Listen up, folks.
May 5, 2016
May 3, 2016

The Washington Post shows glimmers of figuring it out, meanwhile publishing other stories that painfully do not.

The story that sort of gets it is headlined "Once a Clinton stronghold, Appalachia now Trump country." We know that Hillary killed her chances in Appalachia when she promised to put coal companies out of business, but it's more than that, as the article explains.

The paper notes that there was already a systemic shift in motion from Democrat to Republican because of the decline of industry and unions. I'll add to that the Democratic agendas for renewable energy, climate change and a tech-and-services economy. None of that sits well in West Virginia. Erstwhile proud union workers who once voted for Bill Clinton are now underemployed back-road rednecks unable to free themselves from a dying local economy. The shift exists not only in Appalachia, but also in the Rust Belt. Now along comes Donald Trump, talking jobs, trade, tariffs, immigration, Muslims and America First. Hillary never had a chance—not because Trump is a Republican (sort of), but because he's talking their language. Trump is Appalachia's dream candidate on the issues, regardless of the politics.

The WaPo has figured out that Clinton is screwed in coal country, but they continue to see it through a lens of Democrats versus Republicans. That misses the point. An unemployed father in Appalachia doesn't care whether Trump is a Republican or a Rastafarian.

Another WaPo article is a monument to not getting it. Chris Cillizza offers up a little electoral map proving that all Hillary has to do is win the 19 states (plus D.C.) that Democrats have won for six elections in a row, plus Florida, and she's the president. It's that simple.

Sorry, Chris, but past results do not guarantee future performance. I'm not a political nose-counter; I don't know the state-by-state electoral college dynamics, and I don't particularly want to. But I note that Florida has been a hot toss-up for over a decade, and the traditionally Democratic Rust Belt states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Illinois could get itchy this year. Wikipedia tells me that in 2012, Obama took less than 53% of the votes in Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin. Game on.

But more than anything, Cillizza overlooks the fundamental fact that Donald Trump is not in an election about Republicans vs. Democrats or liberals vs. conservatives. He deals (as I keep saying) in anger and frustration, not political positions. He's a non-party candidate working undercover at the Republican Party. In the physics of politics, he is anti-matter.

Anyone who analyzes Donald Trump's campaign in terms of the historic two-party paradigm is making a mistake. It's not that kind of year.

May 3, 2016

My current theme is that for all the attention that the presidential campaign is getting, the media are still relying on paradigms that no longer function. They are missing the point.

This is particularly true when it comes to Mrs. Clinton's wardrobe. The media continue to refer to her pantsuits, failing to notice that she is no longer clothed—she is upholstered.

May 2, 2016

The media still doesn't get it. Asking whether Trump can carry the evangelical vote is like asking how he will do among Little League Baseball coaches. It doesn't matter. Not a single person has voted for Trump over religious issues. To the extent that "evangelical" means "conservative," that's beside the point, too. Trump has vanquished candidates more conservative than he is, and he's in the process of doing so once again.

The little boxes into which we place voter constituencies no longer apply. They're meaningless.

People vote for Trump out of anger and frustration. It has become vividly apparent that his people do not care whether he has the traditional qualifications for the job. They just don't. A plurality—and increasingly a majority—of the people who are in a position to vote for Donald Trump are ignoring the details and voting to send a big "Screw You" to the System. The Establishment is the enemy. The Establishment's weird caucuses, conventions, delegates, and super-delegates are the enemy. Count my vote for Donald Trump and step aside.

Do you have any doubt about how Trump would perform against Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell, Nancy Pelosi, or the vaunted Paul Ryan? He would trounce them, and that's a fact.

Wake up, people. When the general election rolls around, Donald Trump is going to attract a surprising percentage of traditional Democrats and a generous share of independents. By crossing party lines at will, Trump will collect enough votes across the perceived political spectrum to put him in the White House. He will lose some single-issue voters, many Hispanics, many African-Americans, many educated progressives and a big chunk of the upper crust, but those combined constituencies are not enough to deny him an electoral college victory.

One simple example: How many hard-hat, unionized, traditionally Democratic voters do you think Trump can attract in a general election against Hillary Clinton?

Say hello to President Trump.

May 2, 2016

They remodeled our Boerne Starbucks. New furniture added seats and made it a little less inviting for loungers. Lots of branding everywhere for their rewards program. New electronic ordering system. Some slight changes to counters and prep areas. Same uneven staff, same cellophane-wrapped food.

It doesn't seem like we've had a Starbucks long enough for anything to wear out, but I guess I'm wrong about that. I feel like we're too small for a Starbucks—and not hip or urban enough—but the place is always jammed. We could use another, bigger one. I am slow to accept that Boerne is a suburb.

May 1, 2016
April 29, 2016

At certain points? Who the hell wrote that lame teaser?

April 29, 2016

So now anti-Trump protesters in California are seeking the moral high ground via throwing rocks, trashing cop cars and other typical low-grade riot tactics. One of the participants—most of whom were young Hispanics—said that she would rather hold a peaceful demonstration, but then they wouldn't get any attention. If you want to get your message out, flip a police cruiser.

That's one more bunch of folks who don't get it. Trump would pay young Hispanics to fight cops outside his rallies. Double pay for every windshield smashed.

Today Indiana Governor Mike Pence will endorse Ted Cruz. I don't think it's quite to the point where Trump would pay Pence to endorse Cruz, but an endorsement from an establishment governor is not the sort of thing that Trump cares about. I see the media speculating about the damage to Trump that might come of the endorsement, but I'm not buying it. Nobody in the vast Trump Universe cares about what Mike Pence thinks. Conventional wisdom is out the window.

The biggest hoot of the last 24 hours is John Boehner. Nobody cares about what he thinks, either, but he has a bigger audience than Mike Pence and he's funnier. Boehner's remarks will have no impact because everyone already knows that Cruz is a miserable sonofabitch.

April 28, 2016

This little house is for sale in Boerne. It's old, it's been renovated, and now it's being flipped. The renovation is nice but not high-end, and the house is only 944 square feet. It sits on a smallish lot on a so-so street. The neighbor parks dump trucks in his yard.

The seller is asking $345,000, which works out to $365 per square foot. It's worth half that—maybe less because it's so dang small. A typical price in Boerne is around $165 per foot; $200 is a stretch, even for a nice property. (As I recall, I was paying more than $200 per foot in Denver 30 years ago.)

Here's the thing, though. If you buy a house on a typical lot in Boerne and perform a full renovation, it's not hard to end up with $300 per foot into the project. If you're not at $250 per foot, you're not trying. I can see how the fool who is trying to flip this house ended up sinking too much money into it. There's a disconnect between cost and value.

Two models work. (1) Buy a total dump and do the minimum amount of work necessary, using cheap materials. Paint, carpet, MDF cabinets. Do a lot of the work yourself. Sell it to a low-end buyer; you can probably make a tight profit. (2) Buy an old house and spend way too much money fixing it up to your own taste and standards; move in and don't think about value for twenty years.

It's hard to do a successful flip in Boerne. I predict that our gentrification pattern will trend toward affluent people putting too much money into an old house because that's the house they want, dammit. After all, that's what we did.

April 27, 2016

April is improbably early to pick a veep. I like her, but the move seems desperate. I'm watching her live right now and she seems to have been to charm school. More fun, more smiles, more personality. Better messaging. Weaving religion, family, patriotism and populism into her presentation. A very helpful complement to Cruz.

She's a great pick at the wrong time.

April 27, 2016

That's a Los Angeles Times headline. It speaks to me, but it's wrongheaded. It's old-think.

After all of the surprises of this election year, it's time to shake off our misunderstanding of reality. Things are not coming together the way we expected. We need to re-conceive this whole mess.

As Trump has run roughshod over the Republican Party, I have taken comfort in believing that Hillary would shred Donald at the polls. Hillary may be a nightmare to me, but she's at least competent, informed, and experienced. The Republic will survive Hillary.

The assumption is that the people who are voting for Trump in the primaries will do so in the general election and the rest of the country will swing over to Hillary. Because they hate her less. It's similar to the thinking a few months ago when Trump was winning primaries with 35% of the vote. So 65% of Republican voters were opposed to him, right? A lot of people figured that as the GOP field thinned, Trump would fall behind someone like Cruz or Rubio, who would consolidate the 65% non-Trump vote. As it turns out, Rubio's gone, Cruz is dropping into third place, and last night Trump captured 54% to 64% of the GOP votes. When Rubio, Fiorina, Carson, Bush and Christie drop out, most of their supporters shift to Trump. Amazing.

Conventional wisdom says that in a presidential election roughly 90% of the votes split evenly between liberals/Democrats and conservatives/Republicans; the race is decided by the moderates/nonpartisans. A lot of people take that to indicate that this November the decisive middle will swing to Clinton (in part because it's the most rational of the three segments), handing the presidency to her.

I don't think so. I wonder how Trump might do if he were running as a Democrat. He would lose the intellectual progressives because he's so socially offensive and incoherent. I don't know how he would do with African-Americans: "The system is rigged" is a powerful message to that community. He might do very well with blue-collar and rural Democrats. He could do well with younger voters because he's disruptive. He might pull in a lot of votes in the East Coast Democratic bastions.

Can Trump persuade the middle? Why not? He's not winning the GOP because of his positions on faith, abortion, bathroom preference, gun rights, women's rights or any other left-right hot-button issue other than building the Wall. His vague promises to fix everything could appeal to a broad swath of the political spectrum. Because he's not really on the political spectrum.

If you are trying to predict what might happen in November, I think you should forget about the two-party system. Donald Trump is not a conservative and he is not a Republican. He is apolitical. He is non-partisan. He does not trade in ideas or principles; he trades in anger and frustration. Why assume that traditional Democratic voters are any less angry and frustrated than Republicans?

Trump is well-positioned to attract voters from the center and the left. Those voters are not single-issue ideologues who will eliminate him from consideration because of what he says about a touchy subject. That is all background noise. Trump will garner a lot of non-Republican votes because he is pissed off. People can identify with that.