Friday, May 6, 2016

Tracking the Presidential Election, 2016, Part III Sic Transit Gloria Mundi.

Never were words from a movie truer:

Paddling v Kicking

It's likely bad form to publish part three to this running saga so soon after I started part II, but I don't want any of these threads to take over the blog, which they threaten to do.  I'm doing this now, however, as the campaign, which has been an historically odd one, took a new turn last night with the dropping out of Ted Cruz.  This was followed by the surprising concession today of Kasich. This means means that the hard right insurgent elements, or populist elements, that have seized control of the GOP race and which are backing Trump how now doomed the party to spectacular defeat.

Yes, that's right.  It will be defeated, and at a historic level.

Now, I've taken a tour around sites where Republicans are debating and I know that the Trump backers are rejoicing and just can't grasp why others in the GOP are lamenting.  Those backing Trump really see him as the salvation of the nation and as somebody who can be elected.  They're fooling themselves.  And not only are they fooling themselves, having backed an un-electable candidate they're actually guaranteeing the dismantling of the things they are trying to hold on to.   The remainder of the GOP is coming in line, with some swallowing their true beliefs to support a nominee either because they are in the GOP, or they simply fear Clinton, or because they fear the implications of not supporting their own candidate.  Others are sharpening their knives.

Right now, President Obama has nominated a left moderate nominee to the Supreme Court.  After the November election, he will be confirmed. Even if Clinton's administration only last for four years, which is against the odds, she will appoint two more Supreme Court nominees and they're going to be in the far left.  My guess is that President Obama himself, who is a comparatively young man, may be one of those nominees.

So, the net result is that a Supreme Court which has had some judicial restraint for years now no longer really will, and will be happy to enshrine social thesis as law.  That's just the fact. And people who were hoping for some reference to the framers in a cogent form can now forget it.  Goodbye traditional definitions of one thing or another, goodbye Second Amendment. Hello social law.

Now, if this sounds bitter, it isn't meant to be. Rather, this is the way things actually will be.  Pretending that Trump can win isn't going to change that, and when he fails, those who backed him so ardently will have to live with the consequences of that mistake. But then, so will everyone else.

Part of the everyone else is the GOP itself. Four years from now, it's going to be a different party.  Indeed, while hardly noticed, those who are contemplating defeat are doing what I termed the Dunkirk Strategy  As I said in the last edition of this series:
Dunkirk, of course, is famous for being that location in France where British and French soldiers stages a heroic defense of the town against the Germans in 1940 so that the British forces could be withdrawn.  Basically, troops maintaining the line fought to save their army, so that it could be rebuilt in Britain.  Will, and others, are now urging Republicans to fight to save House and Senate seats so that the GOP can be rebuilt over the next four years.  Basically, the Presidency will be abandoned as a hope, conceding that it is already lost.
Will was blunt in his article that the forces that supported Trump will simply be dumped.  He doesn't want them.  The proposal, basically, is to create a new conservative party out of the wrecked shell of the current one, a pretty dramatic concession for a lifelong conservative Republican. 
If that occurs, chances are that John Boehner will be one of the Republicans joining him in that effort. The former Speaker of the House was caught this past week taking real hard shots at Ted Cruz, going so far as to indicate that he'd support Trump if Trump is nominated, but not Cruz.  He didn't apologize when audio of that was released, which we probably would generally have expected.  And he showed up with Obama on an amusing video that showed up at the end of the President's speech.  Cruz has been ineffective in trying to paint Boehner since then as just the sort of Washington insider that he's been campaigning against, so in a way Beohner's recent actions may turn out to be the "establishment" getting the last laugh on Cruz, whom they truly dislike.
 British soldiers being evacuated in 1940 from Dunkirk

Elections, of course, have consequences and part of those consequences are for the losers. The GOP will be the loser in the election and frankly it'll deserve what it's going to get due to having adopted such a cynical policy towards part of its base over the years.  That's going to end now, but in doing that, part of the base will be lost.  And the party will have to come out as a different party in 2020, as the base that took it into the fall with Trump is going to be less significant in 2020 than it is now.  

The way that this occurred is fairly obvious, but you have to take a long view of history.

The GOP has always been a bit of a fractured party in some ways, and indeed it had its origin in that fashion.  It came about after the self destruction of the Whigs over the issue of slavery, and opposition to slavery was really its only early uniting policy.  Even as early as 1865 there were serious rifts in the GOP over what to do with the defeated South, and there were plenty of bonafide radicals in the party at that time, men who, if they were alive today, would hang around with Bernie Sanders but not with Donald Trump.

At the same time, at least early post Civil War, there were northern conservative, Federalist, businessmen who were in the party.  They basically dominated it.  They'd find Trump crude and rude, but they'd probably also regard him as members of their class, with whom they could work.  It'll be interesting to see if their heirs today regard Trump the same way.  Cruz got panned in the election for citing to Trump's "New York Values", but his loud brashness has made him quite unpopular in the West and frankly a lot of that will not be overcome.  A state like Colorado, for example, is going to go for Clinton. Montana?  I'd guess Clinton also.  Idaho . . . who knows.  Trump will likely take Wyoming and Utah (whose politics are different from each other) but the margins Trump will take here will be potentially smaller than any Republican since at least the 1960s.

Anyhow, that all came to a head in the 1912 election, which will be instructive for us here and which I've written about in my earlier posts.  I've written about that election in our Today In Wyoming History blog, and I'll clip in a bit of that post here:
The next Presidential election would see Theodore Roosevelt run for office, and Roosevelt was a very popular President in the West.  He was also from the "progressive" branch of the Republican Party, so any Populist elements that were headed towards being Democratic were effectively cut off.

 Noted biologist, hunter, outdoorsman, conservationist, rancher, historian, and politician, President Theodore Roosevelt.
Republican fortunes gained during the Theodore Roosevelt Administration, and when his hand picked successor, his Vice President William Howard Taft ran in 1908, Wyoming demonstrated that it had lost its fondness for William Jennings Bryan, who ran against him. Taft took 55% of the Wyoming vote.  Perhaps reflecting some residual racialism, or perhaps recent immigration from Eastern Europe in some counties, Socialist candidate Eugene Debs amazingly took 4.5% of the vote.  Statewide, Wyomingites seemed satisfied with Republican candidates once again.
Former Governor of the Philippines and Vice President, and future Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, William Howard Taft.
Taft had the misfortune of following Roosevelt, who was a great man, but who was still a young man, in relative terms, and who just couldn't avoid politics.  Taft basically acted as a reformist candidate, but a somewhat moderate one, and Roosevelt, for his part, was becoming increasingly radical.  By the election of 1912, the split in the Republican Party that this represented broke the party apart and after Taft was nominated it actually became two parties, with the Rooseveltians becoming the Progressive Party.  The Progressive Party would be a radical party even by today's standards, and it says something about the politics of the time that it mounted a very serious campaign and had nationwide support.  At the same time, the Democrats began to tack towards the Progressives themselves and pick up parts of their platform.  The transformation of the Democratic Party into a liberal party really began with the Presidential election of 1912, and the party by the end of the election was never again quite what it had been, although the change would continue on for years thereafter.
Woodrow Wilson took Wyoming's electoral vote that year, receiving 42% of the popular vote.  The combined Taft and Roosevelt vote surpassed that, with Roosevelt taking 27% of the vote, a greater share than that taken by Taft.  Socialist Eugene Debs came in with an amazing 6%.  Given this, it is not possible to simply write off the election to the split in the Republican Party that year.  The combined Debs and Roosevelt vote made up a whopping 33% of the Wyoming electorate that was expressing support for a radical change in direction in national politics.  Wilson's 42% was not insignificant either. Even simply writing off the fact that any Democratic candidate of that era would have received at least 1/3d of the state vote, a surprising number of Wyomingites seemed to be espousing the progressive, and even radical, ideas that were the combined platforms of the Progressive and Democratic parties. Even accepting that the Democrats had come at this development through the Populist, which was reflected in their earlier nomination of Bryan, and in Wilson's appointing him to the position of Secretary of State, it seems something was afoot.  

Former head of Princeton and Governor of New Jersey, President Woodrow Wilson.
Indeed, in the same year, the sitting Governor, elected in 1910, Joseph M. Carey, left the Republican Party and joined the Progressive Party.  Carey, like most (but not all) of the Progressives, including  Theodore Roosevelt himself, would eventually return to the Republican Party, but it's at least interesting to note that a sitting, elected, Wyoming Governor publicly abandoned his party to join a third party.  A think like that would simply be inconceivable today.
Governor Carey just months prior to his defection to the Progressive Party, with a bored looking Dorothy Knight, the daughter of a Wyoming Supreme Court justice, at the launch of the USS Wyoming.
This tread, moreover, continued.  Carey's successor in the Governor's office was not a member of the Republican Party, nor a Progressive, but Democrat John B. Kendrick.  Kendrick did not remain in that office for long, however, as he was elected to the United States Senate by the electorate, now able to directly elect Senators, in 1916, a position he held until his death in 1933.  His companion in the Senate for most of that time, however, was very long serving Republican Senator Francis E. Warren (who of course had also been a Governor) who served until his death in 1929, when he was replaced by Republican Senator Patrick Sullivan.

Senator John B. Kendrick.
A slow shift began to take place in the early teens, however.  In the 1916 Presidential election the state again supported Wilson, giving him 49% of the vote.  3% supported Socialist candidate Allan Benson, and those votes would certainly have gone for a any more left wing candidate than the Republican Charles Hughes, but a period in which Wyoming leaned Republican but which would swing towards Democrats was emerging.  The state went very strongly for Warren Harding in 1920 (60%) and for Coolidge in 1924.  In 1924, however, the Democrats fared very poorly in the Presidential election, with the Progressive Candidate Robert LaFollette, who had taken up where Theodore Roosevelt would not have wanted to leave off for him, and then some, receiving 31% of the Wyoming vote.  David, the Democrat, came in a poor third, showing that a strong Progressive streak remained in the Wyoming electorate at that time.  That election saw the nation nearly completely go for Coolidge except in the South, which went for Davis.  Geographically it was one of the most divided elections in the nation's history.
That's a lot to digest, but the significant part of it is something I didn't really address.  The impact of the 1912 election on the GOP directly.

At the very moment of the split in the GOP the Republicans were doomed in the election, and as soon as it was over the housecleaning was felt.  Those responsible for the defeat, the Progressives who would not play ball, were allowed to crawl back to the GOP, but they weren't given positions of influence.  Their hero, Theodore Roosevelt, made sounds about running as a Progressive in 1916, but by that time the enthusiasm for that was gone, including with Roosevelt.  Roosevelt came back to the GOP, and was allowed to be an influential figure within it. . . sort of.  He never again had the sort of influence that he once had, and limited his activities to where they stood to be effective which, in large part, had to do with preparing for World War One.

The impact of the 1912 election was that the Republicans came out of it as a conservative party.  The progressives within the party were allowed in it, but they were not allowed to have much influence within it.  Over time, most "progressives" abandoned the GOP for the Democratic Party, which was itself remade by the 1912 election. The Democrats, which has been a populist conservative party became a liberal party in 1912.  Conservatives remained in it, but often because of regional attachment. And the Republicans, in becoming the conservative party, remained a northern conservative party that was pro civil rights, while the Democrats were split on that issue to say the least.

During the Great Depression the GOP's fortunes sunk and it became a fairly conservative party lacking in cogent thesis.  It lingered there until after World War Two when conservative thinkers began to put together a set of solid conservative concepts and ideals.  The 1964 election saw the last gasp of the old pre World War Two conservatives in the spasmodic nomination of Barry Goldwater, whose campaign failed miserably.  In the meantime the Democrats became ossified as a the party of FDR most places, but of Jim Crow in the South.  The party was really two parties held together by tradition.

The Vietnam War and the 1960s started the process of the Democrats ejecting Southern Democrats from their party.  At the same time, the new conservatives in the GOP began their rise.  They saw their first real, and really only, success with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980.

And hence the problem that the GOP has come into now.  From 1948 until 1980, national Republican figures really aren't comparable to what we see today. They were conservative, but they were big government conservatives of a type that really expired.  Starting in 1980, the Republicans were successful at capturing the Southern Democrats, which served their interest but they went on to become Republicans, which wasn't really contemplated in the fashion that occurred.  National Review conservatives, of the William F. Buckley type, saw a hugely successful candidate in Ronald Reagan, but the old big government conservatives came back with George Bush I.  Neo Conservatives, who had their roots as disaffected left wing Democrats (former Trotskyites, truly, by their own admission) came into the party at the time and were very influential in the presidency of George Bush II.

During all of this post 1980, the GOP came to rely heavily on the Southern vote which meant that the party slowly incorporated or co-opted, or pretended to co-opt, some ideals that were strongly associated with Southern Democrats. Strong nativism, a distrust of minorities, a certain brashness hard right wing style, and a strong dislike of government, all crept into the GOP sound box, but not really into the full GOP. As the GOP used the sound, the ideology crept down into the rank and file, and it produced a full blown movement that took over the GOP in many places. As that occurred, the GOP pandered to it for election purposes,  but it failed to act on it while in power as it didn't really believe it.  As this occurred, it started to fully fracture the party by 2012, with increasingly ideological "Tea Party" elements elected everywhere and nearly open civil war in the party in some localities, including Wyoming.  Wyoming saw a full scale GOP internal conflict that still lingers on which started openly with the struggle between Governor Mead and the Legislature against Cindy Hill and the Tea Party elements.  It continues on today in the current House election with some Tea Party candidates pitted against more middle of the road candidates who are trying to slip away from the radical elements quietly.

Promising people something, then not acting on it, is a dangerous course of action and it ultimately causes people to be angry and ignore you.  And that's what happened to the GOP.  The GOP repeatedly has indicated that it was concerned with the plight of the average American, and that it was concerned about unrestricted immigration, and that it was concerned about the increasingly leftward drift of American culture being supported by the government, but it did nothing about it.  It didn't address legal or illegal immigration, and indeed many came to feel that the GOP establishment was complicit in ignoring it as Republican businessmen benefited from it.  It did nothing concrete in the social arena either, continuing to complain about funding of things that average conservatives hate while approving the funding.  Only in appointing conservative Supreme Court justices did it really come through.

And when it did act, it acted in some spectacular but unwise ways, particularly recently as more and more radical Tea Party elements entered the government and tried to carry through, such as shutting the government down.

And so now we have Trump, with Cruz being the only candidate who could get close to him. And hence the evolution of the problem.

What those supporting Trump fail to realize is that criticizing Trump or Cruz is not a wholesale rejection of their concerns.  But rather, like all legitimate concerns, the problem is that in having pandered to them, while not addressing them, they festered and took on a nasty edge.

The concern over illegal immigration is a good example. This concern has existed in at least the West since the 1970s.  The Federal government simply quit enforcing the law.  People had a right to be upset.  Many were directly hurt by illegal immigration in terms of their own employment and wages.  However, years of pandering on the issue, combined with the incorporation of the Southern Democrats, caused it to fester.  During President Obama's administration the pandering began to take on a closet racist edge to it, and the GOP did nothing to restrain the outright bigoted comments that President Obama was continually subject to.  That may have pleased some on this issue, but it's revolted many, and now the GOP has lost Latinos whom, because of their conservative social views, should be Republican. Truth be known most Latinos were in support of trying to prevent illegal immigration, in spite of what members of La Raza may claim, and on social views they strongly reflect a Catholic heritage.  But if a person is insulted repeatedly and openly for being "Mexican" and there's a suggestion that the whole problem can be simply cured by a big wall, it's going to totally repulse anyone whose ancestry isn't from England or Scotland, and most people's are not.  The net result is that we are going to elect a Democrat who will be in favor of fairly open immigration, whether or not that's a good demographic policy for a nation of 350 million people.

Repeat pandering on the Second Amendment has worked the same way.  Most Americans support firearms ownership but there has been a hardcore repeated outcry about Democrats stealing our guns for years and years.  At least two Democratic Administrations, including the present one, have been as friendly toward firearms as some Republican administrations, but received bitter howls of conspiracy claims anyhow.  This one finally sort of gave up, logically enough, after it became clear that doing nothing on firearms at all still subjected it to bitter rancor.  The GOP could have played this much more wisely, crediting the President where he was not anti gun, and for most of the time, he wasn't.  But instead it pandered to the issue.  Indeed, it gave rise to a lot of local movements that have taken this in a direction that scares many people who otherwise support the Second Amendment, such as the insistence that firearms should be capable of being carried into city council meeting or open sessions of the legislature.  Even dyed in the wool firearms fans would never have proposed such a thing twenty years ago, but you hear suggestions of that type all the time now, and they aren't going to engender sympathy with people who aren't firearms fans, and won't even with amy who are.

A certain type of anti scientism likewise became a GOP staple in many local arenas.  Both parties were adamant supporters of engineering and science for most of their histories.  The GOP was the party that backed the engineering effort that became the Transcontinental Railroad. Both Republican and Democratic administrations supported space exploration.  Both parties supported the engineering projects that became the nation's highways, with the Eisenhower administration becoming permanently associated with the Interstate Highways.

Project funding was out of control by the time Ronald Reagan came into office, and arguably a lot of pork has never left the budget, but at some point thing began to chance from questioning spending to philosophically opposing the existential nature of certain projects.  It's one thing, and quite legitimate, to oppose a thing as a waste of spending, but it's another to assume that you must believe or disbelieve it due to your political leanings.

The topic of climate change has become one such issue.  As late as George Bush I both parties basically accepted it was real and based on science.  Now, I'm not here to argue about the science.  I have friends with scientific backgrounds who steadfastly maintain that the science doesn't support the theory.  But that doesn't mean that they should therefore be required to be Republicans, just as it the opposite belief doesn't mean that a person should have to be a Democrat.  But that is what's come around and this is so much the case that the legislature here actually considered taking on the topic of teaching the topic as a legislative bill, which they have no business doing.  Science should stand and fall on its own merits and inform politics, rather than be something that should dictate what party a person is in.  This has lead to a certain anti-scientific tinge in the GOP which ends up driving away people who are well educated in the sciences in some cases, even though they may be died in the wool conservatives otherwise.  GOP politicians will state a scientific position, adamantly, because they are in the GOP, which is not the way that this should go at all.  This is particularly evident locally where quite a few Republicans state this position with almost bitterness, while at least the Governor states it with a seemingly degree of lukewarm attachment. But they all state it.

That is in part no doubt due to the fact that the local economy is really energy dependent.  But that's another part of the problem, although it isn't a problem unique to the GOP.  Economic concerns or even disaster shouldn't dictate certain positions.  Here, locally, it's been popular for some time to blame the government for the problems with the energy industry. It was popular to blame regulation, and with coal its been popular to blame the President's policies. But the price of oil is down not due to Federal regulation, but Saudi efforts.  And coal has slumped in large part due to a lack of export demand from China and changing technology.  A more realistic approach to such problems is to admit that and start working on what to do, but instead people have been politicizing it, and still are.  Just two days ago Trump promised to get the miners in West Virginia back to work, for example.  Well, unless he intends to nationalize the coal industry and produce coal merely for the sake of producing it, that isn't going to happen.

Likewise, while we do have serious trade problems all over, the country's leaders have done a poor job of explaining why and a poorer job of addressing hurting parts of the American workforce.  There is truly a lot of things wrong in the economy and the angry voters in the GOP and the Democratic Party are very much aware of that.  But nobody has addressed it and now people are really mad.  So mad, apparently, that they're willing to accept mere assertions from the now GOP candidate that he's going to fix it even though his suggestions are without real merit and would likely be disastrous to the American economy.

A lot of this has been fueled by television, unfortunately. The explosion of television channels has meant that television news has gone from something that was basically thirty minutes long and roughly informative to something that is tailored for the audience.  Those on the right avoid left wing news outlets and vice versa.  But that means that basically the full scale days of yellow journalism have returned.  In the recently election the television news was so fascinated by Trump that they gave him a bully pulpit. At the same time, Sanders, who is a true radical, was ignored and had to slog his way to the top.  If Sanders had received the amount of media attention that Trump did, and he was every bit as unconventional, we'd now be looking at a certain Trump v. Sanders race.  We might, quite frankly, be better off if we were.  He'd be ineffectual, but at least there'd be a period in which the parties could sit back, dump the dead wood, axe much of their establishment, and rebuild.

And on that, next we will look at rebuilding the GOP, which it's going to have to do in the next four years, or it will decline into irrelevancy.

The current tallies:

Democrats:  Needed to win, 2,383.

Clinton: 2,223 (522 of which are Superdelegates)
Sanders:  1,450 (39 of which are Superdelegates)

Republicans:  Needed to win, 1,237.

Trump:  1,054 (of which 41 are unpledged delegates).
Cruz:  566   Cruz has suspended his campaign. (of which 16 are unpledged delegates)
Rubio:  173.  Rubio has suspended his campaign.
Kasich:  153.  Kasich has suspended his campaign
Carson:  8  Carson has suspended his campaign.
Bush:  4  Carson has suspended his campaign.
Fiorina:  1  Fiorina has dropped out of the race.
Paul:  1  Paul has dropped out of the race.


The fallout from the GOP race continues to fall, with not everyone getting in line as has been so often predicted.

Paul Ryan, for one, has not . . .yet.  Asked if he was supporting Trump, he relayed that "I'm just not ready to do that at this point. I'm not there right now".  He indicated that he hoped to support Trump, but he needed to see more out of him before he did. That's making big news right now, but it's probably a signal that Ryan needs to see some evolution in Trump's positions in order to support him. That doesn't mean he won't, but it is quite extraordinary for the Speaker of the House not to endorse his party's candidate.

Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse, a Republican, definitely isn't supporting Trump.  He's been the target of a "Draft Sasse" movement which he has so far not supported, but yesterday he released a Facebook statement saying:

TO: Those who think both leading presidential candidates are dishonest and have little chance of leading America forward:
(…or, stated more simply)
TO: The majority of America:
Note: If you are one of those rare souls who genuinely believe Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are honorable people – if they are the role models you want for your kids – then this letter is not for you. Instead, this letter is for the majority of Americans who wonder why the nation that put a man on the moon can’t find a healthy leader who can take us forward together.
I want to tell you about four unsolicited conversations from the Fremont Wal-Mart this morning:
**Retired union Democrat meat-packer:
“What the heck is wrong with that city where you work? Why can’t they give us a normal person? Is it really so hard?”
Me: “Actually, it is for them – because most people in DC buy the nonsense that DC is the center of the world. You and I, despite our party differences, both agree that Fremont is the center.”
Union Democrat (interrupting): “…Because this is where my grandkids are.”
**Young evangelical mom:
“I want to cry. I disagree with Hillary Clinton on almost every single thing – but I will vote for her before Trump. I could never tell my kids later that I voted for that man.”
**Middle-aged Republican male (more political than the other folks):
“It feels like the train-car to hell is accelerating. Why is DC more filled with weirdos and yet more powerful at the same time? How do we slow this down long enough to have a conversation about actually fixing our country?”
**Trump supporter (again, unsolicited):
“Please understand: I’m going to vote for him, but I don’t like him. And I don’t trust him – I mean, I’m not stupid. But how else can I send a signal to Washington?!”
I’ve ignored my phone most of today, but the voicemail is overflowing with party bosses and politicos telling me that “although Trump is terrible,” we “have to” support him, “because the only choice is Trump or Hillary.”
This open letter aims simply to ask “WHY is that the only choice?”
Melissa and I got the kids launched on homework, so I’ve been sitting out by the river, reflecting on the great gap between what folks in my town are talking about, and what folks in the DC bubble are talking about.
I trust the judgment of this farm town way more than I trust DC. And so I’d like to share a dozen-ish observations on these Wal-Mart and other conversations today:
1. Washington isn’t fooling anyone -- Neither political party works. They bicker like children about tiny things, and yet they can’t even identify the biggest issues we face. They’re like a couple arguing about what color to paint the living room, and meanwhile, their house is on fire. They resort to character attacks as step one because they think voters are too dumb for a real debate. They very often prioritize the agendas of lobbyists (for whom many of them will eventually work) over the urgent needs of Main Street America. I signed up for the Party of Abraham Lincoln -- and I will work to reform and restore the GOP -- but let’s tell the plain truth that right now both parties lack vision.
2.  As a result, normal Americans don’t like either party. If you ask Americans if they identify as Democrat or Republican, almost half of the nation interrupts to say: “Neither.”
3. Young people despise the two parties even more than the general electorate. And why shouldn’t they? The main thing that unites most Democrats is being anti-Republican; the main thing that unites most Republicans is being anti-Democrat. No one knows what either party is for -- but almost everyone knows neither party has any solutions for our problems. “Unproductive” doesn’t begin to summarize how messed up this is.
4.  Our problems are huge right now, but one of the most obvious is that we’ve not passed along the meaning of America to the next generation. If we don’t get them to re-engage -- thinking about how we defend a free society in the face of global jihadis, or how we balance our budgets after baby boomers have dishonestly over-promised for decades, or how we protect First Amendment values in the face of the safe-space movement – then all will indeed have been lost. One of the bright spots with the rising generation, though, is that they really would like to rethink the often knee-jerk partisanship of their parents and grandparents. We should encourage this rethinking.
5.These two national political parties are enough of a mess that I believe they will come apart. It might not happen fully in 2016 – and I’ll continue fighting to revive the GOP with ideas -- but when people’s needs aren’t being met, they ultimately find other solutions.
6. In the history of polling, we’ve basically never had a candidate viewed negatively by half of the electorate. This year, we have two. In fact, we now have the two most unpopular candidates ever – Hillary by a little, and Trump by miles (including now 3 out of 4 women – who vote more and influence more votes than men). There are dumpster fires in my town more popular than these two “leaders.”
7. With Clinton and Trump, the fix is in. Heads, they win; tails, you lose. Why are we confined to these two terrible options? This is America. If both choices stink, we reject them and go bigger. That’s what we do.
8. Remember: our Founders didn’t want entrenched political parties. So why should we accept this terrible choice?
9.  So...let’s have a thought experiment for a few weeks: Why shouldn’t America draft an honest leader who will focus on 70% solutions for the next four years? You adult?
(Two notes for reporters:
**Such a leader should be able to campaign 24/7 for the next six months. Therefore he/she likely can’t be an engaged parent with little kids.
**Although I’m one of the most conservative members of the Senate, I'm not interested in an ideological purity test, because even a genuine consensus candidate would almost certainly be more conservative than either of the two dishonest liberals now leading the two national parties.)
10.  Imagine if we had a candidate:
...who hadn’t spent his/her life in politics either buying politicians or being bought
…who didn’t want to stitch together a coalition based on anger but wanted to take a whole nation forward
…who pledged to serve for only one term, as a care-taker problem-solver for this messy moment
…who knew that Washington isn’t competent to micromanage the lives of free people, but instead wanted to SERVE by focusing on 3 or 4 big national problems,
such as:
A. A national security strategy for the age of cyber and jihad;
B. Honest budgeting/entitlement reform so that we stop stealing from future generations;
C. Empowering states and local governments to improve K-12 education, and letting Washington figure out how to update federal programs to adjust to now needing lifelong learners in an age where folks are obviously not going to work at a single job for a lifetime anymore; and
D. Retiring career politicians by ending all the incumbency protections, special rules, and revolving door opportunities for folks who should be public “servants,” not masters.
This really shouldn’t be that hard.
The oath I took is to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution. In brief, that means I’m for limited government.
And there is no reason to believe that either of these two national frontrunners believe in limiting anything about DC’s power.
I believe that most Americans can still be for limited government again -- if they were given a winsome candidate who wanted Washington to focus on a small number of really important, urgent things -- in a way that tried to bring people together instead of driving us apart.
I think there is room – an appetite – for such a candidate.
What am I missing?
More importantly, what are the people at the Fremont Wal-Mart missing?
Because I don’t think they are wrong. They deserve better. They deserve a Congress that tackles the biggest policy problems facing the nation. And they deserve a president who knows that his or her job is not to “reign,” but to serve as commander-in-chief and to “faithfully execute” the laws – not to claim imperial powers to rewrite them with his pen and phone.
The sun is mostly set on the Platte River -- and the kids need baths. So g’night.
It's hard to read that and not imagine that Sasse is endorsing his draft movement, although getting on the ballots anywhere now would be tough.  If a person actually could, they might have a fair shot at the convention, if they kept Trump from getting the nomination before the convention, which would also be tough.  Maybe it's an endorsement of a third party run.  It's hard not to see it as an open invitation for revolt against what's occurred, which doesn't mean that shall occur.   Nonetheless Sasse is now being talked about openly a great deal, and has come just as close as he can to endorsing the idea of his running an a conservative independent without saying he'd do it.  His resistance to it so far has been stated in terms of his being a father and not being able to devote full time to the effort, but it's hard not to read his statement as stating that he would accept an offer if it were made.  And right now, it's hard not to see it being made.

Added to this, Romney isn't going to go the convention.  He'd earlier flat out stated he wouldn't vote for Trump.  The Bushes aren't going either.  John McCain isn't either.  Arizona Senator Jeff Flake indicated he was going to have a tough time supporting his party's nominee.  

So then, will there be a Draft Sasse effort?  And how would that work at this late stage of the proces.

Or will there be a Sasse for President as a third party effort.

All third party efforts in U.S. history have been Quixotic.  But, there's never been an election like this before.  Most Americans don't like Hillary Clinton.  Most Americans dislike Donald Trump even more than they dislike Hillary Clinton.  It's May.  People have had years to form their dislike for Trump and Clinton.  Sasse would be fresh and, no matter how much Trump yelled at him, and no matter how much Clinton ignored him, most people would like him. But enough?  Who knows, but whatever else we can say about it, no independent run has had a better chance than this one would.

Tracking the Presidential Election, 2016

Tracking the Presidential Election, 2016, Part II



Friday Farming: No capital? Little money? This young rancher proves cattle business is still possible

When Sage Askin graduated from college in 2012, all he had was a degree, and a paid-for pickup and stock trailer. That’s what he used to get into the cattle business. That and a strong desire to ranch, a good work ethic and the. . .
Up to 150,000 leased acres in just four years.  Pretty impressive.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Brigade HQ at Casa Grandes.

Caption from Library of Congress reads:  At Brigade headquarters, Casas Grandes, Mexico: L to R Lt. Col. Trofilgo Davila - Chief of arms, Carranza Forces, Col. Cabell, U.S. Chief of Staff, Lt. Leopolo Coronado, aide to Davila. Mexican-U.S. Campaign after Villa, 1916; [standing, Lt. M.C. Schellenberger and unidentified man]

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Roads to the Great War: WWI Danger: Airplane-Eating Cows

Roads to the Great War: WWI Danger: Airplane-Eating Cows: Contributed by Mike Cox Curtiss Jenny:  Particularly Toothsome for Cows They appeared to walk around aimlessly, looking innocent u...

Lex Anteinternet: Lex Anteinternet: Ah crud

Lex Anteinternet: Lex Anteinternet: Ah crud: Lex Anteinternet: Ah crud : I went to edit my big new post on the status of the election and. . . wiped it out. Ack. And then I lost a Wo...
Just before the phones went out.

Hmmm. . . . 

Lex Anteinternet: Ah crud

Lex Anteinternet: Ah crud: I went to edit my big new post on the status of the election and. . . wiped it out. Ack.

And then I lost a Word document.

Ah crud

I went to edit my big new post on the status of the election and. . . wiped it out.


Tracking the Presidential Election, 2016, Part II

I started this thread at the commencement of the 2016 Election Season:
Tracking the Presidential Election, 2016
The focus of this blog, at least theoretically, is on events of a century ago.  Indeed, the event that really motivated the concept of a novel and hence this support blog occurred 100 years ago, and is coming right up.  So we should be looking at the 1916 Presidential election.
That election, as the readers here well know, featured Woodrow Wilson in a contest against Charles E. Hughes. Wilson, of course, campaigning on "He kept us out of war" won.

President Woodrow Wilson.
Charles E. Hughes.  Maybe the beard, in the post bearded era, did in his chances.
I can't compare that election to the current one, as it was nothing like it.  I can compare, and often have, President Obama with President Wilson (without Wilson's racism, however) as in my view they're both guilty of confusing talk with action.
When I did that it was my intent to run that thread all the way through to the end of the campaign.

It's proven to be impossible, however, as the thread has grown impossibly large, and now when I update it the effect is to wipe out all of the other posts on the first page of the blog.  It's basically threatening to suck the life out of the blog, the same way this election is sucking the life out of the country, or so it seems.

So, I've decided to stop trying to update one single entry and start a part two.  There may be more parts later on, depending upon how things go.  There probably will be.

And this is a good point at which to do this, as the race really seems to have turned a corner recently.  It isn't the same race that the pundits were declaring inevitable results for just a couple of weeks ago, although it should be noted that we never did that here.

So, here's part two.

First, the tell of the tape as of today, following the Wisconsin victory for Cruz and Sanders, and the Colorado victory for Sanders.

Democrats (needed to win 2,383)
Clinton:  1,740, or 1,739 (469 Superdelegates)
Sanders:  1055 or 1070 (31 Superdelegates).
Martin O'Malley:  1 (now out)

Republicans (needed to win, 1,237)
Donald Trump:  737 or 753 (1 of which is an unpledged delegate)
Ted Cruz: 505 or 478 (12 of which are unpledged).
Marco Rubio: 171 or 173  (now out)
John Kasich: 143 or 144
Ben Carson: 8  (now out)
Jeb Bush: 4  (now out).
Carly Fiorina:  1 (now out)
Ron Paul:  1 (now out).


First let us note that the Trump tallies have gone down, that's right, down, since the last tally.

And Marco Rubio's have gone up.  Yes, up, even though he's out.

This race is far from over.

Now, I've been saying that all along, in spite of the press treatment of this race as being over and Trump and Clinton as being the nominees.  They aren't the nominees yet.

And there's more than a fair chance they won't be.

Indeed the pundits have now stated that the race is up in the air.  Last weekend one of them actually blew up at the assertion that Sanders couldn't win the Democratic nomination and that Trump had won the Republican nomination.  And there's suddenly a lot of discussion of the convention rules and what they mean, or the fact that there really aren't any rules.

A lot of things have gone into this, including a sharper focus in the GOP race on the various positions and statements of the candidates. And in spite of the assertions to the contrary, Kasich remaining in the race appears to be hurting Trump but not helping Cruz.  On the Democratic side discontent with Clinton and a surprisingly broad appeal for Sanders is making it far from certain that Clinton will gain enough delegates to prevent a contested convention.

And, as one of the pundits this past weekend finally admitted, there really is no prior convention or even election that provides a useful guild, as up until recently the conventions weren't dominated by primary elections, but by state conventions. So, we may be back, oddly enough, to the old free form convention of old.  Indeed, I suspect we are.

So, given that, my prediction right now is that neither the GOP or the Democrats enter conventions with the result of the race determined.

And if that occurs, on the GOP side Trump will not be the nominee.  He lacks a majority of the delegates now, and that may still be the case by the convention.  And, if he has a plurality, it will not matter.  I'd give Cruz less than a 50% chance of being the nominee as well.  Kasich, maybe, but more likely than that a candidate not currently running.

And while I think it more likely that Clinton take the nomination in a contested convention, I don't think its a guaranteed result by any means.  Sanders still stands a chance, as does a candidate not running at the present time, including Biden.  Sanders is actually within striking distance of Clinton on pledged delegates, and if his tally exceeds that of Clinton's the Superdelegates may truly being to fall apart for Clinton. At least some will defect, or being to look for a compromise candidate.

For the first time in a very long time, it's actually possible that the candidates in the fall might not be those who ran prior to the conventions.

First Commentary Followup

The real nature of the national contests this year is showing up in a surprising way locally. Wyoming is actually getting a lot of attention from the various campaigns, save for the Kasich campaign, which might tell us something about it.  

The Democrats hold their county conventions this Saturday.  The vote at the county level will determine the elected delegates.  The Superdelegates have already pledged for Clinton in spite of the strong state wide general dislike of Clinton.  

Demonstrating how tight this race really is, at the local and national level, both campaigns have sent representatives of surprising nature here recently.  Earlier this week Jane Sanders spoke in Casper.  On the same day, Bernie Sanders spoke in Laramie.  The choice of Laramie, Wyoming's most liberal town (omitted Jackson, whose demographics don't reflect the state very well) was a wise one showing some knowledge of demographics in the state on the part of somebody.

And Sanders has been running television ads. These may be the first Democratic pre convention ads to be ever run in the state.

The Clinton's sent Bill Clinton to Cheyenne.  In Cheyenne he gave a speech where he mentioned the plight of coal.  That shows that they're paying attention to what is going on in the state, but it's also the sort of thing that is fueling the sort of cynicism that is drawing in a lot of people to Trump and Sanders this year.  I doubt very much that anyone here thinks the Clinton's really feel that coal has a long term future in the national energy picture.  Sanders is opposed to fracking, which is part of his national plank, which will mean than in a general election he'll be a flop here, amongst other reasons, but at least he's honest about it.

The Republican state convention is on April 12.  The GOP system is odd as the county conventions have already been held and chose delegates, with nine out of twelve going for Cruz.  The remainder of the twenty-nine total will be chosen at the state convention.

Cruz will come and address the convention, again showing how tight the national election is.  The Trump campaign is sending Sarah Palin to address the GOP convention.  Idaho Governor Butch Otter will cross the state lines to address the delegates for Kasich.

On the Kasich campaign, their choice is the oddest and saddest, and they basically haven't mounted a campaign here. Perhaps that's because they felt that they didn't have a chance here, or perhaps they don't have the cash or the base. There were Rubio supporters in Wyoming although Rubio did not show well at the county conventions.  This is all odd as Cruz is vulnerable for his stated views, in Idaho, about public lands.  Public lands in public hands is a huge issue here and the vast majority of Wyomingites are hugely in favor of keeping it that way.  Trump is known to favor keeping the lands in public hands, Cruz actually favors privatizing them.  Kasich's views are unknown, but if his views on this issue mirrored Trump's, Clinton's and Sander's, he'd have an opening I suspect.  A lot of the votes going to Cruz here now are simply going to him as he's not Sanders.  Otherwise I suspect the support isn't deep.  Cruz is definitely running the best, and most politically astute, campaign here on the GOP side.


April 8, 2016

Updated totals following Colorado.

Democrats (needed to win 2,383)
Clinton:  1,767 (469 Superdelegates)
Sanders:  1 110 (31 Superdelegates)
Martin O'Malley:  1 (now out)

Republicans (needed to win, 1,237)
Donald Trump:  743 (1 of which is an unpledged delegate)
Ted Cruz: 520 (12 of which are unpledged).
Marco Rubio: 171 or 173  (now out)
John Kasich: 143 or 144
Ben Carson: 8  (now out)
Jeb Bush: 4  (now out).
Carly Fiorina:  1 (now out)
Ron Paul:  1 (now out).


Why is a Clinton victory regarded as inevitable, when she has over 600 delegates left to capture, while a brokered convention in the GOP is regarded as likely when Trump is about 500 delegates away from securing the GOP nomination?

I'm not saying that a Trump victory is inevitable. Rather, I"m saying that a Clinton victory isn't.

April 10, 2016

Yesterday the Wyoming Democratic Caucus was held.  Here's the new table:

Democrats:  Needed to win, 2,383.

Clinton: 1,774 (469 of which are Superdelegates)

Sanders:  1,117 (31 of which are Superdelegates)

Republicans:  Needed to win, 1,237.

Trump:  743 (of which 1 is an unpledged delegates).

Cruz:  532 (of which 12 are unpledged delegates)

Rubio:  171.  Rubio has suspended his campaign.

Kasich:  143.

Carson:  8  Carson has suspended his campaign.

Bush:  4  Carson has suspended his campaign.

Fiorina:  1  Fiorina has dropped out of the race.

Paul:  1  Paul has dropped out of the race.


Okay, a couple of comments.

First of all, these tallies are based on those kept by the New York Times.  You can find alternate ones that vary, sometimes quite significantly.  None of the alternate tallies impact who is the front runner, but they truly are different.  The Times is generally a lower tally.

Part of this might be based on the fact that there's actually more doubt in who takes what in terms of delegates than might initially appear to be the case.  So at any one time time, there could be a 20 delegate swing in the top contenders.  Indeed, these tallies tend to change a bit days after an election is supposedly concluded as the actual picking of the delegates commences.

Next, the Wyoming Democratic vote was yesterday.  This vote is very illustrative of a couple of things.  One of them is that Hillary Clinton has a huge likeability problem.  The second one is that Sanders has a very difficult time getting to where he needs to be even "winning" a state.

You'd have expected that a well established candidate link Clinton would have blown the doors off the Sanders campaign bus against Sanders.  Wyoming's basic outlook on things tends towards the Libertarian, and Sanders Socialist world outlook is about as far from the average Wyomingites as can be imagined.  None the less, Sanders took over 50% of the Democratic vote.  A lot of that is simply because people don't like Hillary Clinton.  Even with the endorsement of one of the state's former governors Clinton couldn't take the state in terms of the popular vote.

None the less, in delegate breakdown, she took the same number of elected delegates that Sanders did.  They each took seven. So if its a "victory", it's a Pyrrhic victory.  The real result is a wash.  Neither candidate really pulled ahead.  If Sanders can really pull ahead somehow, the seven delegates he took in Wyoming might matter.  But right now they surely do not.  Moreover, all of the state's superdelegates are presently pledged to Clinton, giving us an example of exactly what Sanders has been saying shouldn't happen. The majority of Wyoming Democrats, barely, might want Sanders, but the majority of the state's delegates, after the superdelegates are considered, are going to Clinton.

How the Democrats got themselves into this mess is interesting, but then both parties are in a mess right now.  The Democrats are set to nominate the most unlikable candidate they've run in a century.  She is so unlikable that she should be easy pickings for the GOP, but for the fact that the GOP seems to be heading towards nominating the least electable candidate of their own since 1964.  The parties, if their front runners win the nomination, will pit two candidates against each other that are hugely unpopular with large segments of the American public.  Perhaps, in an odd way, that wouldn't be a bad result as none of the front runners is likely to have much truck with Congress.  And that would include those in second position.  Cruz is barely more liked by average Americans than Trump.  Sanders is generally liked but his positions on almost everything are not going to be taken seriously by Congress.

For these reasons, oddly, the best hope for both parties are contested conventions resulting in the picking of somebody other than somebody now running.  There's a relatively good chance of that happening with the GOP and a slight chance of that happening with the Democrats.  With the Republicans, basically, if the current trend in the primaries continues that will happen.  With the Democrats, it's unlikely unless the Superdelegates bolt in mass, which perhaps would be the best service they could offer their party at this time.

On one final item, there's now a building movement to draft Gen. James Mattis as a GOP candidate or even as a Third Party candidate.  This hasn't gone far enough yet to regard there being a high likelihood of it happening, but there's definitely talk of it occurring.  The retired Marine Corps general was popular with servicemen who served with him, and he's not a professional politician.  He reportedly has some big money behind a campaign to draft him, although there's no evidence that he's supporting the movement himself.  It's an interesting development that should be watched.

April 17, 2016 

Yesterday Wyoming's Republican convention was held.  Before we consider that here's a new table, even though yesterday's event shouldn't really impact the tallies actually.

Democrats:  Needed to win, 2,383.

Clinton: 1,776 (469 of which are Superdelegates)
Sanders:  1,118 (31 of which are Superdelegates)

Republicans:  Needed to win, 1,237.

Trump:  743 (of which 1 is an unpledged delegates).
Cruz:  545 (of which 16 are unpledged delegates)
Rubio:  171.  Rubio has suspended his campaign.
Kasich:  143.
Carson:  8  Carson has suspended his campaign.
Bush:  4  Carson has suspended his campaign.
Fiorina:  1  Fiorina has dropped out of the race.
Paul:  1  Paul has dropped out of the race.

Now, these numbers are  bit different on both sides.  For one treason or another, both Clinton and Sanders, who have had no races since the last reported on, have had an increase in delegates.  Trump has remained stationary, but Cruz has gone up for some reason, part of that, but only part, due to an increase in unpledged delegates.  So now Sanders trails Clinton's combined total by over 600 delegates while Cruz trails Trump by slightly under 200. With the New York primary coming up, these numbers stand to change a lot, with early predictions being that Trump will add quite a few delegates.  The Democratic side is much more difficult to predict.

The Wyoming GOP convention is a bit of a non event, as odd as that may seem, in some ways as the results were known a long time ago, after the county caucuses.   It is possible for the convention to arrive at another result but it was known it wouldn't.  Perhaps the most surprising thing is that one state official who is a super delegate did indicate that he might go for Kasich at the national convention.  Which points both ti his wisdom on preserving a future run at office and the big GOP problem that's developing locally and nationally.

That Trump wouldn't win here was already known, but frankly Cruz isn't a popular candidate amongst regular people either.  At least one long term GOP voter I know will be voting Democratic this fall, and he's in the class of folks whom, due to the Second Amendment, normally votes GOP.  And he's not the only one, and he's declaring it openly.  That's because public lands are his litmus test.

Cruz, again in the convention yesterday, said the same thing here that he did in Idaho about wanting to transfer the Public Lands "back" to the states. That is a popular idea with the hard right wing of the GOP here, which reflects a split in the party between the old GOP and the Tea Party elements, but it's massively unpopular with sportsmen, whom make up a large percentage of the voting public here.  Indeed, Cruz again state that the Federal government owns only 2% of Texas and Texans feel that's 2% too much, which is exactly what most native Wyomingites feel is wrong about Texas.  We know that Texans have no ability to use their wild areas without paying massive fees and for many Wyomingites, therefore, Texas isn't what we hold dear about the West.  It's going to be very difficult for Wyoming sportsmen this fall, therefore, and not just Wyoming sportsmen but sportsmen from any area of the West, as they'll have to choose between a land grab that would end the West as we know it or a President who will be hostile the Second Amendment.  I strongly suspect in a lot of areas sportsmen will go for Second Amendment restrictions over the loss of the Public Lands.

Which bring us to this.  The strong discontent in the GOP that's causing this race to be one in which either Trump or Cruz stand the best chances of being the nominee is effectively handing this race to the Democrats in the fall.  Neither Cruz nor Trump will beat Hillary Clinton, assuming that she is the nominee, and while a Sanders nomination is unlikely, I strongly doubt that either Trump or Cruz can beat Sanders either.   Indeed, given the common appeal that both Sanders and Trump have to the disaffected, Trump probably has a better chance of winning against Sanders than Cruz does.

All of which is known to the Democrats and to the GOP, which is why the GOP regulars are considering their options for a brokered convention or a third party candidate, if need be.

This isn't as obvious to the local Democrats, who have never really recovered from the Clinton era and therefore are blind to their chances in the fall.  If Wyoming's Democratic Party were able to muster a strong established candidate for our Congressional seat, which so far seems really unlikely, and if they were able to run on economic and public lands issues, without having to accept the Democratic social agenda that's way too far to the left for most Wyoming voters, they'd have a real chance at taking the house seat away from the GOP.  At least one of the GOP candidates seems to know that, as he's quietly backed off of his vote to remove, which became to study, taking the public domain from the Federal Government.

And so we're off to New York on this thread next.


 New York City construction, 1912

April 19, 2016

Yesterday the New York primaries were held.

The lineup this morning:

Democrats:  Needed to win, 2,383.

Clinton: 1,915 (469 of which are Superdelegates)
Sanders:  1,231 (31 of which are Superdelegates)

Republicans:  Needed to win, 1,237.

Trump:  845 (of which 1 is an unpledged delegates).
Cruz:  559 (of which 16 are unpledged delegates)
Rubio:  171.  Rubio has suspended his campaign.
Kasich:  147.
Carson:  8  Carson has suspended his campaign.
Bush:  4  Carson has suspended his campaign.
Fiorina:  1  Fiorina has dropped out of the race.
Paul:  1  Paul has dropped out of the race.


Yawn.  And Oh Wow. And, pundits, really?

Now, in fairness, this is exactly what was predicted on the Republican side, and that's why its anticlimactic.   And nobody can fault anyone for that.  But, for a state that seems to pride itself on being a national leader even if it frequently isn't, this is a surprisingly dull result in some ways, but in ways that were expected and nobody can really be faulted for. . . much. . . save for Cruz having made any traction in New York, which he was unlikely to get anyhow, impossible early in the race.

With Trump the highly predictable occurred, not too surprising given Cruz's earlier mass insult of all New Yorkers with his poorly thought out "New York Values" statement.  Having slapped New Yorkers they slapped him back.  Cruz clearly wasn't going to win in New York.  

Still, it would have been thought that maybe Kasich could have done well and a surprise wouldn't have been impossible. .  As it was, he took 25% of the vote, beating Cruz out for second, and securing three delegates.  That wasn't a bad performance for Kasich, but it certainly wasn't great.  Given that the state is an East Coast state with a strong Democratic liberal base, it would have been presumed that perhaps the less radically conservative element in the GOP would have gone for Kasich in higher numbers there, but they did not.  His presence perhaps helped to keep this from being a complete Trump blow out, maybe, assuming that it was not.

In the Democratic race we saw a real New Yorker, Sanders (by birth) against a late import.  But, New Yorkers went with the Democratic candidate that other more daring states rejected, choosing established and disliked over liked but radial, but not by that great of a margin.  Again, a person can't fault them for that, but the results may not quite be the landslide that pundits are claiming it is by any means.  Even in defeat Sanders did nearly as well as Clinton.

So what do these results mean?

Well, on the GOP side maybe not much.  Trump doesn't really gain that much, although it must be noted that a little under 400 delegates away from winning the nomination at this point.  Still, Cruz is less than 300 delegates away from Trump and the chances for a contested convention remain high.  So we won't really know what this means until the next few primaries are over.  Maybe its the beginning of a final  Trump rally.  Or maybe its just Trump taking his native state. . . a state still retains a fairly significant hard had vote.  

It's hard not to regard this as very disappointing for Kasich, who even after picking up a few delegates and coming in second is still over twenty delegates behind Rubio, who of course dropped out some time ago.  Even combined Rubio and Kasich delegates don't come up to equaling second place Cruz.

On the Democratic side the results are perhaps more telling.  Sanders didn't do bad at all, and he did pick up 106 delegates.  So, even on Clinton's adopted home turf, he did pretty well but still not well enough. Still, if he can make that sort of inroad in a state that Clinton was supposed to have all sewn up, Clinton may be in for a rough time the next few primaries.  Sanders continues to trail Clinton even in the states she wins, including the states she should win in big, and he overcomes her outside of the East and South.  He's  not building enough of a margin right now to make it certain that the Democrats will have a brokered convention (and the GOP race isn't certain to have one either) but it's becoming an increasingly possiblity.

On the press, the coverage again continues to miss the mark.  Last night, and probably today, you could read of both Trump and Clinton scoring "major" victories by large margins. But Clinton didn't.  She took 60% of her adopted state's vote, which is a significant margin over Sanders, and it is comparable to Trump's share of the vote in his native state, but she faces only one opponent and she can't put him away.  40% of New York Democrats said no to her and indicated that they'd prefer Sanders, who is much more "progressive" than Clinton and is well liked personally by most.  If Sanders can take 40% of the vote in a state where she is a Senator she's in real trouble where she isn't.  Indeed, the irony of this race is that both parties are currently heading towards probably nominating very unlikable candidate which makes Clinton a strong candidate by default, where she otherwise would be a weak one.

The race might not mean what it seems to mean for Trump either.  Trump is a New Yorker, and his brash loud style is the type of presentation that many people, no doubt unfairly, associate with New York City.  That style really is disliked in many places and this is the first race in which Trump has pulled a majority of the votes.  But he didn't pull such a majority that he took all the delegates.  Kasich, who nationally is barely being heard now, took three, a small number, but reflecting 25% of the GOP no doubt reflecting a large percentage of the party that doesn't like Trump or Cruz and which reflects a more traditional conservatism.  Trump was expected to do well in New York, and did, but it should also be the state where he performs the best.  60% is good, but it might not be good enough. We will soon see.

Kasich interestingly took Manhattan, the only county he took at all.  Trump took all the rest.  Clinton took only the large urban areas. Sanders took all the rest.  That's very interesting as it tends to show that Clinton is really weak, even in her adopted state, outside of town.  New York is a Democratic state, but the results there tend to show that Trump polled well amongst hard hat and rural voters in the New York GOP.

A big series of East Coast races next occurs on April 26.  Given the performance yesterday the Cruz and Kasich campaigns have to be sweating over that race.  Having gone back to the Atlantic, the "Stop Trump" effort has taken a bit of a blow.   Whether or not that just means something about New York or New England is the big question.  Trump is now within striking distance of taking the GOP race and his opponents have to do well in the never several primaries.

On the Democratic side Clinton is in the same boat, within striking distance, although the number of delegates awarded in any one primary differs. She therefore is actually closer in some ways, but her tally still includes the large number of Superdelegates which, if subtracted, mean that she and Sanders are actually fairly close.  Her victory in New York might not really mean the same thing about New England that it does for the GOP, as Sanders has done well there.  Sanders is nearly 700 delegates behind, but over 400 of those are Superdelegates, so he might be able to close the gap a little on the 26th.

On a couple of semi amusing observations, counties in New York are incredibly tiny.  I happened to look one up last night as it was the only one whose returns hadn't come in.  Unbelievably small.

Also, I can't help be amused in some ways how the New York press, in particular the New York Times, which is a very liberal journal, is in the same state that gives us a Trump sweep.  The New York Times is a great newspaper, but it's amusing to read in some ways as it lives in an atmosphere steeped with East Coast liberalism. Apparently it doesn't know about he large number of New York hard hat voters being in its own state.  The same is true of its readers, based on the comments you see on its news articles, who tend towards the snotty and just can't seem to understand that its a big country out there and a lot of Americans disagree strongly with the Times.  I'd wager, however, the candidates all know that.

Commentary Followup.

The Pundits, oh bother.

Just a few days ago the Pundits were all in a lather about the decline of the Trump campaign.

Now, going into New York, anyone paying attention knew that Trump was going to win.  The task, always regarded as doubtful, was to limit that win. Well, exactly what was expected to occur, occurred. Exactly.

This morning, the Pundits are again in a lather, declaring a Trump pre convention sewing up of the nomination inevitable.

No, it isn't.

Let's say that again.

No, it isn't.

Trump's task remains just as daunting as it was before.  It's no more inevitable after New York, than it was before New York.

Now, let's say the next series of instabilities and get them out of the way. Trump, for old hard hat voter reasons, is likely to do well in all of New England.  But he won't take enough delegates to get the nomination through New England.

After the New England races, the pundits will be flipping over backwards to declare his nomination inevitable.  Right up until some non New England race goes the other way, and they'll start to doubt.

Can I predict the race with certainty here?  No, I can't, but nobody else can either.  If were to make a predication, my predication will be for a convention in which nobody has the nomination.  Going from there is even more risky so I'll abstain for the time being, and turn to the Democrats.

The Press declared Hillary Clinton the Democratic nominee prior to her even running.  People who are skeptical of the Press are legitimately fueled by this, as even if it is accidental, and it likely is, the Press has always treated her as the Democratic nominee and continues to do so.  This in spite of the fact that Sanders is doing well and continues to do well, even in New York.  Not deterred by his persistently increasing share of the vote, the Press has now again ramped up its view that she's the certain nominee.

No, she isn't.

It's likely that she will be, and if I were to hazard a guess, I will guess that she'll get enough delegates, when the Superdelegates are taken into account, to take the nomination prior to the convention, but even at that there will be a bit of a contest.  But it isn't impossible even now, nor even remote, that Sanders could upset thing so much that there will be a brokered convention.  A convention of that type would likely still result in her nomination, but it might not.

Anyway you look at it the race is still on, and the pundits, well, aren't doing that well.


April 26, 2016 

Today was a five northeastern state primary day.

First the days' result, as they stand right now.

Democrats:  Needed to win, 2,383.

Clinton: 2,155 (519 of which are Superdelegates)
Sanders:  1,355 (39 of which are Superdelegates)

Republicans:  Needed to win, 1,237.

Trump:  944 (of which 1 is an unpledged delegates).
Cruz:  558 (of which 16 are unpledged delegates)
Rubio:  171.  Rubio has suspended his campaign.
Kasich:  153.
Carson:  8  Carson has suspended his campaign.
Bush:  4  Carson has suspended his campaign.
Fiorina:  1  Fiorina has dropped out of the race.
Paul:  1  Paul has dropped out of the race.


The big news of course is the Republican event which saw Trump sweep all of these states.  It's proving to be interesting that Trump's real appeal is in the East, which is generally not thought of as having his particular brand of Conservatism.  It also, at this point, puts the forces aligned against Trump in nearly a last ditch scenario, which they are well aware of.  What Trump supporters seem unaware of is that in nominating Trump, which they are now close to doing, they're guaranteed to put the GOP into a serious defeat in the fall. They are very mad about how the GOP has reneged on its promises to them, but at the same time the defeat the GOP is set to receive may be nearly irreparable in some ways, particularly given the stakes involved at the Supreme Court.

Kasich picked up a few delegates, which perhaps isn't surprising, but it's very few.  Yesterday, anticipating the results that in fact occurred, Cruz and Kasich formed an uneasy alliance ceding Indiana to Cruz in exchange for some other states for Kasich.  They'll preserve their dispute, and chances for the convention, if they can make it that far.  The next few races, no matter what occurs, will not determine that as Trump needs over 280 delegates which means the race will go on until at least California.  California really looms as a decisive battleground for everyone and on June 7 there will only be one race remaining in any event.

On the Democratic side Sanders took Rhode Island and Clinton took every other state.  That's interesting too, as given as well as Trump did, we'd expect to perhaps see the same for Sanders given his hard hat Democrat appeal, but outside of Rhode Island, this appears not to have been the case.  Clinton is now very close to taking the nomination, with the Superdelegates included, but not at all close if you omit them.  So their race will continue on but for the first time it is beginning to take on the true air of inevitability.  Having said that, as the Democratic races were not winner take all, Sanders took delegates in every single race, but was only otherwise close in Delaware.  Sanders promises to go on to the end, but unless he can keep Clinton away from 1,237 delegates of all type, his race may rapidly decline in relevance.

Clinton needs over 200 delegates to lock things in, maybe, depending upon the reliability of the Superdelegates.  This probably means that this race remains up in the air until California as well.  But Sanders has to do extraordinary well from here on out to make it all the way to the convention.

Commentary followup:

The New York Times, looking at the math, has this to say about the GOP race in terms of where it will end up:
Though Mr. Trump is in a strong position, his path to winning enough delegates to secure the Republican nomination is not assured. Breaching the 1,237-delegate threshold requires him to maintain the same level of voter support in the contests ahead. If the dynamics of the race shift against him even slightly, he will fall short. Mr. Cruz and Gov. John Kasich of Ohio will try to earn enough delegates between them to deny Mr. Trump a majority and force the convention to undertake a second ballot. At that point, anything could happen.
In addition, there are several caveats that add uncertainty to these numbers. In a few states, there are delegates still to be allocated. Even delegates that have already been allocated can be reassigned.
Interesting analysis.  And something yesterday's results feed into.  The majority of Pennsylvania delegates are unassigned, in spite of yesterday's primary, and will go into the convention that way. That makes them, basically, something sort of like superdelegates.

About the Democrats the Times stated:
Democratic delegates are awarded proportionally, and in states that have voted so far, Mrs. Clinton has won more than half of the vote, on average. The lack of winner-take-all states on the Democratic side makes it very unlikely for Mr. Sanders to close the delegate gap.
Mrs. Clinton can win less than half of the remaining vote and still earn a majority of the pledged delegates by June.
That's pretty interesting too.  Clinton, even at a rate close to failure in a lot of the upcoming races, can still close the deal prior to the convention.


April 27, 2016

Ted Cruz announced today that Carly Fiorina would be his vp candidate.

I have to admit that its not immediately apparent to me what the strategy here is, unless its to link his campaign with a female business executive.  That may be all the more there is to it.  Chances are that Trump will go after the choice and won't look good for doing so.  For those who may be inclined to think more favorably of Cruz if he is running with a woman, including one who is a business person, perhaps this will achieve something, although frankly I'd guess the impact to be fairly marginal.  


April 28, 2016

The GOP race took another surprising turn today when the former Speaker of the House John Boehner really went after Ted Cruz.  In a speech today, which wasn't supposed to really be the subject of news quips, Boehner made his dislike of Cruz very well known using some extremely blunt terms about him.  Boehner indicated that he's support Trump if he was nominated, although he has been supporting Kasich, but would not support Cruz.  Given the serious effort to stop Trump, his comments were surprising, but Boehner has been fairly sincere all along and has been particularly open ever since meeting with Pope Francis, just prior to Boehner's resignation.


April 30, 2016 

 Updated totals

Democrats:  Needed to win, 2,383.

Clinton: 2,183 (520 of which are Superdelegates)
Sanders:  1,406 (39 of which are Superdelegates)

Republicans:  Needed to win, 1,237.

Trump:  997 (of which 41 are unpledged delegates).
Cruz:  566 (of which 16 are unpledged delegates)
Rubio:  173.  Rubio has suspended his campaign.
Kasich:  153.
Carson:  8  Carson has suspended his campaign.
Bush:  4  Carson has suspended his campaign.
Fiorina:  1  Fiorina has dropped out of the race.
Paul:  1  Paul has dropped out of the race.


With these new tallies Trump is only 240 delegates away from securing the nomination.  Very close, but not quite close enough right now to guarantee an early end to the contest.  There will not be enough delegates at stake to wrap things up before California on June 3, so the race will continue until at least then.  Indiana is being depicted as the potential end of the race, but it really cannot be.  If the race isn't sewn up by California there are only four races left after that.

On the Democratic side Clinton is 200 delegates away.  The earliest the Democratic race could wrap up would be May 17, although that would require Clinton to take every delegate at stack from now until then.

Commentary followup

Recently I've been avoiding actually bumping this up (even though I've been occasionally commenting on events) as I don't want this thread to resume the same position as its predecessor where it wipes out everything else on the page.  But then there's was the President's Washington Press speech.

For anyone who didn't see it, it was an amazing comic moment, showing the President's excellent comedic timing, and it was stunning in content.  It was nearly impossible to watch and not draw the conclusion that President Obama really doesn't care much for Hillary Clinton, frankly like the majority of Democrats.  But beyond that, his speech was both funny and kind to Bernie Sanders, who was present.  It was rally hard not to conclude that the President favors Sanders in the election.

It also poked fun at the remainder of the candidates, and Trump in particular, but it started off with a comedic statement about the next President "whoever she is".

Whether a person is a Democrat, Republican or Independent, that statement reflects what almost everyone who has looked at the election is concluding.  In spite of her lack of popularity the chances of the GOP basically committing suicide in the election by nominating Trump are becoming so overwhelming that the conclusion is beginning to seem fairly inevitable.

On that probable inevitability, the New York Times ran an editorial yesterday entitled "Go Ahead and Play the Woman Card", maintaining that Clinton's status as a woman really truly matters arguing "
We can't change assumptions about what a leader looks like unless we change what leaders look like.".  This shows how really truly clueless the New York Times tends to be.

Something that pundits have seemingly missed, and in fact the older set of Democratic voters has also missed, is that in 2016 a candidates gender is completely irrelevant.  Nobody cares if Clinton is a woman or not, and that is hardly being noticed by the voters. This is a good thing.  

Frankly, President Obama's election eight years ago crashed that window on everything and effectively he is the last of the firsts.  Prior to him, the "first black" President, or "first Catholic President (Kennedy), or what have you, mattered.  Now, it doesn't. The country that weighted race, gender or religion into these calculations is no more. Oh, sure, some people do, but the country as a whole does not.

This is why in this election we've heard hardly anything at all, really, about Clinton's gender.  And we've heard hardly anything at all about Sanders Jewish faith, which just a decade ago would have been a big deal.  We heard nothing about Rubio's Catholic faith, which was a huge issue for Kennedy.  We aren't even hearing about Trump's serial marriages, when the fact that Reagan had been married and divorced and remarried once was a big deal in the 1976 and 1980 elections for some. A person's religion, background, etc., still undoubtedly matter, but not in the "won't vote for him because. . . "sort of way it once did for many voters.  So, New York Times, it really don't care about what a candidate looks like anymore.  It's not 1975 anymore.

Back to Clinton's nearly inevitable run, some Republican figures, such as George F. Will, are now urging a Dunkirk strategy.

Dunkirk, of course, is famous for being that location in France where British and French soldiers stages a heroic defense of the town against the Germans in 1940 so that the British forces could be withdrawn.  Basically, troops maintaining the line fought to save their army, so that it could be rebuilt in Britain.  Will, and others, are now urging Republicans to fight to save House and Senate seats so that the GOP can be rebuilt over the next four years.  Basically, the Presidency will be abandoned as a hope, conceding that it is already lost.

Will was blunt in his article that the forces that supported Trump will simply be dumped.  He doesn't want them.  The proposal, basically, is to create a new conservative party out of the wrecked shell of the current one, a pretty dramatic concession for a lifelong conservative Republican.

If that occurs, chances are that John Boehner will be one of the Republicans joining him in that effort. The former Speaker of the House was caught this past week taking real hard shots at Ted Cruz, going so far as to indicate that he'd support Trump if Trump is nominated, but not Cruz.  He didn't apologize when audio of that was released, which we probably would generally have expected.  And he showed up with Obama on an amusing video that showed up at the end of the President's speech.  Cruz has been ineffective in trying to paint Boehner since then as just the sort of Washington insider that he's been campaigning against, so in a way Beohner's recent actions may turn out to be the "establishment" getting the last laugh on Cruz, whom they truly dislike.

I should note, no matter what the pundits are currently saying, that even if neither Cruz or Kasich can mathematically get the nomination, it's far from certain that Trump will prior to the convention.  He will have take 47% of the remaining delegates and he's had trouble mustering over 35% of the vote in any election outside of the northeast.  If this goes to the convention, I'd expect the mainline GOP to try to rally and take out Trump and Cruz both.  By this point they are starting to steel themselves against a Trumpite revolt as they're starting to plan, long term, to really dump the Tea Party wing of their party and they might prefer an open breach right now to simply doing it quietly later, if there's a chance to take the White House, which there would still be.  Likewise, while Clinton's nomination seems assured, she doesn't have it yet, and in an election year when even President Obama, for whom she worked as Secretary of State, didn't really have anything nice to say about her, it's still not impossible for the unlikely to happen and Sanders obtain the nomination. 


May 1, 2016

With Indiana done, Trump is all but nominated, Cruz had dropped out, and Sanders remains in the race.

First, the results as they stand right nowThis probably stands to be revised, as Indiana is still coming in.

Democrats:  Needed to win, 2,383.

Clinton: 2,219 (520 of which are Superdelegates)
Sanders:  1,448 (39 of which are Superdelegates)

Republicans:  Needed to win, 1,237.

Trump:  1,048 (of which 41 are unpledged delegates).
Cruz:  566   Cruz has suspended his campaign. (of which 16 are unpledged delegates)
Rubio:  173.  Rubio has suspended his campaign.
Kasich:  153.
Carson:  8  Carson has suspended his campaign.
Bush:  4  Carson has suspended his campaign.
Fiorina:  1  Fiorina has dropped out of the race.
Paul:  1  Paul has dropped out of the race.


The real surprise of the evening is that Cruz dropped out.  He wasn't expected to win Indiana in the first place so his loss impacted very little in terms of his overall chances.  It probably operates to put the bullet in his political future, however.

That leaves only Kasich contesting Trump in the convention, but he has no realistic chance.  Many of Cruz's voters will go to Trump rather than Kasich in any area where Cruz had support.  So keeping this running long enough to go for a contested convention is highly unlikely.  If he did manage to pull that off, there's a decent chance that Trump would not be the nominee, but that's very unlikely.

So that takes us to the Democrats where Hillary Clinton now needs less than 200 delegates to win.  Amazingly, even at this late date, Sanders managed what Cruz could not; he remains competitive against a nominee who is closing in on the final number.   He'd need a little under 900 delegates to make it, however, and that's unlikely to occur.  But he continues to try.  And as it isn't impossible, he can't be blamed and to has to be admired.

Assuming that these primaries continue to play out in their current direction, this now means that the contest in the fall will between two disliked candidates, Trump and Clinton, but the dynamics mean Clinton will win. The Presidential race, therefore, is now all but over.

The amazing thing is that the GOP has managed to throw a race such as this, but then it's done very poorly in its Presidential picks in recent years.  At the same time, it's made promises it didn't keep.  It set itself up for failure in these regards, but now it may have set the table for internal reform.  It's current task is to hold on to the seats in the House it has for the next two years, and to keep the Senate seats it has right now.  Clinton's unpopularity may aid it in that.  The struggle it will face, if it does that, is dealing with likely vacancies in the Supreme Court, including the current one, over the next four years while it rebuilds.

That process has started already.  It's pretty clear that at the same time some in the GOP are now embracing Trump, others, recognizing the upcoming defeat, have their knives out for those responsible for it.  The GOP that we see in 2020 will not be the same one that will complete the 2016 election.  And it may be questionable as to what the Democratic party is as well.


May 4, 2016

 And now Kasich is out.  Trump is the Republican nominee.

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