Saturday, October 31, 2015

Halloween 100 word story challenge

I've seen people doing these on their blogs, so I thought I'd give it a go this week.

The moon.

The pregnant moon.

She giggled a little as the thought occurred to her, her breath steaming in the crisp October night. How can a moon be pregnant? she wondered. Who or what would impregnate it? She imagined the two of them, the moon and it's hopeful lover, the sun perhaps, enjoying coffee in a Soho diner, the night rife with romantic possibilities.

A pregnant moon. How silly!

She giggled again and carried that amusing thought with her into the Stygian darkness as the creature's jaws closed on her throat for the final time.

The moon.

The pregnant moon.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

On noses and faces

According to legend, back in the 9th century a group of nuns were concerned because Viking had landed in Scotland and were raping and pillaging their way towards the nun's convent. Desperate to preserve their virtue, the nuns disfigured themselves by slicing off their noses and upper lips, hoping that the Vikings would be so repelled by their appearance that they would refrain from raping them. Their strategy worked. The Vikings were repelled by the nun's appearance and they did not rape the women. Instead they locked them in their convent and burned it to the ground. This is where the phrase "cutting off one's nose to spite one's face" entered the English lexicon, the implication being that an action taken to avoid one outcome resulted in a much worse outcome.
Jumping from the 9th century to 2015, we find ourselves faced with people who frequently comment in political threads where Ted Cruz is mentioned that Ted isn't eligible to be president because he's Canadian. Their argument is as follows: The Constitution requires that the president and vice president be "natural born citizens" the United States. The intent of this requirement was to prevent someone with foreign loyalties from becoming the leader of the US, a common sense concern for a group of people that were shifting their own loyalties to a new nation. Although the term is never defined in the Constitution, it was generally understood at the time to mean someone born in America to parents who were American citizens. The Federalist Papers (Hamilton in Federalist 68 IIRC, I don't have my annotated copy handy) back this interpretation up. It may surprise them to know that I am 100% in agreement with their interpretation of the phrase.
It also doesn't matter a bit.
The fact is that however much I may believe that that is the correct definition, it is not the definition that is generally applied today. There are a lot of reasons for that. The SCOTUS has never weighed in on the actual meaning of the term. The naturalization act of 1790 muddied the waters. There are those who say the language of the 14th Amendment is relevant ("subject to the jurisdiction thereof"). Congress has weighed in WRT certain previous candidate's eligibility. Even though the founding fathers did put in a grandfathering clause for people alive at the time the Constitution was adopted, no president met this standard until John Tyler succeeded W.H. Harrison in 1841. If you buy that Chester A. Author was born in Canada (my take: it's a 50-50 pick em), that means that this rigorous standard hasn't been met by fully a quarter of the Presidents we've had. And so on.
Look. I think that that's the correct interpretation of "natural born citizen", but that's not how the term is used today. I also think that the commerce clause CLEARLY doesn't apply to a farmer growing grain for his own livestock. SCOTUS disagreed. The 14th OBVIOUSLY doesn't give the children of illegal aliens citizenship. Brennan changed that with Plyler v Doe in 1982. Again, and so on.
The fact is that we frequently don't get to live in the world we want, but we're stuck with the world we have; and as such, we should be careful not to unnecessarily cripple ourselves against the opposition.
An analogous situation can be found in baseball. A lot of purists will tell you that the designated hitter rule is an abomination
They may argue stridently against the DH, bemoan how it sullies the purity of the game and dumbs down the importance of smart coaching.
No matter how fervently they may believe any of that, and even if every bit of it is correct, if they field a team in the American League, their lineup is going to contain a DH. They can't win otherwise.
It's the same with natural born citizen. That ship has SAILED. Standing obnoxiously firm on an archaic definition does nothing but cripple your ability to compete.
Ted Cruz doesn't meet that requirement. Neither does Marco Rubio or Bobby Jindal (maybe-his parents were here legally but not yet citizens when he was born. I think. It's another layer of complication). In an orgy of purity, we eliminate those three candidates.
You think the left cares? Barack Obama certainly doesn't meet that requirement, they went and elected him for 8 years of hell. Suppose Jindal or Cruz or Rubio is the only candidate that can beat the Biden/Warren juggernaut? Should we deny ourselves the ability to compete over something that the other side completely ignores? The world may admire your commitment to the pure game of baseball as you run your pitcher out to bat down 3 with the bases loaded and 2 out in the bottom of the 9th, but the left has no qualms about sending Nelson Cruz to the plate in the same situation. I know where I'm going to lay down my money if I have to bet on that game.
None of this is to say that Cruz or Jindal or Rubio should be the nominee. They still have to make their case to the Republican voters and win elections. However, to exclude them over a technicality (however correct in theory that technicality may be), eliminating good men from consideration who certainly meet the intent of the clause (or are we now going to argue that Cruz, Rubio or Jindal, if elected, will suborn the interests of the US in favor of those of Canada, Cuba or India?), while the other side is ignoring the rules would be foolish.
Do I wish that we lived in a world where the definition of natural born citizen was rigorously applied as the founders intended?
Do we live in that world?
Get over it.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

A Memo From Conservatives to the GOP Establishment

Well, another post I made got disappeared. I don't quite understand why, but I'm republishing it here for posterity.

Last week GOP Establishment SuperSquish™ Rick Wilson took to the pages of Politico to excoriate those people who are supporting Donald Trump for President. You can find the article here, if you haven't read it yet I encourage you to do so now before you read on.

Let me start off by saying that I am not a Donald Trump fan. Never have been, doubt I ever will be and I have been watching the Trump surge with amusement. They call this the political “silly season” for a reason. A seasoned political operative uses this time to gauge public mood and attitudes so that they can get out in front of it for the real election season. If your party is in power in one or more branches of government, it's a good time to craft some legislation in synch with the prevailing trends. Candidates should start to sharpen their rhetoric to match the emotions of the moment. Right now, the only people interested in the political process are the hard core folks on either side, the so-called “base”. These people may or may not form a majority within the party, they certainly aren't a majority of the country, but they are the one who will be doing the scut work so necessary for victory next year, door knocking, donating, manning phone banks and the like. Right now the GOP base is sending a strong message to the GOPe that they are not happy.

Rick Wilson demonstrates the typical response from the GOPe to this message that's coming loud and clear from the base: He shits on them.

Nice move, Rick. You're the embodiment of the innovative and dynamic thinking that gave us New Coke. Heckofajob, Clowney.

See, here's the thing Rick Wilson: The message being sent is not that we <3 Trump. It's not even that immigration is the most important issue of our times, or that huge swaths of America suddenly woke up racist against Mexiacans. No, the message here that you're missing is that we hate and despise YOU. That's right, you personally, and the Republican Party specifically.

And still you don't get it. The Republican response to this groundswell of opprobrium is this pathetic Muppet flail of an article. The Senate response is to break all of it's precedents and rules by inverting the treaty oversight requirement from 2/3 to 1/3, handing Obama the ability to enter into this disastrous agreement with a country that has been at war with the US since 1979. You think we don't notice that Obama is paying Iran $140 billion to a regime that is responsible for killing or maiming tens of thousands of our sons and daughters who served honorably in the sandbox this past decade? Just this week the House decided that the proper response was a liberal bill with a rider attached that refunds the Ex/Im Bank so that you can pour more of our money into the pockets of your cronies. We're the politically active class, we notice these things, even though you think we don't. We. Are. Mad. As. FUCK. Mr. Wilson. And. We're. Not. Going. To. Take. It. Any. More. Those are almost all one syllable words Mr. Wilson, are you beginning to understand?

Now, as to your article itself, Rick. You wrote it in the best Power Point style, undoubtedly to the approving mutters of the DC consultant class. “Quite right. Very proper. Look, bullet points ad everything. Well done old chap!”

Let's take them in order:

You’re angry as Hell, and by God, you’re going to teach the GOP a lesson. See? You do get it. Dimly, because you then go on: Even if it means (and it well may) that Hillary Clinton sits in the White House, names 3 or 4 Supreme Court justices and lets Bill run around the East Wing molesting the help, you’re going to teach the hated Establishment a lesson Ahh yes, the old SCOTUS boogeyman. If we keep our little temper tantrum going, why, we'll miss out on stalwart Republican Justices like Anthony “Watch as I repeatedly cite my own opinions to invent case law” Kennedy and John “Tax 'em if you got 'em” Roberts. This isn't about “teaching a lesson” Rick, This is this close -----[ ]----- to being a divorce. We're not looking for a hot young thing to screw around with, we want someone to settle down with.

You’ve decided to become one-issue voters, and immigration is the be-all, end-all issue. Immigration is not the issue, Rick. Illegal immigration that threatens to change the national character and culture while at the same time impoverishing the working class is. There is a big difference. This is an important issue, but you're missing the big picture. The important this here is that the Republican Party has repeatedly rolled over on amnesty after running promising to oppose it. Again, and again and again. You've been lying to us Rick, pissing in our faces and telling us it's raining outside. We elected you to oppose amnesty. Specifically. You haven't. You've supported it. The long hair we just pulled off your collar, this time we're supposed to believe that “she's just a friend”? Yeah right, and if you pull this leg it plays Jingle Bells.

You think we’re dismissing the message, but we’re dismissing the messenger No, as a point of fact, you are dismissing the message, not by your words, but by your actions. The GOPe's emergency backup RINO in case Jeb keeps going over like a lead balloon is Marco Rubio, whose first action upon being elected was to join the Gang of 8 and attempt to shove amnesty down our throat. You have no credibility on this issue. WE DON'T BELIEVE YOU YOU LYING LIAR WHO LIES.

You don’t care about his record You'll have to ask some of his supporters about this one, but for myself, I really don't, for two reasons. #1 I don't believe he has legs, in six months he'll be a memory, but #2 This isn't about Trump, it's about you.

You hate candidates not named Donald Trump Sure Rick. This is the first primary in history where polls have swung back and forth between different candidates. Why, Presidents Giuliani and Cain were just commenting on that last week.

You don’t know and don’t care why the professionals want Trump in the rear-view mirror Why, by all means. We should stand back and let the “professionals” handle it. Professionals like who Rick? Like you? Like Steve Schmidt? Like the Barbour boys down in Mississippi, appealing to Democrats to get establishment butt boy Thad Cochran elected by hook or by crook? Is that who we should show deference to?

You hate political consultants Ehh, even a blind pig finds an acorn sometimes.

You think we’re only about Jeb I don't think you're only about Jeb. I know that you are expressly against any candidate that believes in conservative principles, which is more important.

You think Donald Trump is the character he plays on television Again, don't care. If you haven't figured out that this isn't about The Donald, you're hopeless. Actually, you're probably hopeless anyway, but make that extra hopeless.

Every minute wasted on Trump hurts the eventual nominee in the general election No it doesn't. This is the sideshow, the freak tent. It's an amusing distraction before moving on to the Big Top for the real show. The only people watching are the real circus aficionados, people who love the smell of greasepaint and the crunch straw underfoot as they walk down the midway. It could become a disruption, very, very easily. If you don't pay the freaks well and treat them with respect, the time will come when they march on the center ring as the show starts. Well, this is that time. We're gathered outside the Big Top Mr. Wilson. Our torches are lit, and we're about to march inside and demand the recognition that is our due as members of this Republican circus. If you and yours continues to mistreat us, and lie to us, and take us for granted, we WILL march forward and burn down the Big Top, and no screeching and wailing about how doing so will just cause people to go over to Hillary's show will stop us. WE are the ones doing all the work here, WE can always start our own circus. You'll be stuck running around like an idiot in the old tent as it burns to the ground. Good luck getting out before the fire consumes you too.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

I made this post where I've been blogging lately..

..and it was removed. It was deemed "race baiting". It had hundreds of responses, overwhelmingly positive. It does not bother me that the post was removed, the owners of the blog have every right to control their content. It does bother me that it was categorized as "race baiting", as the subject matter is decrying those who keep poor black folks virtually enslaved using hate and race baiting. Judge it for yourself:

Fundamental Concepts - Dear Black Baltimore Rioter [Weirddave]

I'd like to take just a moment to chat with you if I may. I realize that you probably don't want to talk to me, all your life you've been told that I am the enemy, the cause of everything that you think is wrong with your life. I'm evil. I'm greedy. I'm white. I'm “rich”. I'm racist. I'm Republican. I'm an entire litany of evil, and you know what? For the sake of this conversation, I'll stipulate all of it. I am evil, white, racist and rich. I am Republican and racist. I'm every negative stereotype and every oppressor, real and imagined, that has had a negative effect on you or your ancestor's lives, going back to when they lost a war in Africa and were captured and sold to slave traders. All of that. For the purpose of this discussion, I'm not going to contest any of it. That being said, I have one simple question for you:

Do you realize that you're being manipulated and used?

Don't get mad at me, it's not me that's using you, it's the folks who claim to be on your side. Really. Lets look at all of them, and weigh them against the evil, racist, white greedy me that I've agreed to play for the purpose of our discussion.

Let's start with the obvious: Al Sharpton. Jesse Jackson. The Rainbow Coalition. That skinny little black kid who showed up with a thousand social media connections after the demonstrations started, you know, the one whose talking about his experience in Ferguson or Seattle or New York. You think these folks are “down with the struggle”? You think they are here because of the great injustice that five-oh visits on you every day? Man, what the fuck are you smoking?

Dude, do you know what you are to them? You're product, Homes, nothing but merchandise for the story they are selling. Al Sharpton hangs in New York, eating lunch every day at exclusive clubs with white folks who are a lot more like what you imagine me to be than I actually am. They smile at Al, shake his hand, give him checks and congratulate themselves on just how non-racist they are before going home to their gated communities where you would be tasered within an inch of your life by security if you dared knock on the door.

Jessie Jackson and his Rainbow Coalition? Do you know what they do? They take in millions and millions of dollars from corporations so that Jessie can declare the corporation “progressive” or “diverse” enough so that when riots like these happen, hopefully you'll leave them alone. It's a protection racket, pure and simple, but let me ask you a question: Of all of the millions upon millions of dollars that they take in, do you ever see them in your neighborhood spending any of that money? To rebuild, to renew, to invest, to help? I didn't think so.

Those “activists” ? They live to run from fire to fire to brag on themselves. Dude's got no job, no home, no woman. He shows up and fucks your woman while crashing in your basement. He's part of the revolution, man, he's the vanguard of a brave new world, but right now that “brave new world” consists of pussy and status for him, while you're out chucking rocks at the BPD and choking on tear gas. You might want to think about your respective roles in this great struggle.

Alright, what about the police? No question they are on the other side, and no question that they have way overstepped their authority at times. Eyefuck five-oh for a millisecond too long and they’re going to the nightsticks. Bastards gave Freddie Grey a “rough ride” and broke his damn back. Surely we can crucify the BPD, right? Well... maybe. And maybe. Whatever crimes the police have committed in the past, rioting simply gives them the ability to clock overtime at an alarming rate. They face off with you, you face off with them; shouts, tear gas, rocks. They move back. You advance. They advance. You move back. It's a giant kabuki dance of outrage, and generally nobody gets hurt very bad, but the police are getting paid double time to engage in it, what are you getting paid? Nothing, huh? Hmmmm.

Well, surely the government will do something. Really? They tell you that they are “there for you”. They claim that you need to elect them so they can “represent you”. They promise to “make things better”. Dude, you live in Baltimore. The goddamn government has been black and democrat for 50 years! What has that gotten you?

Here's an exercise. Let's stand on North Broadway, just above Johns Hopkins, say right where Gay Street crosses. We're right by that triangular house that I like to refer to as “Baltimore's Flatiron Building” (It's not even close). As we walk north towards the Great Blacks in Wax museum, count the number of burned out or boarded up homes. 1..2..3...5..8...13..There are a lot of them. Some of them are pretty neat, with Arabian styling. All of them are pretty big and would make great homes for your family(or mine). This is what government has done. They take your money, and your votes, and this is what they leave you. They're just another entity dedicated to enriching itself at your expense.

I could mention the federal government and give more examples, or the Democrat party or the media or public sector unions. It doesn't matter. All of them want you where you are, right now, frozen in time. You're poor, black, undereducated, underemployed, ANGRY and violent. All of these things serve their interests, and keep them in money or power.

This is you:

Riot1.jpg This is you:

Riot 2.jpg This is you:

Riot3.jpg Need I go on?

So here you are. Angry. Poor. Looting. Some jackass took your picture running out of the CVS with a handful of smokes and a DVD, and now BPD has arrested you. You're looking at an overwhelmed PD trying to plead you down to a misdemeanor, but even if she's successful she called you by the wrong name and you're still going to have to do 3 months in City Jail. Great fucking world we have here, huh? Always keeping the black man down, and so you hate, and you fight, and you seethe.

Which is exactly what they count on your doing. As long as you keep doing that, all of the folks above stay in the gravy. You ever see them at the corner of Etting and Gold? Their kids are on the college track at City and Poly, why are yours dodging gangs at Douglass? You're being manipulated and used, and as long as they keep your attention on boogeyman me, they can suck your bones dry.

On. The. Other. Hand.

Over here there's me. Remember me? I'm the evil, greedy, rich, racist white guy (waves). You've been told all you life that I LIVE to oppress you, that's it, that's all I do. Fair enough, I've agreed to accept that mantle for the purposes of this thread. So I, evil,white, racist, rich guy that I am, have managed to get you to riot in your own neighborhood. This is what you've been told, right? OK.....Why?


No, tell me, why?

What have I gained? I've demonstrated what those “on your side” have gained, what have I gained? Money, Jobs, Power, Influence? I have gained none of those things. You could burn Sandtown/Winchester to the ground and it would have zero effect on my life. Look at Detroit. It IS burned to the ground for all practical purposes and yet all around it suburbs are full of people living nice middle class lives. Brutal truth: You don't matter enough in my life for me to hate you. Burn down all the CVSs you want, I have a nice big Wal-Mart half a mile from my house. What have you got? A burned out shell and a bunch of old folks who can't get up to the Plaza to get their prescriptions filled.

So what is my motivation? I don't care about you. Maybe you'll claim that I should, and maybe you're right, but the truth of the matter is I don't care about you now, in those pictures above. You want to riot and fight and burn and steal and hate? Knock yourself out. I don't care, it's your neighborhood being destroyed, not mine. All of those people above? I have them to keep you in your neighborhood and out of mine because as I've demonstrated, they want your life to stay shit.

However, it's not true that I don't care about you, the individual, in the abstract. I do, a lot, and so do my neighbors. I'm going to let you in on a little secret: What do white folks say about inner city blacks when there's just us around? 85% of the time I hear variations on “What the hell is wrong with those people?”, the implication being that there's no reason for you to be burning all that shit down, yo. Go to school, study, get a job, be productive. That's what we expect from you, it's what we expect from our own kids, it's the life we live ourselves. Just because you're black doesn't mean that you're incapable of doing that, we're surrounded daily by middle class black folks that do just that. They live with us, their kids go to school with our kids and date our daughters (really). Thomas Sowell is a black man who came from poverty, and he's the smartest man in America. Clarence Thomas did the same, and he's on the SCOTUS. Ben Carson had a childhood as rough as any in east or west B-more, and he's the greatest pediatric neurosurgeon in the world, and he's running for president to boot. Lots and lots of “racist” white folks supporting him too. Next time you see a car with a Carson bumper sticker, take a peek at the color of the folks driving, bet you a dollar they're white.

In short, there are two groups of people orbiting your little East Baltimore neighborhood. One group is telling you incessantly that the world is stacked against you, that you have no chance at life and they are profiting off of you believing that. Stop listening to them. Please. I saw plenty of film of the riots. Honestly, on one level, it looked like fun. Smash, burn, steal, yell, run, party. Fun, I'm not lying, it looked like fun. But the cost! Your neighborhood is now worse. You have neighbors who lost their jobs because businesses left. Sure, that selfie to took with your hands full of Ciroc bottles looted from the liquor store went viral, and that's cool, but the po po have that image too, and they're tracking you down, was the vodka worth 6 months in juvie? They're like a giant tick on your back, whispering in your ear “Go on, fuck shit up. Bastards deserve it”. Only problem is that it's your shit you're fucking up, and the worse your life gets, the fatter and more engorged they get on your blood.

On the other side you have my group, the evil, racist, greedy white rich folk. I'm going to shed that mantle soon, because I'm none of those things, but I'll keep it for one more paragraph. What is our message? You can do it. This is the greatest land of opportunity in the world, and we want you to be part of it. All you have to do is believe it, and, much harder, go against all of the people claiming to be on your side. Somebody wants to keep you down alright, but it's not “The man” as you've been taught all your life, it's them. Don't let them.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Pander Bear

Looking at this election season on the Republican side, I am surprised by how few people see something that is so blindingly obvious to me that it might as well be in the beam of a 1,000,000 candlepower spotlight. Then I remember that my professional background enables me to recognize something that may not be so obvious to others. Let me explain.

For the past 20 years, I have been an insurance agent. It is primarily a financial services job, but it is also by its nature a sales job, so for the past 20 years or so I've seen hundreds and hundreds of would-be salesmen and women troop in and out of jobs with the various agencies where I've worked.

When I started in this industry, my mentor told me “You can be a salesman chasing a commission check, and you'll burn out in a couple of years and wind up hawking used cars off a lot down in Dundalk, or you can be a financial professional focused on your client's needs and have a rewarding lifelong career and oh yea, make a lot of money”. You know what? He was right. But still, through the years, the salesmen, always the salesmen. They troop in and troop out, toiling in the salt mines for a day, a week, a year, but rarely for longer than that. Some of them are nice guys. Some of them are trustworthy. All of them, however, have their focus on what the client can do for them, usually money wise, and all of them utilize some variation of the pander. There's a very fine line between pandering and sincerity that I have gotten very, very good at spotting because it often makes the difference between a successful agent and a mediocre or poor one.

This is the job: A client contacts you, either cold through the phone book or the internet or through a referral. You talk to them on the phone for a few minutes, getting an handle on their individual situation and their needs. If you think you can help them, you make an appointment to meet with them at their home or office. You show up at the appointment, meet them for the very first time, spend 30, 60 or 90 minutes (sometimes more, but not often) establishing what their needs are and going over various solutions to those needs. Once you've established that, you do paperwork and then they write you a check, sometimes for thousands of dollars. Then you leave and the real job begins, because they are now your client and it's up to you to make sure what you sold them really does meet their needs and to handle their future insurance, investment and other financial requirements.

That time that you spend in their house, that 30-60 minutes, that's the golden hour. In that time you go from being an almost complete stranger to being trusted with sums of money. It's not easy. If you're skilled (and I am) and you're sincere (I'm that too, people fascinate me), it's amazing what happens. Last night I was down in Baltimore City, sitting with a 27 year old black woman and her mother, discussing health insurance for her and her son. I'd been there about half an hour and we're all three doubled over, laughing hysterically discussing how different plans would cover her “itchy vagina” (really). 45 minutes earlier neither of them had laid eyes on me in their life. Not only were they pleased with what we came up with, the mother got her son on the phone and demanded that he make an appointment with me next week as well. As I said, it's a skill.

But suppose you don't have that skill? Suppose you're nervous about being a white guy from the suburbs down in the city at night meeting a couple of black women? Suppose you don't feel comfortable in your job, or your products or your abilities? What then? How do you convince people to trust you enough to write you a check before you leave?

Then you pander. You fake sincerity. You laugh too loud, emote wrong, emphasize the wrong thing. “Wow, what a great couch! That's fantastic! I've never seen a couch like that!”. You prevaricate. You sound like Damone from Fast Times at Ridgemont High giving Mark Ratner dating tips. You bluster, you bullshit, you use your personality to overwhelm. You lie. YOU SELL.

Since I train new agents how to successfully do the job, I've learned to notice all of these things over the years. When I view the three top Republican candidates for president through the lens of my job as a professional trainer, it's easy to pick up the pander.

Trump is easy. Bold, brash, bowling you over with the force of his personality. He makes you want to believe him. Trump! Fuck yea! In a 4 week election cycle, he would have been unstoppable. Trump's problem is that since his schtick is telling you what you want to hear, over time he contradicts himself. The longer the campaign goes on, the thinner his act wears and the more obvious it becomes to anyone who is actually listening to him that he'll say anything that he thinks will benefit him at that moment, then say the opposite an hour later. He has no ethics. I wouldn't even hire him for the type of work I do. He's strictly used car salesman, not long-term relationship sales.

Rubio is a little different. Good looking, reasonably well spoken, seemingly sincere. Rubio's problem is that he doesn't really believe in what he's selling. His solutions are ultimately facile. He doesn't want to discuss in detail, so he misdirects. An example(paraphrasing things Rubio has said. These are not his direct words, this is just an example of HOW he does it):

Amnesty? No, he's not for amnesty now, because there are several more important things that we have to do first, for example ISIS is now a much greater threat. We have to secure the border to protect ourselves from terrorists. Wouldn't you agree that terrorists are a much greater threat? You would? Good, here's what I'm going to do about them.

Now, terrorists may or may not be a threat, but notice what happened there. He disavowed amnesty...or did he? He actually didn't. He said there were things to do first. He didn't say that amnesty wouldn't come later. He misdirected to border security as it pertains to ISIS. An important topic, to be sure, but not the one at hand. He's trying to “close the sale” (get your vote) without pinning down specifics. I strongly suspect that that is because he doesn't want to commit himself. If history is any judge, once he gets the vote he'll then be free to do whatever he wants, and what he wants (or what the money behind him wants), is amnesty. Just so you don't realize that NOW.

I originally thought Cruz was the worst of the lot. When this campaign started, he struck me as nothing so much as a revival tent preacher or a televangelist. Now those are some skeevy people who exist solely to con people (with one or two very rare exceptions). What I came to realize, however, is that Ted Cruz' problem is that he is sincere in what he is saying, but in trying too hard to convey that genuine sincerity through his vocal inflections he wound up emulating a universally reviled class of people who are past masters of using vocal intonations to project fake sincerity. Thankfully he's gotten a lot better, he must have had some vocal coaching in the last year. He's not perfect yet, but if it hadn't have been so pronounced before I'd have a harder time picking up on the remnants of it now. As to whether he actually means what he says, well, I found this clip to be telling:

That is the opposite of pandering. Leaving aside the policy arguments of ethanol, Cruz didn't back away from or misdirect the question. He confronted it head on, acknowledged it, and then countered it. You may or may not agree with his counter-argument, but he isn't running away from his position.

It's actually rather nice to see a politician act like he believes in what he says.