Days of Change

The Katy Perry of Candidates

July 29, 2016
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I tend to eschew historical perspective for factoids about politics. So, let’s look at nominees for president over the past 40 years. Candidates fall into two categories, brand new or getting their due. Incumbents also get their due, but parties are generally afraid to drop them regardless.

Of the 20 candidates in 10 races from 2 parties, 7 ran as incumbents (2 lost). 6 were given their due (Vice Presidents and close finishers in years past) and all but one lost. 7 were either new to the contest or unexpectedly won (like Reagan in 1980) and 5 actually won the presidency.

People like the new hotness. Given that standard, Hillary Clinton is old and busted and only has a one in six chance while Trump has about a five in seven chance. Being ready (or listo, for Tim Kaine) and battle tested doesn’t mean crap. Then again, the guy who was given his due and won was George H.W. Bush who got the unqualified endorsement of his president.

Back to the title. In 2008, Katy Perry blew up the music scene dressing like a pin-up girl and singing in her husky voice about kissing girls on the sly from her boyfriend. That same summer, Hillary Clinton was facing the fact that she would have to concede the Democratic primary to Barack Obama, even though she got more primary votes. The party was against her, however, and Hillary knew she’d need to bide her time.

Here’s the problem. People move on. Katy Perry’s last legitimate blockbuster was probably “Roar” in 2013 (which sounded an awful lot like Brave). In 2012 she went all in for Barack Obama. This year, she performed at the Democratic Convention, singing hits from the time of Obama’s second inauguration.

Hillary Clinton had her moment, and it was in 2008. I and others suggested she break from the Democratic Party or run in 2012 on a platform of Obama’s incompetence. Instead, she and Bill went to Nixonian levels trying to amass enough power and influence that Democrats who turned on her in 2016 would end up committing suspicious suicide on themselves. She has made herself into the meat puppet that progressives found in Barack Obama eight years ago.

I need to start writing about Gary Johnson. This is getting too depressing.

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What She Said

July 28, 2016
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16 years ago, Hillary Clinton was essentially handed a Senate seat in New York, her home after leaving the White House. Eight years ago, Clinton was on the way to becoming the Democratic Party nominee, but David Axelrod had other ideas and his meat puppet Barack Obama rounded up all the people who were sick of the Clintons.

Even though Donald Trump is an interloper who has never been a Republican for four consecutive years, that’s not why he sucks. Trump sucks because he doesn’t believe in anything but himself. Hillary Clinton has been a Democrat for decades and has served in 2 White House positions (as much as First Lady is a political job) and one elected office. Still, she has no particular affinity for anything but the redirection of money to herself and the manipulation of power. They’re two sides of the same coin.

I’m watching the Clinton speech because I’m curious how she’s going to sell herself. Unlike Trump, who spouts gibberish and conspiracy theories, Clinton tries to take two or three minor things she’s done and weave them into a biography. Oh, wait, Trump does that, too.

Okay. Clinton is giving a coronation speech. She assumes she’s going to win.

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Coalition of the Damned

July 27, 2016
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In 2008, Democratic super delegates were instrumental in putting support behind Barack Obama rather than Hillary Clinton. This year, even though Hillary won the majority of super delegates, she also won the majority of pledged delegates as well as the popular vote. I’m not even sure Trump got more than one out of those 3 groups.

Compared to Democrats and even past nomination contests, Republicans have a large percentage of bound delegates. If a candidate wins a state with 35% of the vote (Trump did this… a lot) 100% of the delegates have to vote for him. This system was designed as a fail safe against a Ron Paul candidacy. Instead the robber baron figures out how to do a hostile takeover of a party.

For the last quarter century, the loser in a two-person race (no Perot, essentially) has gotten at least 46% of the popular vote. That means there are maybe 4-6% of the voters who are indecisive enough to swing an election. Even though there are complains about the Electoral College, its outcome has only failed to match the popular vote once in the last century.

So now we are in a strange situation where two candidates with amazingly high negatives (approaching 65% for both) are campaigning for your vote. Donald Trump is running a national campaign since he has no ad money and no state organization. The Democrats are running by targeting votes. They want to bring out the majority Democrat neighborhoods in urban areas in swing states by busing them to early voting over and over until they’re ahead.

Although polls have shown that Bernie Sanders supporters are voting for Hillary Clinton at about 85%, the big news is about the few hundred die-hards who were so obsessed with Bernie that they walked out this week. Cruz supporters did not because many of them are loyal to the party. The Trump opponents in the rest of the country are going for Gary Johnson in significant numbers.

From last week’s RNC, it would seem that Hillary Clinton was in charge for the last 8 years and needs to be stopped. In the DNC, Black people are apparently gunned down for sport by White police officers. At this point, they both look like idiots. At least the Libertarians just had that fat guy almost getting naked.

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The DNC Blows its Wad

July 26, 2016
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Unlike the trope Chris Matthews pulls out every year, the Republicans fell in love (with Donald Trump or Ted Cruz) while the Democrats fell in line. Bernie Sanders got the Monday prime time slot, then handed over his delegates to Hillary Clinton. At 73, Sanders is in from the cold and can look forward to the money that comes from crony capitalism. I think his supporters realize that because they are pissed this week.

Night 2 at the DNC marks the end of the Bill Clinton era. Bill relived the past, didn’t kill like he used to in a speech and going forward, the name Clinton will be associated with Hillary instead of him. Night 3 belongs to Barack Obama and Joe Biden. In fact, Tim Kaine doesn’t even have a speaking slot. If you think Bill’s speech wasn’t very much about Hillary, wait until Obama starts talking about himself.

Night 2 of the RNC marked the end of the primary season. Ted Cruz made his speech and got his boos before Mike Pence was nominated as Trump’s running mate. Then the Republicans had two more nights to create their Midnight in America version of a world where only Trump can destroy foes like he did with people who worked for him.

The DNC blew its wad tonight with Bill. Next up is a night of Obama firmly attaching himself to Hillary’s future. That was her Faustian bargain. Bide her time until Obama says she can run. That’s her real story these days.

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Weeknight at Bernie’s

July 25, 2016
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Unlike Ted Cruz, the DNC gave Bernie Sanders the closing slot on a convention night. They did, however, push it to start at almost 11pm. The Democrats built a system that gives the party the option to stop old cranks whose “I don’t give a shit” campaign style might be exciting, but ultimately a big loser in the general election. Bernie fought that challenge, but he also faced the reality that Hillary Clinton had been preparing for this since 1999.

Whatever Bernie may have done to bring in young people who only had $27 to spare, he is getting the best he could get out of this. He’s been accepted as a useful tool by the Democrats. He gets a prime-time (sort of) speaking slot at the convention. Most importantly, he got a book deal, likely through a Clinton contact in the publishing industry, that will deliver a nice fat paycheck to the committed socialist.

Bernie Sanders has been an “independent” for decades. He never wanted to go full Democrat for various reasons. If he is getting scraps, it’s because he’s on the outside. The Republicans, however, stand by as Donald Trump exists outside reality and pledges to destroy Ted Cruz and John Kasich, justifying their reasons for not endorsing him. Donald Trump is the real Bernie, the animated corpse of the Republican Party stinking up the joint.

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Fear and the Bandwagon Effect

July 24, 2016

Back in 2012, I wrote about this loser stink attached to Barack Obama. The economy was sluggish at best, foreign policy was a mess and the Tea Party had whupped Democrats in 2010. That taught me about how fear can be used effectively in a campaign, and I don’t mean scaring people about Muslim hoards running the streets.

Democrats have an effective “blue wall” in terms of large cities in swing states they can mine over and over for votes, thanks to the fraud of early voting. In Congressional elections, however, targeting hundreds of districts and statewide races is difficult and costly. It’s easier just to centralize power in the federal government. Those elections are ruled by general targets, White people who aren’t monolithic in their voting.

Voters will no firm affiliation are often subject to the bandwagon effect. This is where the leading candidate also draws people in who want to be part of something. In reality, they want to be normalized into the majority. Because of this, it can be counterproductive to get out the vote trying to tell them a candidate is behind and they need to come out in greater numbers to even the scale.

Let’s go back to the first presidential debate on October 3, 2012. Romney did well against Obama and Obama seemed to lack the information to counter his attacks. Republicans were energized and Democrats were disheartened. However, Obama was still well ahead of Romney at the time.

After Romney’s loss, I came up with a theory. While people who would vote out of a sense of citizenship would be more likely to pick Obama because he was ahead, lazier voters (the Democratic base) might figure Obama would do fine. Of course, Democrats thought they could minimize losses in 2010 but were shocked by the landslide that occurred. My conclusion was that the Obama campaign saw that people might be too complacent and decided to put the fear back into them. Obama throws the first debate and his supporters realize this is a battle and they’d better go vote. The fear of the unknown is very powerful.

The bandwagon also led to Donald Trump’s victory in the Republican primaries. Some of the campaign managers said that Trump’s polling among Republicans had a “floor” of 30%. He generally started with 30% support among primary and caucus voters. The other 8 candidates (by the time primaries started) split the other 70%. Trump drew pluralities in the 20-40% range until the race was down to him, Ted Cruz and John Kasich.

This drew an interesting result. Trump was drawing an additional 30% of people who dropped out. He started getting the higher 40% range and the occasional 60%. Ted Cruz started to be competitive after Marco Rubio quit, but was dragged down by John Kasich. Kasich’s numbers were not good and he became mathematically unable to win the nomination in March. His presence, however, gave establishment types a name to pick instead of Cruz or Trump. Cruz fell between a hopeless candidate and a candidate who was almost certain to win. Primary voters got on the bandwagon.

Even though Trump was the only name in the last 9 state contests, he wound up with just 44% of the popular vote. One would imagine it would be lower if the Democrats who wanted Trump as a GOP poison pill were removed. In this case, fear of a Cruz win by the establishment led to a “winner” who is opposed by some of the biggest names in the party.

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Raising Kaine

July 23, 2016
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The choice of a Vice Presidential running mate is often decided more strategically than it needs to be. In 2008, I was more excited to vote for John McCain when he chose Sarah Palin, but I would have voted for him anyway. Hillary Clinton chose Senator Tim Kaine, who besides being low on scandal, will have his replacement chosen by Clinton administration toady Terry McAuliffe.

We now have two boring White guys, Kaine and Mike Pence, as running mates. That’s probably just as well, since a significant number of voters prefer a meteor of death over Clinton or Trump.

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The Last Best Hope

July 22, 2016
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I had a lot of commentary piled up from the speech last night and I posted up, but it all boiled down to this.

This was all about Ted Cruz.

Cruz ran for Senate in 2012 in a year where the Tea Party was broke and hampered by the IRS. Sarah Palin could have run, but knew that she would be shut out of campaign funding and would likely lose. Instead, she became a savior of the down ticket. Texas would have a Republican Senator, but Palin helped to make sure it was Cruz.

Cruz quickly made a name for himself as someone who wanted to pass Constitutional limits on the White House and promote the conservative agenda. When he decided to run for president, he was probably at the top tier, but he was also a dark horse.

While there were 17 candidates in the media, only 12 entered a primary, 9 actually got at least 1 delegate and only 4 beat single digits. Bush, Rubio, Kasich and maybe Huckabee were establishment. Rand Paul, Carson, Fiorina and Cruz were the rebels. Then came Donald Trump.

I can’t easily define the Republican establishment. Because I don’t support Trump, some consider me within those ranks. There are prominent Republican politicians, reliable campaign donors, state organizers and professionals who win elections. Most of them do not like Ted Cruz. All those things the non-establishment supposedly hates are what Ted Cruz fought against. It doesn’t matter if he was grandstanding or not, at least he was standing.

Donald Trump got in fairly early and blended in like the transfer student who was already left back a grade. His name recognition and dubious celebrity got him 30% of the vote from the start. Even with 6 or so other contenders, it would be difficult to beat that. When Cruz did, Rubio and Kasich were right there to split up the vote. Jeb eventually gave up, as this was not a year for the establishment. Rubio had to salvage his Senate job.

Down to three candidates, Trump regularly got in the 40% range and Kasich sort of hung on as a spoiler. Kasich was part of the establishment and encouraged to stay in the race, which only means one thing. The establishment backed Trump, not Cruz. In fact, Kasich dropped out just hours after Cruz. His job was done.

Ted Cruz had a solid campaign, using data and a strong ground game. Unfortunately, while he may have planned for an establishment headwind, he did not expect their support for a bad human being because Cruz wasn’t chummy enough. This was a party who didn’t believe in the best candidate winning. Much like 2008, their chosen candidate failed and they scrambled for another and ended up with a sociopathic narcissist.

Ted Cruz could not commit political suicide or ruin his career in this GOP. His career was limited to that Texas Senate seat. So, on Wednesday night, he put down his marker for a coalition who doesn’t want some guy pulling authoritarian solutions out of his ass and practicing situational morality that re-calibrates every day. Some might call it a gamble, but he had nothing to gain by propping up this amoral, craven political party.

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You Are Released

July 21, 2016
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The first rule of dumpster fires is that there’s nothing you need to save that’s worth hurting yourself. Trump’s brain vomit of the day (it changes frequently) is that Ted Cruz has violated some sacred pledge about supporting the nominee. What the non-Republicans (the most virulent Trumpsters) don’t understand is that the “support the nominee” pledge is a corollary of The Eleventh Commandment. Trump broke the hell out of that when he called Cruz a liar, re-tweeted insults about his wife and claimed his father was involved in the Kennedy assassination. Plus, Trump waited until he had momentum to even sign on to the non-binding pledge.

Much like taking advantage of winner take all states while whining about small caucuses, the pledge is based on Trump’s situational logic. Everything for Trump is good, everything bad for Trump is evil. Obama is a light worker and Big Brother is the epitome of good. I would break my pledge of keeping the Republican Party safe if it was thrown in a dumpster and set on fire. Especially, if what went in the dumpster was garbage.

Trumpster logic is twisted here as well. In their minds, Ted Cruz was permanently damaged by the campaign and will never be president. So why would he eat shit and endorse Trump? Ted Cruz was essentially told by the Republican Party elite that they would rather have an inexperienced and unqualified ass as their candidate rather than a conservative fighter who might threaten their capitulation agenda. Cruz is betting on Trump’s influence, whether he wins or loses, forcing the party to return to its values of liberty.

It’s also intentionally obtuse to say a vote for X is a vote for Hillary. There’s a ballot, it has names on it. Almost all of them are not Hillary. Now, if voting for candidate X coupled with the fact that Trump’s surrogates and supporters alienated enough people for Hillary to win, maybe the Trump campaign isn’t as good at strategy as they thought.

Ted Cruz ultimately told people to vote their conscience as a way to force Trump to be the kind of candidate lifelong Republicans could vote for. The real problem is that Trump does not want to be held to the standards of liberty and freedom that Republicans have cherished since Ronald Reagan or even Barry Goldwater. Trump wants to run on the principles of winning is everything. I can picture him as president giving the Barack Obama “I won” rebuke to John McCain. Remember, Obama used that to help pass Obamacare.

Cruz offered Trump a challenge; to be worthy of our votes. Tonight, he will likely decline that challenge, offering a lot of angry laid off guy at the bar proposals to bringing back an America where his son isn’t a professional student and his wife didn’t ditch him. Instead of Ronald Reagan, it’s going to be Jimmy Carter.

Ted’s conscience is clear. So is mine.

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The Republican Party is Not Dead

July 20, 2016
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However, the party is extremely sleepy. Yesterday, there was a procession of delegates who rubber stamped the Trump nomination. However, the delegate count for Not Trump was higher than any non-nominee in my voting history. Some delegations, like DC, had their votes converted to Trump because candidates who suspend their campaign are apparently not allowed in that district.

Much like Hillary Clinton and her lies that become non-binding reality, Melania Trump did not plagiarize her speech. Somehow, a speech that was written by her (according to her Matt Lauer interview) was written by a woman who has now offered an apology and a resignation (which in Lewendowski fashion, Trump hasn’t accepted, yet). So, Melania is either a liar and not a plagiarist, or a plagiarist with a ghostwriter. Mind you, this is a 15 minute speech she spent weeks on.  Also, her non-speechwriter speechwriter is a Democrat.

One actual Republican tonight is Ted Cruz. Actually, Scott Walker is as well, but he laid down his arms strategically. It’s why I think Walker is the best choice for president. Cruz, however, is the fighter. His is the speech I will watch on C-Span to avoid the idiotic commentary. I’ll save that for after. I can accept he may have to endorse Trump, or “the Republican nominees.” But I want it to sting a little for the Dullard.

The smell of fear is getting stronger among the Trump humpers. Ted Cruz’s power as the defiant one is reminding them that a fairly small number of holdouts could lose the election for Trump. I don’t have to be Never Trump, though. Trump doesn’t need me and I don’t need Donald Trump.

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