Monday, October 14, 2019

Indianapolis "Blue Line" Set to Eliminate Washington Street Traffic Lanes, Divert Traffic to Residential Neighborhoods

As I've pointed out on this pages before, despite an ongoing election in Indianapolis, local candidates have thus far refused to listen to listen to the complaints of voters negatively impacted by the (unnecessary) elimination of traffic lanes as part of the implementation of a new rapid bus system.

Now that the Red Line is in place, next up is the Blue Line which will result in the elimination of two
travel lanes.  On West Washington Street that means travel will be limited to ONE eastbound and ONE westbound lane.  Drivers seeking to avoid the resulting congestion in that commercial corridor will divert to nearby residential streets.   Business establishments on West Washington will lose customers and residents near Washington Street will have to deal with increased traffic and see their property values lowered.

WISH-TV reports:
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — IndyGo’s Blue Line Rapid Transit System will run from the east side to the airport in the future, but business owners along the West Washington Street route are pushing for changes to the proposed plans. 
The project is expected to have a designated lane for the bus, much like the Red Line. West Washington Street will go from four lanes to two, but store owners fear the Blue Line will negatively impact their businesses. 
Many told News 8 the road isn’t efficiently designed for an exclusive bus lane and will create more congestion. 
“It’s hard for us to get trucks in and out of here as we do get a lot of freight in and trying to bring obviously motorcycles in and cars in to park in front of the building which is what we really want,” said Mike Dreyer, owner of Dreyer Honda. 
“Instead of people using this main road they’ll divert off onto the residential side streets which causes traffic problems for the residents,” said Rachel Hawkins, owner of Markin Sales. 
IndyGo plans to build bus stations in the middle of Washington Street and remove some designated turning lanes. Some business owners feel that could steer potential customers away. 
“It’s gonna be easier for someone to just continue west and find the next local shop or business that they’re looking for rather than turning back around and making it an inconvenience for themselves,” Roy Reynolds, owner of Reynolds Body Shop said.
...
One thing I learned while writing about this subject is drivers apparently are not supposed to turn left across that raised bump in the middle of the rapid bus transit lane.  They are supposed to go to the next intersection and then do negotiate a tight U-Turn, against the traffic, to return to the business one originally wished to turn left into.  Many people, obviously, are not going to want to do that and will instead choose a business down the road where a u-turn is not needed.
It is important to emphasize that the City's elimination of traffic lanes for the rapid bus system is contrary to the study touted by the City on the web page of the Indy Connect Central Indiana's Regional Transit Initiative.  That study said that "it is not realistic to expect ridership increase under even the most favorable conditions to approach the threshold for exclusive lanes."  Yet despite this advice, city officials have decided to go ahead anyway and eliminate traffic lanes, despite the impact on commuters and residents.
West Washington Street business owners are hosting a meeting on Wednesday about the subject, the details of which are below:
When:  October 16, 2019 at 5:30 pm
Where:  Wayne Township Government Center
              5401 W. Washington St.
              Indianapolis, IN  46241

Friday, October 4, 2019

President Trump Doubles Down on Collusion, Asks China President to Investigate Bidens

President Trump and his legion of media enablers are fond of repeating the lie that there was no collusion found during the Russia investigation.  In fact, the Mueller Report explicitly said it was not making a finding about collusion, but instead concluded there was not enough evidence to establish there was a criminal conspiracy.  Nonetheless, the Mueller Report detailed scores of accounts of Trump campaign officials accepting the help of Russian officials to win the 2016 election.

In short, what saved Trump was that Mueller found that his campaign was not actively involved in Russia's efforts on his behalf...that the Trump campaign just took advantage of the Russian assistance that was given.  That reduced the issue to possibly being a campaign law violation, the acceptance of a "thing of value" from a foreign government.  Contrary to significant legal precedent, Mueller concluded that because the Russian in kind assistance couldn't be strictly quantified in terms of how much it was worth, that the fact it was a "thing of value" could not be established.

As I said during the Mueller investigation, Trumpers do not care one bit whether Trump colluded with the Russians to win the 2016 election.  They are perfectly fine with a foreign power, even an enemy of the United States, helping a candidate win an American election as long as that candidate is named Donald Trump. Events of these past couple weeks have demonstrated how true that is.

First it was an ally, Ukraine.  In a phone call, Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, to dig up dirt on his chief political rival, Joe Biden, who is polling way ahead of Trump nationally and, more importantly, in virtually every battleground state.  While a "quid pro quo" certainly isn't necessary (it just makes Trump's abuse of his office worse), Trump actually provided that too when the Ukrainain President brought up the need for military assistance which Trump immediately followed saying that he needed a favor done "though." If that was not enough for the Trump crowd (it isn't) that text messages have come out that Trump administration officials believed that continued military assistance and a visit to the White House was contingent on Zelensky's willingness to dig up dirt on Joe and Hunter Biden.

In the height of silliness, Trumpers tout that Zelensky, in response to the growing scandal, said he didn't feel pressure from Trump to investigate the Bidens.  Did anyone actually expect Zelensky to say anything different?  His country's entire survival is dependent on a good relationship with the United States, for which his relationship with President Trump is key. Of course, Zelensky was never going to throw Trump under the bus.

Yesterday, President Trump, standing in front of a contingent of reporters on the south lawn of the White House, asked the President of China to investigate the Bidens.  Turns out this was not a new request.  During a June phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Trump had already asked Jinping to investigate the Bidens.  He also apparently mentioned Elizabeth Warren as well.  Like the Ukrainian phone call, the record of the Chinese phone call was placed on a highly classified server, unlike other calls with world leaders. 

Trump is clearly using his office to encourage foreign leaders, including those from a country hostile to the United States, to investigate his domestic political rivals.  On the Ukraine call, he even offered the assistance of the Attorney General and his private attorney in Ukraine's efforts.  The Trump Collusion Train has left the station.   Any member of Congress, including Republicans, who do not support holding Trump account for his conduct is betraying the Constitution they took an oath to defend.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

President Trump Continues to Peddle False Narratives About the Bidens While Asking Another Country to Investigate Them

Today on the south lawn of the White House, President Donald Trump requested another foreign power, this time China, to investigate his main political rival, Vice President Joe Biden, as well as his son, Hunter.  Trump also renewed his calls for Ukraine to dig up dirt on the Bidens which would, of course, aid him in his effort to eliminate from the Democratic primary race an opponent,
Biden, that polls showed Trump had little chance of beating in a general election.

Of course, it is a crime for a candidate in a federal election to solicit campaign help from a foreign government.  No quid quo pro is necessary, though in the case of the Ukrainian phone call, it is undeniable that Trump expressly dangled military aid in exchange for help with the Bidens.

President Trump admits he brought up the Bidens during the Urkainain phone call, a fact confirmed by the summary of the call the White House provided.  Yet, a poll shows only 40% of Republicans believe Trump mentioned the Bidens during the phone call.  That is how bad the President's gas lighting of America, aided by so-called conservative media (they are "Trumpian" not "conservative") outlets, have become.   Even when Trump openly admits doing something bad, his Kool-Aid drinking cult followers refuse to believe it.

Today, Trump once again used his office to spread lies about Bidens.  Make no mistake about it....Hunter Biden used his father's position as Vice President and good name to cash in privately.  (Sort of like the Trump family does every day of the week.)  Joe Biden was reportedly unhappy with his son taking the position, but he had no power to stop it.  Nonetheless, the facts are that Hunter Biden himself was never under investigation by the Ukraine prosecutor.  The gas company was under investigation before Hunter Biden took a position on the gas company board of directors.  The investigation was no longer active when Vice President Biden, at the behest of President Obama and scores of reform advocates as well as the entire western alliance urged the prosecutor to be fired for not pursuing corruption cases.  Vice President Biden's actions not only didn't benefit his son's gas company,  they in fact opened the possibility a new prosecutor would restart the dormant investigation.

Trump's approach to the Bidens is straight out of Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels's playbook.  Goebbels said that "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it." While rational, thoughtful people probably will not believe Trump's big lie about the Bidens, enough people may believe it to sink Biden's bid for the Democratic nomination.  That would leak Trump facing a much weaker rival, someone like Elizabeth Warren.

The irony is that what is easily the most corrupt President in a lifetime (which includes the presidency of Richard Nixon) is using the issue of corruption to try to sink a much more ethical and honest rival.

Impeachment is no longer an option.  Impeachment is an imperative.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Acting Prosecutor Ryan Mears Signals a New Day May Be Dawning at Marion County Prosecutor's Office

WTHR reports:
The Marion County Prosecutor's Office announced Monday that it will no longer prosecute simple marijuana possession cases.
“Too often, an arrest for marijuana possession puts individuals into the system who otherwise would not be. That is not a win for our community,” Prosecutor Ryan Mears said. “The enforcement of
Marion County Acting Prosecutor Ryan Mears
marijuana policy has disproportionately impacted people of color, and this is a first step to addressing that.” 
That means when someone is picked up for having an ounce or less of marijuana, they won't be prosecuted. 
"Our priority is violent crime." Mears said. "We are not going to mess around with these small possession of marijuana cases." 
According to Indiana state law, possession of marijuana in an amount less than 30 grams can be prosecuted as a Level B Misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a fine of $1,000. 
The prosecutor clarified what will happen if police do make an arrest. 
"It's not being sold. It's not being smoked. We are not going to be filing those cases," Mears said. 
According to the former chief deputy prosecutor, minor marijuana possession cases are clogging courts, over crowding jails, and taxing resources that could be better spent fighting violent criminals.

While I am philosophically against laws being on the book that are not going to be enforced, Indiana prosecutors certainly have the discretion to prioritize the enforcement of laws.  Prosecuting individuals for small quantity pot possession definitely uses up resources that are better spent combating more serious crime, particularly that of a violent nature.   And, as Mears notes, there is no link between using pot and more serious crime.
On balance, I side with Mears and am greatly encouraged we finally have someone who will lead the Marion County Prosecutor's Office in a newer and better direction, assuming, of course, Mears is the one ultimately selected as the replacement to the elected prosecutor, Terry Curry.  Unfortunately, Curry showed a shocking hostility to civil liberties, particularly in the area of civil forfeiture which he expanded greatly under his watch.    If Mears wants another worthwhile cause, he should investigate the use of civil forfeiture by his office and take steps to curb the abuses if not outright end the practice.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Handling of Whistleblower Complaint Reveals the Depth of Trump Corruption

That did not take long.  Details of the whistleblower complaint have leaked out.  It would appear that during a telephone conversation, President Trump promised Ukrainian President Volodymry Zelensky something, it's been suggested continued military aid, if Zelensky would pursue corruption charges against his Trump's chief political rival, Joe Biden, and his son Hunter, for business dealings in that country.  Previously, Ukraine had looked into the matter and found evidence of corruption to be lacking.  Trump though wants them to pursue the allegations anyway.

Hmmm, so Trump is wanting the help of a foreign power to try to win an American election?  Where
have I seen this film before?  In 2016, the Trump campaign openly welcomed the help of the Russian government to defeat Hillary Clinton.   The Mueller Report found that this arrangement though fell short of a criminal conspiracy because there was no evidence that promises were made by the Trump people in exchange for the assistance.

This time, however, Trump appears to be offering the element Mueller did not find, i.e. the offering something of value (taxpayer money) in return for campaign assistance from a foreign country, in this case criminally prosecuting his chief political rival and his son.  Bribery and corruption charges have been built on far less.  

On cue former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani spoke out for President Trump and managed to make a bad situation worse.  During an interview with CNN's Chris Cuomo, Giuliani admitted he went to Ukraine to encourage government officials to investigate the Bidens.  Giuliani did clarify that although he solicited this help as Trump's attorney and to help the President's re-election campaign, it did not come at Trump's direction.  Of course, that is true.  We attorneys, on our own, do quasi-illegal stuff to help out our clients all the time.  Needless to say, that is sarcasm.

As a side note, I really think there is something physically wrong with Giuliani.  I had a brother who had a type of early onset dementia, an affliction that attacks the front of one's brain and causes bad judgment.   I wonder if Giuliani has something like that.  I am deadly serious.  Like him or not (and I was definitely not a fan), when Giuliani was Mayor and, before that when he was U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Giuliani was a serious person who gave careful thought to everything he said.  The 2019 version of Giuliani is a far cry from the person he used to be.

That Trump would possibly commit a crime in a phone conversation monitored by several people is not that surprising.  Donald Trump clearly is not a bright man.  Trump has gotten away with so many things in the past, it probably never crossed his feeble mind that he should not be saying what he is alleged to have said on that phone call.

What I continue to find surprising though is the actions of Attorney General Bill Barr.  He, without any authority whatsoever, stepped in to override the legal process for handling the whistleblower complaint and blocked it from going to Congress.  Once again, Barr has demonstrated that he is willing to break the law (and lie to the American public and under oath if needed) on behalf of President Trump.   While Trump's illicit conduct can be somewhat blamed on his profound ignorance and recklessness, Barr seems to be just plain corrupt.  There appears to be no limit to what Barr is willing to do to help Trump.  Barr certainly could not care less about his obligation to the American people or the oath he took to uphold the Constitution and the laws of the United States.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Unhappy With the Traffic Congestion Caused by New Rapid Bus System? Indianapolis Mayoral Candidates Do Not Care

The last couple months, I have had the opportunity to talk to scores of Indianapolis residents about issues important to them.  While potholes and the condition of roads are often topics discussed, the most frequent complaint has to do with the implementation of Indianapolis' new rapid bus system.  In particular, complaints focus on the massive traffic congestion chokes commuting in
key portions of the city, including downtown Indianapolis and Broad Ripple.

One would think that the candidates for Indianapolis mayor would see it as an opportunity to address the concerns of the public about the implementation of the rapid bus line.  In particular, it should be an excellent issue for Republican challenger Jim Merritt, who should be targeting high profile issues that could move voters.  But Merritt's public comments indicate he loves the hugely expensive project and could not care less that Indy residents are inconvenienced as they sit in their cars idling in massive traffic jams.  His only criticism is that Mayor Joe Hogsett didn't initially support the project enthusiastically enough.

State Senator Jim Merritt
Make no mistake about it, the rapid bus system is primarily about economic development, not making life easier for Indianapolis residents.  In short, it is an opportunity for the city's leaders to pretend to do something good, while, again, using public dollars to subsidize private development.  In Indianapolis, there is a mutual non-aggression pact between the Democratic and Republican parties when it comes to supporting these corporate welfare projects.

Between Hogsett and Merritt, it is tough to argue that Merritt is the more fiscally conservative candidate .  In fact, Merritt appears to have completely abandoned his conservatives principles in other areas as well  Recently he attacked the Hogsett administration for not setting aside enough 15% of city contracts for minority and women-owned businesses.  State law apparently doesn't allow the strict quotas that Merritt supports.  Merritt's position supporting strict quotas means he is advocating discriminating against businesses which are not minority and women-owned in the awarding of government contracts.  That sure as heck is not a conservative idea.

Merritt is a longtime conservative state senator running for Indianapolis Mayor as a liberal Republican.  He was either an opportunist pretending to be a conservative in the General Assembly or is an opportunist pretending to be a liberal on the mayoral campaign trail.   Neither is acceptable.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Numbers Behind Washington Post-ABC News Poll Reveal Depth of Trump's Re-Election Troubles

This morning the results a new Washington Post-ABC News poll on President Donald Trump's popularity was released.   The top line of that poll is Trump has a 40% approval rate among registered voters, 38% among the general population. As is typical with news coverage of polls, that finding is what gets almost all the coverage.

But it is the other the other data in the polls, the cross tabs, which are often more significant and telling than the totals that get widely reported.  The is true definitely with regard to the Post-ABC News poll, which highlights the mountain Trump would have to climb to be re-elected.

Let's take a look at those cross-tabs:

Of the 56% of the poll respondents who said they disapproved of Trump, 48% of those said they "strongly" disapproved of him.  Meanwhile just 27% "strongly" approved of Trump.  The 48% and 27% are hard numbers, i.e. it is highly unlikely that those "strong" respondents can be budged from their positions.  48% means it is virtually impossible for Trump to get a majority of the vote.  Of course, there is still the Electoral College.

It doesn't take long to find out why Trump is so deeply underwater. Women.  Most women loathe Donald Trump.   In the poll, Trump is 34 points under water with women.  Of the 64% of women disapprove of Trump, 54% do so strongly.  Again, that 54% is a hard number.  Trump's support among men is much better, 47% approve and 47% disapprove.  But Trump's numbers among men on Election Day needs to be much, much better than that to offset women.

I always thought Trump was popular with Catholics so the cross-tab that showed Trump under water, 46% to 48%, with Catholics caught me by surprise.  Probably the most interesting thing about that cross tab is that the large "strong" numbers that make up these totals - 41% and 38% respectively.  Catholics are certainly not on the fence when it comes to Trump.

Although Trump's overwhelming support among Republicans is often touted, the poll Post-ABC poll does not show that.  Trump polled at 82% approval among Republicans, which is a far cry from the 94% the President often cites.  Perhaps even more significantly, only 66% of the GOP respondents said they "strongly" approve of the President.

When it comes to self-identified conservatives, Trump's approval is 73% and only 57% of those conservatives say they strongly approve of Trump.  This is consistent with my position that, although the media constantly portrays Trump's actions and words as "conservative," many long-time conservatives, like myself, do not at all agree with that characterization.

While it is still early, I don't buy the assumption that these numbers are fluid.  The polling seems pretty set in stone.  What is not set in stone though is turnout.  Trump is obviously counting on that his GOP base will turn out and Democrats, and independents who have turned strongly against Trump after the 2016 election, will not go to the polls.  I wouldn't bet on it.  While Republicans did turn out exceptionally well in 2018, so did the Democrats.  That mid-term election, which Trump portrayed as a referendum on himself, resulted in the GOP getting thrashed at the polls.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Why are NRSC Campaign Resources Being Used to Sell a Senator's Books?

The last few days, I've received in my email inbox solicitations to buy Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton's new book "Sacred Duty: A Soldier's Tour at Arlington National Cemetery."   What I found perplexing is that the solicitation came from the National Republican Senatorial Committee, an entity which bills itself as "the only national organization solely devoted to strengthening the Republican Senate Majority and electing Republicans to the United States Senate." Why in the world is an officially established party political action committee involved in a non-political activity, i.e. selling books?

When I dug into the NRSC website, I found an entire page devoted to selling Cotton's books.  It would appear that by making a large enough "contribution" ($35 or more) to the NRSC, one can receive a Cotton book.  By the way, one can buy a hard cover copy of the book on Amazon for $14.49.  The fact that hard cover copies of the book are priced that low on the open market suggests they were not selling.  That might have been the reason, Cotton turned to the NRSC to sell his books. 

But how does the arrangement work?  Did Cotton donate his books to the NRSC to sell?  Or did the NRSC buy a bunch of Cotton books that it is now hawking on its website and in GOP emails?   Or is the NRSC selling the books for Cotton on consignment?   Is Cotton personally profiting off the sale of these "Sacred Duty" books?  Is the NRSC splitting profits with Cotton?

I would note that although political resources are being used to sell Cotton's book, Sacred Duty, the book is applauded for keeping politics out of the book.  Apparently politics though is not being kept out of the selling of those books.

It could well be legal.  But being an attorney and somewhat knowledgeable about the restrictions on campaign expenditures, the arrangement raises major red flags.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Media Advisory: Hearing on Independent Indianapolis Mayoral Candidate's Exclusion from the Ballot


Date:               Thursday (Today), August 29, 2019

Time:               Beginning at 2 p.m. (Each side is allotted ½ hour)

Location:         Birch Bayh Federal Building and United States Courthouse, 46 E. Ohio St, Indianapolis, IN, Courtroom 344

Contact Person:        Paul K. Ogden
                                    317-728-6084 (cell phone)
                                    317-297-9720 (home office

            On Tuesday, November 5, 2019, Indianapolis voters will go to the polls to elect a Mayor to serve for the next four years.  As things stand now, Indianapolis voters will be limited to casting a vote for Democratic Mayor Joe Hogsett or his Republican challenger State Senator Jim Merritt.

            Businessman John Schmitz felt Indianapolis voters should have more options than the Democratic and Republican nominee, which two candidates were hand-picked by party bosses during endorsement conventions proceeding the primary.  Schmitz filed to run as an independent candidate
John Schmitz
for Mayor.  To qualify for the ballot, Indiana law requires that Schmitz obtain signatures of a certain percentage of Marion County registered voters.  Working tirelessly, Schmitz and his campaign team obtained 8,295 signatures of Indianapolis voters on petitions submitted to the Clerk’s Office. 

            The Marion County Democratic and Republican parties though have a long history of using Indiana’s petition requirement to exclude candidates and limit the right of Indianapolis voters to choose someone other than Democrats and Republican candidates preferred by party bosses.  Schmitz experienced this first-hand when the Marion County Election Board[1] voted 3-0 to disallow thousands of voter signatures Schmitz had obtained, leaving him 749 short of the required 6,106 signatures needed to qualify for the November ballot.

            Schmitz, through his attorney Mark Small, filed for relief with the Southern District of Indiana.  (See attached “Complaint and Request for Preliminary Injunction”.)  Today, at 2 pm, Judge Tanya Walton-Pratt will be conducting a hearing on Schmitz’s request for injunctive relief, i.e. to be placed back on the ballot.

             Marion County party bosses should not be permitted to use Indiana’s petition requirement to exclude candidates from the ballot and limit voter choices.  Indianapolis voters deserve better.  The hearing today presents a very important principle that is a matter of considerable public concern and interest.  I hope you will consider attending the hearing and covering the issue.

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[1] In Indiana, county election boards have three voting members, including the County Clerk and an appointee of the county Democratic and Republican chairman.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Indianapolis Traffic Becomes Dreadful as Bus Red Line Swallows Up Critical Travel Lanes

I drive on Indianapolis downtown city streets often.  I also go to Broad Ripple, about once a week, to catch up with a friend.

Those experiences have changed dramatically this summer.  The last several weeks, I've found myself snarled in long traffic jams on downtown streets, waiting through multiple several cycles of the traffic line before I can move through an intersection.    As far as getting to Broad Ripple, especially from downtown... well forget about that.  Heading north on College Avenue toward Broad Ripple at the end of the day, traffic is backed up literally for as much as a mile.  
Welcome to the Red Line, Indianapolis new rapid transit system, which employs an all electric bus system. 

In implementing  the Red Line, several travel lanes are now dedicated to those buses and verboten for drivers to drive in.  The city has already lost a lot of travel lanes due to the addition of bike lanes before the city's leaders decided to take away more travel lanes.

College Avenue, one of the main thoroughfares by which people head to and from the Broad Ripple area, is one of the streets greatly impacted by the Red Line.  With the new bus system removing two of the lanes, there are only two lanes remaining for the north/south traffic on the road.  Needless to say, College Avenue backs up with an endless parade of cars during rush hour.   The obvious location for the Red Line heading to/from the Broad Ripple area was Keystone Avenue instead of the much more narrow, and residential, College Avenue.  But more money was to be made for developers on College Avenue so that is of course where the bus lanes were located. In Indianapolis, the interest of the city's taxpayers always take a back seat to developers whose ambitions are often funded by those same taxpayers.  And, of course, those developers are all too willing to kick back taxpayer money to the politicians in the form of campaign donations that keep the cycle going.

Part of the allure of the Red Line is that the all electric buses will have zero emissions and, thus, be better for the environment.  (Let's ignore for now the obvious counterpoint that emissions are involved in creating the electricity to run the buses.)  How exactly is the environment made better by greatly increasing the amount of time Indianapolis commuters are stuck in idling cars that are pumping out carbon monoxide as they wait through endless cycles of traffic lights?

The developers of the Red Line argue that, if our bus system is much better, Indianapolis commuters will park their cars and ride the bus instead.  That strategy is called "build it and they will come" approach and it never works.  Mass transit has to be designed to meet demand, not to create it.

Problems with Indianapolis traffic, post Red Line, could have been a major issue for Indianapolis voters when they go to the polls in November.  Yet, Republican mayoral candidate State Senator Jim Merritt, desperate for traction in the increasingly Democratic city, can't bring himself to raise the issue.  Merritt has spent more time talking about food deserts than the city's worsening traffic.  The result is Mayor Joe Hogsett does not have to defend the bus line to Indianapolis voters frustrated that their commutes are now considerably longer.

When it comes to whether taxpayers should subsidize economic development and, in doing so, making the corporate interests wealthier, the leadership of both political parties always line up to stick it to the taxpayers.  Make no mistake about it, the Red Line is all about corporate welfare.  The losers are Indianapolis taxpayers and commuters who drive in the city.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Today's Polls Bring Good News for Bernie Sanders, Bad News for Elizabeth Warren

A couple polls today give the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign some hope.
Sen. Bernie Sanders

A Gravis poll of New Hampshire, puts the Vermont Senator in first place.  Sanders comes in at 21% in that poll, while former Vice President Joe Biden is six points behind at 15%.  Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is the only other candidate in double figures at 12%.

That is the first New Hampshire poll in which Sanders has led in since April.  Biden and Sanders are the only Democratic candidates who have led New Hampshire polls this year.

Then you have the Politico/Morning Consult poll.  While Biden is at 33% in that poll, Sanders is a solid second place at 20%, well ahead of Warren at 12%.  Again, no other candidates are in double figures.

Media types for months have been touting the "surging" Warren candidacy, a claim that is usually accompanied by a contention that Sanders' prospects are floundering.  In the real world, the polls don't show much of that going on at all.  They show only a modest few point gain for Warren during the past several months and Sanders losing little of his supporters to Warren or anyone else.

What I find most interesting is that, despite overwhelming positive media coverage, Warren doesn't appear to be gaining much.  Meanwhile, Sanders' supporters continue to feel the Bern.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

After Trump, America Needs a Nap; Polls Show "Sleepy Joe" Recovered From June Debate Performance

Joe Biden
A few months ago, President Donald Trump coined the nickname "Sleepy Joe" for Joe Biden.  Trump meant it as an insult, that the former Vice President could not match the frenetic, constant news-making that has been the hallmark of the Trump administration.  Meanwhile, Biden's Democratic opponents for President make a similar, albeit more polite, claim.  They advocate for polices that greatly expand the size and role of government.  They argue the 76 year old Biden can't provide the energetic change voters want.

And they would be wrong.  Americans aren't clamoring for new expansive government programs that takes the country closer to socialism.  Americans aren't looking for an energetic leader who leads an administration that is constantly in action, or in Trump's case, turmoil.  Instead Americans are looking for solitude, peace and quiet, a return to normalcy, decency and civility. Not only has the time for Biden to be President not passed him by, this may well be the perfect time for his brand of politics.  After Trump, America needs a nap.

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

The polls, even among Democratic partisans, seem to confirm that.  Following July's debate, Biden's poll numbers slipped while California Sen. Kamala Harris, who attacked Biden over his opposition to forced busing (not sure when busing became popular even among "progressives"), gained traction.  A month later, the numbers have reverted to their pre-debate status.  Three polls released today (Emerson, Politico/Morning Consult, The Hill/Harris X) have Biden at 33, 33 and 34 respectively.   Quinnipiac's poll, released yesterday, has Biden at 34.

But Biden's numbers are not the only ones that reverted to the previous norm.  Let's look at the result for the second tier candidates in the Emerson, Politico/Morning Consult, The Hill/Harris X, and Quinnipiac polls:

Sanders: 20, 18, 20, 11
Warren: 14, 13, 12, 15
Harris:  11, 12, 9, 12

Political commentators continue to peddle the narrative that support for Sen. Elizabeth Warren is growing.  The polls just do not show that.  Warren's poll numbers are stagnant and have even dipped some in July.  Harris, meanwhile, is once again struggling to hit double figures.

Although Sen. Bernie Sanders' political obituary has been written by those numerous analysts touting Warren, the fact remains that Sanders remains a modest few points ahead of Warren in virtually every poll.  The good news for Sanders is that he is fending off the challenge from Warren.  The bad news is he appears to have a solid ceiling on his support even among hard core Democratic partisans. 

The nature of news coverage is to promote conflict and to make political races seem more competitive than they actually are.  No doubt the coverage from this week' debate will feature prominently at least one "break out candidate" (remember how Julian Castro was crowned a debate "winner" and new star; his 1% in numerous polls say otherwise), as well as perceived debate winners and losers.  And polls may, briefly, show movement from the debate.  I'm just not convinced there will be a significant long-term change in the polls from this week's debate. 

Bottom line is the Democratic electorate wants to nominate the most electable Democrat and that person is "Sleepy Joe" Biden.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Challenging the Absurd Notion that Donald Trump is a "Patriot" Fighting for American Values

The news the last few days has focused on President Trump's "Go Back" tweet and its aftermath.  To recap, Trump tweeted that four female Democratic members of Congress, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashia Tlaib of Michigan, should go back to their country of origin if they are going to criticize American policies.  Three of the four women Trump targeted are natural born U.S. citizens.  The fourth, Omar, was a Somalian who became an American citizen via the naturalization process, i.e. the legal way which
Trumpers claim to support.

Since the initial tweet, , Trump has doubled down on his attack, attempting to recast his comment more about "The Squad's" supposed lack of patriotism rather than the young women's ethnicity/race.  All four of the women, as AOC often remind us, are "women of color."

Historically, the"go back" slur was employed by white supremacists to demonize African-Americans who fought the status quo of segregation.  So, naturally,  the mainstream media immediately discussed ad nauseam whether Trump's tweet was evidence of his being a racist.  A secondary media focus has been whether the Trump attack is part of a clever campaign strategy by the President as he pushes toward re-election in 2020.

Let me address both of those points.  Of course, Trump, is a racist.  Anyone who has studied Trump's long history in New York, beginning in the 1970s when Trump and his father would redline New York apartment complexes to prevent blacks from moving in, knows the disdain Trump holds for non-whites.  In Trump's defense, he is no doubt a bigger sexist than he is a racist.  Is that a defense?

I get the bigger chuckle out of the nonsense that Trump's "send them back" rhetoric is part of some grand re-election strategy.  Really?  When this started, members of "The Squad" (which may be the worst political nickname ever) were fighting with Speaker Nancy Pelosi who they accused of being against them as "women of color."  That was just a microcosm of a larger battle within the Democratic Party between those who want the party to move to the left and those who advocate a more moderate, and presumably, electable approach. Trump's rhetoric ended Democratic infighting and reunited the party.

But "Send Them Back" motivates Trump's base we are told and, thus, is great strategy!   But Trump's cultish followers are already fully motivated and, no doubt, will be turning out in droves in 2020.  Trump's rhetoric doesn't change that dynamic.  No, what Trump's comments did is motivate Democrats to turn out and drive suburban Republicans away from supporting the GOP.  Trump tried nativist, xenophobic attacks in 2018 and that worked out very badly for the GOP which experienced historic losses in that election.

The assumption for the "Send Them Back" attack, that our President is a patriot who is fighting for our country, is absurd.  As candidate and President, Trump has expressed open hostility to the notion of the rule of law, free speech, law enforcement, separation of powers and checks and balances, an independent judiciary, the independence of the Justice Department, a free press, etc. Trump routinely mocks the notion of America being a beacon of freedom around the world and has turned his back on defending human rights.  He has attacked American allies while giving aid and comfort to America's enemies, even the most ruthless dictators who routinely kill political opponents and journalists.  And let's not forget that Donald J. Trump openly courted and accepted the assistance of a hostile foreign power to win an American election, and has pledged to do so again.

The notion that Trump is a "patriot" is laughable.  Being older, I recall Jane Fonda attacking the United States during a visit to North Vietnam.  Like, "Hanoi Jane" Trump has displayed open hostility toward American values and institutions, far more than those four members of Congress he says need to leave the country.   Trump is not a patriot. Far from it.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Senator Kamala Harris Rewrites the History of Forced Busing in Disingenuous Attack on VP Biden

The issue of forced busing as a remedy for racial segregation is an issue I remember well growing up in the 1970s.  In fact, that was the first issue I tackled as a political commentator when I, as a high school Freshman, wrote a paper in support of busing.  Faced with the constant onslaught of negative stories about the effects of busing, my position soon thereafter evolved to opposition.  

But the fight over busing remains scorched in my memory.  As a result, I was floored when presidential candidate California Senator Kamala Harris decided to make Vice President Joe Biden's opposition to
Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA)
forced busing an issue that proves he's out of step with public opinion, at least public opinion in the Democratic Party.   Senator Harris is only a few years younger than me.  Does she not remember how unpopular forced busing was back then, even among African-Americans?

In 1973, the same year Joe Biden entered the Senate Gallup asked Americans if they supported busing school children from one neighborhood to another as a way of desegregate schools.  Only 4% of Americans supported that position.  Busing wasn't popular with African-Americans either.  Only 9% of black Americans said they supported busing. Over a quarter century later, in 1999, a poll by Gallup found that only 15% of the respondents supported transferring students from their home school as a remedy for segregation.. 

With the issue of busing well in the rear view mirror, politicians like Harris are free to rewrite, and grossly misrepresent, the history surrounding this contentious issue.  Busing never resolved the issue of segregated schools that were a result of segregated, by law (de jure) or by choice (de facto), neighborhoods.  Further, it had the effect of undermining and tearing apart families.  In opposing forced busing and supporting alternatives remedies, Biden was simply representing the wishes of an overwhelming percentage of his constituents.

Senator Harris used the busing issue, and her own personal narrative about her being sent to a better school outside her neighborhood, to imply that Biden was opposed to school desegregation. Nothing could be further from the truth.  Ironically, a remedy that does address the problem of segregated schools, school choice, i.e. allowing students to attend schools outside their home school districts, is vehemently opposed by most Democratic politicians, including probably Harris.

Fortunately for Senator Harris, most people under the age of 50, do not know the history of busing as failed (and highly unpopular) social policy.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Media Declares Elizabeth Warren is Surging!; Polls Say Otherwise

Listen to any of the news outlets and you will come away with the conclusion that Sen. Elizabeth Warren is surging in the polls in the battle for the Democratic presidential nomination.. It is such a constant narrative that I decided to take a look at the polls to see if it is true.

Today (6/20)
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts)
Economist/YouGov:  Biden 26, Warren 16, Sanders 12, Buttigieg 9, Harris 7

Yesterday(6/19)
Monmouth:  Biden 32, Warren 15, Sanders 14, Harris 8, Buttigieg 5
USA Today/Suffolk:  Biden 30, Sanders 15, Warren 10, Buttigieg 9, Harris 8

Tuesday (6/18)
Politico/Morning Consult:  Biden 38, Sanders 19, Warren 11, Harris 7, Buttigieg 7

Monday (6/17)
The Hill/Harris X:  Biden 35, Sanders 13, Warren 7, O'Rourke 6, Harris 5, Buttigieg 4

Sunday (6/16)
Fox News:  Biden 32, Sanders 13, Warren 9, Harris 8, Buttigieg 8

Tuesday (6/11)
Quinnipiac:  Biden 30, Sanders 19, Warren 15, Buttigieg 8, Harris 7
Politico/Morning Consult:  Biden 37, Sanders 19, Warren 11, Harris 7, Buttigieg 7

In February, Warren was polling in the high single digits.  Now, four months later, post-surge, her RealClearPolitics polling average is 11.9.   Yes, her polling numbers have improved. But a surge?  Hardly. 

As an aside, the state polls show similar results.. Probably most remarkable, and significant, are the most recent polls in Warren's home state of Massachusetts and nearby New Hampshire.

Sunday (6/16) New Hampshire
CBS News/YouGov:  Biden 33, Sanders 20, Warren 17, Buttigieg 10, Harris 7

Sunday (6/9)
Boston Globe/Suffolk:  Biden 22, Warren 10, Buttigieg 8, Sanders 6, Harris 5

So Warren is far behind in her home state and is running third in New Hampshire, which has the all important, first-in-the-nation, primary.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Democratic Presidential Candidates Compete for Second Place; Vote Gravel!

I have never bought the conventional wisdom that the Democratic presidential nomination is wide open.  Barring a health crisis, former VP Joe Biden will win.  The debates and early state caucus/elections are more about auditions to be Biden's running mate than picking a nominee.  My money on that score is on California Senator Kamala Harris with my backup choice Minnesota Senator Amy Klobachur.  While I'm not sure who Biden would pick, I can guarantee his running mate won't be a white male.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is driving in the same lane as her Vermont counterpart from the Senate, Bernie Sanders.  One will eventually run the other off the road.  I think Warren wins that.  She has the same socialist polices as Bernie without the gruff personality.  Plus, she's a woman, which
Former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel
is a major bonus with Democratic voters.

In a field dominated by third and fourth tier candidates struggling to break 1%, Harris and Warren stand out as solid second tier candidates.  But I don't see either as ever displacing Biden.  Neither are seen as electable as Biden.  But more importantly, they are not even winning their home states in the polls.  A California poll released yesterday has Harris in 4th place in her home state, with just 13%. (Warren in the California poll is actually second in that state with 19%.)   A Massachusetts poll earlier this week, had Warren in second, but with only 10%.  Biden led the poll in both states.

Meanwhile, former Texas Congressman Beto O'Rourke and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg are attempting to drive in the same lane.  (Sorry for continuing to use that tired metaphor.)  O'Rourke is barely a second tier candidate.  At his rallies, O'Rourke appears to be desperately trying to channel President John Kennedy and that schtick is not selling nationally like it did in Texas.  "Mayor Pete," meanwhile, has been the most impressive candidate on the campaign trail.  He has displayed a temperament and intellect that is a wonderful contrast to President Trump.  Buttigieg also has a great resume, including military service that contrasts nicely with Donald "Bone Spurs" Trump.  I do have doubts about his ability to transition after a primary to run a general election, but of all the candidates who could break through and displace Biden as the nominee, my money would be on Buttigieg.

While there are some excellent candidates in the third tier, I think the odds of one of those candidates breaking from the back of the pack and sprinting by Biden are long.  (See, I changed metaphors - horse racing!)  But one of them, not sure which one, will eventually have a moment and move up into the second tier.  But "a moment" among the leaders is all they are likely to have. 

In short, I don't think the Democratic nomination is as wide open as people think it is.

I do note the newest entry into the Democratic race, former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel (gruh - vel').  Gravel has led a very interesting life.  No candidate, not even Biden, can match his personal, professional and political experience...which is not surprising since he's 89 years old.  Gravel is also known for the greatest political commercial ever made.



Vote Gravel!

Thursday, June 13, 2019

How Far Left Will Biden Be Pushed on Abortion?

Former Vice President Joe Biden
Ask any of the gazillion Democrats running for President about abortion and they will tell you the issue is simple.  It's about "women's health care," they declare.  The more extreme Democratic presidential candidates repeat the nonsense, ad nauseum, that opponents of abortion are "just men wanting control women's bodies."   Of course, about 50% of the people who oppose abortion rights are women. Never mind that there is no logical reason that men or women against abortion hold that position because they want to "control women's bodies."  The issue has to be more complicated than that.

And it is.  Despite the rhetoric of the left, the reason there are so many people opposed to abortion rights is that they see the fetus as a living, growing human being.  And medical science certainly backs up that position. 

No doubt that those on the pro choice side are rightly concerned about a woman's autonomy and the need to control her body.  But they are off base when they pretend abortion is not more complicated than that.  There is indisputably a human being growing inside a pregnant woman. That's why the issue is complex and difficult.

As a side note, don't get me started on polls which proclaim overwhelming support for Roe v. Wade.  99% of the public couldn't tell you what the holding of Roe v. Wade is.  That is proven over and over again with polls which show strong majorities do not support abortions that are perfectly legal under Roe.

Enter in the current debate former Vice President Joe Biden.  Biden is hardly a moderate on abortion.  But he seemed, at least, to recognize the legitimacy of the pro life position, even if it rarely impacted his actions as a public official.  But one area where Biden did not have an extreme pro choice position was on the issue of public funding of abortion.  He supported the Hyde amendment, a long holding compromise between the pro-choice and pro-life sides which essentially banned public funding of abortion.  s.

Last week, Biden changed his position on the Hyde Amendment.  He now supports not only abortion on demand until at least viability (more on that in a second) but that taxpayers should have to pay for those abortions.  (The Hyde amendment has the standard exception for rape, incest, life of the mother.)  To say that is an extreme position insulting to those who have grave reservations about abortion, is to be generous.  But that extreme position is the one held by all the other Democratic candidates running for President.

Was it a wise move politically?  There have always been s a significant number of Democratic-leaning voters who are pro life. One poll I saw showed about 30% of Democratic-leaning voters support the Hyde Amendment.  Now those Democrats will not have a primary candidate representing their view.  Biden abandoned those voters in favor of making his position indistinguishable from the other Democrats.  The idea behind the Biden switch no doubt was to deny his Democratic opponents a wedge issue. That switch though opens up the issue of electoral integrity, i.e. is a candidate switching his or her position solely out of political expediency?  Despite protestations to the contrary from the Biden camp, the answer is clearly "yes."

I should clarify:  political expediency for the primary round. There is little doubt that Biden's position against the Hyde Amendment, which is supported by a strong majority of voters, is harmful to his chances as a general election candidate.  No doubt, Trump will bludgeon Biden or what other Democrat is nominated, with the extreme position that taxpayers should be forced to pay for what many view as a morally repugnant procedure that ends a human life.

But for Biden, his abortion capitulation is unlikely to end there.  Next up will be the issue of third trimester abortion and the subset of those late stage abortions, partial birth abortions.  (Yes, partial birth abortion is a real thing and I won't go into the gruesome details over why that descriptive term is used.)   While Roe v. Wade provided for a constitutional right to abortion on demand through six months, the then assumed point of viability (which was altered by Planned Parenthood v. Casey), Roe allows states to ban abortion during the third trimester (except for threats to the health of the mother.)  But that is a policy choice made by legislative bodies.  In the stampede to the left, will all Democratic presidential candidates, including Biden, sign on to this expansion of Roe?  According to my Magic Eight Ball the "signs point to yes."

On the right, Republicans fall into the political quicksand when they adopt pro-life laws that don't have the highly popular traditional rape, incest and life of the mother exceptions. Collectively those amount to something like 1% of the abortions performed.  While I'm aware of and sympathetic to the argument that "all life is precious" for not including the rape and incest exceptions, it does not seem wise to throw the 99% away because you are fighting for the 100%.

Likewise, third trimester abortions are highly unpopular.  They too are rare, making up to about 1% of the abortions performed.    Do the Democrats really want to make the abortion battle about defending the highly unpopular 1% instead of the 99% of abortions performed during first and second trimesters?

Pushing Biden to the left on abortion did him, and the Democratic Party, no favors.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Indy Welcomes All, Indy Pride...Not So Much

I've been watching with amusement the interactions between Indianapolis Republican Mayoral Candidate Jim Merritt and the folks at Indy Pride.  This is how Indy Pride, Inc. describes itself on its website:
Indy Pride, Inc. produces events which educate, honor our history, and celebrate the diversity of the Indianapolis Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer community. We exist to unite and serve our members and the LGBTQ+ community of Central Indiana through leadership development, educational programs, and community events which achieve inclusivity, equality, strong community connections, and awareness of LGBTQ+ issues.
When the Indiana General Assembly a few years ago was considering adopting the the Religious
Freedom Restoration Act,  Many organizations responded with horror.  RFRA would allow discrimination against LGBTQ individuals, we were, wrongly, told.  Locally, groups like Indy Pride pushed the city's businesses to adopt the slogan "Indy Welcomes All." 

Indy Pride sponsors an annual parade in Indianapolis which is set to take place this Saturday.

When Senator Merritt announced he would walk in the Indy Pride parade this weekend in support of LGBTQ rights (as a private citizen rather than a mayoral candidate, not sure there's a huge difference with that), Indy Pride Executive Director Chris Handberg responded that Merritt was "not welcome" at the event.  I kid you not...he actually used tho

Of course, the slogan always had a phony ring.  You are "welcome" if you share a particular position on LGTBQ issues.  If you don't, or God forbid, you dare to practice a religious faith that doesn't reflect the politically correct positions on LGTBQ issues, you are NOT welcome.  If there was any doubt about the hypocrisy of Indy Pride teach tolerance while practicing intolerance, Handberg's actions, which were spurred by complaints from those in and allied with his organization, proved that beyond doubt.

Breaking news is that Senator Merritt today issued a new press release announcing he won't be walking in the parade after all.  In the lengthy statement, Senator Merritt continued his attempt to pander to the LGBTQ community by throwing conservatives and those who believe in religious freedom under the bus.  In the release, Merritt said he didn't know at the time of his vote for RFRA that it could be used to discriminate against the LGBTQ community and cited his later vote for the RFRA "fix" (which didn't actually do anything from a legal standpoint by the way.)
Sen. Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis)

So, Senator Merritt, RFRA can be used to discriminate based on sexual orientation?    Name ONE example in which RFRA has been used to deny goods or services based on sexual orientation.

Over 30 states, by statute or judicial decision, have RFRA. Having read every federal and state judicial decision that mentioned those RFRAs, I can't find a single one where the religious freedom law was used to allow a business owner to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. 

After RFRA passed, I was at a legal seminar discussing the law.  An ACLU attorney who was on the panel agreed that RFRA is simply irrelevant to the issue of business owners discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation...that the only thing that matters is whether the jurisdiction has a civil rights law that includes sexual orientation.  Exactly.  Even in those jurisdictions that don't have such a civil rights law protecting sexual orientation, anyone can discriminate with or without RFRA. Again, RFRA is irrelevant to the issue of discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Although not an attorney, Merritt has to know that his newly learned information RFRA can be used to discriminate based on sexual orientation is as bogus as a three dollar bill.  Indy Pride can legitimately complain about Merritt's position on LGBTQ rights, but its the lack of support for a civil rights law which includes sexual orientation they should be complaining about, not his support for RFRA. 

If the folks at Indy Pride were smart and honestly believed the "Indy Welcomes All" slogan they promoted since the RFRA debate, Indy Pride would have welcomed Senator Merritt and used it as a opportunity to educate him about LGTBQ issues.  But Indy Pride needs to stop misrepresenting what RFRA did.  Indy Pride's complaint is about the lack of a civil rights law protecting sexual orientation..  The organization needs to stop distracting from that agenda with unwarranted attacks on religious freedom.

Early Polls Show Trump and GOP Face Possibility of Landslide Electoral Loss in 2020

As I've pointed out on these pages before, Donald Trump is not a strong general election candidate.  Even though he faced the most unpopular Democratic candidate in history, Trump still lost the popular vote and only won the electoral college vote by a very narrow margin. If just 39,000 people in three states (Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania) had switched their vote from Trump to his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton would be in the White House.

Former Vice President Joe Biden
Looking at the 2016 results, one finds that scores of GOP congressional candidates across the country did better than Trump at the polls.  (Indiana was a notable exception to this.)  Trump's win was not based so much on traditional Democrats switching to Republican, but that GOP-leaning turnout being juiced thanks in no small part because of Trump being on the ballot.  Meanwhile, Democrats, dissatisfied with their candidate, stayed home. 

Trump's performance in office has changed that 2016 dynamic.  While the GOP voters remain energized, now Democratic-leaning voters, wanting to send a message to the President, are as well.  In 2018, we had the opportunity to see what happens in the rare election in which both sides are energized.  The result was an historic Democratic victory, winning a, net, 40 seats in the U.S. House.

How bad can 2020  be for Trump and Republicans.  ?  Let's look at some of the state polling:

Texas:   In 2016, Trump beat Hillary by 9 points in Texas.  (By way of comparison, the GOP candidate for State Railroad Commissioner won by 15%).   A Quinnipiac poll released yesterday has former Vice President Joe Biden beating Trump by 4% in Texas.  All the other Democratic candidates poll in the head-to-head contest with President Trump trailed by less than 4 points, well within the margin of error.  Lest anyone think the Quinnipiac Texas poll is an aberration, a late April poll of Texas voters also showed Biden beating Trump by one point in the Lone Star State. 

North Carolina:  Trump won the state by 3.6% in 2016.  In a poll, just released, Biden beats Trump in the Tar Heel state by 11%.  Sanders is up by 8%.  Even South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg leads Trump by 4 points in North Carolina.

Florida:  Trump won the state in 2016 by 1.2%.  He remains surprisingly popular in the Sunshine State two years later.  A May poll shows Biden only running even with Trump.

Pennsylvania:  Trump won this critical state in 2016 by less than 1% of the vote.  A mid-May poll has Biden up 11 points in the Keystone State.  Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is up by 8 and Sanders up by 7.  In fact every Democratic presidential candidate the pollster asked about leads Trump in Pennsylvania except for former Texas Congressman Beto O'Rourke.

Arizona:  Trump won the state by 3.6% in 2016.  An early May poll shows Biden ahead by 5 points.

Nevada:  Trump lost the state by 2.4% in 2016.  But Biden's lead in a 3/31 poll is only 4 points.  This is an example of a 2016 blue state that the GOP should probably target.  

Iowa:  Although the Hawkeye State is ideally suited for Trump (heavily white and rural) and Trump won by over 9.5 points in 2016, he polls as down to Biden by 6 points.  The same March 25th poll has even Sanders leading (by 2 points) Trump in Iowa.

Wisconsin:  Along with Michigan and Pennsylvania, Wisconsin was a critical victory for Trump in 2016.  He won the state by about .7% of the vote.  In a March poll, Biden beats Trump by 8 points in the Badger State, while Warren and Sanders lead by 4.   In fact, all of the Democratic presidential candidates polll ahead of Trump in Wisconsin.

Michigan:  The closest state in the 2016 election, Trump won Michigan by .23%.  But a poll just released yesterday shows Biden and Sanders beating Trump by 12 points in Michigan.  March polls show Trump trailing badly in the state, with Biden up 8 points, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar ahead by 6 points, Sanders up by 5.  No Democratic presidential candidate polled as running behind Trump.  Even Buttigieg polls ahead of Trump by 6 points in Michigan.

New Hampshire:  Trump lost the state by .37% in 2016 and it is apparently being targeted by the GOP for pickup in 2020.  But February polling show Biden and Sanders both beating Trump by 10 points in 2016.

If you take how the swing states are currently polling (as outlined above), a Joe Biden would defeat President Trump 348-190 in the electoral college.  That's assuming that Florida, which currently polls as even, is won by Trump.  There are other red states - Ohio and Georgia, for example - which are well within striking district for Democrats.

Undoubtedly the Trump cult will call the polls "fake news" and claim that 2016 election results show how wrong the polls were that year.  Except that the polls in 2016 weren't wrong  In every swing state, the election result for that state was within the margin of error in the Real Clear Politics average.  (Wisconsin with a spread of 7.2% was by far the closest to being outside of the MOE.)  To clarify, contrary to how it is reported, the MOE in polling is not the margin between two competing candidates' numbers but rather a statistical aberration for each candidates' poll numbers.  Thus, in a two candidate race a 4 point MOE provides for a possible 8 point swing.

Of course, polls can change. After all, despite the unpopularity of Presidents Reagan, Clinton and Obama at their first mid-term, all ended up with big re-election victories.  So there is a possibility that Trump's popularity could increase and he could win a big re-election in 2020.  But what militates against that happening is that unlike the fluid approval numbers Reagan, Clinton and Obama had, Trump's numbers appear to be set in stone.  Trump's approval numbers have barely moved in two years.  People seem to have made up their minds about Trump early on and nothing seems to be changing that.  Perhaps independent voters would punish Democrats pushing impeach by voting for Trump to have a second term, but that seems like a long shot at best.  

A side note:  A recent story noted the Trump campaign's acknowledgement of the shifting map and the decision by the President's team to target certain Democratic states to offset those rust belt states he turned red in 2016 but are likely to go back to the Democrats in 2020.  The states being targeted are New Hampshire, New Mexico and Nevada.  Odd.  First, those states together have just 15 electoral votes while Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, key states Trump won in 2016, have a total of 46 electoral votes.  There is no chance the Trump campaign is competitive in New Mexico and a win in New Hampshire is unlikely due to Trump's unpopularity there.  Nevada is definitely in play for Trump, but how is Minnesota not on the Trump list of blue states that can be turned red?

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Red State = (Intellectually) Dead State; Why I'm Removing Formerly Influential Conservative Website From Blog Roll

I'm working on updating my blog rolls.  Sadly we've had a number of highly quality local bloggers who have ceased blogging.  I'm going through deleting the feeds on that.  I hope to get find some more local political blogs to feature on the roll.  One blog I can't bring myself to delete yet is the most legendary local political blog of them all - the late Gary Welsh's Advance Indiana.  He was so good at writing on local and state politics.  I surely miss him.

On the other side of the OgdenonPolitics website is a roll of national political and legal websites.  While most of those blogs are still churning out articles, I note one active site that I am removing
from the roll - the once highly regarded (at least in conservative circles) Red State.

Founded by conservative activist Eric Erickson who a few years ago moved on to other ventures, Red State used to be a highly regarded blog featuring intellectuals articulating conservative positions.  No more.  Post-Erickson, Red State editors pushed out the door conservative writers who were not 100% supportive of all things Trump.   Many of the current Red State bloggers write anonymously, using pseudonyms such as streiff (lower case is not a typo), Sister Toldjah (get it?), Bonchie and TLaDuke.  The Red State articles of today are poorly written and offer little more than clownish sniping about "liberals" and the "deep state."  The one consistent feature of the current Red State is that the blog's writers promote Trump talking points 100% of the time.  Bloggers at Red State are not allowed to dissent from the pro-Trump Red State line.

Nor is dissent from Trumpism allowed from Red State readers.  I experienced first-hand Red State's penchant for suppressing dissent when I was personally banned after writing a comment critical of one Red State author's pro-Trump position.  I wrote to Red State several times asking for an explanation as to why I was banned.  Red State's editors wouldn't even acknowledge my request.  I finally established a new Red State account so I could comment again.  That worked until I dared to pen another comment critical of a pro-Trump Red State piece.  Banned again. I tried, once more, to get an explanation from Red State for the ban, but those requests were again met with silence.

So I 've decided to drop Red State from the OgdenonPolitics blog role.  In its place, I've added two:  Erickson's new blog "The Resurgant." as well as my personal favorite "The Bulwark."  Both are excellent sources of information.

Other changes will be coming.