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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

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

Tagged with

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

Posted in politics

Tagged with , ,

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

Posted in politics

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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

Posted in politics

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The Short-fingered Vulgarian Named Donald Trump

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Donald Trump Is A Swine
Donald Trump Is A Swine

I used to subscribe to Spy Magazine for a few moments in my callow youth, and I remember this epithet of The Donald, but had forgotten about it until recently…

[Donald Trump] has one proven weakness over the course of his four decades in overly public life: stubby fingers.

Trump has presumably had short fingers for as long as he’d had fingers, but it wasn’t until 1988 that anyone called attention to it. That year, Spy magazine began the practice of needling Trump at every  opportunity by referring to him in virtually every story as a “short-fingered vulgarian.” (“Queens-born casino profiteer” would also do.) Trump defended his honor in the New York Post, stating that “my fingers are long and beautiful, as, has been well-documented, are various other parts of my body.”

In an essay last fall, former Spy editor Graydon Carter revealed how much this pissed Trump off: To this day, the Republican presidential front-runner continues to mail Carter photos of himself, and “[o]n all of them he has circled his hand in gold Sharpie in a valiant effort to highlight the length of his fingers.” …

On Friday, Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska even joined in on the fun, responding to an insult from Trump by joking, “you’d think I asked Mr @realDonaldTrump abt the length of his fingers or something important like that.”

(click here to continue reading What Donald Trump’s Short Fingers Mean for His Presidency | Mother Jones.)

Short Fingered Vulgarian - Spy - April 1988

and Graydon Carter’s article includes this laugh line:

Like so many bullies, Trump has skin of gossamer. He thinks nothing of saying the most hurtful thing about someone else, but when he hears a whisper that runs counter to his own vainglorious self-image, he coils like a caged ferret. Just to drive him a little bit crazy, I took to referring to him as a “short-fingered vulgarian” in the pages of Spy magazine. That was more than a quarter of a century ago. To this day, I receive the occasional envelope from Trump. There is always a photo of him—generally a tear sheet from a magazine. On all of them he has circled his hand in gold Sharpie in a valiant effort to highlight the length of his fingers. I almost feel sorry for the poor fellow because, to me, the fingers still look abnormally stubby. The most recent offering arrived earlier this year, before his decision to go after the Republican presidential nomination. Like the other packages, this one included a circled hand and the words, also written in gold Sharpie: “See, not so short!” I sent the picture back by return mail with a note attached, saying, “Actually, quite short.” Which I can only assume gave him fits.

(click here to continue reading Why Donald Trump Will Always Be a “Short-Fingered Vulgarian” | Vanity Fair.)

Donald Trump in Spy Magazine April 1988

Written by Seth Anderson

February 1st, 2016 at 12:52 pm

Posted in humor,politics

Tagged with ,

Half the Foreign Policy Experts Signing Clinton’s Anti-Sanders Letter Have Ties to Military Contractors

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What If None Of Your Dreams Come True?
What If None Of Your Dreams Come True?

If Hillary Clinton does win the Democratic nomination, I’ll support her, reluctantly, since as right-wing as Ms. Clinton is, at least she isn’t as bad as the idiots and end-of-timers running as Republicans this cycle. Not the most enthusiastic endorsement, but there is a long list of Clinton policy proposals that I disagree with.

For instance, Clinton is signaling that she will continue to be pro-war…

Hillary Clinton’s campaign released a letter this week in which 10 foreign policy experts criticized her opponent Bernie Sanders’ call for closer engagement with Iran and said Sanders had “not thought through these crucial national security issues that can have profound consequences for our security.”

The missive from the Clinton campaign was covered widely in the press, but what wasn’t disclosed in the coverage is that fully half of the former State Department officials and ambassadors who signed the letter, and who are now backing Clinton, are now enmeshed in the military contracting establishment, which has benefited tremendously from escalating violence around the world, particularly in the Middle East.

Here are some of the letter signatories’ current employment positions that were not disclosed in the reporting of the letter:

(click here to continue reading Half the Foreign Policy Experts Signing Clinton’s Anti-Sanders Letter Have Ties to Military Contractors.)

Personally, I’d rather we invest in infrastructure improvements instead of more weapons systems.

Written by Seth Anderson

February 1st, 2016 at 8:18 am

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Ted Cruz could be disqualified

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Romans Discussing Motor Scooters 1993
Since the issue of Natural Born Citizenship is of personal interest to us, we’ve been following closely the many discussions of the issue. An incredibly large number of news articles include a misleading phrase like:

Monmouth University asked Republicans nationally how they felt about Cruz’s eligibility to be president, given his birthplace. (Legal experts broadly agree that it is not an issue.) Nearly all Republicans felt confident that Trump is a “natural-born citizen” — the requirement for serving as president.

(click here to continue reading The increasing signs that Donald Trump’s ‘birther’ attack could be hurting Ted Cruz – The Washington Post.)

Did you catch that parenthetical: Legal experts broadly agree that it is not an issue. Except that statement is demonstratedly not true. There are no Supreme Court cases to cite because there are none, not because they are hidden or obscure. And legal experts are not in broad agreement.

or this aside, also from The Washington Post:

Legal scholars agree that Cruz meets the Constitution’s natural-born citizenship requirement, though it is untested in the courts.

(click here to continue reading Trump says Cruz’s Canadian birth could be ‘very precarious’ for GOP – The Washington Post.)

or this one from USA Today/Arizona Republic:

The legal consensus would appear to deem Cruz eligible to be president, as most legal scholars use historical context to interpret the intentions of the constitution’s framers.

(click here to continue reading Fact Check: Ted Cruz on constitutional clarity of ‘natural-born citizen’.)

Yeah, not so much. You get the idea, notice for yourself how many news articles will slip in a variation of “nothing to see here”.

Standing in the Shadows of Others
Standing in the Shadows of Others

On the other hand, there are smarter journalists like the Chicago Tribune’s Steve Chapman, who writes, in part:

There is no dispute that the Texas senator was a U.S. citizen from birth, since his mother was an American. Donald Trump has raised questions, though, about whether Cruz, being born in the great state of Alberta, qualifies as “a natural born citizen.”

Cruz dismisses the issue. “It’s settled law,” he says. “As a legal matter it’s quite straightforward.”

In fact, it’s never been settled, it’s not straightforward and some experts don’t agree with his reading.

The fact that it was Trump who raised the issue made it deeply suspect. But though it’s unlikely that anything coming out of Trump’s mouth is true, it’s not impossible. And his claim that this is an unresolved question that could end up throwing the election into doubt happens to be correct.

When it comes to parsing the crucial phrase, Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe has noted, “No Supreme Court decision in the past two centuries has ever done so. In truth, the constitutional definition of a ‘natural born citizen’ is completely unsettled.”

Tribe says that under an originalist interpretation of the Constitution — the type Cruz champions — he “wouldn’t be eligible, because the legal principles that prevailed in the 1780s and ’90s required that someone actually be born on U.S. soil to be a ‘natural born citizen.'”

Nor is Tribe alone among experts. University of Chicago law professor Eric Posner says, “The ordinary meaning of the language suggests to me that one must be born on U.S. territory.”

Chapman University’s Ronald Rotunda, co-author of a widely used constitutional law textbook, told me a couple of weeks ago he had no doubt that Cruz is eligible. But when he investigated the issue, he concluded that under the relevant Supreme Court precedents, “Cruz simply is not a natural born citizen.”

 …

Catholic University law professor Sarah Helene Duggin wrote in 2005, “Natural born citizenship is absolutely certain only for United States citizens born post-statehood in one of the 50 states, provided that they are not members of Native American tribes.”

Steven Lubet, a Northwestern University law professor, spies another possible land mine. Cruz qualified for citizenship because his mother was an American citizen (unlike his father). But “under the law in effect in 1970, Cruz would only have acquired U.S. citizenship if his mother had been ‘physically present’ in the United States for 10 years prior to his birth, including five years after she reached the age of 14,” Lubet wrote in Salon.

 

(click here to continue reading Ted Cruz could be disqualified. GOP, is that worth the risk? – Chicago Tribune.)

Running and Running, Yet Standing Still
Running and Running, Yet Standing Still

In other words, this does not seem to be a settled matter, and it will not be until the SCOTUS takes the case, after someone with proper standing asks them to.

probably not this guy:

A Utah man has filed a federal lawsuit against Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, claiming he is not a natural-born citizen and thus, cannot be President of the United States.

Walter Wagner filed the lawsuit on his own in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City. He claims Cruz’s parents were seeking Canadian citizenship at the time of his birth.

(click here to continue reading Utah man suing Ted Cruz claiming he’s not a natural-born citizen | fox13now.com.)

and probably not this guy either:

An 85-year-old Houston trial lawyer has had enough of political debate over whether Sen. Ted Cruz’s Canadian birth affects his presidential eligibility, deciding Thursday to attempt to raise the issue in court.

Newton B. Schwartz, Sr. filed a complaint Thursday in U.S. District Court in Texas asking for a judgment concerning whether Mr. Cruz can run or serve as president.

Now a leading Republican presidential candidate, Mr. Cruz was born in Calgary, Alberta in 1970 to an American mother. His U.S. citizenship is not in doubt, but the Constitution sets out a requirement that the president and vice president be “natural-born” citizens. The phrase is left undefined by the Constitution and the question of presidential eligibility has never been firmly settled by the Supreme Court.

A former assistant U.S. attorney, Mr. Schwartz in an interview said he was surprised “nobody else filed it.” Mr. Schwartz in the complaint names himself as the plaintiff – noting in the complaint he was filing it “pro se and pro bono,” legal jargon meaning he would represent himself free.

“This 229-year question has never been pled, presented to or finally decided by or resolved by the U. S. Supreme Court and by any other U. S. Court of Appeals,” the lawsuit said.

Filing the case may be the easy part. Mr. Schwartz must now convince a judge he has standing, or the right, to bring the case and then that he has raised an issue the court must decide. He claims he has standing based on his eligibility as a voter in the Texas presidential primary and the November general election.

(click here to continue reading Houston Trial Lawyer Files Lawsuit on Ted Cruz’s Presidential Eligibility – Washington Wire – WSJ.)

No Alien is Illegal
No Alien is Illegal

There is also the irony that the target of the Natural Born controversy is Mr. Smug himself, Teddy Cruz…

The more natural reading of the language and original understanding of the “natural born” citizenship requirement therefore would seem to be that one needed to be born, as the 14th Amendment put it, “in the United States,” rather than that one had an American parent. The Constitution, as opposed to any statute, prescribes birthright citizenship, not lineage, as the constitutional definition of acquiring citizenship at birth. Any statute expanding that definition to take into account the massively increased mobility of American citizens since the rural agrarian roots of the Constitution in 1787 would provide a means of automatic naturalization. In short, the framers of both the original Constitution and the 14th Amendment seem to have distinguished between constitutionally and legislatively conferred citizenship. Those who acquire their citizenship by virtue of birth in the United States are, according to the 14th Amendment, constitutionally conferred citizens, which also seems to be the original understanding of “natural born” citizens. All others must secure their citizenship through legislative enactment, i.e. naturalization, whether with or without any required process or prerequisites.

The irony, of course, which cannot be lost on Sen. Ted Cruz, is that under the Constitution anyone born in the United States to a set of undocumented immigrants has a much clearer and more certain legal entitlement to run for president of the United States than he does. No wonder Cruz has railed against birthright citizenship, even though it is expressly contained in the first sentence of the 14th Amendment, a document he swore an oath of office to uphold.

(click here to continue reading Ted Cruz Is Not a ‘Natural Born’ Citizen According to the Constitution – US News.)

Written by Seth Anderson

January 30th, 2016 at 10:33 am

Posted in politics

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HuffPost to publish anti-Trump footer with all Trump coverage

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

I still tend to avoid reading stories in The Huffington Post, since they seem intent upon running a sort of digital sweatshop for underpaid young writers, but some of their political stances are worthy of note. Like this:

The Huffington Post has started appending an editor’s note to the bottom of posts about Republican presidential contender Donald Trump, calling him a “racist,” a “liar” and a “xenophobe,” and reminding readers of his proposal to ban all Muslims from entering the United States.

“Note to our readers: Donald Trump is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, birther and bully who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.,” reads the note, which was added to an article about Trump’s feud with Fox News published last night. The note also includes links to prior coverage of Trump’s comments.

A Huffington Post spokesperson told POLITICO that the note will be added to all future stories about Trump.

 “Yes, we’re planning to add this note to all future stories about Trump,” the spokesperson said. “No other candidate has called for banning 1.6 billion people from the country! If any other candidate makes such a proposal, we’ll append a note under pieces about them.”

(click here to continue reading HuffPost to publish anti-Trump kicker with all Trump coverage – POLITICO.)

Huge
Huge

Here’s the footer in a Trump-related story, with the links intact:

Note to our readers: Donald Trump is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynistbirther and bully who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.

(click here to continue reading Donald Trump Tells Bill O’Reilly It’s ‘An Eye For An Eye’ In War With Fox News.)

Written by Seth Anderson

January 29th, 2016 at 2:44 pm

Posted in News-esque,politics

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Ted Cruz Argues For War Crimes

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Foreign Policy
Foreign Policy

Speaking of Ted “Calgary” Cruz, did you hear the part of the Republican Debate last night where Cruz demanded the US commit war crimes?

CRUZ: Well Chris, I will apologize to nobody for the vigorousness with which I will fight terrorism, go after ISIS, hunt them down wherever they are and utterly and completely destroy ISIS.

You know, you claim it is tough talk to discuss carpet bombing. It is not tough talk. It is a different fundamental military strategy than what we’ve seen from Barack Obama. […]

You want to know what carpet bombing is? It’s what we did in the first Persian Gulf war. 1100 air attacks a day, saturation bombing that utterly destroyed the enemy. Right now, Barack Obama is launching between 15 and 30 air attacks a day. He’s not arming the Kurds.

We need to define the enemy. We need to rebuild the military to defeat the enemy and we need to be focused and lift the rules of engagement so we’re not sending our fighting men and women into combat with their arms tied behind their backs.

(click here to see video of Cruz Argues For War Crimes To Defeat ISIS | Crooks and Liars.)

Carpet bombing: the indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, bombing hospitals, schools, neighborhoods, anything alive at all. Very Christian of you, Teddy. I guess I missed that part of Jesus Christ’s message that called for indiscriminate slaughter of innocent babies and pregnant mothers.

Born To Kill
Born To Kill…

Seriously, even the Pentagon doesn’t think that’s a good strategy, but then Commandant Cruz doesn’t often listen to experts…

The Pentagon on Wednesday criticized proposals to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) that it says would fuel the terrorist group’s recruitment abilities.

“It’s clear from ISIL’s strategy that their objective is to cause us to engage in what they believe is an apocalyptic war with the West,” said Gen. Paul Selva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, using an alternate acronym for ISIS. “And anything that we do to feed that particular frame of thinking counters our national security, and we have to be very careful about how we prosecute a campaign that appears to be an indiscriminate attempt to attack ISIL and the population that surrounds it.”

“We will carpet bomb them into oblivion,” Cruz said last weekend in Iowa. “I don’t know if sand can glow in the dark, but we’re going to find out.”

[Senator] McCaskill slammed Cruz’s comments, saying that actually carpet bombing Iraq or Syria would kill numerous innocent women and children, prompting some to side with ISIS.

“If we did an indiscriminate carpet bombing of a major area and killed thousands of women and children, would you assume that would have some impact on their ability to recruit misguided barbarians like this couple that took out more than a dozen innocent people last week?” she said, referring to the couple suspected of carrying out last week’s shooting in San Bernardino, Calif. “I would have to assume it would put their recruiting on steroids.”

Selva avoided answering directly, saying the military’s campaign strives to avoid collateral damage.

“I’m going to avoid anything hypothetical,” he said. “What I would say, categorically, is the process you described as your hypothetical question is not the way that we apply force in combat. It isn’t now, nor will it ever be.”

(click here to continue reading Pentagon blasts ISIS proposals that would lead to ‘apocalyptic war’ | TheHill.)

Written by Seth Anderson

January 29th, 2016 at 12:33 pm

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Trump Will Debate Cruz Once A Judge Rules Him Eligible To Run

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Chairman Trump
Chairman Trump

The Donald keeps up his birther schtick, expertly trolling Ted “Calgary” Cruz…

Donald Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said on Thursday that his candidate would be “happy” to debate Ted Cruz once the Texas senator gets a federal judge to rule him eligible to run for president. “Once you’ve gotten that ruling from the federal judge and you’re the last man standing in this presidential contest next to Donald Trump, we’ll be happy to have a debate with you one-on-one, anywhere you want, because that’s the way the system works,” Lewandowski said. “But, as it stands right now, we don’t even know if Ted Cruz is legally eligible to run for president of the United States.” Trump and his supporters have argued that Cruz, who was born in Canada to a U.S. citizen, is not natural born and therefore ineligible to run for president under the Constitution.

“What this is, is a publicity stunt by Senator Cruz who is continuing to fall in the polls in the state of Iowa,” Lewandowski told Boston radio host Jeff Kuhner, before unleashing a slew of attacks at Cruz, arguing that he had used “dark money donors” through his super PAC to offer a donation to charity if Trump agreed to the debate.

“If Ted Cruz were able to disclose the loans that he’s taken out from Goldman Sachs and Citi, then maybe he would use his own money for this, but instead he’s using super PAC money which I don’t even know if he can do legally,” Lewandowski said, referring to loans Cruz took out during his 2012 run for Senate that he did not disclose in campaign filings. “And the bottom line is, you know what we’ve said to Ted Cruz, go into court, seek a declaratory judgment to find out if you’re even legally eligible to run for president of the United States.”

(click here to continue reading Trump Campaign Manager: Trump Will Debate Cruz Once Judge Rules Him Eligible To Run – BuzzFeed News.)

At least this particular Birther attack has the benefit of being plausible, unlike Trumpf’s earlier ridiculousness regarding Barack Obama’s childhood.

Written by Seth Anderson

January 29th, 2016 at 10:15 am

Posted in politics

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Ted Cruz versus Wong Kim Ark, a Natural Born Citizen

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Superman and Terminator
Superman and Terminator

A commenter by the name of “PoorCitizen” left the following statement in response to the very interesting discussion re: Natural Born Citizen and Ted Cruz as part of a Talking Point Memo blog post entitled: Centuries-Old English Law May Hold The Answer To Ted Cruz’s Birth Issue, which you should read too. 

“Why should American constitutional law in the 21st century depend on what English law from the 1300s?”

The reason is fairly simple to understand. If the words in the Constitution are to mean anything at all, then they must be at least they must be tied to the spirit and context in which they were originally used. This is true, whether you believe in a very restricted “original” interpretation of the meaning of the words in the Constitution or whether you believe in an interpretation of the meaning of the words that allows their meaning to evolve in the context of their “contemporary” legal meaning.

The specific requirements for eligibility for the US Presidency don’t simply demand that a person be a citizen, they specifically require a person to be a “natural born” citizen. The meaning of this common law term dates back to English common law and it is evident that the meaning of the term, as is amply evidenced in virtually all English Common Law as well as in the letters and discussions surrounding the writing of the US Constitution indicate that “natural born” refers specifically to the jurisdiction and sovereignty of the territory where a child is born and not to that of where his parent or parents were born.

There has been much talk about this being an “unsettled” matter of law. However, this is not true, since the US Supreme Court did rule specifically on the question of “natural born” in a case US vs Ark 1898 and specifically researched the meaning of “natural born” in the context of Common law to establish its meaning. After much reference to the meaning of the term in both English Common Law and with respect to its legal meaning at the time the Constitution was written, the Court ruled that “natural born” meant precisely that a person is considered “natural born”, if and only if, they were born within the sovereign territory of the United States. In fact, this is precisely why Mr. Ark won his case, even though both of his parents were Chinese and not Americans. Mr. Ark was born in San Francisco.

It should be noted that in US vs Ark, both the majority and minority opinions came to the same conclusion that “natural born” means specifically that a person is born within the jurisdiction or sovereignty of the United States. It is clear that had Mr. Ark not been born within the jurisdiction of the United States he would have lost his case and would have been deported as the US was trying to do.

It is further worth noting that the Court in US vs Ark also made specifically clear that the US could not simply pass a law, at that time the Chinese Exclusion Act, and use it to alter the meaning of “natural born”. They specifically referenced the fact that since that term was used in the Constitution, its meaning could not be altered by statute alone but would require a Constitutional amendment. The Court ruled that no law can amend the Constitution of the United States and any law that the government may attempt to use to do so is unconstitutional in its application. Congress has the power to naturalize, but it does not have the power to amend the meaning of the constitution via statute.

Legally, since the ruling in US vs Ark remains precedence, Mr. Cruz is ineligible to hold the office of the Presidency because he was born in Calgary, Canada as his Canadian birth certificate clearly demonstrates. He remains in ineligible under US law, at least until he gets a constitutional amendment passed permitting him to do so or he can provide proof that US State Department specifically claimed US jurisdiction over his birth. So far Mr. Cruz has not provided that critical piece of evidence.

The present court may attempt to reverse the precedent. However, to do so it will clearly have to waive the original meaning of the term in the Constitution, previous Supreme Court precedent, and more than 500 years of Common Law to do it.

(click here to continue reading Discussion: Centuries-Old English Law May Hold The Answer To Ted Cruz’s Birth Issue – TPM Article Topics – The Hive.)

The Goon in Chinatown
The Goon in Chinatown

Since I’d recently read about the 1898 decision, United States vs. Wong Kim Ark, here’s part of the ruling in that case for reference:

The facts of this case, as agreed by the parties, are as follows: Wong Kim Ark was born in 1873 in the city of San Francisco, in the State of California and United States of America, and was and is a laborer. His father and mother were persons of Chinese descent, and subjects of the Emperor of China; they were at the time of his birth domiciled residents of the United States, having previously established and still enjoying a permanent domicil and residence therein at San Francisco; they continued to reside and remain in the United States until 1890, when they departed for China, and during all the time of their residence in the United States, they were engaged in business, and were never employed in any diplomatic or official capacity under the Emperor of China. Wong Kim Ark, ever since his birth, has had but one residence, to-wit, in California, within the United States, and has there resided, claiming to be a citizen of the United States, and has never lost or changed that residence, or gained or acquired another residence, and neither he nor his parents acting for him ever renounced his allegiance to the United States, or did or committed any act or thing to exclude him

Page 169 U. S. 653

therefrom. In 1890 (when he must have been about seventeen years of age), he departed for China on a temporary visit and with the intention of returning to the United States, and did return thereto by sea in the same year, and was permitted by the collector of customs to enter the United States upon the sole ground that he was a native-born citizen of the United States. After such return, he remained in the United States, claiming to be a citizen thereof, until 1894, when he (being about twenty-one years of age, but whether a little above or a little under that age does not appear) again departed for China on a temporary visit and with the intention of returning to the United States, and he did return thereto by sea in August, 1895, and applied to the collector of customs for permission to land, and was denied such permission upon the sole ground that he was not a citizen of the United States.

It is conceded that, if he is a citizen of the United States, the acts of Congress, known as the Chinese Exclusion Acts, prohibiting persons of the Chinese race, and especially Chinese laborers, from coming into the United States, do not and cannot apply to him.

The question presented by the record is whether a child born in the United States, of parents of Chinese descent, who, at the time of his birth, are subjects of the Emperor of China, but have a permanent domicil and residence in the United States, and are there carrying on business, and are not employed in any diplomatic or official capacity under the Emperor of China, becomes at the time of his birth a citizen of the United States by virtue of the first clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution,

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

The evident intention, and the necessary effect, of the submission of this case to the decision of the court upon the facts agreed by the parties were to present for determination the single question stated at the beginning of this opinion, namely, whether a child born in the United States, of parent of Chinese descent, who, at the time of his birth, are subjects of the Emperor of China, but have a permanent domicil and residence in the United States, and are there carrying on business, and are not employed in any diplomatic or official capacity under the Emperor of China, becomes at the time of his birth a citizen of the United States. For the reasons above stated, this court is of opinion that the question must be answered in the affirmative.

(click here to continue reading United States v. Wong Kim Ark :: 169 U.S. 649 (1898) :: Justia U.S. Supreme Court Center.)

If you have some time, the US v. Ark case has lots of citations and references. I confess I did not read it all, just enough to get the gist. 

And as I’ve said more than once, until the Supreme Court takes up this case and settles what specifically the phrase “Natural Born Citizen” means, speculation will continue. Ted Cruz is a citizen of the United States, but does he meet the additional requirements to run for president? Who knows?

Written by Seth Anderson

January 14th, 2016 at 6:30 pm

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