Sunday, November 27, 2016

Four Things that Jill Stein and the Clinton Campaign Should Do With Their Money Instead of a Recount

A recount won't change the results, and in my view, I don't see how it would reassure people that the election was "fair," since even in Pennsylvania there are not enough paper ballots to really audit the vote.

If this election was stolen, it wasn't by Russian hackers infiltrating voting machines- it was based on voter suppression and disinformation. The things that would really give confidence back?

1. Move for laws that would require state voting to have audit-able paper ballots.

2. Aggressively pursue Republicans for their voter suppression tactics in key states.

3. Fortify the Hatch Act, which Comey clearly violated.

4. Move for more ethics in the media on how fake and illegal news is reported, especially when the disinformation is being used intentionally by a hostile foreign government to manipulate our election.

These activities were far more responsible for Trump's shoestring victory, and right now, are open avenues for continued tampering with our elections. They ought to be closed.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Electoral College Tie: Could We End Up with Trump and Kaine as Pres and VP?

Here's an unlikely scenario that could make the unusual election season seem tame by comparison: what if we end up with a President Trump and a Vice President Kaine?

The idea isn't so far fetched.

First of all, what would it take for a tie? All it would take right now is for New Hampshire to tip into the Republican column on Nate Silver's map. The odds here are certainly not long. Several polls have shown Trump ahead in New Hampshire, though others favor Clinton. Silver gives Trump close to a 40% chance of winning New Hampshire, more than any other state currently in Clinton's column. If polls are off by even a small factor in Trump's favor, Trump is likely to capture this state first.

That puts the race into a 269 to 269 tie.

What happens next? This article gives a short overview of how the election then goes to the Electoral College and Congress to determine the President and VP.

With the House solidly in Repbulican hands, it's pretty safe to assume Trump would eventually emerge as the Presidential winner, even with a few supposed "faithless" Republican electors who decide not to vote for him.

That turns the VP election over to the Senate. Right now, Silver's most likely scenario for the Senate is a 50 - 50 tie. In the event of a tie, the sitting Vice President (Joe Biden), casts the deciding vote. Mr. Biden is sure to vote for his Democratic colleague, Tim Kaine.

What would a Trump / Kaine Presidency look like? Interesting, Dems would control the Senate, with Kaine, a Democrat, presiding over the Senate, and Trump as President. One can imagine either the worst gridlock possible....or perhaps, the idea that real compromise might be done. Either way, the unusual arrangement would certainly make the past year's folly seam like a light hearted romp in comparison. The HBO show Veep might become more of a real-life documentary than an absurdist comedy.....

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Trump versus Khan: Defining American Values

Could this be the defining moment of the 2016 election? With 100 days to go, and a bomb-throwing GOP candidate seemingly careening toward self destruction, anything could happen, but the face-off between Donald Trump and Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the Gold Star parents of slain war hero Humayan Khan, may well go down as the most memorable portrait of what this election is about.

Mr. Khan's speech at the Democratic convention was certainly the most electric not only because of its genuineness and emotion, but because of the vivid way he and his wife were able to capture something that has eluded the Democratic party for decades: a concise and pointed way to articulate their patriotism. In laying out the case against Trump, Khan not only cited the constitution, he called on the nation to remember that what defines America - a nation of immigrants - isn't the color of our skin, our religion, or our ancestry, it's our adherence to an ideal and a core set of values: freedom, justice, and equality. These were the values that gave birth to our nation, for which our soldiers fight (and sacrifice their lives), and which binds us together as Americans, in good times and bad.

I'll admit, I've been a fan and supporter of Hillary Clinton ever since she took on a Republican Congress as First Lady and passed a health reform bill that eluded her slicker talking husband. However, I wasn't particularly thrilled by her nomination speech - her list of policy "specifics" culled from the agenda of left-leaning Bernie supporters was lacking in any genuine specifics on how she was going to address our country's finances, grow our economy, or address the concerns of blue-collar workers who are flocking to Trump's nativist pandering. But she got better toward the end as she went into the international sphere - you can tell this is where her inner wonk gets most excited. It was clear that Hillary had a strong hand in constructing the four days of the Democratic convention, which proceeded much like her speech (from the far left to the wonkish and parriotic - neigh, conservative with a small c - defense of American values and presence in the world). This blend of liberal activism with conservative American exceptionalism is what I first loved about Hillary, and it's clear that Hillary's America first will celebrate a rainbow coalition that represents the modern face of America and yet defends the same principals and values that defined this country over 200 years ago. Right on!

Turn then, to Trump, who seems to relish being the model of that other strain in American culture: the ugly American, the selfish, oafish blowhard who cares only for himself. Of course he would take the bait laid by the Democrats and the Khans at the convention. My feeling is that Trump's supporters are probably, truth be told, a little embarrassed by the man, but respond to a policy proscription - curtailing immigration, cutting trade, stepping back from the world, shoring up the boarders, and investing at home - that a smarter, saner Republican might have surmised and capitalized on, if only that party hadn't been so shackled by lemming-like groupthink for the past eight years. Meanwhile, a shrewd outsider like Trump seized on a popular program prescription that was invisible to party mainstream. Oh well, as they say, you've got to dance with the girl that brung' ya.

But the reason that America has opened its boarders, taken the lumps of free trade, and stepped into world affairs is *precisely* because of its values. The values of freedom, justice, and equality don't end at the boarder. Americans see threats to their way of life, to human rights abroad, and they can't sit idly by. Americans believe in a free economy where ruling elites don't have their thumb in the pie shoring up insider deals and artificial oligarchies; they negotiate trade agreements because economic freedom and the free flow of goods - while causing pain as economies transition - ultimately do provide a better life for children able to seize upon the  advantages that their talents, culture and education can bring to the world economy. Trade makes the world, as well as America, more free. And Americans welcome immigrants not simply because they are themselves the descendants of immigrants, but because we are a nation of values, and welcome anyone who shares these values and feels compelled, as the Khan's did, to instill in their children the same sense of patriotic wonder and sacrifice to these ideals that we ourselves feel.

I don't want to belittle the issues that are driving this election - the hollowing out of the blue-collar middle class, the lack of investment in our social and physical infrastructure, a tax and social safety net system that is neither fairly distributed nor realistically funded, the moral hazard created by big money in politics and excessive greed in finance that led to a great Recession and anemic recovery and still has not been fairly paid out. These are real issues that neither candidate is yet fully realistically addressing. But America, at its heart, is not a nation of whiners. When the going gets tough, Americans don't shrink from the world. They rise to the occasion, believe in their own abilities, fight for the little guy, stand up to the bully, stand up for their values, make a difference, and yes, make real sacrifices. These are core American values - values on display last week by Mr. and Mrs. Khan, two Muslim American immigrants - and they are what's really at stake in this election.

Trump, perhaps more than any other candidate, exposes why the current nativist impulse on the right - even if understandably motivated by turbulent economic times and Washington gridlock that has allowed a sustain decline of the middle class - is also deeply un-American. That he can so easily expose this through his mocking of Americans who have paid the ultimate sacrifice to our country is perhaps just the strange coincidence of this strange and slightly unhinged candidate now on our public stage. But if in the end it reminds us all - both Democrats and Republicans, as well as Independents - why we are all Americans, and what our shared values are, it may turn out to be precisely the best thing this country needed to get past this present time of entrenched partisan bickering, and find its soul again.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

This Crazy Election: Why Our Politcal Pendulum Swings in Three Dimensions

Crazy, isn't it, that Republicans so hate their potential presidential candidates that they are campaigning harder against them than are the Democrats?

How did this crazy situation come to be? Why is Trump so anathema to the 'mainstream' Republican party? It's clearly not his rhetoric and exclusionary attitudes (which they've condoned in the past). What they really detest are his policies: increasing trade barriers, meddling in corporate affairs, and so on. What's going on?

Trump is no friend of the Supply Side economics that swept Reagan to victory. In fact, he's more anti-corporate than Bill Clinton (and conceivably Hillary). So what gives? How is it he's able to run on the Republican ticket at all and still be trouncing his candidates in the primaries?

That's because he speaks articulately on two other core dimensions in the political spectrum - cultural issues, and America First-ism. Those are also core issues well articulated in the Reagan Republican coalition that re-defined the political landscape in 1980.

What we are seeing in this election, in fact, is no leading candidate (except Ted Cruz, potentially) who cares about the core issues that drove the Regan economic revolution: low taxes, low regulation, and opening free trade. All the major candidates, in a somewhat belated reaction to the historical wage inequity and post-Great-Recession anger of the 2007 bank-driven economic collapse, are taking populist arguments over economic ones.

This may seem unusual, but we all know the pendulum swings back and forth in America - from right to left, as they say. But it actually swings in three dimensions. The three dimensions of the Reagan definition of politics: social issues, economic issues, and foreign policy interventionism. In that sense, with all the major candidates (Hillary, Trump, and Cruz), we see the pendulum swinging away from the low-intervention and socially progressive Obama years and towards activist government along one of the three dimensions.

If we examine the chart above, we find Regan in the upper left corner: defining the "right" side of the triple pendulum of Neo Conservative, Socially Conservative, Supply Side government. With Bill Clinton, in blue, the pendulum swung toward the lower right - away from all three, but slightly.

When G. W. Bush took over, and swung the pendulum back, it didn't quite swing back to the type of Supply Side government Regan had defined. GW was a high-spending conservative who didn't give the same credence to Regan's religious leaning out of the government.

Next came Obama - one might argue he is more liberal than Bush on spending, one might argue more conservative (at least working to level the debt). At any rate, no movement towards the supply side with Obama, but a distinct movement to social liberalism and away from Neo Con interventionism.

In other words - the pendulum moved right on social issues and down on foreign policy, but not forward or back on the economic spectrum.

Now we have three candidates promising the swing the pendulum back - but back where? Both Hillary and Trump, interestingly enough, promise to take us even further from the supply side theories that ruled the Regan coalition. Only Cruz is a firm tax cutter, but his conviction about international affairs may leave some of his Republican colleagues cold.

But Trump - no matter how like Regan he sounds on the stump, is now as far from the economic revolution of the '80's as any candidate can get. He would certainly snap us away from the placid Obama years, as would Cruz. But you can see how anathema he would be for economic conservatives forged in the purity of the Regan triple-play.