Sunday, January 31, 2016

Half-of non-trump voters would support him in general election

As the story goes, Donald Trump could win a general election because his political appeal extends beyond traditional Republican voting blocs. He would attract certain types of Democrats, we're told, and he'd turn out large numbers of  low-propensity voters who've become totally disenchanted with the system. There is some truth to each of those claims, and the GOP would be wise to glean some lessons from the rise of Trumpism. The problem with this electoral calculus, however, is that even if Trump peels off discrete slivers of Democrats and manages to bring some significant mass of new voters into the fray, the math still doesn't add up. His favorability rating among Democrats -- and more importantly, among independents -- is horrific.  A few data points, via Gallup, Pew Research, and the Huffington Post's polling average:

As I've argued in the past, universal name recognition is almost always an asset for politicians -- but a candidate runs into (insurmountable?) trouble when everyone holds an opinion about him or her, and that verdict is slanted decidedly in the negative direction.  This also helps illustrate why Hillary Clinton's support is so flimsy: Virtually everybody in America knows who she is, and most people don't like or trust her.  Setting aside his awful showing among Democrats and independents, Trump also faces a significant problem among Republican voters.  A new poll from Bloomberg suggests that the anyone-but-Trump phenomenon among many righties isn't merely anecdotal. This is a real problem for him:

    Donald Trump maintains a dominant lead among Republican primary voters across the nation, with Senator Marco Rubio and Senator Ted Cruz effectively tied for a distant second place, according to a Bloomberg Politics poll released Wednesday. The poll of 1,020 likely Republican primary voters, conducted online by Purple Strategies from January 22-26, found Trump leading with 34 percent. Rubio grabbed 14 percent and Cruz 12 percent, a 2-point difference that falls within the poll's margin of error of plus-or-minus 3.1 points. No other candidate registered in double digits...Only 50 percent of Republican primary voters who backed other candidates said they would vote for Trump if he became the Republican presidential nominee. The bulk of the remainder pledged they would vote for the Democratic nominee (13 percent); write in another candidate (13 percent); or skip voting altogether (5 percent)...51 percent of Republicans who didn't pick Trump cited his temperament as the reason why, while 31 percent agreed that he "insults women, minorities and other groups." Nearly a quarter of the non-Trump group called him "an embarrassment to the Republican party."

As is so often the case, this survey contains great news for Trump backers within the narrower context of the GOP primary, but is filled with bad omens for the general election.  The Donald's support outpaces that of his two closest competitors (Rubio and Cruz) combined nationally, but among Republican voters who don't favor Trump, only half of them say they'd pull the lever for him in November.  Some would defect to the Democrats, others would vote third party or write in someone else, and still others would simply stay home.  Mitt Romney narrowly won independents in 2012, but still lost the election to Barack Obama.  (As a narrative-busting aside, Romney also won more votes than John McCain, carried the white vote by the same margin as Reagan in 1980, and won the same percentage of self-described conservatives -- who turned out as a record percentage of the electorate last cycle -- as Reagan did in the 1984 landslide.  And he lost). Just like much of Trump's appeal is visceral, rather than policy-based, this poll demonstrates that the same applies to his opposition within center-right circles.  His GOP-leaning detractors cite his temperament and propensity toward insults as top reasons why they'd refuse to back him in a general election.  His petty feuding resulting in a debate no-show probably only intensifies those opinions.  People aren't likely to warm up to a guy whom they view as "an embarrassment," candidly. In short, if Trump loses independents, maybe badly, and also sheds a significant share of traditional Republican voters, the notion that he could offset those deficits by producing millions upon millions of magical new voters looks like a desperate fantasy, not a plausible strategy.

Of course, we're not even sure whether Trump can actually deliver throngs of new primary voters, a proposition that will be tested very soon.  On one hand, people have consistently underestimated the celebrity mogul throughout this process (myself included), and his strong supporters evince a level of loyalty that indicates they will show up and vote.  He draws the biggest crowds in the race by far, with the possible exception of Bernie Sanders, which isn't insignificant.  There's also evidence that Republicans are registering new voters in Iowa at a faster clip this year than in 2012 (though not as quickly as you might think), and it's not unreasonable to conclude that Trump deserves a fair amount of the credit for that.  But if Trump's low-engagement supporters -- a sizable group that's separate from his hardcore base -- end up remaining disengaged when it comes to trudging to polling places to caucus or vote, he'll significantly under-perform his polling numbers. Case in point, via CBS News:

    Cruz performs better among Republicans who have voted in state primary elections before, leading that group by 5 percentage points over Trump. His supporters are very high among those who haven't taken part in party elections: He receives 44 percent of support among Republicans who have voted in just the general election and 50 percent support among independents who say they are planning to attend the Republican caucus. Rubio is the second most successful candidate among non-primary GOP voters, getting 20 percent of their support.

That's a description of the latest Monmouth poll, which adjusted its potential outcomes based on three turnout models -- each of which is higher than the 2012 benchmark of 122,000 GOP caucus-goers:

Monday, January 25, 2016

President gets fast track unlimited war

While the Washington snowstorm dominated news coverage this week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was operating behind the scenes to rush through the Senate what may be the most massive transfer of power from the Legislative to the Executive branch in our history. The senior Senator from Kentucky is scheming, along with Sen. Lindsey Graham, to bypass normal Senate procedure to fast-track legislation to grant the president the authority to wage unlimited war for as long as he or his successors may wish.

The legislation makes the unconstitutional Iraq War authorization of 2002 look like a walk in the park. It will allow this president and future presidents to wage war against ISIS without restrictions on time, geographic scope, or the use of ground troops. It is a completely open-ended authorization for the president to use the military as he wishes for as long as he (or she) wishes. Even President Obama has expressed concern over how willing Congress is to hand him unlimited power to wage war.

President Obama has already far surpassed even his predecessor, George W. Bush, in taking the country to war without even the fig leaf of an authorization. In 2011 the president invaded Libya, overthrew its government, and oversaw the assassination of its leader, without even bothering to ask for Congressional approval. Instead of impeachment, which he deserved for the disastrous Libya invasion, Congress said nothing. House Republicans only managed to bring the subject up when they thought they might gain political points exploiting the killing of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens in Benghazi.

It is becoming more clear that Washington plans to expand its war in the Middle East. Last week the media reported that the U.S. military had taken over an air base in eastern Syria, and Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said that the U.S. would send in the 101st Airborne Division to retake Mosul in Iraq and to attack ISIS headquarters in Raqqa, Syria. Then on Saturday, Vice President Joe Biden said that if the upcoming peace talks in Geneva are not successful, the U.S. is prepared for a massive military intervention in Syria. Such an action would likely place the U.S. military face to face with the Russian military, whose assistance was requested by the Syrian government. In contrast, we must remember that the U.S. military is operating in Syria in violation of international law.

The prospects of such an escalation are not all that far-fetched. At the insistence of Saudi Arabia and with U.S. backing, the representatives of the Syrian opposition at the Geneva peace talks will include members of the Army of Islam, which has fought with al-Qaeda in Syria. Does anyone expect these kinds of people to compromise? Isn't al-Qaeda supposed to be our enemy?

The purpose of the Legislative branch of our government is to restrict the Executive branch's power. The Founders understood that an all-powerful king who could wage war at will was the greatest threat to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That is why they created a people's branch, the Congress, to prevent the emergence of an all-powerful autocrat to drag the country to endless war. Sadly, Congress is surrendering its power to declare war.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Voters really like Donald Trump

Most Republicans running for president have only one idea: Be like Reagan!
Unfortunately, they seem to remember nothing about Reagan apart from the media-created caricature of a slightly addled old man who somehow mesmerized an imbecilic public with his sunny optimism.
Jeb! goes around saying, "I believe we're on the verge of the greatest time to be alive."
Marco Rubio answered a question in the first debate about God and veterans, saying: "Well, first, let me say I think God has blessed us. He has blessed the Republican Party with some very good candidates. ... And I believe God has blessed our country. This country has been extraordinarily blessed. And we have honored that blessing. And that's why God has continued to bless us."
John Kasich responded to a question at the New Hampshire presidential forum about why he was running, saying: "Well, Jack, look, we're all -- we -- I've received blessings. Most of us here have been very, very blessed, and when you get that way, you have to figure out what your purpose is in life to make the world a little better place."
They all sound like Barney, the purple dinosaur, singing, "I love you, you love me!"
The other problem with the Be Reagan strategy is: It's not 1980 anymore. Reagan's election is as far away today as the defeat of Hitler was then.
Gov. Scott Walker's answer to whether he'd invade Iraq, knowing "what you know today," was: "I'd point out that in the overall issue of foreign policy, I'd say in my lifetime, the most impressive president when it came to foreign policy was a governor from California."
What does that even mean? Is he going to invade Grenada, fund the Contras and put missiles in Western Europe? Back in 1996, when Bob Dole said, "I'm willing to be another Ronald Reagan, if that's what you want," at least people laughed.
When Moammar Gadhafi was under siege in 2011, Rick Santorum said: "Ronald Reagan bombed Libya. If you want to be Reaganesque, the path is clear."
On the other hand, in the quarter century since Reagan bombed Libya, Bush invaded Iraq, prompting Gadhafi to end his WMD program, invite in U.N. weapons inspectors, and pay the families of the Lockerbie bombing victims $8 million apiece.
Nonetheless, "bomb Libya" is exactly what our feckless commander in chief did. Obama sent American troops to participate in the NATO bombing of Libya -- which helped oust Gadhafi, which led to Islamic lunatics running the country, which led to the murder of four Americans, including our ambassador, in 2012, and the refugees flooding Europe today.
Formulaic applications of Reagan's policies from the 1980s don't always work the same way they did in the 1980s. (Similarly, Duran Duran's new single was kind of a dud.) I used "What Would Reagan Do?" as a joke back in 2005; these guys think it's an actual governing philosophy.
When Reagan was running (three and a half decades ago), there was a real fight in the Republican Party over abortion, the Equal Rights Amendment, guns and foreign policy. Reagan had to face down elements in his own party to be pro-life, anti-ERA, pro-gun and to pursue an aggressive anti-Soviet foreign policy.
Reagan won. It's over. The ERA is gone. The Soviet Union is gone. The GOP is unquestionably the party of life and the Second Amendment. (If only fetuses could get their hands on a gun!)
Ever since the hero of 9/11, Rudy Giuliani, couldn't get out of the starting gate in his presidential bid because he was pro-abortion and anti-gun, no serious Republican candidate is ever going to waver on those two issues again.
So why did Marco Rubio find it necessary to stress that he opposed abortion even in cases of rape and incest at the first GOP presidential debate? Did he not live through that whole Todd Akin thing, like the rest of us?
Today, the fight in the Republican Party isn't over abortion, guns or the Sandinistas; the dividing line is immigration. Will we continue to be the United States, or will we become another failed Latin American state?
On this, it's Donald Trump (and the people) vs. everyone else.
Trump announced his presidential campaign by talking about Mexican rapists. Immigration is the only policy paper he's put out so far -- and he's been crushing the polls. He got his one sustained standing ovation from 20,000 cheering fans in Dallas Monday night when he talked about stopping illegal immigration.
But James B. Stewart gasses on in The New York Times about Trump's "namecalling, personal attacks and one-liners that have vaulted him to the top of the polls." In the entire article, Stewart never mentions immigration.
Perhaps some minority of people will vote for Trump because of his personality. But I notice that it's his position on immigration that gets thousands of people leaping to their feet.
The media will talk about anything but Trump's specific, detailed policies on immigration -- all while claiming he doesn't have any "policy details." The very fact that the entire media -- including most of the conservative commentariat -- obdurately refuse to acknowledge the popularity of Trump's immigration plans is exactly why Trump is exploding in the polls.
Trump isn't trying to imitate anyone. He's leading on the seminal issue of our time while the rest of the field practices looking optimistic in front of the mirror.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

movie review: much ado about nothing

Kenneth Branagh returns to the high and, for him, safe ground of Shakespeare with Much Ado About Nothing, a spirited, winningly acted rendition of one of the Bard’s most popular comedies.
Film is continuously enjoyable from its action-filled opening to the dazzling final shot. Only real drawback is pic’s visual quality, which is unaccountably undistinguished, even ugly, especially considering the sun-drenched Tuscan location.
All should be well in the domain of Leonato (Richard Briers): the righteous Don Pedro (Denzel Washington) helps young Claudio (Robert Sean Leonard) woo and win Leonato’s lovely daughter Hero (Kate Beckinsale), while the proudly unmarried Benedick (Branagh) and the feisty Beatrice (Emma Thompson) trade barbs with such zest their teaming is inevitable. But the fly in the ointment is the sulky, jealous Don John (Keanu Reeves), who falsely convinces Claudio of Hero’s unfaithfulness on the eve of their wedding.
Branagh and Thompson bring appealing intelligence and verbal snap to their ongoing sparring. Looking almost as weird as Beetlejuice, Michael Keaton delivers a very alert, surprising turn as the malapropping constable Dogberry.

Friday, January 15, 2016

The establishment is scared of Donald Trump

To Republicans who are livid, fearful, anxious and/or unhappy about the prospect of a Donald Trump nomination and a Donald Trump presidency, consider this.

He claims his wealth allows him to self-fund, putting him in a position to downsize and de-corporatize crony government in a way unrivaled in political history. It takes about $1 billion to run -- and win -- the presidency, and fundraising normally occupies much of the candidates' time. To get that kind of money, the average candidate spends time courting and currying favor with "special interests." This means unions, environmentalists, corporate welfare-ists and others give money and, in exchange, expect their interests to be at the very least listened to, if not carried out once in office.

For example, rich, profitable corporations such as Boeing and Royal Dutch Shell have, over the years, received billions of dollars in tax subsidies. Some of the money comes straight from federal grants, with most of the money coming from state and local governments in the form of tax credits or abatements, or for "training" their employees -- something they can and should do with their own darn money. Money-losing boondoggles like Amtrak defy logic, common sense, and Economics 101 by still receiving billions from taxpayers. Government unions and government agencies, just like private corporate interests, grease the palms of politicians.

One of the prime reasons for the housing meltdown was the power and influence of government-sponsored entities like Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, both of which, over the years, gave millions of dollars to the very politicians who supposedly were overseeing them.

Dairy producers are guaranteed a profit through taxpayer giveaways to mostly wealthy producers. A program that began during the Great Depression persisted and grew bigger, disproportionally benefiting wealthy producers and artificially jacking up the price of milk. Same with sugar. We subsidize a handful of wealthy sugar producers, guaranteeing them a profit -- while artificially boosting the wholesale price of sugar in the U.S., making it more than double the average price in the rest of the world.

Ethanol is a completely unnecessary product produced by manufacturers who get taxpayer incentives to continue making the stuff. Because ethanol produced in the U.S. is made from corn, it crowds out land that would otherwise be used for other crops, artificially jacking up their prices, too. And it reduces the corn available for sale as animal feed, increasing the production costs for meat, poultry, dairy and eggs.

Right now, billionaire Sheldon Adelson is reportedly deciding whether to back Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz. In the last election cycle, he gave $15 million to the candidacy of Newt Gingrich. In exchange for his millions, do you think Adelson would expect a President Rubio or a President Cruz to return his calls? Years ago during the so-called Keating Five scandal, a reporter asked banker Charles Keating, a man at the center of the controversy, whether he thought the money he gave politicians bought influence. He replied, "I certainly hope so."

Because of Trump something may finally  get done about our borders, "catch and release," sanctuary cities and so-called birthright citizenship. A lot of influential Republican-supporting big businesses -- whose money Trump doesn't need -- want cheap labor. That alone makes his candidacy important.

As to minority voters, one poll -- and it may be an outlier -- last September found that in a hypothetical head-to-head against Hillary Clinton, Trump would get the support of 25 percent of the 100 voters who identified themselves as black -- four times the amount Mitt Romney received. And, despite his "hostility" to Hispanics, the same poll found Trump getting about as much of their support -- 31 percent -- as did Romney.

Yes, Trump takes a lot of dumb, populist positions. His attack on free trade is Bernie Sanders-like. His support for the Supreme Court's Kelo decision, which allows government to take land from a private owner to be used by a different private owner for private, for-profit purposes, is also flat-out wrong. But he spent his career making money, not analyzing policy positions. Advice to Trump's Republican detractors: If he becomes the guy, make him better on substance.

Urge him to hire the best and the brightest. Imagine a Secretary of State John Bolton. Or a Secretary of Defense David Petraeus. Or a secretary of treasury like the American Enterprise Institute economist Stephen Moore.Americans pay $2 trillion a year on regulations, according to Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla. Many of these regulations are completely unnecessary but persist because large corporations want them and make contributions to shape and perpetuate them. While regulations cost money, they also create a barrier to entry by new competitors.

Trump could do something about this merry-go-round. He doesn't need their money to run -- and win.

Republicans should make him a better candidate -- not change his style, which voters find refreshing, entertaining, even endearing, but change his policy positions. Urge him to take more of a policy-principled, low-tax, light-regulation, free-trade stance. Ronald Reagan evolved from a left-wing Hollywood unionist into, well, Ronald Reagan.

So could Trump.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

First day-only sales limiting single player videogames

The used games market is always a hot topic amongst developers and publishers who don't get a cut of any pre-owned sales. Frontier Development's David Braben argues that the used games business has effectively killed off the single-player focused endeavor, and he believes that not only are used games pushing more games to focus on a multiplayer setting, but he thinks those used games are helping to inflate prices on titles as studios seek ways to recoup lost revenues.

"The real problem when you think about it brutally, if you look at just core gamer games, pre-owned has really killed core games," reflected Braben. "In some cases, it's killed them dead. I know publishers who have stopped games in development because most shops won't reorder stock after initial release, because they rely on the churn from the re-sales."

"It's killing single player games in particular, because they will get pre-owned, and it means your day one sales are it, making them super high risk. I mean, the idea of a game selling out used to be a good thing, but nowadays, those people who buy it on day one may well finish it and return it."

"People will say 'Oh well, I paid all this money and it's mine to do with as I will', but the problem is that's what's keeping the retail price up -- prices would have come down long ago if the industry was getting a share of the resells."

Braben, who has worked on titles like Elite and Kinectimals, is currently facing a crisis on his current title, The Outsider. The game is heavily invested in single player story mechanics, but Braben remains somewhat skeptical of the current development landscape.

"Developers and publishers need that revenue to be able to keep doing high production value games, and so we keep seeing fewer and fewer of them."

If anything, there appear to be signs that some studios are simply, if not begrudgingly, moving to the mobile gaming space, where used-game sales simply do not exist. Braben has acknowledged that his studio is working on new IP specifically for mobile.

Saturday, January 09, 2016

What if Ted Cruz beats Donald Trump

These days, people on the Right seem to be polarized: Either they think Donald Trump is a brilliant, unstoppable ball of winning or they believe he’s the classiest, most luxurious demagogue to come along in decades. I have a bit of a different take.

I’ve read and enjoyed Donald Trump’s books, he was nothing but gracious to me when we met, I have friends I like and respect a great deal who work for him and I even used a picture of the two of us together on the Christmas cards I sent out this year.

Moreover, Trump’s willingness to take on issues ignored by the Republican Party, his lack of political correctness and the real genius he has for identifying important issues other candidates aren’t talking about and bringing them to the forefront are nothing short of amazing. Additionally, no one should underestimate a strong leader whose name has been synonymous with business success for over a decade, especially when he’d beat the whole rest of the Democrat and Republican fields combined in the famous, “Who would you want to have a beer with?” test. As I’ve said before, other Republicans can learn a lot from Trump and anyone who can’t see that is a fool.

However, even though I would certainly vote for Trump if he’s the nominee and would also work hard to get him elected, I have two major qualms about him. The first is that I question how conservative he’d be if he gets into office. Given his mixed track record on conservative issues, I doubt if even the most diehard Trump fans would hold that against me, but the bigger problem is that I just don’t think he can win a general election.

There are a number of reasons for that, but the largest one is that Trump couldn’t be financially competitive. That may seem bizarre since we’re talking about a man whose name is synonymous with wealth, but even Donald Trump doesn’t have enough money to self-finance a general election run at the presidency. Keep in mind that Hillary Clinton and the Super Pacs supporting her will spend north of 3 BILLION DOLLARS. On the other hand, if you take away the value of his name, Trump’s net worth is probably somewhere in the 3-4 billion dollar range and most of it is tied up in assets. Ask yourself if Donald Trump is really going to sell Trump Tower, the Trump International Hotel, his golf courses and his other properties at cut rate prices to pour the money into his political campaign. It may not even be possible, but even if it is, do you really think Trump would liquidate most of his fortune to run for President? When you consider that Trump has been so tight-fisted during the primary that he might run the first Presidential campaign ever to turn a profit, it seems very unlikely.

On top of that, keep in mind that Donald Trump has made the fact that he’s self-funding a central part of his messaging. If Trump were to win and change his mind, not only would it hurt him with his core supporters, it probably wouldn’t be all that effective. Trump’s fund raising operation so far has understandably been mediocre and the Super Pacs that were gearing up to support him were asked to stand down. Those Super Pacs were particularly important because there are hard limits on what rich supporters can give to campaigns, but not on what they can give to a Super Pac. Without major help from Super PACs, it’s highly unlikely that Donald Trump could win a general election.

Imagine a campaign where Hillary and her Super Pacs spend more than 3 billion dollars and Trump barely manages to stockpile 500 million in his war chest. In every swing state, Hillary would have a better get out the vote operation, better staffing and she would be able to blanket the airwaves with her ads while Trump couldn’t compete. In a race like that, Hillary could win in a walk EVEN IF she goes to prison over her email server.

Getting beyond the money issue, most people would agree that Trump has done so well because he’s been dominant when it comes to attracting earned media. However, a big part of Trump’s success in that area has been as a result of relatively friendly blanket coverage from conservative radio hosts and online media. In a general election, those outlets will be much smaller factors and they definitely wouldn’t be capable of delivering the election to Trump.

Of course, Trump has also gotten plenty of attention from the mainstream media as well, but do you really think the MSM liberals will allow themselves to be used to beat Hillary in 2016? Sure, they’re happy to run “Can you believe he said this?” stories about Trump now when they think he’s causing problems for Republicans, but if he becomes the nominee, every story about Trump will be a straight-up hit piece. If even that doesn’t work, they’ll just find some excuse to stop covering him altogether if that’s what it takes to beat him. This is why it’s so important for a Republican to have a huge war chest because you NEVER get a fair shake from the MSM. Even the Left’s favorite Republican, John McCain, was savaged by the press when he ran for President. In fact, any Republican who hopes to win a general election by getting his message out to the voters through ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, the Washington Post, New York Times, etc. isdoomed before he starts. Unfortunately, that’s the difficult position Donald Trump would be in during a general election campaign.

On top of all that, you have to look at Trump’s demographic strengths and weaknesses. Trump does extremely well with blue collar workers and men with high school degrees. There are also some indications that he is particularly attractive to people who normally don’t vote, but those voters are by their very nature tough to count on in an election. Trump might also do better than Republicans generally do with black men. However, beyond that, almost every indicator is negative. Trump does poorly with women, he will guarantee a huge Hispanic turnout for the Democrats and given the rabid hatred for him in some quarters of the Republican Party, it seems likely he’ll bleed even more GOP support than he would bring in from the Democrats.

Furthermore, although approval numbers don’t generally mean a lot this early in the game, they are relevant when someone is as well-known as Trump. Right now, Trump has a 34% favorable rating and a 57% unfavorable rating. Candidates don’t win races with numbers that bad and since Trump is already a known quantity, it’s going to be EXTREMELY difficult to get his numbers up. Fairly or unfairly, when people know enough about you to form an opinion and have already decided they don’t like you, it’s very hard to change their minds.

Last but not least, Trump may be the single most gaffe-prone candidate in history, primarily because no other candidate could survive saying even a fraction of the off-the-wall things that he does. It just goes on and on. McCain’s not a war hero because he was captured, blood coming out of her “whatever,” “schlonged,” saying we should shut down part of the Internet, calling for killing the relatives of terrorists, "How stupid are the people of Iowa?,” incorrectly claiming a group of black pastors was showing up to endorse him when it wasn’t, having his spokesman express a desire to use nukes on TV, a gazillion tweets calling people “losers” for saying something he didn’t like – and probably a half dozen other now forgotten mistakes or goofs with a larger point (No, “thousands” of Muslims in New Jersey didn’t cheer 911 and, yes, Trump could have discussed Mexican criminals coming over the border without offending people if he’d used better language). As someone who writes about politics for a living, Trump is extremely entertaining, but most Americans want a sober and serious President, not someone who’s “fun” because he might say the Pope got “schlonged” or Angela Merkel has blood coming out of her “whatever.” I do think Donald Trump is qualified to be President, but he’s not “presidential” and you can be certain that if he’s the nominee, there would be many, many more gaffes before the election in November.

Just to reiterate, not only do I like and respect Donald Trump, but if he does turn out to be our nominee, I will support him all the way and hope he proves this column wrong. That being said, Hillary is VERY beatable, she’s essentially promising to go EVEN FURTHER than Obama and I fear for the future of this country if we throw away this opportunity. I think Cruz would beat her handily, Christie could probably pull it off and, God help us all, maybe even Rubio would defeat Hillary Clinton. Since I don’t think Donald Trump can get the job done, regrettably I cannot support him in the primary.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

PS4 sales nearing 36 million

Sony refreshed its PlayStation 4 sales figures today, putting the system's worldwide installed user base at 35.9 million. That figure represents a jump of 5.7 million systems sold in the busy holiday season (or the six weeks prior to January 3, to be more precise). That holiday season also stands as the PlayStation 4's best to date. The 2014 holiday stretch saw Sony move 4.1 million PS4s, while the system sold through 4.2 million units after its debut holiday season in 2013. PS4 games also enjoyed brisk sales, with Sony estimating a total of 35 million software sales through digital and physical storefronts over the same stretch of time. As one would expect, those software numbers have grown with the PS4's installed base. This year's software total was nearly double last holiday season's 17.8 million games sold, and up from 9.7 million sold during the launch holiday season. Finally, Sony said PlayStation Plus subscriptions during the holiday season were up 60 percent year-over-year.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Oculus Rift priced $600

The much anticipated VR headset finally has a retail price [Update: Palmer Luckey says Rift "obscenely cheap"] With the pre-order program officially now open, Oculus has revealed its price of $599.99 for the Rift headset. The package, expected to ship in March, includes the VR headset, sensor, Oculus Remote, cables, Xbox One Controller, EVE: Valkyrie, and Lucky's Tale. Speculation around Rift's price point has circulated for months. A $600 price tag is likely a surprise to many, but Oculus founder Palmer Luckey did state last October that the price would come in higher than $350. "I would say I think people are going to be happy with what they get for the price because I really do think it's going to be that best VR headset you can buy," Luckey said at the time. While it's true that the package includes two games and a controller, when you factor in the cost of a high-end PC gaming rig, VR becomes a very, very expensive proposition for most people. We'll be keeping an eye on reactions to this news. Update: On the Oculus blog, the company has specified that the first shipments will go out on March 28, with the Rift being "available in limited locations at select retailers starting in April." For those pre-ordering the Rift, Oculus also noted that by doing so, you'll be securing your place in line for Touch pre-orders later this year. Oculus is promising more than 100 titles available by the end of this year. Oculus Studios itself will be releasing over 20 games exclusively for the Rift this year, including Rockband VR by Harmonix, Edge of Nowhere by Insomniac, and The Climb by Crytek. Analysts are now starting to weigh in on the Oculus pricing news. RW Baird's Colin Sebastian noted that Facebook is quite clearly targeting early adopters with the $600 price. "[This] seems to validate our 'slow ramp' VR thesis," he said. "Despite the significant hype and growth potential for virtual and augmented reality platforms, we continue to believe that Mobile VR platforms (e.g., Google Cardboard, Gear VR, etc.) will gain faster momentum, with expensive headsets initially limited to technology 'early adopters.' For comparison, we note that Oculus Rift is priced well above video game consoles (PS4 and Xbox One are in the $300 range). As such, we expect the installed base of high-end VR platform to ramp gradually, and not penetrate the mass market likely until 2017-18 as price-points fall below $400." SuperData's Joost van Dreunen added that "historically a new device enters with a substantial subsidy in order to capture market share early on." Clearly, Oculus is not taking that approach, and so that "means that the first wave of sales gives us no real sense of whether average consumers will care enough for this to become a household device," he said. Although many of us have sticker shock, Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter said he thought $600 ended up being "almost 'affordable'" and cheaper than he expected. "I think they have a chance to sell 1 million at that price the first year. Content still matters for the ultimate success of the platform, so we have to wait until we know more," he said. The early crowd hasn't been too phased by the price point. The initial allotment of pre-orders has already sold out, and Palmer Luckey took to Twitter to stress that "we are not making money on Rift hardware. High end VR is expensive, but Rift is obscenely cheap for what it is."

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Playstation 4 review 2.0

PS4 – Two Years On

It’s been another good year for Sony. The PS4 has now sold nearly 30 million units over the last two years – way ahead of the Xbox One at roughly 17 million units – and will only sell more during the run-up to Christmas. The year’s biggest third-party games, including Fallout 4, The Witcher 3, Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate and Metal Gear Solid 5, continue to run either more smoothly or at higher resolutions than they do on Microsoft’s hardware.
Sony played a blinder by moving its European games showcase from GamesCom in August 2015 to the Paris Games Show in October, and in doing so revealed a slate full of genuinely exciting exclusives.
In other respects, though, 2015 has been a disappointing year. While the PS4 is the best console on which to play Black Ops 3, The Metal Gear finale or Destiny: The Taken King, Sony has struggled to deliver the killer exclusive that the console needs. The Order: 1866 was short and uninspired, Bloodborne brilliant but hardly mainstream fare, while Until Dawn looked staggering but had all the usual failings of an interactive movie.
In October, the Xbox One actually outsold the PS4 in some key territories, including the US, just as it did in April. Microsoft’s console seems to have found a second wind. Does this mean the PS4 is no longer the console to buy?

PS4 – Hardware

Well, it’s still the most stylish, compact and unobtrusive of the two. 275mm wide, 53mm high and 305mm deep, it looks sleek and futuristic next to the chunky, more PC-like Xbox One. A new model has emerged with minor revisions to the cosmetic design, including an all matte-black finish, physical buttons for power and the disk eject, but the real news is a quieter hard drive and a new, less power-hungry system board, which makes a quiet console run almost silently until you’re playing graphically intensive games.
The new model continues to have the same light-up bar running along the top and down the front of the machine, acting as a giant status indicator to tell you that your PS4 is on or sleeping. Connectivity is the same as well, with two USB 3.0 ports on the front, another on the rear plus HDMI, Ethernet and optical audio sockets.
Sony really pushed the boat out when speccing-up the PS4. Developers wanted standard x86 architecture and Sony took that onboard, but where the Xbox One took a custom AMD APU with eight CPU cores and 12 GCN computer units, Sony gave us 8 and 18. And where Microsoft went for 8GB of 2133MHz of GDDR3 RAM, the PS4 shipped with the same amount ot 5500MHz GDDR5.
The Xbox One’s APU runs 150MHz faster than the Sony’s 1.6GHz chip, and has 32MB of ESRAM cache to buffer data moving through, but Sony started this race with a clear speed advantage, which is why we still see AC Syndicate and Black Ops III running at higher resolutions on Sony’s hardware than they do on Microsoft’s.
This isn’t necessarily something you should base your buying decision on. The third-party developers are getting really clever with dynamic scaling systems, rendering at lower resolutions or with a reduction in horizontal resolution then upscaling to 1080p. Look closely and you may see a crisper image or more detail in the distance on the PS4 version, but not everyone will see an obvious difference. Look at Microsoft exclusives like Halo 5, Rise of the Tomb Raider or Forza Motorsports 6 and there’s no way you could say that they look unimpressive. However, Sony’s slate of 2016 games promises some amazing cutting-edge visuals, and titles like Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End and Horizon: Zero Dawn have the potential to widen the graphics gap.

PS4 – Controllers and Accessories

If we ignore the distressing way that the rubber ring is wearing off the analogue sticks on our original PS3 pad, the Dual Shock 4 remains a fantastic controller. The sticks are now precise enough for the most demanding FPS veteran, the bumpers and triggers feel perfectly moulded, and every button seems to sit in the most natural place. The built-in headset socket is still a godsend, allowing you to plug in some headphones for quiet gaming without any hassle or expense.
In a way, some of the pad’s gimmicks now seem like relics of Sony’s thinking when the PS Vita launched. The built-in speaker has had some moments to shine in GTA 5 and Alien: Isolation, but most of the time it’s just a menace that blares out when you’re trying to play games quietly at night. It’s hard to remember the last time we used the central touchpad for anything bar accessing a menu or scrolling around a map. The flashing, colour-changing sensor bar looks cool, but currently feels as under-used as the PlayStation Camera – currently the most unutilised motion control accessory I’ve ever had in the house.
If you’re going to mock the camera, or the old Move motion controllers, be warned: the PS4 might yet have the last laugh. Both have a part to play in Sony’s PlayStation VR (aka Project Morpheus) virtual reality add-on, due to launch next year, and the addition of VR to the PS4 platform could be telling when next Christmas rolls around. We’ve been impressed with what we’ve seen so far, though there are warning signs that the initial pricing may be prohibitively high.