Sunday, January 31, 2016

So Who Do I Like?

On the eve of the Iowa caucuses I feel compelled to consider who do I intend to support. I'm going to admit that Sanders has surprised me. I find it hard to believe that he may yet make a race of this. 

I'm going to list my preferences regardless of what I think their chances of winning either the nomination or the general election are.

1. Bernie Sanders
2. Hillary Clinton
3. Martin O'Malley
4. John Kasich
5. Jeb Bush
6. Chris Christie
7. Donald Trump
8. Marco Rubio
9. Rand Paul
10. Carly Fiorina
11. Mike Huckabee
12. Rick Santorum
13. Ted Cruz
14. Ben Carson

Primary Predictions #3

Well, here we are, on the eve of the Iowa Caucuses. The final predictions for Iowa from are as follows:

Iowa Caucases - Republicans  - Probability of winning:

Donald Trump - 48% (31%) +17
Ted Cruz - 40% (53%) -13
Marco Rubio - 11% (10%) +1
Ben Carson - 1% (3%) -2

Jeb Bush dropped of the list.

Iowa Caucases - Democrats - Probability of winning: 

Hillary Clinton - 79% (83%) -4
Bernie Sanders - 21% (17%) +4

To be quite honest with you this has been so volatile and there are so few people involved that even minor things could shift this one way or the other.

Predicted results are:

Donald Trump - 28.5
Ted Cruz - 25.2
Marco Rubio - 16.8
Ben Carson - 9.3
Jeb Bush - 4.7%
Rand Paul - 4.6%
Chris Christie 3.3%
Mike Huckabee - 3.0%
John Kasich 2.6%
Carly Fiorina - 2.4%
Rick Santorum - 1.4%

Hillary Clinton - 50.0%
Bernie Sanders - 43.1%
Martin O'Malley - 5.4%

Of course what would really shake things up would be is someone did significantly better, or worse, than expected. 

Saudi Arabia and Oil

With the price of oil pushing $30 a barrel I'm seeing all sorts of hand wringing about how Saudi Arabia is on the verge of bankruptcy.

My response is, oh please, give me a break.

It was the Saudi strategy to drive the price of oil down to drive the shale producers, who's overhead is higher, out of the market.

It costs the Saudi's about $10 a barrel to produce oil so they're still making money just not as much money.

So how do you go broke when you're still making $20 a barrel on oil? Like anyone else goes broke. They're spending more than they take in. Their oil revenues in 2016 are estimated to be about $100 billion but their budget is at $223 billion. They get about $37 billion from other sources so that's going to leave them about $87 billion short. Since their GDP is around $632 billion that's 14% of GDP.

To put that in perspective, the US 2016 budget was $4 trillion with a $474 billion deficit which is about 2.6% of GDP.

At an $87 billion deficit and a $624 billion reserve, plus an A+ bond rating from S&P so they can borrow money at reasonable rates, they're good for at least 10 years and probably more.

By that time production will drop and prices will increase because just about everyone else will be losing money on oil at $30 a barrel.

So, you'll excuse me, but I wouldn't worry about the Saudis one bit.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Primary Predictions #2

The latest from shows a reversal in the Democratic New Hampshire race. The current projections are as follows with the previous in parentheses.

Iowa Caucases - Republicans  - Probability of winning:

Ted Cruz - 53% (51%) +1
Donald Trump - 31% (29%) +2
Marco Rubio - 10% (14%) -4
Ben Carson - 3% (3%) -
Jeb Bush - 2% (1% ) +1

Iowa Caucases - Democrats - Probability of winning: 

Hillary Clinton - 83% (82%) +1
Bernie Sanders - 17% (18%) -1

New Hampshire Primary - Republicans - Probability of winning: 

Donald Trump - 46% (39%) +7
Ted Cruz - 15% (13%) +2
Marco Rubio - 13% (21%) -8
John Kasich - 12% (11%) +1
Jeb Bush - 8% (6%) +2
Chris Christie - 4% (7%) -3
Rand Paul - 1% (1% ) -

New Hampshire Primary - Democrats Probability of winning: 

Bernie Sanders - 57% (43%) +14
Hillary Clinton - 43% (57%) -14

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Primary Predictions

Nate Silver's has started putting together predictions about who will win the primaries and has also been tracking endorsements stating that endorsements are often the best predictors of which candidates will succeed and which will fail.

First the primaries.

Iowa Caucases - Republicans

Probability of winning:

Ted Cruz - 51%
Donald Trump - 29%
Marco Rubio - 14%
Ben Carson - 3%
Jeb Bush - 1%

The estimated results are:

Ted Cruz - 26.5%
Donald Trump - 21.2%
Marco Rubio - 16.0%
Ben Carson - 9.1%
Jeb Bush - 6.2%
Chris Christie - 5.0%
Rand Paul - 4.8%
John Kasich - 4.1%
Mike Huckabee - 3.8%
Carly Fiorina - 1.7%
Rick Santorum - 1.4%

Iowa Caucases - Democrats

Probability of winning:

Hillary Clinton - 82%
Bernie Sanders - 18%

The estimated results are:

Hillary Clinton - 51.1%
Bernie Sanders - 39.9%
Martin O'Malley - 7.1%

New Hampshire Primary - Republicans

Probability of winning:

Donald Trump - 39%
Marco Rubio - 21%
Ted Cruz - 13%
John Kasich - 11%
Chris Christie - 7%
Jeb Bush - 6%
Rand Paul - 1%

The estimated results are:

Donald Trump - 22.9%
Marco Rubio - 17.2%
Ted Cruz - 14.0%
John Kasich - 12.5%
Chris Christie - 10.1%
Jeb Bush - 9.4%
Rand Paul - 4.6%
Carly Fiorina - 3.4%
Ben Carson - 3.0%
Mike Huckabee - 1.8%
Rick Santorum - 1.0%

New Hampshire Primary - Democrats

Probability of winning:

Hillary Clinton - 57%
Bernie Sanders - 43%

The estimated results are:

Hillary Clinton - 48.0%
Bernie Sanders - 45.8%
Martin O'Malley - 4.1%

If after New Hampshire, if not after Iowa, Carson, Fiorina, Huckabee and Santorum don't drop out they will be demonstrating they're not interested in what makes the most sense for the nomination process but only in their own egos.

On the Democratic side O'Malley should give it a rest.

The Endorsement Sweepstakes has also been tracking endorsements. They have been assigning points as follows:

Governors - 10 pts
Senators - 5 pts
Representatives - 1 pt

Jeb Bush - 46
Marco Rubio - 43
Chris Christie - 26
Mike Huckabee - 26
John Kasich - 20
Ted Cruz - 15
Rand Paul - 15
Carly Fiorina - 3
Rick Santorum - 1
Donald Trump - 0
Ben Carson - 0

Hillary Clinton - 457
Bernie Sanders - 2
Martin O'Malley - 1

Fascinating how the professional politicians have such a different view of the world than us riffraff huh?

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

College Football Poll - Final

Alabama tops Clemson 45-40 in what may have been one of the most entertaining football games I've seen in a long time. Talk about leaving everything on the field!

The big hero of course was Alabama tight end O.J. Howard with two 50+ yard touchdown catches AND a 63 yard rumble down the sideline late in the 4th quarter to help Bama almost finish Clemson off.

I say almost because as incredible as it seems down 45-33, 1:22 left and no time outs Clemson managed a score with 17 seconds left to make it 45-40. But Clemson couldn't pull off the onside kick which would have given them a shot at a Hail Mary.

Speaking of onside kicks, how'd you like Saban's surprise onside kick with 10 minutes left in the 4th quarter and the score tied at 24-24?

I am impressed with a whole bunch of Alabama and Clemson defensive players and a number of standout offensive players.

Obviously there is Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry, but I was really impressed with Clemson quarterback DeShaun Watson as well.

Oh well, so much for the College Football Poll thing. It was almost as much fun as the World Cup. Maybe I'll play this game again next year.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Let the Games begin...

Well it's January and the presidential races are about to get real. I've sort of ignored the whole fiasco since mid November but I can no longer in good conscience continue to do so.

So where are we?

The biggest surprise has been on the Democratic side where Bernie Sanders is now apparently making it a race. The last national poll (IBD/TIPP) shows Clinton's lead having shrunk. The latest numbers were:

Clinton - 43%
Sanders - 39%

I am a bit suspicious of these numbers however because they show double digit shifts in the Northeast and West yet it's difficult to account for why this should have happened in the last month. It sounds like too great a shift without any clear driving factor. Vut, IBD/TIPP has a pretty good track record for accuracy.

On the Republican side the same poll shows:

Trump - 34%
Cruz - 18%
Rubio - 9%
Carson - 8%

However the poll has a 4.9% margin of error on the Republican side and a 5.1% margin of error on the Democratic side.

So do I still think Bush and Clinton? Yes I do and here's why. I don't think Sanders can win a national election and the powers that be in the Democratic party know that. Look for Sanders to get swamped down the road.

On the Republican side Trump's support is coming from the least educated portions of the Republican Party. He polls highest among people in the $30,000 to $50,000 income range and evangelicals are at best lukewarm to him.

Rubio could have been a good establishment compromise but his financial skeletons in the closet are too much of a liability. Cruz is a nutcase. So that still leaves Bush for the money to eventually solidify behind. If not Bush, then look for Paul Ryan to emerge late.

But now here's a second question? Am I as confident as I was? Oh, not even close. I'm beginning to think this might all be wishful thinking on my part.

I have to admit that I'm wondering what a Trump vs. Sanders election might look like? I was always concerned that a Trump vs. Clinton election could well degrade into a national disgrace but Sanders head to head with Trump might even be worse.

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Abbott and the Constitution

Greg Abbott, the Governor of Texas, thinks we should amend the Constitution. He wants to call a Constitutional Convention to add not one, not two, but nine amendments.

1.Prohibit Congress from regulating activity that occurs wholly within one State.
And then spend thousands upon thousands of hours in court arguing over what is or isn't "activity that occurs wholly within one state?

2.Require Congress to balance its budget.
So that when we go to war we can't engage in any deficit spending? Actually, add some sort of escape clause that requires a two-thirds majority of Congress and I might go for this one.

3.Prohibit administrative agencies—and the unelected bureaucrats that staff them—from creating federal law.
They don't create law. They create regulations. Why? Because they're supposed to be experts in the area they're regulating. Besides, you don't need an amendment. Congress can always limit the scope and authority of any federal agency.

4.Prohibit administrative agencies—and the unelected bureaucrats that staff them—from preempting state law.
See answer to #3 above.

5.Allow a two-thirds majority of the States to override a U.S. Supreme Court decision.
See "Tyranny of the Majority." Such an amendment would essentially cripple the court. Besides, It's not necessary. If the SCOTUS does something that no one likes, either Congress can pass a new law or the Constitution can be amended. Why add a way to go around the current Constitution?

6.Require a seven-justice super-majority vote for U.S. Supreme Court decisions that invalidate a democratically enacted law.
See answer to #5 above. This just allows the country to be held captive by three judges.

7.Restore the balance of power between the federal and state governments by limiting the former to the powers expressly delegated to it in the Constitution.
There never was any "balance of power." See the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution.

8.Give state officials the power to sue in federal court when federal officials overstep their bounds.
I'm pretty sure they can already do that.

9.Allow a two-thirds majority of the States to override a federal law or regulation. 
And here I thought the process was to vote out the bums that passed that law and replace them with people in Congress and the presidency that will rectify the situation. Again, why add another process when one already exists?

This is an example of someone who has decided that he can't win based upon the current rules so he wants to change the rules to something he thinks will work out better for him.

If you can get two-thirds of the states to agree on these things then electing the right Congress and President to do what you want shouldn't be that hard.

Why not just go back to the Article of Confederation if you want a system that doesn't work?

So here are Conservatives,  the people who always claim to be defending the Constitution, even though most of them haven't even read it, looking for a way to change it so extensively it would cease to be the Constitution.

I have a better idea. Texas, you keep talking about seceding, so GTFO already.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Talking Evolution

From time to time I will fall into the trap of trying to explain science in general and the Theory of Evolution in particular to someone who thinks the creation myth in Genesis should be accepted as literally true.

It's always an effort in futility. The ignorance level of these people and their inability to even comprehend simple English is utterly astounding.

It's not that they're stupid or illiterate, it's that they have been taught a certain way to view things and have been taught a whole bunch of stuff that's so absurd that's it's not even wrong. They just can't seem to wrap their heads around anything that contradicts what they've been taught and there is no amount of evidence that you can present to convince them.

I'm not even talking about whether evolution is true or not but about what evolution actually says. I just went around in circles with a guy that could not get the idea through his head that evolution does not say that dogs turn into cats.

Nor could he comprehend the idea that if you make a positive assertion about anything, you have the burden of proof to provide evidence to justify that assertion.

Evolution is not that complicated a concept yet your average Evangelical Christian seems incapable of understanding even the basics. I swear that I often think some of stuff they come up with has to be satire. Poe was right. You can't come up with a parody of a fundamentalist Christian that someone won't think is real.

Friday, January 01, 2016

College Football Poll 1/1/2016

Well, if two teams ever made it abundantly clear they belonged in a title game it was Clemson and Alabama last night.

Clemson sent Oklahoma packing 37-17 and then Alabama ran rings around Michigan State 38-0.

Now it's on to the title game January 11 in Phoenix.

This one should be fun. Dominant defense vs. flamboyant offense and you know what they say, offense wins games but defense wins championships.

I'm going with Alabama to beat Clemson.