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Posts tagged “Hillary Clinton

Stop Using the Clinton Defense


3fx0jya

If there’s one thing the latest political kerfluffle has revealed, it is the lengths which some Trumpkins will go to defend the indefensible.

I’m not talking about the morons who either don’t care about, or don’t understand, the national security implications of divulging allied deep-cover intelligence operations to the Russians. I’m not referring to the people who think a President trying to derail investigations into his associates is just peachy. Those people will never be happy living in anything less than a dictatorship, and there is no hope for them.

The people I am directing these comments to are the ones who know the current resident at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is engaging in (at best) immoral and irregular activities or (at worst) about to plunge the nation into a crisis that will make the Watergate era look like the days of wine and roses. Instead of admitting their guy has character flaws that are manifesting themselves daily, they attempt to justify it with statements like:

“When is Hillary getting locked up?”

“What about the tarmac?”

“Seth Rich! Seth Rich!”

Yes, there is a Trump Derangement Syndrome on the left. That is indisputable, unless you suffer from it (in which case, I know a good psychiatrist). But it also shows there is still a Clinton Derangement Syndrome running rampant through the right. Just like those with TDS can’t self-identify their problem, the same seems to be the case with CDS on the right.

If you are one of those people, I have a news flash for you: SHE LOST.

The result of that loss is a fate far worse than jail for someone who’s entire way of life was built on running a political machine. The machine was taken away. The money, the swag, the hobnobbing, the ability to influence others – all gone. The Clinton’s find themselves in political purgatory, which is a fitting place for them.

Now, here’s the thing: trying to excuse Donald Trump’s excesses by complaining about the Clinton’s only does one thing, in the end. It says to rational people that you think what the Clinton’s did would be just fine, if only they had put an elephant on their family crest instead of a donkey. You undercut your own arguments by suggesting that what was fine for one was terrible for the other.

Here’s your reality check. If the Clinton’s actions (attempting to influence investigations into political corruption, stealing public funds, etc, etc) are reprehensible, what makes those same actions by the Trump’s any less reprehensible? There is an old adage: “Two wrongs don’t make a right.”

You would be well served to remember that.

 

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2016 Proves the Electoral College Works


Clinton supporters are claiming that since Hllary won the popular vote, it proves the Electoral College is a dysfunctional anachronism that impedes modern democracy. They don’t seem to understand, or care, that statements like those only prove the reasons for the Electoral College in the 1780’s remain with us today.

First and foremost, the Founding Fathers had deep, abiding distrust of unfettered democracy. James Madison wrote in Federalist 10

A common passion or interest will, in almost every case, be felt by a majority of the whole; a communication and concert result from the form of government itself; and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party or an obnoxious individual. Hence it is that such democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.

This understanding that direct democracy is an unwieldy form of government, certain to end in direct violence of neighbor versus neighbor, is what drove the Founders to establish the United States as a representative republic. They strove, at every level of the federal government they were creating, to isolate the democratic forum to the smallest, most localized unit possible. Indeed, one of the striking aspects of American governance is the interplay between the states and the federal government they devised.

A large part of the reason for establishing that interplay between state and federal government was the Founder’s understanding that, even in the earliest days of the nation, there were stark differences between the various states and regions, and competing interests between heavily populated areas and sparsely populated ones. In establishing a federal government that was an equal partner of the states as regards most matters, they allowed local control over local issues, while allowing for an overarching national policy that might be in direct contravention to what a state preferred. Factionalism, which they understood was an unremarkable and inevitable feature of human society, could thus be controlled. No single faction could become so omnipresent as to impose its will on the rest of the nation.

This theory of government extends through to the idea of the Electoral College. Most of us are familiar with the idea of the Electoral College as stated by Alexander Hamilton in Federalist 68:

It was equally desirable, that the immediate election should be made by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station, and acting under circumstances favorable to deliberation, and to a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice. A small number of persons, selected by their fellow-citizens from the general mass, will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations.

But very few of us have given much thought to this part of the same essay:

The choice of SEVERAL, to form an intermediate body of electors, will be much less apt to convulse the community with any extraordinary or violent movements, than the choice of ONE who was himself to be the final object of the public wishes. And as the electors, chosen in each State, are to assemble and vote in the State in which they are chosen, this detached and divided situation will expose them much less to heats and ferments, which might be communicated from them to the people, than if they were all to be convened at one time, in one place.

Here we see expressed the idea, once again, of deference to state preference, even when contemplating a federal election. Yes, the election of a President would occur in all the states simultaneously, but it was not a singular electoral event. Rather, it was to be the continuation of state elections. To ensure that each state was not pressured by outside influences, each states electors are to meet in that state and vote. They are not to travel to the seat of national government. The method of their meeting and deliberation is left to the states to decide.

So how does the 2016 general election demonstrate that these ideas are still needed today? Consider this: Mrs. Clinton will assuredly wind up with more raw votes, if tabulated nationally, than Mr. Trump. But, that is due to her extreme support on the Pacific Coast. Her share of the popular vote in California, Oregon and Washington is around 65%. Of the roughly 61 million votes she received, nearly 9.5 million of them came from those three states versus only 4.3 million for Mr. Trump. To look at in reverse, in every other region of the nation, Mr. Trump outpolled Mrs Clinton by some 5 million votes and had the far higher share of the total, with nearly 53% of the votes cast.

If we were to do as Mrs. Clinton’s supporters ask, and amend the Constitution to abolish the Electoral College, we would be saying that only 3 of our states were electing the President. The other 47, despite a preference for the opposing candidate, would be shunned.

But the hidden beauty of the Electoral College is in ensuring that every state and every region receives import upon the selection of the President in proportion to its size and influence in the federal government. So yes, Mrs. Clinton is assured the 74 electoral votes from those states. All she needed was another 196 (or 38% of the remaining) electoral votes to win the Presidency. But Mr. Trump, by virtue of his running a broader campaign that appealed to more voters across a wider swath of the nation, gained more electors in the other states. He outpolled Mrs. Clinton in the deep south, the midwest, the plains states, the mountain west and battled her to a near draw in the northeast.

I understand its a bitter pill for her supporters to admit that Mrs. Clinton’s message did not have the type of broad appeal that resonated across the nation. But one again, the Electoral College is ensuring the candidate with the broadest support will assume the Presidency on January 20.


What Goes Around…


I’m a person with a slightly bent sense of humor. I realize it, most of my friends have learned to live with it, my wife tolerates it and my kids (fortunately) didn’t inherit it. I find Monty Python hilarious, roar with laughter throughout The Rocky Horror Picture Show, still guffaw at Peter Seller’s portrayal of Inspector Clouseau, and laugh for hours with The Three Stooges. I love watching Wile E. Coyote fall off cliffs, Bugs Bunny put one over on Daffy Duck and Yosemite Sam always puts a smile on my face.

I mention this, because despite the arduous training in the sublimely ridiculous that the many hours of such entertainment brought about, I’ve never seen anything as nonsensical as the current state of the American left wing. Setting your cities on fire because your candidate lost is like a lost scene from Dr StrangeloveIndeed, the only person on the left I’ve come across in the last 4 days with any sense of why we have President-elect Trump is this guy here:

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FJonathanPieReporter%2Fvideos%2F1044777035645189%2F&show_text=0&width=560

But even he only half understands it. Yes, Hillary Rodham Clinton was probably the worst possible candidate the Democrats could have stood for President. As awful a candidate as Trump was, Hillary proved to be even more awful. Approximately 6.3 million fewer votes were cast this election versus 2012. The Democrat nominee garnered only 91% of the votes President Obama did just four years ago. So, while Trump was holding on to 98% of the Republican vote won by Mitt Romney, Hillary couldn’t generate anywhere near the enthusiasm from Democrats. And why would they be? Hillary is easily the most corrupt, least trustworthy and most befouled politician of the last quarter-century. And Democrats voted their displeasure, with 5.4 million fewer of them voting for her.

Ok, so Hillary is obnoxious, condescending and reeks of corruption. How is it that her opponent, a man so vile and disgusting that his sanity has been questioned, could hold on to such a large percentage of the vote from 4 years ago? That story begins with TARP and ends with the “basket of deplorables.” In the 8 years in between those events, the non-urban American has been vilified, denigrated, insulted and belittled. We were told  we’re “bitter clingers” for believing in the God of Abraham and Isaac, and owning firearms. We were told we’re homophobes for not wanting our pastors to be forced into performing gay marriages, our bakers forced into baking cakes for gay weddings or our florists and caterers forced into serving those events. We were told we’re misogynists for not wanting nuns to be forced to pay for abortions. We’re denounced as racists for not supporting #BlackLivesMatter, when all we see in that “movement” is a bunch of ill-informed youth intent on hate and destruction. We’ve been told we have to believe in global warming – except when that theory blew up in the face of evidence, we were told that it was just another way of saying “man-made climate change.”

We’ve been told we have no rights, except the ones our benevolent government decides we have, that we’re too stupid to read the words in the Constitution and Declaration of Independence. In the meantime, we’re also told those very documents that founded our nation are now irrelevant because they’re old and don’t reflect modern times. At the same time, we’re ordered to buy a government approved product from a government market because somehow, that’s not an abrogation of our rights as a free people? Maybe the left is trying to be funny or something, because usually if something works you don’t try like hell to break it.

We’ve been virtually ordered to send our kids to college, even though the local electrician’s union is hiring apprentices at $25/hour and my kid happens to enjoy working with his hands, so they can be brainwashed into spouting the same nonsense. And how do we know this is vitally important? Well, it must be. After all, we’re also told our sons become rapists and our daughters will be gang raped the moment they step onto campus at Whatsamatta U. If the only hope our kids have of a future is to willingly live and study in that cesspool, then it must be awfully important, right?

(Ah, yes. Whatsamatta U, where if you’re lucky your child will graduate with a degree in French History, $100,000 of debt and no prospects for a job, other than working as a part-time barista at the local coffee bar.)

But nobody dare say anything about how nonsensical all of that is, because then you’re violating some precious snowflake’s safe space. Unless that safe space is the bathroom, where we’re told the plumbing God gave you doesn’t count and so we have to let grown men use the same facilities as our mothers, wives and daughters. It makes sense, really – how else can we ensure the rape culture has a steady supply of victims? Besides, we’ve been told, that’s progress!

Oh, and because of man-made climate change, all you people who made a living mining coal or pumping oil from the ground, or building pipelines or driving trucks to move it around; yeah, well, here’s one final, mighty FUCK YOU, SORRY NOT, your jobs have to go. Grab a mop, sonny boy – the local Chuck E. Cheese needs someone to clean up behind the kiddies.

So after 8 long years of hearing this nonsense, of course people voted for Trump. When you’ve already been painted as a racist misogynist homophobe, a dolt incapable of anything other than collecting welfare and shooting heroin, you’re not going to worry too much about voting for a guy who actually is a racist misogynist – after all, it’s not like you have anything left to lose. Yes, Donald Trump can’t figure out which policies he supports and doesn’t support. In the end, that doesn’t matter. We’ve grown accustomed to politicians making extravagant promises they never intend to keep and position papers that would take an hour to read, and could be summarized as “I have no frigging idea what I’m talking about.” No, what mattered isn’t that Trump is a lout or that he doesn’t even seem to care about policy.

What mattered was that at the end of the day, after being insulted for 8 years, there was finally a candidate willing to insult the Powers That Be back. To give as well as he got, to take it from the gutter to the sewer if need be. Every “Little Marco” and “Lyin’ Ted” and “Crooked Hillary” was music to the ears of the disenfranchised. Every 3am tweet calling someone a lying SOB, every pronouncement at a campaign rally against his enemies only showed he was willing to fight. So what if he’s a New York billionaire? The other billionaires never liked him – and they never liked him because he never stopped being the brash kid from Queens.

So, go ahead and burn down your cities. Enjoy the bonfires in Portland, the smashed windows in LA, the blocked roads in New York. Throw your hissy fits and keep complaining about “whitelash” or whatever idiotic, progressive bullshit name you want to give it. It’s nothing more than the vast middle of America saying, “Enough, already!”.

And if you’re willing to leave your safe space and actually engage in something other than name calling, I’m the guy over here sipping a cold one and laughing at your idiocy. Hell, I might even slip on a Make America Great Again cap so I’m easier to find.


Political Baseballs Endorses…


mcmullin-for-prez

It’s possible the United States has had worse candidates for President in our history. We’ve certainly had our share of horrible campaigns, and we’ve had our share of horrible Presidents.

But you’ll be hard pressed to come up with a worse combination of candidates and campaigns than 2016 has brought.

The incumbent party nominated a woman with a 40 year history of corruption and scandal. How can anyone be surprised that, true to form, she may well become the first President-elect under indictment in our history? If elected and she manages to avoid prosecution for what certainly looks like egregious violations of the law, Hillary Clinton’s presidency would be kneecapped before she ever takes the oath of office. Nobody trusts her. Nobody can even pretend to believe anything she does or says any longer. As her own campaign staff has said, she has demonstrated terrible instincts and decision making. To call the next four years under her “leadership” a disaster in the making is to be generous – to disasters.

Ordinarily, a candidate that bad and that flawed wouldn’t have a chance in hell of being elected. But the Republicans, in a remarkable display of self-immolation, nominated someone as equally awful. Every character deficiency exhibited by Mrs. Clinton is personified in spades by Donald Trump. Self-dealing? Corrupt? Narcissistic? Check off all those boxes. And just as Hillary “bleachbit” her copy, I’m not even sure Donald has even read the Constitution. But he loves his petty dictators, from Vlad Putin to Deng Xiaoping. As for the rest of us, he’s already he told us what he thinks: “For the most part, you can’t respect people because most people aren’t worthy of respect.”

I had held out hope for the Libertarian candidacy of Gary Johnson. That was before he started talking and proved that (a) he’s either insane or killed his brain in a fog of hash smoke and (b) he’s actually not a Libertarian. He is, however, obviously just as opportunistic as both of the major party candidates.

So, the top three pretenders for President of the United States are unqualified and unfit for the office they aspire to, and probably belong in prison. What is a patriotic citizen to do this November 8th?

There is an answer. There is one candidate who, despite probably not able to carry more than a couple of states, embodies the strength of character, dedication to Constitutional principles and belief in the greatness of America we’ve found so lacking in the other candidates.

That is why, for 2016, Political Baseballs is proud to endorse Evan McMullin of Utah for President of the United States.

Since he’s only listed in 11 states, odds are you will have to write his name in on your ballot. I encourage you to find out the vagaries regarding write-in candidates in your state and take the effort to write him in. As mentioned, he likely will not win. But casting your vote for Mr. McMullin will not be wasting it, for two reasons.

First, the entire concept of “voting for the lesser evil” is what has left our nation in it’s current state. Far too often, we accept the idea of a binary choice between two poor options. This leaves voters voting not as much for a candidate, as against the opposing candidate. It’s a terrible situation that our current political parties have delivered to the American people, one who’s likely outcome this time will be the worst four years for our republic since the Civil War. By voting for Mr. McMullin, you can actually vote for someone who isn’t corrupt, isn’t beholden to either political party, isn’t bankrolled by all of the usual power players and isn’t responsible to anyone other than his own conscience and the voters. Rather than needing to rinse the stink off from voting for Mr. Trump or Mrs. Clinton, you can be proud of your vote.

Second, by now even the most partisan among us have to realize something has gone terribly wrong with our political parties if the best candidates they can come up with are the parasites they’ve nominated. If you truly want to send a message that we, the People, have had enough of their nonsense, there is no better way than to vote for a candidate who is inviolate in his beliefs. Even if you do not agree with Mr. McMullin’s conservative viewpoint, you cannot deny his uncompromising defense of his principles. I’ve heard many of you over the last two years, both conservative and liberal, say you want to “blow up the system.” Voting for Mr. McMullin is a shot right into the heart of the unscrupulous parties that have placed power and wealth above the country.

So, when you vote, don’t worry about pulling a lever or punching a hole. Write in the only candidate worthy of your vote: Evan McMullin.

 


Reality Check


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This was the BEST the GOP could do?

Good Morning! In just 16 short days, our long national nightmare, almost two years in the making, will be over.

And when we wake up on November 9, Hillary Clinton will be the President-Elect of the United States of America.

I don’t say this with any glee, but more a sense of resignation. While many will blame Donald Trump or the GOP establishment for an outcome that seemed impossible 24 months ago, they worked hand in glove to bring it about. The political bosses, in a series of unnerving and politically driven moves, made three crucial decisions that paved the way for Trump to sap the energy out of the conservative wing.

First, they insisted on open primaries – a system that allowed anyone, regardless of primary affiliation, to decide the Republican nominee. It’s akin to the membership of the American Legion allowing Code Pink to select their chairman. It’s Ford letting GM pick their board. It’s insanity, is what it turned out to be. Yes, almost 32 million people voted in this year’s Republican primaries – but less than 69% of them were registered as Republicans prior to this year. Nearly 1/3 of the “Republican” electorate wasn’t Republican.

Second, they let anyone and everyone run for the GOP nomination. As a result, what should have been the strongest field of conservative candidates in a generation became diluted to the point of irrelevancy. Centrist champions? There was Bush, and Kasich, and Fiorina, and… you get the point. The same for conservatives, for the religious right, for the libertarian wing, for the neocons, and on and on and on. When the starting gun sounded, there were 22 people announced as running for the Republican nomination for President of the United States. The RNC, for reasons known only to Reince Priebus, treated them all as if they were equal of stature, of seriousness and ability to win. Overconfident? Drunk? Who knows? But when you insist that Rick Santorum be given as much gravitas as Jeb Bush, what you get is Donald Trump. Because it became nothing more than a popularity contest, and not a contest of ideas, this primary season naturally wound up favoring the reality TV star who’s spent 40 years crafting a popular image.

Third are the convoluted rules about delegate apportionment. The front-loading of “winner take all” state primaries meant that despite no candidate gaining 50% of the vote in any of the first 15 primaries, Trump had an overwhelming delegate lead. He eventually won the nomination with support of only 38% of the vote. If you really want to get into the weeds on this point, Donald J. Trump won the Republican nomination with only around 8.5 million Republican votes – the rest of his margin came from those non-Republicans the RNC allowed to vote in their primaries. When you wrap your head around that fact, you realize that he’s actually done a pretty good job of parlaying today’s polarized partisans into his roughly 2/3 support among Republican voters in the general electorate.

And so here we are, 16 days from President-Elect Clinton and the Republican Party has nobody to blame but themselves. It isn’t that Hillary Clinton became a better candidate as this election season wore on. If anything, the questions regarding her use of a private email setup for official business, the general shadiness of the Clinton Foundation and still unanswered questions about her role in the Benghazi disaster should have sunk her campaign. But the RNC threw in with the only politician in America more disliked and distrusted than Mrs. Clinton. Those of us who have been #NeverTrump since the beginning warned the rest of the party that Trump would be easy pickings for the Clinton political machine. That we’ve been proven correct doesn’t do us any good, unless the party recognizes the mistakes it’s made and works to rectify them.

At this point, that Donald J. Trump is going to lose, and lose badly, is not in question. (Well, not in question, except among his most vitriolic supporters, the ones who have forgone reason in the quixotic quest to “blow it up”). The only question is how badly the worst GOP nominee in  over 100 years is going to harm the Republican brand. The Presidency is gone. The Senate is most likely gone, as well. Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire and Ron Johnson in Wisconsin are dead people walking. That means the Democrats only need to pick off two more seats to gain control, and they’re likely to grab at least three others (Indiana, Illinois and Colorado), as well as hang on to the retiring Harry Reid’s seat in Nevada. Should Trump continue his freefall, his coattails could well spell doom for the GOP held seats in North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Florida, too.

For all the talk about how Hillary Clinton needs to be stopped, if for no other reason than to prevent her ramming through thoroughly liberal Supreme Court justices, the RNC has shot itself in the foot. It hitched a ride with Trump and is likely to lose the only vehicle available for forcing at least a compromise on that front. And yes, it is a serious threat to the very nature of the Constitution. In the last debate, Mrs. Clinton avowed her preference for justices who will do many, many unconstitutional things from the bench. Side with the people? What? The entire reason the court exists in the form the founders created was so that they could deliver unpopular opinions without fear of recrimination. This is not to say it is a perfect system or that the court hasn’t a history of overstepping its bounds (Dred Scott, anyone?). But I cannot recall a President, at any time, essentially telling the American public that the court should ignore the Constitution when ruling on the Constitutionality of a statute. Also, Mrs. Clinton’s propensity for feint-and-maneuver was on display during her Heller answer. I had to go back and re-read the case just to be certain, but the case never referenced murderous toddlers. It was wholly about whether a jurisdiction (in this case, the District of Columbia) could ban an entire class of firearm (handguns).

Again, a real conservative would have pounced all over that particular gaffe. But the RNC’s Golden Man-Child, who until last year was a proud contributor to Michael Bloomberg’s anti-gun crusade, couldn’t even muster one of his trademark “WRONG” outbursts.

This is the reality that Priebus and his ilk have foisted upon the nation. We will have at least four years of a Hillary Clinton presidency. At least the first two of them will include her party controlling the Senate. There is a very real possibility that the Trumpster doesn’t go quietly in the night, continues to rail against the Republican party and conservative movement, giving Hillary the latter half of her term with full control of Congress and the Supreme Court.

There’s also another reality that Mrs. Clinton’s party and the national media are already attempting to ignore. In no way, despite the severe drubbing Republicans are facing, should anyone assume this indicates any sort of mandate for leftist policies. Yes, Trump is likely to lose by well over 150 electoral votes. Yes, for the first time in generations, Texas, Georgia, Utah and Arizona are toss-ups. But that is not an acceptance of the socialist dreams co-opted by Mrs. Clinton’s campaign. Rather, it is a repudiation of all things Trump and Trumpism. The Clinton machine would do well to remember Hillary will begin her tenure with the lowest approval ratings of any President in history. If her goal truly  is to unify the nation, she’ll need to find areas of agreement between the GOP House and Democrat Senate. I have my doubts, as Clintonism is about partisanship first, country second. I fully expect her to attempt to ram through her personal goals of HillaryCare, tax increases and gun control measures in her first 100 days – and a nation more antagonized and polarized than even now.

That’s reality, folks. And you can thank the spineless idiots in the RNC and their equally hopeless candidate for making it so.


The Debate from Hell: Whiners & Losers


 

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Fight!

If you’re a masochist, or just needed a good excuse to drink heavily, you sat through all 90 minutes of last night’s “Presidential Debate.” If you managed that and still retained your sanity, congratulations! You’re better off than either of the two candidates.

Ok, so who won? Who lost? Did anyone have an aneurysm on stage and put us out of our misery?

Winners:

  • Donald Trump – look, somebody had to win this shit storm. I suppose the winner is the guy who threw the most shit. Unfortunately for Donald, he came on stage last needing to do two things. First, he had to stop the hemorrhaging his campaign endured over the weekend. Second, he needed to convince people he’s something more than an angry old man. He may have succeeded on the first – the next couple of days will tell us. But he definitely failed on the second.
  • Breitbart TV – Stephen Bannon & Roger Ailes dream of an alt-right TV network survives! Expect a launch date of January 20, 2017.
  • Liquor distributors – The real slogan of this campaign should be, “Make America Drunk Again”.

Losers:

  • The truth – Look, we know all politicians lie. We’re surprised when one doesn’t fib. But last night might have set a record for lies per second.
  • The audience – Imagine you’re invited to ask the candidates a question. You sit, waiting, and you never get a chance to actually ask it. Or even worse, you do get a chance to ask it – but both candidates and both moderators just ignore it. Yeah, it was like that. It was EXACTLY like that.
  • Mike Pence – after doing his all to save his running mate’s hide and killing any future in politics he had, Trump threw the Indiana governor under the bus. Not only that, he backed up and ran him over again. The poor guy is going to be a punch line in jokes for years to come.
  • Duels – It seems that in the same year the play Hamilton is playing to rave reviews (btw, deservedly so), we could revive the same method the title character and his main political rival used to settle their differences. Could you imagine the TV ratings? Maybe it’ll be the first live event broadcast by Breitbart TV.
  • Children – if you have kids, this entire election is a good reason to ban them from watching television. Last night encapsulated it.
  • Bill Clinton – if you haven’t seen this, it’s all you need to know about Bill’s night…
    bill

The Conventions Are Over. Let the Race Begin.


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Both major parties have now concluded their national conventions. Traditionally, this is when most Americans actually begin paying attention to politics. This marks the point when what may have been a cursory delving into the upcoming election gels into a closer examination of the candidates, their positions and their histories among the general population. Everything up to this point has been debated, argued and bandied about by only the most politically active people in the country.

As a data point, consider this. In the primary elections, approximately 57.6 million people voted. That was less than 29% of eligible voters. If turnout rates simply match those of 2012, when 58% of eligible voters cast a ballot, that would mean another 57.6 million people voting. If turnout is closer to the 63% from 2008, it would mean an additional 67.5 million voters. And if turnout is the same as the last time primary participation reached as high as this year, in 1960? In 1960, 31% of eligible voters cast a primary ballot* and 67% one in the general election. An equivalent turnout this year would mean an additional 75.4 million votes cast in November.

What all of those numbers mean is this: at best, only half of the people who are going to vote this November have actually paid enough attention to this point to have participated in the electoral process. Each candidate has been able to play their base, solidify their standing  and not worry too much about attracting the votes of the rest of the country. But with the close of the conventions, that changes.

What we do have is a clearer idea of what each party intends as it’s core message for the fall campaign. For the Republicans, the message is the country is hopelessly fouled up, and only Donald Trump can save us from ourselves. The Democrats message is that things aren’t really that bad and we need the experienced hand of Hillary Clinton at the nation’s tiller.

But this year also features an electoral monkey wrench unheard of in prior contests. Both nominees are almost universally disliked, distrusted and flat-out repulsive to most of the electorate. How that plays out, in terms of messaging and voter turnout this fall, remains to be seen. It also presents third party candidates an opening unseen since Teddy Roosevelt ran as a Bull Moose over a century ago. Indeed, it is completely possible that a third party candidate could garner Electoral College votes for the first time since 1912.

The only thing certain about this year’s election is that these factors will create a race unique to our time. Prior models will almost certainly prove worthless to pundits and political scientists alike. The only relatively sure thing about this year is, it will be fascinating to watch and take part in the process.

 

*Note: The primary system was much different in 1960, as there were only 14 Democratic and 13 Republican primary contests held.


How Do You Defeat Donald? Get Hillary Out


KillarDonThe other day, Hillary Clinton launched a blistering attack on Donald Trump’s foreign policy suggestions, his character and his temperament. Among some of the choice words she had were:

  • “This is not someone who should ever have the nuclear codes because it’s not hard to imagine Donald Trump leading us into a war just because somebody got under his very thin skin.”
  • “He says he doesn’t have to listen to our generals or ambassadors because he has — quote — ‘a very good brain.’ He also said, ‘I know more about ISIS than the generals do, believe me.'”
  • “He says he has foreign policy experience because he ran the Miss Universe pageant in Russia.”
  • “He believes America is weak. An embarrassment. He called our military a disaster. He said we are — quote — a ‘third-world country.’ And he’s been saying things like that for decades. These are the words of someone who doesn’t understand America or the world.”
  • “He has the gall to say that prisoners of war like John McCain aren’t heroes.”
  • “He has said that he would order our military to carry out torture and the murder of civilians who are related to suspected terrorists — even though those are war crimes.”
  • “Donald Trump’s ideas aren’t just different — they are dangerously incoherent. They’re not even really ideas, just a series of bizarre rants, personal feuds and outright lies.”
  • “This is a man who said that more countries should have nuclear weapons, including Saudi Arabia.”

Salient points, all. Nothing about them can be disputed: the policies she attacked are all direct quotes of the Donald. There was just one problem with the entire speech.

It was delivered by Hillary Clinton.

This is the same Hillary Clinton responsible for the “Russian reset,” which has resulted in Vladimir Putin annexing parts of Georgia and Ukraine, harassing US & NATO ships and aircraft and settling into Syria.

The same Hillary Clinton responsible for starting the negotiations with Iran. The net result is that Iran will have US sanctioned nuclear weapons within a decade; weapons that we actually paid them to build.

The same Hillary Clinton who demonstrated (at the very least) horrible judgement in how she handled the nation’s top secrets. As a result of her insistence on breaking the rules and relying on a private, unsecured email system, it’s likely rogue nations like North Korea, China, Russia and others were reading classified intel in real-time. Heck, a Bulgarian hacker broke into that server in under 30 minutes, working by himself.

The same Hillary Clinton who bungled a Libya-to-Syria gun running operation, after bungling the “Arab Spring” related removal of Muammar Gaddafi, and then bungled the security arrangements of the US Consulate in Benghazi. The result? One dead American ambassador, along with three other Americans. And let’s not forget, there are still unanswered questions about why a rescue mission to save those men was never launched. The military has put that onus squarely on Hillary’s State Department.

In short, the Democrats aren’t incorrect in attacking Donald Trump as man wholly unfit for the office he is seeking. The problem is, their candidate is equally unfit for that same office. For every misstep Donald makes, Hillary has already made two. Her 44 year Washington DC record is as flawed as it is complete. And every attack she launches is easily parried with a counter-attack on her equally horrible record.

In fact, both candidates are so terrible that electing either could result in an immediate Constitutional crisis. It is a situation unprecedented in our history.

It’s also skewed the election in ways that pollsters and pundits can’t begin to sort out. But there is definitely one effect that doesn’t need to be polled to be understood: there are a lot of people who aren’t so much as supporting one candidate, as they are voting against the other. The same holds true for many of the political arena’s actors. They’ve endorsed their party’s candidate, not of party loyalty as much as pure disgust with the other party’s choice. Among Republicans, the one constant I hear regarding Trump is, “He’s not Hillary.”

I personally have my doubts about that. I look at both and see mirror images of one another. For me, Donald is Hillary. Hillary is Donald.

That being said, in the latest polling, Trump is only getting the support of roughly 1/3 of the electorate. I believe if Hillary were not the Democratic nominee, that support would crumble. Better than half of his support is of the #NeverHillary variety – those people do not support Donald and they will do anything to keep Hillary out of the Oval Office. That includes voting for someone they think is a horrible candidate.

So, it’s up to you, Democrats. If you truly want to keep Donald Trump from getting his tiny hands on the nuclear football, you’ll select someone other than Hillary Clinton as your nominee in Philadelphia. Oh, and for God’s sake:

Don’t let it be Bernie Sanders, either.


Double Brokered Conventions?


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One of the popular discussions in political circles has been the prospect that this summer’s Republican Convention could end up being the first brokered convention since 1976. But I think there is a very real possibility that both parties’ conventions might end being brokered. Regardless of who emerged as the nominees in this case, the resulting political earthquake would reset American politics. Indeed, it would recreate the paradigm that both parties strove to leave in the past over 40 years ago, in the wake of the disastrous 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago.

Perhaps I should begin by explaining what the term “brokered convention”means. Put simply, it is one in which the party elites, the “bosses,” pick the nominees for President and Vice-President. This was once the norm, but liberalization of both parties primary and caucus rules -and especially the awarding of delegates based on the results  – had made them a thing of the past. Over the past 40 years, the eventual nominees were able to garner a majority of delegates prior through the electoral process. While the party bosses still held significant power during the convention, it did not include the ability to change the popular choice for the Presidential nominee.

This year, there exists a very real possibility that no candidate in either party ends the primary season with a clear majority of delegates.

On the Republican side, there are still 6 candidates in the running. Of those, Ben Carson would seem most likely to drop out soon, but the other 5 have the funding and enough backing to continue on, at least until the March 1 primaries. In terms of delegates and convention politics, the longer the field remains this crowded, the longer the possibility that no candidate is able to cobble together 50.1% of the delegates. In fact, a scenario exists wherein the current frontrunner, Donald Trump, could exit the March 1 primaries with more state wins and higher percentage of the popular vote, but fewer delegates than the putative number 2 candidate, Ted Cruz. (And now, you understand why The Donald becomes unhinged at the mere mention of Cruz’ name). How? Cruz’ home state of Texas (where he holds a decided polling advantage) has a complicated two-step, primary and caucus method for picking delegates. Mobilizing the vote there requires an extensive and disciplined network, the type of which Cruz has demonstrated an ability to knit together and which Trump has not. Were Cruz to win Texas, a “winner take all” state and her 155 delegates, he could simply run a strong 2nd or 3rd in the remaining 15 states voting that day – and end up with more delegates.

Of course, we’ll know more after South Carolina votes. But to understand how crazy this is shaping up,  you only need to realize that for all his braggadocio  (and vaping by the press corps), Trump hasn’t even garnered 1/3 of the delegates awarded so far. And here’s the quirky part about primary elections: each state gets to choose how their delegates are divvied up. For the Republicans, South Carolina is a terrific example of how the winner of the popular vote can wind up with fewer delegates, especially with this many candidates. First, delegates are awarded to the winner in each Congressional district. There are 3 delegates available per district, awarded based on a “winner take all” basis. There are 16 “at-large” or “bonus” delegates, awarded to the winner of the popular vote – provided the winner exceeds 50% of the vote total. Finally there are 3 “RNC” delegates, bound to the winner of the popular vote, regardless of the percentage won. First, it’s extremely unlikely any candidate will win more than 50% of the popular vote, immediately putting those 16 at-large delegates into limbo. In fact, it seems likely that Trump will win Districts 1 and 7, while Cruz is strong in Districts 2, 3 and 4. District 5 is a Democratic stronghold and no Republican polls well there. District 6 is the heart of establishment politics in South Carolina and Jeb Bush’s redoubt.

So, while we’ll know more about how the race is shaping up, there’s a very strong probability that no candidate will emerge with so much as 40 total delegates. If current polling holds true, then the delegate race exiting South Carolina will look like this:

 

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So, to recap: the likelihood is that even after March 1,  no candidate will have even so much as 1/4 of the total delegates required to ensure the nomination, and the leader in popular vote could well be trailing in total delegates. This is despite that by then, 19 states with 554 delegates will have voted. This is how you get to a brokered convention.

Of course, there’s been a lot of talk and speculation regarding the possibility of a brokered Republican National Convention. To date, I haven’t heard anyone mention the possibility of a brokered Democratic National Convention. But the possibility exists, and the longer Bernie Sanders remains in the race, the greater the likelihood becomes. The reason has to do with the DNC’s “superdelegates.”

Unlike the potential Republican fiasco, the Democratic one would result from a direct divide between the party elders and the base. The elders (quite correctly, I think) do not believe that an avowed socialist can win the Presidency and thus have bet on Hillary Clinton as their standard bearer. Their primary process includes not only voted delegates, but also some 700 superdelegates. These are members of Congress and other party faithful who may vote for whomever they choose at the convention. Effectively, this means for Sanders to win the Democratic nomination outright, he needs to win the state delegates by a 701 vote margin.

Currently, Sanders holds a slight edge in awarded delegates, 36-32. However, to ensure the nomination, he needs to garner around 59% of the remaining at-large delegates. That’s a tall order. Partly because the Democrats have as  many quirky state rules regarding how delegates are divvied up as their Republican counterparts, and partly because winning 59% of the electorate in any election is a tall order. Assuming Sanders does well in Nevada and better than expected in South Carolina, the possibility becomes much more likely that Sanders does wind up winning the popular vote among Democrats – but falls short of the delegate count required to secure the nomination.

If Bernie enters the convention with a lead in declared delegates but not enough to secure the nomination, you will have a brokered convention. The party elders will be faced with a grim choice: do they cast their ballots for Hillary, angering the rank-and-file members of their party? Or do they acquiesce to the popular vote and back Bernie? The floor fight might well be reminiscent of 1968, along with the attendant mayhem.

One thing is for certain. Regardless of whether these scenarios play out or not, this is an election cycle that won’t soon be forgotten. I expect the nastiness, vulgarity and personal attacks to intensify the longer the campaigns roll on without a clear victor. Strap in, it’s going to be a long ride until summer!


And They’re Off!


courtesy NJ.com and Advanced Media

It’s very early in the morning, Monday, May 4, 2015. As I’m writing this, the sun is just beginning to peek out from night’s solemnity. But with it’s rising, the political silly season – better known as our quadrennial national election cycle – begins anew.

This one, for both seasoned political observer and novice alike, portends a change in the American political landscape. For a generation now, the Republican party has essentially conducted their primary schedule as a drawn-out coronation. The Democratic Party, in contrast, has conducted not only a search for a candidate but for a national identity. Excluding incumbents, the last time Republicans engaged in the type of soul-searching Democrats routinely embrace was 1980. The last time Democrats engaged in a slow ascendancy to the Presidency was before the Wilson administration. On the surface, the 2016 election looks as if the roles are reversed, with perhaps two dozen Republican candidates jumping into the fray and the megalith known as Hillary Clinton dominating the Democrat primary season. But I suspect the surface is just the glimmering reflection of political reporters unable to look past the Beltway. Hillary may be a formidable candidate – but the undercurrents in her party belie a certain uncertainty in her or the direction she wants to lead both her party and the nation.

As I’m writing this, there are six declared candidates, 4 Republican (Sens. Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul, former Sen. Rick Santorum) and 2 Democrats (former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Sen. Bernie Sanders). By the time you’re reading this, two more Republicans (Dr. Ben Carson, former CEO Carly Fiorina) are likely to have announced their candidacies. Here’s the potential roster of candidates, broken down by party:

Republican (21): Sen. Ted Cruz (TX), Sen. Marco Rubio (FL), Sen. Rand Paul (KY), Sen. Lindsay Graham (SC), former Sen. Rick Santorum (PA), Gov. Bobby Jindal (LA), Gov. Scott Walker (WI), Gov. Chris Christie (NJ), Gov. John Kasich (OH), Gov. Mike Pence (IN), Gov. Rick Snyder (MI), former Gov. Jeb Bush (FL), former Gov. George Pataki (NY), former Gov. Mike Huckabee (AK), former Gov. Rick Perry (TX), former Gov. Bob Ehrlich (MD), Congressman Peter King (NY), former Ambassador John Bolton, Dr. Ben Carson, CEO Carly Fiorina, CEO Donald Trump.

Democrat (6): Vice President Joe Biden, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT), former Gov. Martin O’Malley (MD), former Gov. Jim Webb (VA), former Gov. Lincoln Chaffee (RI).

I’ll be delving further into the dynamics of the race as the months roll along. I hope you’ve brought your airsick bags.

This is going to be a bumpy ride over the next 18 months.