Welcome to Trumplandia, DC’s New Power Game

Trumplandia | The New Game in Washington that Dems are Wise to Play

Wake up, DC Democrats, get over yourselves and play the Trump game – or else.

We woke up the day after Election Day 2016 to a new reality. The unthinkable has happened. On that point, most of us can agree. We just lived through the biggest election shocker of all time. Now I’m waiting for the Dems in DC to get smart, get over themselves and play the Trump game. If they don’t, they miss a golden opportunity.

The game is called Trumplandia and the rules of it can be found in Trump’s book Art of the Deal, and in all those seasons of The Apprentice that I bet few Dems in DC have bothered to watch.

Here’s a Cliff’s Notes version of Trump’s negotiation tactics to get you started. Here’s one I think you should pay close attention to:

Trump Rule: Think Big

“I like thinking big. I always have. To me it’s very simple: if you’re going to be thinking anyway, you might as well think big.”

Dems, you have a huge opportunity. Trump is coming to DC to play his game, and if you know anything about the man, you know he likes to be the judge. He likes to choose between competing proposals and strike deals.

You might get 49% of what you want. After all, Trump is not from the Republican establishment and was as hard on them as he was on you during the campaign. He was the match that set off the powder keg during the Republican primaries, and I bet you loved watching him drop like a shit bomb on the parade of Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and other name-brand Republicans. He gave them hell and for that you should be thankful, if not gleeful.

If you don’t come to the table and negotiate with the man, you get nothing, and neither do any of the Americans who believe in your policies and values. Plus, you leave him no one to play ball with except the hard right of political Washington.

But remember your position. He doesn’t need you, you need him and he knows that. The Republicans have the clout to ram through just about anything they want.

Trump Rule: Use Your Leverage.

“The worst thing you can possibly do in a deal is seem desperate to make it. That makes the other guy smell blood, and then you’re dead.”

You can start today and negotiate. You are going to have to let Trump pay back the people who helped him during the campaign. Hold your nose, note your objections and give in. Don’t kick up too much fuss. But after that, everything else is potentially on the table. Trump wants to hear what you have to say, and hear what Republicans have to say, and strike some sort of deal. That’s how he’s operated for decades and there’s no reason to think it’ll be much different now that he’s president.

That’s the art of the deal, to position yourself as middleman. Remember Bill Clinton’s tactic of triangulation between Republicans and Democrats in Congress? You triangulate between Trump and the Republican Party.

Trump Rule: Maximize the Options.

“I never get too attached to one deal or one approach…I keep a lot of balls in the air, because most deals fall out, no matter how promising they seem at first.”

Trump might just be able to get you some of what you wouldn’t have a chance of getting otherwise, no matter who is president, because of his position with Republicans. He has spoken in favor of reproductive rights so you know you can protect those. He promised infrastructure spending, and hey, that’s your arena. You can have a say in how the money is spent. You can insist on continuing Obama’s legacy of driving down the national deficit and insist that tax cuts don’t add a penny to the national debt. That message needs to spun out today and repeated a million times so you position yourself and have a shot at winning the next election as the more fiscally conservative party. There’s a lot you can accomplish if you get down off your high horse and dirty your feet.

But only if you play Trumplandia.

Be the squirrel collecting his nuts. Get on his good side – believe it or not he has one. And remember that the day is probably coming when Republicans turn on him and get some payback, even by impeaching him. He’ll be looking for a friend and you can be positioned to accept him where he really belongs, if you only consider the policy views he’s expressed over the years. Trump is a shade of blue-red and it’ll show over time. He can be persuaded away from the extremes. He might even say sorry for some of that crap he said about immigrants, women and minorities.

Be ready.

And please, please remember this:

“In most cases I’m very easy to get along with. I’m very good to people who are good to me. But when people treat me badly or unfairly or try to take advantage of me, my general attitude, all my life, has been to fight back very hard.”

Stating the Obvious: Ask Candidates for President about the Constitution

Now that America has two candidates for president from which to choose, I have a suggestion for how to judge their qualifications:

Ask them about the Constitution.

When the winner of the November election takes the Oath of Office, they will swear to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. You’d think that document would be the center of attention when considering who’s qualified for the job. But how often are candidates asked about it?

Granted, I haven’t watched every debate and media interview, but I have a rough estimate for you:

Zero. Zip. Notta.

Here’s a question for Hillary and Donald. Name three rights protected by the Bill the Rights other than freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom to own the biggest damn gun money can buy. Every candidate for national office should be asked that question, and they should be able to easily answer it.

Can they tell us about our right to a free press, to a fair trial, to protection from illegal search and seizure? Can they tell us about the Executive Branch’s constitutional role in a system designed to balance power with the Legislative and Judicial branches?

We really need answers to these questions, but they’re not being asked so we’ll never know unless the candidates volunteer their answers. But hey, that’s not sexy. We’d rather know why they named their cat Fluffy.

An eighth grade social studies teacher could come up with better questions to ask candidates for high office than the talking heads presently entrusted with that job. Hell, eighth grade social studies students could ask more relevant questions! If you interview someone for a job, you’d think that the primary questions would center around the nuts and bolts of doing the job.

Presently, we as a country are not following the Constitution, or are only following it when convenient. We’ve equated freedom of speech with freedom for billionaires to pour endless amounts of money into getting their pet politicians elected, and this is all right according to the Supreme Court. We’ve created exceptions to the right to a fair trial and expanded the definition of terrorist to include anyone who speaks out against the government and war and participates in non-violent protest. Government agents can search your home and seize your property without a trial or even pressing charges. You can be detained indefinitely and held in secret even inside of the United States.

And that only scratches the surface of ways our Constitution is being used as toilet paper. We’ve allowed our Congress to abdicate its responsibility to print the nation’s money, and instead a private banking cartel known as the Federal Reserve does that job. The president does not have to seek Congressional approval before attacking another country on their soil. Treaties with other countries can be worked out in secret and passed through Congress without debate or even attention. These are all violations of the word and/or spirit of the Constitution.

If we’re not going to follow the Constitution, why bother having one?

So please, tell our media to ask these questions. Insist that candidates running for high office—including for Congress and governor—actually know and understand the rights they swear to defend and the powers they’re granted by the people as our representatives. Otherwise, we might as well just turn running for president into the Miss America Pageant.

At least in that contest the contestants are asked questions relevant to the job they seek.

Donald Trump: Country Club Republicans' Best Friend

country club republicans love angry trump
What does he have to be angry about? Maybe the 19th hole was out of Chivas 18-year.

Country Club Trump

You won’t see many of them at Donald Trump rallies, and in the Republican primaries they are not the biggest voting bloc, but they are the leavening in his bread, his diehard supporters:

Country club Republicans.

They are his people, his class: the Hummer drivin’, government hatin’, big-house-havin’ country club crowd. Trump is right at home among them—he even owns a bunch of country clubs. They have in common something more important than race or ideology or religion or even politics. You might call it “the American Way.”

The American Way means you get what you earn and nothing more. You make your way in life based on your wits and ambition and ruthlessness and fuck it if people don’t like it. It means you pay your way or get run over.

No handouts. No charity. It’s survival of the fittest.

When you are a “have,” you don’t give a shit about the “have nots.” The whole idea of redistribution of wealth makes you sick. Government support is for wimps, unless of course it comes in the form of special tax breaks for your business or industry. Your primary concern is with protecting what you have. You are a dragon atop your pile of treasure, always wanting more. You are rapacious. Enough is never enough.

The country club crowd identifies with Trump’s “self-made man” persona. They look at him and see someone who has used everything to his advantage, like they do, and is owed everything in return. They work hard for their money for the most part. They sacrifice. They play the game. They deserve the very best.

The game is “he who dies with the most money and toys wins.” It’s greed, greed, greed and they are unabashed about it. Fuck Jesus and his “help the poor” bullshit. You gotta earn your way in life.

They love Trump’s self-promotion. They would put their names on skyscrapers if they could. They are car dealers whose names are heard daily on commercials. They are real estate agents with their faces on billboards and business cards, giving the world that big “trust me” smile. They are corporate executives whose greatest asset is the good name they earn after many years of long hours and big sacrifices. With a name like “Trump” they could build an empire just like he has.

This is the game, the American Way, and in Trump they see a master player.

So when he calls for sending immigrants back their homelands, the country club crowd says “amen!” When he says he’ll make Mexico pay for a border fence, they say it’s about time. When he incites his supporters to punch protestors in the face, they hope to see blood spill.

Fucking liberals. The world is better off without them.

The country club crowd doesn’t care about effective government—just keep cutting taxes and “starve the beast.” Dismantle the social safety net. Out there in the suburbs and up there in the penthouse apartments it’s a different world. Talk about fairness with country club Trump supporters and they’ll tell you that nothing could be more fair than survival of the fittest. It’s the American Way.

If you don’t believe me, ask a country club Republican. I’ve known many. The great majority of membership at the typical country club are Republican, and while I haven’t asked enough of them to know who they support this year, I know what they like and don’t like. Rubio is a lightweight. Cruz is soft. Kasich might be their choice if Trump wasn’t available.

But with Trump in the race, it’s no contest. He is one of them and that’s all they need to know.

[And by the way, I’m only speaking to a certain breed of Republican here. The Democrat establishment isn’t much better.]

Tower of Babel | God Divided

The Tower of Babel: God Dividedtowerbabel

A nice Jehovah’s Witness came to my door wanting to tell me his religion’s “truth” about God. He came armed with a Bible, publications from his church, and arguments to every objection. No doubt he’d been through hours of preparation to cover every contingency. He had an answer for everything.

Well, not really everything, but everything that falls within his narrow scope of interest. Everything outside of those borders is “not God’s word” and “not truth.”

I respect people who back their beliefs with action. It’s why I humor the Jehovah’s Witness, Mormans and others who show up at my door. But there comes a point in our conversations when I tell them that I cannot live within their box. That their “truth” is only part of the story. That long ago the truth about God was divided into pieces and scattered to the four corners of the globe, same as in the story of the Tower of Babel when one language was divided into many and people stopped understanding anything but their own language.

In that story, a united people build a tower which they believe will extend to heaven and bring them close to God. A tower is a symbol of knowledge. A person’s knowledge is built piece by piece, brick by brick, stacking one on top of another. Those pieces are like bits of truth about God pieced together.

In the story of the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve’s big error is they eat of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. They too wanted to know the truth, and like the Tower of Babel they were struck down.

Apparently, knowing the truth is dangerous. If you know the truth, what good is organized religion? You don’t need it anymore.

“I walked away questioning their dogmas and beliefs, and wondered what else they could be wrong about.”

I have found my truth by piecing together what resonates with me from the world’s religions, philosophies, spiritual practices, and belief systems, including science. My main religion is Christianity, and within Christianity I have been exposed to nearly every denomination, having attended services in Baptist, Methodist, Catholic, Lutheran, Episcopal, Assemblies of God, Seventh Day Adventist, Unitarian, and Christian Science churches. I found something good in all of them, as well as in many other nondenominational churches I’ve had the pleasure of attending.

But in none of them did I find the complete truth. They all have a piece of the puzzle, a brick in the Tower. Some of them recognize that their picture is incomplete. To others that idea is heresy. Stack the wood, start the fire, and burn the witch!

The churches that insist only they have the truth remind me of salespeople who insist that only the product or service they sell will meet every need. Why buy a Ford when you can buy a Chevy, or a Samsung when you can go with Apple? A salesperson’s job is to convince you that what they’re selling is the best. When it comes to religion, that means they have to claim they have exclusive rights to the truth. The Jehovah’s Witness who came to my door truly believed his religion taught the truth, and that is what he had to sell. What the good man is really trying to sell is a brick.

My break with Christianity began when I went to representatives of three different Christian denominations and asked them the proper way to be baptized. This is a really important question because if you believe what the New Testament says, you have to be baptized to go the Heaven. You know what happens to everyone else, and I’m deathly allergic to fire and brimstone. So I asked my question and was given three different answers.

One group said I have to be baptized in the name of Jesus.

One group said I have to be baptized in the name of God.

One group said I have to be baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Each group pointed to scriptures to back their assertions. Each claimed to know the truth. Each dangled the keys to Heaven and said I can only buy them in one place—their place.

I walked away questioning their dogmas and beliefs, and wondered what else they could be wrong about.

God dividedSince that time I have been on a journey of discovery. If I stayed in the box of one belief system or another I would still be struggling at the base of the tower of knowledge of God. I would have a foundation in my faith, and might have a few bricks stacked up based on what I could learn from one particular system, but wouldn’t be any closer to heaven. My tower would have stopped rising soon after it started being built.

Instead I sought out the Buddhists and learned about the truth of reincarnation and compassion for all. I sought out the Hindus and learned about the many faces of God. I sought out the Wiccans and learned that God can be found in nature. I sought out the physicists and learned that they have found God in the structures and natural laws of the universe. I sought out the philosophers and learned to think critically for myself. I learned something from all of them and the many, many others to which I have been exposed.

I am very happy to be able to speak the languages of multiple belief systems. It creates a common ground that is broad and deep. However, I still long for the day when we will all speak the same language again. Then we can build that tower.

Why Republicans won the 2014 election and Democrats flopped – and why it will continue

elephant-donkey

Why Republicans Won the Election and Dems Flopped

There is no one, soundbite-ready answer to why the Republicans did so well in the 2014 election. As a political scientist I can provide a few obvious answers, but as I see it the big answer is more complex. I’ll get to that in a moment. First, the obvious answers:

Simple math: Republicans had less turf to defend. Democrats had more turf to defend, creating more opportunities for Republicans to pick them off. In 2016, the tables turn and Democrats have fewer seats to defend, though for reasons I’ll get to later I wouldn’t count on it making a big difference.

Voter registration laws: The Republicans need conservative white voters to dominate elections. Remove as many brown, black, and urban voters as possible, and tight elections swing to Team Red. And that’s what happened in 2014. Voter ID laws and voter registration purges did exactly what they were intended to do. Fewer voters inclined to vote for Democrats were allowed to vote.

Republican Gerrymandering: In 2010, Republicans took over several state legislatures and redrew voting precinct maps to lump Democrat-dominated voting precincts together. In those districts Democrats win by landslides, but in other districts there are fewer Democrat voters, giving Republicans a better chance of winning tight races. Republicans know they don’t have to win by a landslide. They only have to get one more vote than the other side.

Dark money: The Republican-dominated Supreme Court decided that individuals can spend as much money as they want to influence elections. In 2014, hundreds of millions of dollars were spent by shadowy political groups funded by billionaires that tend to favor Republicans. Dark money buys elections, especially close ones. Dark money is the main factor that tipped the Senate to Republicans.

But beyond those reasons looms the biggest one of all, and it’s bound to come into play in the next election and beyond. Basically, Democrats are not giving their voters many reasons to vote for them. Democrats are no longer Democrats, they are moderate Republicans.

President Obama admitted this fact soon after he won reelection in 2012. Sitting next to Hillary Clinton – another Republicans in blue (Democrat) clothing – for a national news interview, he said that he didn’t understand why Republicans were so opposed to his policies, because 25 years ago his policies would be considered moderate Republican. Obama only mentioned his economic policies, but across the board he is an ’80s Republican. Even his signature healthcare plan, Obamacare, was largely created by the Heritage Institute in the ’90s as an alternative to Hillary Clinton’s failed plan.

Ding ding ding. That’s the problem.

Democrats, at the national level where it counts most, are moderate Republicans. Republicans have been pushed further to the right in order to distinguish themselves. Their voters still have plenty of reasons to vote for them. Democrats voters don’t. Voters to the left ideologically of center-right have no one to vote for.

Simple as that.

As Jeb Lund so eloquently said in The Guardian soon after the carnage on the first Tuesday of November:

On Tuesday night, a lot of Republican-ish candidates got crushed by the official Republican candidates, confirming yet again that a gutless, wincing version of one kind of politics always loses to the robust one. Nobody first starts drinking Diet Coke because they think it tastes better, and the only people who keep drinking it are the ones who’ve drunk nothing else for so long that actual flavor seems weird. Why vote for someone hesitantly and semi-apologetically tacking toward the right when you can just vote for someone who goes balls-to-the-wall rightward and is damn proud of it? At least that person gives off the sense of actually enjoying his own beliefs.

Democrats think they are better at making policy, and assume people will vote for them based on that. They assume they will win elections because they have a better track record of success at governing, and because by most measures they are the better choice. If elections were decided by political scientists, Dems would ride to easy victory. They assume that voters know better and remember what a mess the country was in six years ago when George Bush slunk back to Texas and Obama saved the Republic.

Wrong.

Most people are not informed well enough to know who is better at governing or creating policy. They vote based on their gut feeling. Gut feelings are influenced by perceptions about which side – Team Red or Team Blue – has more gusto. If you are Joe or Jane Voter, your view of Democrats is shaped by two overarching observations:

One: Candidate Barack Obama is a different guy than President Barack Obama. Obama got elected in 2008 by promising to be a moderate-to-liberal Democrat, and he governed as a moderate Republican. On the issues that really count he failed. He came into office saying he would stop wars and instead created them. He said he would protect civil liberties and instead oversaw the further erosion of them. He promised to shift the focus to Democrat priorities, and instead allowed the agenda to be set by Republicans.

He also ended the war in Iraq (at least, temporarily), oversaw the creation of 10 million jobs, reduced the deficit by a trillion dollars, saved the auto industry, and provided healthcare to millions of Americans who couldn’t afford it. 2014 should have been his victory lap, but instead members of his own party treated him like an Ebola victim. And for reasons only God and the White House know, Obama did not trumpet his accomplishments.

Two: Democrat play lapdog to Republican alpha dog. Republicans know that most voters are tuned out and turned off by what’s happening in Washington, DC, and only a few big impressions are made on the general public each election cycle. One thing you can say about Republicans is they fight for what they believe in (or at least create that impression), while Democrats compromise too much and too readily give ground.

You know what would have made the sort of impression that would get more Democrats out to vote in 2014 and sway some independents to their side? Make a fuckin’ stand on issues that are important to Democrat and progressive voters.

When Republicans went after the Postal Service with the intention of destroying another union-dominated organization, Democrats should have raised holy hell. They should have filibustered and shouted from the rooftops and ground all business in DC to a stop. They should have fallen on their swords and let the blood gush all over the Capital steps. Instead, Republicans passed a law that virtually ensured that the Postal Service will eventually be privatized, and Democrats sucked their thumb and let the moment pass with hardly a whimper.

When Republicans went after teachers, another pro-union, liberal-leaning group, Democrats had a prime opportunity to stand up and defend a vital constituency. Teachers unions are reliably Democrat. Everyone in Washington knows that basing teacher salaries on student performance – “No Child Left Behind” – has nothing to do with improving education and everything to do eroding the power of teachers unions. Everyone except, apparently, Democrat leaders.

Now teachers are running scared and fighting for their jobs. Teachers unions have been smacked down. The American public education system is shamefully falling behind the competition because memorization is emphasized over critical thinking. And Republicans have one less solidly Democrat group to worry about.

These are two examples of how Democrats have lost their backbone and allowed their base of support to be systematically undercut. Two examples of how Democrats allow the groups that support them to be targeted and destroyed and don’t do a damn thing to help them. I could give a dozen more examples from the last 20 years off the top of my head. One particularly egregious example showed itself in the Rhode Island race for governor in 2014, which pitted a pro-Wall Street Democrat against a pro-Wall Street Republican.

Democrats followed the Pied Pipers, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, away from what they stood for and turned into moderate Republicans. Republicans happily watched Democrats cannibalize themselves and shifted to the right to define themselves, knowing that their voters would follow along and still vote for them. Liberals and left-leaning citizens have no one to champion them, no one to stand up for them, no one to count on when the going gets tough.

Republicans are not as good at governing as Democrats, but they have three things going for them. They know who their voters are, how to reach them, and how to make impressions. That makes all the difference come election time.

And for Democrats? They have feckless, thumb-sucking compromisers leading them. If I was the Democrat Party I would make Alan Grayson the Minority Leader, raise their swords and make a stand. Fight for what they believe in. Might makes right in politics. Grayson gets it. He’s a tough-talking, sarcastic-as-hell Democrat from Florida, exactly what’s needed to make a big impression.

Instead, Democrats are going to line up behind Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid and continue doing what doesn’t work. They will count on the electoral winds to change in their favor in 2016. They will limp along for another two years under Obama and look to Hillary to recharge their batteries and change their fortunes.

And they will lose in 2016. Mark my words. They might keep the White House because of how the Electoral College favors them, but in races for the House and Senate they are locked into a dynamic that ensures they have little chance of regaining any real power. Apologists for the Democrats have pointed out that the President’s party usually loses midterm elections. I don’t buy it. After Republicans did nothing for two years except obstruct and complain and make fools of themselves, the midterm was a gimme for Democrats.

Democrats, Republicans didn’t win. You lost.

What Could Have Been: If Ron Paul Ran Against Barack Obama (He Might Have Won)

By now, everything that can be said or written about the election 2012 has been said and written . . . except for what might have happened if Ron Paul had been the Republican nominee.

I think he could have won. Here is why:

Something that wasn’t talked much about leading up to the Republican nomination of Mitt Romney instead of Ron Paul was Paul’s appeal across ideological lines. I voted for Obama but would have strongly considered voting for Paul. My girlfriend, the archetype of academic liberalism, would have enthusiastically voted for him, based on what she knew about him during the primaries. Why?

Because he tells the truth as he sees it. I voted for Obama even though I want him to do more about military expansionism and erosion of civil rights. These two issues are central to Paul’s platform, along with eliminating the Federal Reserve, which I see as the source of the county’s financial woes. While I strongly disagree with Paul on points like cutting the federal budget as drastically as he would, and I’m not as libertarian as his view on the role of the federal government, I largely agree with what I heard come from him throughout the campaign. He was a lone voice of truth on Bullshit Mountain, using John Stewart’s hilarious summary of the Republican/FOX disinformation campaign.

Yet, the Republicans considered basically everyone else except Paul and John Huntsman, and Huntsman was the candidate the Obama campaign feared most. I mean, apparently they would sooner have a Donald Trump, Michelle Bachmann, or that twit from Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum, as their nominee than the guy who actually had a chance.

When Romney said 47% of voters would never vote for him, he was right. He ended up with 47% of the popular vote, and needed to peal off another 3% to make the election competitive. Peel off 5% and he’s on the way to a convincing victory. That means he takes one in ten of Obama’s votes to win. But he really had no shot at getting those votes. Paul, however, had a shot.

The 47% who voted for Romney would have voted for Paul, because, to use Romney’s logic, they were going to vote for the Republican nominee no matter who it was. Only around 5% of voters are truly “swing voters” who go either way from election to election. Because politics in Washington has become so partisan and so polarized, most voters are already in one camp or the other. For example, I have voted for Republicans, but would not even consider it now because a vote for any Republican, in my mind, is a vote for the entire party, which has driven right off the deep end, and I can’t support that. But put Ron Paul on the ballot and now you give me the opportunity to vote for a Republican who can talk some sense into other Republicans. You peel away a vote from Obama. At the very least, you change Obama’s tune and force him to confront his support of policies that he didn’t support when he ran for President in 2008.

But no, even though Paul came in second in the primaries and was the best alternative to Romney except, perhaps, Huntsman, he was treated like the ugly girl in the wedding party. He was even harassed by TSA agents while trying to fly home during the Republican convention because, Paul claimed, he would not endorse Mitt Romney.

So we are left to wonder what might have been. One thing we know for sure: the Republican establishment hated Paul because he took no marching orders, and, according to a plethora of analysis and reporting, the nomination was outright stolen from Paul.

Oh, what might have been.

The Horse Race That Wasn't: Obama Won the Election Weeks Ago

Boy, the news media sure made it sound like Romney and Obama were neck and neck all the way to the finish. The results show how wrong they were.

Yes, it was pretty close as far as elections go. President Obama had a few scary moments when it looked like momentum was shifting toward Romney. When I texted my girlfriend on election night and told her Obama won, she wrote back “but Romney has been leading all day.”

It was never really close. Like most people, she was snookered by the media.

The media needs a horse race. It needs drama. It needs close elections to keep viewers tuned in. It needed you to believe, up until the last moment, either candidate could win.

When Romney won the first debate in early October, a collective cheer went up in newsrooms. Not because the media supported Romney over Obama, but because until that point Romney had been sliding down and looking like he had no chance of winning. Obama was up by 5-10 points in state polls where it mattered most: Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin. People like myself were starting to tune out media coverage of the presidential race.

When people tune out, media has less to sell advertisers. Less advertising means less money. Simple economics.

After Romney won the debate he rose in the polls. The race tightened. Breathless headlines proclaimed he still had a shot. It not only attracted people to media to get coverage of the race, it made Republicans happy. Otherwise the last few weeks before the election would have been dominated by headlines declaring Obama unbeatable, and all the drama would have been over.

But drill down into the numbers and you’d know that the additional people who proclaimed support for Romney were not swing voters: they were disaffected Republicans. Romney gave them a glimmer hope. They were never going to vote for Obama, and wanted a good reason to vote for Romney after watching him flail all summer.

The math of the winning the presidency never changed. Obama was still clearly leading the electoral college map.

I knew before that debate that Romney would win it. He had to. Otherwise, game over. I knew he would win because the winners and losers are picked by the media, and the media needed Romney to win.

Of course, Obama helped by getting rocked back on his heels by the outright lies and spin that Romney brought out for the debate. The president’s exasperation was visible. I thought he made the Al Gore mistake of 2000 when he reacted to Bush’s distortions that made himself appear more moderate.

A great book about dreams that anyone can understand
And in other news, I wrote a book, available at Amazon.

The headlines following that debate could have easily been, “The Incredible Quick-Change Artist Mitt Romney.” They could have focused on Romney’s sudden conversion from “Severe Conservative” to “Moderate Mitt.” Trust me, if Obama was down in the polls at that point, the headlines would have focused more on Mitt’s turnabout than Obama’s listlessness.

Statisticians like Nate Silver at 538 Blog were not fooled. While Obama’s odds of winning fluctuated down after being declared the loser of the first debate, Silver, like most nonpartisan election experts, knew it would take a miracle for Romney to win. It was possible, yes, but highly improbable. Obama led the electoral college race, and most voters in swing states had already made up their minds.

Bottom line: Don’t believe the hype.

 

The GOP Flying Circus: a nomination race worthy of Monty Python

So it’s getting near the end of the night and only three girls are left who could possibly be voted Queen of the Republican prom. All are men, of course. Ron Paul is the ugly girl who’s really smart, always tells the truth, and would only be picked the winner if a meteor wiped out every other candidate including the ones off-stage like Huntsman and Johnson. So Republicans held their nose and stuck out a hand to the Newt. Newt Gingrich, the idea man, as he likes to bill himself. The intellectual among the entertainers. He rose to the top because Republicans are getting desperate that they’ll be stuck with the unthinkable. But President Newton Leroy Gingrich is unthinkable for most of America. It’ll never happen. As someone once said, Newt is a stupid man’s idea of what a smart man is supposed to be.

2011 will be remembered as the year of the Republican Flying Circus, a parade of absurdity, clownishness and gutter standards unlike anything ever seen in American politics. I’m really starting to wonder if any of the candidates really want to be President – Mitt Romney’s naked ambition not withstanding – or are they all just a bunch of self-promoting blowhards?

Let’s look first at the early front-runner, Donald Trump. No one embodies the Flying Circus better than the Donald. His early ascension to the top of the Republican wish list was a sign of the nuttiness to come; that he’d even be considered a contender illustrates how low the bar has been set. Knowing Trump, his first act in the White House would be to add some neon to the front facade and set up a casino in the Roosevelt Room. America Inc. at its crassest.

Speaking of low standards, it’s hard to believe, with everything we’ve found out about Sarah Palin since 2008, that she’d even be considered. Yet the drama of her non-announcement about running for President gained her months of free publicity. Oh Sarah, what tidbit will you drivel next on your Facebook page? How long can you milk the tit of political donation before taking the loot back to Alaska? We found out the answer to that question.

With the grifters promoting their reality shows and book deals out of the way, presumably the Republicans would get down to the serious business of choosing a candidate. I mean, they hate President Obama so much, you’d think they’d be really careful not to belch up another Bob Dole or John McCain to ultimately lose the election.

But no, next on the sacrificial altar fell the Wonder from Minnesoter, Michelle Bachmann. Her path to Vice-President followed Palin’s 4-inch fuck-me pumps – yes, she ran for President, but the job she really auditioned for is the role Palin defined: religious vixen to stand next to some white man destined to be the nominee. She’s a truly odd duck, and her moment in the spotlight lasted about as long as a summer vacation before the Menace from Texas stole her thunder.

There could be no doubt that Republicans were looking to dance with anyone but Mitt Romney when Rick Perry waltzed on the scene. Anyone! They knew what a cesspool Texas had become under Perry, a politician so craven he’d sell the Governor’s Mansion to the highest bidder if he could. But as soon as he said “I do” he shot to the top. Perry looked impressive at first in tightly controlled environments. His swagger and Texas charm gave Republicans a wet dream of another Texan like Bush to lead the march to Hell. It’s a dream that became a sticky mess when Perry blew his wad before even getting naked, exposed as nothing more than a perfect hairdo during the rough-and-tumble of scripted Republican debates.

Who’s next, Joe the Plumber? I can see it now: I, Joe the Plumber, do solemnly swear to keep the pipes of Democracy flowing free and clear….

Actually, Herman Cain is only a notch away on the Ridiculous Meter. The pizza guy and self-proclaimed brother of the Koch brothers is the perfect antidote to President Obama for Republicans: a black man who speaks the language of the rich and white. Another Clarence Thomas type that hides his true nature beneath the color of his skin. Cain seemed genial enough in the early debates, when he could spout a few business school platitudes and sound like the wisdom he’d gained from running a pizza chain was somehow preparation to run the country. It’s a huge leap, and Republicans were willing to make it, lifting Cain to the top of the polls as the conservative alternative to Romney … until the basic scrutiny given to every serious contender quickly rattled the skeletons in Cain’s closet.

Come on, Republicans. It’s obvious that Cain is not on stage to win; he’s there to raise his speaking fees and lift his stock as a commentator. Has anyone really asked what the guy did between Godfather’s pizza and running for President? I’ll tell you: he was a lobbyist! His office and email address were linked to the political operation of the Koch brothers. Palin is more qualified to be President than Cain, and she’s far from qualified.

So it’s getting near the end of the night and only three girls are left who could possibly be voted Queen of the Republican prom. All are men, of course. Ron Paul is the ugly girl who’s really smart, always tells the truth, and would only be picked the winner if a meteor wiped out every other candidate including the ones off-stage like Huntsman and Johnson. So Republicans held their nose and stuck out a hand to the Newt. Newt Gingrich, the idea man, as he likes to bill himself. The intellectual among the entertainers. He rose to the top because Republicans are getting desperate that they’ll be stuck with the unthinkable. But President Newton Leroy Gingrich is unthinkable for most of America. It’ll never happen. As someone once said, Newt is a stupid man’s idea of what a smart man is supposed to be.

Then there’s poor Mitt Romney, the Cinderella who rode a pumpkin to the Ball instead of a limo. Can Republican voters make any clearer that they’d take ANYONE over Mitt? He’s the pretty girl that everyone knows cheated on her boyfriend with the female volleyball coach and had the audacity to even show up at the dance and pretend like she doesn’t eat pussy. A long time ago, Romney said seven little words that forever branded him in the minds of Republican voters: I support a woman’s right to choose. He doesn’t have the conservative credential that is most important. He could end up as the Republican nominee by default.

I guess we’re back to Joe the Plumber. Joe, you listening? Monty Python is calling, bro. Here’s your big chance to lead the Flying Circus. You don’t have a shot in hell of ever being President, but you’ll never be unemployed again as long as Fox News is around.

Scoundrels and Thieves: Another Election Stolen. Location: Wisconsin

Following the crooked footsteps of Florida 2000 and Ohio 2004, the results of the recent vote in Wisconsin are statistically impossible. Numbers don’t lie. But, it seems, they do, and it’s either bad exit polls or bad GOP election officials that are telling tall tales.


This time it’s Wisconsin. Another election stolen right before our eyes, exposed by statistical analysis.

Following the crooked footsteps of Florida 2000 and Ohio 2004, the results of the recent vote in Wisconsin are statistically impossible. Numbers don’t lie. But, it seems, they do, and it’s either bad exit polls or bad GOP election officials that are telling tall tales.

Judging by history, I bet it’s the latter.

All five exit polls conducted in Wisconsin during the recent attempt to recall Republican state senators who backed Koch-funded Governor Walker show Democrats getting more votes than the official tally, sometimes by wide margins. Here’s an analysis by Richard Charnin:

According to Charnin, “Based on the True Vote Model and the exit polls, it is very likely that the District 8 and 14 recall elections were stolen. The Republicans control the state senate by a 17-16 majority, but the Democrats should be in control by 18-15.”

Any crank can spit out statistical analysis, so I’m presuming that Charnin, a trained mathematician and analytical software consultant, is an expert observer. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a freakin’ duck! The skewed election results don’t surprise me because it follows a pattern of mysterious discrepancies and GOP chicanery. Let’s remember Florida 2000:

Exit polls showed Al Gore won the Florida vote by three percent. The official result was he lost by like 0002 percent, and the Republicans on the Supreme Court crowned their man George Bush the winner in defiance of Constitutional procedure. Even though exit polls in other states matched official results closely, Florida was declared an anomaly, rather than presume Jeb Bush and friends stole three percent of the vote for his brother, Junior. Hmm, what’s more likely?

Add on 2004 when both Ohio and Florida exit polls showed John Kerry winning those states but the official result gave Bush victories, and the trend becomes obvious.

Exit polling in most other states aligned with the official results. In the two states that made all the difference and where Republicans controlled state government, however, statistical analysis proves that the official vote totals favoring Bush were impossible. Hmm.

I studied political science in college and took several courses on survey research, and the more I studied the science behind the statistics the more I realized that numbers don’t lie, people lie. Yes, people sometimes lie to pollsters, and pollsters can set up polls to show results they want. But if a thousand people are polled, and the poll is done scientifically, the accuracy of the results is within three percent no matter what. Get ten thousand people to answer survey questions — which is possible in big states like Ohio and Florida with 25 or more polling locations on election day — and the results will be within one percent accuracy. On the flip side, there’s a 1 in 20 chance that no matter how big the sample size, the results can’t be trusted. Statistics, though, are not the only evidence of voter fraud.

In 2000, Republican officials in south Florida hired some friends in the software business to write a program that could flip the results of an election undetected. The guy who wrote the program presumed it was an exercise in learning if it could be done, in order to catch Democrats trying to steal the election. He testified before the Ohio House about what he did after it became obvious to him and nearly everyone else who studied the election results that the election really was stolen … by the people he worked for!

Evidence of fraud is also all over the 2004 vote in Ohio, but the guy who was going to testify died the day before he was set to appear. He worked with then Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell (R, Obviously) to process the election results through third-party computer servers. It’s been well-documented that those computers, controlled by highly partisan Republicans, kicked into action the night of the election and gave back results far different than the exit polls.

Elections stolen from under our noses. I was there in Ohio in 2004 working as an exit pollster, and I counted results that favored Kerry a little more than expected. But the official result, after reworked by a “man in the middle” computer attack, favored Bush. I also worked in the national exit poll reporting center during the 2000 election, then as a field pollster in 2008 and as a field supervisor in 2010. I know how the exit polling business works from the inside out, and while far from infallible, I trust those results more than the official ones.

The duck is quacking like that annoying Aflac mascot. Will America hear it and take action to protect our electoral system?

What The Fuck Are The Tea Baggers Thinking?

Irrational actions like we’ve seen from the Republicans during the past few weeks lead to questions about how low they’ll stoop. My answer to that question is another question: is bringing down the country low enough? When someone or a group of someones acts irrationally but in a calculated manner, it’s a sure sign of a secret agenda

Years from now people are going to look back at this time when America’s credit rating began to sink and ask, “What the fuck were they thinking?”

The so-called tea party faction of the Republican party made a mountain out of a molehill — increasing the debt ceiling should have been routine, as it was during the Bush years when Republicans raised the it without question — and rattled the credit rating agencies. Speaker of the House John Boehner stretched out the drama too far and in the end agreed to steps too weak and indecisive. Standard and Poor’s chief sovereign ratings guru said basically that the tea party’s game of chicken ran America’s credit rating off the road.

What the fuck were they thinking?

The people who did this will try to blame President Obama, shameless bastards that they are, but I don’t think it will stick. The Prez tried to get some modest revenue increases along with deep budget cuts — steps S&P ratings people specifically asked for to preserve America’s AAA credit — but rather than raise taxes 3% on millionaires and close some egregious loopholes, Republicans threatened to sink the whole deal. They figured Obama would cave to outrageous demands rather than force a credit crisis, and they were right. But they didn’t know when to quit, pushed things too far, and here we are, America. Put on the Panama hat and sunglasses and welcome to the Banana Republic!

What the fuck?

To say it’s irresponsible to gamble with the nation’s credit fails to capture the contemptuous disregard of the tea party faction for good governance, especially after running up so much debt, no questions asked, under Bush Jr. Some people are starting to suggest the unthinkable: Republicans are deliberately sinking the economy to win the election in 2012. After all, it was not their policy proposals that brought the House back under their control in 2010; it was an economy that hadn’t recovered from the debacle at the end of the Bush years and a political environment poisoned by ideologically driven radicals on the right who came to Washington with The Fountainhead in one hand and their dicks in the other.

Irrational actions like we’ve seen from the Republicans during the past few weeks lead to questions about how low they’ll stoop. My answer to that question is another question: is bringing down the country low enough? When someone or a group of someones acts irrationally but in a calculated manner, it’s a sure sign of a secret agenda. Well, the GOP agenda has a stated agenda, by Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell back in 2009: oppose Obama every way possible and take back the White House. Never mind that Obama’s agenda is to rescue the country after eight years of seriously bad management under Bush; that Obama is the easiest Democrat for the GOP to work with since Joe Lieberman: the GOP strategy is slash-and-burn, a game of chicken that they’ve decided ahead of time is to the death, no compromise, plow straight ahead and don’t veer an inch off course.

Unfortunately, these tactics win elections and make billionaire donors very happy. They thrive on chaos and disorder, throwing out fake battles to keep the public distracted while they systematically dismantle our democracy. America is no longer a democracy, by definition, nor is it a country of the people, for the people.

And now it no longer has perfect credit.