Monday, December 5, 2016

Zionsville School Board Approves Drug Testing of Students Involved in Extra-Curricular Activities

This story flew under the radar last week as I worked on other things.  I do not agree with the notion of a public school drug testing anyone, even children, without even a hint of drug use.  People should not have to prove themselves innocent.   Further, I do not understand why students involved in extra-curricular activities are being singled out.  If anything, it is the ones who are not involved in those activities who are more likely to be drug users.  The Indianapolis Star reports:

After years of delays, rising tensions and hours of discussion, a proposal to randomly drug-test Zionsville High School students was approved Monday night.
The Zionsville School Board voted 3-2 in favor of the new policy which requires any students who elect to participate in extra-curricular activities or park on school property to consent to random drug tests.
Students who fail a drug test will be required to enter and complete a drug counseling program.
The approved plan is a variation of one supported years ago by the Zionsville Student Rights Union. They also proposed that only students who park or participate in after-school programs be tested, but the union plan wanted students to face no consequences at school, and for positive results to only be reported to parents.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Indiana Taxpayers to Pay Dearly to Save 800 Carrier Jobs, While Company Still Sends 1300 to Mexico

Donald Trump held a rally in Indianapolis today to take a victory lap, a celebration of a deal he and Vice President-Elect and current Indiana Governor Mike Pence reached to keep Carrier from moving its operations from Indianapolis to Mexico.  Trump claims that the deal shows there will be
consequences for other companies that try to move operations overseas.  If you redefine "consequences" as large taxpayer handouts, Trump appears to have a point.  

The 10 year deal to keep Carrier in Indianapolis will cost Hoosier taxpayers $7 million.  While saving 800 jobs in Indianapolis, Carrier still plans to move 600 of those 1,400 Indianapolis jobs to Mexico.  Add to that another 700 jobs at a separate Huntington, Indiana plant that is relocating to Mexico and Indiana is still losing 1300 Carrier jobs to Mexico at the same time the company is receiving a big pile of taxpayer money.

Although Candidate Trump threatened "the stick" of a special tariff against particular companies that move operations to other countries and then sell goods back to the U.S., the fact is as President he can't legally do that.  So instead President-Elect Trump resorted to good old fashioned bribery.

There is a name for the Trump-Carrier deal.  It is called corporate welfare, i.e. crony capitalism.   Government should ever be in the business of picking winners and losers in a capitalist system. To do so is a distortion of the free market which hurts consumers and ultimately workers.  Further, the Carrier deal tells the CEO of every company that the government will give them money to stay in the United States if they threaten to outsource jobs.  The Carrier deal sets a horrible precedent that will cost American taxpayers dearly in the years to come.  It is not to be celebrated.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Trump Again Suggests Limits on Free Speech - This Time on Flag Burning

Years ago the United States Supreme Court rules (quite correctly) that the burning of the American flag was an expression of a political idea  protected by the First Amendment's Free Speech Clause. Yesterday President-Elect Trump threw water on that decision, declaring that anyone who burns the American flag should be imprisoned for up to one year.  CNN reports:
(CNN)President-elect Donald Trump proposed on Tuesday a penalty -- including possible jail time or loss of citizenship -- for burning the American flag, in spite of two US Supreme Court rulings that protect the act under the First Amendment as a form of free speech. "Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag -- if they do, there must be
consequences -- perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!"  
... 
 The Supreme Court has twice affirmed the right to desecrate the American flag as a form of free speech -- a historically contentious issue -- in cases before the high court in 1989 and 1990. In the 1989 case "Texas v. Johnson," the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that flag burning was a form of "symbolic speech" protected by the First Amendment. The ruling came after an appeal from Gregory Johnson, who had been convicted by a Texas court of violating a state law that prohibited the "desecration of a venerated object" such as the US flag. The following year, in "United states v. Eichman," the top court again affirmed the right to burn the flag when it ruled 5-4 that the Flag Protection Act of 1989 -- passed by Congress in response to the Johnson decision -- was unconstitutional.  
It's not immediately clear what prompted Trump's tweet Tuesday morning, though the national discussion of respect for the flag has been restarted in part following a flag burning November 10 on the campus of Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, as part of a post-election protest. The university then decided to stop flying the American flag at the campus, which also infuriated some members of the community.  
Steve Vladeck, CNN legal analyst and professor at the University of Texas Law School, said Trump's suggestion that citizens possibly be expatriated as a penalty is also a non-starter. "In addition to ignoring the Supreme Court's clear teaching that flag burning is constitutionally protected speech, Mr. Trump's tweet also casually suggests that citizens should lose their citizenship as a 'penalty' for such acts," Vladeck said. "Even if flag burning wasn't protected, it would still be unconstitutional to deprive someone of their citizenship without some voluntary act on their part to renounce their allegiance to the United States or pledge fealty to a foreign sovereign."   
... 
Trump's opposition to the protection of flag burning puts him at odds with conservative leaders like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and deceased Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, whom Trump has praised as a "brilliant Supreme Court Justice, one of the best of all time." 
Trump is actually proposing a very dangerous idea...that speech should be disallowed because of the objectionable views contained in that speech. That is an idea that is anathema to Free Speech and suggests a President-Elect who harbors authoritarian impulses.  This comments follows a declaration by Trump during the campaign that libel protection should be changed so critics of public figures can be more easily hauled into court.  That suggestion would have a devastating effect on Americans' free speech rights.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Star Reports on New Indiana Civil Forfeiture Lawsuit

Earlier this year, the Institute for Justice filed a legal challenge to the constitutionality of Indiana's civil forfeiture law.  That lawsuit, filed in federal court, has survived a motion to dismiss and is proceeding. has a story on the filing of a second civil forfeiture lawsuit:
Today's Indianapolis Star

Criminal defense attorney Jeff Cardella wears his beliefs on his sleeve, in the form of a pair of large, pastel yellow "Don't Tread On Me" cuff links.
In between explanations of his libertarian principles, the 34-year-old Cardella  said his clients may not always be the most sympathetic individuals, but they deserve their rights, too.
Cardella filed a federal class-action lawsuit this month, on behalf of Leroy Washington, whose vehicle was taken by police in September. Washington was arrested and charged with resisting law enforcement, dealing in marijuana and obstruction of justice.
The suit argues that the Indiana law that allows police to seize property from alleged drug dealers and others, regardless of their guilt or innocence, violates criminal defendants' constitutional right to due process.
It "allows the executive branch to seize and hold the vehicle of an owner for several months without affording the owner the right to a postseizure preforfeiture hearing to challenge the seizure," according to the complaint.
It's an argument that could, if it prevails in court, have a sweeping effect on law enforcement.
...
The suit, limited specifically to vehicles in IMPD possession, does not seek monetary damages. Rather, Washington wants law enforcement to give back his vehicle, and the vehicles of countless individuals whose property was seized under Indiana's civil forfeiture laws.
Cardella also seeks a reduction in the period of time law enforcement can hold property without stating a reason for seizing it.
"It's a matter of protecting the constitutional rights of my clients," said Cardella, a professor at Indiana University's Robert H. McKinney School of Law, who is vehemently opposed to "unjust government taking."
Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry, Mayor Joe Hogsett and IMPD Police Chief Troy Riggs are named defendants in the complaint.
Curry told IndyStar that there are a variety of reasons why the law, as it exists today, is reasonable and constitutional.
"There are protections built in the law to protect innocent people," Curry said. "An aggrieved party could ask for an emergency hearing to get their property back."
The news reporting suggests that the Cardella lawsuit is more about a challenge to the lack of due process, which is certainly a strong claim.  But ultimately the legal attack on civil forfeiture may knock out any Indiana civil forfeiture law whatsoever.   The state constitution mandates that proceeds from "all forfeitures" go to the Common School Fund which provides low cost loans to public schools.  It is not clear that any forfeiture law, that diverts money away from that fund and to law enforcement, would be permitted under Indiana's Constitution.  Unfortunately, issues related to standing have made challenging the laws on those grounds problematic.

Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry is quoted in the article.  Curry, a Democrat, has greatly expanded the use of civil forfeiture under his tenure.  You no longer have to be charged with a crime in Indianapolis to have your property seized and be subject to a Curry civil forfeiture lawsuit.  At least with his predecessor, Carl Brizzi, civil forfeiture was mostly limited to drug offenses and people who were being charged with a crime.  You would think liberty-minded local Democrats would be outraged by the trampling of civil liberties in the county.  Their silence on the matter is deafening.

I have written numerous times on this matter.  Here are some of those articles:

Saturday, October 24, 2015, Republicans in Michigan Lead Effort to Curb Civil Forfeiture Abuses

Tuesday, July 23, 2013, Civil Forfeiture Critic Wins Right to Proceed With Malicious Prosecution Case; Notice Pleading Still Rules in Federal Court





Wednesday, April 6, 2011, Judge Tosses Out Civil Forfeiture Lawsuit, Expresses Doubt Civil Forfeiture Law is Constitutional

Sunday, August 15, 2010, Civil Forfeiture Misdeeds; The Role of the Attorney General


Thursday, July 22, 2010, Indiana Civil Forfeiture Law - Where is the Money Going?

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Computer Scientists Suggest Possible Tampering, Urge Clinton to Challenge Election Results

CNN reports:
Hillary Clinton's campaign is being urged by a number of top computer scientists to call for a recount of vote totals in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, according to a source with knowledge of the request. 
The computer scientists believe they have found evidence that vote totals in the three states could have been manipulated or hacked and presented their findings to top Clinton aides on a call last Thursday. 
The scientists, among them J. Alex Halderman, the director of the University of Michigan Center for Computer Security and Society, told the Clinton campaign they believe there is a questionable trend of Clinton performing worse in counties that relied on electronic voting machines compared to paper ballots and optical scanners, according to the source. 
The group informed John Podesta, Clinton's campaign chairman, and Marc Elias, the campaign's general counsel, that Clinton received 7% fewer votes in counties that relied on electronic voting machines, which the group said could have been hacked. 
Their group told Podesta and Elias that while they had not found any evidence of hacking, the pattern needs to be looked at by an independent review.
    A switch of approximately 100,000 votes (a tiny fraction of the approximately 126 million votes) in those three states and Hillary Clinton would have won the electoral vote and the election.

    Tuesday, November 15, 2016

    Indianapolis Council Leaders Use Vote as "Cover" to Fully Soak Taxpayers

    Indianapolis residents pay some of the highest local taxes in the state.  Now  Indianapolis Council leaders have decided to soak working men and women even more by maxing out the council's authority to raise the transit tax.  The Indianapolis Star reports:
    Previously reticent elected officials say they fully support an income tax hike for expanded public transit now that voters approved a measure on Tuesday’s ballot.
    City-County councilors said the wide margin by which the referendum passed, 59.3 percent to 41.7 percent, lets them push for the maximum tax allowed.   
    "I'm prepared to pass it at the full amount," said Council President Maggie Lewis. "And I think that by passing by such a large margin it gives a lot of councilors cover to do so."
    The council still has the option of not approving any tax or passing one that is smaller than the 0.25 percent maximum tax, which equals $130 a year for Marion County resident earning $50,000 annually.
    Of course, fiscally responsible Republican leaders on the council opposed the maximum soaking of Indianapolis taxpayers.  Kidding.
    Republican  City-County Councilor Jeff Miller said voters made their preference known loud and clear.   
    “I would say that is a convincing enough (referendum vote) margin for the full tax,” said
    The "logic" employed by Lewis and Miller is patently absurd. How does the margin of the referendum passing, a measure in which voters were simply giving the authority to the council  to adopt a tax to help mass transit, have anything to do with how much those voters wanted the tax raised?  Maybe voters assumed that Indianapolis City-County councilors would act as responsible stewards of our tax dollars?  Of course, if they followed local politics, those voters should have known better.

    Of course it is absurd to claim that a positive vote of 59.3% to 41.7%, a margin which translates into a victory of just a few thousand votes, is a huge electoral victory.

    I have long heard Indianapolis council members argue that the State Legislature should not limit the ability of Indianapolis to raise its own taxes.  This is yet another example of why the Indiana General Assembly should never ever do that.  Indianapolis' leaders have time and time again shown that they will irresponsibly max out any taxing authority given to them.

    But at least the huge tax increase will go to making great improvements to the bus system, right? Wishful thinking at best.  Twice in the last few years, Indianapolis greatly increased the local public safety tax expressly to increase the number of Indianapolis police officers.  Yet Indianapolis has fewer police officers than they had before those tax increases.

    Unfortunately the Indianapolis Star article simply reports as true the claims regarding improvements that will be made to the bus system with the maxed out tax, all the while ignoring the fact that time and time again Indianapolis officials raise local taxes with the promise to do certain things that never ever get done.

    We know from Indianapolis' entrenched two party pay-to-play political system that only a fraction of the tax money raised will go towards improving the city's mass transit system.  Much, if not most, of those tax dollars will end up in the pockets of politically-connected contractors and others who regularly benefit from Indy's corporate welfare culture...

    If this past election teaches us anything, it should be that voters are tired of elected officials using their positions to make the elites more wealthy at the expense of hard working men and women who are continually asked to pay higher taxes.  Our council leaders should show some courage and stand up for local taxpayers and against the elites who want to soak them with ever more higher taxes.

    Friday, November 11, 2016

    Donald Trump Scores Historic Upset, Demonstrates the Power of Populism

    On Tuesday, Donald Trump scored an historic political upset winning the Presidency with 290 electoral votes.   Although Hillary Clinton narrowly won the popular vote, she could only garner 232 electoral vote.  Trump's victory included successes in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, states that were seen to be, at best, on the outskirts at being obtainable by Trump.

    But the White House wasn't the only success Republicans enjoyed on Election Night.  Republicans won competitive Senate races all over the country, netting a loss of only two in that chamber despite the enormous hurdle of defending many more seats. Republicans retain control of the Senate with a 52-48 margin.  The Republicans lost only a handful of seats in the House, retaining a  signficant majority in that body.

    Trump's victory defied the odds.  Many commentators suggest Trump's victory is the biggest upset since the 1948 Truman-Dewey contest which was won by President Truman, despite polls suggesting Dewey would win in a landslide.  But polling in 1948 was in its infancy.  Polling in 2016 is much more sophisticated and the number doing has increased substantially.  Although Trump led in some national polls, in the key state polls, the only thing that counts with our electoral college system, all polls pointed to a Clinton Electoral College win. ( Yours truly also missed the result.)  I think the Trump upset was bigger upset than the Truman victory in 1948.

    Of course, many Trumpkins insisted the polls were being "rigged."   The notion that all these independent pollsters got together to risk their reputations by putting their finger on the scale to show Clinton leading is pure silliness.  In reality, this election demonstrated the Achilles Heel of polling - turnout.  No matter how hard pollsters try to take into consideration turnout by identifying "likely voters," the methods employed have never worked very well.  In 2016, much like 1994 and 2000, Republicans went to the polls while Democrats, especially African-Americans, a key Democratic constituency, stayed home.  As a result, the polls those years, and this year, were way off.

    It is interesting that it didn't seem to matter if Republicans embraced Trump or ran away from him, they didn't pay a price at the polls.  They won nonetheless.

    Some other observations.  Trump's victory shows the power of populism.  I have long argued that the Republicans needed to stop kowtowing to big corporations and the Chamber of Commerce and start paying more attention to working men and women.  Main Street and less Wall Street. Trump showed that the populist message was shown to be extraordinarily popular.  I am hoping that filters down to the state and local level so we can knock off some of the pay-to-play corporate welfare schemes that are soaking taxpayers.

    As a Never Trumper, my problem with Trump wasn't so much his message (though his hostility to free trade and immigrants is something I will never embrace) but the messenger.  A cursory comparison of Trump's words versus his actions showed him to be a hypocrite time and time again. Although Trump complains about Hillary's dishonesty, his supporters ignored Trump's own extreme dishonesty.  During the campaign, I, accurately, called Trump a lifelong con man.   Certainly there is no doubt that Trump is a sexist and may well be every bit the sexual predator that Bill Clinton was and probably still is.  Probably the most appalling claim to swallow is that Trump who has a lengthy history of, at every opportunity stiffing his employees and the small business owners with which his companies contract, is the defender of the American worker.

    All those complaints about Trump though have to be put aside while he is given the chance to succeed that he earned Tuesday night.  That does not mean,  however, that cherished American principles should be put aside. There are non-negotiables.  During the campaign, Trump expressed a preference for authoritarian rule.  He praised dictators who kill their political opponents and repress freedom.  Trump talked about if he won using the instruments of government to go after his political enemies, most prominently jailing his opponent Hillary Clinton.   He said Americans have too much freedom of speech and that their right to criticize public officials should be sharply curtailed by changing libel laws.  Trump demonstrated he does not even have a high school civics understanding of the Constitution and cares not one bit about the constitutional limits on the power of the Presidency.   American freedom and civil liberties is non-negotiable in my book.  Trump cannot cross that line and try to become another Mussolini.  The reference to the Italian dictator is nothyperbole.  I think it quite possible that Donald Trump, who openly envies the dictators, may try to adopt dictatorial powers.

    Finally, an observation about the Democrats.  Going into the 2016 election, Democrats insisted that the Republican Party was failing and needed to reinvent itself if it was to survive  Yet, the record showed Republicans enjoying extraordinary success, especially since Obama's election in 2008.  On the evening of the 2016 election, the GOP held a record number of Governorships, state legislative chambers, and controlled both houses of Congress, the House of Representative by a margin not seen in some 80 years.  But by having the White House, the Democrats were lulled into thinking that everything was fine with their party despite an electoral record that demonstrated otherwise.  Now that the Democrats have lost the White House, and are about to lose the Supreme Court, they may finally be answering that wake up call they have been ignoring for the last several years.

    Monday, November 7, 2016

    Hillary Clinton Set to Win the White House Tomorrow Night

    This election is one of the most difficult presidential elections I have ever attempted to predict.  I don't think the outcome is in doubt - Hillary Clinton should emerge tomorrow night as victorious, a close but solid win.  But attempting to predict the outcome in individual states is difficult this time as there are so many states with polls well within the margin of error.

    My map has Hillary Clinton with 323 electoral votes, Donald Trump with 215.  I expect the map to represent very closely the 2012 Obama-Romney outcome.   Differences are I predict that Hillary Clinton wins North Carolina.  On the other side,  I expect that Trump will win Iowa and Ohio.  The latter prediction I may regret.  Given the early voting in the state, I think the Buckeye state may offer an upset, albeit a slight one, by going for Clinton.  But right now though I'm sticking with Trump.

    Florida is a tossup.  Trump has unusual popularity in the Sunshine State among Republicans.  But I think the Latino vote is going to play a major role there in pushing the state into the Democratic column again in 2012.

    I think there is an outside chance Clinton takes Georgia and Arizona.  I can't go against history though.  I'm predicting Trump will eke out a victory in that state.

    I am predicting Clinton takes New Hampshire by a few points and Nevada and Colorado by a few more.  As far as the "rust belt" states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, states that Trump counted on winning, well they won't be that close.  Trump never really had a chance in those states.

    I would cite to three factors as sinking Trump's chances tomorrow:  1) Hillary Clinton's much superior organization; 2) Heavy Latino turnout for Clinton; and 3) Republicans who never got on the Trump train.  Regarding the latter, Trump needs about 92% of Republicans to support him.  I think it will be about 82% tomorrow.   The Democrats will be more united behind their nominee

    Thursday, November 3, 2016

    RCP State Averages Show 269-269 Electoral College Deadlock

    With three weeks to go, the Hillary Clinton for President campaign has ran out of gas in the marathon race for President. Crew members are attempting to push the Clinton car over the finish line. But the Trump car appears to be closing fast.

    Every few days, I adjust my Electoral College spreadsheet based on the most recent state polls.  This morning, I moved Florida and Nevada over into the Trump column.  North Carolina, where Clinton polled ahead for weeks is now dead even according to the Real Clear Politics polling average.  You
    move NC's electoral vote over into the Trump column and the result is a staggering 269-269 tie, which means no candidate receives the necessary 270 electoral votes necessary to be elected President.  That would mean, under our Constitution,the U.S. House of Representatives decides the election with each state delegation will cast one vote for President.  The Republicans have a majority in the House, even more so when you look at majorities on a state-by-state basis.  Thus, the GOP dominated House would pick the President.

    You also have the possibility that independent Evan McMullin will win his home state of Utah and thus give him that state's 6 electoral votes.  That would make him the third candidate that the U.S. House could consider when electing the President.  Certainly McMullin would be an attractive option for a lot of Republican House members.  But those GOP House members would face tremendous pressure to vote for Trump even if many see him as unqualified to be President.

    Let's look at even more possibilities. The Electoral College is made up of real life human beings, people selected by their party to elect the President.  What if Donald Trump narrowly wins the Electoral College but some of those GOP electors see him as unfit to serve and vote for Hillary Clinton instead...or someone who is not even running?  Clinton could be elected President even though she lost on Election Night.  Or what if Hillary Clinton narrowly wins the electoral vote count on November 8th and Trump throws some cash at Democratic electors to switch their vote to him come November?  I certainly don't believe Donald Trump is above such a maneuver.

    The last time we had a close electoral college vote was in 2000, when George W. Bush finished with 271 electoral votes and then Vice President received 267.  There didn't seem to be any attempt after that election to steal the support of electors, though one Gore elector did abstain resulting in a final tally of 271-266.

    I doubt that any of this will come into play.  My guess is that the polls are understating Clinton's support and that her electoral college vote total will be closer to 300 than 270.  Still it is interesting to ponder all the scenarios.

    One thing that is clear though.  Trump and Clinton are incredibly weak candidates who probably would have no chance were they not running against each other.

    Saturday, October 29, 2016

    Electoral College Could Save Americans From Terrible Choices for President

    Much of the discussion of the Electoral College this election cycle has to do with what happens if a candidate for President falls short of 270 electoral votes.  Should that happen, our constitution provides that the U.S. House of Representatives will elect the President with each state delegation casting one vote.  The top three finishers are eligible for consideration.  Meanwhile the U.S. Senate (assuming the VP candidates also fall short of 270) pick the winner among the top two candidates.

    So the only candidates who could be elected President at this point are Trump, Clinton or a third party/independent candidate assuming that person received some electoral votes?    If you answer
    Alexander Hamilton
    "yes," you'd be wrong.

    When we cast a ballot, we're not actually voting directly for President.  We are voting for a slate of electors who has pledged to vote for a particular candidate. The number of electors people in each state elect is equal to the number of (federal) representatives and senators that state has.  In most states, the candidate who wins the popular vote statewide, gets their entire slate elected, i.e. they are electors for that state.  In December, the elected electors gather in the capitol in all 50 states and cast their vote for President.

    I get a kick out of those people (mostly conservatives) who argue that the Electoral College is operating today exactly as the Founding Fathers intended.  That could not be further from the truth. The Electoral College was expressly designed to be a deliberative body made up smart men (no women electors back then) who could better judge than the average person the qualities that a President needs. In Federalist Paper #68, Alexander Hamilton explained the reason for including the Electoral College in the Constitution:
    It was desirable that the sense of the people should operate in the choice of the person to whom so important a trust was to be confided. This end will be answered by committing the right of making it, not to any preestablished body, but to men chosen by the people for the special purpose, and at the particular conjuncture. 
     It was equally desirable, that the immediate election should be made by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station, and acting under circumstances favorable to deliberation, and to a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice. A small number of persons, selected by their fellow-citizens from the general mass, will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations. 
     It was also peculiarly desirable to afford as little opportunity as possible to tumult and disorder. This evil was not least to be dreaded in the election of a magistrate, who was to have so important an agency in the administration of the government as the President of the United States. But the precautions which have been so happily concerted in the system under consideration, promise an effectual security against this mischief. The choice of SEVERAL, to form an intermediate body of electors, will be much less apt to convulse the community with any extraordinary or violent movements, than the choice of ONE who was himself to be the final object of the public wishes. And as the electors, chosen in each State, are to assemble and vote in the State in which they are chosen, this detached and divided situation will expose them much less to heats and ferments, which might be communicated from them to the people, than if they were all to be convened at one time, in one place. 
    Nothing was more to be desired than that every practicable obstacle should be opposed to cabal, intrigue, and corruption. These most deadly adversaries of republican government might naturally have been expected to make their approaches from more than one quarter, but chiefly from the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils. How could they better gratify this, than by raising a creature of their own to the chief magistracy of the Union? But the convention have guarded against all danger of this sort, with the most provident and judicious attention....
    As a side note, that last paragraph in which Hamilton argues that the Electoral College will protect against a foreign powers getting involved in an American election to get one of their supporters elected President seems eerily applicable this year.

    The Electoral College, has never in fact operated as the deliberative body that Hamilton and other Founding Fathers intended. It quickly became a rubber stamp of each state's popular vote.  In fact, 26 states have adopted laws that purport to prohibit electors from making picking someone other than that state's winner of the popular vote.  (This is the so-called "faithless elector.")   I say "purport" because I highly doubt that such laws would survive a constitutional challenge. They appear to be an attempt by states to alter a constitutional provision and would likely suffer the same fate - a declaration of unconstitutionality - as state laws that attempt to impose term limits on their members of Congress.

    If there was ever a need for a deliberative Electoral College, and a choice of someone other than the two major parties' nominee, it is this year. The Republican nominee has proven time and time again that he is imminently unqualified and lacking the temperament to be President. Meanwhile the always ethically-challenged Democrat nominee is the subject of a criminal probe and may be under indictment in a few months.  The Republicans and Democrats had so many better candidates. But the public chose poorly in the primary stage and as a result these are the voters' only two choices realistically having a chance of winning.   But while we voters are stuck with Trump or Clinton, are those the only choices the electors have?  The Founding Fathers would resoundingly say "no."

    Hamilton in Federalist Paper #68 offers a closing pitch for a deliberative Electoral College, words that seem to make a strong case for electors rescuing the nation from the awful inevitability that Trump or Clinton will be President on January 20, 2017:
    The process of election (that Electors and not the people choose) affords a moral certainty, that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications. Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honors in a single State; but it will require other talents, and a different kind of merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole Union, or of so considerable a portion of it as would be necessary to make him a successful candidate for the distinguished office of President of the United States.... .  

    Friday, October 28, 2016

    FBI Reopens Hillary Clinton Email Investigation Just Eleven Days Before Election

    I don't think today's bombshell news will change the winner of the election (though possibly decrease the margin of Hillary Clinton's victory), but it increases the odds that we could have an indicted President-elect before Inauguration Day.   CNN reports:
    After recommending earlier this year that the Department of Justice not press charges against the former secretary of state, Comey said in a letter to eight congressional committee chairmen that investigators are examining newly discovered emails that "appear to be pertinent" to the email probe.  
    "In connection with an unrelated case, the FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear pertinent to the investigation," Comey wrote the chairmen. "I am writing to inform you that the investigative team briefed me on this yesterday, and I agreed that the FBI should take appropriate investigative steps designed to allow investigators to review these emails to determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation." 
    Comey said he was not sure how long the additional review would take and said the FBI "cannot yet assess whether or not this material may be significant." 
    The Department of Justice, which followed Comey's recommendation not to charge Clinton, declined to comment Friday. Law enforcement sources say the newly discovered emails are not related to WikiLeaks or the Clinton Foundation. 
    According to a FoxNews report the new emails came to surface during an investigation relating to former Congressman Anthony Weiner's sexting scandal.  Weiner's estranged wife, Huma Abedin, is a top aide to Hillary Clinton.

    Trump: Worst Presidential Candidate or Worst Campaign Ever?

    Fareed Zakaria of the Washington Post pens a column examines the Donald Trump campaign and concludes that is the worst presidential campaign in modern political history.  This is the concluding paragraph:
    One important test for the White House is the ability to run a modern presidential campaign, a 50-state start-up that requires hundreds of millions of dollars, a clear strategy, great talent and consistent, high-quality execution — all while being scrutinized daily by hundreds of reporters. By now it is indisputable that Trump has run the most poorly resourced, undisciplined, chaotic campaign in modern political history. He has embodied the quality that he regards as the worst failing for a leader: all talk and no action.
    Remember when Trump was talking about how he was much more competent than the other GOP
    candidates? That he would hire the "best people" who would propel his campaign to an "easy" victory in the general election?   Unlike "loser" Mitt Romney who dropped the 2012 election, Trump proclaimed he would "win" in 2016 because, well, he is a "winner."

    Eleven days out, Trump is not only is polling behind in virtually every state Romney lost in 2012, he has also put formerly red states such as Georgia, North Carolina, Arizona, Texas, and Utah into play.   He will sink in the worst electoral defeat for Republicans maybe since 1996.  He quite likely will be a major factor in handing the Democrats control of the U.S. Senate as well.

    Trump losing the election is quite an accomplishment.  He is running in a year when the country is clamoring for a change.  The tone deaf Democrats instead nominated the ultimate status quo candidate, a nominee who is the second most unpopular presidential candidate in American history.  (Trump, of course, is No. 1 in that category)   Issues relating to Clinton's use of a private email server and the family foundation have exposed, again, the Clintons' secretive and corrupt nature.

    The Trumpkins (I have settled on this term to describe those who blindly and unquestionably worship all things Donald J. Trump) keep shouting about how dishonest Hillary Clinton is and how she believes she is above the law.  Yet they vigorously backed Trump, a man who is every bit as dishonest as Hillary and who also believes he is above the law that mere mortals have to follow.

    But even if Trump were a paragon of virtue, which he clearly is not, Republicans can't win an election, even against a "crook,"  with nothing and Donald Trump is much less than nothing. Even overlooking as possibly disqualifying his obvious sexism and allegedly sexual predatory behavior (is he really any different on that score than Bill Clinton?), the man has zero interest in and understanding of public policy.  Combine that with the maturity and temperament of a petulant six year old child, and you have a man who is completely unfit for the Office of the Presidency.  Don't think Americans haven't noticed. They have.  

    Trump is at his heart a con man.  By putting his name on buildings, he convinced many Americans that he is a "great businessman."  Six bankruptcies, numerous failed businesses, and a lack of cash assets at 70 years old speak otherwise.  Trump jumped into the GOP nomination contest, pretending to be a conservative, to run another con, this time on Republican voters.  People inside the campaign during its early days say Trump never expected to actually win the nomination.  Rather he ran to regain the spotlight as his TV show, the Apprentice, (one of his few ventures that was making money) was fading in popularity.  Trump never expected to win and, thus, be thrust into the position of having to run a modern American presidential political campaign.  Handed the challenge, Trump has failed...miserably.

    Come November 9th, will Donald Trump be known as the worst presidential candidate of all time or someone who ran the worst presidential campaign of all time?  My guess is both.  Nonetheless, it is clear that Donald Trump will have one label he can't escape from:  Loser.

    Friday, October 21, 2016

    Evan Bayh Failed to Stay at His Indiana "Home" During Last Year in Office

    The Associated Press reports:

    Evan Bayh says that his Indianapolis condominium has long been his home, and that he has spent “lots and lots” of time there since deciding to run for his old Senate seat. But a copy of his schedule shows Bayh did not stay overnight there once during his last year in office in 2010.
    The schedule provided to The Associated Press shows the Democrat spent taxpayer money,
    Former Indiana Senator Evan Bayh
    campaign funds or let other people pay for him to stay in Indianapolis hotels on the relatively rare occasions he returned from Washington, D.C.
    ...
    Since unexpectedly entering the race in July, Bayh, whose primary residence is in Washington, has struggled to explain whether Indiana is home. During an interview with WLFI-TV in August he tried to put the issue to rest, but gave the wrong address for his condo, which is listed on his drivers’ license and voter registration.
    “I’ll always be a Hoosier,” Bayh said last week. “We own our condominium. Period. From time to time I would stay someplace else, but our condo has always been our home.”
    Bayh stayed at Indianapolis hotels roughly a dozen times in 2010, though taxpayers paid only a few hundred dollars because campaign funds or other people helped pick up the tab.
    When asked last month how often he has stayed at his condo during the campaign, Bayh said: “I haven’t kept track, but lots and lots and lots.” He also accused his opponent, Republican Rep. Todd Young, of “using this as a distraction.”
    The Associated Press article also details how Bayh appears to have used taxpayer money to help fund his job hunting trips he took while planning to leave the Senate in 2010.

    Of course, if the Indianapolis condo is not Bayh's residence, which does not  appear to be the case, he is committing a felony every time he uses that address from which to vote.   This has been a practice by many Indiana politicians, of both parties.  Republican Senator Richard Lugar voted using the address of a house he sold decades earlier.  (Lugar also stayed in Indianapolis hotels when he would come back to the Hoosier state.)  To this day, both Bayh, Lugar and their families continue to vote using Indianapolis addresses where they clearly do not reside, despite the fact they both left the Senate years ago.

    It is reprehensible that Bayh and Lugar, and other politicians, routinely get a pass on the issue, while former Secretary of State Charlie White was prosecuted as part of a bipartisan witch hunt for on one occasion allegedly voting someplace other than his residence.

    Wednesday, October 19, 2016

    Sen. Rubio: Republicans Need to Stop Using Russian Hacked Emails Against Democrats

    American intelligence has confirmed that the hacker source of the Democrat emails published via Wikileaks is none other than Russia.  That should not be surprising.  Russian President Vladimir Putin desperately wants his buddy, Donald Trump, to win the election.  While Republicans are almost universal in condemning Russian interference with an American election, most in the GOP do not hesitate to use what is contained in the hacked emails for political purposes.

    But shouldn't they hesitate?  Shouldn't Republicans be concerned that using the often embarrassing and revealing emails actually is aiding Russia in its efforts to influence an American election? And shouldn't Republicans be concerned that next time it might be their emails which are hacked and then
    Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fl)
    used in an election?

    Apparently at least one Republican thinks so.   ABC News reports:
    "As our intelligence agencies have said, these leaks are an effort by a foreign government to interfere with our electoral process and I will not indulge it,” [Florida Senator Marco] Rubio tells ABC news. "Further, I want to warn my fellow Republicans who may want to capitalize politically on these leaks. Today it is the Democrats, Tomorrow it could be us/
    Rubio's stand puts him directly at odds with Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee, which have been relentlessly hammering Hillary Clinton and her campaign over the contents of the hacked emails.
    "Wikileaks has provided things that are unbelievable," he said at a rally in Colorado Tuesday, accusing the media of ignoring the ongoing leaks. "The media you have to remember is an extension of the Hillary Clinton campaign. It's an extension. And without that she would be nowhere.
    But while Trump regularly taunts the news media for not paying enough attention to the stolen emails, Rubio argues that making an issue out of the Wikileaks disclosures plays into the hands of the Russian government.
    Marco Rubio is exactly right. He should be applauded for showing leadership on the issue.

    Tuesday, October 18, 2016

    Indiana Nears Battleground Status As Polls Show Hoosier State 10th Most Competitive

    Once a state is deemed to be a "battleground," a state might be close on Election Day, that status ensures numerous visits from presidential candidates and their surrogates.   Indiana hasn't been in that category for decades, despite Barack Obama's upset win in the state (predicted by yours truly) in 2008. It appears though that Indiana may have a close presidential election once again.

    The Real Clear Politics average of polls shows the Trump lead in the Indiana as being only 4.5%. Compared to the polling averages in other states, Indiana is the 10th most competitive state. Here is the top 10 list and which candidate leads in that state:

    1. Ohio  .7 (Trump lead)
    2. Arizona 1 (Trump lead)
    3.  Nevada 2.5 (Clinton lead)
    4.  North Carolina 2.7 (Clinton lead)
    5.  Alaska 3 (Trump lead)
    6.  New Hampshire 3.6 (Clinton lead)
    6.  Florida 3.6 (Clinton lead)
    8.  Iowa 3.7 (Trump lead)
    9.  Minnesota 4.3 (Clinton lead)
    10. Indiana 4.5 (Trump lead)

    I should note that polling in Alaska has been very limited.

    Ohio and Iowa are two states that, although President Obama won them in 2012, Trump leads. Clinton though appears to be offsetting that by leading in North Carolina, a state Romney won in 2012.  Clinton has also taken out of contention several near battleground states that Trump had vowed he could win:

    15. Wisconsin 6.7 (Clinton lead)
    16. Pennsylvania 6.8 (Clinton lead)
    21. Colorado 8 (Clinton lead)
    23. Virginia 8.7 (Clinton lead)
    27. Michigan 10.7 (Clinton lead)

    Is "battleground" status on the Hoosier horizon?

    Update:  An alert reader caught that I flipped Minnesota.  Clinton leads in that state, not Trump.

    Monday, October 17, 2016

    The "Bradley Effect" and Why Polls Measuring Trump Support May Actually Overstate His Election Performance

    Much has been written about the well-known, at least to political scientists, "Bradley Effect" and the role that a similar phenomenon could play in this election. Ballotpedia explains:
    The Bradley effect, sometimes called the Wilder effect, is a concept that attempts to explain discrepancies between voter opinion polls and outcomes in elections where white candidates campaign against minority candidates. Adherents of the Bradley effect believe that some voters will tell pollsters that they are undecided or likely to vote for a minority candidate but will vote against the minority candidate on Election Day. It was named for [former Los Angeles Mayor]Tom Bradley, an African-American candidate who lost the 1982 California gubernatorial race despite having a lead in the polls going into the election.
    Of course, this presidential election doesn't involve a black candidate versus a white one. But could
    Former Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley
    something similar be going on, namely that people are lying to pollsters as to which candidate they will support on Election Day?  Breitbart reported on the theory back in August, including a quote from an Emerson College Professor Gregory Payne:

    “I think with Trump .... [m]any people are saying to maybe their friends while they’re having a sip of Chardonnay in Washington or Boston, ‘Oh, I would never vote for him, he’s so – not politically correct,’ or whatever, but then they’re going to go and vote for him. Because he’s saying things that they would like to say, but they’re not politically courageous enough to say it and I think that’s the real question in this election.”
    Prof. Payne is right to consider the theory, but he offers no evidence to back up his analysis.  Certainly we have had numerous examples of polls v. election results during the nomination phase of this presidential election.  If the secret Trump support were a real thing, wouldn't Trump have outperformed his polls consistently in those state GOP contests?  Not only did that not occur the exact opposite happened, i.e. Trump consistently underperformed the polls in the primaries.  I wrote about that phenomenon back in March:
    Twenty state contests had a Real Clear Politics poll average before the election, or if no RCP average, a recent poll that RCP deemed credible enough to publish the result.  I looked at Trump's margin of victory compared to those poll results, or if he lost the state, the margin between Trump and the winner,   I found that when it came to the margin, Trump underperformed his poll numbers in 15 of 20 elections, by an average of -7.84%.  It has also increased over time. In the fourteen contests March 1st or earlier, Trump's underperformance was -4.47%.  In the 6 contests since then, the underperformance was -15.7%
    Only in the late primaries did Trump's performance at the polls finally begin to match or exceed his poll numbers.

    In addition to that primary history of Trump underperforming the polls, I would also point to general election polling which consistently show people view Trump as unqualified to be president.  In the latest Fox News poll, 56% of respondents viewed Trump as unqualified.  A September Quinnipiac poll pegged that number at 62%, while 61% thought Hillary Clinton was qualified to be President.

    Obviously many people who are telling pollsters that Trump is unqualified to be President are also expressing support for him over Hillary Clinton.  But could it be that those anti-Clinton people are, in fact, lying to pollsters, using the opportunity to vent their extreme displeasure regarding the Democratic nominee to pollsters without the real life consequences of casting a ballot?  When those same poll respondents enter the voting booth, are they going to vote for someone they see as unfit for office over someone they might view as qualified but who they for, good reason, do not like?

    I am guessing that many of them will not.  On Election Day, I believe Trump will considerably underperform the polls, especially the state polls.  My crystal ball says Trump will fall short of 200 electoral votes and it will be the worst GOP presidential election loss since 1996 when former GOP Kansas Senator Bob Dole only received 159 electoral votes. 

    Friday, October 14, 2016

    New Monmouth Poll Shows Indiana Republican Candidates Trailing in Statewide Races

    The Evansville Courier Press reports:

    Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Gregg has a double-digit lead over Republican Eric Holcomb in the race for Indiana governor, according to a new poll released Friday by Monmouth University.
    John Gregg
    The same poll shows GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump's lead over Democrat Hillary Clinton in Indiana is down to four points.
    The poll was conducted on Oct. 10-13, surveying more than 400 likely Hoosier voters. The margin of error is 4.9 percentage points. A similar poll conducted by Monmouth University in August showed the governor's race as a virtual tie, with Holcomb actually enjoying a one-point lead. Now, just a month later, Gregg is up 12 points, 50 to 38. Libertarian Rex Bell was favored by 5 percent of the respondents. Seven percent were undecided.
    ...

    The news doesn't get much better for Hoosier Republicans in the other two, big ticket races either. In August, Monmouth showed Trump with an 11-point lead in the presidential race. That margin is now down to four points, inside the margin of error, with Trump leading 45 to 41.
    In the race for U.S. Senate, Democrat Evan Bayh holds a six-point lead over Republican Todd Young, 48 to 42. That lead remains virtually unchanged from August's poll which had Bayh up 48 to 41.
    What is most significant though is movement from the first Monmouth poll to the most recent one. Trump's support in the state declined by 7% while Holcomb's fell by 13%.  Young, whose support against former Governor Bayh actually increased by 1%, appears to be running an outstanding campaign but may be the victim of bad timing - being on the ballot during a Democratic year.

    Trump Protests Media Bias While Overlooking Their Role in Elevating Him to the Nomination

    Trump and his blindly loyal followers, the Trumpkins, have declared war on the mainstream media. They claim the media has a liberal bias.  That is not exactly a shocker.  Surveys of journalists for decades have shown that they overwhelmingly prefer Democrats when it comes to Presidential elections.   It is not a reach to conclude that many want Trump to fail and that desire, even if only subconsciously, affects their coverage.

    But philosophical bias is not the only bias media has.  The media has a bias for action, for conflict, for good stories that will entice their audience.  At the end, they are a for profit enterprise. They want to sell newspapers, to reel in viewers.

    Trump rode these other media biases to the nomination. Even when Trump was far down in the polls and hadn't raised much money, the evening news were filled with extensive live coverage of his rallies. Other candidates were never able to get the same (free) media coverage of their campaigns, leaving their candidacies dead in the water.

    Back in June, the Washington Post reported  on a Harvard study on the news media coverage Trump received during the primary stage:
    [A]new study by Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University ... documents not only the outsized coverage Trump received — from TV and digital media — in the early days of his campaign but also how overwhelmingly positive that coverage was.

    First, it notes that Trump received considerable media coverage during 2015 despite the fact that he was neither a leader in polls or in the fundraising chase — two indicators of uneven media coverage of candidates in past races, according to the Shorenstein study. As the study reports:   
    "When his news coverage began to shoot up, [Trump] was not high in the trial-heat polls and had raised almost no money. Upon entering the race, he stood much taller in the news than he stood in the polls. By the end of the invisible primary, he was high enough in the polls to get the coverage expected of a frontrunner. But he was lifted to that height by an unprecedented amount of free media. "
    The study then goes on to place a price on that free media Trump received. Of course, Trump and his merry band of followers will insist that much of that primary coverage was negative. But in fact it wasn't.  Trump received an inordinate amount of positive coverage during the primary stage:



    Now though the tables are reversed. Weeks away from the general election the news is filled with negative Trump stories detailing the candidate's character flaws and disqualifying history. Those were stories that could have easily been investigated and reported on during the primary stage. If that happened the Republicans might have nominated a candidate who is actually qualified to be President, someone who would be 10 points ahead of Hillary Clinton instead of nearly 10 points behind.

    Of course, the media is liberal. Of course, most reporters do not want a Republican in the White House, even a faux conservative like Trump.  The question that should be asked is why the media give Trump so much free coverage leading up to his nomination? Why did the media sat on their collective hands, failing to report the negative stories about Trump when there was time for the GOP to get a new nominee? Was there a coordinated effort by liberal reporters to ensure the GOP was stuck with an unelectable nominee who would embarrass the party and rip it apart?  While I don't buy that the media coordinated their efforts to obtain that result, that is in fact the result of the media elevating Trump to the GOP nomination.

    Thursday, October 13, 2016

    Look for Democrats to Switch Focus to Red States, Down Ballot Races

    Recent statewide polls show that the door is quickly closing on the possibility that Donald Trump can get to 270 electoral votes in order to win the election next month.  Blue collar states that Trump had bragged he could flip - Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin - appear to have slipped away.  Polling averages in those states show Trump trailing 8.6%, 10.7% and 6.7%.

    Virginia was also a state Trump thought he could flip to the Republican column.  He trails in that state by 7.5%.  In all the aforementioned states, save Wisconsin, Trump is actually running worse that Republican Mitt Romney finished in 2012.  Even in Wisconsin, Trump is only running .24% ahead of Romney and, given polling trends, will soon be underwater in that state as well.

    Trump has also fallen behind in the critical states of Florida (-2.7%) and Ohio (-.5%).

    The notion that Trump was going to hold Romney red states while flipping blue states to the Republican column appears to be gone.  In only Iowa (6 electoral votes) is Trump winning a previous blue state.

    Instead Trump is in danger of losing traditional Republican states.  He leads narrowly in Arizona and Georgia, and is losing North Carolina, which Romney won in 2012.  A very recent poll showed Trump tied in Utah, a state Romney won by 48%.  Slipping under the radar thus far is Republican Alaska, where Trump leads by only 3 points.   Even states like Texas (6.7%) and Indiana (8% average, but only 5% Trump lead in the last poll) are slipping into the competitive column.

    Trump's chances to win the election are all but gone.  The Democrats are shifting their focus to a new target, control of Congress. Thus far though, polling shows Republican Senate candidates running outstanding campaigns.  In virtually every state the GOP Senate candidate is running well ahead of Trump. But given the race for President is what generally drives turnout, one must conclude at some point a landslide electoral loss by Trump will cost Republicans control of the Senate and quite possibly the House as well.

    Stay tuned.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2016

    American Senior Community Execs Arrested in Alleged Medicare Fraud Scheme

    The late, great Gary Welsh wrote tirelessly about what he (and I) believed to be a fraudulent scheme by American Senior Communities, working with the Marion County Health and Hospital Corporation, to obtain excessive Medicaid repayments from the government.  That scheme helped fund the building of the new Wishard (now named Eskanazi) hospital without a tax increase.  The feds though appear to deny that today's arrests are related to that scheme, instead focusing on Medicare not Medicaid fraud. The Indianapolis Star reports:

    Four former American Senior Communities executives were taken into custody early
    James G. Burkhart
    Wednesday following a year-long federal investigation.
    The four, including former CEO James G. Burkhart, face several federal charges including Medicare fraud, Fox59 reports.
    In September 2015, federal agents raided Burkhart's Carmel home and the the Southside headquarters of American Senior Communities at 6900 Gray Road.
    ..
    While the government has yet to comment on why FBI agents searched Burkhart's home, an internal ASC review concluded that the federal investigation "does not touch upon the operation of any nursing home serviced by ASC," according to statement issued at the time of the September raid.
    American Senior Communities manages nearly 100 senior care facilities and is one of the largest nursing home management companies in Indiana. Among those are 60 sites, including skilled nursing facilities and assisted living facilities throughout the state, that the company manages under a contract with Marion County’s public health agency.

    Monday, October 10, 2016

    No, Trump Did Not Win the Second Debate

    Some thoughts on Trump v. Clinton II, a t featuring the two major party's candidates in a town hall type debate.

    Donald Trump was better than he was in Trump v. Clinton I, but he was still awful.  Hillary Clinton clearly looked more presidential, had a better command of the facts, and connected with the audience (both at home and the event) better than did Trump.  Clinton certainly had her weak moments.  When given a chance to talk about the Supreme Court, she made a critical mistake of citing as its importance
    protecting Roe v.  Wade. That comment gets her not a single additional vote, but it reminds many evangelical and other pro-life voters who might be inclined to turn against Trump after the release of the video, why they should cast a vote for the New York businessman instead of Clinton.  (Not that I for a second believe Donald "I Support Partial Birth Abortion" Trump has had a real conversion to the pro-life cause. 

    Clinton also dropped the ball on the final question.  When asked to say something nice about Trump, she started out great talking about Trump's family. But then she quickly veered off into self-serving comments about herself.   She should have stopped after praising Trump for her family, leaving viewers with a positive view of her..  On the other hand, Trump stopped on the positive note praising Clinton for her tenacity and determination.

    On the issues, I believe the only place Trump bested Clinton was in discussion of energy policy.   It is one of the few subjects on which Trump appears to have actual knowledge.  Trump could have done even better with the subject by talking about Clinton's (new) opposition to the Keystone pipeline, and how not building the pipeline costs American jobs.  

    On the other side of the coin, Trump's first 20 minutes or so, when he had to answer questions about the newly released Billy Bush video, was borderline disastrous.  Instead of sincerely apologizing for his comments, he reverted back to the nonsense that it was just "locker room" banter, as if we mentalk about non-consensual sexual assault of women when we get together.  Uh, no we don't.

    Stylistically neither candidate came across as likable.  Hillary Clinton's smile often came across as more of a smirk. Trump never smiled.  Both candidates seem completely incapable of connecting with real people when they talk...or even understanding that they need to do that as candidates.  Hillary Clinton is clearly not Bill Clinton when it comes to the ability to connect with an audience.

    I actually found the post-debate comments to be the most telling...and troubling.  Trumpkins are absolutely convinced their guy won.  They seem to think throwing out one liners about Clinton "lying" that "she should be in jail" is a substitute for actually prosecuting a case against her. (Since when is it acceptable for candidates to campaign on putting their opponents in jail as Trump suggested he would do with Hillary?)  It's not.  Hillary Clinton has no credible answer for deleting those personal emails and ordering the servers be scrubbed.  That her aides took the 5th and the FBI allowed the destruction of evidence, is damning proof of the GOP case against her.  

    FYI, a new (scientific) CNN poll shows Clinton won the second debate, 57-34.   That is down from a 62-27 victory in the first debate.  But it is still a solid win.  No, Trumpkins, the Donald lost the debatet badly.

    Unfortunately, the Republicans simply don't have a candidate who is capable of making the intellectual case against Hillary Clinton.  Add to that the fact that these debates further demonstrate that Donald Trump lacks the depth, intelligence and temperament to be President.  Republicans are represented by the only candidate who could is so bad that he could lose to the worst presidential candidate the Democrats have fielded in at least half a century, if not longer.

    Saturday, October 8, 2016

    Will Pence Leave the Trump Ticket?

    In the aftermath of the Access Hollywood video in which Donald Trump talks about his regularly sexually assaulting women in pursuit of sex, and his attempt, newly married, to commit adultery speculation abounds whether Trump will step down as the Presidential nominee.  In a Wall Street Journal interview, Trump responded that there was "zero chance" he would leave the ticket.

    Probably a better question though is whether the Republican Vice Presidential Candidate, Mike Pence
    will remain on the ticket.  Pence, a devout Christian, has been placed in many difficult situations defending Trump during the campaign.  He, by virtually all accounts, has done extremely well presenting the traditional conservative Republican message while at the same time not straying too far from the Trump message of change.  But now, with the Access Hollywood video, Pence is being asked to defend the indefensible.  The Hill reports:
    Mike Pence and his wife were reportedly floored on Friday when they heard about the lewd remarks about women Donald Trump made in 2005 in a leaked recording.  
    Trump’s running mate said he was “beside himself” and his wife Karen was "furious" when he found out about audio tape, a source told the Associated Press
    More videos showing Trump to be the reprehensible human being he is are coming.  Things are not going to get better.

    If Pence stays on the ticket, he risks being tarnished with those videos.  If he exits now, he will be a front-runner candidate in 2020.   He will be seen as a man who stood up for principle.

    Alas, I am not the only one engaging in the Pence speculation.  But I am one of the first.

    Thursday, October 6, 2016

    2016 Trump v. Clinton: Top 14 Competitive States

    As of present, there are 14 states in which the presidential candidates are less than 7 points of each other, states that can plausibly be considered as competitive.  Here they are starting with the most competitive, using the Real Clear Politics polling averages:

    1.  North Carolina (15 electoral votes)

    Hillary Clinton currently enjoys a narrow 1.3% lead in the Tar Heel State.  In 2012, Romney won the state by 2.04% in 2012..  This would be a huge victory for the Democrats, causing Donald Trump to try to make up ground elsewhere

    1.  Arizona (11 electoral votes)

    Romney won Arizona in 2012 by 9.06%, but this year Democrat Clinton is polling much closer to her Republican rival, only trailing by 1.3%.   The state is being overlooked right now by the campaigns, undoubtedly because it is assumed to be leaning strongly Republican. But polls show it is tied for being the most competitive state.

    3.  Nevada (6 electoral votes)

    Trump is doing surprisingly well in the state, leading in several recent polls.  President Obama
    defeated Romney by 6.68% last year, but now Clinton leads by only 1.4%.

    4.  Colorado (9 electoral votes)

    Colorado is another western state in which Trump is exceeding expectations.  Recent polls though show momentum in the state swinging back to Clinton. She leads by 1.8%.  Obama won the state in 2012 by 5.36% of the vote.

    5.  Ohio (18 electoral votes)

    Ohio went to President Obama in 2012 by 2.98%. The RCP poll average shows Trump ahead in the Buckeye State by 2.4%

    5.  Florida (29 electoral votes)

    Florida ties with Ohio in closeness at 2.4%.  But in this state, very important for Trump's chances, Hillary Clinton leads. Obama narrowly won the Sunshine State in 2012 by .88%.

    7.  Minnesota (10 electoral votes)

    There is nearly a 2 point gap between the top 6 competitive states and those below.  Although Obama won the state by a whopping 17.69% in 2012, Democrat Clinton only leads by 4.3% in Minnesota Unlike neighboring Wisconsin, Minnesota is not yet on the candidates' radar, but perhaps it should be.

    8.  Georgia (16 electoral votes)  

    Georgia checks in as the next most competitive state, with Trump having a lead of only 4.4% in a state that went to Romney in 2012 by 7.72%.

    9.  Wisconsin (10 electoral votes)

    Returning to the Midwest, Wisconsin polls as the 9th most competitive state with a margin of 5% in favor of Hillary Clinton.  Obama won the state in 2012 by a 6.94% margin.

    9.  Iowa (6 electoral votes)

    Staying in the Midwest, Iowa ties Wisconsin as the 9th most competitive state.  Although Obama won the state by 5.81% in 2012, Trump leads in the Badger State by 5%.

    9.  New Hampshire (16 electoral votes)

    Obama won New Hampshire in 2012 by 5.58%.  The Granite State is proving to be equally competitive this time around with Hillary Clinton leading by 5%.

    12.  Maine (Statewide) (2 electoral votes)

    Maine is one of two states which awards an electoral vote to the winner of each congressional district in the state.  Trump is solidly ahead in the more rural Maine CD #2  while Clinton has a large margin in the more populous Maine CD #1.  Statewide though the situation is more competitive, with Clinton leading by 5.5%.  In 2012, Obama won the state by 15.29% of the vote.    Nonetheless, there are not enough electoral votes in Maine to make it a high priority for the campaigns.

    13.  Pennsylvania (20 electoral votes)

    In contrast, the campaigns have put in an inordinate amount of effort to win Pennsylvania.  But polling shows Trump trailing by 6%, and, thus, actually doing worse in the Keystone State than Romney did in 2012 when the former Massachusetts Governor lost the state by 5.38%.

    14.  Texas (38 electoral votes)

    A state which enjoyed some initial attention for being surprisingly close, continues to poll as being marginally competitive. Trump has a lead of 6.7% in Texas.    By contrast, Romney won the Lone Star State in 2012 by 15.79%.  While Trump will likely keep Texas in the Republican column, the declining GOP fortunes in the state have to worry Republicans as they ponder the electoral college map in 2020 and beyond.

    Surprisingly Not Competitive:  Virginia (13 electoral votes) and Michigan (16 electoral votes) fail to make the sub 7% cut for competitiveness.  Both states show Clinton with a 7% lead.  Obama won the states by 3.88% and 9.5% respectively in 2012.