Wednesday, January 25, 2023

With Pence Documents Revelation, It Is Time to Start Keeping Classified Information In Digital Format

Another day and another story of an executive official having classified documents stored at his home.  This time it was former Vice President Mike Pence's turn.  This followed the revelations about President Biden and former President Donald Trump's having classified documents at their residences and offices.

Trump supporters are on social media attacking Biden's careless handling of classified documents.  But when it comes to Trump's own transgressions in that area, they are silent.  The one superpower that Trump supporters have is an obliviousness to hypocrisy.  They don't recognize, or they don't care, when they argue positions inconsistent with the position they held before.  Intellectual dishonesty doesn't phase Trump supporters.  That's probably why we ended with someone like Anthony Devolder George Santos in Congress.

Former VP Mike Pence

Of course, Biden and Pence's transgressions aren't remotely similar to Donald Trump's.  Trump had far more classified documents at his residence than Biden or Pence.  And unlike Biden and Pence, Trump refused to cooperate in returning the documents.  He may have even actively obstructed those documents from being discovered.

I have a question though...in this age of electronic documents, why are we still putting classified information on paper?  

Beth Skinner was former deputy director of National Intelligence for Mission Integration.  In that role she oversaw the coordination and collection of intelligence and was involved in presidential briefings (for Trump) on classified information.  She pens an article in CNN saying that it is time for classified information to be kept in digital form instead of on paper:

The recent revelations that both President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump retained classified material in unsecured, unauthorized locations while not in government have prompted many to ask, “How could this have happened?”

To be sure, non-partisan efforts to answer that question (and others) and institute rigorous White House record management are required. Even then, however, it is likely more classified material will be discovered “outside the wire” in the future unless we tackle another underlying issue: too much classified paper in circulation.

The mountain of classified material flowing around the White House – and other national security agencies and departments – presents an inherent vulnerability no amount of finger-pointing or procedural reform will solve. As a former White House National Security Council (NSC) staffer, I can attest to the fact there has never been an airtight, centralized process to track this paperwork. Nor would any such effort be effective.

Paper moves, and in most cases, no one knows it is missing unless or until it is found.

So where does this mountain of classified paper come from? Let’s look again at the White House, where it is both routine and essential that staff circulate classified documents with each other and the president.

NSC staff routinely prepare binders of classified documents to inform policy discussions, interactions with foreign leaders and trips abroad. The national security adviser, White House chief of staff and senior NSC staff all provide classified material to the president, sometimes during planned meetings, sometimes impromptu. The intelligence community delivers classified written analysis, charts and maps; throughout the day, the White House Situation Room delivers classified hard-copy intelligence reports, diplomatic communications and policy proposals. These scenes similarly play out at every agency or department involved in national security.

With this in mind, it is easy to imagine how classified material might make its way into the wild, even in the most benign of circumstances. While paper cannot be hacked, it can be intermingled with unclassified material, misfiled, overlooked and carried away, intentionally or not. This creates the potential that sensitive information could be read by anyone encountering it – or worse, lost, with untold consequences, to foreign intelligence.

...

To lessen the chance of accidental or willful removal of classified information, we must reduce the volume of classified paper at the White House. This means beginning to migrate the circulation of sensitive classified material to tablets, like the iPad or Surface Go, which provide better security and accountability. Like paper, tablets can be misplaced or mishandled, but applying simple tools like controlled network access, passwords and biometric identification and embedding timed wipeout programs reduces the risk that unauthorized individuals or hackers gain access to classified material.

I know this is possible because the intelligence community has been producing the PDB for delivery on tablets to the president and top national security officials since 2012. Six days a week, analysts come to work in the dead of night to compile and curate the PDB and other reports. These briefers then fan out across Washington to deliver the intelligence to the most senior decision-makers, mainly on tablets.

Receiving information on a tablet doesn’t need to be a sacrifice. In fact, the PDB tablet interface is state-of-the-art, elegant and, with some back-end development and support, quite adaptable. Who wouldn’t want a device that could provide seamless updating, the clean organization of material from policy proposals to interactive maps and the ability to annotate with a stylus or keyboard? Based on my experience, I believe the White House could adopt tablet use on at least a limited scale quite quickly.

Paper still has its uses and, of course, for practical reasons there can and should be exceptions to such a digital transition. (Some large maps are easier to digest on paper, for example, while highlighting or extensively annotating a physical copy of a document remains an easier process for many.) But it would be much easier to rigorously track a more limited volume of classified hard-copy material.

The barriers to moving more classified material to a tablet environment are in some respects steep but mainly cultural, based on ingrained practices and the lack of a demand from leadership that has skewed toward boomers. To my peers, let me just say: We have the technology, and it is better than you think.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Indiana Republicans Put Senate Seat in Play if They Nominate Faux Conservative Jim Banks

Earlier this month, Indiana congressman Jim Banks announced he is a candidate for the Mike Braun's seat in the U.S. Senate. Braun is vacating his seat to run for Governor which will also be vacant in 2024 when Governor Erik Holcomb's term comes to an end.

The Indiana GOP doesn't need Jim Banks.  Banks is ultra-MAGA, someone who supported, sans any proof, overturning the 2020 election to hand Donald Trump a second term.  Then he went on to try to derail  an investigation into the January 6th insurrection. 

The Republican Accountability Project had this to say about Banks:

On Nov. 5, Rep. Banks tweeted “Last time, we know from Peter Strzok that Democrats had an insurance policy if Trump won the election… What was Democrats’ plan this time around? And does it include the shady ballot counting happening in WI, MI and PA?? Impossible to believe they didn’t have one.” [Banks[ went from pushing these blatant lies about the election to objecting to certifying the results with no evidence to back up his accusations.

Rep. Banks also failed to hold Trump accountable for his role in sparking the Capitol insurrection, telling a reporter that it was a “far reach” to say Trump bore any responsibility.

Rep. Banks did not vote in support of the bipartisan commission proposal to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Banks is trying to brand himself as a "proven conservative."  He is anything but.  Besides being an election denier and flouting the Constitution that he took an oath to support (hardly conservative positions) he voted for huge spending increases during the Trump era.  Banks has no problem with reckless government spending...as long as it is a Republican in the White House.

Given how badly election deniers lost in 2022, the nomination of Banks might put the seat into play, especially since it is a presidential election year when Democrats tend to do better in Indiana. It is easy to see the Democrats picking up a lot more metro Indianapolis area votes if Banks' is on the ballot.  In fact, Banks would probably lose Hamilton County and possibly take several Republicans in that county down with him.

Banks' fellow members of Congress, Tennessee Trey Hollingsworth and Victoria Spartz, are also considering a run for the Senate seat.  However, they are also election deniers, although not as Trumpy as Banks. 

Fortunately, Indiana Republicans may have a better choice in 2024.  Former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels is considering a run for the Senate.  I was not a big fan of Daniels as Governor.  He seemed to run a very loose ship and many of his appointees engaged in substantial mismanagement, which sometimes bordered on corruption.  Daniels did not seem to exercise much in the way of oversight over state agencies when he was governor. He'd just appoint someone and immediately check out.

But when it comes to developing policy, which is the role of a United States Senator, Daniels is excellent.  While Banks' claim to be a conservative is performative, Daniels is an actual conservative, especially when it comes to fiscal matters.  As President of Purdue University, Daniels stopped the explosive growth in college tuition which has for decades outstripped inflation. 

If it comes down to Banks or Daniels, I'm voting for the true conservative - Mitch Daniels.

OOP's short takes:

  • Two more mass shootings in California in the last few days.  Two more instances in which television networks race to identify the shooter and publicize his (isn't it always a man?) motive.  These mass shooters want to go out in a blaze of glory while promoting their pet cause and those at the TV networks give them exactly what they want.  Then we end up with more shootings.  Not sure why they don't see the connection.  I don't care about newspapers reporting details of the shootings.  That's not what the shooters care about.  It is TV which makes people and their causes famous.  There are a lot of factors which lead to these mass shootings, but we need to stop ignoring television's role.

Monday, January 9, 2023

Blame "Moderate" GOP House Members for Speakership Fiasco, Not MAGA Representatives

It took 15 ballots to elect a speaker of the United House of Representatives. Much of the blame for the fiasco that played out over several days was aimed at the extreme-MAGA representatives who held out against voting for, now, Speaker Kevin McCarthy.  That blame is misplaced.  The blame should instead be laid at the feet of the rest of the GOP conference, the representatives who thought it was a good idea to make concession after concession to the MAGA crowd in order to make McCarthy speaker.

I have to question any member of Congress who thinks McCarthy actually has such good leadership skills that no better option was available.  McCarthy had proven himself to be not particularly bright, a spineless, shape-shifter without any core beliefs other than he should be Speaker.  McCarthy fancies himself a "leader" when in fact all he does is to try to find out which way the crowd is going so he can sprint out in front of it.  There are plenty of people who in Congress who have better leadership qualities, but members of the GOP conference insisted it had to be Kevin McCarthy or bust.  And they busted.  The Republican Party now has a Speaker that has been totally stripped of power to do his job, all because the crazy MAGA-wing refused to vote for McCarthy until he was completely neutered as a leader.

Speaker Kevin McCarthy

It didn't have to be that way.  There was an easy way out. The GOP conference could easily have put the MAGA reps in their place by simply cutting a deal for a few Democratic votes for Speaker.  It wouldn't have taken much.  Increased Democratic membership on the committees might have been enough to do the trick.  Republicans would have still run things in the House with such a deal.  Now that McCarthy has given the MAGA crazies everything they want, they will be running the House of Representatives, not the 95% of Republicans who voted for McCarthy through 15 votes.

McCarthy proved he didn't care about anything other than his having the title of Speaker.  His ambition, while foolish, is understandable.  I don't blame him or the MAGA House members who were simply acting as crazy as ever.  They were just being who they are. 

Rather, I blame the Republican members of the House, the ones often mislabeled as "moderates" because they are not entirely MAGA crazy.  They surely knew that McCarthy's quest was foolish and his concessions would hurt the GOP's ability to run the chamber.  Yet they did not look for alternatives to McCarthy's cutting deals with the crazy caucus.   

The American people deserve better.


Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Political Winners and Losers of 2022

I was tied up with some things last week, so I only now have been able to identify the political winners and losers of 2022.  Although I've numbered them, they are in no particular order.

Biggest Winners

1.  President Joe Biden -  On July 14th, over 75% of the people in the Real Clear Politics polling average said that the country was on the wrong track, the worst number registered in 2022.  A week later, President Joe Biden's job approval hit its low mark for the year, measuring nearly 20 points underwater.  Despite bad polling numbers, Biden succeeded in getting several groundbreaking bills passed and then went on to an historically good mid-term election for a first term incumbent President.  Biden has now strengthened his position to the point that, if he wants the nomination again in 2024, it is his.

2.  Florida Republican Party - My first inclination was to list Governor Ron DeSantis as the "winner" given his strong performance in his re-election bid.  But then I took a look at two other down ballot Florida races, for Attorney General and Treasurer.  The Republican candidates in those races actually outperformed, albeit slightly, DeSantis.  That shows how strong the GOP brand has become in Florida.  The Republican Party in Florida has learned to attract Latino votes, a lesson that other Republicans in the country could emulate.

3.  Georgia Republican Party -  Like DeSantis, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp won easily in his re-election effort.  But, also like DeSantis, Kemp trailed a number of Republican statewide candidates in the Peach State.  The best performing statewide candidate in Georgia was actually Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who earned the ire of Donald Trump for refusing to "find" enough votes for Trump to win the state.  While Trump's Senate recruit Herschel Walker lost, that sole Republican statewide defeat wasn't because of the GOP brand but because of Walker's unique horribleness as a candidate  

4.  National Democratic Party - With inflation soaring, it seemed certain that the Democrats would be slaughtered in the midterms.  Instead, Democrats overcame those numbers and history to do shockingly well in the midterms, losing only a handful of seats in the House, gaining a seat in the Senate, and gaining a couple governorships.  

5.  New York Congressional Republican Candidates - Republicans scored three upset wins in New York congressional races.  These Long Island districts, which were won by Joe Biden in 2020, were flipped by moderate Republicans emphasizing crime. Unfortunately, one of those Republicans is George "Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire" Santos.  Nonetheless, were it not for these upset New York congressional wins, the GOP margin in the House would be one vote.

6.  Volodymyr Zelenskyy - Not inclined to put non-Americans on this list, but I can't ignore the leadership of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy who has, thus far, repelled the invasion of his country by, at least what was thought, the second strongest military in the world.  Thanks in no small part due to the military aid given by western democracies, for over ten months the Ukrainian military has fought the Russians to a draw.  When Ukraine initially was invaded, many thought Zelenskyy would flee his country, living his life out in exile.  Instead the former comedian and actor decided to stand with his countrymen and fight.   If only American politicians had a fraction of Zelenskyy's courage.

7.  Michigan Democrats - While Republicans were winning in places like Florida and Georgia, Democrats were winning just as impressively in Michigan.  Democrats in Michigan easily won all the statewide races and won control of the state house and senate for the first time in nearly 40 years.  

8.  January 6th Committee - From the outset, I had little faith that the January 6th Committee would have any success in shaping public opinion about the insurrection.  But somehow the Committee's presentation of evidence and its findings managed to seep into the public's consciousness.  When mid-term voters cast their ballots, they overwhelmingly rejected election denying candidates and those who supported the insurrection.  

Biggest Losers

1.  Donald Trump - I'm trying to think of anything that went right in 2022 for Trump.  He started out the year as the presumptive favorite for the Republican re-nomination.  It was even doubtful whether he'd have serious competition.  Now he faces a slew of opponents. During the year he was hit with several criminal investigations and civil lawsuits, and almost certainly 2023 will bring his indictment.  During a series of hearings, the January 6th Committee proved Trump's leading role in the insurrection.  His tax returns have finally been made public confirming, once again, that Trump is a really, really bad businessman.  In November, virtually all of the election denying candidates he endorsed lost.   Trump is rightly seen as a loser...but, to be fair, Trump has been costing Republicans elections for a long time.  It's just now some Republican leaders are waking up to that fact.

2.  Kari Lake - Her Democratic opponent, Katie Hobbs, for the Arizona governorship was so low profile, I thought for awhile Lake was running unopposed. But Lake managed to steal defeat from the jaws of victory by employing the not-so-brilliant strategy of alienating her base of voters.  Days before the election, Lake told McCain Republican voters she didn't want their support.  They obliged by voting for Hobbs.  Goodbye Kari Lake.

3.  Election Deniers - 2022 was an odd election.   Democrats did well in certain states while Republicans did equally as well in other states.  But there was one consistency when looking at the election results - Trump-endorsed candidates who backed the false claim that the 2020 election lost or ran well behind Republican candidates Trump didn't endorse.

4.  Pro Life Movement - The losses the pro life movement took on election day have been exaggerated in the media.  After all, Republican pro-life candidates did extremely well in Florida, Georgia, Ohio, and Texas.  In my home state of Indiana, Republicans actually picked up seats in the legislature despite passing a law which nearly bans abortions in the state.  On the other hand, it is clear that the pro life movement was not prepared for how to discuss the abortion issue to mainstream, general election voters.  The movement allowed the issue to be defined by the most rare and extreme cases, such as a 10 year old rape victim seeking an abortion.   If pro lifers don't moderate their message, they're going to lose the political battle over the issue.

5.  Stacey Abrams - While Abrams is good at putting together a political organization, as a candidate she has never been impressive.  Abrams' political strategy was to emphasize her liberal positions to maximize progressive turnout.  By contrast, Georgia Senator Raphael Warnock instead worked to appear and sound like a moderate.  Warnock easily won while Abrams badly lost.  

6.  Beto O'Rourke - Like Abrams, O'Rourke was delusional for running in this cycle.  Both may be finished as political candidates.

7.  Kevin McCarthy - McCarthy made a conscious decisions to sell out his honor and integrity in a bid to be elected Speaker.  Now that bid looks hopeless.  While the vote for Speaker is taking place in 2023, the roots of McCarthy's failure is based firmly in 2022.

Friday, December 30, 2022

George Santos' Lies Were Spawned by the GOP Ignoring Donald Trump's Lies

Newly-elected New York Congressman George Santos claimed to have attended two institutions of higher learning, graduating from Baruch College in New York.  He claimed to have worked at Citicorp and Goldman Sachs, but neither company found any record of Santos' employment.

Running in a Long Island district with a large number of Jewish voters, Santos claimed to be Jewish.  When caught in that lie (Santos is Catholic), he tried to clarify saying he isn't Jewish but rather Jew-ish, a heritage he claimed because he had Ukrainian Jewish grandparents who escaped the holocaust by moving to Brazil.  Jewish Republicans were not amused.  But, of course, even that claim turned out to be a lie.  

Santos is the lying liar who lied.  Although he says he was simply "embellishing" his resume, Santos simply made up things out of whole cloth.  Not a shred of truth to many of his claims.  Trouble is Santos may have also told some lies that will get him in legal trouble.  He, allegedly, set up a fake charity to raise money.  He also somehow went from being so impoverished he lived with his parents to being able to loan his campaign $700,000,  No one quite understands where the money came from.

Santos' lies have outraged many of his fellow Republicans.  My question for them is...seriously?  

For seven plus years I have seen Donald Trump tell one lie after another, including about his own background, and watched my fellow Republicans giving him a pass.  Trump lied about his supposed wealth, which will be proved, once again, when his tax returns are released on Friday.  Trump set up a fake university and ran a scam charity that was about enriching himself.   There is no lie that Trump would not tell.  And yet everyone gave him a pass.

Santos has to be confused.  I would imagine him thinking, "So Donald Trump lies constantly and is elected President, and I lie and they don't want me to serve in Congress?" 

I am confused too.  So we Republicans care about GOP politicians who lie now? So character matters again?  

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Senator Todd Young is Censured by Local County GOP Organization for Casting Conservative Vote on Marriage

I'm old enough to remember when Republicans believed in federalism.  The Cass County (Logansport) Republican Party, which censured Indiana Senator Todd Young for casting a vote for federalist principles, apparently does not.  Let me explain.

An essential component of federalism is the Constitution's full faith and credit clause which says that the "full faith and credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records and judicial Proceedings of every other State."  The second part of that section says that "Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof."  In short, Congress gets to enforce the Full Faith and Credit Clause, i.e. to ensure that the states recognize those "Acts, Records and Proceedings."

In 1996, Congress used this Full Faith and Credit Clause enforcement power to pass the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which said that states could choose not to give full faith and credit to certain marriages, i.e. same sex marriages, solemnized in other states.  By passing such a law, Congress was using its enforcement power to undermine the federalist principles mandated by the FF&C Clause.

This month, DOMA was repealed when Congress passed the so-called Respect for Marriage Act, bipartisan legislation that requires states to recognize the validity of same-sex and interracial civil marriages.  While the validity of same sex and interracial marriage is recognized nationwide thanks to Supreme Court decisions, it is theoretically possible that the Court may, as it did on abortion rights, turn that decision back to the states.  If the Court did, RMA would then provide protection for the decision states make regarding which marriages to allow in their jurisdiction.

The RMA also has a provision ensuring that religious freedom currently protected by the Religious Freedom Restoration Acts passed by Congress and the majority of states would not be overridden by an application of the RMA.  That is a huge victory for conservatives because of the repeated efforts by Democrats in Congress to pass civil rights laws that explicitly exclude religious objections.  

While Indiana Senator Mike Braun voted against the very conservative principles of the RMA, the Hoosier state's other senator, Todd Young, was one of 12 Republicans who supported it  For this offense, Senator Young earned a censure from the Cass County (Indiana) Republican Party.  In a letter to Young, Cass County GOP Chairman David Richey wrote that the Senator's vote "elicited feelings of anger, disbelief and even a sense of betrayal."  Richey's letter went on to claim Young had reneged on his previous position that the same-sex marriage should be handled at the state level rather than by the federal government.

Actually, Young's vote for the RMA is very much consistent with federalist principles.  It was DOMA, which Richey apparently supports, that nationalized the issue by gutting the Full Faith and Credit Clause.  

Richey's letter also suggests he's unfamiliar with the important protections for religious liberties contained in the RMA.

Richey circulated his letter to other county GOP chairmen in Indiana hoping they will follow his lead.  So far it doesn't seem there are any takers.

I have argued previously that there is those supporting same sex marriage need to be more tolerant to those who have religious objections.  Someone performing marriage ceremonies should not be forced to officiate at a same sex marriage if it conflicts with his or her beliefs.  Same with a baker who specializes in making wedding cakes.  Many courts have made a logical distinction between those type of creative activities and the situation where a restaurant opens the doors of a business and invites customers in.  In the latter situation, the business owner cannot discriminate.  In the former, refusing to provide the service is within the bounds of the law.

It is encouraging that both sides were able to work together to fashion a reasonable compromise in enacting the RMA.  Senator Young has shown impressive leadership in being part of that effort.  He should not be dismayed by uninformed, narrow-minded critics such as Richey and, apparently, a majority of the Cass County GOP organization leadership. 

Thursday, December 8, 2022

Down Ballot Statewide Contests Show Georgia is Still a Solid Republican State

In analyzing the runoff win by Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock against Republican challenger Herschel Walker, many election analysts noted the retired football star ran far behind GOP Governor Brian Kemp.  In comparing the two, those analysts conclude that Kemp succeeded because he was popular with the voters.

A review of the election results though reveal that Kemp is not more popular than the other statewide GOP candidates, and actually ran behind, albeit slightlythe Republican baseline vote in Georgia.  In establishing the baseline vote, political scientists don't look at top line races where voters actually know the candidates.  Instead they look at down ballot races where the candidates are much more obscure.  In those contests, voters tend to default to their party preference to guide their choices.

Brian Kemp defeated Democrat Stacey Abrams by 7.53%.  Meanwhile the Republican Commissioner of Agriculture and the State School Superintendent won by 8.13% and 8.38%. Given there was nothing unusual about those races, and the candidates were known by only a tiny percentage of voters, the contests are ideal for establishing the baseline.  So let's say the GOP baseline in Georgia was the average of those races, or 8.25%.

Lt. Governor candidate Burt Jones, a close Trump ally who agreed to be a fake elector, performed the worst of any Republican statewide candidate not named Herschel Walker.  He won by 4.96% of the vote.  Meanwhile Attorney General Chris Carr, who did clash with Trump and won the primary against a Trump endorsed opponent, prevailed by 5.26% of the vote.

The Georgia statewide candidate who led the ticket wasn't Kemp.  It was actually Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger who Trump attacked even more than Kemp.  Raffensperger won his race by 9.24%.

It wasn't so much that the Kemp was popular in Georgia, but that he benefited from the fact that the Republican brand proved to be popular in 2022 in the Peach State.  That fact explains why a scandal-plagued candidate so thoroughly unqualified as Herschel Walker could still receive an astonishing 48.6% of the general election vote.  Walker had the "R" by his name in Georgia and that alone nearly lifted him to victory.

Another narrative out of Georgia is that the Senate election result establishes Georgia as a purplish swing state.  The view of analysts is that Georgia has become more Democratic.  I must say, I was ready to accept that as true...until I took a look at the 2018 numbers.

Let's go back to those two Georgia statewide races I used to come up with a Republican baseline.   In 2018, the Republican Commissioner of Agriculture and the State School Superintendent won by 6.16%, and 6.04%, an average of 6.1%.

Of course, 2018 was a bad Republican year and 2022 was better, although not great, for the GOP.  And it is true that what happens in the mid-terms might not carry over to a presidential election.  Nonetheless, I think analysts are wrong to assume Georgia will be a top tier swing state in the 2024 presidential election.  The statewide baseline races in Georgia show a fairly strong Republican leaning.  Contrast that to Arizona which is often talked about in the same breath as Georgia when it comes to identifying 2024 swing states.  The Democrat appears to have won the Arizona Attorney General's race by a total of 511 votes.  Meanwhile, the Republican won the Superintendent of Public Instruction race by just under 9,000 votes, or .4%.  Of the five statewide offices elected in Arizona in 2022, Democrats won three of the contests.

It is quite possible that Republican-leaning Georgians simply don't like Trump and Trump-endorsed candidates, but have no problem voting for other Republicans.   Democrats winning in Georgia statewide seems to be an aberration instead of a pattern.   I would still color Georgia red.

OOP's short takes:
  • Speaking of presidential election swing states, it is shocking that there may be even fewer competitive states in 2024 than in 2020.  Florida and Ohio seem to be long shots for the Democrats.  Unless Trump is nominated again, I'm not convinced Democrats can win Georgia in 2024.  Meanwhile, Michigan and Pennsylvania seem at best second tier competitive states for the Republicans while North Carolina seems perpetually out of reach for the Democrats.  The 2024 highly competitive swing states I see are Arizona, Wisconsin and Nevada.  Scratching my head trying to come up with others.  Possibly New Hampshire with its 4 electoral votes will be a battleground, but in recent elections Democrats have won that state fairly easily.

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Trump Set to Lose Another Election Tonight in Georgia

Today's election in Georgia may put the dagger in the myth that Donald Trump is a "winner."  As Georgia voters head to the polls in a run-off, they will decide whether to return Raphael Warnock to the Senate or to go with football star Herschel Walker.

Walker, handpicked by former President Trump, has turned out to have been even worse a candidate than everyone in the GOP feared.  And once again, thanks to Trump inspired and/or recruited candidate, the Republican Party is about to lose another winnable Senate seat.  A solidly conservative candidate, not spouting Trump's election denial nonsense, could have easily won in Arizona, Pennsylvania, Nevada and Georgia.  Democrats did return the favor in Wisconsin, nominating for the Senate the only Democrat in the state, Mandela Barnes who couldn't defeat the highly unpopular Ron Johnson.

Trump said that with him the Republican Party would grow tired of "winning."  But since Trump essentially drew to an inside straight in 2016, he's done nothing but cause the Republican Party elections.  Trump's brand is losing. 

The fact Trump is a loser has given his erstwhile supporters an excuse to take an off-ramp from the ex-President.  Those of us Never Trumpers should not allow those Trump supporters to escape without consequences.  I don't blame Trump for what he did to the Republican Party as much as I blame his enablers.  Those Trump supporters decided to throw away their conservative values to follow a failed businessman, reality show star who long had supported liberal Democrats such as Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton.  Even when it was clear that Trump was misogynist, racist, even anti-Semitic, they gave Trump a pass.  If that wasn't enough, as President and since, Trump openly expressed hostility to American democratic values and recently said the Constitution should be suspended to reinstall him as President.  None of those things though have stopped Trumpers from supporting the ex-President.  But losing...that's too great of a sin.

The irony is that, although we Never Trumpers are often marginalized as a tiny segment of the GOP electorate, we have been the difference maker in numerous races.  When one analyzes the swing states Trump lost in 2020, such as Arizona, Georgia and Wisconsin, it is clear that Biden won those states, and the election, because of Republican crossover vote.   In 2022, it happened again when in state after state Trump endorsed candidates who refused to accept the legitimacy of the 2020 election lost.

It appears that we may be witnessing the end of Trump as a political darling within the Republican Party.  But that's not enough.   We need to strike a stake through the heart of Trumpism.  Any elected official who continued to support Trump despite knowing his lack of character and his opposition to American democratic values, should not earn the support of Never Trumpers. Ever.

Monday, November 28, 2022

Columnist James Briggs' Departure and Why I Cancelled My Indianapolis Star Subscription

This weekend,, Indianapolis Star columnist James Briggs wrote that he was leaving the publication..  In his column announcing his departure, Briggs mentions where he is going, but is sure to state that his "leaving on his own."  I'm not so sure. When someone as young as Briggs leaves a full-time professional position with no other job lined up, usually that person did not leave the  job voluntarily.

James Briggs replaced political columnist Matt Tully, who passed away shortly after leaving the Star.  My complaints about Briggs were the same as with  Tully. They both went out of their way to praise the powerful business interests who run Indianapolis and would support every version of corporate welfare, no matter the cost to ordinary citizens.  One would think a major city newspaper's political columnist would stand up for the weak and against the powerful.  Briggs and Tully consistently did exactly the opposite.  One of Briggs' last columns was to tell readers how lucky they are to have Jim Irsay as owner of the Colts.  Of course, Briggs dutifully ignored the fact that Indianapolis, actually Indiana, residents have turned Irsay from a millionaire to a billionaire.  We taxpayers paid for the new football arena pursuant to a sweetheart deal that allows him to keep the revenue generated by the building.  If that wasn't bad enough, we taxpayers also pay to operate the stadium.  

Indianapolis Star Columnist James Briggs

Of course, Tully and Briggs never said one complaining word about the Colts and Pacer deals that greatly enriched the teams' owners at the expense of taxpayers.  Nor did Tully or Briggs ever write critically of the 50 year parking meter deal, private jails, taxpayer subsidized development deals, the city-county council constantly handing over TIF money to government contractors (a practice that takes revenue away from schools and other services), or any other corporate welfare measure.  Indianapolis politics, whether the city is run by Republicans or Democrats, is always about taxpayers subsidizing private, for-profit businesses.  You would think the Star's columnist would shine a light on these practices.  Nope.  Tully and Briggs were consistent cheerleaders for the corporate welfare that has for decades dominated this city's politics.

It was Briggs' Irsay column that was the last straw for me when it came to my Indianapolis Star on-line subscription.   When I read Briggs' fawning portrayal of Irsay , I made a critical comment, noting how we taxpayers had made Irsay filthy rich.  The post didn't contain anything offensive or personal  in nature, but was critical of the position Briggs took.  

BANNED!   

A few minutes after I made the comment on Brigg's column, I tried to post another comment to a Star article and found I was blocked from doing so.  This didn't happen once, it happened probably 7 or 8 times.  The minute I would make a critical comment to a Briggs' column, I would end banned from commenting on Star articles for a period of time. 

Several times I reached out to the Star to get an explanation for why I was banned.   Indianapolis Star representatives would never respond to any of my queries.  I finally contacted a reporter I knew and asked him to forward along my communications.  He did so.  But after a few days passed and my commenting privileges weren't reinstated, I logged in and cancelled my subscription to the Star.  I had had enough.

It's funny....I made critical comments on other Star articles and was never barred from posting comments.  I made several positive comments on Briggs' columns, and those never resulted in bans either.  But the minute I would write anything critical of about a Briggs' column, I would be barred from posting again.

If it would have happened just once or twice, I'd chalk it up to a coincidence.  But 7 or 8 times?  I don't know if Briggs was personally banning me, or (more likely) someone was doing it at his behest, but there was no doubt what was going on.  Clearly Briggs has thin-skin and has trouble accepting criticism.  But blocking readers from commenting because you don't like what they say - well that's just plain wrong.

I'm not sure if my complaints to the Star about what was going on helped usher Briggs out the door.  But if it did, kudos to the Star for taking action.  Now Gannett can now hire someone as a columnist who isn't a shill for the corporate interests who dominate Indianapolis politics.  Is that too much to ask for?

Monday, November 21, 2022

Exit Poll Shows Making the Mid-Terms a Referendum on Trump Hurt the GOP

On Election Night, the pundits were busy explaining the reasons for the lack of a red wave using exit poll data. The consensus was that Trump and abortion had reversed the GOP advantage. But here's the thing about exit polls. Compiling and studying exit poll results actually takes days, not hours.  Often, what one is told to be true on election night turns out not to be so when a more in depth study of the numbers is conducted.

Jeffrey H. Anderson writing for the City Journal, took a hard look at the exit poll numbers.  His analysis concludes that the unpopularity of Trump and other GOP leaders is what dragged down the party:
Midterm elections normally serve as referendums on incumbent presidents—to whom voters seldom give the benefit of the doubt, and whose parties almost always lose substantial numbers of seats in the House of Representatives and often the Senate, as well. To the surprise of most commentators (including yours truly), that didn’t happen this time. As of a week after Election Day, the number of seats that the GOP will gain in the House looks likely to be in the single digits—a far cry from the 54 seats that Gingrich and company gained in 1994 or the 64 seats that a Tea Party-fueled GOP picked up in 2010.

A pair of numbers leaps out of the exit polling: 32 percent of voters said that they cast their House vote to “oppose” President Joe Biden, while 28 percent said they cast their House vote to “oppose” former President Donald Trump. In other words, for every eight votes cast against Biden, all but one was negated by a vote cast against Trump. This is surely unprecedented in a midterm election. It’s nearly impossible to imagine a previous midterm in which almost as many people voted against the loser of the previous presidential contest as voted against the winner. How many people, for example, bothered to vote against Richard Nixon in 1962, Jimmy Carter in 1982, George H. W. Bush in 1994, or even Hillary Clinton in 2018?

Of course, it didn’t help Republicans that the leading establishment faces of their party are even less popular with voters than Trump. The former president’s favorability rating in exit polling was -19 percentage points (39 percent favorable, 58 percent unfavorable), worse than Biden’s -15 points (41 percent favorable, 56 percent unfavorable). But Republican House leader Kevin McCarthy’s favorability rating (-26 points, with 27 percent favorable and 53 percent unfavorable) was not only lower than Trump’s but also lower than House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (-24 points, with 36 percent favorable to 60 percent favorable). RealClearPolitics lists Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell’s unfavorability rating as of Election Day as being nearly triple his favorability rating (59 percent vs. 21 percent). Per RCP, McConnell’s net favorability rating of -38 percentage points is 24 points worse than that of his Democratic counterpart, Chuck Schumer (-14 points, with 33 percent favorable and 47 percent unfavorable).
During the last few weeks of the campaign, Donald Trump worked hard to make certain the mid-term would be considered a referendum on him.   No doubt Trump wanted the public to view the anticipated GOP wave as an endorsement of his re-election.  Republican operatives voiced concerns the presence of Trump might drag down GOP candidates.  Turned out those worries were well-founded.  The exit poll data suggests Trump was consistently a drag on GOP candidates across the country, even more so in those statewide races where the twice impeached ex-President openly endorsed candidates who had embraced Trump's Lie about the 2020 election being stolen.

The abortion issue was also cited as a factor that hurt Republicans in the mid-terms.  Anderson though found the effect of the issue, unlike the negative effect of Trump's endorsement of election denying candidates, was much more mixed:
Many observers have blamed Republicans’ lackluster showing in the midterms on their positions on abortion, but exit polling suggests a more nuanced picture. On the one hand, Fox News exit polling indicates that few voters (10 percent) considered abortion to be “the most important issue facing the country.” On the other, 25 percent regarded the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade as the “single most important factor” to them personally when “thinking about voting in this election.”

The network consortium’s exit polling found that only slightly more voters think abortion should be “legal” (30 percent) as think it should be “illegal” (26 percent) “in most cases.” But those in the latter camp appear to hold their positions with more conviction, as they were far more likely to support Republicans (90 percent to 9 percent) than those in the former camp were to support Democrats (60 percent to 38 percent). Indeed, the Republicans’ 81-point margin among voters who think abortion should generally be illegal swamped the Democrats’ 22-point edge among those who think it should generally be legal.

Moreover, Republicans won a majority of the vote among the 58 percent of voters who, in response to the overturning of Roe, felt “enthusiastic” (16 percent), “satisfied” (21 percent), or even “dissatisfied” (21 percent). Combining those three groups, Republicans won by a margin of 50 points (74 percent to 24 percent). Only the 39 percent who felt “angry” in response to Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization supported Democrats (85 percent to 14 percent).

Thus, more moderate voters on this contentious issue—those who were neither enthusiastic nor angry, and those who think abortion should be neither legal nor illegal in every case—were more apt to favor Republicans. Among those with more intense views either way—those who were enthusiastic or angry, and those who think abortion should either always be legal or always be illegal—Democrats prevailed.
Clearly the Republicans were not prepared to handle the politics of abortion in a post-Roe world.  Early on, the GOP allowed the issue to be defined by the exceptions (rape, incest, threat to life of the mother) which in actuality account for less than 1% of the abortions performed.  It was not just Democrats doing the defining.  Shortly after Roe was overturned the Republican Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita held a press conferences announcing an investigation into an Indiana doctor who performed an abortion on a 10 year old rape victim who had traveled to the Hoosier State from Ohio for the procedure.  So incredibly dumb.

Republican candidates used to concede the exceptions as a political necessity. But as the GOP became more radicalized on the abortion issue over the years, Republican candidates faced defeat in primaries if they embraced the exceptions. But now the political climate has shifted with those candidates now having to face general elections in which abortion rights are more than theoretical.  Still despite their clumsy handling of abortion and getting heavily outspent on the issue in the mid-terms, the pro life side had numerous successes in 2022.  In my home state of Indiana, after the Dobbs decision, the Indiana legislature this year passed the most strict abortion law in the country which only allowed abortion for the three exceptions.  I was certain that it would cost Republicans seats in the state legislature.  Instead, the Indiana GOP added seats and won statewide races by even bigger margins previously.  Likewise, the Republican Party did well in a number of states including Arkansas, New York, Ohio, and Georgia. 

Republicans though will have to moderate their position on the abortion issue.  That means again embracing the three exceptions and forcing the Democrats to debate what gestational limits on the procedure they will accept.  Most industrialized states have adopted, via their legislature, 12-15 week limits.  Roe mandated 24 weeks, at the minimum.  Democratic talking points are that the issue is just about a choice regarding what a woman does with her body suggests they are no acceptable gestational limits on the procedure.  Further, they want it to be funded with tax dollars.  In Georgia, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams found herself defending this very unpopular position, which let Governor Kemp off the hook on the issue. 

OOP's short takes:
  • Regarding my predictions on the eve of the election, I was hoping to get 70% correct, not a huge number but one I thought was reasonable given that so many races were within the margins of error in the polling.  I ended up calling 87.5% of the races correctly, missing only four: the Arizona and Wisconsin governor races, the Nevada Senate race, and the Indiana Secretary of State's race.  I was not right in guessing the Republicans would lose seats in the Indiana House and Senate, that Senate control would be decided by the Georgia run-off and that Kari Lake would be the new MAGA star.
  • And, no, the 2022 polling was not "off."  People need to understand how the MOE works in polls.  Some of the predictions based on the polling was off, but the polls this cycle were very good.  Yours truly did very well.
  • Saw the Mike Pence interview on Sunday Meet the Press.  Pence's repeated attacks on the FBI for simply doing their job is appalling.  Likewise, so too is his claim that the accusation of Trump's collusion with Russians in winning the 2016 election was a hoax.  The evidence is overwhelming that the Trump campaign warmly accepted the help of Russian officials in that campaign.  Saying that that was not "collusion" is an intentional dodge, based on how that term is used in the federal code.
  • So sorry to learn of the passing of my political mentor, Rex Early.  I will have to write at length about him later.

Monday, November 7, 2022

Political Predictions: Senate Control Goes to Runoff, Again; Republicans Gain 20 seats in the House; Kari Lake New MAGA Star

Election Day is just a few hours away. Not sure that we can can call it "Election Day" any longer as people started voting weeks ago in most states.  This election though is like none other in my lifetime.  As I write this, there are 10 Senate races and 8 Governor races fully within the polling margins of error.  To further complicate things, it appears that turnout will be at record highs.  Because there will be people casting ballots in the mid-terms who don't often vote in those races, those infrequent voters can greatly skew the typical turnout model.  Predictions are a crapshoot at this point.  But I'm taking the plunge and making my predictions anyway.  It should be noted that I am only predicting the races that are currently polling as close or semi-close.  So I'm not going to pad my numbers with easy predictions.  My hope is to get 70% of my predictions correct, but even that may be overly optimistic at this point.

Republicans started this election cycle with a large advantage in the polls.  Then the Democrats overtook the Republicans over the summer.  But as the leaves began to fall, Republican candidates across the board started to do dramatically better.  As we turn the page on another election, talk again is of a Red Wave.  Indeed that might have happened in the Senate races, but Republicans chose historically weak candidates that limited their ability to win a majority.  Indeed, I'm predicting that when the counting is done, Republicans have a 50-49 edge in the Senate, pending the outcome of a December runoff in Georgia.

Before jumping into predicting all those super close races, let's look at some which are just outside the margin of error:

Alaska Senate race:  Although the race won't affect partisan control of the Senate chamber, I predict that Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski will win re-election despite Trump's endorsement of her Republican opponent.  Murkowski can thank the state's ranked choice voting system.  Murkowski will likely be the second choice on many Democrats' ballot and those votes will go to her once the Democrat is knocked out of the three person race.  This may take weeks to sort out.

Florida Senate and Governor race:  Sen. Marco Rubio and Ron DeSantis win re-election.  DeSantis win margin will be just under 10 points.  Rubio's victory will be by a few less points.  Election results in Florida will make Democrats wonder whether they should write it off for 2024.  In 2018, Florida had probably the closest governor and U.S. Senate race in the country.  Now those races are not in the top 10.   Shows you how much more Republican Florida has become.

Georgia Governor's Race:  In a rematch, Republican Governor Brian Kemp defeats Democrat Stacey Abrams, by a margin greater than 2018.  Unlike 2018, Abrams will not, falsely, say the election was stolen.

Iowa Senate:  Republican Charles Grassley will win re-election, but it will be by the closest margin of any race he's had in decades.

Pennsylvania Governor's Race:  Democratic Attorney General Joel Shapiro wins the governor's mansion.

Texas Governor's Race:  Republican Greg Abbott easily wins re-election.  Democratic challenger Beto O'Rourke joins Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams in the "What Was I Thinking" Club.  Both have seriously damaged their political careers by running against strong candidates in what from the outset looked like a bad year for Democrats. What were they thinking?

Utah Senate:  I so wish I could pick independent Evan McMullin to pull off an upset against the pro-insurrectionist incumbent Senator Mike Lee, but alas I cannot.  Lee will win by 10 to 15 points.

Now a few Indiana/Indianapolis races:

U.S. Senate:  Republican Todd Young wins re-election with nearly 60% of the vote.

Indiana 1st Congressional District: Democrat Frank Mrvan wins re-election by 5 to 10 points.

Indiana Secretary of State:  Really bright spot of the night for Indiana Democrats is that their candidate Destiny Wells defeats scandal plagued Diego Morales.  This is my upset special.

Indiana Legislature:  Democrats gain a few seats in the House and Senate.  Even though Republicans drew the new maps, the GOP had already pretty much maxed out the districts they could win in a state in which over 40% of the electorate regularly vote Democrat.

Marion County (Indianapolis) Prosecutor:  Democrat Ryan Mears easily wins re-election as Marion County confirms its new role as the bluest county in Indiana.


***            ***            ***            ***

Now the margins of error races.  These races are all legitimate tossups and can go in any direction.  What I'm guessing (and it's little more than a guess) is that candidate quality will tip the balance in most of these races.   Republicans would be slam dunks to win Senate races in Pennsylvania, Arizona, Georgia, and possibly even New Hampshire this time if the GOP would have nominated better candidates.  But the Democrats also blew an easy win against Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson by nominating a far left candidate.  Likewise, the Democrats deeply hurt their chances to win the Arizona Governor's race by nominating a candidate who decided the best strategy was to not take on her opponent.  

Note: After the state's name, I am listing who is currently in the lead in the polls, based on Real Clear Politics' average of polls.  The Oklahoma governor's race does not have a RCP polling average, so I have used FiveThirtyEight's instead for that contest.

Inside Margin of Error Races (Senate)

Arizona (+0.6 Kelly) - This is a carbon copy of the New Hampshire race.  Democratic Senator Mark Kelly is struggling to hold on to his seat.  Fortunately, as with Georgia, Nevada and New Hampshire, the Republicans, thanks to former President Donald Trump, nominated a weak candidate in the person of Blake Masters.  Fortunately for Masters, the Libertarian candidate dropped out and endorsed him.  Still, that may not be enough.  I give the edge to Kelly to hold onto the seat.

Colorado (+5.7 Bennet)  Republican challenger and businessman Joe O'Dea has presented himself to Colorado voters as an independent-minded Republican, which earned him the ire of Donald Trump.  While Bennett chose the right path to possibly upset the incumbent Senator Michael Bennet, himself a moderate Democrat, his effort is likely to fall a few percent short.  Give the edge to Bennet.

Georgia: (+0.4 Walker) - Republican Herschel Walker has moved very slightly ahead of the incumbent Senator Raphael Warnock.  On election night, I believe Warnock will have a slight lead but below the 50% required for a December run-off.

Nevada (+2.7 Laxalt) - Former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt is a slight favorite to upset Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto. 

New Hampshire (+1.0 Hassan) - Republican Don Bolduc has drawn nearly even with Democratic Senator Maggie Hassan in the polling.  I still have to give the edge to Hassan though, who I expect will squeak out a victory.

North Carolina (+6.0 Budd)  -  I know some polls show Democrat Cheri Beasley on the heels of Republican Rep. Ted Budd.  I'm not buying them.  I think Budd wins this by about 5 points on Election Day.

Ohio (+8.0 Vance) - It appears that Republican JD Vance is starting to pull away from his opponent Rep. Tim Ryan.  Ohio is a tough nut for Democrats to crack.  Edge goes to JD Vance  Ryan was attempting to run as a more moderate Democrat who appealed to blue collar workers.  The hope of many Democrats was that Ryan's approach would provide a blueprint for Democrats in future elections. But I'm fearful the margin is going to be so great that Democratic progressives will say the problem was that Ryan was not liberal enough.  Like that would have worked.

Pennsylvania (+0.1 Oz) - Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz has closed and overtaken his Democratic opponent Lt. Governor John Fetterman.  But at 0.1% difference, it could barely be more of a tossup.  I'm going to give the edge to Fetterman.  Do voters prefer a candidate who is suffering the effects of a debilitating stroke or someone who comes across as a jerk who doesn't even live in Pennsylvania.  I'm guessing the former.  Since this was a seat held by a retiring Republican, Pat Toomey, it would be a Democratic pickup.  

Washington (+3.0 Murray)  I just can't believe that incumbent Senator Patty Murray is in trouble of losing her re-election bid.  Republicans haven't won a Senate election in the state in almost 30 years.  But Tiffany Smiley has run a good race and is giving the Republicans a chance to win. But she will fall a few points short.

Wisconsin (+3.3 Johnson) - Ron Johnson is the most unpopular Republican Senator in the country.  So what do the Democrats do?  They nominate a Bernie Sanders acolyte, Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes against him instead of a moderate Democrat.  Brilliant!  Give the edge to Johnson to win another term.

Inside Margin of Error Races (Governor)

I'm not as familiar with the Governor's races, so I will keep these predictions brief:

Arizona (+2.4 Lake) -  Republican Kari Lake will win the Arizona Governor's race.  It's too bad the Democrats didn't bother to field a candidate.   Okay, I know Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs is her opponent, but her decision to not debate Lake was as stupid as stupid gets.  Lake will be the new MAGA star.  One thing that worked against Donald Trump's attempt to undermine American democracy is that, well, Trump is frankly very stupid.  Lake is what Trump would be like if he had a brain.  Be afraid, very afraid.

Michigan (+4.2 Whitmer)  - Gretchen Whitmer wins re-election by several points against her opponent, Republican Tudor Dixon.

Minnesota (+4.3) Walz - Governor Tim Walz easily wins re-election.

Nevada (+2.3 Lombardo) - Don't know much about this race, but I do believe Nevada is going Republican on Election Day.  That means Republican Joe Lombardo beats Democrat Steve Sisolak.

New Mexico (+4.0 Lujan Grisham) -  Democratic Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham wins re-election.

New York:  (+7.0 Hochul):  No, Republicans are not going to elect a governor in the Empire State.  Incumbent Kathy Hochul will win re-election by nearly double digits over Trump-backed Lee Zeldin.  I'm not sure what all the fuss about this race was about.  It was never really close.

Oklahoma: (+2.5 Stitt - FiveThirtyEight):  Democrat Joy Hofmeister has been polling ahead of Republican Governor Kevin Stitt for much of the year.  Who would have thought a Democrat could win Oklahoma.  But Hofmeister, a former Republican, picked a bad year to run.  As unpopular as Stitt is, timing is everything in politics and that includes being on the ballot in the right year.  I have to give the edge to Stitt.

Oregon (Tie) -  Like the State of Washington, I refuse to believe Republicans are going to win neighboring Oregon.  The state is too blue.  I give a small edge to the Democratic candidate Tina Kotek.

Wisconsin (+0.6 Michels) - Probably hardest governor's race to predict.  But I'm going with Republican businessman Tim Michels to unseat Governor Tony Evers.

OOP's Observations/Thoughts:  

  • Will someone please explain to me why it takes so long to figure out who wins a ranked voting contest?  I get the concept.  You rank your favorite candidates and if your first pick finishes last your second pick becomes your first choice.  This process continues until one of the candidate gets a majority.  Can't someone design a software program which can figure out who wins these ranked choice contests in a manner of seconds?   Why does it take weeks?   Ranked choice is never going to catch on if a fortnight passes before we know who won.
  • Every election I hear people in the media and some political pundit types urging American voters to be patient in waiting on the results.   The admonition is that it may take days to count the votes. Why?  With modern technology, why can't we count the votes so we know the winner on Election night?   I know part of the problem is with states like Pennsylvania which bar the counting of mail-in ballots until the polls close.  Well, those states need to change their damn rules.  And those states which allow write-in ballots to arrive a week after Election Day (California, you hear me), well that just needs to end.  If ballots don't arrive by Election Day, they shouldn't be counted.  Period. 
  • We need to stop expecting that, with the proper education about what is going on, the American public will eventually become accepting of these long counts that stretch out over days.  That is never going to happen. Worse yet, you are going to see politicians increasingly use the long counts to claim voter fraud.  In Pennsylvania, we have an explosive situation set up this time. Oz will no doubt lead early in the count.  But as the mail-in ballots are counted, Fetterman will be closing in on Oz and may pass him.  I can just hear the howls now about voter fraud. 
  • Speaking of Pennsylvania, don't be surprised if you see violence in that state as Oz's lead starts to collapse.  Violence will almost certainly happen somewhere on Election Day. My bet is on the Keystone State.
  • I can't believe I'm saying this after the 2000 Bush-Gore fiasco, but if you want an example of how to count votes, look at Florida.  Florida has a lot of votes to count, including tons of mail-in votes (which option is emphasized by the state's GOP organization), yet they manage to get all the votes counted on Election Night.
  • In 2020, I predicted that there would be armed people, members of groups like the Proud Boys, outside of polls intimidating voters.  It didn't really happen.  Well, I think my prediction may have been just a bit early.  I am renewing it for this election.