Iowa is Cruz’s to Lose

You heard it here first.  Ted Cruz is the favorite to win Iowa.  Oh, I know he is not top of any poll among likely Caucus goers.  He certainly is not topping any national polls.  Sure there is no Cruz Fever About to Sweep the Country articles about to appear in Time, the Washington Post or New York Times that libertarians seemingly get for blinking these days.  But none of that matters now.

What matters?

As he demonstrated at the Values Voter Summit this weekend, Cruz is emerging at the choice of social conservatives.  As Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum showed with their wins in 2008 and 2012 that is the key group in Iowa.  Granted both Huckabee and the New Robert Evans will run again (seriously, what else do they have to do with themselves) but they are both retreads.  Cruz is a new fresh face and a much more skilled debater and speaker.

As for the crop of younger challengers, this weekend as demonstrated that Washington-media darling Rand Paul has a great deal of work to do.  His support for legalizing drugs and cutting foreign aid to Israel will remain barriers for him to build support among this social conservatives.  In addition, Paul’s recent ambiguity on gay marriage doesn’t help with social conservatives.  You notice he didn’t even come in second in the straw poll.

Before you know it it’ll be January or February 2016 in Iowa and Ted Cruz will be making his victory speech and the Bush Republicans will be freaking out.  Just remember you heard it here first.

The Difference Between 7-9 and 11-5

After 4 games the Chicago Bears, to quote Dennis Green, are who we thought they were.  They are a good QB, a very good running back, great receivers, ok offensive line, average special teams, and a poor defense.  Put that together and you get probably somewhere between 7-9 and 10-6.

If the Bears are going to break out of this mediocrity they are going to have to improve on defense.  In particular, their defensive line is going to have to be able to put pressure on QBs.  Aaron Rodgers is a great QB but he looked unbelievable because he never felt any pressure.  Andrew Luck, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Andy Dalton, Tom Brady, and Russell Wilson would have put up similar numbers in the face of no pressure.

For the Bears the season really hinges on how well the defensive line plays.  If they can improve this team can make the playoffs and be a contender.  If they don’t get better it will be another year in Mediocreville.

More of the same in Chicago?

The Chicago Bears lost today 23-20 and it doesn’t seem like much has changed.  The defense failed to hold Buffalo under 21 points, a continuation of last year’s incompetence.  Is this a going to be a repeat of last year or a minor bump in the road.  Hopefully this defense can jell and do better against the 49ers next week.  As you can guess I am not optimistic. 

Walker on a hard road

Scott Walker is adored by many on the right.  His ability to take on Wisconsin’s unions and win has endeared him to many conservatives and his mid-western roots make him appealing as a GOP nominee.  There is one hurdle for him to clear before the governor can do anything regarding 2016.  He has to get reelected. 

That is looking like it will be tougher than people originally thought.  According to one poll, Walker trails Democrat Mary Burke 48-44. 

There is still 2 months of campaigning to go, so things are far from over.  However, for Walker to be under 50% and trailing in any poll is not a good sign.  

Looking ahead any upcoming debates will be critical for Walker.  A win in one of them could put this challenger a way.  You can also beat that the Koch brothers and the unions will both be spending big to win this one.  

Policy From the Master of the Obvious

This is not a policy blog.  I don’t normally comment on issues as to whether they are right or wrong.  Given everything happening in the world right now I thought I’d make an exception.  The policy I want to focus on is the idea of a non-interventionist foreign policy.  

Even though this idea has gained some traction in recent years it does appear to be losing popularity.  Here is the thing to keep in mind – when you intervene in another country it is because you want things to go a certain way, namely what benefits you.  So when you stop intervening you do take the risk that things are not going to work out the way you want them to.  For example, if the U.S. doesn’t intervene heavily in Iraq we will have to live with the fact that ISIS could take over and run the place like a theocracy and use it stage terrorist attacks. 

Interventions certainly have their consequences but so does not intervening.  It would be nice if we could have a discussion about weighing the costs/benefits of these two big ideas before actually deciding what to do.  I know, I’m a dreamer on that one. 

The Window Has Closed – Ups and Downs

With the closing of the transfer window let’s see where Arsenal are right now:

Pluses – The five signings are all strong.  Sanchez, Chambers, Debuchy, Ospina, and Welbeck are either making or should make strong contributions to the team.  Given that Arsenal is in four contests they will all be needed.  

We did it on the cheap, like we always do.  Even with the signing of Welbeck the team spent a little over 80 million.  That is offset by the money the team will get from being in the Champions League.  Since we don’t want to end up like Leeds or Rangers it is always smart to be a little tight with the money.  

Minuses – We only signed five.  That is the fewest of any team in the Premier League.  Over the summer the team lost 5 players so the roster didn’t get any larger.  The big reason this is a such a concern is that Arsenal were crippled by injuries last year and if that happens again we will be screwed again.  

Some big holes didn’t get filled.  Most importantly the team did not get a new holding midfielder.  Anyone who follows the team knows that weakness in this area lead to some beatings at Chelsea and Manchester City last year.  The failure to address this has left Arsenal open to the same counterattacks that hurt them so badly.  

All-in-all I think this summer is an improvement over last but there is still work to do if Arsenal are really going to be a world class club.