Thursday, October 15, 2015

Last Call For The 14-Year Rule

Jon Rauch, now at The Atlantic, discusses the 14-Year Rule that he's been known for and how it applies to the 2016 presidential campaign.

At the time of this year’s second Republican debate, five Democrats and 16 Republicans were running for president. But if you ruled out people who had zero elective experience and therefore were too fresh (goodbye, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, and Donald Trump), and if you ruled out people who were more than 14 years from their first election as governor or senator and therefore were stale (goodbye, Jeb Bush, Lincoln Chafee, Hillary Clinton, Jim Gilmore, Mike Huckabee, George Pataki, and Rick Santorum), the field diminished to three Democrats and eight Republicans.

Yes, both Bush (elected governor of Florida in 1998) and Clinton (elected to the Senate in 2000) have passed their sell-by dates, a fact reflected in the palpable boredom that has greeted their campaigns. Nonetheless, conventional wisdom regards them as the most likely nominees. If that wisdom turns out to be right, we will have an election pitting two stale political dynasts against each other—something we have reason to hope will be rare in American political life. In this scenario, one of the stale political dynasts will win the general election, and the 14-Year Rule will fail at last.

Indeed, the 14-Year Rule has held up astonishingly well over the years, and while it would indicate that Hillary and Jeb won't be President (and neither would Joe Biden) it does lead to a Bernie Sanders (he's only been a Senator for eight years) versus Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz (four years each) matchup.

In the past two open presidential elections (that is, elections in which no incumbent was running), freshness has ruled the day. The voters, not satisfied with a merely moderate level of inexperience, chose the least experienced governor or senator in the field: George W. Bush (only six years of experience) in 2000, and Barack Obama (a shockingly skimpy four) in 2008. If voters were to stay true to form in 2016, the next president would be—drum roll—Senator Ted Cruz. Elected to the Senate in 2012, having previously attained the speed-bump-high office of Texas solicitor general, Cruz is the only politician in the race who can match Obama’s exalted standard of unpreparedness.

It's an interesting theory, and if both sides of it hold up, Cruz would be the winner.  It would also be a complete disaster for the country, so I'm hoping that the 14-Year Rule is broken and decisively so.  Of course, a Trump/Carson/Fiorina win would certainly do that too...

A Different Kind Of War

NATO is still dealing with Russia's invasion of the Crimea region of Ukraine, and while the bullets aren't flying so much in Europe (yet), over in cyberspace, the Russians are causing all kinds of EU chaos.

Russian computer attacks have become more brazen and more destructive as the country grows increasingly at odds with the U.S. and European nations over military goals first in Ukraine and now Syria. 
Along with reported computer breaches of a French TV network and the White House, a number of attacks now being attributed to Russian hackers and some not previously disclosed have riveted intelligence officials as relations with Russia have deteriorated. These targets include the Polish stock market, the U.S. House of Representatives, a German steel plant that suffered severe damage and The New York Times. 
U.S. officials worry that any attempt by the Russian government to use vulnerabilities in critical infrastructure like global stock exchanges, power grids and airports as pressure points against the West could lead to a broader conflict, according to two people familiar with the debate inside government and who asked to not to be named when discussing intelligence matters. When NATO officials met last week, they voiced alarm about Russia’s rapid involvement in Syria, including the firing of cruise missiles, and vowed the biggest reinforcement of their collective defense since the end of the Cold War. 
The Warsaw Stock Exchange is but one example of the heightened cyber-activity. Hackers who rifled the exchange last October, in a breach that set off alarms among Western intelligence agencies, proclaimed they were Muslim militants angry over Poland’s support for a bombing campaign against the Islamic State. 
"It’s beginning," the group posted online in a file-sharing site called Pastebin, heavily used by the cyberunderground. "To be continued! Allahu Akbar!" 
While stealing some data, the attackers also made dozens of client logins public, opening the exchange’s systems to additional chaos from cybercriminals of all stripes. It was sabotage by crowd-sourcing. 
Except the infiltrators weren’t Islamic militants at all. Behind the smokescreen was a group of hackers with ties to the Russian government, according to three people familiar with the Polish investigation. The incident was viewed by Polish investigators as a stark warning to the country, a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization intent on driving a strong alliance response to Russia’s moves in eastern Ukraine.

It hardly needs to be said but I'll remind people anyway that Putin is absolutely the product of the old Soviet intelligence services and Russia conducts clandestine ops with the best of them.  The Russian hackers unleashed by the fall of the USSR in the 90's who became the new rich mobsters of the 00's are now happily taking Putin's coin in this decade, and they're doing a hell of a job shaking down governments from Warsaw to Washington.

Gotta hand it to the guy, he knows how to party. And if the music gets too loud, well, somebody might call the cops on him.

The Carson Show, Con't

Is anyone in the audience still wondering why Ben Carson is vomiting out racist, vile sentiment while running for president in 2016?  You play Peoria to Peoria, as they say.

For a long time, Ben Carson’s campaign team feared that his habit of inflammatory remarks would sink his presidential hopes. They sent him to media training in Texas. The candidate pledged to police his words. 
But ever since Mr. Carson said on Sept. 20 that he did not think a Muslimshould be president, then refused to retract the statement amid a furious reaction, his campaign has watched grass-roots support grow and donations pour in — and advisers have backtracked, deciding, in the words of one, to “let Carson be Carson.” 
Mr. Carson, a retired neurosurgeon seeking the Republican nomination, has seemed lately to be a candidate unbound. He has uttered remarks on policy and national events, some divisive and some seemingly uninformed, that have led commentators on the right as well as on the left to question his fitness for the presidency. 
And yet none of this has deterred elements of the Republican base, which in making 2015 the year of the political outsider see in Mr. Carson’s provocative comments a more palatable variation on the bombastic insults of Donald J. Trump. Both accuse critics of “political correctness.” Now Mr. Carson is edging up behind Mr. Trump in many polls, with Carly Fiorina, a third outsider candidate, close behind.

We're getting to the point where overt racism, Islamophobia, and sexism are what a majority of Republicans want if you combine Trump and Carson's numbers in the poll. Surprise! They are who we always thought them to be.


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