Friday, September 30, 2016

Last Call For House Of Pain, Con't

And while the focus for many of us has been on Donald Trump's horrible antics, let's keep in mind even if Trump is soundly defeated, Republicans will most likely continue to control the House and will happily pass bills like these

The House voted 246-177 to delay by six months implementation of the Labor Department’s overtime rule. Republicans voted unanimously for the bill, along with five Democrats: Reps. Brad Ashford of Nebraska, Henry Cuellar of Texas, Daniel Lipinski of Illinois, Collin Peterson of Minnesota, and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), who introduced an earlier bill to phase in the overtime threshold gradually over three years, voted against the six-month delay. The rule, set to take effect in December, will double (to $47,476) the salary threshold under which virtually all workers are guaranteed time-and-a-half pay whenever they work more than 40 hours in a given week. The Labor Department estimates the rule will extend overtime coverage to more than 4 million employees and cost businesses about $1.2 billion annually.

Prior to the vote, Rep Tim Walberg (R-Mich.), who introduced the legislation, said the overtime rule “burdens hard-working small business owners” and “jeopardizes vital services for vulnerable Americans.” He warned that “time is running out” and said lawmakers should “provide more time to those struggling to implement this rule before an arbitrary and unrealistic deadline.” But Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) said the rule will create about 100,000 jobs and noted that when the overtime rule was last updated in 2004 under President George W. Bush, “only four months” passed between the final rule’s announcement and its implementation (compared to more than six months for the new rule). Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.) said the bill “takes money out of middle class Americans right before the holiday season.” He also objected to the bill being brought to the floor as an emergency measure.

And Senate Republicans are planning to go along, but...

Sen. James Lankford (R.-Okl.) introduced a companion bill Wednesday co-sponsored by Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Me.). Neither the House nor the Senate bill will likely go anywhere. The White House said Tuesday that President Barack Obama would veto Walberg’s bill.

So yeah.  Once again, this is why you want a Democrat in the White House.

Duterte Deeds, Done Dirt Cheap Con't

Philippines President Manuel Duterte has gone from Manila's Trump to Manila's Hitler in the space of about three weeks, and I'm beginning to think that maybe it's not an act.

President Rodrigo Duterte said Friday that he would like to kill millions of drug addicts in the Philippines, defying international criticism of his country’s bloody war on narcotics and escalating his brutal rhetoric with a reference to the Holocaust. 
“Hitler massacred three million Jews,” Mr. Duterte said after returning to the Philippines from a trip to Vietnam, understating the toll cited by historians, which is six million. “Now there is three million, there’s three million drug addicts. There are. I’d be happy to slaughter them.” 
Killing that number of drug users would “finish the problem of my country and save the next generation from perdition,” he said. 
Since Mr. Duterte took office in June promising a grisly campaign against crime and drugs, the Philippines has seen a surge in killings of drug suspects.

Well then.  Publicly advocating mass genocide as a final solution in the war on drugs seems a bit...much.

Philippine officials have counted about 3,000 deaths during the crackdown, about a third at the hands of the police. 
The police spokesman Dionardo Carlos said on Friday that the police had been overstating the number killed by the police. He said that the correct number was 1,120, not about 1,500, which the police had given earlier. He did not explain why the number had been revised. 
The police have also said that 1,500 nonpolice killings are under investigation and that hundreds of these also are believed to be drug-related. 
Responding to expressions of alarm about the killings from the European Union and other international bodies, Mr. Duterte said Friday that the European Union’s advisers on the issue were “pea-brained.” He criticized European officials for finding fault with his government while not doing enough to help migrants fleeing war-torn Middle Eastern countries.

“You allow them to rot, and then you’re worried about the death of about 1,000, 2,000, 3,000?” he said. 
Mr. Duterte complained that his foreign critics had depicted him as “a cousin of Hitler” and said that they were wrong to criticize him now that he was the country’s president. Doing so put all Filipinos “to shame,” he said. 
The president’s latest provocative remarks came days after he cast doubt on the Philippines’ longstanding military ties with the United States, announcing in Vietnam that the countries’ coming joint military exercises would be their last. Officials in his government later said that all military agreements with the United States were still in effect and that they were awaiting “clarification and guidance” from Mr. Duterte.

Well, if you want to avoid the Hitler comparisons, perhaps one shouldn't openly say that you're going to emulate his actions.


Board Of Disapproval

If you're such an awful presidential candidate that you make USA Today actually pick sides in the race against you (something the studiously bland, noncontroversial and neutral newspaper has never before done) then you might be Donald Trump.

In the 34-year history of USA TODAY, the Editorial Board has never taken sides in the presidential race. Instead, we’ve expressed opinions about the major issues and haven’t presumed to tell our readers, who have a variety of priorities and values, which choice is best for them. Because every presidential race is different, we revisit our no-endorsement policy every four years. We’ve never seen reason to alter our approach. Until now.

This year, the choice isn’t between two capable major party nominees who happen to have significant ideological differences. This year, one of the candidates — Republican nominee Donald Trump — is, by unanimous consensus of the Editorial Board, unfit for the presidency.

From the day he declared his candidacy 15 months ago through this week’s first presidential debate, Trump has demonstrated repeatedly that he lacks the temperament, knowledge, steadiness and honesty that America needs from its presidents.

Whether through indifference or ignorance, Trump has betrayed fundamental commitments made by all presidents since the end of World War II. These commitments include unwavering support for NATO allies, steadfast opposition to Russian aggression, and the absolute certainty that the United States will make good on its debts. He has expressed troubling admiration for authoritarian leaders and scant regard for constitutional protections.

That's as good as it gets for USA Today trying to save the Republic, for the paper still refuses to endorse any of the presidential candidates, including Hillary Clinton.

Some of us look at her command of the issues, resilience and long record of public service — as first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of State — and believe she’d serve the nation ably as its president.

Other board members have serious reservations about Clinton’s sense of entitlement, her lack of candor and her extreme carelessness in handling classified information.

Where does that leave us? Our bottom-line advice for voters is this: Stay true to your convictions. That might mean a vote for Clinton, the most plausible alternative to keep Trump out of the White House. Or it might mean a third-party candidate. Or a write-in. Or a focus on down-ballot candidates who will serve the nation honestly, try to heal its divisions, and work to solve its problems.

Whatever you do, however, resist the siren song of a dangerous demagogue. By all means vote, just not for Donald Trump.

I've got news for you.  Voting for either of the third-party candidates or a write-in (Hi Bernie!) isn't going to save the country from Trump: because of our electoral college system, only Clinton can do that.  It wouldn't kill the paper to say so, but I guess it would, sort of.

"Dear God don't vote for the actual fascist racist" is better than standing idly by, I guess.


Thursday, September 29, 2016

Last Call For Another Post-Racial America Update

We're all fine here in post-racial America, everything's okay, after all racism died off with the Boomers or something and we certainly don't have to worry about Millennials acting like th....

A white student at East Tennessee State University was arrested and charged with civil rights intimidation on Wednesday after showing up to a campus Black Lives Matter protest wearing a gorilla mask and handing out bananas to African American students.

Tristan Rettke, a freshman at the university, also carried a rope and a burlap sack painted with the Confederate flag and a marijuana leaf, according to WCYB
Rettke was first detained by campus police, then arrested and taken to Washington County Detention Center after discussion with public safety supervisors, campus administration and the District Attorney General’s office, WCYB reported. 
According to a Johnson City Police Department report obtained by WJHL, Rettke told officers he purchased the rope, bananas and gorilla mask on Tuesday after learning about the Black Lives Matter event on social media app Yik Yak. He then went to Wednesday’s protest “in an attempt to provoke the protesters,” the report noted.

Oh wait a minute, why should anyone be surprised after 400 years that we still have racist douchebags as America's true sustainable resource?

Racism didn't end, it's just getting on record here in the age of social media and instant news events.

Shutdown Countdown, Con't

Looks like House Republicans aren't anywhere near as stupid as I suspected they would be and have approved funding for combating the Zika virus and helping Flint as the Democrats win the day over Paul Ryan once again.

The House on Wednesday approved a bill to fund the federal government through December 9, averting a costly shutdown two days ahead of the deadline. 
The 10-week bill, which passed comfortably 342 to 85, now heads to the president’s desk and sends lawmakers back to their district early for campaigning. 
A majority of the Republican conference backed the bill, with just 75 Republicans opposing it. Ten Democrats voted against the bill.

Lawmakers agreed to keep federal agencies running through Dec. 9, while also funding a $1.1 billion emergency aid package to halt the spread of the Zika virus. Flood-stricken regions in Louisiana, West Virginia and Maryland will also receive a half-billion dollars. 
The months-long marathon to fund the government turned into a sprint Wednesday as lawmakers raced toward the exits. The pre-election adjournment comes just a few weeks after Congress was out of session for a two-month summer recess. 
The Wednesday evening vote caps a dramatic 24 hours of deal-making led by House SpeakerPaul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Both chambers signed off on the stopgap spending bill, just one day after the same bill was soundly rejected in the Senate. 
The bill collapsed in the upper chamber on Tuesday mostly due to Democrats’ gripes about Republicans leaving out money to deal with lead contamination in Flint, Michigan while agreeing to fund flood relief in other states. 
The dispute over Flint funding was swiftly – and quietly – resolved late Tuesday evening by Ryan and Pelosi, who huddled twice to work out an agreement. 
House GOP leaders agreed to waive a budget rule to put $170 million for Flint in a separate water resources bill in exchange for Democratic support to clear the continuing resolution.
A bipartisan amendment authorizing the Flint aid sailed through the House Wednesday afternoon on a 284-141 vote.
So now the House bill will go back to the Senate and we're not out of the woods yet,  It's still possible that Mitch and company could sink this bill again, or that Ted Cruz could step in and wreck the whole deal.

We'll see.  Less than 48 hours now.

The Orange And The Red

Newsweek's Kurt Eichenwald continues to chase down Donald Trump's sordid financial past dealings and this week we discover that America's newest hero of trade protectionist policies and capitalist freedom violated the US embargo on Cuba in the late 90's to deal with the Castro brothers.

A company controlled by Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for president, secretly conducted business in communist Cuba during Fidel Castro’s presidency despite strict American trade bans that made such undertakings illegal, according to interviews with former Trump executives, internal company records and court filings.

Documents show that the Trump company spent a minimum of $68,000 for its 1998 foray into Cuba at a time when the corporate expenditure of even a penny in the Caribbean country was prohibited without U.S. government approval. But the company did not spend the money directly. Instead, with Trump’s knowledge, executives funneled the cash for the Cuba trip through an American consulting firm called Seven Arrows Investment and Development Corporation. Once the business consultants traveled to the island and incurred the expenses for the venture, Seven Arrows instructed senior officers with Trump’s company—then called Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts—how to make it appear legal by linking it after-the-fact to a charitable effort.

The payment by Trump Hotels came just before the New York business mogul launched his first bid for the White House, seeking the nomination of the Reform Party. On his first day of the campaign, he traveled to Miami where he spoke to a group of Cuban-Americans, a critical voting bloc in the swing state. Trump vowed to maintain the embargo and never spend his or his companies’ money in Cuba until Fidel Castro was removed from power.

He did not disclose that, seven months earlier, Trump Hotels already had reimbursed its consultants for the money they spent on their secret business trip to Havana.

At the time, Americans traveling to Cuba had to receive specific U.S. government permission, which was only granted for an extremely limited number of purposes, such as humanitarian efforts. Neither an American nor a company based in the United States could spend any cash in Cuba; instead a foreign charity or similar sponsoring entity needed to pay all expenses, including travel. Without obtaining a license from the federal Office of Foreign Asset Control before the consultants went to Cuba, the undertaking by Trump Hotels would have been in violation of federal law, trade experts say.

Officials with the Trump campaign and the Trump Organization did not respond to emails seeking comment on the Cuba trip, further documentation about the endeavor or an interview with Trump. Richard Fields, who was then the principal in charge of Seven Arrows, did not return calls seeking comment.

But a former Trump executive who spoke on condition of anonymity said the company did not obtain a government license prior to the trip. Internal documents show that executives involved in the Cuba project were still discussing the need for federal approval after the trip had taken place.

OFAC officials say there is no record that the agency granted any such license to the companies or individuals involved, although they cautioned that some documents from that time have been destroyed. Yet one OFAC official, who agreed to discuss approval procedures if granted anonymity, said the probability that the office would grant a license for work on behalf of an American casino was “essentially zero.”


In other words, Double-Dealing Donald broke the law, big time, sending a team of consultants to scout out Havana as casino territory while screaming he would never spend a dime in Castro's Communist Cuba. I bet South Florida Republicans are going to be really happy with this news, especially since Trump launched his initial 2000 third-party presidential bid in Miami as Bill Clinton was taking the first steps to try to loosen the embargo.

He wanted in on Cuba cash 16 years before Obama made it cool, and in the end he lied to try to make it look like a charity operation to hide his true intent of looking for a way to open a casino with international partners.

Seems like Trump has a seriously long history of using charities as fronts for his scams.  No wonder Republicans have been attacking the Clinton Foundation since Trump got into the race.

We'll see how this plays nationally but I'm betting this story is going to get noticed "bigly" where it will hurt Trump the most: Florida's poll numbers.


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Last Call For Still Putin Us On

International prosecutors have laid out the case this week that the missile that shot down Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 two years ago over Ukraine was indeed a Russian weapon system launched by pro-Putin rebels in the area.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down by a missile fired from a launcher brought into Ukraine from Russia and located in a village held by pro-Russian rebels, international prosecutors said on Wednesday. 
The findings counter Moscow's suggestion that the passenger plane, en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur in July 2014, was brought down by Ukraine's military rather than the separatists. All 298 people on board, most of them Dutch, were killed. 
The conclusions were based on thousands of wiretaps, photographs, witness statements and forensic tests during more than two years of inquiries into an incident which led to a sharp rise in tensions between Russia and the West. 
Among the key findings were: the plane was hit by a Russian-made Buk-9M38 missile; the missile was fired from the rebel-held village of Pervomaysk in eastern Ukraine; and the launcher was transported into Ukraine from Russia. 
"This Buk trailer came from the territory of the Russian Federation, and after the launch it was returned again to the territory of the Russian Federation," said Wilbert Paulissen, chief investigator with the Dutch national police. 
The Ukrainian government said the findings pointed to Russia's "direct involvement". Russia - which has always denied Moscow or pro-Russian rebels were responsible - rejected the prosecutors' conclusions, saying they were not supported by technical evidence and the inquiry was biased.

Except they are completely supported by the evidence.  Oops.

Look, Putin got caught here and Russia is scrambling to fix it, period.  Not doing such a great job of it either.

Sure hope the next president can deal with him.

The Kids Are Not Alright, Con't

Millennials aren't planning to show up at the polls in November, and that's a big, big problem.  Gallup checks the intent of the body politic:

Democrats and independents who lean Democratic currently report giving the same level of thought to the election as they did in September 2012 (70%), whereas thought given is down slightly among Republicans and independents who lean Republican, from 81% to 75%. At the same time, intent to vote is down by a similar proportion among both party groups.

Still, by 76% to 65%, Republicans remain more likely than Democrats to say they will definitely vote -- a gap that is similar to 2012, but higher than in previous elections. Further, the 65% of Democrats saying they will definitely vote is well below their average for the prior four presidential elections (77%), whereas the 76% of Republicans saying they will definitely vote is only a bit lower than their prior average (81%).

That's not a good thing.  Here's where it gets worse:

Percentage Saying They Will Definitely Vote ("10"), by Age
Polls conducted in September of each year


U.S. adults7478807569
18 to 346067745847
35 to 547781817972


We have a new 47% problem this election.  A quarter of  under 35 voters who definitely planned to vote in September 2008 now don't give a damn anymore.  In 2008, I was one of them, out in the cold at an Obama rally in Cincy, heading back to vote for him in Kentucky in November of that year.

Now?  Those college kids at that rally eight years ago are more jaded than I'll ever be, it seems.

A Story About A Boy

Medical technology, particularly genetic technology, has come a long way in my lifetime.  I remember in high school doing a paper on the then young Human Genome Project, and now a quarter-century after that milestone was launched we have the first instance of a child born using a new technique allowing two parents with a third providing mitochondrial DNA.

The controversial technique, which allows parents with rare genetic mutations to have healthy babies, has only been legally approved in the UK. But the birth of the child, whose Jordanian parents were treated by a US-based team in Mexico, should fast-forward progress around the world, say embryologists.

The boy’s mother carries genes for Leigh syndrome, a fatal disorder that affects the developing nervous system. Genes for the disease reside in DNA in the mitochondria, which provide energy for our cells and carry just 37 genes that are passed down to us from our mothers. This is separate from the majority of our DNA, which is housed in each cell’s nucleus.

Around a quarter of her mitochondria have the disease-causing mutation. While she is healthy, Leigh syndrome was responsible for the deaths of her first two children. The couple sought out the help of John Zhang and his team at the New Hope Fertility Center in New York City.

Zhang has been working on a way to avoid mitochondrial disease using a so-called “three-parent” technique. In theory, there are a few ways of doing this. The method approved in the UK is called pronuclear transfer and involves fertilising both the mother’s egg and a donor egg with the father’s sperm. Before the fertilised eggs start dividing into early-stage embryos, each nucleus is removed. The nucleus from the donor’s fertilised egg is discarded and replaced by that from the mother’s fertilised egg.

But this technique wasn’t appropriate for the couple – as Muslims, they were opposed to the destruction of two embryos. So Zhang took a different approach, called spindle nuclear transfer. He removed the nucleus from one of the mother’s eggs and inserted it into a donor egg that had had its own nucleus removed. The resulting egg – with nuclear DNA from the mother and mitochondrial DNA from a donor – was then fertilised with the father’s sperm.

Zhang’s team used this approach to create five embryos, only one of which developed normally. This embryo was implanted in the mother and the child was born nine months later. “It’s exciting news,” says Bert Smeets at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. The team will describe the findings at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s Scientific Congress in Salt Lake City in October.

Neither method has been approved in the US, so Zhang went to Mexico instead, where he says “there are no rules”. He is adamant that he made the right choice. “To save lives is the ethical thing to do,” he says.

The team seems to have taken an ethical approach with their technique, says Sian Harding, who reviewed the ethics of the UK procedure. The team avoided destroying embryos, and used a male embryo, so that the resulting child wouldn’t pass on any inherited mitochondrial DNA. “It’s as good as or better than what we’ll do in the UK,” says Harding.

It's that last couple paragraphs that should remind us all that science always tends to be ahead of legislation. Ethical questions aside, we need a group of educated lawmakers in a representative democracy system in order to make determinations on subjects such as this, and our current Congress isn't anywhere close to meeting that criteria, not when one party, which currently controls Capitol Hill, is happy to flaunt how anti-science it is at every turn.

We need better lawmakers.  Of course, that goes without saying.


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Last Call For Reparation Nation

The history of slavery in the United States justifies reparations for African Americans, argues a recent report by a U.N.-affiliated group based in Geneva.

This conclusion was part of a study by the United Nations' Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, a body that reports to the international organization's High Commissioner on Human Rights. The group of experts, which includes leading human rights lawyers from around the world, presented its findings to the United Nations Human Rights Council on Monday, pointing to the continuing link between present injustices and the dark chapters of American history.

"In particular, the legacy of colonial history, enslavement, racial subordination and segregation, racial terrorism and racial inequality in the United States remains a serious challenge, as there has been no real commitment to reparations and to truth and reconciliation for people of African descent," the report stated. "Contemporary police killings and the trauma that they create are reminiscent of the past racial terror of lynching."

Citing the past year's spate of police officers killing unarmed African American men, the panel warned against "impunity for state violence," which has created, in its words, a "human rights crisis" that "must be addressed as a matter of urgency."

The panel drew its recommendations, which are nonbinding and unlikely to influence Washington, after a fact-finding mission in the United States in January. At the time, it hailed the strides taken to make the American criminal justice system more equitable but pointed to the corrosive legacy of the past.

"Despite substantial changes since the end of the enforcement of Jim Crow and the fight for civil rights, ideology ensuring the domination of one group over another, continues to negatively impact the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of African Americans today," it said in a statement. "The dangerous ideology of white supremacy inhibits social cohesion amongst the US population."

Such masterful understatement on the part of the Post's Ishaan Tharoor.

In all seriousness, this is going to go straight to the top of Trump's list of things to talk about here in the last few weeks of the election, Alex Jones and company are going to have a field day with this and the "nonbinding" report will almost certainly draw another round of GOP outrage to attempt to defund the UN, all while screaming that the One World Gubment is going to tax white America at 95% to pay for 400 years of sins.

Me, I'd settle for 75%.

The Shutdown Countdown Returns

Don't look now, but we've got about three days and change for GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan and GOP Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell to get their crap together and stop the government from shutting down at midnight on Friday night, and it doesn't look likely at all that Republican leadership can even get their own party on board.

Congress has until midnight on Friday to pass legislation funding the government as the fiscal year draws to a close. The process could get a little messy. 
Many Senate Democrats — and some Republicans — have said they intend to oppose a short-term funding bill proposed by Senator Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican and majority leader, setting the stage for a legislative scramble to avoid a government shutdown. 
Among other things, Democrats are objecting that the legislation provides no money to deal with water contamination in Flint, Mich., located in a state with two Democratic senators, while it includes funds that could go for flood relief in Louisiana, which is represented by two Republicans. A test vote is set for Tuesday, and a rejection of the McConnell plan could make it difficult to find a new compromise in time to avert a shutdown. 
Mr. McConnell will no doubt do what he can to avoid that situation, since he has made it a priority to evade such government disruptions, particularly with the election just over a month away. Democrats, aware of his predicament, will try to use their leverage to the full extent possible. 
The fight is something of a surprise since it initially appeared that lawmakers would provide the funding to keep the government open until Dec. 9 with little conflict.

Sure, that was until Republicans in the right-wing Freedom Caucus realized in the era of Trump that they could blow up the place and still get all the praise.  I'll keep an eye on this of course but I would think that Paul Ryan isn't exactly going to be able to handle this very well, and Republicans stiffing Flint in an election year will pretty much wreck the notion that Trump and the GOP give a damn about "working class America", not that they ever did.

Please proceed, gentlemen.

The Great Debate Debate

Last night's debate was one of the most watched in history, and what ten of millions of American voters saw was Hillary Clinton winning...or more accurately, Donald Trump getting stomped.

PPP's post debate survey, sponsored by VoteVets Action Fund, finds that voters nationally think Hillary Clinton defeated Donald Trump in the debate, 51/40.

Perhaps most important for Clinton is that among young voters, who she has under performed with, 63% think she won the debate to only 24% for Trump. 47% of voters in that age group said the debate tonight made them more likely to vote for her, to only 10% who say it made them less likely to vote for her. For Trump with that group on the other hand, only 23% said the debate made them more likely to vote for him to 39% who said it made them less likely to.

Clinton also won the debate by particularly wide margins with women (54/36) and voters who are either African American or Latino (77/13). Among white voters the debate was basically a draw with Trump coming out ahead 47/45.

Clinton emerges from the debate with clear advantages over Trump on temperament, preparedness to be President, and whether she can be trusted with nuclear weapons:

-By a 17 point margin, 55/38, voters say Clinton has the temperament to be President. On the other hand, by an 11 point margin, 42/53, voters say Trump does not have the temperament to be President. Among independents the gap is even wider- by a 56/36 spread they say Clinton has the temperament for the job, while by a 41/54 spread they say Trump does not.

-By an 11 point margin, 52/41, voters say Clinton is prepared to be President. On the other hand, by a 10 point margin, 42/52, voters say Trump is not prepared to be President.

-By a 21 point margin, 56/35, voters say they think Clinton can be trusted with nuclear weapons. On the other hand, by a 9 point margin, 42/51, voters say they think Trump can not be trusted with nuclear weapons.

It was that bad, folks.  Trump spent the first half-hour interrupting Clinton relentlessly, while Clinton baited Trump time and time again and he could not resist, all but admitting he paid no federal taxes because he was bragging about how "smart" he was to dodge the IRS, advocating for the invasion of North Korea, and completely mangling America's nuclear policy.

In other words, if Trump's plan was to capitalize on the recent polls and take the lead, he ran into cold, hard reality last night.  Clinton pushed his buttons and by the end of the night Trump was screaming at her.

Even Politico's Glenn Thrush thought Trump got smoked.

There were a couple of not-so-very-subtle signals here inside of Hofstra University that Donald Trump lost Monday night’s highly-anticipated debate against Hillary Clinton, and badly.

The first was the audible sound of groaning by some of his supporters (picked up by my attentive colleague Steve Shepard) inside the debate hall as Trump meandered self-defensively through a succession of answers against a very focused, very energized and very well-rehearsed Hillary Clinton.

Another tell: After the 90-minute sparring match finished, Clinton’s team practically bounded into the spin room – more in glassy-eyed disbelief than visible elation that things had gone so much better than expected. The GOP nominee’s people, by contrast, dribbled into the media pen like surly seventh-graders headed for homeroom the day before summer vacation. “F—k, let’s do this,” a prominent Trump surrogate said before diving into a scrum.

Trump and his new-ish messaging team have labored mightily to turn the avatar of populist rage into a reasonable facsimile of someone who you could see sitting in the Oval Office. But this best-laid plan unraveled on Monday – amid Clinton’s steely assault and the dignified interrogation of NBC’s Lester Holt, who struck a deft balance between facilitator, BS detector and lion tamer.

Within minutes of the opening bell, Clinton’s attacks forced domesticated Donald to go feral – he bellowed, interrupted her repeatedly, grunted, and toward the bedraggled end, became muted and pouty.

Another debate like that and the Village might even stop picking on Clinton for a while. 

We'll see.  The next clash is on Oct. 9 at Washington University, with the VP debate a week from today on Oct. 4th at Longwood University in Virginia.


Monday, September 26, 2016

Last Call For History's Dustbin

As we go into tonight's debate, remember Trump is the guy supposedly running neck and neck with Clinton, and he's doing it with support from people like this.

A vendor at the Bloomsburg Fair in Pennsylvania advertised his wares by displaying a large Nazi flag next to a Donald Trump banner, according to The Citizens' Voice, a local Pennsylvania paper.
The flag was taken down Monday after it was initially spotted and a fairgoer posted a picture of it on social media Sunday night.

“Security and the directors and other people did take care of it,” concessions clerk Barbara Belles told The Citizens’ Voice. Belles also said the vendor was apparently displaying the flag for political purposes.

Additional Nazi flags were confiscated from the vendor Monday morning, according to ABC affiliate WNEP.

Nothing to see here.  But you'll keep up with your third party protest vote because keeping this asshole (who is getting support from literal, actual Nazis!) out of the White House somehow is less important than registering your equal displeasure with both major parties, right?

The III Percent Solution

Meanwhile, back in Second Amendment Remedy territory, we're seeing Trump supporters like Jimmy Arno and his wife, Dani of Lawrenceburg, Georgia all but promise armed insurrection if Clinton voters don't shut up and let The Donald win.

“If you go to a movie theater, you’re liable to get shot, you go to a mall, you’re liable to get shot,” Jimmy Arno said. “If you go to Atlanta or a major city, you’re liable to be shot or attacked.” 
Dani Arno expressed concern about a Black Lives Matter protest at the local high school, and Jimmy Arno expressed dismay at the demonstration against the display of Confederate flags. 
The Arnos used to fly a Confederate flag but took it down out of courtesy after some of their daughter’s friends said it made them uncomfortable, although they still hang a framed portrait of Robert E. Lee over their living room couch. 
Jimmy Arno blames President Barack Obama for the increase in racial tensions that worry him 
“I know that we were a whole lot further along racially eight years ago than we are today,” he said. 
The couple both plan to vote for Donald Trump, saying Hillary Clinton would just be a continuation of the Obama administration, and they dismissed stories about the real estate developer cheating contractors and other “ordinary people.” 
“Hillary wants to be elected and Donald Trump wants to be elected,” Jimmy Arno said. “They’re going to talk bad about everything that they can about the other candidate so that you vote for them. I discount the whole thing, because I want to know what your plan is to help the country, that’s what I want to know. Donald Trump, if I understand him correctly, and I hope I do, he wants to stop the flow of illegal people in this country. Stop the flow. Well, by stopping the flow, more Americans have an opportunity to go to work because they’re not losing their jobs to illegal immigrants.” 

And of course Jimmy is considering watering the Tree of Liberty if he needs to.

Jimmy Arno told NPR he was considering joining a local militia group, because he wants to be prepared in case his darkest fears become a reality. 
Should martial law, civil war — whatever — break out in this country, they will uphold the Constitution and rebuild our loss,” he said. “The war that’s going to break out if Hillary Clinton’s elected, if that happens. Your patriots are going to overthrow the government.”

Pretty sure the Arnos are going to vote.  And here's a guy publicly saying he's considering joining an armed militia group to overthrow a rightfully-elected Clinton administration.

But both sides are corrupt, right, so why bother?

The Maine Event

It looks like for the first time since legislation was passed to allow Maine's electoral votes to be divided by its two congressional districts, the Pine Tree State will almost certainly split its four electoral votes. How that will affect the overall race is anyone's guess, but it goes to show just how divided voters are this year in states, and apparently there are still quite a few undecided Mainers even this late in the election season.

Republican Donald Trump has a commanding 15-point lead in the state’s northern and more rural 2nd District, while his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton has an even bigger 21-point lead in the state’s more urban and southern 1st District, according to a new Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram poll.

Clinton leads Trump statewide by four points, with 40 percent of those surveyed saying they will vote for her while 36 percent said they favor Trump. Another 12 percent said they will vote for Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson and 3 percent favor the Green Party’s Jill Stein. The remainder said they will vote for someone else or are undecided.

With only seven weeks remaining before the election, only 59 percent of voters said they definitely know who they’ll vote for, up only eight points from the newspaper’s poll in June, when 51 percent of voters said they had made up their minds.

Andrew Smith, director of the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, which conducted the poll, said voter indecision is high for mid-September, when about 70 percent of voters normally say they’ve made up their minds. Smith said the low commitment level reflects the unpopularity of both of the top candidates.

The poll found that only 37 percent of likely voters view Clinton favorably, compared to 36 percent in June, while only 32 percent view Trump favorably, compared to 28 percent in June.

“You’ve got two very unpopular candidates and people are voting against candidates rather than supporting people,” Smith said. “Voters truly are unsure about who they are going to support.”

Forty percent undecided is a lot...and they may not decide at all in the end, if the state's stubborn streak has anything to say about it.  But we're looking at a massive divide between urban and rural America this year, even within the same state.

Comparing the two major parties, 77 percent of registered Democrats said they had made their decision, while only 61 percent of the state’s registered Republicans have, the poll found.

The newspaper data showed that in June, Clinton had a slightly larger lead over Trump, with 42 percent supporting her compared to Trump’s 35 percent – statewide.

Some poll respondents, such as Peggy Coolong of Houlton, say they are so dissatisfied with their choices for president that they will leave that part of the ballot blank in November.

“I just can’t vote for them,” said Coolong, a 76-year-old widow who calls herself “a pure independent.”

“I do not think that Hillary is trustworthy and I feel very strongly that Mr. Trump probably is going to lose his temper, understandably, but at the wrong time and get us into trouble,” Coolong said.

She said the entire presidential campaign cycle has been so disappointing to her that she’s tuned it out entirely.

I just got fed up and stopped watching, it’s just too frustrating,” Coolong said. “The political climate is so polluted it’s like a tsunami going across the United States and it’s inhabited by a clown puffer fish and a piranha who are followed around by meatheads – half-conscious people who can’t stop talking about it.”

Of course, that's exactly what Donald Trump's camp wants to see: large numbers of voters who say they just don't give a damn and want the "half-conscious meatheads" to stop talking about the election so they can get back to their TV shows.

The only necessary thing for the triumph of Trump is for good people to not vote, to paraphrase Edmund Burke.  In fact, Trump is counting on it, and frankly, it's working.


Sunday, September 25, 2016

Last Call For The Keys To The Keystone State

NY Times Upshot columnist Toni Monkovic talks to PredictWise prognosticator David Rothschild about the state this year that will decide the presidential election, and it's looking more and more like that state will not be Ohio or Florida, but Pennsylvania Rothschild argues.  We get into the weeds here on electoral tipping points and probabilities, but the bottom line is if Clinton wins the state, she's nearly guaranteed the White House...but the same goes for Trump.

Q. Based on the PredictWise state polling probabilities, the entire election could boil down to Pennsylvania. If Hillary Clinton wins the state, she’ll probably be president. If Donald J. Trump wins there, he’ll probably be president — because such a victory would suggest he’d also win Ohio, Florida, North Carolina. Today, PredictWise gives Clinton a 78 percent chance to win the state. This is close to The Upshot forecast(85 percent). Can you give some more insight into what makes Pennsylvania so important and what signs you’ll be looking for in the state in the next few weeks?

A. Pennsylvania has been the most likely tipping-point state since midsummer

It has been the state to put Hillary Clinton over 270 electoral votes, should she win all of the other more likely states for her. Conversely, it’s also the state that would put Trump over the hump, if he wins all of the states that are more likely for him.

Every day, I run 100,000 simulations of the election. I use the probability of each state going for Clinton or Trump, then I mix that with a correlation matrix that defines the relationships between the states. And every day since late July, Pennsylvania has been the state that most frequently is won by the candidate who wins the election. Currently, there are just 6 percent of scenarios where Clinton wins Pennsylvania but loses the election, and just 3 percent of scenarios where Clinton loses Pennsylvania and wins the election.

Since Pennsylvania is more secure for the Clinton camp than other swing states, it’s unlikely that Clinton loses Pennsylvania and wins either Florida or Ohio or other states to make up for the necessary electoral votes. And Trump could take Florida and Ohio and North Carolina, and go over the top with some other combination of swing states. But Pennsylvania is his most likely route.

What I will be looking for in Pennsylvania over the next few weeks is simple: polls in Pennsylvania; polls in Ohio, which have similar demographics (and a lot of polling); and national polls that correlate heavily among the key swing states.

Furthermore, I will be paying special attention to the crosstabs of national polls that focus on key swing demographics for Pennsylvania, when available and reliable, including white women. Beyond the polling for the presidential election, the ups and downs of the Pennsylvania Senate race could be important. The Democratic challenger, Katie McGinty, currently enjoys a slight lead, and that get-out-the-vote campaign will heavily overlap with Clinton’s.

Further, we will learn more soon about ad buys and get-out-the-vote operations in the state. Currently Clinton enjoys a comfortable margin in both categories. If they make a difference — and if they ever make a difference it will be this year with a massive disparity in both advertising and get-out-the-vote efforts — it should give Clinton a slight advantage over the polling average.

In other words, while I've talked a lot about Ohio this year, the state that will decide the election seems to be the Keystone State.  Florida decided 2000, Ohio decided 2004, and most likely Pennsylvania will decide 2016.

The interview goes on to talk about swing voters (they don't exist at this late stage in the game other than the Johnson/Stein third party vote), the ground game (Clinton's advantage there may be worth as many as two percentage points nationally), and why Rothschild and his team failed so miserably on the Brexit vote...a sobering lesson that all the punditry in the world is essentially meaningless in the end.  People either will vote or will not, and we'll see who they vote for in November.

Sunday Long Read: Star Chamber

The Silicon Valley Startup Shuffle model can be applied to just about anything, from vaporware hardware to financial double-dealing to organic mayo, but what has to be the biggest ongoing scam is, of all things, a video game about space that at this point may turn into one of the biggest ripoffs in crowdfunding history: Star Citizen.  Julian Benson at Kotaku UK lifts the lid on the gaming industry's biggest elephant in the room, and wonders like I do when it will all come crashing down and take PC gaming with it.

For the past seven months, I’ve been talking to the people who have been makingStar Citizen. This includes its directors, a number of anonymous sources who’ve worked on it, and the man who drives the whole project: Chris Roberts. From the outside, Star Citizen appears to have been wildly successful; to date, it has raised more than $124 million from passionate fans. The money has allowed its developer, Cloud Imperium Games, to open studios around the world and employ more than 325 talented developers.

Behind the closed doors of CIG’s studios, however, it’s been far from an easy ride, according to staff. They have all faced a unique challenge: how to nail down the scope of a game whose budget and ambition is always growing. Star Citizen has now been in development for five years, and over that time it has suffered through significant changes and unrest among its staff, huge delays and, 18 months ago, a radical restructuring of all its studios. CIG has released several discrete demos over this time, but there is still not even a date for the final game, which was originally planned for 2014.

Star Citizen’s development has been high-profile enough, expensive enough and, yes, troubled enough to spawn a whole ecosystem of theories as to what’s going on at Cloud Imperium Games, from theorising about the project’s technical challenges to wild accusations about what’s happening to the money. Various community scandals have added yet more fuel to the fire, turning Star Citizen into a lightning rod for controversy. The questions I wanted answers to were: what exactly has been happening over the past five years? What are the reasons behind Star Citizen’s various delays, and what specific development problems has it encountered? Have things been mismanaged? And, as many Star Citizen backers are now beginning to wonder, can it ever actually be finished?

Chasing this information has not been easy. There’s a reason that many of the sources in articles like this are usually anonymous: people fear both legal and professional repercussions for speaking out. In the course of contacting over 100 different people while researching Star Citizen’s development, I was told by multiple sources that they were worried about legal repercussions if they spoke to the press. Speaking out publicly about a previous employer carries professional peril, too; prospective future employers may see you as a risky hire. Nonetheless, over the course of the year we found that many of the people who had worked on Star Citizenwere willing to talk about their experiences, which painted a picture of a development process riven by technical challenges, unrealistic expectations and internal strife.

The other side to the story, of course, is that told by Cloud Imperium Games’ current staff: its director, Chris Roberts, its project leads, and the developers who have survived the upsets that drove others away. At the stage where CIG allowed us access to Roberts and other members of the Star Citizen team at its Manchester studio, we already had a pretty clear picture of the problems that have dogged the project thus far. Roberts and his team did not deny any of them (though they did contest the severity of the problems’ impacts). But despite everything, most of the staff we talked to still passionately believe in this unwieldy, ever-changing dream project. Many of its backers still believe, too, even as others have been demanding (and mostly getting) refunds.

Plenty of people have sermonised about Star Citizen’s future. We can’t pretend to know how it will work out in the end. But we can know how it got to where it is today.

Keep in mind that people have invested $120 million in a game that hasn't come close to being out yet, and is still in extended alpha testing now.  At best the game won't be out until 2018.  At worst, this is a portrait of Chris Roberts and his ego, and it's doing the kind of damage to people that we usually reserve for Big Pharma, banks, campaign finance cons and Silicon Valley disasters.

And yet people I know continue to hope and dream this game will come out someday.

It's amazing, and more than a bit sad.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Cruz, Controlled Con't

Erica Grieder spells it out at Texas Monthly: Sen. Ted Cruz completely caved in Friday to Reince Priebus's threats and to Donald Trump's ego and endorsed an orange Cheeto for president, and it's going to cost him any future political aspirations he might have had.

First, both of the reasons Cruz gave for his decision, in a statement he posted on Facebook Friday afternoon—that he signed a pledge and that Hillary Clinton is unacceptable—are demonstrably ridiculous. Even if you agree that Clinton is more “unacceptable” than Trump, and that a pledge made to the Republican National Committee should take precedence over one’s oath of office and one’s repeated promises to work for the 27 million people of Texas, it remains the case that Cruz signed the pledge last year and could have known, months ago, that Clinton would be the Democratic nominee. If those are his real reasons for endorsing Trump, in other words, he would have done so at the Republican National Convention, in July. In fact, he would have done so in May, at the Republican Party of Texas convention instead of refusing to do so in our interview.

His answer effectively precluded him from endorsing either Clinton or Trump; I noted that at the time, and he didn’t disagree. Beyond that, multiple sources close to Cruz confirmed to me, last week, that he was considering an endorsement. Every single one of them cited external pressure. There was some disagreement about the source of the pressure, but none of them had changed their minds about Trump, and none of them suggested that Cruz had done so. In other words, Cruz’s assessment of Trump’s merits relative to Clinton’s hasn’t changed; what’s changed is his assessment of the relative risks of refusing to endorse Trump.

That being the case, it should be easy to see why this is a mistake Cruz can’t afford to make. To be clear, that’s an analytical comment, not a normative one. I would guess that his endorsement of Trump is an example of Cruz Rule Five (“he’s too smart for his own good”), and—for what it’s worth—I’m not entirely unsympathetic to him. I remember, from our conversation in May, how genuinely distressed he seemed at the realization that Trump would be the Republican nominee. I believe he was sincerely convinced that a Trump presidency would put the country, and the Constitution, in real peril. And I suspect that Cruz, in the privacy of the voting booth, may not tick the box for Trump in November.

At the same time, I’m aware that even before today’s news, it was tricky to persuade anyone to consider giving Cruz the benefit of the doubt about anything—and after today, it will be impossible. Either his endorsement is a pack of lies, or his speech at the RNC was: they can’t both be true. And though it’s possible that “Lyin’ Ted” might still one day become president, the odds, in my view, are now vanishingly narrow. We’ve all heard it a million times: “Everyone hates Ted Cruz.” And now he’s given this faceless “everyone” plenty of reason to do so.

So we'll see how Cruz fares in 2018 when he's up for re-election.  Something tells me in a scenario where Clinton is in the White House that he can probably get enough Republican votes to survive a primary challenge and keep his seat (because let's face it, seething hatred of Democratic presidents is really all that matters to the GOP) but anything beyond that is a big, huge question mark.

And it's worth noting that the one guy in the 2016 GOP clown car primary that had worse general election vs. Clinton and overall favorable numbers than Trump was...Ted Cruz.

We'll see what happens next week as Cruz still keeps giving hints about a government shutdown.

Trump Cards, Con't

If this story from Michael Isikoff on Trump foreign policy advisor Carter Page is accurate, then Trump's ties to Russia and the Putin government are far worse than feared (and I didn't think that was possible.)

U.S. intelligence officials are seeking to determine whether an American businessman identified by Donald Trump as one of his foreign policy advisers has opened up private communications with senior Russian officials — including talks about the possible lifting of economic sanctions if the Republican nominee becomes president, according to multiple sources who have been briefed on the issue. 
The activities of Trump adviser Carter Page, who has extensive business interests in Russia, have been discussed with senior members of Congress during recent briefings about suspected efforts by Moscow to influence the presidential election, the sources said. After one of those briefings, Senate minority leader Harry Reid wrote FBI Director James Comey, citing reports of meetings between a Trump adviser (a reference to Page) and “high ranking sanctioned individuals” in Moscow over the summer as evidence of “significant and disturbing ties” between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin that needed to be investigated by the bureau. 
Some of those briefed were “taken aback” when they learned about Page’s contacts in Moscow, viewing them as a possible back channel to the Russians that could undercut U.S. foreign policy, said a congressional source familiar with the briefings but who asked for anonymity due to the sensitivity of the subject. The source added that U.S. officials in the briefings indicated that intelligence reports about the adviser’s talks with senior Russian officials close to President Vladimir Putin were being “actively monitored and investigated.” 
A senior U.S. law enforcement official did not dispute that characterization when asked for comment by Yahoo News. “It’s on our radar screen,” said the official about Page’s contacts with Russian officials. “It’s being looked at.” 
Page is a former Merrill Lynch investment banker in Moscow who now runs a New York consulting firm, Global Energy Capital, located around the corner from Trump Tower, that specializes in oil and gas deals in Russia and other Central Asian countries. He declined repeated requests to comment for this story. 
Trump first mentioned Page’s name when asked to identify his “foreign policy team” during an interview with the Washington Post editorial team last March. Describing him then only as a “PhD,” Trump named Page as among five advisers “that we are dealing with.” But his precise role in the campaign remains unclear; Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks last month called him an “informal foreign adviser” who “does not speak for Mr. Trump or the campaign.” Asked this week by Yahoo News, Trump campaign spokesman Jason Miller said Page “has no role” and added: “We are not aware of any of his activities, past or present.” Miller did not respond when asked why Trump had previously described Page as one of his advisers.

And this rabbit hole goes deep, folks.

Page came to the attention of officials at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow several years ago when he showed up in the Russian capital during several business trips and made provocative public comments critical of U.S. policy and sympathetic to Putin. “He was pretty much a brazen apologist for anything Moscow did,” said one U.S. official who served in Russia at the time. 
He hasn’t been shy about expressing those views in the U.S. as well. Last March, shorty after he was named by Trump as one of his advisers, Page told Bloomberg News he had been an adviser to, and investor in, Gazprom, the Russian state-owned gas company. He then blamed Obama administration sanctions — imposed as a response to the Russian annexation of Crimea — for driving down the company’s stock. “So many people who I know and have worked with have been so adversely affected by the sanctions policy,” Page said in the interview. “There’s a lot of excitement in terms of the possibilities for creating a better situation.” 
Page showed up again in Moscow in early July, just two weeks before the Republican National Convention formally nominated Trump for president, and once again criticized U.S. policy. Speaking at a commencement address for the New Economic School, an institution funded in part by major Russian oligarchs close to Putin, Page asserted that “Washington and other West capitals” had impeded progress in Russia “through their often hypocritical focus on ideas such as democratization, inequality, corruption and regime change.” 
At the time, Page declined to say whether he was meeting with Russian officials during his trip, according to a Reuters report.

Now there's plenty of evidence that Page has done just that, with the goal of helping his boss make nice with Putin in an obvious massive scheme to benefit Moscow in a Trump presidency.

This is a major, major story folks, and it far outweighs any silly conspiracy stories about Clinton's pneumonia or a simple email server.  This is international pay-for-play, Trump style.

It's time to put an end to it.

Enquiring Minds Choose Clinton

For the first time since Woodrow Wilson, the Cincinnati Enquirer has endorsed a Democrat for the White House in giving Hillary Clinton the editorial board's nod for November.

Presidential elections should be about who’s the best candidate, not who’s the least flawed. Unfortunately, that’s not the case this year. 
Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton, the most unpopular pair of presidential candidates in American history, both have troubled relationships with truth and transparency. Trump, despite all of his bluster about wanting to “make America great again,” has exploited and expanded our internal divisions. Clinton’s arrogance and unwillingness to admit wrongdoing have made her a divisive and distrusted figure as well. 
The Enquirer has supported Republicans for president for almost a century – a tradition this editorial board doesn’t take lightly. But this is not a traditional race, and these are not traditional times. Our country needs calm, thoughtful leadership to deal with the challenges we face at home and abroad. We need a leader who will bring out the best in all Americans, not the worst. 
That’s why there is only one choice when we elect a president in November: Hillary Clinton
Clinton is a known commodity with a proven track record of governing. As senator of New York, she earned respect in Congress by working across the aisle and crafting bills with conservative lawmakers. She helped 9/11 first responders get the care they needed after suffering health effects from their time at Ground Zero, and helped expand health care and family leave for military families. Clinton has spent more than 40 years fighting for women's and children's rights. As first lady, she unsuccessfully fought for universal health care but helped to create the Children's Health Insurance Program that provides health care to more than 8 million kids today. She has been a proponent of closing the gender wage gap and has stood up for LGBT rights domestically and internationally, including advocating for marriage equality. 
Trump is a clear and present danger to our country. He has no history of governance that should engender any confidence from voters. Trump has no foreign policy experience, and the fact that he doesn't recognize it – instead insisting that, "I know more about ISIS than the generals do" – is even more troubling. His wild threats to blow Iranian ships out of the water if they make rude gestures at U.S. ships is just the type of reckless, cowboy diplomacy Americans should fear from a Trump presidency. Clinton has been criticized for being overly cautious when it comes to sending our troops into battle, but there is a measured way to react to the world's problems. Do we really want someone in charge of our military and nuclear codes who has an impulse control problem? The fact that so many top military and national security officials are not supporting Trump speaks volumes. 
Clinton, meanwhile, was a competent secretary of state, with far stronger diplomatic skills than she gets credit for. Yes, mistakes were made in Benghazi, and it was tragic that four Americans lost their lives in the 2012 terror attacks on the U.S. consulate there. But the incident was never the diabolical conspiracy that Republicans wanted us to believe, and Clinton was absolved of blame after lengthy investigations. As the nation's top diplomat, Clinton was well-traveled, visiting numerous countries and restoring U.S. influence internationally. She was part of President Barack Obama's inner circle when the decision was made to go after and kill Osama bin Laden and negotiated U.N. sanctions that led to the Iran nuclear deal.

For the Enquirer to come out for Clinton is staggering, after all this newspaper thought re-electing George W. Bush was a good idea,  But as the endorsement says, "this is not a traditional race, and these are not traditional times."

Remember, as goes Cincinnati in November, goes Ohio, and as goes Ohio, goes the White House.

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Coming Av-Hill-Lanche, Con't

If Hillary Clinton's team keeps hitting Donald Trump with his own words in powerful ads like this one out today, Trump may actually lose by double digits.

In the 30-second spot, which will air in several battleground states, young girls look self-consciously at their reflections in iPhone screens and mirrors. Trump’s offensive remarks, taken from radio and TV interviews, play in the background. 
“I’d look at her right in that fat ugly face of hers.”

“She’s a slob. She ate like a pig.” 
“A person who is flat-chested, it’s very hard to be a 10.” 
In the final quote, an interviewer asks if Trump treats women with respect and he responds, “I can’t say that either.” 
“Is this the president we want for our daughters?” the ad concludes.

Last Trumpista left, please scream at the lights until the bulb breaks.

The Keys To The Campaign

The NY Times interviews Prof. Allen Lictman, who has correctly predicted the last nine presidential elections successfully with his "13 keys" approach to political prognostication, and it's worth noting that he says that Donald Trump will be your next President.

Nobody knows for certain who will win on Nov. 8 — but one man is pretty sure: Professor Allan Lichtman, who has correctly predicted every presidential election since 1984.
When we sat down in May, he explained how he comes to a decision. Lichtman's prediction isn't based on horse-race polls, shifting demographics or his own political opinions. Rather, he uses a system of true/false statements he calls the "Keys to the White House" to determine his predicted winner.
And this year, he says, Donald Trump is the favorite to win.
The keys, which are explained in depth in Lichtman’s book “Predicting the Next President: The Keys to the White House 2016” are:
  1. Party Mandate: After the midterm elections, the incumbent party holds more seats in the U.S. House of Representatives than after the previous midterm elections.
  2. Contest: There is no serious contest for the incumbent party nomination.
  3. Incumbency: The incumbent party candidate is the sitting president.
  4. Third party: There is no significant third party or independent campaign.
  5. Short-term economy: The economy is not in recession during the election campaign.
  6. Long-term economy: Real per capita economic growth during the term equals or exceeds mean growth during the previous two terms.
  7. Policy change: The incumbent administration effects major changes in national policy.
  8. Social unrest: There is no sustained social unrest during the term.
  9. Scandal: The incumbent administration is untainted by major scandal.
  10. Foreign/military failure: The incumbent administration suffers no major failure in foreign or military affairs.
  11. Foreign/military success: The incumbent administration achieves a major success in foreign or military affairs.
  12. Incumbent charisma: The incumbent party candidate is charismatic or a national hero.
  13. Challenger charisma: The challenging party candidate is not charismatic or a national hero.

Lichtman's formula is that the party in power loses if they fail six or more of these conditions, and that Hillary Clinton and the Democrats have already failed ad conditions 1, 3, 7, 11, and 12 for sure, and that Gary Johnson's poll numbers mean that they have failed number 4 as well.

The problem is I disagree with points 7 and 11.  Both Obamacare and normalization of relations with Cuba continue to be major successes for the Obama administration, plus I believe that Gary Johnson's support will collapse by November.  That leaves the Democrats only losing two for sure, with condition 12 subjective at best.

So no, I don't think Hillary Clinton is in trouble in the least by this criteria.  I just think it's being measured incorrectly.

She's still going to win.

Bevin Busted Big

The Kentucky Supreme Court has shoved GOP Gov. Matt Bevin's face in the dirt with a 5-2 ruling throwing out the governor's unilateral decision to cut University of Kentucky system funding.

"The governor's reduction of the allotments of the universities in this case exceeded his statutory authority," wrote Justice Mary C. Noble in a 50-page opinion. "Whatever authority he (the governor) might otherwise have to require a budget unit not to spend appropriated funds does not extend to universities, which the legislature has made independent bodies politic with control over their own expenditures." 
The ruling reverses an earlier one by Franklin Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wingate saying a governor does have the authority to withhold funds appropriated by the General Assembly to universities. 
Four justices concurred with Noble in the 5-2 opinion. Justices Daniel J. Venters and Samuel T. Wright III dissented. 
At issue in the case is Bevin's controversial directive to cut state funding to universities and community colleges by 4.5 percent during the 2015-16 fiscal year. Bevin later agreed to reduce the cuts to 2 percent and exempt Kentucky State University – the state's smallest university. 
The 2 percent cuts amount to about $18 million – money that has been held in a separate account pending the Supreme Court's final ruling.

So no,'re not king of Kentucky.  And several other suits are pending as Bevin took authority in his first six months to do everything from make cuts to colleges to firing entire advisory boards, and if this ruling from the state's highest court is any indication. he's in a lot of trouble.

But the impact of the ruling is huge as it relates to the Republican governor's aggressive exercise of executive power and his ongoing legal clashes with Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear, who filed the lawsuit challenging the university cuts. 
"Today, the Supreme Court enforced Kentucky law, reminding us that not even the governor is above the law," Beshear said at a news conference late Thursday morning. "Based on today's ruling, I am calling on Gov. Bevin to immediately release the $18 million he wrongfully withheld from our public universities and colleges." 
Beshear also said, "I'm also calling on the governor's office to use today as a turning point. It's time for him to stop attacking and instead to join me in building a better Kentucky." 
But the response of the governor's office made clear Bevin is not ready to join Beshear in anything. That response briefly said Bevin disagreed with Thursday's ruling and emphasized that the cuts to universities were part Bevin's broader strategy to save money to address the crisis within state pension funds, which have unfunded liabilities of about $35 billion. 
"The Attorney General clearly does not understand the severity of the pension problem which became the nation's worst-funded plan under the watch of his father's (former Gov. Steve Beshear's) administration," Bevin Press Secretary Amanda Stamper said in a statement.

So the fight between Andy Beshear and Matt Bevin continues, Beshear's not sorry he's winning, and Bevin's refusing to apologize while losing.

Welcome to Bevinstan.
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