Marjorie Merriweather Post, used Mar-a-Lago as a winter retreat for her and her wealthy Wall Street friends. Gilded in tile and other decorations, it reeked of the opulence of the pre-Depression roaring 1920s: Think "Great Gatsby," flamboyant parties, poolside waiters.
From 2013 to 2015, Mar-a-Lago was approved to hire 246 foreign workers by the U.S. Department of Labor with H-2B visas, which allow U.S. employers to temporarily import foreign workers to fill non-agricultural jobs that can't be filled with Americans.
To get approval for H-2B visas, employers must prove they need extra workers and that they made an effort to recruit domestic workers, contacted everyone who responded to ads and hired all qualified applicants. After receiving approval, employers must petition U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to bring foreign, temporary workers into the country.
Trump has made the case that he couldn't find American workers. "It's almost impossible to get help," the Republican presidential candidate told CNN last month. "And part of the reason you can't get American people is they want full-time jobs."
That is news to Tom Veenstra. He is senior director of support services at the Palm Beach County CareerSource office. It's a free service that links qualified job candidates with employers. And during the past two years, the agency has placed more than 50,000 people in jobs in Palm Beach County. Veenstra says he has no doubt he could fill Mar-a-Lago with U.S. workers.
"We have hundreds of qualified candidates for jobs like these," Veenstra told CNN. "That's what we do here. We help place local residents into jobs like those."
Did Trump use the free service? Only once, Veenstra says. After criticism about its hiring practices, Mar-a-Lago asked the Palm Beach County CareerSource office to send over qualified candidates for a single position. Veenstra says he sent four applicants, one was hired. 
Veenstra says there were no problems with the hire as far as he knows, but they never had another request from Mar-a-Lago.
Mar-a-Lago positions paid roughly $10 an hour for maids and housekeepers going up to $13 an hour for cooks, and about $11 for waiters and waitresses.
What is not reported is the why Trump would prefer to hire foreign workers over local American citizens.  The foreigners brought to work at the hotel on H-2B visas can only work for Trump's resort. They can not gain experience and then leverage better pay by going to work at another local resort.  Trump did the same thing bringing in undocumented Polish workers to build Trump Towers and his modeling agency bringing in foreign models on H-1B visas. 

This is yet more of the do as I say, not as I do attitude of the two-bit con artist known as Donald J. Trump.

Friday, March 18, 2016

White Sox Management Was Right in Asking Player to Limit His Son's Visits With Team

Outfielder Adam LaRoche  has decided to walk away from a $13 million salary this year because the White Sox organization asked him to limit the number of times his son, Drake, would accompany him to the team's clubhouse.  For the past five years, Drake now 14, has gone to work with LaRoche nearly every day. 

LaRoche was praised for putting his family first.  LaRoche received support from other White Sox players who recently considered boycotting a spring training game in support of their teammate.  Meanwhile White Sox management was vilified.

In an editorial in the USA Today, columnist Bob Nightengale explains why the White Sox management was right in making its very reasonable demand on LaRoche:
Adam LaRoche
...[T]he White Sox also have every right to impose rules in their workplace and in this case limit visitations by the children of employees.
“Tell me where in America you can bring your child to work every day,” White Sox Executive Vice President Kenny Williams told USA TODAY Sports. “And how can you manage it? How can you manage the next guy. And the next guy. That’s not fair.”
So Williams sat down and told LaRoche he could bring son Drake to the clubhouse and the field every now and then but it wouldn’t be like it was last year with the White Sox. He no longer could be around every day.
“I just told him that he needed to dial it back, that’s all,” Williams said. “Look, I don’t want this to turn into something that makes Drake feel badly. He is such a good kid and so loved around here. But the kid is there every day. In the clubhouse. And on the field. During drills. Everywhere.
“Simply, you have to make a decision from the management perspective or an organization at large. We went into this season saying to ourselves, ‘We are going to commit and focus and not leave any stone unturned.’”
Williams told LaRoche his son was more than welcome to hang in the clubhouse, where he has a locker, and run onto the field, where he has a uniform, just not every day.
This has nothing to do with Drake’s conduct. He’s well-mannered and respectful. LaRoche’s teammates - past and present - love to tease him. They called him their “26th Man.”
Yet with a child in the clubhouse, not every White Sox player was comfortable. You have to watch your language, which can be awfully difficult in the baseball environment. You need to refrain from talking about private escapades, or family trouble, you would never want a child to hear.
Indeed.  Major League locker rooms are adult places.  While the White Sox and other organizations are more than gracious in allowing players to bring their children to work, they are perfectly reasonable when they ask players to limit those visits so it is not an every day affair.

LaRoche's commitment to his son is commendable.   But if he is going to play major league baseball, his employer, the White Sox, has every right to ask that he limit the time his son spends with the team.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Trump's Continued Underperformance of Polls Impacts Tuesday's Election Predictions

In preparation for making Tuesday's GOP primary predictions during my appearance on Jon Easter's "Johnnystir" internet radio show, I decided to research my hunch that Donald Trump was underperforming his poll numbers.  My suspicion proved to be correct.
Twenty state contests had a Real Clear Politics poll average before the election, or if no RCP average, a recent poll that RCP deemed credible enough to publish the result.  I looked at Trump's margin of victory compared to those poll results, or if he lost the state, the margin between Trump and the winner,   I found that when it came to the margin, Trump underperformed his poll numbers in 15 of 20 elections, by an average of -7.84%.  It has also increased over time. In the fourteen contests March 1st or earlier, Trump's underperformance was -4.47%.  In the 6 contests since then, the underperformance was -15.7%.

For the record, the five states in which Trump outperformed his polling margin are New Hampshire (2.3%), Nevada (1%), Alabama (4.6%), Arkansas (6.3%), Georgia (0.6%).  All were contests were March 1st or earlier.

The 15 states in which Trump underperformed his polling margin are Iowa (-8%), South Carolina (-3%), Alaska (-6.9%), Minnesota (-10.2%), Oklahoma (-13%), Tennessee (-3.8%), (-8.1%), Texas (-8.1%), Vermont (-12.7%), Virginia (-11.7%), Kansas (30.9%), Kentucky (-9.3%), Louisiana (-12%), Idaho (-28.3%), Michigan (-0.7%), Mississippi (-13%).

I decided to also delve into the support numbers in the poll versus the election result. Here I am looking at the raw number the candidate has in the poll versus the raw number he gets on election day.  This is tricky because poll results often include candidates who drop out before that particular state's election.  So on that state's election day, the remaining candidates should have higher numbers as they pick up support from the dropped out candidates.  But even with that phenomenon going on, Trump's support numbers before the election barely increased by +.805%  So the additional support he is picking up from dropped out candidates is barely making up for his consistent underperforming poll numbers.

Contrast Trump's numbers to Ted Cruz's.  The Texas Senator's support numbers, again support numbers refers to raw poll numbers the candidate is receiving v. result on election day, is +7.705%.  The contrast to Trump's +.805% is striking.

March 15th is a huge day on the GOP calendar.  That's the day when states are allowed to have winner-take-all primaries.  Four of five states holding primaries on that day, Ohio, Florida, Illinois and Missouri, have adopted state winner-take-all systems statewide and/or by congressional district.  The reason why the above analysis is so important in predicting the result of those elections is that, while Trump has a safe lead in Florida of 18.7% over second place Florida Senator Marco Rubio, he is behind Governor John Kasich by 2.0% in Ohio, and ahead of Cruz by 8.7% in Illinois, 7% with limited polling in Missouri, and 12.8% in North Carolina, which awards delegates proportionally.  Given the above analysis of how the candidates perform, Missouri and Illinois are within Cruz missile distance and North Carolina not that far outside.

Imagine the media stories if Trump loses four of five states on Tuesday?  While that's certainly possible, it is probably not going to happen.    Trump will likely win North Carolina (which means little given its proportionality award of delegates), Illinois and Florida.  Kasich is likely to win Ohio and I believe Cruz will win Missouri as that's they type of western under-the-radar state he seems to do well in.

To summarize, my predictions for the Real Super Tuesday are:

Florida;  Trump
Ohio:  Kasich
North Carolina:  Trump
Illinois:  Trump
Missouri:  Cruz

Since you lost the farm following my previous predictions, this time bet the title of whatever truck/car/SUV you are driving.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Liberal Punks Disrupting Rally Makes Trump Finally Appreciate Free Speech

During the last 48 hours Donald Trump rallies have been disrupted by protesters trying to disrupt the events.  Some of those disruptions have turned violent. 

Unfortunately this is merely an extension of a trend that began on college campuses.  Instead of college campuses being a forum where young adults can have their minds open to a plethora of ideas of all political stripes, today's liberal students fight to stop conservative ideas from even being presented for consideration.  Typical tactics are to pressure the school's administration to not invite or disinvite conservative speakers and, if those right wing speaker do make it to campus, to plant liberals in the audience to disrupt the presentation.

I have no sympathy for such tactics.  Your right to free speech does not include the right to stop others from speaking freely.  As much as I think Donald Trump is a reprehensible human being who
John "Suckerpunch" McGaw
has said many reprehensible things while running for President, Trump has a right as an American is to speak those views.    Protesters have a free right to picket the event and offer their own speech to counter Trump's views.  They do not have a free speech right to interrupt Trump's events.  I have no problem with Black Lives Matters folks and other protesters being removed from Trump's events, including forcibly if they refuse to leave.

I do note with irony though Trump's invocation of the First Amendment as protecting his right to speak. Donald Trump is the first presidential candidate in nearly 220 years to actually advocate that Americans should have their free speech rights reduced.  (Federalist John Adams was the last.)  He just recently said he wants the "actual malice" defamation standard changed so public figures like himself can drag critics into court and "win a lot of money.".  Trump has filed several SLAPP-type lawsuits to try stop those engaging in critical comments about his businesses. During the campaign, Trump has threatened to sue people and organizations that have ran negative things about him, even going so far as sending opposing candidates and Super PACs cease and desist letters.  Trump has even gone so far as have his lawyers send cease and desist letters to people selling or distributing anti-Trump t-shirts.  Apparently Trump harbors the delusion that he can use trademark/copyright laws to shut up visible signs of Trump opposition.  Uh, no.

It is good to see Trump finally recognize the First Amendment.  But while he is right and the disrupters are wrong Trump bears direct responsibility for much of the violence that has taken place during the conflicts.  Trump has encouraged violence at his rallies with such gems aimed at the protesters being removed from his rally:
"In the good old days this doesn't happen because they used to treat them very, very rough."    
"Try not to hurt him. If you do, I'll defend you in court, don't worry about it."
"Knock the crap out of them."   
"Maybe he should have been roughed up because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing,"
"I don’t know if I’ll do the fighting myself or if other people will."
"I'd like to punch him in the face."
These statements can be found on the Mashable website along with context to the quote and videos of Trump making the comments.

One 78 year older Trumpite, John McGraw did take Trump up on his suggestion sucker punching a Black Lives Matters protestor.  During an Inside Edition interview later he suggested that "next time we may have to kill him."  Police later decided to arrest McGraw for battery and making the threat.  Trump is reportedly considering paying the man's legal fees.

Even after this attack, Trump defended violence against the protesters saying:
"The audience hit back. That's what we need a little bit more of."
When the other Republican presidential candidates criticized Trump for his comments condoing violence they were immediately assailed by Trumpites on Twitter and other social media as being against free speech.   Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen. Ted Cruz and Gov. John Kasich though have never once suggested taking away American's free speech protection as Trump has suggested.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Model's Lawsuit Highlights Trump's Continued Use (Abuse?) of Immigration Laws to Hire Foreign Workers Over Americans

Trump's trump card in the race for the GOP nomination has been immigration.  But as been shown before, Trump has reversed his previous pre-candidate position on that issue and has, apparently, even recently told the New York Times editorial plan that his position supporting building the wall and deporting 11 million illegals would be just the opening salvo in a lengthy negotiation. Of course we don't know for sure what Trump said because he refuses to ask that the Times release the video of his interview, disingenuously claiming that because it was "off the record" it would violate the right of the journalists.  No "off the record" is protection given to a source who requests it, not the journalists, and a source can always change his mind.
Alexia Palmer

As part of Trump's immigration position he has said he would eliminate the H-1B program.  But the modeling agency Trump owns had no problem not only using the H-1B program, but apparently violating the terms of that program.  ABC news reports:
A Jamaican-born fashion model is taking on Donald Trump, saying the modeling agency owned by the presidential candidate lured her to New York to work at age 17 with the promise of riches and fame and then treated her “like a slave.”
The model, Alexia Palmer, said in a lawsuit against the agency that she received only $3,880 plus cash advances totaling $1,100 over a three year period, even though Trump Model Management filed immigration documents to obtain a special work visa, called an H-1B, for Palmer, certifying she would work “full-time” and earn $75,000 a year.
“That’s what slavery people do,” Palmer told ABC News. “You work and don’t get no money.” The agency took 80 percent of her earnings as expenses and fees but only found her 21 shoots over three years. And under the terms of her visa, she could not work anywhere else if she wanted to stay in the U.S.
Trump's lawyers are currently seeking dismissal of Palmer's suit, including on the basis that private citizens can't enforce immigration laws via private civil suits.  While the "no private cause of action" theory might prevail that does not mean that Trump did not violate the H-1B visa law with respect to Palmer - it is just that Palmer should complain to government rather than file a private lawsuit.

That Palmer's lawsuit might have merit is buttressed by Trump's continued alleged abuse of immigration laws to employ lower paid foreign workers instead of Americans.  When Trump was found to have illegally employed Polish workers to build the Trump Towers, with those workers getting less than similarly-skilled American workers.  When confronted during the campaign with the fact that many of those workers were sleeping at the construction site, undoubtedly because the poor wages Trump paid didn't allow them to afford housing in New York City, Trump replied that it was common practice for construction workers to sleep at a job site.

Trump notes that was 36 years ago.  But the fact is Trump continues to bend if not break federal law to hire foreign workers.

The Washington Post reports how Trump used undocumented workers to work on the Old Post Office Pavilion, Trump's $200 million hotel renovation just down the street from the White House in Washington, D.C.   Many of those Central American workers had sneaked across the Mexican-American border and settled in the Washington, DC area to start new lives.

Another one of Trump's companies applied in 2015 to import 70 foreign workers from Romania and other eastern European countries to serve as cooks, wait staff and cleaners to work at the Mar-a-Lago, a luxury resort in Palm Beach, Florida.  Since 2006, the Mar-a-Lago resort has sought to employ 787 foreign workers.  A 2015 analysis of U.S. Labor records reported by the Sunshine State News shows that since 2000Trump’s businesses imported more than 1,100 foreign workers on temporary visas.

Reuters explains the federal program used to hire these temporary foreign workers:
The temporary work visa program through which Trump's companies have sought the greatest numbers of workers, H-2B, brings in mostly workers from Mexico. Mexicans made up more than 80 percent of the 104,993 admissions to the United States on H-2B visas in 2013. The Trump companies have sought at least 850 H-2B visa workers.
The H-2B program, which receives little government oversight, is used by companies in sectors ranging from hospitality to forestry to hire foreign workers for temporary jobs. Companies must prove that the jobs are seasonal - and that they tried and failed to hire Americans.
When asked why 300 local American citizens who applied to the jobs were not hired as required by the H-2B program, Trump said the Americans were "not qualified." 

Trump undoubtedly likes to hire foreign workers through the H-1B and H-2B program as they are essentially captured workers who have to work for his companies or they get booted from the country.   A great Latina server at the Mar-A-Lago, for example, can't go down the street and offer her services to another employer for better wages. So Trump can pay the foreign workers less than if he would have to hire Americans for those jobs.

Apparently Trump's views on immigration are as his view on trade - do as I say, not as I do.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Today's GOP Contests - Look for Divided Anti-Trump Field to Hand Michigan to Trump

There are a handful of GOP contests taking place today.

MICHIGAN PRIMARY:  Some polls have showed a narrowing of the race in Michigan.  One poll even showed Ohio Governor John Kasich with a two point lead over Donald Trump.  That poll though seems to be an outlier.  It appears that the race in this state is confirmation of my theory is that the Establishment v. Anti-Establishment trends have morphed into a Trump v. Anti-Trump storyline.  I expect that Kasich, Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Texas Senator Ted Cruz will allow Trump to
prevail in the state getting his standard 35% of the Republican vote.

MISSISSIPPI PRIMARY:   While Louisiana showed that Cruz can compete in the South, Trump seems to generally excel in winning states of the Old Confederacy.  The only poll in late February showed Trump ahead by 24 points.  Give this state to Trump in an easy win.

IDAHO PRIMARY:  A mid-February poll had Trump up by 11 points on Cruz. This though seems like the type of western state where, with the exception of Nevada, Cruz does well.  I'm going to give this to Cruz.

HAWAII CAUCUS:  Real Clear Politics does not report any polling being done in this state.  It doesn't seem to be the sort of state that Cruz would do well in but possibly Rubio might.  I have to give it to Trump, however.

Free Speech Protects Hate Speech - What the United States Gets Right

I happened across an article titled "Hate Speech - A Threat to Freedom of Speech." by Solvieg Horne, Norway Minister of Children and Equality.   The article promotes the absurd notion that we need to ban speech deemed "hateful" in order to promote speech, a concept that is, unfortunately, catching on with liberals on some American college campuses.  From the article:
Hate speech in the public sphere takes place online and offline, and affects young girls and boys, women and men. We also see hate speech attacking vulnerable groups like people with disabilities, LGBT-persons and other minority groups.
Social media and the Internet have opened up for many new arenas for exchanging opinions. Freedom of speech is an absolute value in any democracy, both for the public
and for the media. At the same time, opinions and debates challenge us as hate speech are spread widely and frequently on new platforms for publishing.
Hate speech may cause fear and can be the reason why people withdraw from the public debate. The result being that important voices that should be heard in the public debate are silenced. We all benefit if we foster an environment where everybody is able to express their opinions without experiencing hate speech. In this matter we all have a responsibility.
Ms. Horne then goes on to talk about her country's emphasis on addressing hate speech, even out:
The Norwegian government takes hate speech seriously. In November, prime minister Erna Solberg and I launched a political declaration against hate speech on the behalf of the Norwegian government. Anyone can sign the declaration online and take a stand against hate speech.   
This year the Government will launch a strategy against hate speech. In this connection I have organised several meetings involving organizations and individuals to round table discussions on hate speech, and received a lot of useful input for our strategy.
We need arenas for dialogue, tolerance and awareness of the consequences of hate speech. It is important that we discuss this issue with our own children and in schools. We adults have a great responsibility. We need to think about how we express ourselves when children are present. What we say in our family settings have consequences for how our children behave against other people - online and offline.
In order to combat hate speech we also need knowledge. I have initiated a research that will look into attitudes towards Jews and how minorities look at other minorities. In addition, the University of Oslo has established a centre for research on right-winged extremism. One of the centre`s mandate is to look into hate speech.
The police plays a vital role in the fight against hate speech. Some expressions of opinions are forbidden by law. The new Norwegian General Civil Penal Code's section 185 protects against serious hate speech which wilfully or through gross negligence is made publicly. The Norwegian police forces has established a net patrol that are working on this issue. Additionally they have strengthen their efforts against hate crime.
In the United States our First Amendment prohibits the criminalization of "hate speech."  It is a good thing that it does.  Trying to determine what is hate speech is an endless slippery slope giving authorities the right to target people who hold unpopular views.   Sorry Norway...this is one issue that the United States gets right.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Cruz Attacking Rubio in Florida is Bad Political Strategy

Texas Senator Ted Cruz's has decided to devote last minute resources to attack Senator Marco Rubio in Rubio's home state of Florida.   There is also discussion of Cruz going into Ohio to beat up on Governor Kasich in his home state as well.  

Panelists on the Sunday morning political shows praised how smart Cruz is for the Florida move.  I
Texas Senator Ted Cruz
don't get it.

Make no mistake about it. Ted Cruz is smart.  Very smart.  You could probably double Donald Trump's IQ and he still would not be as smart as Cruz.  In addition to book smarts as evidenced by his stellar success at Princeton University and Harvard Law School, Cruz has also been shown to have great political smarts.  Cruz's turnout machine continues to regularly beat expectations set by polls.

Cruz though is unlikely to arrive at the GOP Convention in Cleveland with the requisite 1237 delegates needed to secure the nomination on a first ballot.  But this past week suggested that Donald Trump might not reach that number as well. On Super Tuesday, despite analysists predicting that Trump would win 10 of 11 states, the New York businessman won only seven and nearly lost two others.  That was followed up with five contests this past weekend, of which Trump won only two. 

Both the Florida primary which awards 99 delegates and Ohio set to dish out 66, will be held on March 15th.   Unlike those so far, however, the Florida and Ohio primaries are winner-take-all contests.  The best scenario for Cruz is that he wins both of them. But that is unlikely, making the second best option that someone not named Donald Trump wins those states.  Given that Rubio and Cruz are the most likely candidates for that task, Cruz's attacks against those candidates would certainly seem helpful to Trump.

I get the contrary argument.  Cruz wants to knock out Rubio and Kasich so that he is one-on-one with the Trump.   That makes sense as this race increasingly looks less Establishment v. anti-Establishment and more Trump v. anti-Trump.  The results so far suggest Trump would struggle to hit the 50% mark in many states needed to win a two person contest.  But is getting to that desired match-up worth handing two rich winner-take-all delegate states to Trump?  I don't think so.  He might be spotting Trump too big of a lead.

There is nothing wrong with having a contested convention.  Cruz, even if he finishes second in delegates, is much more likely to win the nomination at the convention than Trump.  Outed as a big government liberal with his own questionable ethics (see for example Trump University) that would make it difficult to credibly attack likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, who of course Trump has donated to and praised in the past, few non-Trump delegates would want to see Trump as the nominee. But the Establishment forces running the convention, but not controlling the delegates, are unlikely to attempt to sell to the crowd a presidential ticket headed by an Establishment figure.  Instead the concession will be an Establishment-type Vice-Presidential candidate, most likely Governor Kasich given Ohio's importance in the general election.  While Florida is also a critical state, I think there is too much animus between Cruz and Rubio for them to share the same ticket.

Yes, a contested convention means the ticket is likely Cruz-Kasich.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Outlook for this Weekend's Republican Presidential Contests

Republicans have five presidential contests on tap this weekend.  Here is the outlook:

LOUISIANA (CLOSED PRIMARY):  According to Real Clear Politics' average of polls, Donald Trump has a 15.6% point lead in this closed primary state.  While I expect the actual margin over
second place Texas Senator Ted Cruz might be a bit narrower than that, it should still a solid Trump victory.

KANSAS (CLOSED CAUCUS):  The only other state which has had any significant polling is Kansas, one poll in February showing Trump with a 12 point lead and another in early March showing Trump's margin over second place Cruz at 6%.  But Trump doesn't have much of a presence in the state so I'm expecting the Cruz turnout machine will turn out enough voters in this closed caucus state.

KENTUCKY (CLOSED CAUCUS):  A poll released in late February shows Trump up over second place Florida Senator Marco Rubio 35-22.  Meanwhile, Cruz is in third with 15.  While this is a solitary poll and I caution people from looking at only one poll, my instinct is that Trump will win this state while Rubio and Cruz split up the anti-Trump vote.

MAINE (CLOSED CAUCUS):  The last poll was in November of 2014 and showed New Jersey Chris Christie winning. Trump wasn't even listed as one of the choices for those polled. So we'll discard that poll and fly blind.  Trump does well in the northeast while his chief rival Cruz does not.  So I have to give this to Trump.

PUERTO RICO (OPEN PRIMARY):  Rubio has spent the most time resources in this U.S. territory and appears to have the edge.

In summary, Trump wins three contests, Cruz one and Rubio one. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Super Tuesday Results Show Trump Failed to Knock Out Cruz, Rubio

My expectations going into Super Tuesday was that Donald Trump would gain so much from a near sweep of GOP caucuses and primaries to give him the necessary momentum to put the nomination away on March 15th, the date when states are allowed to employ winner-take-all-delegates contests.  While I did expect Texas Senator Ted Cruz to win his home state, which he did, I expected Trump to handily win all the rest.  That didn't happen.

Trump did score impressive victories, winning Alabama by 22 points and Massachusetts by 31.  He also won Georgia and Tennessee handily, albeit with a plurality of 39% in both states.  In Georgia and Tennessee, Trump's victory was helped by Cruz (24% and 25%) and Florida Senator Marco
Rubio (25% and 21%) dividing the significant non-Trump vote in those states.

But behind the Super Sunday victories were clear signs that should give candidates not named Donald Trump hope.  Looking at the scoreboard, Trump didn't win 10 of the 11 states as expected.  He won 7 of 11.  Despite having double figure polling leads in Vermont and Virginia, Trump narrowly won those states by less than 3 points over Ohio Governor John Kasich and Rubio who finished second.  A few thousand votes in those states, could have flipped the results and leave the pundits pondering how Trump lost a majority of Super Tuesday states.

Trump also underperformed polling in several states.  Let's take a look at a few of them.

TEXAS:  According to the Real Clear Politics' average of polls, Cruz had a 9% lead in the Texas polling. Two Super Tuesday evening polls even showed Trump trailing Cruz by only 1% and 3%.  Cruz though ran away winning the Texas presidential primary by 17%, 43.8% to Trump's 26.8%

OKLAHOMA:  The RCP average of polls had Trump with a 11.4% lead over Rubio, his next closest rival.  All recent polls pointed to a Trump double digit victory.  Yet Cruz though won the state by 6.1%.  While Cruz outperformed his polling by 14% and Rubio by nearly 13% by 4.4%.

VIRGINIA:  The RCP average in the state had Trump with a 14.5% lead over the second closest candidate, Rubio.   But once again, Trump failed to match polling expectations, underperforming by 2.1% while Rubio overperformed his polling average by 9.6%.  As a result, Trump's 14.5% polling lead was reduced to a 2.8% victory

VERMONT:  Castleton University did the only reported poll in the race. That poll, conducted in early to mid February, showed Trump with a 15% lead over his next closest rival.  But while Trump nearly matched his 32% poll number with a 32.7% result, the poll didn't capture the rising Kasich support in the state.  Kasich went from 10% support in the poll to 30.4% on election night, cutting Trump's margin of victory to 2.4%.

There were exceptions, however.  In Massachusetts, Georgia and Alabama Trump outperformed (albeit slightly) polling expectations and delivered solid victories that nearly matched the RCP average.

TOTALS:   I expected that Trump's numbers would exceed 40% in many Super Tuesday states and may even top 50%.  This was based on the polling in those states and trend lines nationally, a perception that was underscored by the very recent CNN poll showing Trump at 49% support among Republicans.  But instead Trump's support only exceeded 40% in two states, Massachusetts (49%) and Alabama (43%).  An average of the results of the Super Tuesday states showed Trump won 2,941,437 of the 8,343,579 Republican votes, 35.3% of the votes.  So the working proposition that Trump has a 35% or so cap on Republican support may turn out to be the case.

DELEGATE COUNT:  As the pre-March 15 contests on the Republican side award delegates proportionally, Trump was not able to increase his lead by much.  Trump won 234 of the 555 delegates awarded on Super Tuesday, while Cruz received 209, Rubio 90, Kasich 19 and Carson 3.

LOOKING FORWARD:  The next big election day is March 15th when a number of states, including Ohio, Florida, Missouri, Illinois, and North Carolina.  Florida will be a key state for the Rubio campaign, but also for Cruz who would much rather see Rubio win than those delegates go to Trump.  Likewise, Rubio and Cruz would much rather see Ohio Governor Kasich win his home state than have it fall to Trump.  If Kasich wins Ohio and Rubio wins Florida, the odds increase dramatically that the Republicans will have the first national convention in decades with no candidate having a majority of the delegates.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

As Trump Closes in on Likely Super Tuesday Near Sweep, Conservative Republicans Look to Support Third Party Candidate

Today is Super Tuesday, a day that features twelve states, mostly in the south, holding primaries and caucuses. Current polling suggests on the Republican side that New York businessman Donald Trump will sweep 11 of the 12 states, with Texas Senator Ted Cruz winning his home state.  Cruz and Florida Senator Marco Rubio also have an outside shot to win primaries in Arkansas and Oklahoma, but that would be an upset.

Donald Trump
Given that GOP delegates up for grabs today are awarded on a proportional basis, the result will have only a minor impact on allowing Trump to sew up the nomination.  But a near Trump sweep could feed into a growing perception that his nomination is inevitable.  The consensus has always been that field narrowed to two or three candidates would consolidate the anti-Trump vote into a plurality if not a majority that would defeat Trump.  Even that is in question though given a recent CNN poll that pegged Trump's Republican support nationally at 49%, an increase from 41% in CNN's previous poll.  It should be noted that CNN's polls, which are based on registered voters instead of the subset of likely voters, tend to show Trump support higher than most other polls.  Still the movement toward Trump is undeniable.

As Trump, a life-long liberal who was registered as a Democrat until 2012, appears to be marching toward the GOP nomination, prominent conservative Republicans are speaking out about their unwillingness to every back Trump.   First up is Stuart Stevens, a legendary Republican media consultant.  In the Daily Beast, Stevens writes:
[Trump has] proven he’s a uniquely ugly figure to emerge in American political history. He’s threatened citizens who oppose him, like his outburst against the Ricketts family, who have contributed to a super PAC opposing him. He ended the week ranting about rewriting libel laws and threatening Amazon because founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post and it is covering Trump. Fortunately, Bezos is vastly wealthier than Trump and can buy and sell him a dozen times over. In Trump’s value system, Bezos is much the better man. Actually that’s one thing Trump probably has right.   
Across the spectrum, smart and troubled voices on the center-right spectrum are articulating why they will not support Trump and why Republicans must reject the menace. Former George W. Bush speechwriter Pete Wehner, one of the most eloquent voices, wrote in The New York Times: “Mr. Trump’s virulent combination of ignorance,
emotional instability, demagogy, solipsism and vindictiveness would do more than result in a failed presidency; it could very well lead to national catastrophe.” ...   
He’s right, of course. Every Republican, from elected officials to super volunteers to leaders of the party, must ask themselves what it will mean for the GOP and, vastly more important, the country to play a role enabling this hateful man. Hillary Clinton will likely crush him, but that’s really not the point. There is something at stake here larger than one election. To support Trump is to support the hate and racism he embodies. That is simply an intolerable moral position for any political party.
Stuart Stevens
If Trump wins the nomination, politicians who support him will be acquiescing to, if not actively aiding, his hate....
If the Republican Party stands for nothing but winning elections, it deserves to lose. It will with Trump. But on the day after the election, the pain will not be just that the White House, the Senate, and possibly the House of Representatives are now in Democratic hands.
No, the greatest pain will be from the shame of pretending that an evil man was not evil and a hater really didn’t mean what he said. We hold elections every two years, and there is always the chance to regain lost offices. But there is no mechanism to regain one’s dignity and sense of decency once squandered.
While Stevens focuses on Trump's hatred and bigotry, conservative Georgetown law professor Randy E. Barnett pens an editorial arguing Trump's big government views and his lack of respect for the Constitution will send conservatives fleeing from the GOP:
If Trump wins, he’s made clear he cares nothing for the constitutional constraints on the president, or on government generally. His ignorance of our republican Constitution — to match his ignorance of much else — and his strong-man approach to governance would make Trump’s election a political cataclysm second only to Southern secession in its danger to our constitutional republic.
For this reason, millions of patriotic Americans who would ordinarily vote GOP — including most conservatives and all constitutionalists — will never vote for him. Yet were he somehow to win without them — say by moving to the left of Hillary Clinton to capture the Sanders vote — a Trump presidency would doom America as an exceptional nation.  
Far more likely, however, once the Republican nomination is in his grasp, the media who have been irresponsibly reaping the ratings whirlwind will lay waste to Donald Trump in conjunction with the Democrats.  His presidential campaign will be reduced to a few million die-hard Trumpies and little more. Down-ticket Republican candidates will flee him like position poison (as Mitch McConnell has already suggested). But to where? 
Professor Barnett goes on to make the case for a conservative third party:
What the nation needs is a new party that is expressly dedicated to upholding the Constitution of the United States, however it may cut politically — a party that can attract principled conservatives, but also any American who is tired of crony capitalism, runaway government and rule by an out-of-touch political class.
In a lengthy Facebook post, Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse, who won his Senate seat against his state's GOP establishment, outlined Trump's dictatorial comments and repeated attacks on the Constitution, especially the First Amendment:
So let me ask you: Do you believe the beating heart of Mr. Trump’s candidacy has been a defense of the Constitution? Do you believe it’s been an impassioned defense of the First Amendment – or an attack on it? 
Which of the following quotes give you great comfort that he’s in love with the First Amendment, that he is committed to defending the Constitution, that he believes in executive restraint, that he understands servant leadership?
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE)
Statements from Trump:
***“We’re going to open up libel laws and we’re going to have people sue you like you’ve never got sued before.”
***“When the students poured into Tiananmen Square, the Chinese government almost blew it. They were vicious, they were horrible, but they put it down with strength. That shows you the power of strength. Our country is right now perceived as weak…”
***Putin, who has killed journalists and is pillaging Ukraine, is a great leader.
***The editor of National Review “should not be allowed on TV and the FCC should fine him.”
***On whether he will use executive orders to end-run Congress, as President Obama has illegally done: "I won't refuse it. I'm going to do a lot of things." “I mean, he’s led the way, to be honest with you.”
***“Sixty-eight percent would not leave under any circumstance. I think that means murder. It think it means anything.”
***On the internet: “I would certainly be open to closing areas” of it.
***His lawyers to people selling anti-Trump t-shirts: “Mr. Trump considers this to be a very serious matter and has authorized our legal team to take all necessary and appropriate actions to bring an immediate halt...”
***Similar threatening legal letters to competing campaigns running ads about his record
Sen. Sasse concludes:
Given what we know about him today, here’s where I’m at: If Donald Trump becomes the Republican nominee, my expectation is that I will look for some third candidate – a conservative option, a Constitutionalist.
I do not claim to speak for a movement, but I suspect I am far from alone. After listening to Nebraskans in recent weeks, and talking to a great many people who take oaths seriously, I think many are in the same place. I believe a sizable share of Christians – who regard threats against religious liberty as arguably the greatest crisis of our time – are unwilling to support any candidate who does not make a full-throated defense of the First Amendment a first commitment of their candidacy.
Conservatives understand that all men are created equal and made in the image of God, but also that government must be limited so that fallen men do not wield too much power. A presidential candidate who boasts about what he'll do during his "reign" and refuses to condemn the KKK cannot lead a conservative movement in America.