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Can I Photograph My Ballot? Probably Not

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 Democratic Primary Ballot

Democratic Primary Ballot

I’d read before that the law was squishy about whether photographing one’s ballot was legal or tolerated, or not. Since I looked this law up today, I’m posting it here.

On this page, we provide a list of election laws, websites, and contact information for election officials in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Contacting your state election officials is a great way to get information about what your state allows in terms of documenting the vote. As you learn new information, please contact us and let us know how your state is handling these requests, so we can share that information on this site.

This page begins with a chart summarizing the law in each state in order to determine whether your state allows recording inside polling places. Click on your state for specific information and notes. For general guidelines on photography and videography in and around polling places, see the general Documenting the Vote 2012 page.

Select a state below to jump to its relevant information.

llinois

Contact Information: Illinois State Board of Elections Springfield Office: (217) 782-4141 Chicago Office: (312) 814-6440 E-mail: webmaster@elections.il.gov

Relevant Law:

Illinois Compiled Statutes, Chapter 5, Article 29

10 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/29-4 – Intimidation of voter

10 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/29-9 – Unlawful observation of voting

Illinois Compiled Statutes, Chapter 5, Article 17 10 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/17-29 – 100-foot zone

Notes:

10 Ill. Comp. Stat 5/29-9 states that “any person who knowingly marks his ballot or casts his vote on a voting machine or voting device so that it can be observed by another person, and any person who knowingly observes another person lawfully marking a ballot or lawfully casting his vote on a voting machine or voting device, shall be guilty of a Class 4 felony.” It is not clear whether this provision would apply to display of a ballot after it has been marked, or just to the actual act of marking the ballot. If the latter interpretation were followed, it would still be unlawful to livestream your activities in the voting booth, and possibly to post video of your filling out your ballot.

(click here to continue reading State Law: Documenting the Vote 2012 | Digital Media Law Project.)

Ancient Ritual
Ancient Ritual

As far as I can tell, nobody has been prosecuted in Illinois for photographing an actual ballot since smartphones became prevalent, but to my non-lawyer eyes, the law is not crystal clear. Even still, why risk it? 

And from a 2014 article:

Illinois: According to state election code, voters are not allowed to take pictures of their marked ballots and show them to other people. Doing so could result in a class 4 felony. Bernadette Harrington, legal counsel for the Illinois State Board of Elections, said that there is no specific prohibition on photography in a polling place, although taking a photo of another person’s marked ballot is barred. Verdict: Ballot photography banned. Polling place photography allowed.

(click here to continue reading A Guide To Not Getting Arrested When You Use Your Cell Phone On Election Day.)

Written by Seth Anderson

March 16th, 2016 at 10:25 am

Apple vs Republican Presidential Candidates

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Apple Rising
Apple Rising

No wonder our country is in trouble: not one Republican candidate for president even understands the Apple/FBI issue, or at least admits to understanding it. Not even the CNN moderators! Even though Apple’s official response was released in the afternoon before this debate, nobody spent the time to read what it asserted, they were too busy getting makeup applied and practicing zingers. Facts are for losers.

Apple’s reasoning in the brief rests on three pillars. First, that forcing Apple to write code that weakens its devices and the security of its customers constitutes a violation of free speech as protected by the Constitution.

Second, that the burden the FBI is putting on it by requesting that Apple write the software and assist in unlocking the device is too large. Apple argues that it would have to create the new version of iOS, called GovtOS, which requires coding, signing, verification and testing. It would then have to create an FBI forensics laboratory on site at its headquarters and staff it. The burden would then extend to what Apple views is the inevitable onslaught of additional devices that would follow after the precedent was set.

In addition to free speech, Apple argues that the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process clause prohibits the government from compelling Apple to create the new version of iOS. Apple argues that there is no court precedent for forcing a company to create something new, like GovtOS.

“But compelling minimal assistance to surveil or apprehend a criminal (as in most of the cases the government cites), or demanding testimony or production of things that already exist (akin to exercising subpoena power), is vastly different, and significantly less intrusive, than conscripting a private company to create something entirely new and dangerous. There is simply no parallel or precedent for it,” reads the filing.

(click here to continue reading Apple Files Motion To Dismiss The Court Order To Force It To Unlock iPhone, Citing Free Speech Rights.)

Here’s the relevant part of the Republican presidential debate transcript, held in Houston, FEB. 25, 2016, with a few comments interspersed…

BLITZER: There’s a huge battle underway right now between the tech giant Apple and the federal government. The federal government wants Apple to unlock the phone used by that San Bernardino terrorist to prevent future attacks. Apple has refused, saying it would compromise the security of all of its customers. And just this afternoon, they went to court to block the judge’s order.

To prevent future attacks? Really? The San Bernardino killers are both dead, they destroyed their computers, their other phones, but left their government issued phone untouched. Apple turned over all the iCloud data on Apple servers (email, texts) within hours, and so what exactly is on the locked phone of grave import? Most likely nothing, yet the emotionally charged public opinion is on the FBI’s side, and so they push on.

Dana Bash, pick up the questioning.

BASH: Senator Rubio, you say it’s complicated, and that, quote, “Apple isn’t necessarily wrong to refuse the court order.” Why shouldn’t investigators have everything at their disposal?

Again, this is a misleading framing. Apple complied with the FBI’s request, quickly, and with good intent. What the FBI wants is a tool to allow the FBI to have the ability to open any phone for any reason. Do you really think the FBI couldn’t take the hard drive out of the phone and copy it to some server, and run NSA decryption tools on it? The FBI wants Apple to create a magic can-opener to open each and every phone, as needed, or as suspected they’ll need, in such a way that whatever evidence is found will be able to used in court, and survive questioning by defense lawyers. The San Bernardino killers are not going to be in court, they are both dead. This case is all about the precedent.

RUBIO: No, in fact what I have said is the only thing — the FBI made this very clear 48 hours ago — the only thing they are asking of Apple is that Apple allow them to use their own systems in the FBI to try to guess the password of the San Bernardino killer. Apple initially came out saying, “We’re being ordered to create a back door to an encryption device.” That is not accurate.

The only thing they’re being asked to do, and the FBI made this very clear about 48 hours ago, is allow us to disable the self- destruct mode that’s in the Apple phone so that we can try to guess using our own systems what the password of this killer was.

And I think they should comply with that. If that’s all they’re asking for, they are not asking for Apple to create a back door to encryption.

 Rubio is either misinformed, or intentionally wrong. The FBI is quite clearly asking Apple to spend a month or so of its own resources building a new version of Government iOS in order to bypass the weakest point of the iPhone’s protection, namely the passcode. 

BASH: So just to be clear, you did say on CNN a couple of weeks ago this is a complicated issue; Apple is not necessarily wrong here.

RUBIO: Because at the time, Apple was portraying that the court order was to create a back door to an encryption device.

BASH: But just to be clear — just to be clear, if you are president, would you instruct your Justice Department to force Apple to comply or not?

RUBIO: To comply with an order that says that they have to allow the FBI the opportunity to try to guess the password?

BASH: Correct.

RUBIO: Absolutely. That Apple phone didn’t even belong to the killer. It belonged to the killer’s employee (sic) who have agreed to allow him to try to do this. That is all they’re asking them to do is to disable the self-destruct mode or the auto-erase mode on one phone in the entire world. But Apple doesn’t want to do it because they think it hurts their brand.

Well, let me tell you, their brand is not superior to the national security of the United States of America.

(APPLAUSE)

Christ, what an asshole. Marcobot Rubio’s handlers coached him on this line obviously, you can tell by the smug little grin every time he remembers to recite one of his scripted lines, more or less in the right place. And for the thousandth time, it isn’t just “one phone”. There are multiple other requests in the pipeline, some federal, some at the state level. Thousands of potential cases in the US alone, waiting, anticipating, for precedent to be set. 

BASH: Senator Cruz, Apple CEO Tim Cook says this would be bad for America. Where do you stand: national security or personal privacy?

horrible framing. If Apple had refused to turn over iCloud backups, and refused to assist the FBI from the beginning, maybe, maybe this would be a valid question, but Apple isn’t supporting terrorism by refusing to become a code-slave to the federal government! Apple is appealing the ruling, as is their right!

CRUZ: Well, as you know, at that same CNN forum, both Marco and I were asked this question. His answer, he was on both sides of the fence. He’s now agreeing with me. And so I’m glad.

What I said is yes, Apple should be forced to comply with this court order. Why? Because under the Fourth Amendment, a search and seizure is reasonable if it has judicial authorization and probable cause. In this instance, the order is not put a back door in everyone’s cell phone. If that was the order, that order would be problematic because it would compromise security and safety for everyone.

I would agree with Apple on that broad policy question. But on the question of unlocking this cell phone of a terrorist, we should enforce the court order and find out everyone that terrorist at San Bernardino talked to on the phone, texted with, e-mailed. And absolutely, Apple doesn’t have a right to defy a valid court order in a terrorism investigation.

(APPLAUSE)

Note: metadata like who was called, texted, e-mailed was already turned over, not to mention most of that is also available from the telecommunication corporation (AT&T, Verizon, whomever), and it was disclosed within hours of the shooting. Apple surely does have the ability to use the courts to dispute a court order, they aren’t going rogue and fleeing the jurisdiction! They are using the American legal system, as is their right. Perhaps Ted Cruz recalls there are multiple levels of the judiciary? Including the Supreme Court…

BASH: Dr. Carson, Tim Cook, again, the CEO of Apple, says that this would be bad for America. What do you think?

CARSON: I think allowing terrorist to get away with things is bad for America.

(APPLAUSE)

 These particular terrorists are still dead, I’m not quite sure what they are getting away with. Dr. Carson must want the police to exhume the corpses and waterboard them or worse.

You know, we have the — we have a Constitution. We have a Fourth Amendment. It guards us against illegal and unreasonable search and seizure. But we have mechanisms in place with the judicial system that will allow us to gain material that is necessary to benefit the nation as a whole or the community as a whole. And that’s why we have FISA courts and things of that nature.

So absolutely, I would — I would expect Apple to comply with the court order. If they don’t comply with that, you’re encouraging chaos in our system.

If a policeman asks him to turn in all his guns and stop practicing his religion, Dr. Carson would comply, right away, or else he’d be encouraging chaos in our system. Because no matter what the Constitution says or implies, the police get to supersede it whenever they say the magic word, “terrorism”.

BASH: Mr. Trump…

(APPLAUSE) KASICH: I want to weigh in on this please. I want to just tell you that the problem is not right now between the administration and Apple. You know what the problem is? Where’s the president been? You sit down in a back room and you sit down with the parties and you get this worked out. You don’t litigate this on the front page of the New York Times, where everybody in the world is reading about their dirty laundry out here.

The president of the United States should be convening a meeting, should have convened a meeting with Apple and our security forces. And then you know what you do when you’re the president? You lock the door and you say you’re not coming out until you reach an agreement that both gives the security people what they need and protects the rights of Americans. This is a failure of his leadership to get this done as an executive should be doing it.

And I’ll tell you, that’s why you want a governor. I do this all the time. And we reach agreements all the time. Because as an executive, you’ve got to solve problems instead of fighting on the front page of the newspaper.

(click here to continue reading Transcript of the Republican Presidential Debate in Houston – The New York Times.)

Ah, yes, Obama has been golfing again or something, right? And the FBI didn’t make public statements inflaming public sentiment before Apple even had a chance to respond? Uhh, wrong as usual, Mr. Kasich…

from APPLE INC’S MOTION TO VACATE ORDER COMPELLING APPLE INC. TO ASSIST AGENTS IN SEARCH, AND OPPOSITION TO GOVERNMENT’S MOTION TO COMPEL ASSISTANCE: 

There are two important and legitimate interests in this case: the needs of law enforcement and the privacy and personal safety interests of the public. In furtherance of its law enforcement interests, the government had the opportunity to seek amendments to existing law, to ask Congress to adopt the position it urges here. But rather than pursue new legislation, the government backed away from Congress and turned to the courts, a forum ill-suited to address the myriad competing interests, potential ramifications, and unintended consequences presented by the government’s unprecedented demand. And more importantly, by invoking “terrorism” and moving ex parte behind closed courtroom doors, the government sought to cut off debate and circumvent thoughtful analysis.

and also:

The government says: “Just this once” and “Just this phone.” But the government knows those statements are not true; indeed the government has filed multiple other applications for similar orders, some of which are pending in other courts. And as news of this Court’s order broke last week, state and local officials publicly declared their intent to use the proposed operating system to open hundreds of other seized devices—in cases having nothing to do with terrorism. If this order is permitted to stand, it will only be a matter of days before some other prosecutor, in some other important case, before some other judge, seeks a similar order using this case as precedent. Once the floodgates open, they cannot be closed, and the device security that Apple has worked so tirelessly to achieve will be unwound without so much as a congressional vote. As Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, recently noted: “Once created, the technique could be used over and over again, on any number of devices. In the physical world, it would be the equivalent of a master key, capable of opening hundreds of millions of locks—from restaurants and banks to stores and homes. No reasonable person would find that acceptable.”

Chairman Trump
Chairman Trump

The short-fingered vulgarian didn’t get a chance to respond, but we can guess what he would have said…

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump called on Friday for a boycott of Apple Inc products until the tech company agreed to help the U.S. government unlock the cellphone of one of the killers in last year’s San Bernardino, California, shooting.

“Boycott Apple until such time as they give that information,” Trump said at a campaign event in Pawleys Island, South Carolina. “It just occurred to me.”

(click here to continue reading Trump calls for boycott until Apple unlocks shooter’s phone | Reuters.)

Written by Seth Anderson

February 27th, 2016 at 12:04 pm

Posted in Apple,crime,politics

Tagged with ,

Donald Trump Is A Joke But Nobody Is Giggling

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Donald Trump in Spy Magazine April 1988
Donald Trump in Spy Magazine April 1988

The rest of GOP expected Donald Trump to surge for a moment, then implode like all the GOP Clown Car riders in 2012.1

Trump did not, in fact, fall down, instead he exposed the chasm between GOP elites and the rubes who historically voted against their own interests. If given a choice, the GOP rank and file don’t support GOP orthodoxy as much as expected…

But as the results from Tuesday’s Nevada caucuses confirmed again, Trump has built a large constituency inside the Republican Party based on a set of positions that marry two streams of thought not typically brought together by liberal or conservative politicians.

On the one hand, his call to deport 11 million immigrants who are here illegally, his support for a ban on the entry of Muslims into the United States, his invocation of law-and-order themes and emphatic support for the police, his endorsement of even rougher treatment of terrorism suspects — all speak to an authoritarian side of Trump’s appeal that clearly resonates with many on the Republican right.

But Trump embraces positions on economics and foreign policy anathema to most conservative politicians. He is an ardent critic of recent free-trade agreements, opposes cuts to Social Security and Medicare, has been even more vocal than many Democrats in criticizing President George W. Bush and the Iraq War, and even endorses the Democrats’ long-standing call for government negotiations with pharmaceutical companies to drive down drug costs.

This mix has allowed Trump to win votes from self-described moderates and conservatives alike, but his strongest support comes from voters at the lower end of the socioeconomic scale. This was true again in Nevada, as CNN reported from an entrance poll: Trump took 57 percent of the vote from caucus-goers who did not attend college but only 37 percent from those with postgraduate degrees.

No wonder that after the Nevada results were known, Trump offered one of the most memorable sound bites of the campaign: “I love the poorly educated.”

The key lies in that rejection of conservative economic and fiscal orthodoxy (except in his endorsement of big tax cuts).

(click here to continue reading This is how Donald Trump is winning – The Washington Post.)

Don’t forget though, Trump has no real belief in anything other than the brand, “Donald Trump”, so any political rhetoric or promises should be considered suspect. He isn’t running for Supreme Dictator of the Earth, that position isn’t on the ballot.

Blow Your Own Horn Sometimes
Blow Your Own Horn Sometimes

Who is going to stop Trump from winning the GOP nomination? Maybe a Hispanic surge of Democrats?

Those victories came in spite of Trump’s derogatory statements about Mexicans, Muslims, women and plenty more groups and individuals. Pundits and politicians predicted for months that Trump would be unsuccessful and drop out, but his wins indicate large portions of the GOP base support him regardless of his comments.

In other words, everyone, including Democrats, has to grapple with the fact that Trump’s views aren’t necessarily on the fringe, including on immigration.

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), the only Latino Democratic senator, said he’s “never seen a greater confluence of challenges at one time” for the Latino community.

“When I look at what is happening across the landscape of the political discourse in this country and I hear the language about walls and deportation and no more birthright citizenship and the list goes on and on, I recoil thinking that we are going back to a time and place that none of us want to go to,” he said.

He said he has “learned over a lifetime that [comments about undocumented immigrants] are not about the undocumented alone, they’re about all of us,” referring to Latinos. 

The problem isn’t just with Trump, it’s also with his GOP rivals. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has called for mass deportation, while Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has said he would immediately end the president’s relief for undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) noted Wednesday those comments represent a shift for Rubio, since he helped draft and pass a bill through the Senate a comprehensive reform bill that included assistance for the same young people.

“I’m very disappointed,” said Durbin, who was also part of the so-called “gang of eight” that wrote the comprehensive immigration reform bill in 2013. 

(click here to continue reading Democrats No Longer View Donald Trump As A Joke.)

I doubt Marcobot Rubio is going to stop the Trump train:

What’s particularly interesting here is that Rubio’s new attacks on Trump remain comfortably within the boundaries of GOP orthodoxy: Obamacare is bad, being insufficiently pro-Israel is bad, being weak on terror is bad. All of those arguments will probably have some appeal to GOP voters.

But if we’ve learned anything, it’s that Trump may be succeeding in part precisely because he’s breaking out of conventional ideological categories. Trump does not proceed from the assumption that government is the problem; government mismanaged by stupid and/or corrupt elites is the problem. He is not committed to the idea that free markets and limited government are the solution to people’s economic ills. He promises to destroy Obamacare — reflexively — but he envisions a government role of some kind in making sure everyone has health care. He pledges not to touch entitlements, breaking with the sacred Paul Ryan covenant. He does not genuflect before George W. Bush’s national security greatness; he ridicules it.

Trump combines all this with an even harder line on immigration than most GOP elites can accept, one suffused with explicitly articulated xenophobia. As Michael Brendan Dougherty has shown, this odd mixture, shaped around the basic idea that the global economic order is rigged against you, often by those piously invoking “free trade,” is Trump’s formula. Trump is appealing to GOP voters by arguing that elites are cheating and failing them by rigging the system to help illegals, multi-nationals, and China and Mexico through stupid, shady global deals. Whether this is through corruption or simple incompetence — in which various villains are simply snookering our elites — varies by the day. In Trump’s telling, the incompetence of GOP elites was also glaringly obvious in Bush’s Iraq invasion.

Thus, arguably, Rubio cannot go hard at the very things that may be enabling Trump to succeed. Rubio is largely constrained into launching thoroughly conventional Republican attacks on this thoroughly unconventional politician. Rubio has not yet explained to Trump’s voters why they should prefer conventional Republican economic and foreign policy promises and doctrines to Trump’s overarching story-line, which is that our system and our elites (including Republican ones) have been playing you suckers for decades; that he gets this; and that he will bust things up and set them right.

(click here to continue reading Rubio just launched a searing attack on Trump. Here’s why it may fail. – The Washington Post.)

Forgive Yourself Trump Tower
Forgive Yourself Trump Tower

Paul Ryan and the GOP party leaders are already worried that Trump isn’t going to be a traditional Republican, they cannot control him and Trump’s mouth2 any more than the GOP elite can control the weather in July:

Speaker Paul D. Ryan, chairman of the Republican National Convention, recent vice-presidential candidate and the highest elected Republican in the country, has one goal for this year: to form a conservative policy agenda for the Republican presidential nominee to embrace.

If that nominee is Donald J. Trump, that may be a waste of time.

Panicked Republicans question whether Mr. Trump will be able to unite a Republican-controlled Congress that would normally be expected to promote and promulgate his agenda, an internal crisis nearly unheard-of in a generation of American politics. On nearly every significant issue, Mr. Trump stands in opposition to Republican orthodoxy and his party’s policy prescriptions — the very ideas that Mr. Ryan has done more than anyone else to form, refine or promote over the last decade.

Mr. Ryan’s positions embody the modern institutional Republican Party. He has been a crucial promoter of free trade on Capitol Hill, which Mr. Trump opposes. Mr. Ryan supports taking away money from Planned Parenthood — a central target of Republicans for years — while Mr. Trump has said the group provides needed care to women. Eminent domain, the right of the government to seize private property for public use? The concept is despised by Republicans. Mr. Trump, who has used eminent domain to try to demolish an older woman’s home in Atlantic City to build a parking lot, calls it “wonderful.”

There is more: Mr. Ryan is the architect of his party’s plan to rein in spending on entitlement programs, which Mr. Trump has said is the reason the party lost the White House in 2012, name-checking Mr. Ryan in his swipe. Mr. Ryan supports all forms of domestic energy development, but Mr. Trump has called for colonizing Iraq’s oil reserves through military intervention.

Mr. Trump’s signature issue — deporting millions of undocumented workers — also stands in contrast to Mr. Ryan’s belief that his party needs to change the current system to help some immigrants, and in the process attract them to the party. Not least, Mr. Trump said last week that he would be “a neutral guy” in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but Mr. Ryan holds the traditional Republican position of strong support for Israel.

(click here to continue reading Republican Race Puts Donald Trump and Paul Ryan on Collision Course – The New York Times.)

Headaches
Headaches

The Republicans seem afraid that Donald Trump will take their lunch money right in front of their home room teacher:

But surely the well-heeled donors within the Republican establishment who are scared of Trump running away with this thing will take care of him while the non-Trump candidates sort themselves out, right? Nope. And nope in large part because they’re scared that Donald Trump will call them mean names. These donors, Politico reported earlier this week, “worry that, if they fund higher-profile attacks, they could come under attack from Trump, who this week fired a warning shot at one of the few major donors to the anti-Trump efforts, Marlene Ricketts, tweeting that her family ‘better be careful, they have a lot to hide!’ ”

The will to stop Trump does not appear to exist, and that is pathetic. Far too many party forces are misreading the “winnowing” theory, which argues that Trump can be defeated if he is positioned in a one-on-one matchup. I think there’s merit to this theory, though less so with each passing contest and day crossed off the calendar. What this theory never entailed, though, is the idea that Cruz, Rubio, and Kasich would let Trump proceed unimpeded while they were sorting the anti-Trump process out among themselves. It is campaign malpractice for the Rubio campaign, in particular, to be holding its fire on Trump, and it’s indicative of that campaign’s glib belief that delegates will naturally funnel Rubio’s way in the long run because … because they just will.

They won’t.

(click here to continue reading Cruz and Rubio are doing nothing to stop Donald Trump..)

Footnotes:
  1. Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann, et al []
  2. an independent entity []

Written by Seth Anderson

February 25th, 2016 at 11:36 am

Posted in politics

Tagged with , ,

South Carolina and Nevada GOP 2016 Results Confirm Trump As Eventual Nominee

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Now that the South Carolina primary and the Nevada Caucus results are in, we can probably agree that Donald Trump is the presumptive GOP nominee. What is going to stop him? other than him becoming bored of “inflating his brand”, which as we know, is the main point of his existence.

In South Carolina, nobody else even won a delegate.

South Carolina GOP Primary Results 2016 02 23

South Carolina GOP Primary Results 2016-02-23.png 

As we mentioned, losers Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz crowed about coming in not-first, as if there was some consolation prize. Maybe in some contests, but not in South Carolina! Delegate count: Trump 50, the rest of the field, zilch.

Jeb Bush blew through hundreds of millions of dollars on the campaign, and netted exactly 4 delegates. If we use the $130,000,000 cited by the NYT, even though I’m sure the actual amount spent by John Ellis Bush! Bush’s campaign was greater than this number, that works out to $32,500,000 spent per delegate acquired. Damn! I should really start a political consulting business, there is some sweet, sweet cash available…

When Jeb Bush formally entered the presidential campaign in June, there was already more money behind him than every other Republican candidate combined. When he suspended his campaign on Saturday night in South Carolina, Mr. Bush had burned through the vast majority of that cash without winning a single state. It may go down as one of the least successful campaign spending binges in history.

(click here to continue reading How Jeb Bush Spent $130 Million Running for President With Nothing to Show for It – The New York Times.)

Why exactly are business moguls and other wealthy people going to keep giving and giving to Super PACs if they get nothing to show for the largesse? David Frum explores this thought in greater detail:

The 2016 super PACs certainly had the funds to do it! In addition to the nine-digit haul at Right to Rise, super PACs aligned with Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Marco Rubio, and Scott Walker all raised amounts somewhere between handsome and staggering. Yet in this Republican presidential contest, “never in the history of political campaigns has so much, bought so little, so fleetingly.”

Or more exactly…

Never has so much bought so little of what it was meant to buy. Obviously the funds expended on behalf of Jeb Bush have bought a great deal for a great many people. Even if the estimate of Mike Murphy’s take is overstated—or possibly confuses gross billings by his firm with net income to himself—the 2016 super PACs have provided princely incomes for their principals and comfortable livelihoods for hundreds more. The question that is bound to occur to super PAC donors is: “Are we being cheated?” Increasingly, super PACs look like the political world’s equivalent of hedge funds: institutions that charge vastly above-market fees to deliver sub-market returns.

Disgust with the costly ineffectiveness of super PACs may explain one of the most important mysteries of the current phase of the 2016 campaign. We keep hearing that Marco Rubio has replaced Jeb Bush as the new darling of establishment Republicans. Yet Rubio’s fundraising has lagged. Rubio’s super PAC, Conservative Solutions, raised $14.4 million in the second half of 2015—the period in which Jeb Bush’s candidacy cratered. In January 2016, by which time Bush was plainly doomed, and Rubio cast by almost all reporters as theoretical front-runner, Conservative Solutions raised only $2.46 million.

And flashing forward in time, one has to wonder: How voluntary, really, were those gifts to Right to Rise? The campaign finance system is often described as organized bribery, but to many of those writing the checks, it must often feel like organized blackmail. How many would have appreciated some way to reply to the call from the Jeb Bush campaign: “Sure! Gladly! Love Jeb! Happy to give the legal maximum!”—in a world in which the legal maximum was $5,000 or $10,000 or $25,000. Like all human beings, multimillionaires have finite funds and infinite possibilities to expend those funds. Some must regard the local hospital or the homeless shelter or the city opera or their alma mater as more deserving causes than the ambitions of this politician or that. But the politician can retaliate, and the hospital, the homeless shelter, the opera, and the alma mater cannot. So it’s the politician who shoves his or her way to the head of the giving queue.

(click here to continue reading The Mystery of the Super PAC – The Atlantic.)

 In Nevada, Trump again won by big margins.

Nevada Caucus Results GOP 2016 02 24
Nevada Caucus Results GOP 2016-02-24.PNG

 Cruz, deep down, knows he is not going to win, but is continuing the grift, to build his own brand, for those post-Senate years ahead…

Instead, Trump trounced the two senators, defeating Rubio, who came in second place, by twenty-two points and beating Cruz by almost twenty-five points. Combined, they still lost.

Rubio had enough good sense to leave the state before the results were tabulated and to stay off the television after Trump was declared the winner, at midnight.

In what has become a new development this campaign cycle, Cruz took the stage to deliver what sounded like a victory speech after a resounding loss. It was like watching a broadcast from North Korea. Cruz came onstage to cheers and applause from smiling supporters, who arrayed themselves behind him. “God bless the great state of Nevada!” Cruz announced. Even though the race had been called for Trump, Cruz said the ballots were still being counted and suggested there was some mystery about the results. “I want to congratulate Donald Trump on a strong evening tonight.” He couldn’t bring himself to admit Trump had won. “The only campaign that can beat Donald Trump is this campaign,” Cruz said, as the chyron next to his face on the cable screens showed him winning fewer than half as many votes as his rival. T

his morning, Rubio similarly tried to make the most of his poor Nevada showing during a round of TV interviews. “We did well, and we picked up delegates there last night, and we move on,” he said in one appearance.

(click here to continue reading The Rubio and Cruz Delusion – The New Yorker.)

So, who are the people who support Trump? Do they realize he cannot fulfill most of his campaign promises, unless he overthrows the US government and become dictator? Doesn’t matter, they are just pissed off at the status quo, and have been trained by years of Fox News and Rush Limbaugh, et al, to despise the government, and undocumented workers, and non-Caucasians, and non-Christians, and you get the gist…

At this point, the only thing surprising about Donald Trump winning a Republican primary is the fact that we all—the media, the panicked liberal voters, the GOP Establishment—continue to be surprised. Almost immediately after voting ended in the chaotic Nevada caucuses Tuesday, the networks called the race for the Republican frontrunner, confirming what polls had long predicted in the Silver State. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Trump won 46 percent of the vote, nearly double the total for Marco Rubio, whose second-place finish somehow didn’t stop him from sounding triumphant in interviews.

The breakdown of the vote was similar to what it was in South Carolina days earlier, with Rubio barely edging out Ted Cruz, and Trump wiping the floor with both of them. According to CNN exit polling, Trump dominated across every demographic, even the ones he wasn’t supposed to win. He won among young voters and educated ones, among evangelicals and ultra-conservatives—hell, he even won among Hispanics.

But while Cruz may have the support of far-right state politicians—the sort of new Republican Establishment birthed by the Tea Party—Trump seems to have a solid lock on their rank-and-file. Obviously, this is a bad sign for Cruz, signaling that when conservatives are faced with the choice between him and Trump, they will continue to choose the candidate who’s louder, brasher, and even more of a dick. And should Cruz drop out of the race, it’s hard to imagine those ultra-conservatives deciding to embrace Rubio over Trump.

What Nevada demonstrated is what observers who’ve been dreading a Trump nomination haven’t been willing to admit: Republican voters really love Donald Trump. From the Deep South to the Northeast to the West, voters are angry and have found someone who validates, reflects, and amplifies their anger. It doesn’t particularly matter that he might not share their specific anger about land use rights or whatever.

(click here to continue reading How Donald Trump Won Nevada’s Cliven Bundy Vote | VICE | United States.)

Remember the movie, Idiocracy?

This was the plot of the 2006 cult comedy “Idiocracy,” a satirical movie that poked fun at an imagined dystopian version of America, where everyone — including lawmakers and government officials — were morons. But this week, the film’s writer said the world of “Idiocracy” had become all too real.

“I never expected ‘Idiocracy’ to become a documentary,” Etan Cohen, who co-wrote the film, posted on Twitter on Wednesday.

(click here to continue reading ‘Idiocracy’ Writer Says Satirical Film About Dumbed-Down America Has Become A ‘Documentary’.)

Less-well educated voters are a core constituency for Trump:

“Actually, I won everything,” Donald Trump said this week, after his victory in South Carolina and before his rout in Nevada. “I won short people, tall people. I won fat people, skinny people. I won highly educated, OK educated, and practically not educated at all. I won the evangelicals big and I won the military.”

The Republican presidential frontrunner was, broadly speaking, correct. After his third consecutive victory, one that puts him on course to win the Republican nomination for the White House, it is less useful to ask who is voting for him than who isn’t.

The only state he didn’t win was Iowa, where he came second.

In New Hampshire, South Carolina and, on Tuesday, Nevada, Trump did not just win resoundingly by leveraging one or two types of conservative voters. Entrance polls reveal he triumphed by drawing on a pool of voters as wide as it was deep.

Who are Trump supporters? Insofar as the Republican electorate goes, the answer, for the moment at least, seems to be everyone.

Analysis of recent polling and elections survey data indicates that while his base his broad, its members tend, overall, to be older, whiter, poorer, less conservative, less-well educated and, going by past voting records, less likely to turn out than supporters of rival candidates. Many have spent their lives on the fringes of politics.

(click here to continue reading ‘I won everything’: just who are Donald Trump’s supporters? | US news | The Guardian.)

Is there a ceiling for Trump? Are there enough less-educated voters to sweep him to power? Let’s hope not…

Written by Seth Anderson

February 25th, 2016 at 10:03 am

Losers Now, Losers Forever

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Don’t you find it amusing that Rubio and Cruz (and earlier, John Ellis Bush! Bush) assert that coming in second or third is a big victory? Even in a basically three person race? I realize 95% of politics is just spin, but that’s pathetic…We Three Pigs

We Three Pigs

Sen. Ted Cruz had a massive “third-place win,” a term his campaign actually relayed to reporters, on the record, intending for it to be published. This third-place win, per the Cruz campaign, marked an absolutely dominating victory over second-place loser Sen. Marco Rubio. “Nevada, Rubio’s Firewall: The Place Where He Would Win Big,” read the alert from the Cruz campaign Tuesday night. It is true that the Rubio campaign had pointed some months ago to Nevada as the early state where their guy had the strongest chance of winning. What a devastating silver medal it was, then, to Cruz’s victory bronze.

Take a lap, Marco, and slap some fives. You may not have anything close to an old-fashioned “first-place victory” under your belt yet, and in no contest have you bested Donald Trump. But that’s all going to change soon when the intimidating streak of second- and third-place finishes you rack up on Super Tuesday forces Cruz, who may actually win a very large state on March 1, to drop out. After all, as you said Wednesday morning on Fox News, “you don’t win the nomination by how many states you win.”

The will to stop Trump does not appear to exist, and that is pathetic.
That’s particularly great news for Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who finished in fifth place in the Nevada caucuses, pummeling Rubio in the for-pretend game that Kasich’s campaign is playing. “Contrary to what his campaign is trying to portray,” the statement from Kasich campaign manager John Weaver read, “Senator Rubio just endured another disappointing performance despite being the highest spending candidate in Nevada. He also missed an opportunity to back up the notion that he can bring new people into the Republican Party or succeed above expectations in a diverse state.” Fair, but come on: Isn’t it a little crass for the fifth-place winner to be rubbing it in so nastily to the second-place loser? At least give the guy who finished 20 percentage points ahead of you a couple of days to recuperate before mocking him.

(click here to continue reading Cruz and Rubio are doing nothing to stop Donald Trump..)

Written by Seth Anderson

February 24th, 2016 at 11:29 am

Posted in politics

Tagged with , ,

Nevada Democratic Caucus 2016

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Trains Has Moved
Trains Has Moved

If you’d noticed, there have been a lot of headlines about how Hillary Clinton has nearly won the nomination, and yet…

The final figures are in from the Nevada caucus, with the last unassigned delegate going to Hillary Clinton.

With the delegate–who came from the state’s fourth Congressional district–pledged to Clinton, the final Nevada tally sits at 20 delegates for Clinton and 15 for Bernie Sanders, according to figures released by campaign the Clinton campaign.

The Nevada results put the race’s overall delegate count thus far at for 52 Clinton and 51 for Sanders.

(click here to continue reading Final Nevada count: Clinton 20, Sanders 15 – POLITICO.)

That’s a pretty large lead, no? Especially since several of those delegates in Iowa were determined by coin flips…

The New York Times hasn’t updated their results page as of this writing, but the reported vote counts are pretty close, by my estimation.

Nevada Democratic Caucuas 2016 02 23 at 9 57 24 AM

Nevada Democratic Caucus 2016-02-23 at 9.57.24 AM 

The only real concern for the Bernie Sanders campaign should be the party hacks who have superdelegate status. 

But the often overlooked delegate count in the Democratic primary shows Mr. Sanders slipping significantly behind Hillary Clinton in the race for the nomination, and the odds of his overtaking her growing increasingly remote.

Mrs. Clinton has 502 delegates to Mr. Sanders’s 70; 2,383 are needed to win the nomination. These numbers include delegates won in state contests and superdelegates, who can support any candidate. She is likely to win a delegate jackpot from the overwhelmingly black and Hispanic areas in the Southern-dominated Super Tuesday primaries on March 1, when 11 states will vote and about 880 delegates will be awarded.

Mrs. Clinton already has a huge lead over Mr. Sanders in support from superdelegates — elected officials and party elders who each count toward the magic number of 2,383. But superdelegates could switch candidates if Mr. Sanders is the overwhelming choice of regular voters.

 

(click here to continue reading Delegate Count Leaving Bernie Sanders With Steep Climb – The New York Times.)

Superdelegates are a thumb on the scale of democracy, usually supporting the establishment’s candidates at the expense of insurgents. But, since there are no real enforceable rules about how superdelegates vote, the will of the people could, in theory, prevail. Whether party hacks will support a Democratic Socialist over a Clinton’s cash remains to be seen.

Written by Seth Anderson

February 23rd, 2016 at 10:14 am

The Scalia Vacancy On The Supreme Court

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Anton Scalia Is Dead

If the Republican Party of 2016 were students of history, and not just do-nothing nihilists, they would vote on the new Supreme Court Justice within a day or two of Obama nominating him. Even if there were hearings to discuss the “fitness” of the candidate, the vote shouldn’t take more than a month. The NYT made a handy-dandy graphic for reference.

The Senate has never taken more than 125 days to vote on a successor from the time of nomination; on average, a nominee has been confirmed, rejected or withdrawn in 25 days.

But as we all know, the Republicans’ main gambit during the Obama administration has been “party over country”, as proven again and again and again by their actions of delaying the simplest action.

I bet you didn’t realize that the term of the president has been truncated, now it isn’t four years, but three years, per the GOP anyway. 

So what to do? Sally Kohn argues Obama should make a recess appointment:

Article II, Section 2 of our Constitution reads: “Power to nominate the Justices is vested in the President of the United States, and appointments are made with the advice and consent of the Senate.” Last we all checked, President Obama is the President of the United States. Appointing a Supreme Court justice is his privilege and responsibility. Republicans, incidentally, are pointing to Robert Bork, Ronald Reagan’s Supreme Court nominee who Senate Democrats successfully blocked. But Democrats didn’t announce, hours after the vacancy was created and before any names were floated, that they would unanimously block any justice Reagan would nominate. Their opposition was specifically limited to Bork. And when Bork was blocked and Reagan nominated Anthony Kennedy, he was unanimously confirmed by the Senate. Today, Republicans haven’t declared their opposition to a specific candidate. They have declared their opposition to President Obama nominating anyone. So what are President Obama’s options? Since he has said he will nominate a justice to fill the vacancy and not bow to this ridiculous Republican temper tantrum, my sense is he has two realistic options. The first is to nominate a superstar moderate to fill the vacancy—someone it will be very politically hard for Republicans to oppose.

Obama’s second option is a recess appointment. It just so happens that the Senate is currently in recess until Feb. 22nd. While a Supreme Court ruling in 2014 constrained such appointments, the way Senate Republicans have taken this current break might make it possible for President Obama to legally make an appointment.…Obama has strong wind at his sails to do this, with McConnell and others already declaring their blanket opposition to backing any nominee, and I’m not gonna lie, it would be a really powerful “Fuck you” gesture to make to a Republican Party that has been nothing but problematically petulant since Obama took office.

(click here to continue reading Obama has two choices in filling the Scalia vacancy – Quartz.)

My guess is that “No Drama” Obama won’t choose this path though, despite it being reasonable. I do hope Obama at least nominates a candidate in a week or so, and then consistently pushes the Senate to perform its “advise and consent” role. Lame-duck interm appointments and executive appointments may be frowned upon (for some reason), but Obama has more than 300 days left in his term! My understanding of lame-duck was it is from November of an election year to the next inauguration the following January. 

Barack Obama - 49th Ward mural
Barack Obama – 49th Ward mural

Joan Walsh has more on that topic:

Leave it to Senator majority leader Mitch McConnell to defile Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s “originalist” constitutional legacy, when he’d barely been gone 24 hours. McConnell says President Obama can’t appoint Scalia’s successor; the choice must be left to “a new president,” although Obama has more than 11 months left in his term.

Thus did McConnell seem to unilaterally rewrite the Constitution to strip a year from the president’s final term. All 43 presidents before him had four-year terms (unless they died in office or resigned, of course), but when it comes to arguably the president’s most important job, McConnell would limit Obama to three years.

“The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice,” McConnell said in a statement Saturday evening. “Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new President.” Note to McConnell: A majority of the American people elected Barack Obama, twice. He is the first American president to get more than 50 percent of the popular vote, twice, since Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It is in fact our right to have a voice in the selection of a justice. Obama is our voice.

(click here to continue reading Mitch McConnell Wants Obama to Have a 3-Year Last Term | The Nation.)

as does Senator Elizabeth Warren:

The sudden death of Justice Scalia creates an immediate vacancy on the most important court in the United States. Senator McConnell is right that the American people should have a voice in the selection of the next Supreme Court justice. In fact, they did — when President Obama won the 2012 election by five million votes.

Article II Section 2 of the Constitution says the President of the United States nominates justices to the Supreme Court, with the advice and consent of the Senate. I can’t find a clause that says “…except when there’s a year left in the term of a Democratic President.” Senate Republicans took an oath just like Senate Democrats did. Abandoning the duties they swore to uphold would threaten both the Constitution and our democracy itself.

It would also prove that all the Republican talk about loving the Constitution is just that — empty talk.

(click here to continue reading (2) U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren.)

We’ll see what happens, I suspect the topic will be in the news until the Democratic Party nominee wins the 2016 election.

Written by Seth Anderson

February 15th, 2016 at 10:04 am

Posted in government,politics

Tagged with ,

Transactional Journalism Is Not Journalism

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Planet Hillary

Planet Hillary 

I don’t really fault politicians, or other media manipulators for asking, the shame is on the alleged journalists for accepting the quid pro quo. 

Margaret Sullivan, the very good Public Editor of the New York Times, writes, in part:

Here’s an ugly term: Transactional journalism — also known as a quid pro quo.

Hardly an unfamiliar idea, it came up this week with the disclosure that a writer for The Atlantic made a deal to use a particular word — “muscular” — in describing a 2009 speech by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in order to get an advance copy of the speech. Her aide also required the writer, Marc Ambinder, to favorably mention a State Department delegation attending the speech.

In emails that were made public by Gawker, Mr. Ambinder agreed (“got it,” he wrote of the instructions from Philippe Reines of Mrs. Clinton’s staff) and received his advance copy. The practice rightly was termed “corrupt” by Erik Wemple of The Washington Post, though he gave Mr. Ambinder credit for “appropriate contrition.” (The Atlantic has appended an editor’s note to the article.)

(click here to continue reading Times Reporter: ‘I Would Never Cut a Deal Like That’ – The New York Times.)

Yeah, well The Atlantic appended this weasle-worded note to the original article:

Editor’s note: On February 9, 2016, Gawker called the reporting of this post into question. It is The Atlantic’s policy never to cede to sources editorial control of the content of our stories.

That’s a pretty thin defense, wouldn’t you say? Does it really apologize? Does it admit that what Gawker reports is accurate? 

Laughing At Your Airs
Laughing At Your Airs

The New York Times reporter who covered the exact same speech also used the word, “muscular” but pinky swears he didn’t sell his soul, just that he was unoriginal:

A New York Times reporter, Mark Landler, whose article on the speech also used the word “muscular” and also mentioned the delegation, told me in the strongest terms on Wednesday that he had not made any sort of similar arrangement and would not do so. “That would be a very serious breach of journalistic ethics,” Mr. Landler told me by phone.

Earlier, in an email, he wrote: “No, I would NEVER cut a deal like that. My use of the word muscular may have reflected a lack of originality, but it did not reflect collusion

Juxtaposition
Juxtaposition

Gawker has more details of the transaction:

Hillary Clinton’s supporters often argue that mainstream political reporters are incapable of covering her positively—or even fairly. While it may be true that the political press doesn’t always write exactly what Clinton would like, emails recently obtained by Gawker offer a case study in how her prodigious and sophisticated press operation manipulates reporters into amplifying her desired message—in this case, down to the very word that The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder used to describe an important policy speech.

The emails in question, which were exchanged by Ambinder, then serving as The Atlantic’s politics editor, and Philippe Reines, Clinton’s notoriously combative spokesman and consigliere, turned up thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request we filed in 2012 (and which we are currently suing the State Department over). The same request previously revealed that Politico’s chief White House correspondent, Mike Allen, promised to deliver positive coverage of Chelsea Clinton, and, in a separate exchange, permitted Reines to ghost-write an item about the State Department for Politico’s Playbook newsletter. Ambinder’s emails with Reines demonstrate the same kind of transactional reporting, albeit to a much more legible degree: In them, you can see Reines “blackmailing” Ambinder into describing a Clinton speech as “muscular” in exchange for early access to the transcript. In other words, Ambinder outsourced his editorial judgment about the speech to a member of Clinton’s own staff.

(click here to continue reading This Is How Hillary Clinton Gets the Coverage She Wants.)

and finally:

Speaking of journalistic ethics and practices, it would have been decent of Breitbart’s reporter to reach Mr. Landler for comment before going the route of innuendo.

(click here to continue reading Times Reporter: ‘I Would Never Cut a Deal Like That’ – The New York Times.)

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Breitbart is trash, to be blunt.

Written by Seth Anderson

February 10th, 2016 at 5:05 pm

Posted in politics

Tagged with , ,

The Unbearable Smugness of John Kasich

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Carryout at 17 East Ohio
Carryout at 17 East Ohio…

Speaking of John Kasich, his path to the nomination seems unlikely, especially as more attention gets paid to him and his teeth-grinding.

Last summer Elizabeth Nolan Brown wrote:

If you talk to Ohioans—and Ohio is my home state, so I do—you’ll find that most people don’t really like Kasich, not even Republicans. They might like his stance on spending, or taxes, or abortion, but Kasich himself? Arrogant. Condescending. Manipulative. 

In Politico …, Alex Isenstadt explores what he calls Kasich’s “anger management problem.”

Kasich has “a resume seemingly tailor-made for a serious run for the Republican nomination: blue-collar upbringing, congressional budget hawk, Fox News commentator, investment banker, successful two-term governor of Ohio,” writes Isenstadt. “But there’s just one problem, according to interviews with dozens of those who’ve worked in politics alongside him at various points over the last several decades: his short fuse.” Isenstadt collects myriad, anonymous examples of people (including wealthy donors) that Kasich has pissed off with his prickly personality. Even Sen. John McCain—not exactly known as a model of decorum and restraint—has spoken of Kasich’s “hair-trigger temper.”

Kasich’s crew is trying to play this potential liability as a sign of the governor’s authenticity and willingness to call the proverbial spade a spade, something they say voters will recognize and appreciate. I guess we’ll see. There’s no doubt that shtick plays well with the GOP base (see Bush the second) but Kasich’s particular brand of brimstone seems more pouty narcissist than rhetorical rebel or iconoclast

(click here to continue reading The Unbearable Smugness of John Kasich – Hit & Run : Reason.com.)

and she concludes:

The thing about John Kasich is, he’s kind of a jerk,” wrote Molly Ball at The Atlantic in April. It’s quick becoming the conventional wisdom about Kasich—whom, Ball informs us, has a Machiavelli quote pinned to his office wall.

I spent several days with Kasich in Ohio in February, and during that time he told me, repeatedly, that he did not read The Atlantic—and his wife didn’t, either. He said that my job, writing about politics and politicians, was “really a dumb thing to do.” … At a Kasich press conference I attended at a charter school in Cleveland, he interrupted several speakers, wandered off to rummage on a nearby teacher’s desk as he was being introduced, and gleefully insulted the Cleveland Browns, to a smattering of boos.

Kasich has previously said that he does not read Ohio newspapers, either (they don’t provide him with an “uplifting experience”). 

Kasich may have been “the Paul Ryan of his day” when he was in Washington, but perhaps the reform-minded yet combative upstart who won’t take no for an answer has a shelf life. Politicians are supposed to evolve and become more effective with time, and what can be admirable and ambitious at 40 just seems immature, churlish, and curmudgeonly by 63.  

(click here to continue reading The Unbearable Smugness of John Kasich – Hit & Run : Reason.com.)

(more on that weird claim not to read newspapers in Ohio via Vince Grzegorek)

The governor of Ohio doesn’t read Ohio newspapers.

That’s fact, straight from the mouth of John Kasich himself. The exact quote: “I don’t read newspapers in the State of Ohio.”

We’ll forgive his feeble grasp on the English language and assume he didn’t mean that he doesn’t read newspapers while he’s physically within the geographic boundaries of Ohio, and that he really meant he doesn’t read newspapers that are based in Ohio.

One could infer from the wording that he at least reads some newspapers, just not ones headquartered in the Buckeye State, but that’s still a flabbergasting statement.

Why doesn’t he read them? Via Ohio Capital Blog and Plunderbund, it’s because it doesn’t give him an “uplifting experience.”

(click here to continue reading John Kasich Doesn’t Read Ohio Newspapers | Scene and Heard: Scene’s News Blog | Cleveland Scene.)

Written by Seth Anderson

February 10th, 2016 at 4:23 pm

Posted in politics

Tagged with , ,

New Hampshire Primary 2016 Is Over

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http://i1.wp.com/farm2.staticflickr.com/1501/24308034364_571001a978.jpg?resize=500%2C260&ssl=1

The first primary of the 2016 campaign is officially over, and let the spin begin. Well, 92% counted, as of this moment, but close enough to finished to call. Despite the breathless nature of most political commentary, the race for the nomination for either party is far from over.

New Hampshire Primary Results

 

A few tidbits of interest, beginning with good news re: Democratic turnout. Well good news for Bernie Sanders, anyway…

Sanders has already cleared one hurdle that no Democratic insurgent in past presidential contests has managed: He’s become the party’s beer-track candidate, at least among white voters. In past election contests, stretching from Eugene McCarthy in 1968 to Barack Obama in 2008, the underdog outsiders won the support of the young and the upscale, but couldn’t gain a majority of the working-class vote. Sanders, by contrast, won the vote of lower income caucus attendees in Iowa, and in New Hampshire, he ran strongest among voters with annual incomes beneath $30,000, and beat Clinton handily, though with declining margins, up to the $200,000-plus category, where she prevailed by 7 percentage points.

The age gap between the two candidates’ supporters was so vast that that could have affected the outcome among income categories, as voters under 30 invariably have lower incomes than their elders. What’s particularly impressive about Sanders’s support from young voters is less his immense margins of victory—he won 82 percent of voters under 25 and 85 percent of voters between 25 and 29—and more the level of their turnout. Voters under 30 constituted 19 percent of the Democratic turnout on Tuesday, while voters 65 and older constituted 17 percent—a notable reversal of normal voter participation levels, and clear testament to Sanders’s ability to mobilize the young.

(click here to continue reading The Establishment Tanks.)

and the myth of the Bernie Bros:

If you follow Matt Bruenig at all, you’d know by now that the idea of the “Bernie Bro” is a complete myth. Indeed, poll after poll shows that the perceived “gender” gap is really nothing more than an age gap. Sanders polls much better than Clinton with young women. It’s like this entire primary is just old Democrats telling young Democrats to get off their lawn. 

So, Sanders was recently forced to condemn mean sexist people on the internet. Yet, as Gloria Steinem says that young women support Bernie because they are just boy crazy, Clinton is not called to condemn her sexist supporters. And when Madeline Albright tells people that “there is a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other out,” Clinton does not apologize. In fact, she just laughed. 

(click here to continue reading WOW. Before the “Bernie Bro,” Clinton supporters created the “Obama boy.” No, seriously..)

Chanukah 7 Candles

But is it good for the Jews?

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont on Tuesday became the first Jewish candidate in history to win a presidential primary election, setting off a familiar mixture of celebration and anxiety among Jews in the United States and abroad, who pondered what his milestone victory meant for the broader Jewish community.

(click here to continue reading As Bernie Sanders Makes History, Jews Wonder What It Means – The New York Times.)

 Recycled Robot
Recycled Robot

Josh Marshall thinks Marcobot Rubio is done:

I believe we can say with a reasonably high level of confidence that Marco Rubio’s quest for the presidency is over. I don’t expect he realizes it yet. I don’t expect he’ll drop out any time soon. But a broad appraisal of the fundamentals should tell us fairly clearly that the end is only a matter of time. Late on Saturday evening I started to think if I could remember a debate where one candidate had damaged another candidate quite that badly in a single encounter. The only instance that came to mind was Lloyd Bentsen’s notorious “you’re no Jack Kennedy” assault on Dan Quayle in 1988.

But on reflection I realized that Christie’s evisceration of Rubio was worse.

His campaign team seems to realize just how badly that trust has been damaged. As he did in his concession speech tonight, in an overnight email to supporters Rubio said he “dropped the ball” and promised that it would “never happen again.”

But it’s hardly the first time. There was of course the notorious if rather trivial water bottle grab during his 2013 State of the Union response. But that was followed by his far more consequential immigration reform gambit.

Rubio embraced the post-2012 RNC “autopsy” and put himself forward as a charismatic young Hispanic legislator who would both buck and deliver his party for comprehensive immigration reform, setting himself up for a presidential run in 2016 and at least mitigating the GOP’s historic and mounting estrangement from the country’s rapidly growing Hispanic minority.

It was a bold and audacious move at which he failed utterly.

Indeed, more than simply fail, he completely abandoned his own position in the process of failing. By last fall he was reduced to referring to his own bill as something that somehow happened to him and explaining its current irrelevance as somehow having something to do with ISIS. Again and again, Rubio seems to choke at key moments – sometimes in trivial and comical ways and at other times more monumentally.

(click here to continue reading Strong Horse, Weak Horse.)

A New Way Of Living
A New Way Of Living

seems like even the Rubiobot’s campaign staff knew the gig was up:

After video circulated online Tuesday showing Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-FL) New Hampshire chairman locked in a physical altercation with a protester dressed as a robot, the political organizer behind the stunt said in a phone interview with TPM that the tussle was unprovoked.

Aaron Black, a progressive activist, said in a phone interview that he had no idea the man who grabbed him at a event on the day of the Granite State’s first-in-the-nation primary was Cliff Hurst, Rubio’s state campaign chair.

“I just felt his hands and arms around my neck,” Black told TPM. “I asked, ‘Why are you putting your hands on me?’”

In the video, Hurst can be seen grabbing Black, who’s toting a homemade “ROBOT RUBIO” sign, around the neck in an effort to drag him away from where Rubio was speaking while others attempt to force Black from the area with massive campaign signs.

Black told TPM he asked Hurst, “Do you realize all these cameras are here and it doesn’t look good?” before the chairman released him and walked over to shake hands with Rubio.

 

(click here to continue reading ‘Robot’ Activist On Tussle With Rubio Campaign Chair: He Put His Hands On My Neck!.)

Chris Christie didn’t move up much in the polls after his Rubio-bot interaction though:

After a disappointing sixth-place finish in the state upon which he had staked his presidential bid, Gov. Chris Christie is heading home to New Jersey on Wednesday to weigh his options for the future of his campaign.

The governor had originally planned to fly to South Carolina to attend a forum, saying Tuesday morning that he had already booked a plane ticket. But his showing led him to change his plans as the vote totals came in Tuesday night.

“We’re going to go home to New Jersey tomorrow, and we’re going to take a deep breath,” he told supporters, adding that he and his family “will make a decision on our next step forward based on the results that come in here in New Hampshire.”

Mr. Christie spoke in a solemn tone, and his wife, Mary Pat, at one point wiped her eyes. But true to his campaign slogan of “telling it like it is,” Mr. Christie spoke pragmatically about his situation.

(click here to continue reading Chris Christie Heads for Home to Reassess – The New York Times.)

And like every presidential election cycle, some are speculating that there will be a brokered convention, for reals this time:

New Hampshire sure left its mark on the GOP race by decisively reshaping it from a three-man race into a five-man race: Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Marco Rubio, and Donald Trump. Essentially, none of the “mainstream” (to use that word loosely) candidates has emerged as a serious challenger to Trump and Cruz, which means the GOP is likely looking at a very very long nomination fight, reports Alexander Burns:

Michael O. Leavitt, a former governor of Utah and a top adviser to Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign, said he believed the window for any Republican candidate to clinch the nomination before the party’s convention in Cleveland this summer was rapidly closing.

Mr. Leavitt, who has not endorsed a candidate in the race, said he had reviewed the delegate allocation rules for every state and concluded that Mr. Trump would have to capture about 45 percent of the popular vote to win a majority of delegates for the convention. Mr. Trump has not approached that threshold in the polls so far, and Mr. Leavitt said no other candidate was likely to do so as long as so many of them remained in the race. “It will be difficult for him to be a breakaway front-runner,” Mr. Leavitt said of Mr. Trump. “There are a lot of candidates that have staying power, whether it’s by living off the land or a ‘super PAC’ or a combination.”

(click here to continue reading The odds for a GOP brokered convention just got way better.)

Happy-go-lucky
Happy-go-lucky

John Kasich is the sanest Republican candidate, but I agree with John Ellis Bush! Bush’s assertion: the path for Kasich is tenuous at best.

As primary results trickled in Tuesday evening, Jeb Bush’s campaign made the case that that the former Florida governor is well-positioned for a strong showing in South Carolina — a state where Granite State second-place finisher John Kasich has no viable path. Calling Kasich the “leading Republican advocate for expanding Obamacare” and pointing to the Ohio governor’s past cuts to defense spending, Tim Miller, spokesman for Bush, told reporters: “He doesn’t have a constituency past New Hampshire. He does not have a viable path to the nomination, and he certainly does not have a viable path in South Carolina.”

(click here to continue reading Bush Campaign: John Kasich Has No Path To The Nomination – BuzzFeed News.)

though of course Kasich is happy to keep trudging on. Well, skipping tra-la-la perhaps:

“Tonight, John Kasich is the story coming out of New Hampshire,” John Sununu, a former US senator from the state, declared as he introduced the Ohio governor to a packed ballroom of supporters here in Concord. The crowded risers at the back of the room, lined with TV cameras and photographers, attested to the shifting narrative created by Kasich’s surprise second-place finish in the New Hampshire Republican presidential primary.

Kasich himself seemed slightly shell-shocked by how well he had performed, after initially laboring in “totally obscurity” as he criss-crossed New Hampshire to introduce himself to voters. “There’s something that’s going on that I’m not sure that anybody can quite understand,” he said when he took the podium. “There’s magic in the air with this campaign. Something big happened tonight.” The question for the Kasich campaign, which has focused its resources heavily on New Hampshire, with the candidate holding nearly 190 events in the state, is what comes next? South Carolina, with its base of religious conservative voters, is not considered Kasich country. And more than a month will elapse between his strong New Hampshire finish and the contest in his native Ohio.

Kasich has run a positive if deeply introspective campaign. “We never went negative because we have more good to sell than to spend our time being critical,” he said, adding, “Tonight the light overcame the darkness.” His message of hope and healing—he has repeatedly urged his supporters to “just slow down” and listen to others—has seemed out of place in a race that has been dominated by a candidate, Donald Trump, who has thrived on divisiveness.

(click here to continue reading John Kasich: “Slow Down” and Put on Your Seatbelt | Mother Jones.)

Stephen Colbert paid homage to the Ben Carson debate entrance:

Written by Seth Anderson

February 10th, 2016 at 1:01 pm

Posted in politics

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Nonreligious Americans Are Not Properly Represented By Government

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Getchyer Kitschhere
Getchyer Kitschhere.

Americans who are not religious have long been marginalized and ignored by politicians. And yet our numbers keep growing. When will the nonreligious get a representative who respects us? The opposite of Christian Taliban like Ted Cruz, in other words…

Susan Jacoby writes:

THE population of nonreligious Americans — including atheists, agnostics and those who call themselves “nothing in particular” — stands at an all-time high this election year. Americans who say religion is not important in their lives and who do not belong to a religious group, according to the Pew Research Center, have risen in numbers from an estimated 21 million in 2008 to more than 36 million now.

Despite the extraordinary swiftness and magnitude of this shift, our political campaigns are still conducted as if all potential voters were among the faithful. The presumption is that candidates have everything to gain and nothing to lose by continuing their obsequious attitude toward orthodox religion and ignoring the growing population of those who make up a more secular America.

The question is not why nonreligious Americans vote for these candidates — there is no one on the ballot who full-throatedly endorses nonreligious humanism — but why candidates themselves ignore the growing group of secular voters.

Never Seems To Smile
Never Seems To Smile

 

Freedom of conscience for all — which exists only in secular democracies — should be at the top of the list of shared concerns. Candidates who rightly denounce the persecution of Christians by radical Islamists should be ashamed of themselves for not expressing equal indignation at the persecution of freethinkers and atheists, as well as dissenting Muslims and small religious sects, not only by terrorists but also by theocracies like Saudi Arabia. With liberal religious allies, it would be easier for secularists to hold candidates to account when they talk as if freedom of conscience is a human right only for the religious.

Even more critical is the necessity of reclaiming the language of religious freedom from the far right. As defined by many pandering politicians, “religious freedom” is in danger of becoming code for accepting public money while imposing faith-based values on others.

Secularists must hold candidates to account when they insult secular values, whether that means challenging them in town hall meetings or withholding donations. Why, for example, would any secular Republican (yes, there are some) think of supporting the many Republican politicians who have denied the scientific validity of evolution? Politicians will continue to ignore secular Americans until they are convinced that there is a price to be paid for doing so.

“God bless America” has become the standard ending of every major political speech. Just once in my life, I would like the chance to vote for a presidential candidate who ends his or her appeals with Thomas Paine’s observation that “the most formidable weapon against errors of every kind is Reason.”

(click here to continue reading Sick and Tired of ‘God Bless America’ – The New York Times.)

Written by Seth Anderson

February 6th, 2016 at 2:46 pm

Will Clinton Support the TPP After All

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Three Sides to Every Story
Three Sides to Every Story

Clinton triangulation is not a hidden character trait. Nor is her coziness with the money and power set in Wall Street, and populating the US Chamber of Commerce.

Gaius Publius of Hullabaloo notes a Bloomberg interview with Thomas Donohue regarding the anti-American Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, that seems to imply Ms. Clinton is saying something quite different in private than she does in public:

U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas Donohue discusses his stance and outlook for the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal. He speaks from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Bloomberg. In the conversation above, note first that the reason he thinks the Senate can’t approve TPP until after the election is that too many Republican senators would be made vulnerable by voting to approve it. Before the election those senators couldn’t vote for TPP and still preserve their seats. After the election, or in a lame duck session, that restriction is lifted.

In other words, he knows and admits that even Republican voters hate TPP. But the wealthy want it anyway, and they’re willing to wait a few months to get it. Even if it wins by “two votes,” as he explains above, it still wins, as do they.

Second, he thinks Clinton will revert back to the family pattern — remember, “two for the price of one” was a Clinton claim — and become “practical” once she gains power and frees herself from having to make promises to voters. Listen starting at 2:45 in the clip (my transcript and underscored emphasis):

Host 1: “Why aren’t you in some trouble whether it’s a Democrat or a Republican? It’s not just Trump. Hillary Clinton has said she’s against TPP.

Host 2: “Bernie Sanders!”

Donohue: “Bernie Sanders is one deal. What Hillary Clinton is doing in this primary is trying to run one step faster than the senator from Massachusetts [does he mean Warren, or is this a misspeak?], who has been threatening her and pushing her to take these far far progressive, very very left steps.

“If she were to get nominated, if she were to be elected, I have a hunch that what runs in the family is, you get a little practical if you ever get the job.”

Host 1: “We used to call it triangulation, right, back in the old Clinton days.”

For me, the key word is “hunch.” Because until Clinton releases the text of her speeches to all corporate clients, and not just to the banks, you’ll never know if his “hunch” didn’t start with someone whispering in his ear, “Don’t worry, Tom. You know I don’t mean it.” After all, the list of Clinton ties to money goes on and on. For an excellent recent analysis of the cross-pollination of gifts and favors, read this, “The Clinton System,” from the New York Review of Books.

Donohue is not no one — he and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are each a very big someone in the world of money, a world that both Clintons have a united and decades-long familiarity with. Just a very small taste of what’s in the NYRB article, this paragraph (my emphasis):

In March 2011, for example, Bill Clinton was paid $175,000 by the Kuwait America Foundation to be the guest of honor and keynote speaker at its annual Washington gala. Among the sponsors were Boeing and the government of Kuwait, through its Washington embassy. Shortly before, the State Department, under Hillary Clinton, had authorized a $693 million deal to provide Kuwait with Boeing’s Globemaster military transport aircraft. As secretary of state, Hillary Clinton had the statutory duty to rule on whether proposed arms deals with foreign governments were in the US’s national interest.

That’s both damning and given the way of the world, at least ours, par for the course. A $175,000 “thank you” to one of the Clintons after the other removed the last hurdle to a nearly $700 million deal involving the same two parties — that’s some “system,” as the article calls it. There are countless examples of this in the NYRB piece. Coincidence? You decide.

(click here to continue reading Hullabaloo – Chamber of Commerce expects Clinton to support TPP as president.)

Written by Seth Anderson

February 2nd, 2016 at 12:01 pm

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2016 Iowa Caucus Over

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Cash For Gold
Cash For Electoral Gold…

I confess I follow American presidential elections as closely as some people follow sports. In many ways, modern American politics is covered like a sporting event, or season. Like I have many times in the past, I’ve created a spreadsheet to keep track of the delegate count, including super delegates. Don’t judge.

The short-fingered vulgarian didn’t win, despite leading in polls. I would say it is pretty safe to be suspicious of polling data in our modern mobile phone era. However, the actual delegate count is pretty minuscule: Cruz has 8, Trump and Rubio have 7. No wonder Trump’s concession speech wasn’t that fiery. How many millions did John Ellis Bush! Bush spend to get that one delegate? Yikes.

 Iowa Caucus 2016 Results

A few random snippets in response to last night’s Iowa Caucus results

Charles Pierce warns us of Rubio-mentum:

I got back from Haysville in time to listen to Marco Rubio declare his magnificent victory as the show horse in the Republican field. I will grant you that he surpassed everyone’s expectations—including my own—by clearing the 20 percent mark on Monday night. I even will grant you that he is probably the choice now of every Republican terrified of He, Trump and utterly skeeved out by Tailgunner Ted Cruz. Some of the others might get some run in New Hampshire. (Not Jeb-!-, please god. That would be cruel.) But this looks like a three-man race now, and the Rubio campaign did a masterful job pitching that notion over the last four days before the caucuses, and much of the elite political press bit for it. Now, Rubio was up there, defining himself as The Alternative in a political environment already primed by his campaign to believe it.

We’re going to hear a lot of it going into New Hampshire and going forward. I suspect we might hear a bit less about Rubio’s having turtled on immigration and his enthusiastic embrace of every euphemism for “torture” that can be found in the thesaurus. If the Republican “establishment” is going to groom him, those are the topics that are going to be limited to the inside voice, at least until we all get to South Carolina, where Rubio once again can run as the fanged chameleon that he is. But, give him credit. The man’s got a campaign that knows its business.

 

(click here to continue reading Media Crowns Marco Rubio the Real Winner in Iowa.)

One of These Things Is Not Like The Others
One of These Things Is Not Like The Others

continuing with the sports metaphors:

In a handful of Democratic caucus precincts Monday, a delegate was awarded with a coin toss.

It happened in precinct 2-4 in Ames, where supporters of candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton disputed the results after 60 caucus participants apparently disappeared from the proceedings.

As a result of the coin toss, Clinton was awarded an additional delegate, meaning she took five of the precinct’s eight, while Sanders received three.

Similar situations played out at various precincts across the state, but had an extremely small effect on the overall outcome, in which Clinton won 49.9 percent of statewide delegate equivalents, while Sanders won 49.5 percent. The delegates that were decided by coin flips were delegates to the party’s county conventions, of which there are thousands selected across the state from 1,681 separate precincts. They were not the statewide delegate equivalents that are reported in the final results.

The statewide delegate equivalents that determine the outcome on caucus night are derived from the county-level delegates, but are aggregated across the state and weighted in a manner that makes individual county delegate selections at a handful of precincts count for a tiny fraction of the ultimate result. 

(click here to continue reading Sometimes, Iowa Democrats award caucus delegates with a coin flip.)

more on Democratic confusion:

There was still confusion on Tuesday morning over the razor-close results of Iowa’s Democratic caucuses, with Bernie Sanders’s campaign planning an internal conference call to decide whether to ask for a recount.

Mr. Sanders said on his flight to New Hampshire late Monday night, after a virtual tie with Hillary Clinton, that he would ask the Iowa Democratic Party to reveal the raw vote count underlying the percentages it reported showing Mrs. Clinton defeating Mr. Sanders, 49.9 percent to 49.6 percent.

Asked by an MSNBC reporter if he would contest the vote count, Mr. Sanders said, “Honestly, we just got off the plane and I — we don’t know enough to say anything about it.”

Overnight, the Iowa Democratic Party said in a statement that the count from a single precinct was still outstanding, though it appears that even if all its votes go for Mr. Sanders, it would not change the overall results.

The state party does not report raw votes. Caucus attendees at each of 1,681 precincts elect delegates to a county convention, who in turn will elect delegates to a state convention. The results from caucus night are reported as “state delegate equivalents,’’ expressed as a fraction. After 171,109 Iowans turned out, larger than almost all projections, the party said Mrs. Clinton won 699.57 delegate equivalents and Mr. Sanders had 695.49. A single precinct, Des Moines 42, worth 2.28 delegate equivalents, had not been counted.

Also unclear was the fate of the 7.68 state delegate equivalents won by Martin O’Malley, who suspended his campaign on Monday after his dismal showing — the former Maryland governor received less than 1 percent of the Iowa vote..

(click here to continue reading Confusion Over Final Tally in Iowa Democratic Caucuses – The New York Times.)

Clown Runs For Prez (Trump)
Clown Runs For Prez (Trump)

Steve Johnson of the Trib notes that the short-fingered vulgarian isn’t that much of a reality show star, more of a middle-of-the-pack guy:

Donald Trump is many things, but “reality star genius” is not one of them.

One of the oft-spoken assumptions of this oddball campaign season — the one that gets its first real results with Monday’s Iowa caucuses — has been that Trump was a TV reality star and therefore canny about manipulating media. This, supposedly, has given him an edge over the rest of the candidates in the Republican presidential field, who are merely politicians and a brain surgeon.

But the ratings history over the 12 years of his two reality shows, “The Apprentice” and “The Celebrity Apprentice,” tells a different story. Reality participant, perhaps. Reality middle-of-the-packer. Person on TV.

But NBC put it into its Thursday night prime time lineup, once revered as “must-see TV,” and the long slow decline for that network was underway. “The Apprentice” didn’t help: Its ratings declined steadily each year after that, to 11th place overall in its second season, then 15th, then 38th. When, after its sixth season in 2007, it finished as the 75th-most-watched show (with 7.5 million viewers on average), NBC decided to scrap real people as contestants and bring on celebrities close enough to rock bottom to appear on a reality show where success depended on ingratiating themselves to Trump.

The celebrity show did better, but it has been middle of the pack all the way, with finishes ranking from 46th to 84th before Trump announced his candidacy and NBC replaced him with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

(click here to continue reading Donald Trump a ‘reality star genius’? TV ratings tell different story – Chicago Tribune.)

 one explanation of Trump’s second place showing…

Iowans clearly took Trump being AWOL as a snapshot of how erratic a Trump Presidency could be. At a time as perilous as this (with a possible Recession on the horizon, low wages, broken borders, a ballooning deficit, ISIS and urban crime), Iowa’s GOP voters gave a strong vote of confidence to the comparatively more emotionally stable Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.

Televised Fox News and CNN exit polls showed that 45% of Iowa GOP caucus voters made up their minds in the last three days. And, of these voters, most broke for Rubio and Cruz. Because Trump skipped the debate – proving Cruz’s claim about his “New York values” – he did not get a chance to make a direct pitch to these late-breaking voters, far more of whom watched the Fox News Des Moines debate than Trump’s hastily assembled and concurrent Des Moines fundraiser for vets.

(click here to continue reading How Trump Lost Iowa.)

More Spare Change
More Spare Change

Oh, here’s Bush’s dollar count: 1 delegate at a cost of over $14,000,000. The real winners are political consultants, television, radio stations, and other media outlets. 

Jeb Bush and his allies spent more than $14 million on ads in Iowa but failed to break 3 percent of the vote total on Monday night — a setback for a campaign already struggling with diminished expectations and anemic support.

“In hindsight, it was probably a lot of money wasted,” said Matthew Dickinson, a political science professor at Middlebury College, in an interview.

(click here to continue reading Jeb Bush spent $2,800 for every vote he got in Iowa – Vox.)

In the new math, coming in third place is a victory:

First up was the perpetual load billed as Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who emerged at his headquarters to announce, “So this is the moment they said would never happen.” Well, no. He was polling in third place, and that’s where he finished. Apparently that’s enough for victory.

He went on:

“For months, for months they told us we had no chance. For months they told us because we offer too much optimism in a time of anger, we had no chance. For months they told us because we didn’t have the right endorsements or the right political connections, we had no chance…. But tonight, tonight here in Iowa, the people of this great state have sent a very clear message.”

Once again, he came in third, which is where the Real Clear Politics average has had him ever since Ben Carson’s numbers started nosediving around mid-December.

What Rubio was really saying — through the perpetual vocal quaver of alternately traumatized patriotic horror or beatific patriotic awe he has sported during every public speech since 2010 — was that he needed to repudiate the Cruz/Trump argument that this was a two-man race and prove that a third person was involved. But, “I showed ’em all by coming in third!” isn’t much of a sales pitch.

(click here to continue reading The Electability Spin Machine | Rolling Stone.)

Santorum
Santorum

Rick Santorum isn’t running to win, just to get a talk show:

Monday night’s Iowa caucuses were especially rough for former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), who polled at less than one percent four years after winning the contest.

But adding insult to injury, MSNBC managed to find a Santorum precinct captain who didn’t even vote for the long-shot candidate – because his pen ran out of ink.

As the unnamed chair pulled up a photo of the precinct’s vote tally sheet on his phone, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes noted there was an “X” by Santorum’s name.

“What, you didn’t vote for him?” Hayes asked.

“As I was writing down, my pen ran out of ink,” the man answered, turning red in the face. “I was like, I can’t just ask somebody for a new pen while I’m doing this.”

(click here to continue reading Santorum Precinct Chair Didn’t Even Vote For Him: My Pen Ran Out Of Ink! (VIDEO).)

Clinton’s narrow victory doesn’t really mean that much:

Clinton still has a problem with liberals and progressives.

But what Sanders did do was bring in more liberal voters to buoy him. Twenty-eight percent of voters described themselves as very liberal — a 10-point jump from 2008. Sanders won those voters by 19 points. Clinton had a 6-point edge with the 40 percent of voters who described themselves as somewhat liberal.

Her real strength was with middle-of-the-road Democrats — but unfortunately for her, that share had significantly dropped. This year, just 28 percent of voters identified themselves as moderates, down 12 points from 2008. She had a 23-point edge over Sanders with that bloc, though.

(click here to continue reading Iowa Caucus Results: 6 Things That Explain How It Happened : It’s All Politics : NPR.)

even though Clinton has structural advantages, including a compliant national media:

But if you want maximal spin, just raw, thick tar spin, look to the Democratic Party and a legion of electability-policing flunkies.

What Bernie Sanders did Monday night was incredible. Until very recently, even a good showing would have sufficed to confirm his candidacy’s seriousness, and any characterization of his loss as critical merely demonstrates how rapidly the goalposts can be moved when narratives need to be upheld.

At the start of last May, he was 54 points behind in Iowa to Hillary Clinton, a frontrunner with the most open path to the eventual nomination in primary history. Sanders is a cranky old Jewish man from a tiny state and proudly considers himself a socialist, which in the rarified air of Beltway Centrism and in the swamp-gas of an America that still thinks the Cold War can be lost at any moment is somehow a more revolting word than “pederast.”

With the exception of a few pro-Biden holdouts, almost the entirety of the Democratic Party establishment and the big money lined up behind his opponent, including veteran organizers and advisors. The Democratic Party chair scheduled a tiny number of debates on broadcast evenings so hostile to reaching a mass audience that their only purpose must have been minimizing exposing the electorate to any names that aren’t Hillary Clinton’s. Against this apparatus, Sanders decided to refuse to use super PAC money.

Meanwhile, every dead-eyed hack angling for a gig taking “Socks II” for walkies in the new Clinton administration has responded to Sanders’ rising popularity with the Clinton-endorsement equivalent of Marge Simpson holding up her excised frontal lobe in a jar and groaning, “It’s bliiiiiiiiiiiissssss.”

You have Ezra Klein really taking it to some bozo named Ezra Klein over Sanders’ health care plan. Along with assists from The Atlantic and The New Republic, Salon has gone balls-to-the-wall stupid peddling a mythic creature named the Bernie Bro whose existence is about as well documented as Prester John’s. 

The most substantial claim is that Bernie Sanders has some fans on the Internet who are assholes. Which puts him in exclusive company with literally everything. The same thinkfluencers who argue that Bernie Sanders needs to take personal responsibility for people he’s never met being rude to journalists on the Internet (who are already berated and ridiculed by fans of everything else) are also filling column inches by doing the human-dignity equivalent of reaching a whole arm through a buzzing garbage disposal to latch onto yet another slime-slicked take festering in the U-bend and explaining why Hillary Clinton does not need to explain anything further. She doesn’t need to justify that Iraq War vote again, or the destabilization of Libya, or that desire to go hog wild in Syria, or that 1990s support for welfare reform that hit women hardest, or those 1990s tough-on-crime policies she endorsed along with private prisons, or those speaking fees at Goldman Sachs or that opposition to reinstating Glass-Steagall. 

Against this habitual sycophancy, you have a 24-hour news and legacy media structure that has consistently pushed the “conventional wisdom says that a socialist like Bernie Sanders can’t win” line to hammer home the message that Bernie Sanders can’t win underneath a veneer of objectivity. It’s not advocacy, after all, if you’re only saying what everybody thinks. Even if your job is literally to help shape how everybody thinks.

Against all that, Bernie Sanders fighting Clinton to an essential draw in a state in which his opponent held a huge advantage in terms of local political operators and influencers is nothing short of extraordinary. Which, combined with Sanders’ 18-point lead in New Hampshire, means it’s time to crank up the RPMs on the spin cycle fast enough to rip apart space-time.

(click here to continue reading The Electability Spin Machine | Rolling Stone.)

Written by Seth Anderson

February 2nd, 2016 at 11:32 am

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Hillary Clinton and her Email Faux Scandal

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The Clintons, The Russians and Uranium
The Clintons, The Russians and Uranium…

Another part of the Clinton legacy from the 1990s, sadly, is that there is an entire industry devoted to creating faux scandals about the Clintons. Tiresome, tedious, but 99% of these breathlessly reported scandals and investigations and breaking news reports turn out to just be garbage.

Josh Marshall tackles the classified email faux scandal:

One of the greatest failings in journalism is the way that ideas, theories, nonsensical paranoid fears get ‘out there’ and then talked about, critiqued and so forth and yet there’s no point of stepping back where a considered, knowledgable, even common sense view would say that the entire concept is simply far-fetched, ridiculous or even impossible.

But as a legal matter, the chances of Hillary Clinton facing any kind of indictment are very, very low.

Start with the fact that as far as we know, she is not actually even being investigated for anything, let alone facing a looming indictment. The simple facts, as we know them, just don’t put her in line for an indictment. The first reason is the facts, which rest heavily on intent and reckless negligence. The second is tradition and DOJ regulations which make professional prosecutors very leery of issuing indictments that might be perceived or in fact influence an election. This was my thinking. But as the press coverage has become increasingly heated, I started trying to figure out if there was something I was missing – some fact I didn’t know, some blindspot in my perception. So I’ve spoken to a number of law profs and former federal prosecutors – based on the facts we know now even from the most aggressive reporting. Not like, is this theoretically possible? Not, what the penalties would be if it happened. But is an indictment at all likely or is this whole idea very far-fetched. To a person, very far-fetched.

So why the press coverage? I think it’s a combination of reasons. The most irreducible and perhaps most significant is simply prestige reporter derp and general ignorance of the legal system. Second is journalists’ perennial inability to resist a process story. And third, let’s be honest, wingnut page views.

As I’ve said, the political calculus and potential political damage is a different matter altogether. There is little doubt that this whole on-going controversy, along with stuff in the background about the Clinton Foundation, have hurt Clinton badly on public estimations of her honesty and trustworthiness. But again, on the possibility of an indictment, most of this chatter is just plain ridiculous – a mix of ignorance and tendentiousness.

(click here to continue reading The Wages of Derp are Derp. Lots of it..)

As I’ve mentioned many times, if HRC does become the Democratic nominee, I’ll most likely vote for her, albeit reluctantly, just as I held my nose and reluctantly voted for Bill Clinton in 1992.

Written by Seth Anderson

February 1st, 2016 at 7:54 pm

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2016 Elections: Did Trump Kill the GOP? – POLITICO Magazine

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Stop Hillary by Doug Henwood
Stop Hillary…

Speaking of Clinton, I sincerely doubt the Clinton’s have changed much from their political stances in the 1990s: basically positioning themselves as “Rockefeller Republicans”, criticizing the left wing as much as or even more than criticizing the right wing. For instance, this is what a longtime Clintonite believes:

Douglas Schoen, founding partner and principal strategist for Penn, Schoen and Berland, and a former pollster for Bill Clinton.

The Republican Party has clearly lost its direction, and I dare say its soul. Anything Republican elites want, the base of the party instinctively opposes, as the rise of Trump and Cruz clearly demonstrates. Trump and Cruz have won support specifically because of the antipathy of the party establishment to both of them. The party dominates nationally with the exception of the presidency, yet is in danger of suffering an implosion and a possible (though not certain) historically large national loss.

That being said, one of the GOP’s great assets is a similar, though less extreme, process playing out in the Democratic Party. A large percentage of the Democratic base has rejected free market capitalism, which is at the core of how we organize our society and arguably guarantee and enhance our core values of freedom and liberty. The two leading Democratic presidential candidates are competing with one another to see who can demonstrate a greater commitment to redistributive politics and policies, instead of articulating a forward-looking vision for America.

I believe both parties are in a state of flux and fundamentally out of touch with what the broad mass of the American people wants: an inclusive pro-growth agenda and a cost effective social safety net, along with a politics built on results-oriented policies, instead of partisanship or ideology. Hence my strong commitment to prospective independent candidate Mike Bloomberg making a bid for the presidency.

(click here to continue reading 2016 Elections: Did Trump Kill the GOP? – POLITICO Magazine.)

Did you catch that? The Democrats are in trouble because they are rejecting plutocrats, and market capitalism. I don’t know where the evidence of this is, except for in the fever swamps of NewsMax and Fox News, where this former Clintonite spews his BS.

Douglas Schoen is an American political analyst, pollster, author, and commentator. He is a political analyst for Fox News and a columnist for Newsmax. …He believes that lower taxes would be a successful Democratic strategy, opposed President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, warned the Democratic Party to reject the Occupy Wall Street protest, and recommended that President Obama not run for reelection in 2012.

…While still a high school student, he canvassed the Upper West Side for Dick Morris…Schoen went to high school with Mark Penn and then worked together with him on The Harvard Crimson.

He has worked on the campaigns of many Democratic party candidates including Ed Koch and Bill Clinton, and on behalf of corporate clients. He also did work for Senator Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and following her defeat became associated with the People United Means Action movement of disaffected Clinton supporters who refused to support Barack Obama.

(click here to continue reading Douglas Schoen – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)

Yeah, that guy. Sure he’s criticizing Hillary, but more so the Dems, and he’s a Clinton guy through and through…

Written by Seth Anderson

February 1st, 2016 at 7:30 pm

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