Monday, February 29, 2016

Super Tuesday - What It Means for Democrats in November

It does matter who will be the Democratic Presidential candidate in November. So Super Tuesday's primaries are important to Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders and other Democrats.

But looking at the big picture,  it matters more who will be elected President, the Democratic candidate or Donald Trump (or one of those other Republican losers). And Super Tuesday is interesting more because of what the press doesn't note than what they have noted so far.

Three Super Tuesday primaries are being held in states that, absent the death of the candidate, in November will vote for the Democrat - Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Vermont. Five Super Tuesday primaries are being held in states that, absent the death of the candidate, in November will vote for the Republican - Alabama, Alaska, Georgia, Oklahoma, and Texas. Four Super Tuesday primaries are being held in states that historically are Presidential election swing states - Arkansas, Colorado, Tennessee, and Virginia.

So what does that mean? Well, as we all know Presidents are not elected by a majority of the voters but rather by the majority of the Electoral College votes.

Let's take the South Carolina results from the past two weeks because there is a 99.9% chance that South Carolina's nine Electoral College votes will go to the Republican. In November if the Republican candidate was Barney Fife, he would get the nine electoral college votes from South Carolina.

Hillary Clinton won in the South Carolina primary. Against Barny Fife in November, she would get no electoral college votes. Being popular with South Carolina Democrats will most likely be meaningless in November. Now I'm not picking on South Carolina Democrats. It will also be meaningless for November who wins the primaries in California in June because California's 546 Electoral College votes will go to the Democrat.

On Super Tuesday, who wins in the Democratic primary in Massachusetts, Minnesota, Vermont, Alabama, Alaska, Georgia, Oklahoma, and Texas will tell you nothing about whether a candidate will get enough Electoral College votes to beat Barney Fife in November.

The outcome in Arkansas, Colorado, Tennessee, and Virginia will tell you who has a chance to get those Electoral College votes. But look carefully at the turnout in those Democratic primaries compared to the Republican turnout.

If, say, the Republican winner in each of those states is Donald Trump and more registered Republicans turn out than registered Democrats, that will be an indicator of who could get the total of 39 Electoral College votes from those states - again Arkansas, Colorado, Tennessee, and Virginia.

Note that unlike the press, when it comes to the November election, the only election that will matter, I don't care who wins the Democratic primary in Oklahoma or Texas. I'm hoping it will be the winner in Arkansas, Colorado, Tennessee, and Virginia so that the Democratic Party will nominate a possible winner.

The old system of  "smoke filled rooms" picking the candidate the party professionals think might have a chance to win looks less-and-less like a really bad system.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Bernie Offers Simple Lies Just Like Trump to Get Enthusiastic College Age Supporters Working for Him

Because I'm old and isolated from the current college-age crowd, I did not understand Bernie Sander's appeal to the college age crowd. But after reading stories with quote after quote from college students, I get it.

He repeatedly offers up his idea of tuition-free public colleges. And in May 2015, the month after he announced his candidacy for President, he introduced his College for All Act. Golly gee, that sounds really good.

Being a skeptic, I immediately checked out how that has worked in his home state of Vermont where he must have successfully implemented it.

Well, actually no. He apparently hasn't sold the idea in his tiny home state of Vermont. In fact, it costs in-state students at Castleton University (formerly known as Castleton State College) $10,248 a year compared to $7,194 a year at California's Humboldt State University (formerly known as Humboldt State College).

So just to clear things up, in the tiny state of Vermont, Bernie-the-Leader hasn't even gotten the tuition cost down to California's level. Or maybe he never even tried. Maybe he just found a way to stir impressionable college students.

Incidentally, what you discover about tuition is that it is, at best, less than a third of the cost of a year at college. And that Vermont college website misleads by showing a total not incluidng books, supplies, transportation, and miscellaneous costs, which are indicated on the California web site. You college students are smart enough to add and subtract, right? So figure it out.

But, hey, free tuition as a democratic socialist idea is a proven solution to a major problem. Well, not exactly, or maybe not at all. I won't repeat the discussion  found in this NPR story  Fact-Check: Bernie Sanders Promises Free College. Will It Work? 

Instead, I'm going to suggest that you budding socialist college students who are feeling the Bern study what happened when the Scottish National Party took power in Scotland in 2007 and eliminated tuition fees at public universities.

A Centre for Research in Education Inclusion and Diversity, University of Edinburgh, study concluded that that the free tuition plan essentially redistributed 20 million pounds from poor students to rich ones. That's a curious program for a socialist government to implement. But hey, that wouldn't happen with Bernie's leadership steering a right wing Republican controlled House of Representatives, right?

Whenever a politician, be it Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders, appeals to your self-interest with simple ideas, do some research! Otherwise you may end up feeling like a simpleton.

If you are a democratic socialist you should have serious concerns about state universities in this country. Google "corporations fund state universities" to give yourself something to worry about.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Replacing Scalia: The strategic choices for a Democratic win


I'm sure the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia would be both startled and grinning at just how fast the Republican Presidential candidate lineup and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell turned mourning his death into a divisive debate.

A Possible 2-Year Recess Appointment

By dying on February 13, 2016, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia instantly created a whirlpool of procedural speculation. Congress is in its normal President’s Day recess. The Senate last met on Thursday, February 11, during which it approved a “conditional adjournment resolution” for the Senate not to meet again until Monday, Feb. 22. The House met on Friday and at the close of business adopted the same adjournment resolution thus making it a concurrent resolution which you can view here.

Even Fox News' well respected Congressional Reporter Chad Pergram acknowledges "Both bodies of Congress are operating in the perfect parliamentary status in which a recess appointment would be applicable."

What Pergram is referring to is Article II, Section 2, Clause 3 of the Constitution which states: "The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.”

Ironically Republicans became so incensed about some NLRB appointments in 2012 that they sued President Obama resulting in NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD v. NOEL CANNING ET AL. (2014)12-1281. Much deliberately inaccurate information about how that case applies to the current situation is being bandied about by the news. If you read the decision, key language makes it clear that a recess appointment made right now, before February 22, to replace Scalia would be perfectly legal pursant to Canning (emphasis added):
A Senate recess that is so short that it does not require the consent of the House under that Clause is not long enough to trigger the President’s recess-appointment power. Moreover, the Court has not found a single example of a recess appointment made during an intra-session recess that was shorter than 10 days.

Historical practice also strongly favors the broader interpretation. ...The Court is reluctant to upset this traditional practice where doing so would seriously shrink the authority that Presidents have believed existed and have exercised for so long.

Although the Senate’s own determination of when it is and is not in session should be given great weight, the Court’s deference cannot be absolute. When the Senate is without the capacity to act, under its own rules, it is not in session even if it so declares.
In this case, the House has consented to the recess, the Senate clearly isn't in session to act on any matter, and this situation does follow the traditional practice.

Additionally, one provision of the recess appointment clause apparently confuses pundits  (emphasis added) - "which shall expire at the End of their next Session." As indicated on the Senate web site, the current session of Congress began Jan 4, 2016, and will end sometime in December assuming they follow normal practice. The next session will begin in January 2017 and end in December 2017. Thus, a recess appointment today could effectively be a two year appointment which even the Conservative journal the National Review explains.

There are enough cases on the current SCOTUS docket of serious concern to liberals and to the Obama legacy to make this approach tempting. But this approach could create a single issue for the Republicans to use to galvanize their voters and many independents. So far every indication is that it is not as tempting to the Obama Administration as creating a high-profile issue-oriented confrontation with Republicans in a Presidential election year.

The Long Game - A Democratic President and Senate

Former Constiutional Professor President Obama might decide to play the long game. He could begin by embracing a preference stated by Senate Democrats as described in the Washington Post:
...In August 1960, the Democrat-controlled Senate passed a resolution, S.RES. 334, “Expressing the sense of the Senate that the president should not make recess appointments to the Supreme Court, except to prevent or end a breakdown in the administration of the Court’s business.” Each of President Eisenhower’s [three] Supreme Court appointments had initially been a recess appointment who was later confirmed by the Senate, and the Democrats were apparently concerned that Ike would try to fill any last-minute vacancy that might arise with a recess appointment. Not surprisingly, the Republicans objected, insisting that the Court should have a full complement of Justices at all times. 
Instead, Obama could nominate a candidate - let's assume he won't nominate a rabid lefty. All the current Republican Presidential candidates have embraced the words of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who stated the Senate should not confirm the nominee. This could focus the election on issues, some of which haven't even been discussed in debates. As even a conservative Wall Street Journal columnist discussing the impact of Scalia's death on the Republican candidates wrote:
The only person who may benefit more than Ted Cruz from Justice Scalia’s unexpected death is Hillary Clinton. Her campaign’s biggest challenge has been trying to convince young female voters that the fight for gender equality has not yet been accomplished. It’s hard to think of a more visceral example to make that argument than this.
Of course, his understanding of the situation was far too limited.

Every major segment of the progressive electorate can be energized by cases now before the Court. In addition to women's reproductive issues, cases already taken up affect environmentalists and climate change policy, voting rights and political representation in communities of color, university admissions and race, the fate of undocumented immigrants, mandatory union dues, and more. And, of course, the Democrats can beat a constant background drum rhythm about the Citizens United decision and campaign finance.

If a Republican-controlled Senate fails to seriously consider an Obama nomination, they likely will stimulate voter turnout which the Democrats need to win. If they do seriously consider an Obama nomination, they will end up creating high profile discussion about the issues and emphasize how important the election is for progressives, stimulating voter turnout.

A high voter turnout will assure a Democratic win for the Presidency. And an issue focused, Senate-aware voter will likely be energized about Senate elections in a year when 24 Republican Senate incumbents are up for re-election compared to 10 Democrats. That is bad news for Republicans.

Of course, choosing this long-game option could fail.

Option 3 - Do It All

A third option has been suggested by one writer:
Why not instead appoint a temporary Justice, someone old enough for it to be the capstone to a distinguished career, and then a different, younger, person for the permanent position. Make the temporary appointment someone very very liberal (Patrica Wald? Stephen Reinhardt?); make the permanent appointment someone more moderate.
It's worth considering.

A Potential Surprise Legacy

In any event, Scalia has left an unexpected legacy, if President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders don't blow it.

That legacy could be a generation of  younger voters who have learned that while it may be fun to get involved in a Presidential election, the fact is that under the Constitution every President has very limited power when it comes to domestic issues (as opposed to foreign policy).

Without a campaigning to assure a majority of the Senate and the House of Representatives will support your President, your enthusiastic campaigning is really just throwing your President under the bus when it comes to issues like the economy, discrimination, abortion, etc.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Hillary Clinton's Dilemma: the Centrist Third Way Policies of Bill's Presidency vs. Young Women

Bernie Sanders is popular among young women Democrats. That is not because they are uninformed, but because they and their generation have suffered the most from the fallout of Bill Clinton's era of economic prosperity for everyone but the middle-class and the poor.

As one observer has noted, the Hillary Clinton campaign has failed to create a "story of Hillary Clinton" that lends itself to effective campaigning. Her history could write such a story, but apparently somebody thinks she can discuss a wide range of issues in a bland way and get elected. She can't and here is why.

Hillary has to carry the weight of Bill Clinton's Presidency. That was not a very "progressive" period in the White House, more pro-capitalism and far more conservative than today's Democratic voters. She must repudiate the centrist Third Way philosophy of governance embraced by Bill.

I say "repudiate" because she can't disown Bill's Presidency as in the first year of his Presidency he quickly set up the Task Force on National Health Care Reform, headed by First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, to come up with a comprehensive plan to provide universal health care for all Americans.

That health care plan remains the most prominent national proposal associated with Hillary Clinton, dubbed by Republicans at the time "Hillarycare" a full 15 years prior to Obama's election. But Hillarycare can be viewed from hindsight and if anything it was at least as (if not more) insurance company oriented and provider oriented than Obamacare.

The core element of the proposed plan was an enforced mandate for employers to provide health insurance coverage to all of their employees. But it required each US citizen and permanent resident alien to become enrolled in a qualified health plan and forbade their disenrollment until covered by another plan. It proposed the establishment of corporate "regional alliances" of health providers to be subject to a fee-for-service schedule. It did list minimum coverages and maximum annual out-of-pocket expenses for each plan. And, yes, people below a certain set income level were to pay nothing.The act listed funding to be sent to the states just for the administration of this plan, beginning at $13.5 billion in 1993 and reaching a whopping $38.3 billion in 2003. I have no idea what it would cost today, but a "single-payer plan" would likely be cheaper.

A "single-payer plan" has never been proposed by the Clintons. Most voting Democrats in their gut favor "Medicare for all" and hate insurance companies. And the irony is today young adults find themselves buying health insurance directly because of either or both their circumstances and post-Obamacare choices of many employers. If I were those young people instead of an old person on single-payer Medicare, I'd probably feel the Bern also.

Then we have Bill Clinton's free-wheeling banking policies. There was the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which repealed the Glass-Steagall Act, a cornerstone of Depression-era regulation. He also signed the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, which exempted credit-default swaps from regulation. In 1995 Clinton loosened housing rules by rewriting the Community Reinvestment Act, which put added pressure on banks to lend in low-income neighborhoods. Heated political debate by Bill Clinton notwithstanding, these policies certainly played a role in creating a permissive lending environment that led to The Great Recession and to the bank bailout. Logically, informed young Democrats today attribute part of their financial woes to Bill Clinton.

On the "Morning Joe" show the morning after the New Hampshire Primary Donald Trump explained the New Hampshire results: "The only thing he [Bernie Sanders] does know, and he’s right about, is that we’re being ripped off; he says that constantly; and I guess he and I are the only two that really say that."

Trump is right. And while pundits dismiss this as pandering to voters' anger and frustration, both Trump and Sanders frame the problem as that of the political economy of intertwined economic and political systems. All working class voters, not just the younger ones, know that there is something like this wrong in our country and believe correctly that this does them harm. The informed young Democrat realizes that the path to their stress was paved by Bill Clinton.

Hillary has a big problem to overcome. The schoolgirl who campaigned for Barry Goldwater as an adult has an image as conservative Democrat on economic issues and her campaign people seem to have no memory of the basics. "It's the economy, stupid" is a slight variation of the phrase "The economy, stupid" which James Carville had coined as a campaign strategist of Bill Clinton's successful 1992 presidential campaign against sitting president George H. W. Bush.

What "It's the economy, stupid" means is there are no other issues that matter to the voters if you aren't in front of key issues associated with the economy. The Clinton Campaign in fact does have a detailed economic plan. It's something that probably could get pushed through Congress over a period of time. If you are a middle-of-the-road Republican or a Conservative Democrat it would appeal.

But from a democratic socialist point of view it's full of "trickle-down" proposals - incentives in the form of tax breaks to encourage employers to compensate employees through profit sharing plans which frequently will mean giving employees shares in the company while taking tax breaks. It might be possible to not only get it through Congress but get widespread implementation because it is a corporate tax break that sounds beneficial to employees. It would be beneficial unless the company's stock tanks. (Have you checked your 401(k) in the past two months!)

Then we have to look further at the social polices of the Clinton Administration which, so far, tend to define Hillary ideologically.

There was the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 which even Bill Clinton acknowledges resulted in at the federal level an increase in incarceration of mostly black men which led to prison overcrowding and it did encourage states to do a number of things that had the same result. The legal system relied on plea bargains to minimize the increased case load which was predictable. The bill expanded the death penalty. Most startling to many is that the bill effectively eliminated the ability of lower income prison inmates to receive college educations during their term of imprisonment, thus ensuring the education level of most inmates remains unimproved over the period of their incarceration.

There were a number of good intentions in the bill, but in the end its economic impact on the poor has been terrible. The only saving grace for Hillary Clinton, who gave a speech supporting the bill, is that Bernie Sanders voted for the bill after giving one of his Democratic Socialist speeches filled with platitudes.

One can't discuss the social policies of the Clinton Administration without discussing the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA). A Republican bill, President Bill Clinton signed PRWORA into law on August 22, 1996, saying it was the "best chance we will have in a long, long time" to fulfill his 1992 campaign promise of "ending welfare as we know it." According to a Washington Post article at the time:
Clinton's acquiescence to a bill far less generous to the poor than the one he initially proposed strips an issue that GOP presidential candidate Robert J. Dole had planned to use against the president in this fall's campaign. But it also revealed a deep ideological fissure in Clinton's own party....

But there was unusually sharp criticism from liberals. "My president – he's a winner . . . and the kids are the losers," said Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.).
That Hillary Clinton supported the bill even in 2008 when she was supporting Obama for reelection is clear from a New York Times article which has been quoted regularly because it can be quoted out of context:
Mrs. Clinton expressed no misgivings about the 1996 legislation, saying that it was a needed — and enormously successful — first step toward making poor families self-sufficient.

“Welfare should have been a temporary way station for people who needed immediate assistance,” she said. “It should not be considered an anti-poverty program. It simply did not work.”
Actually, the bill was not as devastating to the poor as expected as forcing families to rely on work instead of government money went comparatively well from 1996 to 2000 because the economy was booming. But there is a timing problem for Hillary as explained in this AP article:

More than 1 million low-income residents in 21 states could soon lose their government food stamps if they fail to meet work requirements that began kicking in this month.

...Recent experience in other states indicates that most of those affected will probably not meet the work requirements and will be cut off from food stamps.

For many people, "it means less food, less adequate nutrition. And over the span of time, that can certainly have an impact on health — and the health care system," said Dave Krepcho, president and chief executive of the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida. Advocates say some adults trying to find work face a host of obstacles, including criminal records, disabilities or lack of a driver's license.

The work-for-food requirements were first enacted under the 1996 welfare reform law signed by President Bill Clinton and sponsored by then-Rep. John Kasich, who is now Ohio's governor and a Republican candidate for president.
 What has been saving the Clinton campaign on this issue is explained in this article:
What’s missing from Bernie’s “full-throated” progressive agenda, however, is welfare.

While Sanders frequently repeats and laments the statistic that one in five American children live in poverty, neither he nor Clinton has put forward a specific plan to address it. And neither spends much time talking about food stamps, housing subsidies, or the Earned Income Tax Credit, all essential programs for the poor.
But as the article reports Sanders voted against the bill and harshly condemned it in his 1997 book. As he begins to campaign outside states that have overwhelmingly white middle-class populations, this could become a serious problem for Clinton.

Further there are those that remember Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act. In a June 1996 interview in the gay and lesbian magazine The Advocate, Clinton said, "I remain opposed to same-sex marriage. I believe marriage is an institution for the union of a man and a woman. This has been my long-standing position, and it is not being reviewed or reconsidered." Yes, he did criticize it as "divisive and unnecessary." And in more recent times he acknowledged part of his reason for signing the bill was to avoid associating himself politically with the then-unpopular cause of same-sex marriage while he was running for reelection. Like it or not, Hillary needs to recognize that the inaccessibility to same-sex marriage had significant negative economic impacts on gays and lesbians. And only one House Republican, only 65 House Democrats, and Independent Bernie Sanders voted against DOMA.

Unfortunately, Bill Clinton embraced the centrist Third Way philosophy of governance. It is a hopeful philosophical construct that seeks the pursuit of greater egalitarianism in society through action to increase the distribution of skills, capacities, and productive endowments, while rejecting income redistribution as the means to achieve this. In doing this, it pretends to be a kind of change on democratic socialism that Bill Clinton embraced. To quote one Republican we all know: "I gotta ask the supporters of all that, 'How's that hopey, changey stuff working out?'"

The problem is the centrist Third Way is not a variant on democratic socialism or even the philosopihical traditions of the New Deal and Great Society. It is a deviant. And every well-informed young black lesbian who grew up in a single-parent household knows this.

Now I have to let a young woman explain her view in this quote from an article by Clio Chang, an editorial intern at the New Republic and former a policy associate at The Century Foundation:
Is it so outlandish to think that the circumstances in which each generation grew up would affect their political preferences? Particularly when those circumstances are of immense historical importance, like the Great Recession? While those who entered the workforce during Bill Clinton’s presidency may remember his legacy as an era of economic prosperity, that wealth hasn’t trickled down to today’s millennials. Two decades later, they are just as likely to hear criticisms of Clinton’s policies, such as welfare reform, DOMA, and mandatory minimum sentences. Indeed, when you take into account the root causes of the financial crisis, income inequality, and wage stagnation, the Clinton years start to look like part of a neoliberal-conservative consensus, as opposed to a liberal outlier between two Bush administrations. At a time when more young voters seem to be following all the correct steps for success—graduating high school, getting a college degree—but are still floundering, it’s no wonder that they are drawn to Sanders’s stacked-deck rhetoric.

While Hillary is not her husband’s keeper—and is certainly running on a much more progressive agenda—she is tied to several of her husband’s policies. Take, for example, the welfare reform bill (for which Hillary rounded up votes in Congress), which is now highly criticized for having contributed to keeping millions of women and children in deep poverty. Or her past comments about black children in gangs being super-predators. Clinton has not promoted these policies in her campaign, but she has not rejected them either. And, while Bill and his supporters may have seen conciliatory politics as the only option for a liberal in his position, millennials (especially black millennials, as Michelle Alexander points out) are now left dealing with the mainly negative results of that pragmatism, souring them towards Hillary’s entreaty for a similar approach to governance.
As an old person who is a registered Democrat, who became disenchanted as a Young Democrats delegate to the California Democratic Council in 1964, Chang's article is understandable and she did a good job of explaining the point of view of young women who say they won't vote for Hillary just because she is a woman.

But I would suggest that those women who make that "I won't vote for Hillary just because she is a woman" statement read in its entirety an article also in the New Republic titled Hillary’s Missing Girls which reminds me why as the grandfather of two women under 30 I feel the need to vote for Hillary partly because she is a woman while acknowledging that I wouldn't vote for Sara Palin just because she's a woman:
According to a recent Washington Post study, 63 percent of young women identify as feminist and 45 percent have taken to social media to express their views on women’s rights. They are informed and active on issues like sexual assault and reproductive rights. They eagerly critique the representation of women in the media. But when it comes to casting a vote, they act like we already live in a post-feminist age. This, despite the fact that women still only make up 20 percent of Congress and 5 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs and still earn only 78 cents to a man’s dollar. As Sheryl Sandberg memorably put it: “If NASA launched a person into space today, she could soar past Mars, travel all the way to Pluto and return to Earth 10 times before women occupy half of C-suite offices. Yes, we’re that far away.”

The thinking among young women voters seems to be that voting for Hillary, at least in part because she is a woman, is not a confirmation of equality. They’re right: it’s not. But we don’t live in an equal world; gender still matters, and matters a lot. Women will only be equal in American society when their presence as candidates and leaders ceases to be remarkable, when they are just as likely to be elected president as men.

Though it’s noble, pretending the world is gender-blind doesn’t make it so. Does it really make sense to ignore gender in America’s presidential election, a race of world-changing significance, when, on the whole, and in most aspects of life, the world doesn’t? If companies didn’t think about gender, they wouldn’t have made any progress in correcting workplace inequities. If colleges didn’t think about race, they wouldn’t create diverse communities. It is strange that a society so self-conscious and reflective about demographic disparities tries to put these aside when it comes to filling the highest and most powerful job in the country. And it’s important to remember that we didn’t put those concerns aside in 2008: Electing the first black president was meaningful for black and white Americans alike. Eight years ago, it would have been preposterous to suggest that voting for Obama in part because of his blackness was a mark against the struggle for progress. Why has our thinking changed when it comes to a woman? 
I would prefer that the Hillary Clinton campaign, which has already moved slightly away from the centrist Third Way, move much further toward the political philosophy represented by the economic policies of Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson. That would be better for America and for those critical Millennial Democratic women and for a very large number of unemployed young men. And it might help Hillary get nominated.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

How the next President will be elected (Hint: the voters don't elect the President)

This year's Presidential primary elections are riveting weekly entertainment, much like American Idol.

Unfortunately when the voting is done there are two winners who will face off against each other in another election that is much like a boxing match.  Following all the trading of punches and cheering by the avid fans, the results will be determined by a group of "judges" not the fans.

As was discovered in 2000 by the uninformed American, the voters of the United States don't elect the President. Let me say that again. The voters of the United States do not elect the President. Instead, pursuant to the Constitution which was handed down to the Founding Fathers by God (well, it might as well as have been that way since we nearly worship the document), the President is selected by the members of the Electoral College.

Pursuant to the Constitution, delegations of members of the Electoral College from each state "come together" in their state to cast their "preference" for President based upon the majority of votes cast for President in their respective states. The candidate that gets 270 or more Electoral College votes becomes President. (In the unlikely case there is no winner in the Electoral College, the Republican House of Representatives will appoint the President. The House of Representatives is Republican because grass roots Republicans think it is really important to work hard to control the House of Representatives.)

Let me now qualify what I am about to say. If the candidates end up being Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Bernie Sanders, history offers little help in predicting who will win. Otherwise....

History assures us that the 148 electors from following states will vote for the Democratic candidate: California, Connecticut, Delaware, D.C., Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

History assures us that the 144 electors from following states will vote for the Republican candidate: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming.

History indicates that the 94 electors from the following states are available to the Democrats to give away: Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. In other words, these states are likely to vote for the Democratic Party electors unless the Democratic candidate becomes unacceptable to Independents and some Democrats. If the Democrats win these electors, than they need to win "only" 28 more.

History indicates that the 14 electors from the following states are available to the Republicans to give away: Indiana and Montana. In other words, these states are likely to vote for the Republican Party electors unless the Republican candidate becomes unacceptable to Independents and/or some Republicans. If the Republicans win these electors, than they need to win "a whopping" 112 more.

The "more" electors will come from these states (the number of electors in each state is indicated): Arkansas 6, Colorado 9, Florida 29, Iowa 6, Kentucky 8, Louisiana 8, Missouri 10, Nevada 6, New Hampshire 4, New Mexico 5, Ohio 18, Tennessee 11, Virginia 13, West Virginia 5, and Wyoming 3.

Winning the Presidency isn't critical to the Republican agenda. Seventy percent of state legislatures, more than 60 percent of governorships, 55 percent of attorneys general and secretaries of state are all under Republican control. Republicans control 247 seats in the House of Representatives compared to 188 Democratic seats. Republicans control 54 seats in the U.S. Senate compared to 46 Democratic seats. So winning the Presidency isn't critical to the Republican agenda.

Nonetheless, the Republicans should be voting for the candidate who will not end up turning off some Republican voters and independent voters in Indiana and Montana. And for Republicans it is imperative that their candidate appeal to all Republican voters plus independent voters in Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and/or Wyoming.

The Republicans should nominate Florida Senator Marco Rubio to try to block the Democrats from winning Florida. That would leave the Democratic candidate having to fight for votes in Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and/or Wyoming.

The next President will get to appoint one or more Supreme Court Justices. This is critical to the liberal/progressive policies and programs of the Democrats. Further, if the Democratic candidate doesn't win, the Republican President will have a Republican Senate and House. At this time, the Republicans are formulating a plan to undo most liberal/progressive policies and programs should the Democrats give away the Presidency, the only branch of the United States government they control. Winning the Presidency is a do or die matter for the Democrats.

So all the primary BS notwithstanding, in the primaries the Democrats (and other liberals, progressives, or populists) should be voting for the candidate who they are sure will not end up in the general election turning off many regular Democratic voters and a lot of independent voters in downstate Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, Eastern Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Further, in the primaries the Democrats should be voting for the candidate who could appeal to all Democratic voters plus independent voters in the general election in Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and/or Wyoming.

 One thing is for certain. To win the Presidency, it doesn't matter how popular a candidate is with the "base" or "core" of the party during the American Idol phase (the primaries). In the November general election he or she must be acceptable to a broad range of voters.

Or maybe it will be Trump v Sanders. In that case it will be interesting to see what the regular voters who don't succumb to the American Idol approach will do with two candidates whose music isn't at all familiar nor comfortable and whose image is unappealing. In that situation they will be the voters who will determine who gets to be the next President.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Bernie Instead of Hillary - You've Got to be Kidding!

I'm watching friends and family deciding to support Bernie Sanders against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Presidential nomination. I'm saying to myself: "You've got to be kidding!"

Initially I was stunned that after years of fighting for Affirmative Action I'm hearing women "progressives" saying they won't vote for Hillary just because she would become the first woman President. They rationalize saying it would be discriminatory. I think: "When did they start thinking like the right wingers on the Supreme Court who opposed affirmative action?"

Do they really want to pass up this opportunity? But that's not even my greatest puzzlement.

Bernie Sanders versus Hillary Clinton - what's the difference? As one writer put it:
"It’s 'theory of change' debate at its core: one candidate intends to fight for progress through incremental gains; the other candidate believes a president can uproot the existing political system and replace it, institutional limits be damned."
The institutional limits are real and if Sanders were to win the Presidency, the Congressional wagons would immediately circle to defend the status quo.

I don't understand why people don't remember the Clinton health care plan of 1993 which made Hillary a political target for the right and which is a lesson I'm sure she hasn't forgotten. From Wikipedia:
Opposition to the Clinton plan was initiated by William Kristol and his policy group Project for the Republican Future, which is widely credited with orchestrating the plan's ultimate defeat through a series of now legendary "policy memos" faxed to Republican leaders.

"The long-term political effects of a successful... health care bill will be even worse — much worse... It will revive the reputation of... Democrats as the generous protector of middle-class interests. And it will at the same time strike a punishing blow against Republican claims to defend the middle class by restraining government." - William Kristol memo, "Defeating President Clinton's Healthcare Proposal" 12/93

Op-eds were written against it, including one in The Washington Post by conservative University of Virginia Professor Martha Derthick that said:

"In many years of studying American social policy, I have never read an official document that seemed so suffused with coercion and political naivete ... with its drastic prescriptions for controlling the conduct of state governments, employers, drug manufacturers, doctors, hospitals and you and me."
Derthick's description of the proposal sounds a lot like the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) that was adopted 17 years later.

Progress like this is almost never more than incremental in our country and takes time. Obamacare was passed because of the price Hillary paid in 1993. But let's face it, the biggest criticism from the left is that it wasn't revolutionary and contains compromises. Yes, that's true. That's how it has to be done.

The last Democratic President to successfully obtain a revolutionary policy change from Congress was Lyndon Johnson. He was a powerhouse in Congress before he became President, and we all know that he wasn't and couldn't have been elected President before 1964. But he got the Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed albeit a compromise version.

What people seem to forget is that in July 1965, after he was overwhelming elected President he got Medicare passed. In fact historians argue that Johnson's presidency marked the peak of modern liberalism in the United States after the New Deal era. Johnson is ranked favorably by some historians because of his domestic policies and the passage of many major laws, affecting civil rights, gun control, wilderness preservation, and Social Security.

Nonetheless, we should not forget that in achieving his revolutionary success in the Civil Rights Act, he did destroy the Democratic coalition created by Franklin Roosevelt that included the South.

Some argue that Bernie Sanders is going to get a revolution if he becomes President. You've got to be kidding. Neither he nor Hillary have that kind of clout with the current Congress. And as we have seen before, there is no way all these newly aware "populist" supporters of his are working hard on Congressional elections this year and will remain active for the Congressional elections in 2018.

So you have to ask yourself, do you really want to watch on Fox News some nitwit saying something like "How's that hopey, changey revolution working out for ya?"

In the meantime, let's not forget that Bernie is a politician and doesn't have some sort of clean, perfect lefty record.

In 1993, Sanders voted against the Brady Bill, which mandated federal background checks and imposed a waiting period on firearm purchasers in the United States and in 2005 he voted for the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act which prevents firearms manufacturers and dealers from being held liable for negligence when crimes have been committed with their products.

This doesn't make him bad, it makes him a politician who sometimes disappoints his supporters.

But why on Earth would Democrats want to nominate a grumpy old  man over the person who could be the first woman President of the United States? Could this group delusional thinking prevail? You've got to be kidding.