The State of the Race

Is Trump done? Not at all. He only needs to secure on the first ballot 482 of the remaining 798 delegates outstanding. That is about 60% of the remainder, though, so he’d have to do much better going forward than he has so far. And that is much more difficult for him to do because there’s only three in the race, now, and Trump has made himself ever more toxic to everyone but his core supporters.

Cruz, meanwhile, has the nearly impossible task of getting about 90% of the remaining delegates to secure a first ballot nomination – anything can happen in politics, but it is almost a certainty that Cruz won’t be able to do that. But that, at any rate, doesn’t seem to be Cruz’ plan right now – the reason he’s working hard at getting his people into the delegations to the Convention is he figures (a) he can’t get a first ballot majority and (b) neither can Trump. Many of Cruz’ people will have to vote Trump on the first ballot but after that, it’s pretty much anything goes…but as these people were selected with massive input from Cruz, it is highly unlikely they’ll go for anyone other than Cruz, unless the convention deadlocks after multiple ballots are taken. Then Cruz backers might start looking around for a non-Trump, non-Establishment alternative. Of course, Cruz also has to worry not just about how Trump does, but how Kasich does…if Trump plus Kasich equals “nominating majority”, then Kasich might well throw his support to Trump, putting him over the top. Whatever amount Trump falls short, it will be vital to Cruz to make sure he falls farther short than whatever Kasich has.

It occurred to me today that as well as securing himself friendly 2nd ballot delegates, Cruz may also be making a play to take over the Party. Remember, regardless of who they are pledged to vote for on the first ballot, Cruz-backing delegates will be voting on the rules for the Convention. If Cruz gets enough of his people in there, then Cruz sets the agenda for the Convention. And given how diligent Cruz has been at this nuts-and-bolts stuff, I’d be shocked if among his selected delegates there aren’t people who have mastered the rules of parliamentary procedure. People who know that stuff can tie things up in knots, and untie them just as swiftly…while those who don’t know the rules won’t know what hit them. Given that Trump has proven himself manifestly ignorant of the nuts-and-bolts of politics, I’d expect the Convention to steamroller Trump…and, also, go a long way towards making sure Establishment types don’t parachute someone else into the nomination.

I have to admit to being ever more impressed with Cruz. I’ve always admired his firm stance on Constitutional government, but he’s also showing rare ability to just work the system – set up, it must be said, by people who despise him and wanted to precisely keep out people like him – to his advantage. He prepares. He studies. He does the mind-numbingly boring stuff it takes to get things done. Of course, he can’t do it alone so he must have hired some really cracker jack people to help him out. Given the towering unpopularity of Hillary and her massively dispirited base, I’m starting to think that Cruz might be able to make mince meat out of her in the fall. We’ll have to see – and, of course, it is not even remotely certain that Cruz will prevail in Cleveland. Lot of politics to go through before we get there.

Bernie is, however, done – he never was other than done, anyway. The Democrat Party has determined that Hillary will be the nominee. Lot of factors probably playing to that. Not least is the fact that the party it honeycombed with Hillary loyalists…but it is more than that. It is her “turn”, you see? Democrats really think like that – not all of them, but enough to grind it out. But it is still remarkable that Hillary has yet to put Sanders down. I suspect it will be end of April, start of May before she manages it…and then only with the sort of chicanery which often gives her as many delegates from a State as Sanders gets, even when he blows her out among the voters.

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The State of the Campaign

Trump and Cruz square off in Wisconsin tomorrow and if Cruz wins – as is expected via polling – then it will get very difficult for Trump to secure a first-ballot nomination…and that is pretty much the end of the game for Trump because Cruz, who actually understands the process, has been busily securing delegates at State conventions…and even if they have to vote Trump on the first ballot, they will be solid Cruz votes on the second and subsequent ballots.

Trump is, naturally, complaining about this – and that, for me, is the final nail in his political coffin. He didn’t do his homework – running for President is a much more difficult and demanding activity than he suspected and voting, especially in the primaries, is only part of the game. I expect him and a large portion of his backers to get all stompy-foot about it and by doing that they may, indeed, wreck GOP chances in November…but given how toxic Trump has become over his alligator mouth, his getting the nomination probably wouldn’t have worked out any different. Meanwhile, Cruz has at least a chance to unite enough of the party and gain just enough cross-over votes to stop Hillary…it would be a hard fight and the money would have to be bet on Hillary, but at least it would be a chance for the GOP, given how massively unpopular Hillary is. If, however, the GOP Powers That Be – who despise Cruz probably more than they do Trump – lock out both of them and hand the nomination to someone who didn’t even run in the primaries or who was knocked out early, then the GOP is definitely doomed – both Trump and Cruz supporters will justifiably cry foul and stay home.

Over on the Democrat side, Hillary is the Democrat’s Trump – at least in the sense that she simply didn’t prepare for the contest. And this is a terrible indictment of her leadership ability given that she was taught no end of a lesson in 2008. Hillary had all the money and the entire party behind her and she still can’t put Bernie down. I am still pretty certain she’ll be able to muscle her way to the nomination but she’s day by day turning off the most determined and enthusiastic Democrats. Say what you will about Bernie, but he’s an honest man who is actually campaigning on what the Democrat base wants…Hillary is making a belated lurch to the far left trying to stop him, but the reek of hypocrisy is strong and, meanwhile, she’s providing all sorts of ammunition for the eventual GOP nominee to use against her. A lot of people have said that Hillary is smart – sorry, but I don’t see it. I see not the slightest evidence of intelligence in her actions over her public life. She’s just rote recited whatever current Democrat talking points are, has greedily sucked up as much money for herself as she can and cruelly gone after anyone who has got in her way. She might wind up being President, but she’ll be a lousy President that no one but her sycophants has a kind word for.

Super Tuesday

UPDATE III: Votes are still being counted, but I’m encouraged. It has been a good night for Trump but not that good. There’s no reason, I can see, for either Rubio or Cruz to get out at this point (Rubio’s big stand will have to be in FL in two weeks. He must win there).

Sure, Trump still is the front-runner and has the best chance of getting the GOP nomination, but there is a chance that either Rubio and Cruz will keep dogging him and denying him a first-ballot majority, or one of them may yet become the Anti-Trump and roll up more delegates than Trump. We’ll have to see how it comes out.

UPDATE IV: Ok, so the votes are counted.

First and foremost, the Democrat turnout has collapsed against 2008 and the GOP turnout was not just large, it was remarkably large, historic…record setting, I understand in some States. These are numbers which in normal politics would indicate a Republican landslide in November…but with Trump at the top of the heap, we just don’t know…and might not know until the votes are counted on November 8th.

Second, I don’t see any reason for Bernie to drop out on the Democrat side. Hillary did roll up some big wins, but the States that the primaries are heading to are much more Bernie-friendly. In the end I do expect the Democrat leadership to muscle Hillary into the nomination, but if I were Bernie – or one of his supporters – I’d carry on the fight. I’ve talked with a number of these Democrat Bernie supporters…unlike the Obama-bots, they don’t seem to be relentlessly nasty people. They are wrong, but not wrong-headed. I wish them well – I don’t want a Socialist United States, but I admire the sincerity and conviction of these people.

Third – now what, for the GOP? As I said last night, no reason for Cruz or Rubio to back out at this point, though Rubio has to win in Florida on the 15th to remain in any way credible. There is a chance – a small one – that the combination of Cruz and Rubio can deny Trump a first ballot majority at the Convention. This does not mean that Trump isn’t going to be the nominee – the only way to prevent that at this point is for a candidate to roll up more delegates than Trump does, and that is a vanishingly small probability. But if Cruz and Rubio come to Cleveland with enough delegates to prevent Trump from winning on the first ballot, then Trump is going to have to make a deal…and it will be a deal with two candidates who rose out of the TEA Party movement. In other words, if Cruz and Rubio are worth anything, they’ll be able to force Trump to make some moves which would make a Trump candidacy and Presidency far more palatable. Just as one scenario: Rubio gets the VP slot, Cruz gets a SCOTUS promise. That sort of thing would make #NeverTrump into #WTFOkIGuessTrump. We’ll have to see how that plays out (no, I’ll never be a Trump supporter)

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So, About New Hampshire

Biggest thing for me about it is that 42,000 fewer people participated in the Democrat primary than in 2008; the returns aren’t 100% yet, but my calculation is that about 245,000 people voted in the Democrat primary last night, in 2008 it was 287,000. That is a 15% decline – rather large. What is shows that the Democrats are not enthused about 2016 – and the Democrats need at least most of 2008’s enthusiasm to carry their nominee – still almost certain to be Hillary – over the finish line. Meanwhile, over on the GOP side, a bit more than 280,000 people participated, while in 2012 it was 248,000 – showing GOP enthusiasm is up. If this sort of turnout prevails over the primaries (and I suspect it will), then it will demonstrate that the Democrats are in deep trouble.

From what I’ve seen, Sanders didn’t just beat Hillary, he crushed her. But, will it matter? Next up is South Carolina where the Democrat electorate is heavily African-American and African-Americans have been Clinton loyalists since 1992 – with the exception of 2008. But was 2008 merely a reflection of running against Obama, or an indication that African-American loyalty to the Clinton’s isn’t as deep as people think? We’ll find out in South Carolina – if Sanders can peel away even 35% of the African-American primary vote from Hillary, then we might not have Hillary as the Democrat nominee. And that, actually, worries me a bit. I know that the official line is that Hillary is impervious but I’m starting to suspect she’s a loser – against any GOPer. Sanders, the Socialist, is allegedly the George McGovern of 2016…but with his populist, anti-Establishment credibility, he might actually be harder to beat, especially if the GOP nominates someone like Jeb or Kasich.

On the GOP side, the only remarkable thing for me was Cruz coming in strong third – he spent little time or resources in New Hampshire and did very well. Meanwhile, Jeb poured in resources and came in fourth. It is time for Jeb to pack it in – though I suspect he’ll hang around until Florida. Rubio had a bad night – fifth place behind Jeb, of all things. Some say it was the debate and maybe that did it; I don’t really know. Maybe 2016 just isn’t Rubio’s year. Right now, I think it shapes up as a battle between Cruz and Trump, with a slight chance that Rubio rebounds as the Great Establishment Hope.

Get ready for a strange political year…

Wow Iowa Caucus!

Didn’t expect this – I was resigned to Trump doing well, perhaps winning, and Hillary pushing back the Sanders challenge. As of right now, Cruz has definitely won it on the GOP side while Rubio surged to a very close-behind-Trump third place. Over on the Democrat side, it is razor-close…last I checked, only 0.2% separated Hillary and Sanders.

GOP turnout beat the previous GOP Iowa caucus record by about 50% – and we probably do have to tip our hat a bit to Trump on that, but it is clear that the other candidates had a hand in it, as well. Haven’t been able to find raw numbers on Democrat voters – which makes me suspect the numbers were unspectacular. If that is the case, then what we’ve got is a worn-out Democrat base which is bucking against a coronation of Her Majesty.

Everyone is still playing the “only my guy can win” game – ie, my candidate is the only one who can beat Hillary. Well, first off, the GOP might not square off against Hillary, to begin with, but even if we do, I’m more and more feeling that Hillary can’t win. Sure, she’s not as monstrously unpopular (by approval rating) as Donald Trump, but she’s darned sure more unpopular than any of other GOPer in the race…and her popularity is highly unlikely to improve between now and November. True enough, she and her operatives are nasty people and will use every dirty trick in the book against whomever the GOP nominates, but I don’t think that will work…not least because the American people may be growing tired of Democrat nastiness in the service of raw power.

At any rate, I’m highly encouraged by tonight. We’ll see how it goes to November…

How to Beat Donald Trump – and Hillary

The GOP establishment is getting itself into quite a panic – recently saw that former Senator Sununu is asserting that if Trump is the nominee then not only will the GOP lose the White House, but we’ll also lose the House and Senate. Now, to be sure, the GOP has a treacherous path in the Senate in 2016 because so many GOP Senators are up for re-election, but anyone think that the Democrats, led by Hillary, will have a strong year in the House is just speaking nonsense. But the statement does show the level of fear – and what Sununu and others are trying to do is scare people away from voting for Trump. This is a formula for ensuring Trump is the nominee.

I had initially thought the Trump surge was due to his mere celebrity status. Then I figured it was his vigorous statements on dealing with illegal immigration. But as time has worn on, I’ve come to a different conclusion. What brought it about is that over the past few weeks I’ve just come across a number of people who aren’t GOP voters but who are enthused about Trump. The cap of it all was when a lady I know said she’d vote Trump to keep Hillary out of the White House – this lady is liberal and a two-time Obama voter. All of this got me thinking – what is it about Trump that makes him acceptable to such a wide variety of people? His celebrity status would only go so far – and if that is all he had, he would have fizzled by now. His policies are vague, so its not like there some definitive thing he proposes to do which gets people on board. And then it hit me: he hasn’t lied to us. And this means that when he says something, people take it at face value – he’s believed. Meanwhile, those most vigorously attacking Trump have a bad reputation among the American people and especially the GOP base: they’ve lied before, lots of times. And so when they say, “Trump is bad”, maybe they’re lying, now?

Oh, to be sure, Trump has said some inaccurate things – but there’s a difference between saying something that is inaccurate and saying something that is a bold-faced lie. An inaccuracy would be claiming that people in the United States celebrated the 9/11 attacks – I don’t remember any such here, but I do vividly remember Palestinians getting in a celebratory mood over it. Trump is still holding to his story, but I think its just a mixed-up memory, which any of us can have; and Trump is not the sort to back down on something he’s said. Even if you could prove to Trump directly that he’s flat wrong, he probably still wouldn’t back down. It’s not his way – and people do admire a person who sticks to their guns. At all events, there is a correct perception among the American people that a large number of people in the world wish the United States ill, and some of them live here. That they weren’t popping champagne on the streets on 9/11 is less important than the fact that such people do exist. The GOP base gives Trump a pass on such a statement because they know that whether or not anyone particularly celebrated 9/11 in New Jersey is trivial in the grand scheme of things. To dwell upon it is pettifogging – mean spirited, too. And it is easy to believe that those trying to shred Trump on it are not necessarily doing so in service of telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth but in service of merely stopping Trump – and just stopping Trump, as Sununu attempts to do with his electoral fear-mongering, is actually something which just reinforces Trump’s “street cred”…it is the Establishment attacking the hero of the hour. It is dumb and counter-productive.

To clarify, a lie is something like saying you’ll campaign on a commitment to repeal ObamaCare and then doing nothing to so much as slow it down. A lie is something like saying your swell new health care program will reduce premiums by $2,500.00 only to have them skyrocket. It is especially a lie when your actions post-lie demonstrate that you knew you were lying from the get-go. I can promise you sincerely that I’ll be over at your house next week to help you move the furniture. If I don’t make it, there are two things it could be: I lied, or something came up. If you know me well, then you’ll swiftly come to a conclusion about which it is. If I’m usually the sort of person who makes a promise and then doesn’t deliver, then you’ll be on firm ground figuring I lied. If, on the other hand, I almost always keep my word then my excuse that my back went out on the day of the move will be credible. Our political class has proven itself over the past few decades that it is just lying – and knowing that it is lying as it states the lies. We listen to their speeches, listen to their promises of this or that definitive action once elected and then we see not only that such promises don’t happen, but very often the exact opposite of the promise occurs, all with an explanation that there never was really a chance of getting that thing done because Reasons. It is those kinds of lies that the American people are sick to death of – and all politicians are smeared with them, even if a particular politician has never stated a specific lie. It is no surprise, given this, that the two top GOPers are non-politicians; ie, people who have not spent the past couple decades lying to us – and the two regular GOPers who are doing the best (Rubio and Cruz) are rather new to national politics, and thus haven’t had time to spread enough bull to fertilize the Sinai. As for Hillary (who has spread enough bull, twice) – sure, she’ll still claw her way to the Democrat nomination, but the astonishing lack of enthusiasm for her candidacy even among Democrats (and her miserable polling numbers) shows that even some Democrats are not willing to put up with liars forever (as noted with my two-time-Obama-voting friend who is willing to do just about anything to keep Hillary out).

As of this point, there are only two GOPers who can possibly stop Donald Trump – Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. As I noted, they are still rather fresh to politics – they are far more trusted than, say, Jeb or Christie, who have long political lives. Even if people don’t attach a particular lie to either Jeb or Christie (or any of the other career politicians running), they have just been around too long – and the GOP base figures that if they get in then no matter what they promise on the campaign trail, it will be Corrupt Business As Usual once they are in the White House: that they’ll sell us out to cut deals with the liberal part of the political class. Both Rubio and Cruz have their weaknesses – especially Rubio over the “Gang of 8” immigration proposal. Do not for a moment think that it is necessarily just amnesty which is causing Rubio his problems – after all, even a President Trump will eventually sign on to some sort of amnesty (it is just in the cards, folks). But by being involved in the “Gang of 8”, Rubio has shown himself willing to work with the open-borders Democrats…and that means, in the minds of many, that once he’s President Rubio, we’ll get the amnesty with no border control, at all. That is what has, so far, prevented such a superlative politician like Rubio from rising to the top – fear among the base that he’ll betray the base. Cruz has less of a problem on that than Rubio, but he’s still an elected politician – he’s still a career politician. Sure, he’s got a lot of great things going for him (goes the GOP-base mind), but he’s still one of Them. How can we be sure that President Cruz won’t cave? And, so, to Trump – who hasn’t lied (in a manner which the people, on the whole, care about) and who isn’t a career politician (or, ditto to Carson).

So, how can Rubio or Cruz take on Trump and win? Simple – out Trump Trump. At the end of the day, Donald Trump is a rich business man who has worked the political system to advance his own wealth. To beat Donald Trump, you’d have to show yourself more on the side of the people than Trump possibly can. Trump is rising high because he proposes to take on our Ruling Class and Make America Great again. But Trump is part of the Ruling Class, too. If Senator Cruz wants to be President Cruz, he has to take on the part of Trump which is vulnerable – the businessman who works the system part of Trump. But that means taking on not just Trump, but the whole Chamber of Commerce part of the GOP. A Republican who wants to beat Trump will have to go to war with a great deal of the GOP Establishment – accepting the fact that, if nominated, a huge amount of normally GOP money will flow into Hillary’s coffers. That a large number of prominent GOPers will endorse Hillary and maybe even campaign for her. It means going after the banks. After the multi-national corporations. After the defense contractors. Of course, there would also be the more fun aspects of it – going after Big Education, the MSM and all the institutions feeding off the American people and leading it to destruction. The key is going after the entire Ruling Class, not just part of it, as Trump is doing…and by going after all of it, you go after Trump, as well. A pledge from Rubio or Cruz to intensely investigate our financial institutions and send sharp operators to jail will go far – as will a pledge to investigate corrupt union bosses, corrupt city governments, etc. From what I can gather just talking to people, everyone is just fed up – and that is left and right (except for those parts of the left – which will nominate Hillary – who live off the corrupt system).

This is not a sure-fire way to win, by the way. Trump has built up an impressive political following. He might be unbeatable in the primary by this point. But if there is a way to beat him, then it the way I’ve stated: going after everything from top to bottom, and making sure that everyone knows that Trump is actually part of the problem. He’ll still be able to fight back on that score and his followers are pretty firm…but I suspect that a real red-meat fight against all that is wrong with America would resonate. Done by a good politician – and Rubio and Cruz are good politicians – it could swing enough voters over to either of them to make sure that Trump starts coming in second place in the early primaries. The hardest part for Rubio and Cruz in this is keeping enough of the GOP Establishment on-side to ensure they don’t all coalesce around someone like Christie, presuming that Trump is political toast by Florida. Politics ain’t easy, folks.

And if you’ve beaten Trump, then you’ve just about automatically beaten Hillary. She’s going to talk a great game about fighting for the poor and middle class, but it’ll be Hillary who is raking in the money from major corporations. It is Hillary who has made untold sums of money off of the major corporations. You want to talk about an insider who has been twisting the system to get herself ahead? That is Hillary in a nutshell. She simply cannot win a race against someone who is attacking the very basis of her existence in politics because she cannot separate herself from herself. She is America’s problem demonstrated – everyone knows she’s only going to be the Democrat nominee because her last name is “Clinton” and the Powers That Be want her to have it…because they know full well she won’t actually rock the boat. She won’t actually help the poor and middle class. She can’t – she won’t be allowed to, even if she was so inclined; all she’ll do is ensure that her particular cronies are rewarded. And everyone knows this other than the most blinded of partisans (which, I suspect, won’t make up more than 40% of the electorate in 2016).

For those who think that Trump getting the nomination means a sure-Hillary win, think again. Hillary is disliked – and not just by GOPers. And even those who aren’t nauseated by her politics are just not all that fired up for her. First Woman President is just not that big a thing – not after we’ve already had our first African American President. Hillary plus a War On Women campaign won’t do it. This is not to say that beating Hillary would be easy. It would be a hard fight and may come down to excruciatingly narrow margins in a bunch of States. On the other hand, it could be a substantial loss for Hillary and the Democrats – it is notoriously hard for a party to win the White House three times in a row and Obama isn’t popular (Bush the Elder really got in back in ’88 because Reagan was so popular…Gore lost because Bill Clinton just wasn’t all that popular in ’00; people tend to forget that the Political Genius which is Bill Clinton never secured a majority of the vote). Trump could well win the nomination and then go on to win the White House. If you don’t want that to happen, then you’ve got to figure out how to beat him…and just insulting him and his followers isn’t the way to beat him. In fact, insulting him and his followers just makes his nomination more likely. Attack what Trump stands for in his real life: Big Business and slick deals. People don’t like either or those things. Once you’ve beaten Trump then just do the same to Hillary because she’s also all about Big Business and slick deals.

At the end of the day I think that a solid majority of Americans want a place where the rules apply to everyone equally. That no one is getting a rake-off. That everything is above-board. No one minds it when someone works hard and gets rich – the weakness of the left is because they don’t differentiate in their policies, and it gets worse for them when people perceive that if you toe the left’s line, you can be rich as you like (and make as many corrupt deals as you like). But people do mind it when they perceive that someone is getting special treatment – and that is whether its a government union, a big bank or a real estate developer who likes the idea of confiscating people’s property so he can build a hotel. No one minds immigration – people do mind people jumping the line, and they also don’t like it at all when the line-jumpers get government benefits; the left tries to make out that such sentiments are anti-immigrant and/or racist but it isn’t that, at all. It is cheating the system. It is something that most people can’t do – and it is something that some get to do because others benefit from it (liberals at election time, big business in low-wage employees). If someone will set themselves at the head of a movement to make sure that a fair deal is had by all, then that person will win big, in my view. Trump’s appeal is that he is saying he’ll do that – fight for a good deal for everyone. But he’s vulnerable on the fact that he’s been deep in the economic-political system all his life. It might not be enough to beat him, but it is the only way to beat him I can see. And it is the way to beat Hillary – and why I see a nominated Trump beating Hillary: whatever sharp practice Trump has ever engaged in is nothing compared to the monumental stench of corruption emanating from Hillary’s doings.

Since Jindal and Walker dropped out, I’ve no longer got a dog in this hunt. None of the candidates for President are my cup of tea. At all events, I’m ever more convinced that neither party as currently constituted can successfully implement the deep reforms needed to restore America. I think that Rubio or Cruz could do some good things – I don’t know what Trump will do. I can’t go on anything he’s done in the past because all he’s done is make business deals and appear on television. Maybe he’ll surprise me and become one of the greats, if elected President. I don’t know. I do know that if he’s up against Hillary, he’ll get my vote – whatever flaws he has are as nothing compared to the disaster which would be a second Clinton Presidency.

While neither of the party’s are vehicles for reform at the moment, the Trump phenomena does demonstrate that the GOP is still my best bet for eventually getting a party of reform. The Democrats had their shot with Sanders – socialist as he is, he’s an honest man. He would actually try to do what he says he wants to do. But the Democrats, after a short fling, are starting to fall in line behind Hillary. But I think that such Democrats are a decided minority of all Americans (just as the GOPers who would turn out for an establishment GOPer are a minority – and if the GOP does go establishment for 2016 then the race is a complete hold-your-nose tossup with a slight advantage to Hillary; it’ll be two minorities battling it out to see who can drag the most number of disappointed people to the polls). I do believe there is a majority which wants real change – real reform. Trump is catching a bit of that lightening in a bottle – will anyone else step up and make a try for it? We’ll see.

Pope Francis Open Thread

He does seem to be the subject of conversation, doesn’t he?

First off, Hillary is thrilled that the Pope is in town – it was the perfect time for her to announce her opposition to the Keystone pipeline. Document Dumps – they are a Clinton specialty.

Bernie Sanders is going to join a group of DC workers out on strike while the Pope is in town.

Democrats celebrate the arrival of the head of the Catholic Church in classic Democrat style – blocking a ban on late-term abortions.

Meanwhile, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz will join in various events surrounding the Papal visit.

Arguably the smartest man in the United States, Thomas Sowell, has a critique of Pope Francis:

…As distinguished economic historian David S. Landes put it, “The world has never been a level playing field.” But which has a better track record of helping the less fortunate — fighting for a bigger slice of the economic pie, or producing a bigger pie?

In 1900, only 3 percent of American homes had electric lights but more than 99 percent had them before the end of the century. Infant mortality rates were 165 per thousand in 1900 and 7 per thousand by 1997. By 2001, most Americans living below the official poverty line had central air conditioning, a motor vehicle, cable television with multiple TV sets, and other amenities.

A scholar specializing in the study of Latin America said that the official poverty level in the United States is the upper middle class in Mexico. The much criticized market economy of the United States has done far more for the poor than the ideology of the left.

Pope Francis’ own native Argentina was once among the leading economies of the world, before it was ruined by the kind of ideological notions he is now promoting around the world.

If you’re going to criticize the Pope, at least do it with the grace, wisdom and deep, historical knowledge of Thomas Sowell. That said, I will point out that George Soros is a capitalist. But even laying aside people like Soros (who pile up the cash while claiming to be for social justice), we do need to look at the whole picture, as I’m sure Mr. Sowell would agree. It is good that America’s poor are relatively rich, compared to past measures and, indeed, in comparison with the poor in other nations. But tens of millions of them don’t work: they live on government hand-outs. It is financially “good” that we can use sweated Chinese labor to produce I-crap so cheap that we can afford to give it to our poor…but I don’t believe this is morally good for our poor, the Chinese workers or any of us. We can do better, folks – and that is all Pope Francis is really saying on matters economic.

It isn’t just me – there are other conservative voices in favor of the Pope:

…Pope Francis has also drawn our attention to issues such as income inequality, the plight of immigrants, or the degradation of the environment. At times, he has gotten quite specific. But here is the clincher that people just don’t seem to get. When it comes to how to tackle these complex and difficult topics, the church steps back and leaves it to policymakers to debate and discuss. Even more important, Pope Francis, true to his Jesuit roots, is inviting debate, disagreement and — what was the word? — differences. Difference of opinion on these issues, termed by the church as prudential policy matters, is welcomed by the church and considered healthy and important by Pope Francis. Even when it means disagreeing with the pope…

The Pope will be driven around in a little Fiat. I think every aspirant to the White House should be asked why he or she should be driven around in anything upscale from that.