Saturday, December 31, 2011

UF has officially picked up their first commitment for basketball 2013. http://swampnews.net/​recruiting-updates/​montverde-star-kasey-hill-commi​ts-to-gators.html

Friday, December 30, 2011

iPhone And iPad Account For A Whopping 92% Of All Online Mobile Purchases [STUDY] http://www.businessinsider.com/iphone-ipad-mobile-retail-sales-2011-12?utm_source=twbutton&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=tools via @sai_tools
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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Gator Beefs Blog: Getting Cold out: Breakfast at Gator Beefs http://ping.fm/Qqkxf
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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Gators arrive in Jacksonville http://ping.fm/HwpAn via @MeredithPaigeH

Breaking News: New poll shows Romney on top with likely Iowa GOP caucus attendees

Just as I have predicted. Romney starting to move. See the Breaking News here:

http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2011/12/28/cnn-poll-romney-on-top-gingrich-fading-santorum-rising-in-iowa/
Success is not for the timid. It is for those who seek guidance, make decisions, and take decisive action - Jose Silva
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Twitter 101 for Politicians– DM’s, @ Messages and Other Behaviors to Avoid

October 10, 2011 By Daniel Ruyter


Great article even Politicians can understand...Maybe??

Welcome to the next installment in the Twitter 101 series of articles. While the title may suggest that this article is specific to those that seek to use Twitter as an advertising medium, the truth is that the behaviors I’m about to describe apply to all Twitter users.

Avoid at All Costs – Direct Message Advertising

DM’s or Direct Messages are private messages sent directly from one user to another in Twitter. Direct messages are not made public and will show up for only the person the message is sent to. The typical Twitter user will receive far fewer direct messages than tweets in their stream or @ messages (explained below).

From an advertising perspective, sending a direct message advertisement to a Twitter user is usually strongly frowned upon. Sometimes a captive audience can be a good thing for an advertiser, but in the case of Twitter DM’s – it’s not. Soliciting a user on Twitter via DM is often viewed as the equivalent to an unsolicited telemarketing call placed during dinner time. They’re annoying, unwanted, and even if the product or service would be of interest to the consumer, they’re often shut down because of the feeling of intrusion by the potential customer.

If you’re looking to grow your business through Twitter, avoid sending unsolicited direct messages to your Twitter followers.

Use With Caution – @ Message Advertising

At-Messages (@ messages) are similar to direct messages except that they are made public. An at message will show up both in the sender’s Twitter stream as well as in the recipient’s stream as a special message sent directly to them. At-messages are are a way of grabbing the attention of another user and are seen as slightly less intrusive than a direct message. At-messages can serve a few legitimate purposes including the Twitter equivalent of a carbon copy, a casual mention to another user or an “FYI – please review the content of this Tweet.” At-mentions can be very a powerful tool because they let another Twitter user know (as well as all of YOUR followers) you’re aware of them (and/or their content).

Sending at-messages to another user with the purpose of advertising can backfire. Not only will the advertisement be sent to the intended recipient but will also be visible in your own Twitter stream. If your stream is full of at-messages to individual users that are clearly advertisements you’re at risk of being black-listed as a Twitter spammer. If a user expresses interest or requests information on your product or service, an at-message may be appropriate but avoid unsolicited at-messages for advertising purposes.

Advertising With Auto-Responders in Twitter

It’s possible to use a tool in Twitter that automatically sends users a direct message when a certain event occurs such as you receive a new follower or a follower sends you a direct message. Auto-responder messages should be used extremely sparingly for advertising purposes. I strongly discourage the use of auto-responder messages to promote a specific product or service to followers. Auto-responders take unsolicited direct messages and at-messages a step further and make them clearly automatic and, therefore, impersonal.

Auto-responder messages may be appropriate as a “Thank you” message to new followers or to advertise a non-revenue resource such as a Facebook page or freebie. If you’d like to encourage new followers to also visit and “Like” your Facebook page or download a free guide or resource, an auto-responder message may be appropriate.
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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

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Publication Date: October 25, 2011
A New York Times Top 10 Book for 2011
A Globe and Mail Best Books of the Year 2011 Title
One of The Economist’s 2011 Books of the Year
Daniel Kahneman, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for his seminal work in psychology that challenged the rational model of judgment and decision making, is one of our most important thinkers. His ideas have had a profound and widely regarded impact on many fields—including economics, medicine, and politics—but until now, he has never brought together his many years of research and thinking in one book.


In the highly anticipated Thinking, Fast and Slow, Kahneman takes us on a groundbreaking tour of the mind and explains the two systems that drive the way we think. System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. Kahneman exposes the extraordinary capabilities—and also the faults and biases—of fast thinking, and reveals the pervasive influence of intuitive impressions on our thoughts and behavior. The impact of loss aversion and overconfidence on corporate strategies, the difficulties of predicting what will make us happy in the future, the challenges of properly framing risks at work and at home, the profound effect of cognitive biases on everything from playing the stock market to planning the next vacation—each of these can be understood only by knowing how the two systems work together to shape our judgments and decisions.


Engaging the reader in a lively conversation about how we think, Kahneman reveals where we can and cannot trust our intuitions and how we can tap into the benefits of slow thinking. He offers practical and enlightening insights into how choices are made in both our business and our personal lives—and how we can use different techniques to guard against the mental glitches that often get us into trouble. Thinking, Fast and Slow will transform the way you think about thinking.

Review
“An outstanding book, distinguished by beauty and clarity of detail, precision of presentation and gentleness of manner. Its truths are open to all those whose System 2 is not completely defunct. I have hardly touched on its richness.”— Galen Strawson, The Guardian

“Brilliant . . . It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of Daniel Kahneman’s contribution to the understanding of the way we think and choose. He stands among the giants, a weaver of the threads of Charles Darwin, Adam Smith and Sigmund Freud. Arguably the most important psychologist in history, Kahneman has reshaped cognitive psychology, the analysis of rationality and reason, the understanding of risk and the study of happiness and well-being . . . A magisterial work, stunning in its ambition, infused with knowledge, laced with wisdom, informed by modesty and deeply humane. If you can read only one book this year, read this one.”— Janice Gross Stein, The Globe and Mail

“A sweeping, compelling tale of just how easily our brains are bamboozled, bringing in both his own research and that of numerous psychologists, economists, and other experts...Kahneman has a remarkable ability to take decades worth of research and distill from it what would be important and interesting for a lay audience...Thinking, Fast and Slow is an immensely important book. Many science books are uneven, with a useful or interesting chapter too often followed by a dull one. Not so here. With rare exceptions, the entire span of this weighty book is fascinating and applicable to day-to-day life. Everyone should read Thinking, Fast and Slow.” —Jesse Singal, Boston Globe

“We must be grateful to Kahneman for giving us in this book a joyful understanding of the practical side of our personalities.” —Freeman Dyson, The New York Review of Books

“Brilliant . . . It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of Daniel Kahneman’s contribution to the understanding of the way we think and choose. He stands among the giants, a weaver of the threads of Charles Darwin, Adam Smith and Sigmund Freud. Arguably the most important psychologist in history, Kahneman has reshaped cognitive psychology, the analysis of rationality and reason, the understanding of risk and the study of happiness and well-being . . . A magisterial work, stunning in its ambition, infused with knowledge, laced with wisdom, informed by modesty and deeply humane. If you can read only one book this year, read this one.” — Janice Gross Stein, The Globe and Mail
“It is an astonishingly rich book: lucid, profound, full of intellectual surprises and self-help value. It is consistently entertaining and frequently touching, especially when Kahneman is recounting his collaboration with Tversky . . . So impressive is its vision of flawed human reason that the New York Times columnist David Brooks recently declared that Kahneman and Tversky’s work ‘will be remembered hundreds of years from now,’ and that it is ‘a crucial pivot point in the way we see ourselves.’ They are, Brooks said, ‘like the Lewis and Clark of the mind’ . . . By the time I got to the end of Thinking, Fast and Slow, my skeptical frown had long since given way to a grin of intellectual satisfaction. Appraising the book by the peak-end rule, I overconfidently urge everyone to buy and read it. But for those who are merely interested in Kahenman’s takeaway on the Malcolm Gladwell question it is this: If you've had 10,000 hours of training in a predictable, rapid-feedback environment—chess, firefighting, anesthesiology—then blink. In all other cases, think.”—The New York Times Book Review

“Ask around and you hear pretty much the same thing. 'Kahneman is the most influential psychologist since Sigmund Freud,' says Christopher Chabris, a professor of psychology at Union College, in New York. 'No one else has had such a broad impact on so many fields' . . . It now seems inevitable that Kah­neman, who made his reputation by ignoring or defying conventional wisdom, is about to be anointed the intellectual guru of our economically irrational times.”— Evan R. Goldstein, The Chronicle of Higher Education
“There have been many good books on human rationality and irrationality, but only one masterpiece. That masterpiece is Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow . . . This is one of the greatest and most engaging collections of insights into the human mind I have read.”—William Easterly, Financial Times

“[Thinking, Fast and Slow] is wonderful, of course. To anyone with the slightest interest in the workings of his own mind, it is so rich and fascinating that any summary would seem absurd.”— Michael Lewis, Vanity Fair

“Absorbingly articulate and infinitely intelligent . . . What's most enjoyable and compelling about Thinking, Fast and Slow is that it's so utterly, refreshingly anti-Gladwellian. There is nothing pop about Kahneman's psychology, no formulaic story arc, no beating you over the head with an artificial, buzzword-encrusted Big Idea. It's just the wisdom that comes from five decades of honest, rigorous scientific work, delivered humbly yet brilliantly, in a way that will forever change the way you think about thinking.”—Maria Popova, The Atlantic
“I will never think about thinking quite the same. [Thinking, Fast and Slow] is a monumental achievement.”—Roger Lowenstein, Bloomberg/Businessweek

“Profound . . . As Copernicus removed the Earth from the centre of the universe and Darwin knocked humans off their biological perch, Mr. Kahneman has shown that we are not the paragons of reason we assume ourselves to be.” —The Economist

“[Kahneman’s] disarmingly simple experiments have profoundly changed the way that we think about thinking . . . We like to see ourselves as a Promethean species, uniquely endowed with the gift of reason. But Mr. Kahneman’s simple experiments reveal a very different mind, stuffed full of habits that, in most situations, lead us astray.” —Jonah Lehrer, The Wall Street Journal

“[A] tour de force of psychological insight, research explication and compelling narrative that brings together in one volume the high points of Mr. Kahneman's notable contributions, over five decades, to the study of human judgment, decision-making and choice . . . Thanks to the elegance and force of his ideas, and the robustness of the evidence he offers for them, he has helped us to a new understanding of our divided minds—and our whole selves.” —Christoper F. Chabris, The Wall Street Journal

“The ramifications of Kahenman’s work are wide, extending into education, business, marketing, politics . . . and even happiness research. Call his field “psychonomics,” the hidden reasoning behind our choices. Thinking, Fast and Slow is essential reading for anyone with a mind.” —Kyle Smith, The New York Post

“A major intellectual event . . . The work of Kahneman and Tversky was a crucial pivot point in the way we see ourselves.” —David Brooks, The New York Times

“Kahneman provides a detailed, yet accessible, description of the psychological mechanisms involved in making decisions.” —Jacek Debiec, Nature

“With Kahneman’s expert help, readers may understand this mix of psychology and economics better than most accountants, therapists, or elected representatives. VERDICT A stellar accomplishment, a book for everyone who likes to think and wants to do it better.” —Library Journal

“The mind is a hilariously muddled compromise between incompatible modes of thought in this fascinating treatise by a giant in the field of decision research. Nobel-winning psychologist Kahneman (Attention and Effort) posits a brain governed by two clashing decision-making processes. The largely unconscious System 1, he contends, makes intuitive snap judgments based on emotion, memory, and hard-wired rules of thumb; the painfully conscious System 2 laboriously checks the facts and does the math, but is so "lazy" and distractible that it usually defers to System 1. Kahneman uses this scheme to frame a scintillating discussion of his findings in cognitive psychology and behavioral economics, and of the ingenious experiments that tease out the irrational, self-contradictory logics that underlie our choices. We learn why we mistake statistical noise for coherent patterns; why the stock-picking of well-paid investment advisers and the prognostications of pundits are worthless; why businessmen tend to be both absurdly overconfident and unwisely risk-averse; and why memory affects decision making in counterintuitive ways. Kahneman's primer adds to recent challenges to economic orthodoxies about rational actors and efficient markets; more than that, it's a lucid, marvelously readable guide to spotting--and correcting--our biased misunderstandings of the world.” —Publishers' Weekly (starred review)
“For anyone interested in economics, cognitive science, psychology, and, in short, human behavior, this is ...


See all Editorial Reviews

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Product Details
Hardcover: 512 pages
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1 edition (October 25, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0374275637
ISBN-13: 978-0374275631
Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.4 x 1.6 inches

Grab this book while its hot! I have read a lot of Kahnemans' writings and he is brilliant. Highly recommended book!!
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Friday, December 23, 2011

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Data Mining Techniques: For Marketing, Sales, and Customer Relationship Management



The leading introductory book on data mining, fully updated and revised!
When Berry and Linoff wrote the first edition of Data Mining Techniques in the late 1990s, data mining was just starting to move out of the lab and into the office and has since grown to become an indispensable tool of modern business. This new edition—more than 50% new and revised— is a significant update from the previous one, and shows you how to harness the newest data mining methods and techniques to solve common business problems. The duo of unparalleled authors share invaluable advice for improving response rates to direct marketing campaigns, identifying new customer segments, and estimating credit risk. In addition, they cover more advanced topics such as preparing data for analysis and creating the necessary infrastructure for data mining at your company.

Features significant updates since the previous edition and updates you on best practices for using data mining methods and techniques for solving common business problems
Covers a new data mining technique in every chapter along with clear, concise explanations on how to apply each technique immediately
Touches on core data mining techniques, including decision trees, neural networks, collaborative filtering, association rules, link analysis, survival analysis, and more
Provides best practices for performing data mining using simple tools such as Excel
Data Mining Techniques, Third Edition covers a new data mining technique with each successive chapter and then demonstrates how you can apply that technique for improved marketing, sales, and customer support to get immediate results.

Product Details
Paperback: 888 pages
Publisher: *Wiley Computer Publishing; 3 edition (April 12, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0470650931
ISBN-13: 978-0470650936
Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 7.4 x 1.9 inches
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Thursday, December 22, 2011

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Saturday, December 17, 2011

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Rights Gone Wrong: How Law Corrupts the Struggle for Equality [Hardcover]



Book Description
Publication Date: October 25, 2011
A New York Times Notable Book for 2011
Since the 1960s, ideas developed during the civil rights movement have been astonishingly successful in fighting overt discrimina­tion and prejudice. But how successful are they at combating the whole spectrum of social injustice—including conditions that aren’t directly caused by bigotry? How do they stand up to segregation, for instance—a legacy of racism, but not the direct result of ongoing discrimina­tion? It’s tempting to believe that civil rights litigation can combat these social ills as efficiently as it has fought blatant discrimination.

In Rights Gone Wrong, Richard Thompson Ford, author of the New York Times Notable Book The Race Card, argues that this is seldom the case. Civil rights do too much and not enough: opportunists use them to get a competitive edge in schools and job markets, while special-interest groups use them to demand special privileges. Extremists on both the left and the right have hijacked civil rights for personal advantage. Worst of all, their theatrics have drawn attention away from more seri­ous social injustices.

Ford, a professor of law at Stanford University, shows us the many ways in which civil rights can go terribly wrong. He examines newsworthy lawsuits with shrewdness and humor, proving that the distinction between civil rights and personal entitlements is often anything but clear. Finally, he reveals how many of today’s social injustices actually can’t be remedied by civil rights law, and demands more creative and nuanced solutions. In order to live up to the legacy of the civil rights movement, we must renew our commitment to civil rights, and move beyond them.

Product Details
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; First Edition edition (October 25, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0374250359
ISBN-13: 978-0374250355
Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1 inches
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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

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Romney's Next Target: Gingrich's Temperament

Romney's Next Target: Gingrich's Temperament
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New 4th edition of Information Privacy Law

Solove's 4th Edition is released.

This book surveys the field of information privacy law, with excerpts from the leading cases and scholarship. It covers privacy issues involving the media, health and genetic privacy, law enforcement, freedom of association, anonymity, identification, computers, records, cyberspace, home, school, workplace, and international privacy.

We designed INFORMATION PRIVACY LAW to serve both as a casebook and as a helpful reference tool for lawyers and privacy professionals.

Product Details
Hardcover: 1200 pages
Publisher: Aspen Publishers; 4 edition (December 8, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0735510407
ISBN-13: 978-0735510401


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We Are All Weird, A Book Review




Seth Godin’s new book is a fantastic manifesto about our changing world and how it will affect all of us in the very near future. Society is changing from what he calls normal to weird; from mass-market to individualized manufacturing. Ford is a mass-market company that makes one F-150 to suit everyone whereas other companies focus on the weird by risking themselves to do something they love regardless of whether or not a bulk of the population will buy/use it. To clarify:


The mass marketer keeps missing the point. He’s busy looking for giant clumps instead of organizing to service and work with smaller tribes.

This new type of culture has many implications for education. If we, as teachers, administrators, policy makers, etc., continue down the path of trying to educate the masses, we will surely fail. Education is not an industry that can be successful when people try to set classroom policy that will affect 4 million children. This notion of having every child learn the same thing in the same will (and should) die. Not every child is the same and not every child has the same set of skills, background knowledge, passion, etc.


If you cater to the normal, you will disappoint the weird. And as the world gets weirder, that’s a dumb strategy.

Catering to the normal is exactly what our education system is doing today. We set children on a track (special education, technical prep, college prep, gifted, etc.) and then say that they must fit the mold of their particular track or they will be a failure. The adults determine the track, the adults determine who is “smart,” the adults determine whether you are going to succeed or not. Clearly, this must and will change as the world becomes more weird. There are very strong forces that will oppose this shift to weird:


And so the factory-for-the-production-of-normal works overtime to sanitize and corporatize and discipline our kids into normalcy.

There is a huge disconnect between the Secretary of Education and teachers and students. There is no way that Mr. Duncan can establish policies that will benefit every child when he does not have the opportunity to see every child:


The challenges of the education system are driven by our distance from the problem, not by money. The disconnect is caused by our fervent desire for a return to normal, a normal we actually never had. Why are we puzzled that in a world filled with change, a static, history-based approach is not working out so well? … The simple alternative to our broken system of education is to embrace the weird. To abandon normal. To acknowledge that our factories don’t need so many cogs, so many compliant workers, so many people willing to work cheap. It’s simple, but it’s not easy.

The very students we are creating with our system are the very students who will live the rest of their lives unnoticed. The most successful people in the world, many times, think differently from other people. They are creative and use their creativity to solve everyday problems. We kill this creativity in our school system. If we want to mold students that society and companies want, we need to allow the students to be themselves and not to fit a prefabricated mold that we used 150 years ago.


My proposed solution is simple: don’t waste a lot of time and money pushing kids in directions they don’t want to go. Instead, find out what weirdness they excel at and encourage them to do that. Then get out of the way.

If you haven’t read We Are All Weird, you definitely need to. It’s only about 100 pages and full of amazing ways in which we are becoming more weird. These 100 pages will change how you look at the world.
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Monday, December 12, 2011

Book Recommendation: The Collapse of American Criminal Justice [Hardcover]



Book Description
Publication Date: September 30, 2011
Author: William J. Stuntz

The rule of law has vanished in America’s criminal justice system. Prosecutors now decide whom to punish and how severely. Almost no one accused of a crime will ever face a jury. Inconsistent policing, rampant plea bargaining, overcrowded courtrooms, and ever more draconian sentencing have produced a gigantic prison population, with black citizens the primary defendants and victims of crime. In this passionately argued book, the leading criminal law scholar of his generation looks to history for the roots of these problems—and for their solutions.

The Collapse of American Criminal Justice takes us deep into the dramatic history of American crime—bar fights in nineteenth-century Chicago, New Orleans bordellos, Prohibition, and decades of murderous lynching. Digging into these crimes and the strategies that attempted to control them, Stuntz reveals the costs of abandoning local democratic control. The system has become more centralized, with state legislators and federal judges given increasing power. The liberal Warren Supreme Court’s emphasis on procedures, not equity, joined hands with conservative insistence on severe punishment to create a system that is both harsh and ineffective.

What would get us out of this Kafkaesque world? More trials with local juries; laws that accurately define what prosecutors seek to punish; and an equal protection guarantee like the one that died in the 1870s, to make prosecution and punishment less discriminatory. Above all, Stuntz eloquently argues, Americans need to remember again that criminal punishment is a necessary but terrible tool, to use effectively, and sparingly.

Read it, highly recommended.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Political Consulting Blogger: Newt Gingrich Opposition Research

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Must Read!! The Ant and the Grasshopper

THE NEW ANT and the Grasshopper

The ANT
AND THE
GRASSHOPPER

This one is a little different ....
Two Different Versions ...
Two Different Morals

OLD VERSION

The ant works
hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter.

The grasshopper
thinks the ant is a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away.

Come winter, the ant is warm
and well fed.

The grasshopper has
no food or shelter, so he
dies out in the cold.



MORAL OF THE OLD STORY:


Be responsible for yourself!






MODERN
VERSION

The ant works hard
in the withering heat and the rain all summer long, building his house
and laying up supplies for the winter.

The grasshopper thinks the ant
is a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away.

Come winter, the shivering grasshopper
calls a press conference and demands to know why the ant should be
allowed to be warm and well fed while he is cold and starving.

CBS, NBC, PBS, CNN,
and ABC show up to
provide pictures of the shivering grasshopper
next to a video of the ant
in his comfortable home with a table filled with food.
America is stunned by the sharp contrast.

How can this be, that in a country of such wealth, this poor grasshopper
is allowed to suffer so?

Kermit the Frog appears
on Oprah
with the grasshopper
and everybody cries when they sing, 'It's Not EasyBeing Green...'

ACORN stages
a demonstration in front of the ant's
house where the news stations film the SEIU group singing, We shall overcome.

Then Rev. Jeremiah Wright
has the group kneel down to pray for the grasshopper's sake,
while he damns the ants.


President Obama condems the ant
and blames
President Bush 43, President Bush 41, President Reagan, Christopher Columbus, and the
Pope
for the grasshopper's
plight.

Nancy Pelosi & Harry Reid
exclaim in an interview with Larry
King that the ant has
gotten rich off the back of the
grasshopper,
and both call for an immediate tax hike on the ant to make him pay his fair share.

Finally, the EEOC drafts
the Economic Equity &
Anti-Grasshopper Act
retroactive to the beginning of
the summer.

The ant is fined for failing to hire a proportionate number
of green bugs and,
having nothing left to pay his retroactive taxes, his home is confiscated by the Government GreenCzar
and given to the grasshopper.

The story ends as we see the grasshopper
and his free-loading friends finishing up the last bits of the ant's food while the government house he is in, which, as you recall, just happens to be the ant's old house,
crumbles around them because the grasshopper doesn't maintain it.

The ant has disappeared in the snow, never to be seen again.

The grasshopper is found dead in a drug related incident, and the house, now abandoned, is taken
over by a gang of spiders who terrorize the ramshackle, once prosperous and peaceful, neighborhood.

The entire Nation collapses
bringing the rest
of the free world with it.


MORAL OF THE STORY:


Be careful how you vote in 2012.



I've sent this to you because I believe that you are an ant
not a grasshopper!

Make sure that you pass
this on to other ants.

Don't bother sending
it on to any grasshoppers
because they wouldn't
understand it, anyway

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Laffer: Obama Must Use Reaganomics to Save Economy

Wednesday, 10 Aug 2011 05:32 PM

By Martin Gould and Kathleen Walter

The only way President Barack Obama can solve the nation’s economic woes is to adopt “common-sense” Reaganomics, the policy’s architect Arthur Laffer claims in an exclusive Newsmax interview.

Laffer said the White House called him in the spring and asked him to speak to Obama’s former Council of Economic Advisors’ chairman Austen Goolsbee – and he had told him exactly the same thing.

“Reaganomics would fix any economy that’s in the doldrums,” Laffer said. “It’s not a magic sauce, it’s common sense.

“You’ve got to get rid of all federal taxes in the extreme and replace them with a low-rate flat tax on business net sales, and on personal unadjusted gross income. That’s number one.

“Number two, you have to have spending restraint. Government spending causes unemployment, it does not cure unemployment.

“Number three, you need sound money. Ben Bernanke is running the least sound monetary policy I’ve ever heard of," Laffer said.

“Number four you need regulations, but you don’t need those regulations to go beyond the purpose at hand and create collateral damage. The regulatory policies are really way off here.

“And lastly you need free trade," Laffer said. "Foreigners produce some things better than we do and we produce some things better than foreigners. It would be foolish in the extreme if we didn’t sell them those things we produce better than they do in exchange for those things they produce better than we do.”

In the interview the veteran economist said Standard & Poor’s was quite right in downgrading the U.S. credit rating – in fact it should have done so far earlier.

The agency had no choice and if the other agencies, Moody’s and Fitch, don’t do the same they won’t be doing their jobs, said Laffer, who gave his name to the Laffer Curve which demonstrates that the maximum amount of government revenue does not come at the point of maximum taxes.

“If you had a company that had revenues of $2½ million and expenses of $4 million, with no change in sight, $1½ million in losses each year as far as the eye can see and it had already borrowed $10 million, what would you rate that company? I surely wouldn’t rate it AAA.

“That is the U.S. situation today," Laffer said. "Taxes are about $2½ trillion, government spending is about $4 trillion and we have about $10 trillion in net national debt. I don’t see that as being a AAA country.

“If the S&P and the others were doing their jobs correctly, they should have downgraded a long time ago.”

Laffer said he has no doubt the country will win its top rating back, but only when economic policies are completely turned around. He said President Barack Obama’s administration’s only economic plan seemed to be to expand government ownership of the means of production.

“They have nationalized the health care industry pretty extensively. They’ve done that with home building as well. They’ve tried it with the auto industry as well. So they have moved very, very deliberatively and purposefully toward extending the government ownership of the means of production.

“That to me, if you read the tealeaves, is what they are doing. It is not what they are saying they are doing, but that is what they actually are doing.

“People don’t work to pay taxes, people work to get what they can after taxes. It’s that very private incentive that motivates them to work. If you pay people not to work and tax them if they do work, don’t be surprised if you find a lot of people not working.”

Laffer said the current economic woes started to form under President George W. Bush but have been made worse by Obama’s policies.

“There’s a wedge driven between wages paid and wages received and that wedge is the tax/government spending wedge,” he said.

“That wedge has grown dramatically in the last 4 ½ years…under W and a Republican administration and…under Obama. Bipartisan ignorance has led us to this very disastrously desolate state.”

Laffer had high praise for the role the tea party has played in bringing the problem of the deficits to the fore.

“The tea party is not the problem, the tea party may well be the solution,” he said. “They are critical to the future of the country in a positive way. They are the only fiscally sound people I know out there all the time.

“I don’t know that I would go as far as they go on a lot of issues but I surely respect their movement very much.”

And he said any one of the group of Republicans vying for the party’s nomination for the White House would make “ a great president.”

“Tim Pawlenty is spectacular. Newt Gingrich knows more about issues than anyone you’ve ever seen. Michele Bachmann is out-of-sight wonderful,” he said.

“Rick Perry is second to no one in this stuff. If you look at Herman Cain, he’s phenomenal.

“Oh and (Jon) Huntsman was a great governor of the state of Utah and is a phenomenally experienced intellectual competent man.

“When you look at the Republican candidates, you see a group of people who are absolutely outstanding in attributes.”



Read more on Newsmax.com: Laffer: Obama Must Use Reaganomics to Save Economy
Important: Do You Support Pres. Obama's Re-Election? Vote Here Now!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Depression, the Deficit Debacle, and the Debt-Ceiling Crisis—Posner

By Richard Posner

The economy faces a short-term problem, a medium-term problem, and a long-term problem. The short-term problem is the debt ceiling, the medium-term problem is the depression that the economy is still wallowing in (the orthodox description of it as a mere “recession” that ended in 2009 is misleading), and the long-term problem is entitlements for old people—Medicare, social security, and (to a lesser extent) Medicaid, which to a significant degree operates as medigap insurance for many old people. The three problems are intertwined. The third, the long-term one, may well be the most serious.

The debt ceiling—a dollar limit on debt owed by the federal government, which can be increased only by Congress’s enacting a statute raising the limit—is a dysfunctional method of legislative control over government expenditures. Without the ceiling Congress could still limit borrowing by the Treasury, but it would have to do so by passing a statute. The existence of the ceiling means that enacting a statute is necessary to permit borrowing above whatever amount was specified as the ceiling the last time it was raised by statute. It is harder to pass a new statute than to defeat a proposed statute, and so a determined legislative faction may be able to extort unreasonable concessions by threatening to block the enactment of a statute raising the ceiling. If the intended victims of the extortion balk, and a game of chicken ensues, the statute may not pass; and if as a result the debt ceiling is not raised, when as at present the government must borrow to have enough money to fulfill its expenditure commitments, very serious consequences can ensue. At present the federal government is spending about $300 billion a month, of which about $83 billion is borrowed. If it cannot borrow that amount any more, because every time it borrows (unless it’s just rolling over a loan) its debt rises, it will be unable to fulfill its spending commitments. It will not default in the technical sense because its tax revenues are sufficient to service the debt, but contractual debt (bonds and the like) is not the only unavoidable expense of the federal government: there are both the normal civilian and military costs of running the government and the huge entitlements on which a significant fraction of the population is dependent. Inability to pay these costs would be de facto insolvency.

The drastic curtailment of federal expenditures if the debt ceiling were not raised would have a devastating effect on the current very weak economy, because $83 billion in monthly spending cannot quickly be replaced by private spending; it’s not as if $83 billion were being shifted from the government to the private sector. It would mean taking a trillion dollars a year out of the economy. Maybe private foundations would take up some of the slack, but if so they would be diverting money from other recipients of the foundations’ largesse rather than increasing the net amount of cash available for consumption, unless they diverted money from overseas recipients.

There would be some long-run benefits from eliminating further federal borrowing. The benefits would lie mainly in forcing governmental economies and reducing the annual interest expense of the government. Rational-expectations economists would argue that foreseeing lower taxes in the future would stimulate consumers and businessmen to spend more than now. But consumers, investors, and businesses might be held back by uncertainty; and certainly the short- and medium-run dislocation of an already weak economy could be catastrophic. The reduction in government expenditures could not be matched immediately by an increase in private spending, so overall economic activity would plunge.

The current weakness of the economy cannot be overemphasized. Adjusted for inflation, GDP has fallen since 2007 by 0.4 percent. That means that per capita GDP has fallen significantly because of population growth and that current GDP is almost 10 percent below the GDP trend line of 3 percent a year. There is a better argument for the Fed’s stimulating inflation to reduce mortgage and other consumer debt in real terms than for Congress’s cutting government expenditures.

An irony in the present situation (and a powerful argument against Republican proposals to lift the debt ceiling for only six months in order to force reductions in government spending that would be necessary to induce House Republicans to support a further increase in the ceiling at the end of that period) is that the actual proposals for debt reduction are meager and probably illusory. Under the deal tentatively agreed upon yesterday the initial cut will be just $900 billion spread over the next ten years, which would amount to only $90 billion a year, or less than 10 percent of the annual deficit in the federal budget. And this is on the assumption that the deficit won’t grow. But it is quite likely to grow. True, if the economy recovers, tax collections will increase because incomes will be rising, and even without increased tax collections the deficit as a fraction of GDP (which is what’s important—not the absolute size of the deficit) will fall. But against this is the likely rapid increase in entitlements, primarily Medicare and social security, as the over-65 population continues its relentless growth. The only measure to slow this increase that seems politically feasible at present is to change the formula for calculating annual social security cost-of-living increases. A sure sign of the phoniness of the rival Democratic and Republican plans to cut government expenditures was that both rely heavily on a crackdown in Medicare “waste and fraud.”

The deal tentatively agreed to calls for further cuts (or tax increases) of about $1.5 billion, also spread over the next ten years, to be proposed by a bipartisan commission and take automatic effect unless Congress acts—as it could do: it could decide to rescind the cuts. Alterations in social security have been taken off the table; and the only cuts in Medicare that the negotiators are permitted to order are reductions in reimbursement of hospitals and physicians—that will have only an indirect effect on the expense of Medicare, by lengthening waiting time for medical services, and that will create pressure to rescind the reductions.

As with adjusting the social security cost of living formula, and the successful effort in the 1980s to raise the eligibility age for social security gradually, large-scale reductions in entitlements are feasible only if phased in gradually—which would have to be done anyway in order to avoid a serious jolt to the current weak economy. The problem is that Congress cannot make credible long-term commitments to reduce spending because it cannot bind subsequent Congresses. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that both political parties are much fonder of increased spending than of increased taxes, so there is built-in momentum for increased government debt. The Republican radicals in the House of Representatives recognize this problem and their frustration is understandable, but national insolvency is not an intelligent solution.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Managing Reverse Logistics, Recycling, and Sustainability in the US

Managing Reverse Logistics, Recycling, and Sustainability in the US

Product Liability Law Desk Reference, 2011 Edition

Imprint: Aspen Publishers
ISBN: 9780735509900
Paperback: 935 pages

On the front lines of product liability disputes, successful litigation planning begins with immediate access to the product liability laws of various jurisdictions--plus an understanding of the countless differences among them. That's exactly what you get with the thoroughly up-to-date and expanded edition of Product Liability Desk Reference, 2011 Edition , edited by Morton F. Daller.

Whether you represent the plaintiff or defendant, the Product Liability Desk Reference, 2011 Edition is a comprehensive resource that provides the most recent statutory and case law developments on product liability laws for each of the fifty states and the District of Columbia.

With coverage that is clear and concise, you will be able to make an initial assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of your case across jurisdictions. Practitioner-oriented, and written by leading state experts, each chapter summarizes the variants and developments particular to a specific state jurisdiction, resulting in a text that will assist you in making critical choices in product liability disputes wherever they arise.

You'll find detailed coverage of each state's standards regarding:

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Negligence
Breach of Warranty
Punitive damages
Wrongful death
Pre- and post-judgment interest
Employer immunity from suit
Joint and severable liability
Relevant statutes to product liability actions.



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Drunk Driving Defense, Seventh Edition


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Thursday, February 10, 2011

OBAMA'S ADVANTAGE

First Term Incumbents Rarely Lose but a Close Election Likely
By Alan I. Abramowitz
Senior Columnist

The 2012 presidential election is still more than 20 months away. While the early maneuvering for the Republican presidential nomination is already underway, the identity of President Obama’s GOP challenger won’t be known for more than a year. Economic trends will have a major impact on the President’s reelection chances and unpredictable events, such as the recent political turmoil in Egypt, could also affect the public’s evaluation of the President’s performance.

But even without knowing what condition the economy will be in, whether a major international crisis will erupt, or who will win the Republican nomination, one crucial determinant of the outcome of the 2012 presidential election is already known. Barack Obama will be seeking reelection as a first term incumbent and first term incumbents rarely lose.

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In the past hundred years, there have been ten presidential elections in which an incumbent president was seeking a second term in the White House for his party with the most recent being 2004. The key distinction here is the number of terms the incumbent’s party has been in office, not the number of terms the individual incumbent has been in office. Incumbent party candidates have won nine of those ten first term elections. Jimmy Carter in 1980 was the only first term incumbent party candidate in the past century to lose and it took a devastating combination of recession, inflation, and public frustration over the seemingly endless Iran hostage crisis to bring him down.

In contrast to first term incumbents, second or later term incumbents have had a much harder time winning reelection. In the past century, eight incumbents have sought a third or later term in the White House. Four of them won while four lost, including the most recent second term incumbent—George H.W. Bush in 1992. And non-incumbents seeking a third or later term for their party have fared even worse. Of the seven non-incumbents seeking a third or later term in the White House for their party, only one was successful. Ironically, it was George H.W. Bush in 1988.

Even after controlling for two other factors that have been found to accurately predict the outcomes of presidential elections—the growth rate of the economy in the first half of the election year and the president’s approval rating at midyear—first term incumbents have done significantly better than second or later term incumbents and non-incumbents.

Table 1 displays the results of a regression analysis of the outcomes of the 16 U.S. presidential elections since the end of World War II. The dependent variable in this analysis is the incumbent party’s share of the major party vote. The independent variables are the incumbent president’s net approval rating (approval-disapproval) in the Gallup Poll at midyear, the annual growth rate of real GDP in the second quarter of the election year, and a dummy variable distinguishing between first term incumbents and all other types of incumbent party candidates.
Table 1. Results of Regression Analysis of Presidential Election Outcomes

Source: Data compiled by author.

This simple forecasting model does an excellent job of predicting the outcomes of presidential elections, explaining just over 90 percent of the variance in the incumbent party’s share of the popular vote. The model has correctly predicted the winner of every presidential election since 1988 more than two months before Election Day. In 2008, the model correctly predicted a comfortable victory for Barack Obama over John McCain at a time when McCain had taken the lead over Obama in a number of national polls following the Republican National Convention.

The results displayed in Table 1 indicate that the higher reelection rate of first term incumbents compared with other types of candidates is not a by-product of differences in economic conditions or presidential popularity. First term incumbents have an advantage of more than four percentage points compared with other candidates of the incumbent party after controlling for the effects of economic growth and presidential approval.
What to Expect in 2012

It is far too early to predict the outcome of the 2012 presidential election. Economic conditions and the President’s approval rating could change considerably between now and the middle of next year. However, the clear implication of the results in Table 1 is that regardless of who wins the Republican nomination, even modest economic growth and a mediocre approval rating in 2012 would probably be enough to give Barack Obama a second term in the White House. For example, an annual growth rate of three percent in the second quarter (slightly below the most recent estimate for the fourth quarter of 2010) and a net approval rating of zero at midyear (slightly worse than Obama’s average rating over the past month) would result in a forecast of 53 percent of the national popular vote for the President which would almost certainly produce a decisive victory in the Electoral College.

There is an important caveat that should be added to these conclusions, however. While the “time for change” forecasting model described above has correctly predicted the winner of the popular vote in the last five presidential elections, the last four winners—Bill Clinton in 1996, Al Gore in 2000, George W. Bush in 2004 and Barack Obama in 2008—all won by a smaller margin than expected. The predicted and actual popular vote margins in these elections are displayed in Table 2. On average, the winning candidate’s popular vote margin was 4.5 points smaller than the margin predicted by the model.
Table 2. Predicted and Actual Popular Vote Margins in Presidential Elections, 1996-2008

Note: Based on major party vote.

Source: Data compiled by author.

Four elections do not establish a clear trend, but the fact that all of these elections were closer than predicted and the fact that we haven’t had a true landslide election since 1984 suggest that there is something else going on that is not captured by the forecasting model. That something may be polarization.

Since the 1990s the American party system has been characterized by a sharp ideological divide between the two major parties, a close division within the electorate between supporters of the two parties, and high levels of party loyalty in voting. There is no reason to expect that pattern to change in 2012. If Barack Obama does win a second term in the White House, it will most likely be by a fairly narrow margin unless economic growth and the President’s approval rating both show dramatic improvement in the next 18 months.
Alan Abramowitz is the Alben W. Barkley Professor of Political Science at Emory University and the author of The Disappearing Center: Engaged Citizens, Polarization, and American Democracy. Professor Abramowitz—or a facsimile—has recently been quoted in The Onion as well. He can be contacted via email at polsaa@emory.edu.


Tweets of the Week
By Larry J. Sabato
Director, U.Va. Center for Politics
The Crystal Ball's Tweets of the Week is a look back at the highlights of the past week in politics in snippets of 140 characters or less. To get this analysis as soon as news breaks, follow University of Virginia Center for Politics Director, and Crystal Ball founder, Larry Sabato on Twitter by clicking here.

3:20 PM Feb 3rd: No big surprises on VA Census data. As expected, NoVa & suburban/exurban areas gain, central cities & rural areas lose. Same old story.

6:24 AM PM Feb 4th: National Review: Jeb Bush might run in ‘16…Finally, on to 2016. ‘12 is such a stale topic.

12:38 PM PM Feb 6th: All Rs who run for POTUS fashion themselves as the next Reagan, all Ds who run for POTUS as the next JFK. All fail.

12:40 PM PM Feb 6th: Certain presidents become men for all seasons in their own party, ‘golden oldies’ with a sound often imitated but never duplicated.

12:42 PM PM Feb 6th: Thomas Jefferson is popular in both parties. But the pols who invoke him most often are the least like TJ in intellectual heft & curiosity.

12:49 PM PM Feb 6th: Shakespeare provided the best north star for pols: To thine own self be true. But revealingly, many prefer we think of them as someone else.

11:33 AM PM Feb 9th: To no one’s surprise, Sen. Jim Webb(D-VA) won’t seek a 2nd term. Just not very political, really. The most unusual senator, in that way.

11:35 AM PM Feb 9th: I’d rate him highly in the job, tho. You can agree/disagree w/his votes but he was serious & bold. Achieved far more than usual for frosh.

11:37 AM PM Feb 9th: Webb reminds me of a superb 1-term Senator, William B. Spong, Jr.(D-VA, 1967-73). Would have been Majority Leader had he not lost in ‘72.

11:40 AM PM Feb 9th: Politically, Webb leaves Dems in a lurch. Will Obama ask Kaine? If Kaine says no, who? Current or former House member? Plenty of them.

11:42 AM PM Feb 9th: If Ds have credible well-funded candidate, it will all come down to POTUS coattail. Probably won’t be a ticket-splitting election.

11:42 AM PM Feb 9th: If Obama wins VA again, a credible D will win Senate. If R POTUS nominee carries VA, G Allen will win (assuming he gets R nod, as is likely)

11:46 AM PM Feb 9th: VA is 1 of at least 6 shaky Senate seats for Ds as the cycle begins. Rs only have a couple. Prez coattail will play a large part everywhere.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Friday, January 21, 2011

Olbermann, MSNBC part ways

Olbermann, MSNBC part ways

Harvard Law Review

D.C. Circuit Deems Warrantless Use of GPS Device an Unreasonable Search. — United States v. Maynard, 615 F.3d 544 (D.C. Cir.), reh’g en banc denied, No. 08-3034, 2010 WL 4703743 (D.C. Cir. Nov. 19, 2010), cert. denied, No. 10-7102, 2010 WL 4156203 (U.S. Nov. 29, 2010).Harvard Law Review

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Q & A: Election Law Expert Richard L. Hasen

How the press fared covering the post-Citizens United landscape, and stories to do now

By Liz Cox Barrett

On the eve of the one year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s controversial decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, CJR’s Liz Cox Barrett spoke with Richard L. Hasen, a visiting professor at University of California Irvine School of Law and an expert in election law and campaign finance regulations, about Citizens United, its effect on the 2010 midterm elections, how the press fared in its coverage of it all, and what reporters should focus on now and in the run-up to 2012. This is an edited transcript of that conversation.

What exactly did the Citizens United v. FEC decision allow? Can you summarize it?

The Supreme Court held that it violates the First Amendment of U.S. Constitution to limit the independent spending of corporations and presumably labor unions in candidate elections. The Court also upheld broad disclosure rules, and said nothing about the constitutionality of existing limits on direct contributions from corporations or unions to candidates.

On your blog, electionlawblog, you recently flagged a CNN segment in which the Citizens United decision was mischaracterized. Is this a common problem, in your experience? The press, the public, misperceiving or miscommunicating the fundamentals of the decision?

Campaign finance tends to be a very technical area, and both the press and the public are often confused by the [Citizens United] ruling. Sometimes I think people use shorthand to describe what’s going on and it’s not necessarily precise.

Of course there was a great controversy over what President Obama said at the [2010] State of the Union [“Last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests — including foreign corporations — to spend without limit in our elections”] to which Justice Alito mouthed, “Not true.” Some people said even the president mischaracterized the decision.

Did he?

I think he did to the extent he held that foreign corporations could engage in election spending. Citizens United left that open for another day, noting there’s an existing provision of federal law that bars such spending.

What, in effect, did the decision do, as seen over the last year? And how do you think the press has fared reporting on that? Has anything been over- or under-emphasized?

The jury is still out on the effects of Citizens United on the electoral process. Certainly we’re seeing more corporate money being used and labor union money being used to influence federal elections, but even before Citizens United there were ways for corporations to do that. Scholars are still trying to disentangle a number of things. For example, the 2010 midterm elections were closely contested. Any time elections are closely contested we’d expect more money to pour into the process, so it’s hard to say whether Citizens United directly or indirectly contributed to the skyrocketing cost of the 2010 election. For some in the press, there’s been a tendency to attribute the rise in spending to the case. And it is certainly more complicated than that.

In addition, we have seen a shift away from full disclosure of the contributions funding spending in the 2010 election. And I think journalists often attribute that shift directly to Citizens United whereas it’s actually much more indirect. That is, in Citizens United, the Court upheld disclosure rules. It was only because of actions at the D.C. circuit level and the Federal Election Commission, combined with the inadequacy of IRS rules, which led to a situation where we have far less disclosure than we’ve had in the past. I summarized this in a Slate piece in October. The idea that Citizens United endorsed the concept of secret corporate money is incorrect.

Looking back, how has the press done, in your view, covering the post-Citizens United landscape? Anything stand out to you, for the good or the bad?

The greatest positive role the press has played in terms of its coverage of campaign finance issues in 2010 was to ferret out these now-secret contributions. I point especially to a series of reports in the New York Times that were very educational in teaching us how easy it is for corporate spenders and others to hide behind innocuous-sounding groups like Americans for Job Security or Coalition to Protect Seniors. I mentioned these Times pieces in my Slate piece. [CJR, too, has praised the Times’s work and did a Q&A in October with one of the investigative reporters behind the effort, Mike McIntire]. That was something the press did well.

Sometimes covering election law issues is like watching paint dry. It is, I think, a challenge to make these issues interesting and accessible for a general reader. In this election there was just so much money and so much secrecy, so the stories were probably of broader interest. I cannot recall a case since Bush v. Gore in 2000 when the public has shown such interest in a Supreme Court case. That helps to make the case for covering the impact of Citizens United.

If you were a reporter on the campaign finance beat, what stories would you pursue both right now and looking toward 2012?

One issue is the parts and makeup of groups that are taking advantage of the new campaign finance environment. In 2010 it was mostly Republican-leaning groups such as American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS that took advantage of the ability to use corporate money and to apply secrecy to contributions. It appears the Obama campaign team is signaling that this would be okay on the Democratic side as well. So it will be interesting to see the efforts made in that arena.

One area that has been tremendously under-covered has been the complete break down of the enforcement powers of the Federal Election Commission. There was a good story in the New York Times and one at TPM Muckraker but [not much] apart from that. The fact that the three Republican commissioners in lockstep have taken a de-regulatory position well beyond that of the Supreme Court is pretty startling, and troubling to someone like me who believes that campaign finance laws on the book should be enforced strongly.

One example is the three Republican commissioners took a position on disclosure of contributions funding election-related ads that made it child’s play to avoid disclosure except in extremely narrow circumstances.

The other thing I’d point out is that President Obama’s 2008 campaign was able to raise $745 million under the old campaign finance rules. It’ll be interesting to see how he’ll fare under the new rules. It would not surprise me to see both the Democratic and Republican presidential nominees raising over a billion dollars each. The question will be how this election differs from other elections in terms of, for example, the interests of small donors. [In 2008] Obama was remarkably successful at attracting small contributions from a large number of contributors. Whether or not small contributors will be discouraged or motivated to give in a post-Citizens United atmosphere is an interesting question.

Gadsden Flag: Don't Tread on Me

Gadsden Flag: Don't Tread on Me

Thursday, January 20, 2011

2012 GOP Presidential Contenders

Presidential Possibilities
A First Line-Up for 2012

Larry J. Sabato, Director, U.Va. Center for Politics January 20th, 2011

Precisely two years from today, America will be inaugurating a president. But much sooner, the full-blown contest for the White House will begin.

Just a year from now, we’ll all be watching presidential candidates slog through the snows of Iowa and New Hampshire (with sunny side trips to Nevada and South Carolina). There is only one guarantee: It will be a year full of tumult and unexpected developments.

Presidential general elections are often far more predictable than the nominating contests. Why? The general elections are shaped by fundamental factors (shape of the economy, war and peace, scandal, presence of an incumbent, etc.), and these are not easily altered and can be seen–to a certain degree–well in advance. But nominating battles are very different. The vast majority of the voters agree with the vast majority of the candidates on a vast majority of the issues. They all share the same party label. So differences in personality and character, sectionalism, campaign spending, alliances with key constituencies, and other factors substitute for the fundamentals of a general election.

Voters try to pick a candidate (1) who can win in November; (2) with whom they agree on issues; and (3) whom they like. And choosing among friends in the primaries is much more painful than the easy selection of friend versus enemy in a general election.

While President Obama may or may not have one or more Democratic primary foes, he is a lead pipe cinch to be the Democratic nominee for president, and to win the party nod by a mile. At this point, there is nothing to analyze, except to say that Obama will want to stave off a challenge if possible. Major intra-party challenges to the incumbent president in 1968 (Gene McCarthy and Bobby Kennedy for LBJ), 1976 (Ronald Reagan for Gerald Ford), 1980 (Ted Kennedy for Jimmy Carter), and 1992 (Pat Buchanan for George H.W. Bush) all helped to send presidents into early retirement.

In 2011-2012, the nominating action is on the Republican side, and a vigorous “invisible primary” contest is already underway. The term “invisible primary” refers to the early, pre-primary accumulation of money and endorsements, the building of organizations in key states, the management of a campaign infrastructure, and the shaping of issue positions and public relations among the various real and possible presidential candidates.

The GOP field is not set. The contenders are in various stages of undress as the strip tease proceeds. So we begin with a catch-all listing of those clearly running (such as Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty); those seriously toying with running (Sarah Palin, Mitch Daniels, Newt Gingrich, Haley Barbour, etc.); those who might be persuaded to run (such as Chris Christie and Marco Rubio); and those who are running but tilting at windmills (Rick Santorum, Gary Johnson, and so on). In total, we evaluate nineteen actual or potential candidates here.

There may be more to come. Somewhat inexplicably, Rudy Giuliani is ruminating about another White House bid, though he crashed and burned in 2008–and has the very same problems (such as liberal positions on social issues) for 2012. This time around, Rudy isn’t even assured of being in Tier 2. Reality will dawn at some point and the former New York City mayor will probably stay out. Several state governors, such as Rick Perry of Texas and Bob Riley of Alabama (who just left the executive mansion after eight years), are mentioned here and there, but so far no signs have emerged to suggest a serious effort. And let’s not forget about ex-Gov. Buddy Roemer of Louisiana, who is toying with a candidacy though not by popular demand. He’s been out of office since his reelection defeat in 1991, but the fires of ambition are never extinguished for some politicians until the cold of the grave.

At the starting gate, all we can do is offer a preliminary assessment of their chances for the Republican nomination by weighing their advantages and disadvantages. The general election is another story. Some candidates who have a good or fair chance to be nominated will be hard-pressed to win in November. Yes, Sarah Palin is a prominent example of the latter principle.

No one can be rated as having an “excellent” chance at winning the nomination (yet someone will eventually win). Mitt Romney, widely considered to be leading the early pack, starts out as a weak frontrunner. Six actual or possible contenders are placed in the First Tier; four more in the Second Tier: four in the Third Tier; and five in the Fourth Tier. Obviously, the nominee is likely to be found in Tiers 1 and 2.

There is only one more thing we know for sure. The ratings will change. Presidential primaries are a demolition derby. Even the top-of-the-line cars can occasionally be put out of commission by a junk heap. To switch political metaphors, dark horses (at least those in Tiers 1 and 2) cannot be written off with anything near certainty. A few actually win, and others run a much stronger race than expected, upsetting the field’s line-up.

It’s a terrific spectator sport. Prepare to be amused.

GOP Presidential Possibilities


Mitt Romney: If the Republican field has a frontrunner, it is Mitt Romney, but he’s a very weak frontrunner. Republicans by nature are hierarchical, and in the modern era they have usually nominated the next-in-line prince. Romney and Mike Huckabee were, for all practical purposes, tied as the number two to McCain in 2008, but Romney had a more traditional and effective campaign operation and fundraising machine. As expected, Romney is running a frontrunner’s campaign in 2012–keeping aloof from many day-to-day controversies, funding allies across the country and especially in early primary and caucus states, and trying to maintain the flexibility to position himself when it really matters for the nominating process. However, at this early stage, no one is going to put a heavy bet on a Romney nomination. He has too many weaknesses, from policy (healthcare in particular) to politics (little common touch or populist appeal) to religion (Mormonism remains controversial with the GOP fundamentalist Christian base). For the moment, Romney is methodically running down the checklist for a serious presidential candidate: traveling abroad, raising money, assembling a team, trading endorsements, and the like.

Mike Huckabee: No one is sure if Mike Huckabee is going to mount a second bid for the White House in 2012. He would have to give up a lucrative FOX contract in order to do so, and he would also have to find a way to raise much more money than he was able to do in 2008. At the same time, Huckabee has substantial residual support in Iowa, South Carolina, and other places where fundamentalist Christians are a big part of the GOP base. Huckabee is a blue-collar Republican rather than a blue blood one. It is no surprise, then, that Huckabee and Mitt Romney do not like one another very much; it is far more than a policy dispute between the two. No doubt, Huckabee will do what he can to stop Romney from getting the Republican nomination, whether Huckabee runs or not. Another difficulty for Huckabee is that he draws support from many of the same individuals and groups that back other candidates, including Sarah Palin. Huckabee has pointed out that he has actually led some of the very early presidential polling, for whatever that is worth, but it is obvious that he is of two minds about making the race. We will just have to see what he decides, presumably by spring. Whether he wants to weigh this factor or not, Huckabee should be concerned about some controversial pardons he issued while governor of Arkansas. It won’t be easy to sell his lenient actions to a Republican electorate that is traditionally “tough on crime” and once supported George H.W. Bush’s 1988 presidential campaign against Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis because of Dukakis’s furloughs of convicted criminals.

Sarah Palin: One of the most famous pre-candidates in recent presidential history, Sarah Palin continues to dominate a campaign she has not entered and may never enter. It is impossible to know whether Palin will become a candidate. In selecting her as his 2008 vice presidential nominee, John McCain made her a national star and also immensely wealthy, and she is now a business empire with few precedents in America’s political history. Of course, all of that has come at a considerable price. Beloved by the Tea Party and other conservatives, Palin is highly controversial, divisive, and polarizing. Should she enter the 2012 contest, Palin will instantly become one of the frontrunners. But is she really interested in giving up the empire she has built to trudge through the snows of Iowa and New Hampshire and endure the indignities that come automatically to all candidates, famous and obscure alike? The record is not encouraging, given her midterm resignation from the one significant office she has ever held, that of Alaska state governor. No one will be surprised if she takes a pass on the campaign, after having teased and tweaked and twittered about it for as long as possible. It is a smart thing to draw out the attention and maximize one’s influence on the process. If Palin does end up running for president, she will benefit from a split field of GOP candidates–for as long as that lasts. Yet even in the Tea Party, Palin is viewed in a mixed way. The activists appreciate what she stands for, but wonder whether she can win a general election–and her poor handling of the Tucson shootings has only added to the deep doubts about her. Virtually every poll shows her losing to President Obama by the widest margin of any major Republican contender. This worry about Palin is widespread and discussed privately everywhere. As long as Republicans believe they have a strong chance of winning in 2012, they may hesitate to put forward a candidate who will have great difficulty capturing moderates and swing independent voters. No one is foolish enough to underestimate Sarah Palin, but few political analysts can currently imagine her being elevated to the Oval Office either.

Tim Pawlenty: The former two-term governor of Minnesota is by all accounts a dark horse for the GOP nomination. Even Pawlenty would agree with that. But there are long longshots and short longshots, and Pawlenty is in the latter category. He has been out in the field early and often, most recently promoting a new book, and while he has not made much of a splash, he has made progress. Pawlenty hopes that his blue-collar background will contrast with the Bluenose candidacy of Mitt Romney, if indeed Romney is able to maintain his front-runner status. Perhaps a little suspect because he was governor of a state with a liberal image, Pawlenty has insisted, maybe a little too strenuously, that he has been comprehensively conservative during his public life. As his supporters would suggest, at least he didn’t pass a version of Obamacare in Minnesota. Pawlenty is understated, with a wry sense of humor, and he hasn’t yet left much of an impression on the nascent campaign. But there is plenty of time, and as long as he can keep up his fundraising, Pawlenty can hope that the GOP field shakes out just right for an acceptable if bland Midwestern conservative. Stranger things have happened in presidential politics.

Haley Barbour: Republicans regard Haley Barbour as one of their historic heroes, having laid the organizational groundwork for the 1994 GOP takeover of both houses of Congress. Barbour has also made the unusual transition from party operative and Washington, DC lobbyist to elected official, having served two terms as governor of Mississippi. There is no question that he is a Republican senior statesman, and having been so close to power for decades, he naturally looks in the mirror and asks, “Why not me?” There is no better political strategist in the party, and no one who understands Republican politics discounts him. Potentially, he would have strong support in the South, which is the most powerful region in the GOP nominating process. Nonetheless, Barbour has a mountain to climb in winning the nomination and, along the way, convincing Republicans he can win the general election. Tea Party activists are naturally suspicious of his senior lobbyist status, and unquestionably he is a charter member of the Establishment rather than a pitchfork populist. Barbour bears the burdens of Mississippi, too. He has badly mishandled a recent racial controversy about what he recalls from the Magnolia State’s sad civil rights past, and pardoning a couple of convicted African-American sisters at Christmastime is unlikely to change his image. Mississippi is also nearly last in almost everything, and he would be called to account for that, much as Bill Clinton had to explain why Arkansas was in such poor shape in almost every respect in 1992. Of course, that didn’t stop Bill Clinton, and it may not stop Haley Barbour.

Mitch Daniels: Here is another accomplished governor from a vital Midwestern swing state. Unlike Pawlenty, Daniels has not thrown his hat into the ring and may never do so. In an old-fashioned way, he has been testing the waters, dipping a toe in here and there, dropping hints and suggesting that he might, just might, try for higher office. Again, it is impossible to get into the head of a potential candidate, though the old political rule of ambition usually applies: you have to want the White House so badly that the fire in your belly can substitute for heating oil all winter long. If Daniels does run, he has an impressive record to tout. Daniels has been a very popular two-term governor in Indiana, and his earlier service as head of the Office of Management and Budget in the George W. Bush White House potentially qualifies him to make a case for reducing yawning national deficits and debt–although he can also be accused of having helped to create the debt mountain. The problem for Daniels is that he may be viewed as more of a manager than a potential president. In addition, while Daniels fits the old definition of conservative to a T, he is not much of a revolutionary from the Tea Party perspective, and he is suspected of having moderate tendencies on both about the possible need to raise taxes in order to reduce the deficit as well as the kind of priority a president should give to controversial social issues. Daniels is leaving office in 2012 since he cannot run for a third term, so the timing of a presidential campaign is perfect–if he really wants to spend his last couple of years as Indiana’s chief executive roaming the nation in an extended, humbling job interview.

Newt Gingrich: Other than Sarah Palin, no candidate in the 2012 GOP field is as well known as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. As with Palin, however, 100% name recognition is a mixed blessing. Republicans will always appreciate Gingrich’s role in the 1994 GOP takeover of Congress. His relentless drive and cornucopia of policy ideas helped to restore a party’s confidence after 40 years out of power in the House. But it was all downhill from there. Gingrich didn’t understand the difference between holding the speakership and being president of the United States. He badly overreached, led the Republicans into a disastrous government shutdown, and helped to restore the tattered Clinton presidency. More than any single individual, including 1996 GOP presidential nominee Bob Dole, Gingrich created the conditions for Clinton’s reelection. Then his disagreements with other Republicans and bad judgment calls were a factor in the disappointing outcome (for Republicans) of the 1998 midterm election. The GOP actually lost House seats when they had had the opportunity to increase their numbers substantially. Once again, Gingrich had overreached in seeking the impeachment of President Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky affair. Almost unbelievably, during the very time when Gingrich was capitalizing on Clinton infidelity, Gingrich himself was having an extramarital affair which inevitably became public. His three messy marriages are part of the heavy baggage Gingrich would carry into the 2012 Republican nominating battle. At the age of 69 in 2012, it will be difficult for the polarizing, controversial former House Speaker to present himself as a winning alternative to President Obama. Overall, Gingrich does poorly in the general election matchups with Obama, and this undoubtedly will influence many Republicans during the primary season. No one underestimates Gingrich’s ability to dominate the political debate with new ideas and clever soundbites, should he choose to run. Gingrich has toyed with the idea of running for president for years, but has never done so. His close associates say he is closer than he has ever been before to getting in, but time will tell.

Mike Pence: The odds are that Congressman Pence will be running for governor of Indiana in 2012, and he has a good chance to win that. The presidency is very probably a bridge too far. First, it is exceedingly difficult for a member of the House to move directly to the Presidency. Only James A. Garfield has managed that in American history. All recent House candidacies, such as that of former Democratic House leader Richard Gephardt, have failed. Yes, Pence is well respected, especially among the fiscal and social conservatives who dominate many of the early Republican caucuses and primaries. But those activists will have a wide choice among better-known and funded potential nominees.

John Thune: Another dark horse who is receiving attention, at least inside the Beltway, is South Dakota Sen. John Thune. This picture–perfect, made–for–TV politician has a lot of experience to back up his good looks. Having been involved in politics and government since the 1980s, Thune has made a career of service in both houses of Congress. Thune served in the House from 1996 to 2002, when he mounted an unsuccessful campaign to unseat Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson. It was a nailbiter, decided by about 500 votes out of over 330,000 cast. Undeterred, Thune turned right around and challenged Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D) in 2004, and defeated Daschle by about 4,500 votes. This victory made Thune a giant–killer, and it was a headliner race around the nation, and one of the most expensive. Remarkably, Thune ran unopposed for reelection in 2010, and thus he is tanned, rested, and ready should he decide to run in 2012. South Dakota is a small base from which to launch a presidential campaign, though that didn’t stop George McGovern. One advantage is that Iowa is nearby, and Thune would have to do well in Iowa to survive and fight in other states. Thune knows he will be an asterisk in the polls unless and until he wins a major caucus or primary state, and it is still uncertain whether he will run at all. Should the planets and stars align for Thune in the GOP process, however, he has the potential to be a formidable foe for President Obama.

Marco Rubio: The new senator from Florida is much more likely to end up on the 2012 GOP ticket as vice president. It will be a shock if he is not on the eventual nominee’s shortlist. He’s got it all: high office from one of the premier swing mega–states, good looks and rhetorical flourish, and ethnic membership in arguably the most significant political group of the 21st century, Hispanics. Rubio is new to the national scene, but had a career as speaker of the state House of Representatives–no minor position. And after Barack Obama’s meteoric rise, Democrats would be in no position to question Rubio’s experience. However, similar to the circumstances facing Chris Christie, when you’re hot you’re hot, and it is difficult to keep the griddle warm. Will Rubio find a way to achieve quick prominence in the Senate, and decide the Republicans need him in order to defeat Obama in 2012? Once again, Obama has blazed the trail for very junior senators, so this is not as unthinkable as it once might have been.

Chris Christie: Sometimes an unexpected politician comes out of nowhere and captures the public’s imagination. Chris Christie has done just that, especially within the universe of the Republican party faithful. Elected governor of New Jersey in 2009, Christie has become a hero to the Tea Party movement, and his blunt confrontational style–especially about government spending–has resonated deeply. Christie says he isn’t running, and we believe him. There is no such thing as a presidential draft these days, so Christie would have to change his mind about seeking the White House in 2012. In doing so, he would probably damage severely his gubernatorial reelection prospects in 2013, should he still be in New Jersey. The rule in politics is that you run while you are hot, and it’s doubtful that Christie can maintain a high temperature all the way to 2016. (Maybe the poor snow removal and Christie’s absence from New Jersey during the Christmas blizzard of 2010 will cool him down quickly.) But let’s see if Christie gets Potomac fever. If he does, Christie is not to be underestimated in a large field that may become very fractured during the nominating process.

Rick Santorum: This is an unusual case of presidential fever. Santorum, a two-term senator from Pennsylvania, lost his seat in 2006 by a massive 18 percentage points. Not many would consider this a qualification to run for president, assuming a party hopes to win in November. But Santorum is self-confident and determined to spread his socially conservative views to an attentive audience in the Iowa caucus, which is dominated on the Republican side by fundamentalist Christians. To his credit, he is already on the campaign trail working as hard as any other candidate–harder than most, in fact–but so far his appeal is limited. Oddly, Santorum’s case was undermined by the election of Sen. Pat Toomey (R) in 2010. If anything, Toomey is more conservative than Santorum, and yet he won in Pennsylvania, albeit in a better year for the GOP. President Obama would probably make quick work of Santorum in a general election, and this is obvious to most Republican activists. A decent early showing in Iowa is a real possibility, but it is difficult to see how Santorum becomes the nominee of a party that thinks it can win in November 2012.

Jon Huntsman: A surprise, possible new year’s entry is Huntsman, currently serving as the Obama administration’s ambassador to China. Huntsman resigned his governorship of Utah just over a half-year into the second term to which he was elected in 2008 to take the ambassadorship. Well regarded as governor and very popular in the Beehive State, his ambassadorial appointment was seen at the time as a clever move by Obama to remove a potential 2012 GOP rival from seeking the White House. Apparently, that calculus may have assumed less ambition than Huntsman possesses–if in fact the reports of Huntsman’s interest in a presidential bid are true. It may be a feint, after all, designed to keep his name out in public and associated with the GOP. Within the Republican party, he has all but disappeared as a force, and is viewed as someone working for the enemy. Maybe Huntsman can sell this to a politics-weary nation as bipartisanship, but we doubt a conservative GOP electorate is going to buy that. Adding to Huntsman’s woes is that he has taken a number of moderate-to-liberal positions on gay rights, environmentalism, and other subjects, none of which are helpful in running for a Republican party nomination. Huntsman’s family wealth is enormous, but money can only carry you so far in nomination politics. The former governor is being pushed by ex-McCain associates viewed as moderates within the GOP, another fact not likely to sell well in Iowa or South Carolina, just to pick two early contests. Finally, Mitt Romney has a big head start in nailing down the Mormon political activist corps of volunteers and contributors. Huntsman will inherit the problems of being a Mormon candidate in a conservative Christian party without the same benefits as Romney. This is a strange development, and while Huntsman’s assets mean he certainly cannot be written off, assuming he’s running, he will have to quickly exit the China post and get to work mending fences if he is to be taken seriously.

Michele Bachmann: Just elected to her third term in the U. S. House representing Minnesota’s conservative Sixth Congressional District, Bachmann had been thought to be aiming for the Senate seat of freshman Democratic incumbent Amy Klobuchar in 2012. But apparently, her ambitions are still greater. While she has given no firm indication of a White House candidacy, there have been hints, including a scheduled trip to Iowa. Bachmann is a Tea Party favorite, and she has been a fierce advocate for virtually every socially and fiscally conservative position, from opposing abortion and gay rights to promoting property rights, stringent debt reduction, and lower taxes. Bachmann has a controversial style, and she is no favorite of the House Republican leadership. But if she played by the rules, this junior congresswoman wouldn’t be on this list of possible presidential candidates. The most conservative activists love her, and she isn’t about to step aside easily for the former governor of her state, Tim Pawlenty, or another woman with even higher visibility in the Tea Party movement, Sarah Palin. (Pawlenty in particular must be unhappy with Bachmann’s maneuverings.) We believe that gaining the GOP nomination for president is a bridge too far for any House member, including Bachmann. But she would certainly stir the pot; more accurately, she would be a stick of dynamite in the Republican pond.

Ron Paul: The 11-term Texas congressman, whose congressional career has stretched (intermittently) from the mid-1970s to the present, may be better known nationally as the father of new Tea Party Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). Like father, like son; both are firebrands. As politicians go, Paul is about as principled as one can find. He’s a mixture of traditional GOP, isolationist, libertarian, and Tea Party–an unconventional and occasionally unpredictable mix, for sure. In fact, he was the Libertarian Party candidate for president in 1988, garnering 432,000 votes in the George H.W. Bush-Michael Dukakis race. Paul ran for president again in 2008, but this time as a Republican. He actually finished fourth, with 1,165,112 votes (5.6%), behind John McCain, Mitt Romney, and Mike Huckabee. Any college professor knows he drew a fair number of young people to his banner, mainly young men who liked his anti-Iraq War stand and his staunch anti-debt positions. But Paul’s time may have passed, and he himself says there’s only a 50-50 chance he’ll run in 2012. Just age 41 when first elected to the House in April 1976, Paul will be 77 years old in 2012. No question that Paul would enliven the GOP debates and would again be a youth and press favorite, but his chances of winning the Republican nomination for president are somewhere between very small and nonexistent.

John Bolton: A surprise entry into the GOP field, former UN ambassador John Bolton might be able to insure that foreign-policy is a major part of the discussion during the Republican campaign. That in itself is a useful contribution. But Bolton has no elective experience, no real political base, and likely no major argument for his possessions among the top Republican candidates. As he himself would probably admit, he is no populist, and comes across on TV as stern and academic. It is also difficult to see how he would raise the money for a credible bid. He may or may not run, and is still considering the race.

Gary Johnson: This two-term governor of New Mexico is almost totally unknown outside his home state. A wealthy businessman, he was something of a surprise winner in the Land of Enchantment during his years of service (1994 to 2002). Johnson is a most exceptional kind of Republican, a libertarian on many issues including drug legalization, and a Ron Paul supporter in 2008. He has practiced what he has preached, openly admitting to smoking marijuana with frequency for several recent years, as he sought to overcome residual pain from an accident. Much like John Bolton, but from a different direction, he will enrich the debate by being in the race. But Johnson’s chances of nomination are mighty slim, and that is putting it kindly. Johnson probably hopes for a Paul endorsement if the Texas congressman does not run again.

Herman Cain: Another wealthy businessman, Cain is a favorite among some activists. An African-American and former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, Cain often hosts conservative radio shows. He is a staunch critic of President Obama and has a blunt, no-holds-barred style. But as someone with no elective experience and the perception that he is too far right to win a general election, Cain is most unlikely to be the Republican presidential nominee, even as he appears to be moving forward to become an official candidate.

Donald Trump: As if the 2012 presidential election didn’t have enough sass and color, along comes Donald Trump. He has not made a final commitment to running, but he certainly did sound interested in a recent Newsmax interview. Trump made his fortune in real estate, starting in Manhattan and extending to Las Vegas and multiple locations around the world. He is perhaps the premier celebrity businessman in the United States, and he has published best-selling books such as “The Art of the Deal.” Today he is best known for his hit TV series, “The Apprentice.” Millions have watched it for years, enjoying the competition among aspiring young business types, but perhaps taking the greatest guilty pleasure in hearing Trump say to one participant at the end of each show, “You’re fired.” It is difficult to know whether to take Trump seriously when he suggests a presidential candidacy, and he has given himself until the summer–when the TV season concludes–to make a decision. Trump would have all the money he needs and could certainly draw a crowd wherever he goes. But like many celebrities who jump into politics, he will have difficulty being taken seriously, at least at first. Trump has never served in any public office, and he’s no Dwight David Eisenhower. On the campaign trail, Trump could be a hit, or he could be a bust. Our initial suspicion is that the Republican primary voters will end up saying, “You’re fired.” Turnabout is fair play.

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