Days of Change

I Feel Bad for Norm Coleman

December 7, 2017
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Just before Inauguration Day 2009, there were 57 Senators on the Democratic Party side. Roland Burris was accepted as an appointment to replace Barack Obama as Senator from Illinois, even though his appointment was by Governor Rod Blagojevich, who would later be jailed for that action. A few months later, after sided with the Democrats a few times, Arlen Specter switched to the Democratic Party in April.

While 59 seats is a big majority in the Senate, the 60th seat was the key to railroading anything the Democrats wanted. That seat finally went to recent politician and career-long comedy writer Al Franken. Franken ran against Republican Norm Coleman, who held the seat until the election. Coleman and Franken were a few hundred points apart at just under 42% of the vote each.

The problem with voting is that there is so much Democrat cheating that it’s baked into the cake. Even though Coleman was ahead at the start of the night, Franken was eventually considered with winner by a scant 312 votes. While Coleman fought the result for months, there was no way Minnesota wasn’t going to get that rubber stamp for Obama.

With Al Franken’s departure, it would be interesting for Norm Coleman to run again, but I doubt if that will happen. Sometimes it just takes 8 years to reverse an error.

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The Sisterhood of the Travelling Hands

November 17, 2017
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We all know how this movie ends.

When women accuse men of harassment and are believed, eventually some come out of the woodwork to pursue a grudge, or punish a guy, or make a buck. Then we will be left with the one constant for offenses: the law.

If you are conservative and smart, it’s a good idea to stick with the law. Right now, it’s considered an excuse, but liberals are cannibalizing each other trying to accept that there are plenty of left-wing men doing the wrong thing. In the end, unverified anecdotes will lead to lawsuits against the accusers and all the man-shaming in the world is going to stop it.

 


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Strong and Wrong

October 29, 2017
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There are two important propositions about the 2016 election.

Hillary Clinton would be the worst possible president.

Only Donald Trump can beat Hillary Clinton.

About 52% of the voting public believed #1, but #2 is shrouded in grays. Given the vote on Election Day, there was no one else who could have kept Clinton below the majority of Electoral Votes. But what if NBC had offered Trump a lot more money to do The Apprentice in 2015 or Trump got hit by a taxi. Would the Republicans really have not been able to beat Hillary? Given the fact that people were tired of Obama and hardly anyone ran against Hillary in the primaries, I’d say she’d have lost to any number of people, Jeb and Marco included.

In politics, the definition of winner or loser is subject to the date. Trump was a loser in 1999 when he announced and then withdrew his run for the Reform Party nomination. Hillary Clinton was a winner at the same time, dominating the New York Democratic Party machine and running essentially unopposed for Senator. In 2017, Clinton is now the loser and Trump is the winner. Who knows what will happen in a few years?

Trump is like Barack Obama in that he has a unique relationship with the American public. He can demand legislation be pushed through, but not be involved in writing it. Also, like Obama, Trump can blame Republicans when that process fails. Trump doesn’t accept failure because he usually side steps it. He’s good at cutting his losses. He doesn’t declare bankruptcy. He sells off businesses and the next guy declares bankruptcy. If he loses in 2020, he’ll blame the swamp and move on.

This is one reason Trump can be strong and wrong without worrying about a 35% approval rating. He’s not a politician. Unfortunately, most Republicans in office are. Their loyalty is as strong as what Trump can do for them and he knows this. They will also cut their losses, especially if a Roy Moore loss leads to a 51 Senator majority.

Welcome to the do nothing constructive Congress,


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Downwind of Culture

October 9, 2017
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If you were to coin the phrase “Breitbarting,” to define what Andrew Breitbart did, it could refer to taking hidden camera footage and then rolling it out slowly, to blow up the fallacy of the “isolated incident” excuse. However, Andrew was about more than that. He had some awesome interviews with leftist media, bringing up their failings. He even destroyed a hit piece before his “Big Hollywood” site opened, by actually asking for the tape they tried to use to prove Breitbart said what they quoted. The tape never materialized and the quote was retracted.

Although what little we know about Breitbart’s opinion on Donald Trump was negative, mostly due to the fact that Trump has been a Democrat for decades, he is certainly Breitbarting the media. He’s also following Breitbart.com, the outlet for Steve Bannon’s war on an increasing share of the Republican Congress. Andrew famously said that politics is downstream from culture, which means that cultural icons in the media affect how most people define political differences. At the same time, Andrew also sought Republican victories and made efforts not to attack Republicans who had already won elections.

Speaking of culture, I’ve recently become interested in the book Moneyball. While the movie was good entertainment, it was twisted into an Aaron Sorkin reality where the general manager had to overcome everyone else to prove he was right. The actual story focuses on Billy Beane, a player turned scout for the Oakland Athletics who adopted the principles of sabermetrics early on and used them to great success in the early 2000’s.

It turns out that what makes a good baseball player isn’t always what a scout or a team uses to pick one. Not only did Oakland have to develop new stats to find qualities that won games, they also had to find the best bang for their buck. Oakland has one of the smallest budgets in baseball and finding bargains with solid skills was the key to success against teams with 4 times the budget.

The Trump administration is essentially a test of using Moneyball thinking in the political realm. Trump won the election and between his campaign and outside groups, spent half the money of the Clinton campaign. Winning the presidency is important as a defensive play, but did Republicans get the proper bang for their buck?

So far, Trump has taken executive action and nominated a conservative Justice who was confirmed by the Senate. In Moneyball terms, he was able to get on base or win the election. Any other Republican would have done what Trump did legislatively, but was anyone other than Trump able to win?

This is something of an intangible and the sample size is limited to Donald Trump alone. Trump is skewering the sacred cows of liberalism and globalism on a daily basis. He is a culture warrior. Of course, showiness and bravado also makes for high-cost baseball players who underperform. We may need new metrics to figure out how well this worked.


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What I’ve Been Listening To All Day

October 2, 2017
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Clinton Happened

September 28, 2017
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Donald Trump won with only 46% of all voters choosing him. He couldn’t even get a majority. The last time a president was elected with a lower percentage than that was Bill Clinton in 1992. Yep, we only have to look to the last Clinton to run for president to find a precedent for Trump.

There’s little reason to rehash the mechanics of the Trump victory. In America, you have to win an Electoral College majority, like Trump did. In fact, the two closest states could have gone to Clinton and Trump still would have won. Hillary Clinton had 48% of the popular vote, which was not even a majority. It instead fell between the 43% and 49% popular vote totals Bill Clinton had. If you don’t like this kind of muddled victory, too bad. In the last 7 presidential elections, 4 winners had an Electoral College majority, but failed to win a majority of the popular vote.

Running for president seems like a daunting task, but it must get easier with time. Hillary Clinton ran twice, winning the nomination once. Donald Trump ran twice, winning the nomination (and the presidency) once. In 2012, Romney had run in 2008 and lost the nomination, to John McCain, who ran and lost the nomination in 2000 to George W. Bush. But practice doesn’t necessarily make perfect. Obama and Bush 43 won their first times out. So did Bill Clinton. Bush 41 lost the nomination in 1980, became president in 1988, the lost to Clinton.

So far, Democrats haven’t had much luck this century in running more than once for president and succeeding. The Republicans are another story. Ronald Reagan lost the Republican nomination twice (in 1968 and 1976) and eventually became president in 1980. Almost 50 years ago, Richard Nixon came back from losing the general election in 1960 to become president in 1968.

Hillary Clinton and willing stooges in the media are either explaining or asking “what happened” this week. For the average person, that might be something of a mystery. Polling was just outside the margin of error and the “Democratic Party Machine” was still considered powerful, at least in the case of Barack Obama. Given that Trump’s campaign had mediocre infrastructure at best, even with the RNC behind them, the answer is obvious in hindsight. The Clinton campaign relied too much on data, tried to get a large electoral victory at the expense of close states and ultimately had a product not many people wanted.

Clinton has been a household name for 25 years and not usually a positive one. Her only elected office was as Senator from New York. To win that seat, the party made sure she was the only real competition among Democrats. State Republicans did their part to have lousy candidates as well. Rudy Giuliani might have beaten her. Actually, Donald Trump might have been able to beat her in 2000 or 2006. Her 2008 presidential campaign was blindsided by Obama, but she can’t write a book about how much of an ass Obama was, so she’s focused on Trump instead.


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Negotiation

September 17, 2017
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Donald Trump doesn’t adhere to ideology, just opinion. The difference is that one of the public people willing to give his take on events in the news or just things that bother him. His whole life has been about taking on people who bother him. The new strategy of talking to Chuck and Nancy is an attempt to attack the people who have been bothering him and not passing his pledges. While this is an attempt to weaken McConnell and Ryan, it also is a shot at the Freedom Caucus that if the left takes the deal before the right does, the Freedom Caucus becomes the loser.

The Art of the Deal is a book title suggested by Tony Schwartz to Donald Trump for the book he ghost wrote. Trump’s “art” mostly relies on his various tactics to do illegal things but not be legally responsible. For example, you don’t have to declare bankruptcy if you sell your share first, the other investors can do it. You don’t have to pay your contractors 100 cents on the dollar if your relatively cheap lawyers can settle the bill much lower.

The fallacy of negotiation is that negotiation is when one person wants a banana and the other wants and apple and you compromise with an orange. If everyone met in the middle, each side just changes their endpoints to get what they really want. And if they want a banana, an orange is as bad as an apple. Mostly, negotiation is about position. I remember getting a relatively bad deal on a car while my sister got a relatively good deal. I was more desperate for a car. She was more willing to walk away.

The willing to walk away thing might be one of the arts of the deal. The problem for Trump is that walking away invites rallies with small crowds who might show up to boo him. Right now, he may be in the sweet spot, where the media thinks he’s lost his base and the base thinking Trump is playing everyone on the left. That’s the art of Trump, fooling all of the people some of the time.


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Never the Same

September 11, 2017
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This is the 16th anniversary of September 11, 2001. This is my ninth year of posting on this day. This time, I’ll write about the political impact of this attack.

The election of 2000 was historic in that the man who won the Electoral Vote did not win the popular vote total. Of course, this is less common as of last year. Still, Bush’s win was mired in controversy and he had few coattails. In fact, he lost the GOP majority in the Senate shortly after his inauguration. However, 9/11 came just 7 months after that day.

The rest of the Bush administration was seen through the prism of the War on Terror, with a brief detour into Hurricane Katrina. In 2002, Republicans gained seats based on the response. In 2004, Bush won a clear majority over a Democratic Party criticizing the war. But then, 2006 saw the rise of Democrats again.

To some extent, Obama promised and delivered on a shift of focus away from Islamic terror. At the same time, Republicans slowly rebuilt their numbers thanks to something called the Tea Party. After 9/11, a number of people who considered themselves Democrats of liberal came to their senses over Islamic terror.

The increasing momentum of non-Republicans voting Republican first led to dissatisfaction when the GOP had majorities in Congress, to a sort of revolt when the prospect of a Jeb / Marco ticket being forced on them became a possibility. Even a decade and a half later, the continuing refusal by Democrats to condemn the politics of Islam and both parties unwilling to fight illegal immigration led to a Donald Trump victory.


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A Bad Bad Thing

September 7, 2017
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At some point, Donald Trump will betray almost everyone.

Trump’s rise and nomination and presidency have many parallels to Barack Obama. Neither were particularly experienced. They both wanted to negotiate with the Russians behind the scenes. They both are extreme narcissists. They both hate John McCain. Now Trump is joining Obama in actively working to get people with the same party designation to lose elections.

This week’s deal with Sid Chuck and Nancy is the realization of a threat Trump made earlier. Except it wasn’t Obamacare, where Democrats and some Tuesday Group Republicans might have gotten something passed. No, this was Trump getting a first round of hurricane funding and the Democrats have the Republicans passing a three-month debt ceiling increase so they can talk about a government shutdown again in three months. More than working with Democrats, Trump had threatened that everything wrong is the fault of Congress while anything good is the result of his leadership.

Either way you look at it, however, it’s a bad thing. Obama and the Democrats cut corners and forced all of their Senators and most of their Congress members to pass Obamacare right before the midterms. They lost the House and, in 2014, lost the Senate. However, they managed to put so many people on Medicaid that Republicans are afraid to repeal the program outright. In Trump’s case, he’s forcing Republicans to embrace him which could very well lose Republicans the House in 2018. What does he get for it? It’s the satisfaction of sticking it to Paul Ryan, the guy who’s tax plan Trump will likely plagiarize, and Mitch McConnell, the guy who opened a space for Trump to get Gorsuch on the Supreme Court.

The hopeless Trumpers consider this getting something done, if you define “done” as being 90 days. Others at least speculate that Trump strategically gave away his bargaining positions in order to show outlier GOP groups that they can’t hold up a bill without potentially cutting them out of the process. I think President Trump took a page from businessman Trump. If you’re in trouble, stick your partners with the bills, sell out quick and make them declare bankruptcy.

Days like this, I’m glad I voted for Gary Johnson.


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Plan F

August 23, 2017
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Last year, I was lamenting the inability of Republicans to side with Ted Cruz when he was the only real competitor to Donald Trump in early primaries. Instead, Jeb Bush fell, then Marco Rubio, then John Kasich embarrassed himself until the day Cruz suspended his campaign. Then, there was the short-lived contested election plan. The Democrats tried the Electoral College plot. Each plan got more desperate and unlikely.

Now, the Trump administration has entered that phase.

For months, Trumpers have praised Donald’s ability to master a conflict or persuade people. In reality, he’s more likely to yell at people, fire them or berate them in public. Early on Trump made one deal. Nominate a solid Constitutional originalist for the Supreme Court and Mitch McConnell would lower the vote threshold from an impossible 60 to an achievable 50. Then Trump took all the credit.

Six months later, there’s a Supreme Court justice and not much else. The Obamacare (skinny) repeal was eventually done in by John McCain, the man Trump thought wasn’t a war hero. Besides McCain, Trump is actively campaigning for junior Arizona Senator Jeff Flake’s primary opponent and trashing the aforementioned McConnell. Oh, and Trump’s Interior Secretary tried to strong-arm Lisa Murkowski into changing her vote on Obamacare. That didn’t work, either.

So, in 2018 the House has enough seats in danger to flip the party in power to the Democrats. Even if that doesn’t happen, 10% of the Republicans in the Senate are on Trump’s shit list. While there is no more Steve Bannon to threaten the House, Trump is still there to collectively blame “the Senate” for not doing his bidding.

The best part for me is the Plan B of making America Great Eventually. Trumpers are giving up on the Senate and McConnell. Instead, they are going to primary any Republican who doesn’t get on the Trump train. Of course, McCain and Murkoski just got re-elected. Flake might get beaten by perennial losing candidate Kelli Ward, likely getting a Democrat elected. McConnell is more popular than ever with his Senate colleagues, and they choose the Majority Leader.

Essentially, since Trump can’t directly fire people he doesn’t like, he is trying to get them fired. In the Trump world where everyone else is the problem, this will make everything great again. His supporters firmly believe this can happen because Trump accidentally won the presidency, therefore predictive modeling no longer exists. They can keep believing that for 14 more months.


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