Recount may add Trump votes

Update December 6: Clinton supporters in Florida are petitioning for a recount there. Let’s take another look at the numbers in Florida, from the New York Times and that spreadsheet by Cook Political Report. As with Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin (the piece below), there are no anomalies that suggest hidden votes for Clinton lurking uncounted in Florida.

Trump leads Clinton in Florida by 112,911 votes, as of now–a narrow win, in a big state. But the vote for “Others” is 297,178–more than twice Trump’s margin, for a total of more than 409,000 people who didn’t vote for Clinton, well outside a margin where a recount might reasonably be called for.

More importantly, those “others’ broke heavily for right-leaning candidates rather than for Jill Stein. As of now, the numbers in the NYTimes page are 207,043 for Gary Johnson; 16,475 for the Constitution candidate; 9,108 for Rocky de la Fuente; and 74,684 for Independent–a total of 307,310. Stein got 64,399.

In other words, any hope for a changed outcome for Hillary Clinton in Florida has to upset or reverse not only the margin between the major party candidates, but also a roughly five-to-one margin in favor of conservative-leaning ‘third party’ candidates. The hope is a null set. It is preposterous, and our news media who ignore the third-party tallies are failing in their duty to the public which has to determine when, and whether, a recount is called for.

[previous post below]

For the record, I support recounts. The right to vote is paramount, it should be an equal right, and tabulating votes accurately is more important than tabulating them fast. The public should be able to observe. Vote in private, count in public.

However, a recount will not only not change the 2016 outcome in Michigan, Pennsylvania, or Wisconsin, as the Jill Stein and Hillary Clinton campaigns themselves acknowledge. It is unlikely even that Clinton will net additional votes.

Take a quick look at the numbers for candidates other than Trump or Clinton. Reality check for commentators eager to blame ‘third parties’ for Clinton’s losses: in Michigan, Stein pulled 51,463 votes. But Libertarian Gary Johnson pulled 172,136. That’s a margin of more than three to one for the right-leaning ‘third party’ candidate over the left-leaning ‘third party’ candidate. Yes, the number of votes going to Stein in Michigan is more than the number by which Trump beat Clinton (10,704)–almost five times more. But the number going to Johnson is more than sixteen times greater than the winning margin.

Dr. Jill Stein

Dr. Jill Stein

In Pennsylvania, Stein pulled 49,278 votes. But Johnson pulled 144,536–almost three times as many, and more than twice the margin by which Trump beat Clinton in Pennsylvania (70,779). Trump’s margin as seen exceeded Stein’s votes. Conservative Party candidate Darrell Castle pulled another 21,242.

Gary Johnson, Libertarian candidate

Gary Johnson, Libertarian candidate

In Wisconsin, Stein got 30,980 votes–greater than Trump’s net over Clinton of 27,257. But Johnson got 106,422 votes, and the conservative Constitution Party candidate got 12,179. Adding these votes to those for the major party candidates yields a left-ish total of 1,413,190 and a right-ish total of 1,528,068. That’s a margin of more than 100,000 votes (114,868 to be precise, using the unofficial results given so far)–not the eyelash-thin margin screamed by the headlines.

Quick points: First, nothing in this picture suggests that hidden hordes wanted to vote for Clinton and were thwarted. Second, it’s funny how the name ‘third party’ applies no matter how many parties are listed. This dismissing everyone not locked into a major party should be rethought–especially in Wisconsin with its proud populist tradition. Third, even if the Democrats had won by a razor-thin margin in Michigan or the other two states, the thin margin would be shameful. From a small-d perspective, the Clinton candidacy was an embarrassment.

Fourth, blaming Clinton’s loss on a ‘third party’ is exactly what might be expected of the Clintons and their media allies (Rachel Maddow, for example)–but it is hardly progressive. Nor is it accurate. The fact remains that Jill Stein’s vote was substantially smaller in all three states than the votes for the Libertarian, Constitution, and other right-leaning candidates.

Meanwhile, this from Politico:

PROPUBLICA KNOCKS DOWN VOTER FRAUD CLAIMS — “We had 1,100 people monitoring the vote on Election Day. We saw no evidence the election was ‘rigged’ no matter what Stein or Trump say,” the investigative non-profit outlet said in a series of tweets last night. “Electionland had huge amounts of data. 600 ppl monitored social media. We had @LawyersComm call logs. We had 120,000 people texting us. We had 400 partner reporters across the country, including three of the largest news organizations in the U.S. We had voting experts in the room with us and election sources all over the country. We saw plenty of problems: Long lines, broken voting machines, incorrect poll books, confusion abt voter ID laws. But we saw no reason to doubt the results.” [Here, please imagine ‘handclap’ emojis where the ellipses are.] There … was … no … widespread … voter … fraud.”

It remains unclear why Dr. Stein is pursuing the recount. She did raise almost $7 million for the effort, which is the way to get Hillary Clinton’s attention. Ironically, Clinton has now joined the recount campaign, although Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin did not receive much love from the Clinton campaign in the form of campaign stops or more importantly policy addresses.

Clinton’s participation seems mainly to reflect her personal problems. As long as she can fan the dying ember of a hope that she is adored, apparently, she will keep the ‘election’ going. Again, no one projects that a recount will change the outcome. However, a delay hypothetically could take two states out of Trump’s win column on December 13 or December 19, whichever is treated as the Electoral College deadline.

Abolish the Electoral College? Why?

One problem with the abolish-the-Electoral-College picture is that it is hard to envision these three ‘Rust Belt’ states getting more attention without the prize of Electoral votes than they got in 2016 with a combined 46 Electoral votes, or 17 percent of the total needed to win the White House. As we already know, these areas are not booming.

Recent U.S. population growth

Recent U.S. population growth

Add Ohio, Iowa, Indiana, Minnesota, and Illinois to Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, and you get 41 percent of the Electoral votes needed to win. First, nothing makes neglecting these states anything but stupid, except for whatever makes it arrogant, self-important, or self-deluded to the point of delirium. Second, to my confreres in the media–if you want to avoid being perceived as elitist, quit using the phrase ‘Rust Belt’. Try losing your job and see how you like it, or watch your entire occupation go under. Wait–that’s already happening . . .

Progressives above all should repudiate this attitude. People who have a hard time finding decent jobs in small towns, open areas, or small cities should not be ridiculed. Nor should they be dismissed from the electorate, which might be the effect of abolishing the Electoral College. Look how well it worked this time.

I despise ridicule directed against any sector of the U.S. (like David Brooks’ comment about ‘gene pools’, for example). A superficial dismissal may rest–superficially–on a careless assumption of moral superiority (racial disparities in the Southeast, Latino poverty in the Southwest, random bigotry in the ‘Rust Belt’; take your pick). So what do the election analysts say about a small city like Binghamton, New York? This was a town where, if you recall, the big employer was IBM. Then IBM left–and now one of the town’s biggest employers is SUNY Binghamton, a nice place but not exactly hiring on the scale of General Motors or U.S. Steel back when. There is much to be said for the locale, from what I hear. You can get a very nice house for $40,000. But where do you find the job to pay for it?

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I Told You So

Election 2016 is over, and I for one am not surprised that Trump won.

Much to say. The only question is where to start.

Not to toot my own horn excessively, but I warned the well-established Democrats about what they were doing in boosting Secretary Clinton, or at least I tried to warn them. As I wrote–about the election–in March, the Clintons and Clinton allies are counting on voters who know they can’t count on them.

She was never a shoo-in. She was never even plausible.

Trying to seem above it all

Trying to seem above it all

Not that this is just a matter of politics or of political victories. From the first, the effort behind the scenes to install Clinton as the inevitable candidate showed a comfortable lack of concern over ethical collapses like the invasion of Iraq and the subprime mortgage debacle.

That  misplaced complacency continued well into last night. I myself could not watch MSNBC for more than a few minutes, at any point, because it was so clear that the self-congratulatory on-air personalities were 1) so in the tank for Hillary Clinton and 2) so out of touch with the public good. Right now, commentators with no expertise or depth are undoubtedly chewing over ‘what went wrong’ in the election.

Chew no more, my fellow writers; here’s what went wrong. (Yes, the statements below are quite possibly future article titles.) (Sorry about the caps. As with trying to warn insider types not to invade Iraq, this whole process has been frustrating.)


SECRETARY CLINTON SHOULD NOT HAVE RUN. That’s where it all went wrong–that Clinton, with all the reasons she should not be a candidate for the highest office, was financed and media-tized into a campaign that like the universe seemed to have no (known) beginning and no end.

CHOOSING A WINNER BEFORE VOTES HAVE BEEN CAST IS NOT A WINNING STRATEGY. Some insider Democrats made a huge mistake–not only in choosing Clinton, but in shutting out everyone else, as best they could. The attitude is exemplified in this wikileaks email, subject line “Democrats See a Field of One Heading to 2016.” Response from one of Clinton’s hacks: “Praise Jesus.” So the New York Times was hailing a Democratic “Field of One” in March 2015, implying a race all but over at that time, to grateful joy in the vicinity of John Podesta. These are the political experts? –These people do not seem to understand that a pre-selected candidate lacks popular appeal, for being pre-selected. –How could political professionals not know this? The process itself was vitiated. The democratic process was undermined from the start, by a cadre of over-promoted and under-qualified individuals who not only picked a poor candidate but put together a strategy designed mainly to prevent input, or even awareness, from the public.

GETTING AN OUT-OF-TOUCH MEDIA ESTABLISHMENT IS NOT THE SAME AS GETTING VOTES. The list of well-placed individuals in the news media who should resign/retire is long, and growing.

Wolf Blitzer, David Brooks, Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews . . .

Memo to Dems: Next Time You Want to Shove a Pre-Selected Candidate down the Public’s Throat, Don’t Choose the Wife of an Accused Rapist

To be continued . . .

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Live-blogging election night

[11:10 p.m.] Finally. CNN calls North Carolina for Trump. Deborah Ross also lost to Richard Burr.

[11:01 p.m.] Ridiculous. CNN’s Blitzer still has not called Georgia (Georgia) and North Carolina for Trump. But the second the polls close on the West Coast, he calls California for Clinton and trumpets that she has taken a lead in the Electoral College. Beyond ridiculous. Meanwhile, she is still behind in Michigan and Wisconsin. A more rational tally linked here. Trump ahead in the Electoral College and in the popular vote.

[10:43 p.m.] CNN is not bothering much about senate races. So far, in states going for Trump, the Democratic nominees for senate are also behind. Trump now leads in both Michigan and Wisconsin, as well as in Iowa and Ohio. It is incredible to me that supposedly adept pundits have not been discussing the foreseeable loss of Iowa and Ohio for Dems. But then, the pundits have been minimizing Clinton’s problems; more, they have manufactured multiple ‘paths to 270’ for her.

[10:27 p.m.] Ohio called for Donald Trump. Ohio, the state that Republicans have to win, to win the White House. MSNBC is calling Virginia for Hillary Clinton. Virginia votes not all in yet.

[10:15 p.m.] New Mexico called for Clinton, Missouri for Trump. More of those 50-50 non- surprises the cable networks lean on. Possibly only a little while more before Florida and North Carolina are called, though it looks as though the networks will wait until the vote count is close to 100%. Trump is solidly ahead in both.

[10:02 p.m.] Clinton gets the lead in Virginia. Trump still ahead in North Carolina and in Florida, with 95% of the vote in there. Trump gets Montana, Wyoming, Oklahoma.

[9:41 p.m.] Connecticut called for Clinton. Louisiana called for Trump. Not surprises. Trump still ahead in Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia. Surprises to some people. Virginia probably a surprise to almost everyone.

[9:13 p.m.] Arkansas, Texas called for Trump, who for now has a solid Electoral College lead. Virginia still looking pretty good for Trump, despite the prognostications.

[9:01 p.m.] More polls close. New York called for Clinton. Arizona, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota called for Trump. Trump still ahead for now in Florida, Virginia. CNN coyly calls Texas “too early to call.”

[8:31 p.m.] Alabama, South Carolina called for Trump. Not a surprise, except perhaps to delusionaries who categorized Alabama as a battleground. Equally predictably, Duckworth (D) wins senate in Illinois; Rubio in Florida. Trump ahead of Clinton by eyelash in Florida at the moment, after lead swings back and forth.

[8:02 p.m.] Blue Wall states of Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island called for Clinton. Also DC. Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee called for Trump. Florida, North Carolina “too early” to call. Marco Rubio solidly ahead in Florida. Florida panhandle results not in. Wolf Blitzer on CNN banging the drum for Clinton in Florida; he did the same when she ran against Senator Obama in 2008.

[7:32 p.m.] More polls closed. Trump, Clinton in virtual tie in Florida, with very low   percentage of votes in. CNN calls West Virginia for Trump. [7:34 p.m.] In Florida senate race, Rubio ahead of Patrick Murphy 51% to 45%, with just two percent of the vote in.

[7:04 p.m.] The hour of scant surprise. Indiana, Kentucky called for Trump, who is ahead approximately 70-30. Vermont called for Clinton. Too soon to tell how much has Trump has passed Mitt Romney’s benchmark, if that’s what it’s called. Too soon to tell much about the Indiana senate race, either, although at the moment Todd Young is ahead of Birch Bayh about 4 to 3. Unofficial results for Vermont state races not up yet.

[6:35 p.m.] Polls closed in part of Indiana and Kentucky; Trump ahead of Clinton by a  tsunami, with less than one percent of the vote in. CNN panel discussing a court order to keep polls open in part of North Carolina. 1) I agree; the polls should stay open. 2) Any fantasy that North Carolina is in play for Clinton is just that; a fantasy. I’m not saying that Democrats could not at some point appeal in North Carolina again. But it will have to be with some candidate transformative, inspiring, rather than myopic and greedy. Not Secretary Clinton.

[4:32 p.m.] Sideways related topic, this from my spam folder Wikileaks. Why did CNBC moderator John Harwood turn to John Podesta to find out what to ask Jeb Bush in interview?

John Podesta

John Podesta

[4:08 p.m.] CNN website having some problems. Clicking on links for provocatively titled election pieces leads to “Uh-oh!” and “There’s no page here.” [4:11 p.m.] CNN on air saying bigtime Latino turnout in Nevada. Contradicts WaPo report linked in this morning’s blog. CNN saying that Trump has an “insurmountable deficit” in Nevada and is filing a “frivolous” lawsuit. Quite the story, if true. Guess we should just all go to bed and never mind about having an election. Does sound appealing, from some perspectives.

Here outlined below is how top races frame up according to prominent if not reliable sources. Some interesting questions in green bold-face font. Will fill in the gaps later, up top.

First exit polls: more voters say they want a ‘strong leader’. First early return: from Dixville Notch, a win for Clinton but a 4-4 tie (2 votes for Trump, 1 for Libertarian, 1 write-in for Mitt Romney).

Barry Ritholtz: income versus exit polling

Barry Ritholtz: income versus exit polling as predictor

Exit polls? from Politico:

The list of state-level exit polls this year includes the 11 states POLITICO identified as Electoral College battlegrounds — Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin — plus 16 other larger or borderline-competitive states.

While the list hasn’t been officially announced, ABC News, a pool member, has posted exit-poll links for those states on its website.

Timeline, polls close:

  1. 6:00 p.m, parts Indiana and Kentucky.
  2. 7:00 p.m., Georgia, South Carolina, Vermont and Virginia; parts of Alabama, Florida, New Hampshire; rest of Indiana, Kentucky. [Virginia R (House) Barbara Comstock’s district; does Comstock stay in? If so, does Clinton solidly win Virginia as polls indicate?] [any hope re Indiana senate race?–dubious] Outcome: Comstock wins. Clinton gets Virginia called for her. Not a shoo-in. Indiana goes the way Indiana always goes.
  3. 7:30 p.m., North Carolina, Ohio, West Virginia. [North Carolina Trump/Clinton, i.e. how badly does Clinton lose? senate: R incumbent Richard Burr/D challenger Deborah Ross; can Ross pull it off in spite of Clinton?] [Ohio Trump/Clinton, i.e. how badly did Clinton lose Ohio for the Democrats?] Burr wins. Trump wins North Carolina, Ohio.
  4. 8:00 p.m., Connecticut, Delaware, D.C., Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee; parts Kansas, Michigan, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas; rest of Alabama, Florida, New Hampshire. [Pennsylvania Trump/Clinton; can Clinton win? senate race incumbent R Pat Toomey/D challenger Katie McGinty] [Florida Trump/Clinton, can Clinton squeak out a win? senate race Marco Rubio/D (of sorts) challenger Murphy; are the polls invariably showing Rubio ahead accurate?]
  5. 9:00, Arizona, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Wisconsin, Wyoming; rest of Kansas, Michigan, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas. [WI Trump/Clinton, senate Feingold/Johnson] [MI Trump/Clinton]
  6. 10:00 p.m., Iowa, Montana, Nevada, Utah; parts of Idaho, Oregon. [IOWA: Trump/Clinton, i.e. have the Democrats really lost Iowa?] [Nevada Trump/Clinton, i.e. same question. Senate race: D Catherine Cortez Masto, boosted by Bernie Sanders, R Joe Heck]

(Side question: why does Real Clear Politics call Minnesota and Missouri ‘battleground states’?)

Karl Rove on what to watch for early:

While votes are still being cast, the TV networks will comment on exit polls, though they won’t reveal what the surveys show about the head-to-head matchup. The exits can be spectacularly wrong—they predicted a John Kerry victory in 2004—but they do influence the coverage . . .

Two things to look for in the exits: First, how is Mr. Trump doing among white voters? His strategy requires grabbing a higher percentage of whites than Mitt Romney’s 59% and boosting their share of the turnout above 2012’s 72%. College-educated whites traditionally vote Republican, but Mr. Trump has struggled with them. Will he match Mr. Romney’s 51% among all college grads?

Second, how is Mrs. Clinton doing among minorities and millennials? Her strategy calls for replicating President Obama’s 2012 coalition. That year African-Americans were 13% of turnout, and 93% went for Mr. Obama; Hispanics were 10% of turnout, and 71% voted for him; and millennials were 19% of turnout, 60% of whom supported the president.

“Watch for how each party’s vote has shifted since 2012. Although Mr. Trump is likely to win Indiana and Kentucky, comparing his margin to Mr. Romney’s might indicate what’s happening nationally.”

[Turnout: larger or smaller than 2012? Re counties with high percentages of African-Americans, Latinos, millennials and educated whites, in the four swing states that report early?]

“Florida is this election’s most important battleground. Democrats have carried 18 states and the District of Columbia in all of the past six presidential contests. If Mrs. Clinton wins the 242 electoral votes from this “Blue Wall,” she needs only Florida’s 29 to take the White House. Mr. Trump must win Florida to keep open his path to the presidency. Results from early and absentee voting could be an important indicator. The Panhandle, which is very Republican, is in the Central Time Zone . . .

Ohio, with 18 electoral votes, is this year’s second-most important state. No Republican has ever won the White House without the Buckeye State. The split there is big cities versus suburban and rural counties. Mrs. Clinton needs to carry Cuyahoga County (Cleveland) by at least 160,000 votes and win big in Franklin County (Columbus) and Hamilton County (Cincinnati).

The next most important states are North Carolina and Virginia, with a combined 28 electoral votes. Mrs. Clinton can win the presidency by taking the Blue Wall plus these two, even if Mr. Trump wins Florida and every other tossup.

The early returns also include a few bellwether counties. Vigo County, Ind., has backed every presidential winner since 1956 and been wrong only twice since 1888. In Ohio, Ottawa and Wood counties, near Toledo, have voted for every victor since 1964 and 1976, respectively. Hillsborough County, Fla., which includes Tampa, has supported the winner in 19 of the last 20 elections (1992 being the exception).”

“At 10 p.m., EST, polls in Nevada and Utah close. The former is a battleground and the latter interesting because of Mormon antipathy for Mr. Trump. Hawaii votes until 11 p.m., EST, and Alaska until 1 a.m. Wednesday. But by then, Americans will probably know the outcome . . .”



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Not looking like a landslide yet

I just returned from a social visit to the polling place in my precinct. Having voted already, in Maryland’s early voting, I went to assess turnout and to chat with neighborhood friends. There was ample time: lines were slow, not because voter influx was huge but because the Maryland state Board of Elections allotted my polling place one scanner for all the (two-page) paper ballots cast. Turnout is in line with this deep-blue and racially diverse community, but no lines-around-the-block scene. Notwithstanding the extensive media coverage of 2016 early voting, I got that same non-landslide vibe at the early polling place, also. (Another local early voting location was busier.)

Forget the hype: so far, this is no shutout or landslide–Electoral College or other–in the making. Predictions are air, and it’s still morning on Election Day, but so far the outcome for Democrats in 2016 looks like 2012, only worse.

Electoral College map in 2012

Electoral College map in 2012

Some numbers could help ground the air.

This week the Washington Post published a useful graphic, “Where 41 million votes were cast,” comparing 2016 early voting numbers to 2012 early voting. Clicking on the link does not release a Blue Tide.

A few political simplicities here, regarding the Electoral College. To start with, we have the ‘Blue Wall’, the list of 18 states that have gone Democratic (along with DC) in the last six presidential elections.*

For the 18 ‘Blue Wall’ states, the WaPo tally indicates “Much less” turnout, down by at least 20% from 2012, in 8–California, Hawaii, Michigan, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington. There has been “Much more” turnout, up by at least 20% over 2012, in 3–Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota (with DC). Maybe all three are landslide pockets for Clinton. On the other hand, it is worth noting that Massachusetts and Maryland have handed complacent Dems some nasty surprises in recent years. Two other states–Maine, Wisconsin–had early turnout higher by 10% to 20% over 2012, which could look good for Russ Feingold in Wisconsin. Two others–Delaware, Illinois–had early turnout ‘similar’ to 2012. (This middling classification is surprisingly imprecise.)

Moving from the ‘Blue Wall’ to what RealClearPolitics has designated as battleground or swing states gives the same picture. For 2016, RCP characterizes eight states as ‘swing states’–Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Of these eight, two–New Hampshire and Ohio–fall into the “Much less” turnout category, down by at least 20% from 2012. Early turnout in Iowa has been 10% to 20% less this year than in 2012. Maine and Wisconsin as said have had higher turnout by the same (?) margin. On the other hand, Florida has had “much more” early turnout, by at least 20%. May be a good sign. Balancing that is that early turnout has also been higher in North Carolina, the past and present red state among these so-called battlegrounds. (See below.)

The “much less” category includes some interesting mix. States with early turnout down by at least 20% include the Democratic-friendly Colorado and New Mexico, as well as the hoped-for Ohio and New Hampshire. Early voting was also down by 20%+ in Alaska, Wyoming, Missouri, Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama–solidly red states, where lower turnout would not raise concern about the electoral map. The lower turnout does suggest that the much-hyped ‘minorities’ are not turning out for Clinton. (Remember how much we heard about Mississippi and Alabama during the primary? Has anyone heard about them recently?)

Turnout was down by 10%-to-20% in North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Texas–again solidly red states, but again no game-changer for Clinton among minority Democratic voters.

Solid-red Georgia and Louisiana had “much more” turnout, up by at least 20%. Red states Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia had turnout up by 10% to 20%. Red states Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Montana, South Carolina fell into the less-defined “similar” category, with turnout less than 10% off 2012, either up or down. Presumably they’re still red states, as might have been predicted except in a hallucinatory WaPo article previously written about on this site.

The fuzzy “Similar” category includes Nevada and Virginia. All the early-voting states with large Latino populations are either significantly down from 2012, or similar to 2012–except Florida.

Back to that RCP article, linked again here, which aligns somewhat with the above. The RCP swing state list as mentioned is Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. As of yesterday, it was not inconceivable that six of these eight states could go for Trump–if the recent opinion polls can be relied on, which is never a given.

As of Monday November 7, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin were leaning Clinton. This morning, Florida is Trump by a tiny margin. All three are surprisingly shaky (compared to 2008 and 2012), especially factoring in the senate races.

In Florida, every poll shows Rubio ahead in the Florida senate race. Only one poll in months has put what’s-his-name ahead (by one point), and that was PPP, back in June.

In New Hampshire, the only poll in recent days showing Hassan significantly ahead has been WMUR/UNH. Outlier WMUR/UNH has been the one poll to show Hassan significantly ahead in the last three months. (RCP classes this senate race as a “tossup.”)

In Nevada–well, this one the Democrats might manage not to throw away. Alan Grayson has speculated that Dems might keep the Nevada senate seat. Several recent polls have put  Catherine Cortez Masto ahead of Joe Heck. In fact, recent polls put Cortez Masto ahead of Clinton in Nevada.

My emerging hypothesis is that having Secretary Clinton at the top of the ticket is an anchor. She is hurting down-ballot candidates. If this hypothesis is accurate, then the reverse-coattail effect should be more potent for candidates more associated with her. That is, it should be most damaging to blue-dog Democrats like Clinton. This pattern seems to be holding, going into Election Day: Feingold in Wisconsin and Cortez Masto in Nevada are doing better so far than the Democrats running for senate in Florida, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.

Also, if the hypothesis is correct, then senate candidates should be out-performing Clinton at least part of the time. This one checks out, too. As mentioned, Cortez Masto is ahead of Clinton in Nevada. And Clinton is struggling in New Hampshire even more than Hassan.

Similarly, while Deborah Ross has been falling behind incumbent Richard Burr in North Carolina, she is still running a point or so better than Clinton.

Same broken record for Pennsylvania. While establishment-choice Katie McGinty is struggling to hold on to a maybe-so two points better than incumbent Pat Toomey, she is still running just slightly better than Hillary Clinton in Pennsylvania, although by less than a percentage point in the most recent polls.

Note that of the RCP top senate races, only Colorado (incumbent Michael Bennet), Illinois (Tammy Duckworth), and Wisconsin (Feingold) look strong for Democrats. Two of these are +Dem turnovers. (Nevada would be a +Repub turnover.) In Colorado, Bennet is running five points better than Clinton–a couple of points more than his spread over his GOP challenger. In ‘blue wall’ Illinois, Duckworth is running a couple of points better than Clinton.

Much media speculation on the down-ballot effect of Trump at the top of the ticket, for Repubs. What about the down-ballot effect of Clinton at the top of the ticket, for Dems?

*The “Blue Wall”: 18 states voting Dem in all six elections from 1992 on (plus D.C.): California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin

[Update 11:50]

Chicago area is one region reporting big turnout and big increases, according to Politico:

— “Heavy turnout expected for election in city, Cook County,” by the Chicago Sun-Times’ Stefano Esposito: “Some 315,875 people had chosen to vote early, compared with 228,695 during the 2012 presidential election. Orr predicted another 30,000 to 40,000 early voters by day’s end. On the city side, 284,506 people had chosen to vote early as of Sunday, compared with 243,148 people in 2012, official said.”

— “Election officials: Illinois early voting breaks records,” by AP’s Sophia Tareen: “Nearly 1.3 million people cast in-person early ballots through Sunday, surpassing turnout in previous presidential contests, according to totals released Monday by the State Board of Elections. Roughly 1 million people cast early in-person ballots in 2008, or about 18 percent of all votes, and nearly 1.2 million people did so in 2012, or roughly 22 percent.”

— “Chicagoans Shatter Early Voting Records, Facing Hours-Long Lines,” by NBC Chicago’s Tom Schuba: “At the early voting ‘super site,’ located at 15 W. Washington in The Loop, some voters told NBC Chicago that they returned Monday after facing 3-hour lines the day before. According to several reports, lines were wrapped around the corner outside the site on Monday, the final day of early voting.”” 


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Prince George’s “Democratic” flyer via suspended Sylvania Woods school principal?

The election flyer that landed in Prince George’s County mailboxes on Friday, October 21, looked typical. Banner top front: “2016 Democratic Sample Ballot for the General Election,” above screamer “Democrats 2016.” Banner bottom front: “VOTE DEMOCRATS 2016” and “DEMOCRATIC GENERAL ELECTION,” with the election date. Heading on the reverse: “2016 Democratic Sample Ballot.” Also, “Take this with you when you vote.”

The flyer endorses four Prince George’s County Circuit Court judges–incumbents Herbert Dawson, Dorothy Michelle Engel and Karen Mason, and nominee Ingrid Turner, who defeated Judge Erik Nyce in the primary. The four judicial candidates are pictured beneath photos of Hillary Clinton, Senate candidate Chris Van Hollen, and House candidates Anthony Brown and Steny Hoyer.

The flyer also endorses five school board candidates. Unlike sample ballots, it includes just one candidate for each position–David Murray in District 1, Patricia Eubanks in District 4, Cheryl Landis in District 5, Alexander Wallace in District 7, and Edward Burroughs III in District 8. Murray is unopposed. Trying to find out more, I emailed the mailer to local school activist Genevieve Demos Kelley. As Kelley noted in her blog, the mailer looks at first sight like any official Democratic Party mailer, but the county’s Central Democratic Committee voted not to endorse in school board races this year.

Committee flyer endorses four Prince George’s County judges and five P. G. school board candidates 

The flyer was actually mailed by the Prince George’s Committee to Elect the Sitting Judges; see below.

Five of the Prince George’s County Board of Education seats, as mentioned, are up for rotation November 8. Two contests include school board members who in August wrote a letter to County Executive Rushern Baker, asking the board’s chair and vice chair to step down after revelations of abuse in county schools. And one of the two has a challenger endorsed on the “2016 Democratic Sample Ballot.” That is to say, Verjeana Jacobs in District 5 not only has an opponent, but her opponent has the implied blessing of ‘Democrats 2016’ from Clinton on down to Van Hollen and Brown and/or Hoyer. (Two other members on the letter, Beverly Anderson and Sonya Williams, are not up for reelection this fall; one is vacating her seat; and one, Edward Burroughs III, received an endorsement.)

The Washington Post endorsed for school board only incumbents and/or non-participants in the letter. Full disclosure: The troubled Judge Sylvania Woods Elementary School is in District 4, my district, and I myself voted for challenger Abel Olivo in early voting yesterday. And speaking of full disclosure–

Fine print

On the reverse, bottom left, smallest print on the page, comes the required-by-law “Authorized by: David S. Coaxum, Treasurer, Prince George’s Committee to Elect the Sitting Judges” and “Committee for reCharge At-Large, Calvin Brown, Treasurer.” The return address (top front left; they don’t make this easy) reads “P.O. Box 2072, Upper Marlboro MD 20773-2072.”

Directories and public records show the postal address as held by Michelle Lynn Fanning, now Michelle Williams, of Gambrills, Maryland, in the Bowie area. Principal Michelle Williams is suspended from her position at the head of Judge Sylvania Woods Elementary School, near Bowie. The telephone number listed for the address is out of service, and Principal Williams has not replied to an emailed query. The main office at Judge Sylvania Woods Elementary did not return a call.

As has been widely reported, a volunteer aide at Sylvania Woods produced child pornography at the facility, using students for his videos.  Additional reports are linked here and here. Law firm Joseph Greenwald Laake has filed a lawsuit on behalf of parents of some Sylvania Woods students. All of this might reasonably raise a question as to why a suspended principal is engaged in politicking. Another question is why it is allowable for the principal to engage in behind-the-scenes politicking for either judges or school board candidates. In the near future, both the courts and the school board in Prince George’s County may have to weigh in on issues arising at Sylvania Woods Elementary, among other issues.

Children at Sylvania Woods Elementary School

Children at Sylvania Woods Elementary School

The Committee to Elect the Sitting Judges sent out a similar mailer for a fundraiser back in February. Same contact information. Somewhat different candidates, since one went down to defeat. An email to Judge Erik Nyce has not been returned.

The same flyer was being handed out at early voting locations yesterday. I spoke briefly with Ms. Engels’ husband, who happened to be standing near a box of the mailers.

Along with Coaxum, the Maryland state Board of Elections campaign finance website lists as chair of the committee Elizabeth Marie Hewlett of Bowie. No one answered the phone at the number provided. Along with chairing the Committee to Elect the Sitting Judges, Hewlett is also chair of the M-NCPP Prince George’s County Planning Board. Questions placed by telephone with an assistant to Ms. Hewlett have not been returned.

This committee looks interesting. The Maryland campaign finance database makes information on contributions fairly accessible. The Prince George’s Committee to Elect the Sitting Judges has received many contributions, loans or transfers since its founding. Many are small donations; many donations of varying amounts into the thousands have come from attorneys, law firms, lobbyists, judges’ relatives and others in the legal community.

In February 2016, the Joseph Greenwald Laake firm–which is representing stakeholders at Sylvania Woods Elementary in the lawsuit–donated $4,000.00 to the committee. A telephone call and an email to Joseph Greenwald Laake have not been returned. Judge Engel’s husband, Michael C. Engel, donated $4,000 on March 8, 2016. The similar Montgomery County Committee to Retain the Sitting Judges of Montgomery Co MD PAC also transferred $4,000 in March 2016. Prominent attorneys and key lawyer-General Assembly members like Joseph Bonsib, Gerard Evans, Mike Miller and Joseph Vallario also made four-figure donations.

Emails to County Executive Rushern Baker, Principal Williams, Coaxum and Brown have not been returned. Calls to the offices of Coaxum and Brown have not been returned. This seems to be a quiet and modest group of people.

The mailer also includes a small-print disclaimer that “This message has not been authorized or approved by any other candidate or committee.”

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A “vanilla characterization”: Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, and Hillary Clinton

Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, Hillary Clinton. Your cash is good at the bar.

Emails recently released via wikileaks restore little hope about the Clinton team behind scenes. The excerpts below, verbatim and in-house, pertain to that vexed topic of Clinton’s paid speeches for Wall Street.

They’re pretty clear. Little editorializing required. As Halloween approaches, some naked self-exposure of cynical willingness to fool the public is highlighted in orange:

On Fri, Nov 20, 2015 at 3:03 PM, Dan Schwerin <> wrote: > Following up on the conversation this morning about needing more arrows in > our quiver on Wall Street, I wanted to float one idea. In October 2014, > HRC did a paid speech in NYC for Deutsche Bank. I wrote her a long riff > about economic fairness and how the financial industry has lost its way, > precisely for the purpose of having something we could show people if ever > asked what she was saying behind closed doors for two years to all those > fat cats. It’s definitely not as tough or pointed as we would write it > now, but it’s much more than most people would assume she was saying in > paid speeches. (Full transcript is attached and key riff is pasted below.) > Perhaps at some point there will be value in sharing this with a reporter > and getting a story written. Upside would be that when people say she’s too > close to Wall Street and has taken too much money from bankers, we can > point to evidence that she wasn’t afraid to speak truth to power. Downside > would be that we could then be pushed to release transcripts from all her > paid speeches, which would be less helpful (although probably not > disastrous). In the end, I’m not sure this is worth doing, but wanted to > flag it so you know it’s out there.

The suggestion did not meet with unmitigated moral contempt or a generous wrath. On the following Monday, Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon passed it along:

Reviving this thread because AP is working on a story similar to Pat Healy’s article in Sunday’s NYT about HRC’s “Wall Street image problem.” The reporter, Lisa Lerer, plans specifically to note that her paid speeches to banks were closed-press affairs, and transcripts are not available. She is asking if we wish to characterize her remarks in any way. I think we could come up with a vanilla characterization that challenges the idea that she sucked up to these folks in her appearances, but then use AP’s raising of this to our advantage to pitch someone to do an exclusive by providing at least the key excerpts from this Deutsche Bank speech. In doing so, we could have the reporting be sourced to a “transcript obtained by [news outlet]” so it is not confirmed as us selectively providing one transcript while refusing to share others.

There were demurrals. As Mandy Grunwald responded the same day,

I worry about going down this road. First, the remarks below make it sound like HRC DOESNT think the game is rigged — only that she recognizes that the public thinks so. They are angry. She isn’t. Second, once you start looking at speeches, you run smack into Maggie Haberman’s report for Politico on HRC’s Goldman Sachs speech, in which HRC isn’t quoted directly, but described as saying people shouldn’t be vilifying Wall Street.

In other words, the suggested riff might not obfuscate enough to be helpful. As Grunwald went on,

Maybe you think the Deutsche Bank speech takes the sting out of the Goldman report — but I am concerned that the passage below will exacerbate not improve the situation.

For nostalgic reasons, I like seeing the name Deutsche Bank come up. Remember the great moment in Casablanca when Rick (Humphrey Bogart) entertains an official from Deutsche Bank?

Clip on Youtube here

Playing it again

Playing it again

The dialogue names names:

53. I’m sorry sir, this is a private room.


54. Of all the nerve! Who do you think…? I know there’s gambling in there ! There’s no secret . You dare not keep me out of here! You


55. Yes? What’s the trouble? ABDUL This gentleman — GERMAN RICK Your cash is good at the bar. GERMAN What ! Do you know who I am? Yes? What’s the trouble? This gentleman ….


56. I’ve been in every gambling room between Honolulu and Berlin and if you think I’m going to be kept out of a saloon like this, you’re very much mistaken.


57. Hello Ugarte. Uh, excuse me, please. Hello, Rick.


58. What! Do you know who I am? Your cash is good at the bar


59. I do . You’re lucky the bar is open to you.


60. This is outrageous. I shall report it to the Angriff!


61. Huh. You know, Rick, watching you just now with the Deutsche Bank, one would think you’d been doing this all your life.


62. Well, what makes you think I haven’t.

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Nobody was ever going to out-mediocre them again

Today’s history lesson: Back home in Arkansas after Georgetown University, Oxford, and Yale Law School, William Jefferson Clinton ran for governor in 1978, and won. He had previously run–in his twenties–for the U.S. House of Representatives and lost, then for state Attorney General and won. In 1979, he became the youngest governor in the U.S.

National attention; widespread political awe, admiration and envy; a seemingly limitless upward trajectory for a ‘boy governor’ and Southern political rock star who seemed to marry the best, or anyway most electable, elements of good ol’ boy (including the treatment of Arkansas women) and elite education. Then Clinton ran for reelection two years later–and lost, in a stunning upset and reversal, to Republican Frank White in deep-blue Arkansas.

Frank D. White

Frank D. White

So much for ‘electable’.

Quite the setback for someone who had run for every conceivable office from his time as a student.

As one might expect, soul-searching ensued. During this period, reportedly both Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton opposed the death penalty. Bill Clinton had after a fashion opposed the Vietnam War.

So what did the highly educated and fairly well-traveled Bill Clinton conclude? 1) He was simply too good for the populace. As with Mark Twain’s Hank the Boss in Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, the populace was not up to his level. And 2) he was never going to make that mistake again. In diluted parallel to the infamous determination made by George Wallace, Clinton resolved that nobody was ever going to out-mediocre him again.

My own take is that Bill and Hillary Clintons’ joint career has been shaped by and has fulfilled that determination ever since. They do not go out ahead of fellow pols on issues of peace and justice. They back-pedaled the early opposition to the death penalty, with its proven racial disparities, so despicably that Bill Clinton flew home to Arkansas during the 1992 campaign to be present personally for the execution of a learning-disabled African-American man. Bill Clinton has been called every name in the book, but if you really want to get his goat, try calling him a leftist. For decades, both Clintons have persistently courted the favor and money of big donors, choosing Wall Street and management over working families and labor. They viewed every rising Democratic politician who appealed to the working class as a threat. They undermined any  succeeding state Attorney General who moved in favor of employee rights or the working poor. They did little to nothing, putting it nicely, for women in Arkansas; not in law enforcement, not in academia, not in journalism. (Female wealthy family members do not count as exceptions.) Like some pale-blue and GOP pols in other border or near-border states, they dismantled the populist legislation of the early twentieth century.

And they left the Democratic Party in Arkansas a shambles.

The irony is that there was a grain of truth in Bill Clinton’s perception of his problem. Yes, on one hand the idea that somebody like Clinton was ‘too good’ is ludicrous. Yes, on the other hand the illusion that I’m just too good is one that anyone could succumb to temporarily.

But there were in fact individuals who resented Clinton’s early success. I can remember private conversations about the reaction. Educated people went to the polls with the attitude, ‘I’ll show him [he’s not so great].’ And they voted accordingly. And everyone waked up the next day to find that Arkansas had elected a Republican governor for [only the second time]* since Reconstruction. (In the next election, they reversed and put Clinton back into the governor’s office, where he stayed until the run against George H. W. Bush in 1992.)

Too bad Clinton didn’t take out his umbrage on his fellow cheesy white-collarites, who played a large part in voting him out, instead of on working people.

But instead the Clintons adopted the education-lite platform. If you replace crummy white bread with (fairly) good white wine, that’s progressive. No need to support the right to collective bargaining or to cap interest rates on loans.

There is a short moral in this story for 2016: Do not jump to the conclusion that you are too good. This moral is especially pointed not only for Secretary Clinton–who is assiduously courting elite GOP pols as I write this–but also for major media outlets. As I write, a dangerous narrative is shaping up, pushed from more than one direction, opposing the ‘elite media’ on one side to the crowd or ‘the mob’ on the other. The narrative is being pushed by Trump rallies on one side. But it’s being pushed by self-serving media representations on the other. Some take the form of less-than-clinical analysis of the many-headed. Generally the authors are not analysts.

My own perception of 2016 is shaped by my perception of earlier and ongoing issues.

The invasion of Iraq was a betrayal, and the media voices now raised in opposition to Donald Trump were not heard, for the most part, when George W. Bush was pushing the invasion of Iraq. The subprime-mortgage debacle was a betrayal, and the silk-stocking financial press was MIA. The selection of Secretary Clinton as Democratic nominee before a vote was ever cast was a betrayal, and the national political press did nothing to clarify what was happening.

The election of Barack Obama in 2008 gave hope to millions of people. But Clinton allies behind the scenes took little account of that hope, as their emails amply make clear. Nothing transformative. Nothing inspiring. No passion for the public. At best, an endless obsession with the minutiae of self-advancement and appearances, greed and politicking.

And this attitude is shared to a disheartening degree by their allies in the media.

So, the inevitable response now becoming more and more explicit in 2016: You didn’t listen to us. So why should we listen to you?

*Correction. Winthrop Rockefeller was the first Republican governor of Arkansas since Reconstruction.

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Secretary Clinton all smiles at newest Trump tape; will media mention Juanita Broaddrick?

For that matter, will they mention the invasion of Iraq?

The 2016 primary elections in Maryland, by the time we actually got sort of a chance to vote, were a mixed bag. Full disclosure–I myself voted (early voting) for Bernie Sanders and Sanders delegates, a Democratic senate candidate who won, a House candidate who didn’t, and some local judgeship challengers as well as incumbents. Not everybody made it. We had an overflow of good candidates in Maryland’s 4th district. Maryland’s 8th had a similar problem.

We did not have an overflow of good candidates in the presidential race. I supported Sanders heartily, but the fact remains that the Clinton team worked for years behind the scenes to shut out better candidates including Vice President Joseph Biden. Indications are that Clintonistas have spent more time playing keep-away, over almost eight years, than on producing public benefit. Thus the Clinton gravy train continues, and its big-money appeal looks to be the Clintons’ pattern of shafting labor. Note the boost for “open trade and open borders” in Secretary Clinton’s Wall Street-friendly and Wall Street-compensated speeches, as in recently hacked emails. Cheap labor is the Clinton track record.

Will they mention U.S. labor?

The behind-the-scenes domination and the lack of open participation were not small-d democratic. I was and am disappointed in Clinton ‘super-delegates’, who stacked the deck before a single vote was cast. Ditto media commentators who often referred to Clinton’s ‘delegate total’ without clarifying that it was padded by super-delegates. Predictably, an undemocratic process produced an undemocratic candidate. But given the stakes, it is frightening that a bunch of Democratic insiders, dominated by mega-donors, joined beforehand to boost any one candidate. Going forward, we need to make the nominating process more democratic. It would help if we had more clarity about what happened in the run-up to this ‘election’–but we don’t seem to have many news reporters available, to tell the public about it. (What is the good of all that access to individuals of prominence, if you burn the access any time you actually report something?) I am still curious to know whether the Clinton inner circle green-lighted Mitch McConnell’s opposition to President Obama from day one.

Senator McConnell

Senator McConnell

Envy and jealousy do a lot of harm when people are willing to act on them, especially insiders. I still think that President Obama has not gotten enough credit. I wish Mrs. Clinton had strongly supported and defended him, wish she were the Sanders or the Elizabeth Warren she sometimes channeled in the campaign, wish she would actually ‘fight for us’, wish she were solid on economic justice. But that’s not who she is. One of the recent Clinton flaps is Bill Clinton’s trashing Obamacare. We can only hope it’s not a glimpse of the future, under another President Clinton–a Wall Street agenda come to life–of undoing everything the Obama White House has accomplished.

It may be noted that the Democratic Party ‘nominated’ someone who openly speculated about assassination, when Barack Obama was her opponent in 2008. She does not handle being behind in a campaign well. She does not handle being ahead well, either. Right now, Clinton is openly jubilant about Trump’s difficulties with GOP biggies following the leak of his repugnant tape-recorded remarks. But then, Clinton’s most consistent appeal is to big-time Republicans, whom she has been working hard to attract.

Neither major party has given us much good regarding the major crime of sexual assault. The GOP does not seem to have much problem with the might-makes-right outlook. The Democratic Party should be better, and often is, but anyone focused on Election Day 2016 is not going to bring  up rape–given Hillary Clinton’s decades-long joint public career with her husband.

For the record: I listened very carefully to Juanita Broaddrick on national television in 1999, and I believe her. It would be wrong not to say so. Sexual assault is the least reported, the least prosecuted, and the least convicted of all the major crimes. (The Obama administration has begun moving on the issue of sexual assault, including Vice President Biden’s public statements; the Clintons do not mention it.) But when I raised questions on social media, immediate responses from Clinton supporters were the usual troll litany–calling me “bitch” (naturally), “scumbag,” and “psychotic”–none of which I am–ridicule, shaming over my alleged lowly status or lack thereof’, advice to quit, counterfactual claims about Bill Clinton, and dismissing the issue because ‘he was not convicted’.

Not that I am crushed. Unlike the Bush family, I actually am from Texas, and doing that stuff to me is like the old joke about Have you got the wrong vampire. For what it’s worth, I also have a doctorate in Renaissance literature, and in an invective contest, I wouldn’t necessarily lose. But I prefer that we educate the public better about sexual assault. These bullies, after all, may be summoned for jury duty some day.

Back to the present

We can probably look forward to a new release of some sort, weekly, about both Trump and Clinton, over the next few weeks.

In the most recent release about Trump, some vulgar language came out on tape–rather than behind closed doors or on the Internet, where it usually appears. If you listen to the tape recording, you will also hear the jollification supported by Billy Bush, cousin to our 43rd president, nephew to our 41st president, successful entertainment host on NBC, which for years was in the tank for the Bushes. (Lauren Bush has recently appeared evidently supporting Hillary Clinton.) No question, Trump’s language was garishly offensive. (No wonder Hillary Clinton is all smiles nowadays. It is rare for the Clintons to have even the faintest,most tenuous claim to the moral high ground on any topic, let alone that of sexualized grossness.) Billy Bush sounds pretty appreciative on the tape.

Trump’s language was rich-guy locker-room talk. It was crude machismo, partly boastful and partly not. It may even have been Clintonesque. But I am not going to pretend that I was shocked by it. I wish I were. In any case, Joe Biden is wrong to call it “sexual assault.” There are some words that should not be used as metaphors–rape or sexual assault, lynching, mob, riot. They should characterize only the deeds themselves, not be trivialized to characterize discourse, however offensive.

If commentators and candidates now shocked, shocked about Trump feel resistant to my statement, then I invite them to try a single test. Here it is:

When was the last time you, major candidates or media commentators, et al., figuratively called someone a ‘child molester’? How about you, ladies of the WaPo? When was the last time you called someone a ‘child molester’ metaphorically?

No? So that means you know that there are some terms that should not be used metaphorically.

Makes me wonder why you don’t know that about rape. Has sexual assault been trivialized so successfully that it now ranks as mere scurrility?




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Toxic atmosphere 2016

Re the 2016 presidential election

My immediate political concern is the current atmosphere. Poisonous rhetoric swirls around both major-party candidates like a toxic dust cloud. It comes from both of them and goes at both of them. It comes from their allies and supporters, both sides, and is directed against their allies and supporters, both sides.

My concern is that there is a particular danger this year. If the two major-party nominees are a ‘charisma’ candidate (Donald Trump) and a ‘bureaucratic’ candidate (Hillary Clinton), as the terms are used in political science, then–not to be morbid–the lethal danger is to the charisma candidate.

Defining terms here: calling a nominee the charisma candidate is not the same as calling a private person charismatic. The charismatic, the bureaucratic, and the feudal/traditional were Max Weber’s classification of modes of authority. This tripartite classification was drawn upon in 1969 by Lewis Chester, Godfrey Hodgson and Bruce Page, in the best book on U.S. politics that I have read–American Melodrama, about the 1968 election.

An American Melodrama: The Presidential Campaign of 1968

An American Melodrama: The Presidential Campaign of 1968

Of course, the poison is also aimed at and swirls around the major ‘third-party’ candidates–Gary Johnson and Jill Stein. At a time when death threats are an Internet commonplace in conversation threads, it would be almost odd and distinctive if a third-party candidate were not perceived as a threat and treated as such–i.e. with threats–in the dynamic that psychologists call projection.

I have seen and heard the trend on a macro level–national politics, national television, large daily newspapers–and at a micro level–un-neighborly spats and back-biting, sometimes motivated by envy, generally not checked by self-awareness, never from individuals one would characterize as brilliant.

From whatever combination of historical causes, there is a really lethal poison cocktail being passed around this year. (The historical causes will be a later topic.) Any time a sizable group of individuals feels that it has both a) the moral high ground and b) the upper hand, things are destined to get bad. And by ‘bad’, I mean fascistic. This one is hard to guard against, too: after all, most of us would prefer to have the moral high ground. And most people must have moments at least when they would like to have the upper hand, although that one might be harder to confess.

The cocktail of high ground and upper hand gets deadlier when distilled in our concentrated-in-a-few-hands news media.

It doesn’t sit well with me that raving about Trump as a ‘Nazi’ or a ‘fascist’ often comes from the very same people who helped get George W. Bush into the White House. They went along with the invasion of Iraq. They contributed to changing the Republican Party from anti-slavery in the 19th century to pro-segregation, pro-racial-disparities death penalty, pro-redlining, pro-economic inequality, etc., etc., in the 20th century.

Amnesia, much?

Not that I’m not used to media hysteria. It happens every time a presidential candidate comes along who is not controlled by the insider-media types. Secretary Clinton is eminently controllable. Thus she has a lock on The Boys on the Bus, including female boys on the bus. The reverse has been true of Mr. Trump.

Thus any fair criticisms of Trump’s candidacy end up part of an amalgam of hysteria that we have seen before–about candidates not remotely like Trump. The common denominator is that any time a candidate comes along who is not controlled by a few major media outlets, he/she is hysterically represented as a threat. Does anyone remember what the insider media said about Jesse Jackson, even while he was the candidate who received by far the most death threats?* Remember how they treated Ross Perot with blatant cross-cultural stereotyping? If your hatred of either Jackson or Perot is still so engrained that you can stomach any conjecture against them, however false, what is your excuse about Howard Dean?

Remember what the insider media did to Howard Dean, who was showing strong potential to take on the incumbent President George W. Bush? They represented him falsely as having an affair with a female staffer, for one thing. One of the most talented, capable, professional political candidates to come along in years–a successful physician and a candidate who had been elected repeatedly to office in Vermont–and CNN among other outlets ran a continuous loop of Dean supposedly screaming at a rally, with the crowd noise suppressed in the video so that he seemed to be making noise all by himself. Ridicule rampant. Stupidity, envy, and gratuitous ill-will ditto. To make matters worse, most of the media personalities who pulled no punches ridiculing a candidate with character and intellect pulled all their punches when it came to evaluating Dubya. If they’re getting anything right about Trump now, it’s too bad they cried wolf so often.

Some of them probably still tell Jimmy Carter jokes. Oh, yes–a reminder, in case you didn’t know. Some old-fashioned bigot ‘jokes’ previously aimed at African-Americans were converted, in the Carter years, into anti-Carter jokes. I decline to provide an example.

In the immediate future, there is not only an election at hand. Before that, and after, there is also a crucial need to rein in the blood lust. All hands. The Clintonistas may represent all the negative rhetoric as coming from one direction. Some Clinton supporters may honestly believe that it is. If so, they are mistaken.

A word to the wise is sufficient.


*It was Dan Rather, then on CBS News, who reported that Jackson received more death threats than the other candidates combined. Probably one more reason the suits couldn’t wait to fire him. Another badge of courage for Rather, in my opinion.

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WaPo report: razor-thin Clinton “edge” even in 50-state hand-picked poll

WaPo headline reverses the story

My morning paper on September 7 had an unusual feature. The 9-16ths-inch headline on The Washington Post’s front page trumpeted, “Clinton has edge in 50-state poll.” Inside, a special pull-out section on “CAMPAIGN 2016” seemed to expand the story.

Actually, it contradicted the headline.

Let’s start with the easy part–pictures.

WaPo front page September 7, 2016

WaPo front page September 7, 2016

This parti-colored map ran above the fold, spanning eight inches. Take a look at the colors. As shown, the paper designated ten states as “tossups,” purple on the map–Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas and Wisconsin. —Georgia? Mississippi? Texas? “Tossups”?

WaPo also designated Alaska and South Carolina reddishly as “Leans GOP.”

The special pull-out had another graphic divided by colors–blue and blueish, red and reddish, purple–with poll numbers. (Page 21) Blue/-ish states totaled 244 electoral votes, red/-ish states totaled 126 electoral votes, of 270 needed to win.

Setting blue and red aside for the moment, that leaves 168 electoral votes in the purple ‘tossup’ column. Here’s where arithmetic, a closer look, and some effort at exactitude might come in handy.

Accuracy, accuracy, and accuracy

According to the Post’s own poll, among the ‘tossup’ states, Trump led in Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Ohio–a total 55 electoral votes. Clinton led in the other six. (Those perennial tossups Arizona and Texas add up to another 49 electoral votes, yielding a total 230 for Trump without going into battleground states, but let’s not get ahead of the story.)

If something about this seems off-kilter, turn to page 24. That’s where readers finally get the breakdown on WaPo’s Survey Monkey numbers. (Yes, they used Survey Monkey–polling only people they had selected. See page 22.)

These were the stats for (selected) “four-way races,” i.e. twelve states with Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Jill Stein included in the poll. In Ohio, rated a ‘tossup’ on WaPo’s front page, Clinton polled at 37 percent to Trump’s 40 percent. In North Carolina, also rated ‘tossup’ as mentioned, Clinton polled 40 percent to Trump’s 41 percent. In Texas, both candidates polled at 40 percent; in Colorado, both candidates polled at 37 percent (unlike Clinton’s ‘narrow leads’ viz the front pager). In tossup Arizona, Clinton polled at 37 percent, Trump at 39 percent. In Georgia, Clinton 39 percent, Trump 40 percent.

These numbers did not appear on the front page of the paper or the front page of the Campaign 2016 pull-out.

Further, Secretary Clinton polled at 40 percent or less not only in states where that might be expected–Texas, Georgia–but in states touted as winnable for her–Colorado, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Wisconsin. She ran barely better than 40 percent in Florida and Pennsylvania. She polled barely at 50 percent, if that, in Rhode Island. She polled at under 50 percent in New Hampshire, Minnesota, and Maine. In fact, about the only place in the union seemingly favorable for Clinton, outside of bedrock-blue states like Hawaii and Maryland, is Virginia.

This falls short of an Electoral College landslide. It must have been a crushing disappointment to the WaPo personnel who created that hand-picked sample. The entire thrust of the story is how narrow a needle Mr. Trump has to thread, to get to 270. But by the same token–i.e. WaPo numbers–Clinton’s reported “edge” teeters on the brink–a loss of two or three states.

There are other problems with this kind of reporting. Under the sub-heading “Utah is most uncertain state,” the reader finds–that Utah is still solidly GOP, even with a locally popular Libertarian on the ballot siphoning away red votes. Maybe the problem is with the headings.

But the bigger problem is with the nominee. The short story is that Democratic Party insiders and their GOP/Wall Street/insider-media allies selected the worst possible candidate for Democrats, in an anti-democratic process that was worse yet. She’s not a nominee in the sense of having been elected as such by voters. She is a pre-selected candidate who succeeded in being designated as official nominee.

The whole thing was a betrayal. In Barack Obama, the Democrats selected a president who was elected by both the popular and the electoral vote, in the most genuine election in years, probably the first relatively open election since Jimmy Carter won in 1976. Eight years later, the party and the nation should be moving forward, to build on the foundation created by President Obama. Instead, it took a giant slide backward–about 90 percent from jealous/envious passive-aggressive inertia, so far as I can tell.

In a bleak prospect, Clinton might be elected to the White House, with a GOP Congress elected to rein her in–thus giving us a lousy president and a lousy congress. If past patterns hold, that would pave the way for Clinton to make deals–benefiting the GOP, undercutting Dems and the public, with a big cut off the top for herself. And that in turn would set up a worse, and winning, GOP nominee next time.

By the way, remember Senator Mitch McConnell’s open vow, at the beginning of the Obama administration, to oppose President Obama at every opportunity? It will be interesting to find out whether the Clinton team green-lighted McConnell, and who else did.

Update 9/29/16

As of today, Real Clear Politics has Trump up nationally by 4 points in one poll, Clinton up by 1 point in another. A miserable showing for Democrats.

*Full disclosure–as Maryland public records would show, I am a registered Democrat.


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