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December 08, 2015

Comments

Catriona

And @Tomi or any one of Hillary's apologists, we are the only country in the world whose founding documents protect our right to free speech. We are exceptional.

Winter

@Catriona
"As for the social issues, it is entirely possible that next year isn't about social issues."

I am pretty sure Hillary will drive the social issues home. Just as she will drive home every partial skeleton in Rubio's closet. And she has the cash to do so.

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi all

CNN Debate is over, I have short debate review and judging, plus an update to the Spice Girls edition to the race.. enjoy

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Winter

First on Cruz scared of Trump. He may be. Cruz also is clearly acting as if he is timid of, or afraid to attack Trump. Partly at least this is calculated move to ensure Trump current supporters will not 'hate' Cruz whenever they quit supporting Trump - I mean this is Cruz's calculation where Cruz believes Trump's supporters will desert him at some point. If Cruz can get the OTHERS to attack and tear down Trump, and Cruz has roughly similar positions, then Cruz can hope to capture those supporters. But if, as the article suggested, its actually 'toughness' that the voters want and see in Trump, then the won't go to the wimpy Cruz, they'd go to Chris Christie or someone like that (Carly Fiorina..).

But today's debate strongly enforced that view. I think Cruz becomes vulnerable to a new line of attack that he is somehow in the pocket of Trump, perhaps 'bought' by Trump and thus not presidential material. The most likely rival to run something like that would be Rubio as their little squabble is heating up between Rubio and Cruz.

The other point in that article, that it won't be until Hillary gets to face Trump, that Trump will feel the heat... that is bizarrely true. I have been obviously on this blog expecting fireworks by the rivals to tear down Trump. Can it be, that Trump has really scared them all with his bullying tactics that as long as they have some supporters (at 5% or more) nobody anymore dares attack Trump and only when they become essentially meaningless with 'nothing to lose' like say Kasich, Paul and Graham, then they are willing to attack Trump.. weird. But yeah, he is IMMENSELY vulnerable already now in the primary season, and far more so in the general election. We've seen Hillary hit Bernie hard, and Bernie has very little actual vulnerable space in the Democratic race. Now imagine Hillary with the rich target that Trump would be...

On Hillary testing stuff against the rivals - yes that is happening, some reporting has been out already a while back that they are preparing for all possible GOP rivals but doing deep dives to a few most likely candidates. Recently they dropped Jeb from that list. Have a guess who are the 3 they are currently calculating that could be her rival? Cruz, Trump and Rubio in that order haha (exactly as I calculated on this blog a few months ago).

And yeah. Hillary is ambitious and very calculating. She also has the most competent Presidential election victory expert in residence, living in her household, husband Bill (I was going to write, in her bed, but I would guess they sleep in separate bedrooms). So the correct calculation is not to interfere now as long as it looks possible that either Trump or Cruz can win it. And wait. If at some point it looks like Rubio starts to get ahead, then she can interfere - to try to in some way help Cruz or Trump gain on Rubio and damage Rubio but yes, if Hillary could pick, she'd take Trump first and Cruz second and only third the lunatic Ben Carson as her rival. With Trump she gets the House flipped and her Senate victory is so big she gets a filibuster-proof majority. A rare condition Bill Clinton never had and what Obama had but only briefly early in his Presidency.

(I'll answer your next comment in its own response)

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Winter

haha great question yes. Why do they do it. Many reasons but a few very prominent ones. So I'd say the single biggest reason is Reagan. It is true that Ronald Reagan was the most conservative President nominated (and to win) in recent memory, far more so than Bush 1, Bob Dole, Bush 2, John McCain or Mitt Romney. Far more so. And Reagan's margin of victory was FAR greater in both of his elections than the two elections each of Bush 1 or Bush 2, and obviously Dole lost his election. So there is good factual 'evidence' that if the Republicans nominate a 'true conservative' rather than a 'moderate' they can win (big).

This 'evidence' is further supported by three other recent election events, the Newt Gingrich revolution in midterms 1994, the 2010 Tea Party election and Bush 2 re-election in 2004. Each of these featured a 'shift away from the center' to the extreme right wing of the party and achieved at least nominally and temporarily, a victory based on strong 'base' support even at the cost of alienating some in the middle. The conservative calculation says that those in the middle are not persuadable to enough numbers, that its not worth fighting for them, if there are still sleeping conservatives at the edge who aren't voting. That is why the hate politics of Obamacare has death panels and Mexicans will steal you jobs and Democrats will take away your guns and there is a war on religion etc.

I won't go through all of the math and assumptions and realities involved. The big proof is Reagan's election and the only one that is really comparable as not the incumbent and as an honestly 'very conservative' candidate. The election was 1980 against incumbent Jimmy Carter. Conservatives think (or often argue, even if they don't fully accept it) that Reagan won because of a strong consistently conservative position, similar to his compatriot conservative Margaret Thatcher in Britain. And yes its true Reagan's victory over Carter was crushing. But it was not because the USA was craving for extreme conservative politics. The election of 1980 was a landslide because the country hated Carter. The nation was in a horrible position in every way. The Soviet Union had just invaded Afghanistan and the US Government had been caught totally with its pants down, the CIA had not even seen the Soviet armored divisions lining up on the Afghan border. The invasion part of the war was over literally in six hours and by the time CNN reported that the Soviets had invaded, Kabul had already fallen.

Then there was the Iran hostage crisis. The strong Middle Eastern USA ally, Iran, and its Shah (a ruthless dictator puppet held up by the CIA) the second best friend to the USA in the region behind only Israel (And Iran and Israel were military allies at that time) had suddenly fallen to the Ayatollah Khomeini who installed a strict Muslim religion-based state ruled by the religious leaders and imposing Sharia law. Then they took the hostages. The US embassy was seized and for 444 days every single night in the news, the US networks reported on the plight of the American diplomats who were held hostage and President Carter was seen as utterly inept to do anything. These two things would have been enough to doom any President. Then there was the unfortunate, botched rescue attempt by Carter - he sent special operations troops via helicopters and they crashed into each other on the rescue mission which was then called off. No rescue.

And meanwhile, what do Americans care more about than foreign policy? Its the economy, stupid, as James Carville tells us always. The economy under Carter went into shock. What economists said was technically impossible - to have high inflation and high unemployment simultaneously - happened for the first time under Carter and it was given a new term in economics 'stagflation'. The Jimmy Carter economy was a total wreck. And what do American voters love most? Their cars. The oil crisis kept getting worse, with three oil shocks, two of which hit during Carter's years including one in 1979 just before, and into the election. Americans had to wait in line for gasoline for their cars, which was rationed. Everything was going wrong in 1980 and President Carter was blamed whether he really could do anything about it or not. So in 1980 the Americans did not want to find a true conservative. They wanted to get rid of Carter. They would have voted for George HW Bush ie Bush 1 (who ran against Reagan) or they would have voted for Gerald Ford (who lost to Carter in 1976) or they would have even taken back Tricky Dick, Richard Nixon rather than have another four years of Carter. Gosh, Americans would have voted in Bozo, the chimpanzee that Reagan acted with in one of his movies, rather than vote for Carter.

So the narrative that Americans will vote for a true conservative if one is actually nominated, has some sound evidence in history, except the analysis for that evidence is wrong. The Reagan election was not about accepting a very conservative politician, it was about getting rid of a hated President or punishing him for all that was going wrong under his watch. But the story that 'because Reagan won so strongly' that is a reason to nominate a true conservative, that resonates very well with Republican voters. It is even more compelling when contrasted to the elections that followed. All the Republicans nominated since Reagan were more modereate (Bush 1, Dole, Bush 2, McCain, Romney) and all lost their elections or had very poor election performance when they won. None came close to Reagan's two election victories.

In almost every election cycle with a contested nomination, the argument of 'electability' has come up, on both sides. Is that given candidate too extreme (or for whatever other reason) to be unelectable. So they go through this argument on both sides regularly. And if your side loses - the Republicans have lost the popular vote in 5 of the last 6 Presidential elections (as in the Bush 2 first election he got fewer votes cast than Al Gore but because of the Florida mess, Bush 2 ended up being declared the overall winner by the Supreme Court). So if the current method isn't working - nominating a moderate Republican isn't winning you elections - then the temptation rises to try something else, lets nominate a very conservative candidate instead. It can't be worse..

Of course in reality it can be worse and it will be worse. When extreme candidates run who don't appeal to the center like Mondale in 1984 or Goldwater in 1964, they lose massively. But yes, there are many who somehow refuse to believe mathematics and think that abandoning the middle and going for the edge can win the election. Hillary is totally a populist, every single one of her positions is calculated to appeal to the middle ground the Independent voter. Good luck to any true conservatives in that race haha

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Tomi T Ahonen

Winter

Now on Cruz and Rubio. Can they be so deluded? Yes. Partly they've listened to Rush Limbaugh and watched Hannity and read Breitbart and taken the guidance from Karl Rove and Ann Coulter etc.. They have been 'drinking the cool-aid'. Secondly, they are ambitious and have clearly strongly-held conservative positions that they believe in. I am sure both politicians believe they can also convince some voters to join their cause, so they can bring in moderates to their side, similar to how again, Saint Reagan did with Democrats who voted for Reagan so much, that they were called Reagan Democrats. (again this was more about hating Carter so in reality they were 'anti-Carter Democrats' who then didn't like his VP Mondale either in the 1984 election).

But the last part is opportunism. When they announced, Hillary seemed - in the conservative media - to be a very vulnerable candidate who was about to be hit with devastating Benghazi inquisitions... So just like Reagan's chances in 1980, they were mostly due to a flawed rival on the Democratic side, Cruz & Rubio campaigns calculated that Hillary is vulnerable and weak. Today they would not make that same calculation but by now they are fully in it and have to run the race. I think both are that smart and ambitious politicians they would have opted out of this year's race had they known how strong Hillary actually is for 2016. They'd wait - like how so many leading candidates opted out of running against Obama in 2012 - and they'd see if Hillary has scandals and wars and economic troubles in her first four years, to decide do they want to challenge her in 2020 (like Reagan took on a sitting President). I am sure the calculation at both Rubio and Cruz camps was that their biggest threat to the Presidency was Jeb Bush not Hillary Clinton. This was VERY dumb analysis but almost consensus view on all conservative media regularly in the Spring of this year, if you remember. I told you already last year that no, Hilllary is not weak and vulnerable, she is a juggernaut and you should not under-estimate her haha..

Now. What happened to Barry Goldwater and Walter Mondale? If you lose catastrophically like they did, then you are essentially expelled from the party and have no future in politics. If you lose only modestly like John Kerry or Mitt Romney then you can come back, you are often talked about another run, Kerry now as Secy of State and Romney throwing his name every so often into the news, that if the Republican party needs a savior from Trump, Romney is still 'available' haha.

So Cruz and Rubio are kind of playing with fire. Its a roll of the dice and an all-or-nothing gamble. Especially with Cruz, if he becomes the nominee, he'll lose by 20 points and be another Mondale or Goldwater. Forever gone. Rubio might not lose so badly, he could salvage another run even if he lost. But Cruz (or obviously Trump) would lose so badly they'd be gone forever. But once you announce and go in, then its all in, they can't really get out now. BUT if one is the VP choice this time (from finishing second or third in the nomination race this time) then that candidate would become the instant front-runner for 2020. So if you are a Rubio or Cruz fan, there is no hope to win in 2016. But if your guy is the VP choice, then IF Hillary has a horrible 4 years - quite possible, ISIS is gonna get a lot worse before it gets better, most military experts say 10 years to get rid of it - and the economy is due for a recession - and Putin will get nasty and many other things can go wrong, plus Hillary is secrecy-prone, she is a scandal-waiting-to-happen haha... so the better time to run (or be prepared to run) would be 2020. Whoever is on the top of the ticket on the GOP side this time will never become the President, not this year and not again in the future.

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Catriona

First on your response to Winter - much of what you write I agree with or find a difference only in degree. Yes the polls say that Rubio could win and in head-to-heads he is a point or two ahead of Hillary and has held that level of a lead consistently. A very fair point to say, he is therefore viable against Hillary. Based on polls today. Before we count a modern election record voter surge out of the largest conceivable voting block - women - which would break for Hillary massively over Rubio, even more than the generic Republican because of Rubio's ultra-extreme position on abortion (no exceptions in case of rape, incest or life of the mother). Hillary is a known quantity and her popularity is a bit under water. There is essentially nothing that a negative campaign can further smear her. But Rubio is a totally unknown quantity nationally to the general electorate. While Rubio fights for his nomination, and then if he got it, tries to build his war-chest to get anywhere close to the massive fund that Hillary has, Hillary can pound Rubio night and day in all media about all of his faults. And one of the all-time classic blunder lines of the primary season, Rubio saying Hillary is more competent - this for an election clearly headed to be a rare foreign policy election.

I grant you yes, polls now show Marco a bit ahead. I promise you by the start of the conventions, if Rubio is the nominee, Hillary will be up by 5 on him. And by the end of September Hillary will be up by 10 and the Republican donors and supporters will be deserting Rubio like the sinking ship he will have become. Its the tsunami-wave of female voter turnout and made worse by Rubio's anti-women positions starting with the extreme abortion position. Then we add the massive Hispanic gap which Hillary already had to Rubio today, which will only grow bigger by then (as I said, Julian Castro etc).

But that being said, Rubio would lose FAR LESS than Cruz or Trump. If Rubio is on the ticket, Hillary flips the Senate with her victory. If Cruz is on top of the ticket, the GOP also loses the House. If Trump is on top of the ticket, Hillary gets a Filibuster-proof majority in the Senate... :-)

But again your characterizations about Rubio, I mostly agree. He came in with the Tea Party but isn't really with that caucus, he is sort of 'Tea Party Lite'. He is however, still one of the most conservative of Senators, not anywhere near a moderate. And again, yes you're right Rubio's foreign policy is similar and hawkish like Hillary's. But put the two on the same stage, most Independents will feel Hillary knows her stuff better, is more experienced, knows the players and will be the safer bet. On positions they don't differ much. But she's the wise grandma and Marco looks like a college kid, talking too fast in his excitement haha..

On Cruz totally agree with your summary. Smart guy, runs the best campaign by far, but isn't liked by the party. And yes, there is even a risk he'd go independent (or lead a break with the Tea Party; or join Trump in Trump's break from the GOP). The more I see of Cruz the more I think he's gonna win the nomination this time. Iowa starting to go his way already and a winner's bump would serve Cruz well in South Carolina, Nevada either winning or placing well in those. And then it would be piling on the delegate count out of the Southern States in the SEC primary March 1. But its highly unlikely Cruz could win in New Hampshire haha.

And good analysis on the timing ie opportunism. Huckabee waited too long and his chance went. Christie definitely would have done far better in 2012 than now. Its all about timing. And good point about 2024 being all new names with DEMs (if we count Elizabeth Warren as a new name haha, she's very likely to be running then).

Ok will post these and then tackle gerrymandering next

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Catriona

On gerrymandering. You are thinking of the census. There is absolutely nothing stopping Congress from passing a law tomorrow saying that its illegal to steal votes from voters in a national election and denying a voting result. They could set a test for when an election result is illegal, and could codify its remedy. That the number of members of congress must reflect the proportion of votes cast. They could leave it to the states to decide how to remedy that fault if it happens - either to go fix their gerrymandered districts before the next election or take the election result and then be forced to replace some Republican 'elected' house members with their 'losing' Democrat counterparts until the voted balance in that state is achieved. Pass the law, take effect the next election. Do it in 2017 and the 2018 election would already be impacted.

Of course this would then be sued left and right, but Republicans would be forced to defend clearly biased 'unfair' practises drawing more attention to the issue and those suits would then wander through the courts and end up with the Supreme Court. If well written law, clearly stating the injury is to voters and its the US government's duty to protect the rights of US citizens and their holy right to vote, that would have a strong chance to be approved by even a conservative-leaning Supreme Court. Or it might find parts struck down and parts upheld, or that the Supremes direct the Government to ammend some parts to suit their desires... but if Hillary has a filibuster-proof Senate and a majority in the House, she'll have that law written and she'll sign it. If she doesn't have the filibuster-proof Senate but still majorities in both houses, she'd (via Chuck Schumer) probably negotiate more with the Republicans in the Senate to ensure passage of some compromise version that would then prolong the transition period and give some relief to the Republicans in the short-term. But of course Congress can pass such a law. Its like the anti-discrimination laws that Congress passed against many Southern states that they can't tilt the balance in elections (which the Supremes recently found no longer necessary haha).

Now, if Hillary doesn't get to flip the House, then the timing gets far worse for her. She'd try to find some moderate Republicans to go along and there might be some who do understand the cancer of the Tea Party and might agree but then the law would need to be far less draconian. And most of the Republicans who would go along would probably be members of the House who were planning to retire anyway.. as a kind of final fuck-you to the Tea Party that wrecked their House haha.

Then if not by legislation, then the next is for the independent redistricting commissions that were just now found to be perfectly legal by the Supreme Court. Those will be on many state ballots for 2016 and more in 2018 and 2020. Some will be able to redraw their districts before the 2018 election or the 2020 election. Then comes the recapture of Governorships and State governments. That would be with 2018. And then the census of 2020 and its aftermath.

And apart from all that, sometime between now and 2020 its highly likely that one of the Supreme Court justices retire and either Obama or Hillary will get to appoint the next judge. If thats a conservative judge replaced of course by a liberal, then in the very next Supreme Court season they will take on gerrymandering and it will be ruled illegal nationally and all illegal districts must be redrawn. If this doesn't happen before the 2020 election it will very very likely happen before Hillary would leave office by 2025.

So where I am wrong. Which part is technically not true? And how Machiavellian is Hillary, she'll most def want to prevent Republicans from recapturing seats they lost and gerrymandering is even worse for DEMs than Citizens United unlimited money, both of which are far more damaging than the other dirty election tricks like limiting voting hours, required ID's, etc. The more Hillary and the DEMs can undo the artificial barriers to fair election results the more it only helps in the coming elections secure that DEMs continue to hold their power. Republicans won't get back into power by tricks, they have to evolve past the caveman positions of today and become a modern party. Accepting gays, stopping discrimination, legalizing pot, raising mimimum wage, ending the nonsense against common-sense gun laws, accepting science on things like climate change, etc etc etc. Then they will once again be able to win in national elections.

BTW the part at the end 'its only now that some observant Democrats are realizing'.. but this blog haha, I've talked about this for a long time :-) Obviously I am not a Democrat haha.

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Millard Filmore

@Catriona

"@WorstPresidentInHistory,"

Now, now, don't be naughty. I made a mistake in my reply. You were writing about Rubio and somehow "Cruz" came into my eyeballs. The "Cruz" mistake is what made me jump.

"no one really believed default was imminent. ..."

As I recall, it came down to only a few days. Any responsible foreign government or coalition will have put together a plan for the possibility of a real default. After all, they now have a warning it COULD happen, and there is plenty of advance notice. Whether the plan is in the form of an attack or some defensive move, the world will not stand still while we dither. Either way, the outcome need not be favorable to the USA.

"OTOH Hillary told her daughter that ISIS attacked us, and then a few days later promised to persecute someone for exercising his right to free speech by posting a YouTube video. She has no respect for our constitution. I'll take a lightweight over a criminal any day."

Quite a number of politicians of both parties casually stomp on the constitution. But talk is cheap. When did Hillary make good on that promise? As for "criminal", from what you write here in these comments, I would be surprised if you support sending Bush-Cheney and that team off to a war crime trial.

Catriona

@MillardFillmore, the Obama administration arrested the crappy YouTube video guy on a trumped up probation violation. He was jailed for at least a year.

@Tomi, Congress is not about to repeal the Voting Rights Act (which essentially requires racial gerrymandering), nor would they pass a proportional representational system. The latter would likely violate Article I of the Constitution on several grounds. There is plenty of SCOTUS precedent such that any Appeals Court (even one packed with liberals) would put a stay on any attempt by Congress to suddenly change the rules.

And your idea that a liberal SCOTUS would rule gerrymandering illegal is a pipe dream. Remember, the Voting Rights Act basically requires racial gerrymandering. SCOTUS has upheld political gerrymandering for over 200 years as a legitimate exercise. Stare Decisis still means something. Heck, this is a court that has repeatedly refused to overturn their stupid decision to grant Major League Baseball an anti-trust exemption. Just this week, Stephen Breyer wrote a majority opinion joining 4 of the conservatives and Elena Kagan citing a previous decision that he dissented to.

As for the independent districting panels, just because they are on the ballot doesn't mean that they will pass. And it doesn't necessarily mean Democrats will benefit. The GOP actually picked up seats after California switched to one. Most states make it very difficult to get binding referenda onto the ballot (many ballot initiatives are advisory). A legislature is only likely to put one on the ballot voluntarily if the party currently in power thinks that they will benefit. Guess who that would be in 29 states.

Catriona

@Tomi, the Republicsn closest to your views on the social issues is actually Donald Trump. He supports legalizing drugs, is indifferent on abortion and gays, hasn't said much at all on gun control, and was a big contributor and friend of the Clintons.

As for climate change, get back to me once the "experts" figure out models that actually work. My beef isn't with whether or not increasing carbon in a vacuum is undesirable. It's with the utterly foolish alarmism of AGW proponents. None of them predicted the last 18 years of zero temperature increase. None of them are willing to admit that the U.S. has accidentally done the most to reduce CO2 emissions by fracking (which they mostly oppose).

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Catriona

Now to next response. Obama attempts at bipartisanship. If you really suggest there was none you are in denial. Time ran a big piece a few years ago with all the details including direct quotes from Republican Senators etc. They decided BEFORE Obama took office, to obstruct him at every stage. When three Senators co-sponsored the first Stimulus bill, by the time it came to the final bill, all vanished. This was the PATTERN. Obama would try to reach out and the Republicans played with him as if they'd go along, then they pulled the rug under him leaving Obama with a more conservative bill than what Democrats with their voting power in 2009 or 2010 could have achieved, but with no bipartisan votes to go along with it. In essence Republicans were playing Obama and 'won' . Then came the wave of 2010 and Boehner who repeatedly negotiated deals with Obama that he then reneged on, didn't deliver the promised votes and the bipartisanship died. It was all by design, as we now know from numerous sources starting with Mitch McConnell from 2008 and Boehner in 2010 that they INTENDED to play Obama this way. Don't play dumb with us Catriona, that was the PATTERN. So the Stimulus, Todd-Frank, Obamacare, TARP, all were full of Republican items that Democrats hated but Obama insisted they had to include, to get that promised Republican bipartisan support, that then vanished on the day of the vote. The Democrats hated this in Obama in 2009, 2010, 2011. It wasn't until election year 2012 that Obama started to tilt and not until 2012 after the midterms that Obama became the liberal he never wanted to be, because the Republicans forced him to do that.

And again, this was part of the PATTERN. Look at the Cabinet, Obama invited Democratic party rival Joe Biden to be his VP, another rival Hillary Clinton to be his Secretary of State (no other President had picked rivals for both of these high positions). Then Obama kept Bush 2's Republican Defense Secretary Robert Gates and appointed Ray LaHood another Republican but retired politician as his Department of Transportation head. Again, this already was pretty unprecedented. But Obama wanted more. He nominated Judd Gregg the Republican Senator from New Hampshire to be his Commerce Secretary (would have been unprecedented bipartisanship in the modern era) and all thought he'd sail through as well liked moderate that both sides should warmly embrace - the Republicans more than anything because they'd get a third guy inside Obama's cabinet. Who objected? The Republican leadership !!! They blocked Gregg in a very open hostile reaction. Remember McConnell saying openly his goal is to make Obama a one-term President and Rick Cantor saying they will block everything that comes from the President. Not one vote from their side. This is purely one-sided torpedoing of the attempts of the most bipartisan President in (recent) history to try to make Washington work better. And (idiot) Obama didn't get the message until six years later, when he finally stopped trying, and became the liberal that Fox News had been calling him from day one. If Catriona you cannot see the OBVIOUS and WELL DOCUMENTED and UNCONTESTED history in this, you are delusional.

You can say that Obama is a liberal President and governing as a liberal. That is true only since 2012. Up to 2012 for the first SIX years including the first two when his party held both houses of Congress, Obama tried to govern as a bipartisan moderate taking ALWAYS into consideration the Republican wishes - only to be played by them and losing all the promised support. Clever by Republicans and naive by Obama - but Hillary was there to see all this. She won't even bother to try. She will come in as the firebrand liberal everybody thinks she would be... and that will be good for the country in the short run because some of the things the Tea Party-crazed Republicans have done recently are just idiotic. And then, most probably, after Hillary gets her populist early laws passed, there will come the inevitable over-reaches which may well bleed into scandals. But minimum wage, basic gun legislation, gay rights, abortion, climate change, these are VERY obvious positions that any sane moderate politician on either side should (and in future would) support. And trying to end Obamacare is as dumb as trying to end Social Security. Madness. But the Tea Party is a disease and only until it is extinguished from running Republican agenda, can the Republican party return to its normal moderate balance. That day will come rather fast after Hillary retakes the House. So if you're a Republican you should hope that the House is lost in 2016 not in 2018 or 2020, because the sooner the pain comes, the sooner the healing can start. It will only get WORSE for the Republicans if they postpone that pain.

As to Republicans not packing the courts, true. And Harry Reid definitely helped drive up the polarization of the US political system with his obstruction to Bush-Cheney but this was by the time the serial lies became clear about the wars etc. In the end even Bush 2 lost trust in Cheney and if there had been one more midterm election cycle coming, Bush 2 would have had Cheney removed and replaced as he finally took in his dad's warnings that Cheney was a dangerous manipulative megalomaniac.

As to lasting effect of the courts. Right now the Republicans are playing the same game as Reid did, by delaying all nominations as far as practical. But yes, once Hillary is elected and brings in the Senate back to the Democrats, she'll pack the lower courts with (very) liberal judges - which by the way are already now on somewhat a more liberal than conservative balance, if judged by which president appointed them. And then the Supremes will almost certainly switch from 5-4 conservative to 5-4 liberal, perhaps even 6-3 liberal, during the 8 years of Hillary's two terms. That will be a very far-reaching legacy protecting both Obama and Hillary legislation and changes. By the time there is the next Republican President elected (which will be before there can be a Republican Senate or House majority again) the USA will be dramatically different. First off, in elections of 2024 and beyond, half of voters will not be white. So the Republican party has to totally change its colors from hating minorities to somehow starting to love them. And yes, it can be done, but it will be VERY painful and cost many election cycles, exactly how the Democrats (white racist party) became the 'rainbow coalition' after the pain of the 1960s into the 1970s and only practically so in the 1980s. That kind of change will not happen in a year, it probably takes a decade to weed out the fanatical nazis like Gohmert and Trey Gowdy, eventually kicked out like say the idiot Allen West.

(more replies coming)

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Catriona

As to Hillary governing as liberal, yes, you are correct, she will be severely curtailed if she doesn't have both houses. She will in almost any conceivable case take the Senate back on her coat-tails and will flip some House seats but the current Republican lead in the House is formidable. Also obviously incumbents have enormous power against challengers. But wave elections can dislodge huge political advantages. That professor who calculated the general election advantage of gerrymandering said it was worth 7 points in the election. So Hillary would need to win by 8 points or more, to be able to cancel out the power of gerrymandering. Even after that, Democrats would need strong candidates and have to overcome the power of incumbency. A ten point win by Hillary might not be enough to get the House flipped. But I think 12 points is such a massive wave, that would do it. If Cruz or Trump are on top of the Republican ticket - and you know I calculated these two have the strongest chance to win the GOP nomination, not Rubio - then yes, 12 points or more will be Hillary's victory in any conceivable circumastances. With Trump its probably 20 points. But either with Cruz or Trump, Hillary would flip both the Senate and the House and then - watch out. The most liberal President since the war, with a 'Bernie Sanders' inspired and energized base liberal party, and a HUGE, ENORMOUS mandate to do various populist laws - there would be a wave of liberal laws that will dramatically change America, in ways Obama has not done. And because these would all be populist laws, it would also mean Hillary would remain popular and the Democrats would be seen as the 'adult' party that finally gets things done. And what will the still-Tea-Party crazed Republicans do? They will bitterly complain and try to block her - while being registered to have voted against all populist positions.

The 2018 election will be a rare midterm where the incumbent President's party takes MORE seats, because of all that populist legislation that Hillary will cram through. Note, even if she doesn't take the House in 2016, Hillary will pass many of her laws because of her big mandate even a 10 point margin would be bigger than Obama's first election of only 7 point 'landslide'. The Republicans won't be able to block a hugely popular woman president on her early agenda which will strongly feature women's issues (and Hispanic issues) and many sensible Republicans who barely survived the Hillary wave of 2016 will know how they have to behave or lose their seats in 2018...

But you're right. The level of how much Hillary's domestic liberal agenda actually happens, depends on whether she only flips the Senate or if she also flips the House. And for the Republicans a filibuster-proof Senate would be the nightmare scenario. Then Hillary would run the table delivering every Democratic wish-list item you can imagine. Even Bernie Sanders would be stunned at what all would suddenly 'come true' haha..

But on foreign policy, Hillary will be the iron lady, like Maggie Thatcher, Indira Ghandi, Golda Meir etc. She will be tested, she will show her claws early and strike at whoever challenges her, hard.

On compromises. Make no mistake, in 2016 it will not be a Democratic coalition of leadership with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer together with Hillary (and possibly her VP). No. It will be Queen Hillary doing it her way. Her coat-tails will be almost unprecedented - she's constantly investing in that now, as she knows she will win, but she needs both the Senate and the House. Schumer knows its only thanks to Hillary's coat-tails that he gets the Senate gavel. When Hillary flips the House (2016, 2018 or latest 2020) then Nancy Pelosi knows her place too, it was thanks to Hillary that she gets her gavel back. They won't like the edicts coming from the White House but Hillary will not be the wimp Obama was to his own party and caucus. She will be their BOSS, more so than just their leader. Iron lady will be a term soon also suggesting grumblings in the Democratic party operatives. But she will point to the Obama years and say, look at him, which do you want? Its either my way or the highway. And with that, all who will be in positions of power in her administration, will be Hillary and Clinton loyalists. The Clinton Mafia.

With that, much like Bill, Hillary will make deals with Republicans (even if she has both Houses) and make those from a position of (unprecedented) strength. At least unprecedented since Reagan. So some of her positions especially on the military and national security, her base will hate but she will ram them through anyway. Others will be hated by Republicans and Hillary won't care. But trust me, she will have approval ratings in the first two years of far above 50% because she will deliver on populist legislation that the nation has been waiting for. How it goes into her third year and beyond, especially her second term, that is when we can expect scandals and problems. Hillary might end up highly disgraced by the end of her term - but also - could hold her grip and play for that fifth face on Mount Rushmore, and could leave the office with even higher approval ratings than Bill Clinton had haha.. That remains to be seen once we see HOW she governs. She could turn out to be a micromanaging disaster like Jimmy Carter.

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Winter

On Rubio. He is still the unknown and on any unknown politician (like a first date) the electorate sees all the good and doesn't know any of the bad. He seems like a fresh young optimistic smart guy who speaks very well and offers fresh ideas. He is in very many ways like the Obama of the Republicans. First-term freshman Senator who is great at the rhetoric. Now, Rubio talks a good talk on foreign policy but is he 'experienced' of course not. Hillary is FAR FAR more experienced and this will be a foreign policy election. Sadly for Rubio, he actually said that infamous line that Hillary is more competent on foreign policy than anyone of the Republican field. So he loses right off the bat. Then on his signature legislation - Immigration reform - it collapsed and Rubio voted against his own legislation and now takes an opposing view to it. This is not unlike Mitt Romney who in 2012 could not stand on his biggest political achievement, Romneycare (the blueprint to Obamacare). Only worse, Rubio's only major legislation didn't even get passed. And now he runs away from it. So what does he have to show for his time in the Senate? Nothing. He's even missed much of the votes there and has said he isn't interested in a Senate career. All this suggests he is shallow and opportunistic and didn't even do anything worthwhile while IN the Senate.

Then we get to all the baggage he brings, from his extreme religious positions (abortion..) to the anti-Hispanic and anti-Immigrant position - to all the baggage now coming out of the contested Primary season. Rubio in 2016 is a light-weight (but the same Rubio if he goes through this and doesn't win now by 2020 would be a serious experienced front-runner). This is why the Republican party has almost never nominated a first-timer. Romney ran in 2008 before his run again in 2012. McCain ran in 2000 before he ran again in 2008, and so forth. They nominate experience, partly because the Democrats have more inbuilt support (more US Citizens are registered Democrats than Republicans, this holds true over decades) so the Republicans 'have to play smarter'.

If we consider previous elections 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012 - Rubio's extreme hawkish foreign policy and his extreme religious views, would be right at the right wing extreme of one of the nominees like a Pat Buchanan or Mike Huckabee or Rick Santorum. This year, because of Ben Carson, Ted Cruz and some of the nasty comments by Trump, Cruz seems like his is 'middle of the road'. In part, this reflects how much the base of the Republican party has surged to the extreme right, with the Tea Party infusion from 2010 and beyond. But Rubio's political views are too extreme to get him elected. BUT, he offers good contrast to Hillary and would likely unite a badly-split party and could make a good run against Hillary. Rubio should win his home state of Florida and as its the largest swing state, that alone would make a general election more competitive than what Romney and McCain achieved against Obama. Note. Rubio might not win his home state. Hillary would nominate Julian Castro the most popular Hispanic politician today, as her VP, which would play well in Florida (but most of Florida is Cubans, Julian is of Mexican ancestry, they are 'rivals'). Then it depends somewhat on for example who Rubio picks as his VP. Say he had to take Ted Cruz, then the ticket is seen as even more extreme right wing and would likely lose Florida... so it depends. And while Rubio could win Florida, Hillary might pick up Arizona (usually thought of as safely Republican state) with its high retired population, its high Hispanic population and its high military voter population - all strengths that Hillary has over Rubio.

Also yes, good point about the advertising avalanche. Hillary is set to become the most over-funded candidate in US political history. This election will be the first one where the general election alone, will feature one candidate having over $1B dollars to spend on ads. Marco Rubio has shown to be very weak on his fund-raising. While as candidate he would get some of the current Republican support who are with Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Ben Carson etc, because he is not strong at this, he wont' get nearly as much of it, as say Jeb Bush could collect. It means Marco will be SEVERELY underfunded against Hillary. Similar to how McCain was against Obama. Totally overwhelmed. When they have to early on abandon states, like famously McCain pulled out of Michigan - and Sarah Palin the idiot insisted they go back (creating confusion until she was put back into her place). So yeah, all Rubio's weaknesses - plus all the silly stuff he says in the primaries - plus all the nasty stuff his rivals will say - especially if Rubio ends up winning it, then the race goes to June and Cruz and Trump and others will hammer Rubio with all sorts of nasty things - that all will be in TV ads run by Hillary from July to November. He won't have the funds to respond in kind. And Hillary is a known quantity with an easy primary. There won't be much 'material' to hit her on. What, Benghazi?

Bloodbath coming...

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Per "wertigon" Ekström

@Catriona: Regarding climate change, there is a wide scientific consensus that the global warming is a direct cause of the greenhouse gasses. All of the data converge to this. But what does it mean?

It means, well, consider the mathematical function f(x) = 100sin(x/5)/x.

Let us plug in a few values and see what will happen with this function.

f(1) = 58.8
f(6) = -9.8
f(11) = 5.3
f(16) = -3.7
...
f(100001) = 0.0006

So, as X increases, the function will eventually get to zero. You with me so far?

Now, climate change proponents say "All the data points to this function eventually reaching zero." Climate change deniers say "What, zero? that's ridiculous, look at f(16) it's clearly not zero! And f(11) is positive while f(16) is negative, what's up with that?"

Now this is the mathematical model. In theory it's not as clean-cut as this. Not only do we not know the function we're trying to find, we get erronous data (so data shows for example that f(11) is 9.72, not 5.3 - and this is due to measurement error). Therefore it is easy to point to any single datapoint and say "Look, your model is off!"

well of course it will be. Mathematical models are always off. And with current technology, we cannot create a model complex enough to factor in everything since this planet is extremely complex.

We can, however, gather a decade of data, analyse the breadcrumbs and see that yes, they do indeed indicate a path. Climate Change deniers have yet to prove that all the collected data is either wrong, or point in a different direction, and the more data we get the more obvious the conclusion.

But keep being sceptic, that's just healthy! Just don't forget to be open-minded too! :)

(Incidentally, my stance is that climate change IS happening, but there is no political will to do anything about it, so I've just resigned to the fact that humanity is doomed.)

Per "wertigon" Ekström

Sorry, forgot to update my original function, I meant of course f(x) = 100sin(πx/5)/x.

Winter

@Per
Good explanation. Some data points: 2014 was the warmest year on record, then. 2015 is on route to be even warmer. Locally, we should have had ice by now, but it is 15 degrees Celsius. Warmest December ever.

@Per
"(Incidentally, my stance is that climate change IS happening, but there is no political will to do anything about it, so I've just resigned to the fact that humanity is doomed.)"

Humanity is doomed, but not yet now. There are three developments getting up to steam (excuse the pun) that are likely to save us.
1) US Climate change deniers are progressively marginalized

2) Sustainable energy is getting cheaper much faster than anticipated. Solar is coming on par with unsubsidized carbon sources.

3) Viable plans are starting to be drawn up to sequester carbon from the atmosphere. Growing more trees is needed for many plans to stop soil loss and advancing deserts. But that also helps getting carbon out of the atmosphere. With cheaper solar, other techniques to sequester carbon from the atmosphere become viable.

(For example, the regrowth of the Amazon forest after diseases wiped out the local farmers might have contributed to the little ice age
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2685049/Amazonian-rain-forest-just-2-000-years-old-previously-SAVANNAH-tended-farmers-researchers-find.html
)

Tomi T Ahonen

(Hi Per, lovely math and explanation, thanks. I'll get to you later as I deal with older comments first)

Hi Catriona. On your response to Winter about Florida and Rubio, again on many issues I agree but your view is quite optimistic. So lets deal with that scenario a bit more.

So yeah. I agree if Rubio is on top of the ticket, he is a favorite to win Florida which was the tightest vote in 2012 for Obama so its the nearest for Republicans to 'steal'. Local boy is a big advantage and Rubio's Cuban heritage plays well in Florida while it would not play as well in say New Jersey (who are Puerto Rican Hispanics) or in Arizona (who are Mexican Hispanics). So lets say Rubio wins the nomination outright, with more than 50% of the delegates so there is no deadlocked convention. And therefore, Rubio can pick any VP choice he wants. He knows that by picking Ted Cruz he would doom his own chances even more, thus even as it would anger some Cruz supporters, Marco picks the best VP choice to succeed in that scenario you painted Catriona, ie to win Virginia, Ohio and New Hampshire in addition to Florida. The squeaker plan where nothing is allowed to fail. For this strategy the best VP choice is clearly John Kasich the current Governor of Ohio who is very popular at home. A ticket of Rubio as President and Kasich as VP has a good chance of winning both Florida and Ohio (the reverse is not true, if Kasich was on top, he'd win Ohio yes, but if Rubio was only VP choice, he might still lose Florida).

For Marco to win his home state, he would have to campaign hard there. Hillary's team would challenge him a lot at home and run lots of ads and lots of events there. For Kasich to win Ohio, he would need to spend a lot of time there. Kasich is such a bad public speaker with no enthusiasm whatsoever that he would be pretty useless outside of Ohio. So Marco would essentially have to then win Virginia and NH by himself. And as the team would need to show their faces at least nominally in some contested states, the Rubio team would send Kasich to occasionally campaign in any 'lost cause' states that were 'battleground states' in Romney and McCain losses, so states like Colorado, Wisconsin, Iowa and Nevada. Rubio could not afford the time to go there, they'd send Kasich. So far so good. Lets say Rubio spends 10% of his time fund-raising and of the remaining 90% of his time he splits it 10% in NH, 20% in Ohio, 20% in Florida and 40% in Virginia. Kasich spends 50% back home in Ohio and the rest of his time on the hopeless cases (and 10% obviously also fund-raising).

Hillary's campaign is awash with cash. Where Rubio has to manage every penny and save money everywhere - ie travelling by bus as much as possible and holding many events near each other this way, Hillary can afford to fly by jet anywhere and send her surrogates by jet also. Most likely this means she has 50% more time for actual events but lets just say she earns 20% more time by using the most effective travel modes even as that is far more expensive. She can afford it.

Then she has her surrogates. Gosh does she have surrogates, who can pack rooms, even stadiums. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama can pack larger rooms than Marco Rubio ever could hope and even Chelsea Clinton and Julian Castro's twin brother can pack as big rooms as John Kasich. So how would her campaign organize the surrogates. Lets start with the Big Dog. Bill Clinton would be based out of Arkansas. He'd also do like Hillary 10% of his time in fund-raising (mostly New York). But for campaign events, he's a White Southerner, he'd be used almost exclusively in Arizona, Texas, Arkansas, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia. Then lets take VP Julian Castro. He'd also do 10% of his time fund-raising but he'd split his time in the Hispanic Southern states most of it in Arizona, Texas and Florida. But as VP he'd also do brief visits across the rest of the contested states so everywhere including the four actual battleground states (Florida, Ohio, Virginia & NH) but also 'dark horse' states like Montana, Indiana and Missouri; and Julian would do brief visits at the recent battleground states now abandoned by the Republican ticket ie Wisconsin, Iowa, Nevada and Colorado. His twin brother would run the same circuit except not doing the fund-raising.

The the President. Obama has to govern, he could only give part of his time but Hillary is going to use him. Where to send Obama? Virginia and Ohio. He won both obviously, he plays well with the 'I saved General Motors' in Ohio and the pro-women legislation in Virginia. Then take Michelle Obama. Also active first lady, won't give all her time but the time she has, she'd be around everywhere. And Chelsea Clinton same thing except she has all her time for her mom (and her future political career) and won't be needed at fund-raisers so she can devote all her time to sitting in planes and talking at events and giving press interviews.

The battle outside those four states will be utterly lopsided - BEFORE Hillary has been sent to do one event. North Carolina, Arizona, Georgia, Missouri and Indiana - if Hillary steals just one of those states, then the above Rubio plan of winning all 4 of the battleground states is wasted; Hillary still wins. But now toss in Hillary to the mix. She does 10% in fund-raising and then sits on planes and focuses mostly on the battleground states, Florida, Virginia, Ohio and NH. She also visits the pink states that they try to convert ie Arizona, Georgia, North Carolina, Indiana and Missouri. With the power of the Big Data machine, their campaign knows fully well which states are really in play and which are not - exactly like how the Obama 2012 campaign knew North Carolina was not really in play, so they didn't waste sending Obama to that 'battleground state' at all in the two months leading to the election of 2012.

So Hillary would have multiple paths to victory. She can snatch either of the two states where Rubio or Kasich are not the local boy, states that both went for Obama in 2008 and 2012. And she has massive surrogate power to send highly popular Presidents and other surrogates to fight there, and Hillary has enough of her own time to match what Rubio does in those two states. Then she can steal either of the two home states, Ohio or Florida - where Florida is the more likely candidate as Rubio is not highly popular at home and was not their Governor, only a junior Senator who is often blamed for not doing his job... But yeah, only one of those states stolen means Hillary wins.

Or Hillary can steal just one of the new battleground states, that Rubio and gang cannot afford to go defend to any meaningful degree - NC, Arizona, Georgia, Missouri and Indiana. North Carolina was close with Obama. Arizona would be highly Hispanics, plus miliatry plus retired folks, all playing well for Hillary. Any one of those five and the game is over.

And then we come to Texas. I don't expect Texas to go for Hillary this time unless Trump is on the ticket but it might. If Rubio and Kasich are the ticket and Cruz finished second but is denied the VP slot - he'd sulk. He'd make a scene because with Ted Cruz it all about him and screw the party. Plus he already now hates Rubio. So he'd tell his supporters - especially in Texas - to stay home on election day. Now Bill Clinton was highly popular in Texas already when he ran, because he was known as the Governor next door. Since his elections, the Clintons have regularly visited and supported local Texas Democrats. Hillary is well liked there, the local HISPANICS love the Clintons. And now toss in the twin brothers with Julian Castro as VP. All this, if Hillary carpet-bombs Texas and the surrogates criss-cross the state and Rubio can't afford to come defend it.. Texas could flip if the ticket is Rubio and Kasich (I dont' think Texas can flip if Cruz is on the ticket as VP or President). And thats yet another way for Hillary to win.

And what about the squeaker? Bill Clinton will fight for Arkansas and they did love him as Governor. If Hillary loses all other of the above states, but only wins Arkansas and the other states that Obama won, even while losing Ohio, Virginia, Florida and NH, because that is such a thin margin for Rubio, even Arkansas would give the Presidency to Hillary. She will be campaigining with Bill (and Chelsea) in Arkansas, just in case... Rubio won't.

This all was before we consider TV ad buys. Hillary knows FAR in advance which states she can afford to put in play and which she will carpet-bomb, so she can buy the TV ads far in advance when its the cheapest (like Obama). Driven by what? The Big Data. Rubio cannot. He won't even know if he's the nominee before June and then he has to pick his VP and do his detailed plans for the Convention and the campaign up from that. When Rubio starts to buy TV time, it will be more expensive and in some expensive markets, the best TV ad time will be sold out - bought by Hillary and the SuperPAC supporting her. Some of the most expensive TV markets are Florida, Texas, Arizona and Ohio. Again Hillary has more money, can buy the ads earlier, and can coordinate with surrogates a massive continuous presence in all states she wants to fight for, while Rubio is still wondering where he can deploy his VP that can be reached by bus...

Thats one scenario. It is mathematically possible yes, that if Rubio ticket wins all the states that Romney won, plus adds Florida, Ohio, Virginia and New Hampshire, yes Rubio becomes the President. Its practically impossible in the current situation for that to happen but his best chances would be to pick Kasich as VP to secure Ohio. Its then most likely that Rubio wins Florida and Ohio, but loses Virginia and NH (therefore obviously not becoming President) and Hillary wins at least North Carolina, one of Arizona and Georgia, and at least one of the 'rubbish states' that went for Romney in the wilderness like a North Dakota or Montana, simply because she has the funds and surrogates to spread the battle and Rubio can't match. In total Electoral College count, Hillary would roughly match what Obama did swapping Ohio and Florida for two other large states that went for Romney. Then in the general vote, she'd get a far bigger landslide than Obama did in 2012. And Hillary would have enormous coat-tails if the Republican ticket abandoned so many 'purple' states and even lost some 'pink' states. And the late count of Texas would give Karl Rove a heart-attack on Fox News election night haha.

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Winter

Funny thing, Republicans talking about the Internet:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/12/16/shut_down_the_internet_republicans_say/

PaulEdward79

Tomi,

Some very interesting numbers and conversation regarding endorsements and the invisible primary. I would like to hear your thought and opinions on these items. Also curious if you had a list of what you think Hillary will push through in her first few years (I know a lot of that will depend on if she has flipped the house and senate as well as filibuster proof senate). Thank you for the great commentary I love hearing from someone who is looking on the outside at the US Elections. Keep up the great discussion and insight.

http://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/2016-endorsement-primary/

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