Tag Archives: 2016

Thank you, Hillary

When did I become radicalized?

I registered in 1972 as a Republican. I cannot remember how that happened; it may be because my own parents were Republicans, I don’t know. Certainly, my namesake was what would now be described as a “liberal Republican,” and so was I. In 1972 and in every presidential election since, I have never voted for a Republican candidate for president, but either a) it never occurred to me to change registration or b) I was too lazy to fill out the forms. So I remained a Republican.

If anyone wants to call me a RINO (Republican In Name Only), that’s fine. I was.

In the 1990s, I was a big fan of the Clintons. The president seemed to have it all – a brilliant mind, an attractive set of policies, and a speaking style that I could listen to for hours. But for one weakness, I believe he would have been considered one of the greatest presidents of the century (at least). But it was Hillary that really impressed me.

First LadyUnderstand – the traditional First Lady was Mamie Eisenhower, Jackie Kennedy, Lady Bird, Pat Nixon, Nancy Reagan. All of these women were first and foremost the First Housewives, responsible for keeping the White House a model showcase, from draperies to dishware. We obsessed over their gowns, their hats, their movements. If they had adopted a cause, it was “cute,” but hardly earthmoving. Until Hillary.

Hillary Clinton took the role of First Lady, crumpled it up, and threw it out the window. She was very much her own person – Wellesley, Yale Law School, a law degree, a law career, an activist role as First Lady of Arkansas, etc. She wasn’t just a liberal, she was, at the time, The Most Radical Liberal Ever on the Face of the Earth. Republicans already didn’t like her, but what turned them forever against her?

Cookies.

An offhand remark in which Hillary said she could have chosen to stay at home, baking cookies and having teas, but she had decided instead to pursue her career and her god-given potential (something she would later insist on for all women and children of the world). This caused Republican heads to explode all across the country. Nothing more than this. And this would lead to a 30-year obsession with bringing down the evil Hillary Clinton.

I thought it was amazing. Here was a strong, smart, independent woman who showed that being married didn’t just mean that “the two shall become one,” but that – even better – the two shall become a stronger two! A strong, smart woman with upside potential to do anything, be anything she wanted. I would have happily voted for her to be president in 2000.

Hillary would eventually run and win a seat in the Senate from New York, and I didn’t pay close attention to those years. I do know that (despite a national obsession with proving guilt – any guilt) she was able to work well with opposition Senators, some who would later praise her work in that body. I also know that she would cast a vote that I myself would have cast, because of false information (lies) fed to her and to us. This vote would be used to later cast her as a “warmonger,” even though 99.9% of all Americans would have cast the very same vote.

When she ran in 2008, I smiled as I voted for her in the Pennsylvania primary, and was saddened when a young Barack Obama denied her the nomination. But, just as Hillary timely turned her full attention and support to electing Obama, I did, too. When Obama tapped her to be Secretary of State, it was surprising but not – who better to fill that role? And Hillary did a masterful job, enjoying an impressive job approval rating across party lines. Even while Congressional Republicans were trying to vilify, investigate, and interrogate, the American public thought she was an excellent Secretary of State.

And this high approval rating remained until Hillary declared her intention to run again in 2015.

There is no question that Hillary Clinton was a lightning rod. Men who were somehow threatened by a strong, independent woman HATED her. She was held to a standard that no human being in history has had to match, but she not only matched it, she beat it. Every time.

Benghazi committeeFour men died in Benghazi. Republicans spent millions in taxpayer money and nine (?) Congressional hearings trying to prove Hillary was guilty of … something. But there was never anything. Many, many more people died during the Bush administration without a single word from Congress.

Hillary testifying Benghazi committee

Hillary sent emails. Again, millions in taxpayer dollars were spent in multiple investigations to find … nothing. In the end, FBI Director Comey would admit that there was no cause to pursue criminal charges against Clinton. Even so, Republicans and even Trump would repeat the refrain “33,000 emails deleted,” as if this meant anything. The Bush admnistration deleted MILLIONS of emails, but I don’t recall a single inquiry.

The Clinton Foundation, from which Hillary had removed herself during her stint as Secretary of State, was accused of taking money from despots in exchange for attention from the Secretary – pay for play. Again, an investigation revealed… nothing. There was no indication of anything improper in this Foundation, which was doing global good, particularly in fighting AIDS in Africa. There was no quid pro quo, there was no huge stream of funds leaving the Foundation for the Clintons’ personal checking account. Nothing. Meanwhile, the Trump Foundation was an absolute fraud, found to be illegally soliciting funds in New York, its funds used for questionable purposes by Trump, himself, but all of the news coverage was of the Clintons.

When Hillary began her campaign in 2015, she WAS the presumptive nominee. There was some talk of Joe Biden getting into the race, but that (under very unfortunate circumstances) would not happen. There were a couple of small players who committed to the race, but they would soon drop out. No, this was Hillary’s nomination until…

Bernie Jumps In

Bernie Sanders entered the race. Bernie Sanders took great pride in being an Independent. but when he wanted to launch a campaign, he admittedly switched party affiliation to Democrat in order to make use of the party’s capabilities. He had no problem USING the Democratic Party to sustain his campaign against Hillary Clinton, later to condemn that same party for showing favoritism for Hillary. The Party made no moves against Sanders, did nothing to overtly hurt his campaign, but his charges against the Party stuck with his faithful, who still to this day believe that the nomination was somehow stolen from him. (Stolen by millions and millions of voters, who were all in on the conspiracy.)

The other failing of Bernie Sanders was in not turning to support Clinton when it was obvious that his campaign would fall short. The entire world was aghast as Sanders continued his campaign right up to the convention, creating a divided party at just the time a nominee should be enjoying a public bump and a united launch into the general election.

Bernie Sanders hurt Hillary’s campaign as much as any other force against her. Without his interference, or even without his unusually long campaign into the convention, I contend that Hillary Clinton would have been the 45th President of the United States.

In the general election, Donald Trump tried his best to give the media things to focus on, but Wikileaks (that alleged rapist of Swedish women) was given some EMAILS from the DNC, which they made public little by little, so as to keep the media engaged over time. They would later also acquire emails from Hillary’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, to ensure that no one in the media would pay any attention to Trump’s ongoing list of fails.

The fact that these leaks (stolen emails, actually) would come from Russian sources, and that the Russians hacked the DNC, and that the Russians were in communication with the Trump campaign, would normally be a case-closer. But in 2016, this was treated as just another day in TrumpWorld. The staunchly anti-Putin GOP suddenly had no problems at all with any of this.

Through three debates, Hillary Clinton proved herself to be unquestionably more ready to be Commander in Chief. In fact, once the infamous Access Hollywood tape of Trump (the pussy grabber) on the bus hit the streets, it appeared Trump had finally reached the low bar that could not be crossed, and Hillary was on her way to the White House.

But…

Director Comey said he found some more emails.

Comey finds more emailsA week before the election, in violation of EVERYTHING WE HOLD SACRED, Comey dropped a letter claiming to have found more emails that “might” have something to do with the earlier investigation. Or not. We don’t know.

So. Despite Trump’s mob ties, his shady dealings and subsequent bankruptcy in Atlantic City, his use of imported Chinese steel, having his clothing and branded items manufactured overseas, his serial cheating on multiple wives, his ranking as The Biggest Liar of all 20 candidates in the 2016 campaign, his bragging about grabbing women’s pussies… Despite all of that AND the Trump campaign being in league with Vladimir Putin and Russian intelligence, Hillary lost the election because she might have sent an email.

This would happen to NO ONE ELSE.

A strong, smart, independent woman ran for President of the United States of America and a unique set of forces rose to deny her that office.

Donald Trump, an obvious racist, took much of the white vote. Whites were driven by fear and hate to vote for Trump, who painted a picture of the future that was their worst nightmare – minority status (laughingly a.k.a. “white genocide”). Mexicans were streaming across the border to take their jobs and rape their wives. Muslims were streaming into the country to explode into random killing sprees. “The Blacks,” as always, were a threat because… uh… because they were black. (?) So whites cowered in the voting booths and voted Trump, even those who would never, ever have admitted that they would vote for Trump.

61,000,000 Americans voted for a racist or, at the very least, for racism. I won’t say that all 61,000,000 ARE racists, but I’d say that at least half of those basket cases are deplorable.

So. Hillary had to go up against:
Congress, Benghazi committees
State Department investigation of emails
Bernie and the BernieBros
FBI investigations of emails
Wikileaks
The Russians
and a whole, hell of a lot of racists. And still she ended up with almost 3,000,000 more votes than Trump, but a second place finish.

Thank you, Hillary Rodham Clinton, for all that you’ve done throughout a lifetime, on behalf of the people of the United States. I am sorry that we have treated you so poorly. You never deserved this. It saddens me greatly that I will not have the opportunity to see what you could do as President.

And America… Sometimes you really, really piss me off.

back to TOP

Gaffe? Hardly

Basket of Deplorables

Is Hillary’s basket a gaffe? Is it on par with Romney’s 47% or Trump’s own 50% of America who just don’t want to work? I say no. It is well known that Trump’s campaign clarion call has brought forth all of the worst of America, emboldening them to storm social media in search of Others and Disagreers.

For the record, this is what Hillary said:

“You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic — you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people — now 11 million. He tweets and retweets their offensive, hateful, mean-spirited rhetoric. Now some of those folks — they are irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America.

“But the other basket — and I know this because I see friends from all over America here — I see friends from Florida and Georgia and South Carolina and Texas — as well as, you know, New York and California — but that other basket of people are people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they’re just desperate for change. It doesn’t really even matter where it comes from. They don’t buy everything he says, but he seems to hold out some hope that their lives will be different. They won’t wake up and see their jobs disappear, lose a kid to heroin, feel like they’re in a dead end. Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well.

(Emphasis mine)

Trump’s supporters are (judging by primary voting, and I’m being generous) 40% of the Republican voters. Republican voters are (I’m being generous) 40% of the adult U.S. population. The adult U.S. population is 75% of the whole. Ipso facto and ergo, the “basket of deplorables” would contain about 20 million Americans. Anyone who wants to debate that the racists, sexists, homophobes, xenophobes, and islamophobes do NOT amount to 20 million Americans, have at it.

Judging by what I see on Twitter alone, the 20 million figure is WAY low. And Hillary was being kind.

This is classic Hillary. Just as with her oft-misquoted statement about Sanders supporters as “basement dwellers,” she starts off with harsh reality (truth) and then moves to a kinder, gentler, inclusive appeal to our better natures. Classic GOP reaction is to quote out of context and say, “See – she’s every bit as evil as we’ve been trying to convince you over the past 25 years.”

The Deplorables will never, ever see Hillary as she really is. And in the words of the great Donald Trump, “Sad.”

The 2016 Campaign

It’s been a very long campaign period.

I’m one of those politics junkies. I pay attention all the time, but every four years I enjoy the Super Bowl, the World Series, the Championships of politics, the race for President of the United States. With one month remaining, a look back is warranted.

NOTE: On an individual level, the most important elections are local, then state. Our priorities are upside down – local elections draw the worst turnout, state election vote totals are so-so, and the Presidential elections draw over 50% of eligible voters. While the President may be the “face of the nation,” it is our state and local officials who directly impact our lives.

For Democrats, especially, it is vital that we vote twice each year, every year.

The Democrats

Hillary Rodham Clinton filed to launch her campaign on April 13, 2015. At that moment, my mind was made up – she had my vote. I’ve been an admirer of Secretary Clinton since she broke the mold of the First Lady, drawing eternal hatred from the Republican Party. (google: clinton chocolate chip cookies)

Her term as Senator from the State of New York was marked by consistent bipartisan efforts. Even Republicans who had excoriated her found her easy to work with. Her stint as Secretary of State was rewarded with amazingly high approval ratings. It was only especially when she ran for President in 2008 and now 2016 that she was thoroughly vilified by the right, and then only because she was a WOMAN who had a clear shot at winning the Oval Office. In fact, it is my opinion that Hillary’s being a WOMAN clearly qualified for the office helped Barack Obama become the first African American president. Misogyny trumped racism. This is not to say that Obama was not deserving of the office; quite the contrary. I’m just making up the fact that more voters were opposed to electing a woman than were opposed to electing a black man. Remember, Obama was “cool” and Hillary was “bitchy.” Coulda smiled more, too…

Misogyny –
dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women

There is no debate that Hillary Clinton was the ordained 2016 Democratic Nominee for President before the race even began. With Obama nearing the end of his second term, the Democrats looked around for viable candidates and the single biggest name on the list was Hillary Clinton’s. There was talk of perhaps Joe Biden getting in, and he did toy with the idea, but that didn’t happen. Martin O’Malley declared, but it is typical that people with no real shot would play at running for president. The little-known Lawrence Lessig, Lincoln Chafee, and Jim Webb would pretend to run for about four months, but all three exited before the primaries began. No, in the beginning, the nomination was Hillary’s.

We all knew that. This was the presumption, and the Democratic Party people no doubt thought they’d have an easy time of it, while the Republicans battled it out. They would only have to become involved when the Republican candidate was named and the general election period began.

Out of nowhere, Bernie Sanders – seizing upon the historic wealth inequality and hatred of all things Wall Street – switched his party affiliation from Independent to Democrat and announced his intention to run. Not only did he launch a serious campaign that damaged the presumptive nominee, but he stayed in the race far longer than he should have, damaging our candidate even more. Sanders did no favors for the Democratic Party, but then Sanders was no Democrat. He was simply (admittedly) using the party as a basis for his campaign and the reach it afforded him.

In the end, millions more Democrats came down on the side of Hillary Clinton and the primary season ended with a groan. The Democratic Convention at which Clinton accepted the nomination was far more divided than it should have been.

Books will be written about the Clinton v. Sanders primaries, coming down on both sides, I’m sure.

The Republicans

Wow. What a shit-show.

The 2012 primaries were memorable and remarkable for the incredible (and incredibly incompetent) slate of candidates (“Oops”) that produced a nominee no one really wanted, Mitt Romney. Not so much a winner as “last man standing,” Romney was no one’s prediction as the winner and he stood as the absolute opposite of the incumbent president. The choice of Romney made no sense whatsoever, and was taken as a full repudiation of the “Republican establishment.” No lesson learned in 2012, we’d do it all again in 2016. (Remember the Republican “autopsy,” Jindal’s warning about “The Party of Stupid.” All for naught.)

The first announced candidate for the 2016 Republican Presidential Nomination was Mark Everson, former commissioner of the IRS, in March 2015. (For 6 months in 2007, Everson was President/CEO of the American Red Cross, but was asked to resign after he had a “personal relationship with a subordinate employee.” Otherwise, he bopped around in various capacities during the Reagan and Bush 43 administrations.)

Shortly after Everson’s declaration, Ted (The Evil One) Cruz threw his hat in the ring, and the race was on.

Eventually, we would have (16) Republican candidates and debates would be split into two groups: the main stage debates and the little kids’ table. While the undercard (why are they even hanging around?) drew little attention and wasn’t even a warm-up for the “grown-ups,” the main events were an entertaining show of candidates either attacking each other or begging for attention. Very little of substance or policy, but lots of great zingers. Ironically, the man with the worst zingers – real grade-school playground insults – would best them all! Gutless cowards, from “little” Marco to “low energy” Jeb! to “lyin'” Ted Cruz (let us not forget Carly Fiorina with “that face”) had no clue how to fend off the brilliant logistical strategery that was Trump’s ambush style of name-calling.

Looking at this list of all-stars and judging them on their policy positions, here is my ranking of the Republican candidates in order of acceptability. If I had to, I could have held my nose and voted for Pataki, perhaps even Jeb! After that, almost all of the rest are unacceptable, from the incompetent to the dangerous. It is not a mistake that the eventual nominee is the least acceptable of all of these candidates.

George Pataki (Gov. NY)
Jeb Bush (Gov. FL)
Jim Gilmore (Gov. VA)
John Kasich (Gov. OH)
Rand Paul (Sen. KY)
Carly Fiorina (CEO HP)
Lindsey Graham (Sen. SC)
Marco Rubio (Sen. FL)
Ben Carson (Dr. Brains)
Mike Huckabee (Gov. AR)
Rick Perry (Gov. TX)
Rick Santorum (Sen. PA)
Bobby Jindal (Gov. LA)
Scott Walker (Gov. WI)
Chris “Reek” Christie (Gov. NJ)
Ted Cruz (Sen. TX)
Donald Trump (CEO Trump)

Donald Trump ran the anti-campaign. Many of us were convinced that he was in it just for the publicity, that he never seriously wanted the job. He ran a campaign that seemed designed to fail – a series of gaffes, misstatements, and outright outrages which would have ended anyone else’s campaign only seemed to reinvigorate his. He attracted the worst among us – truly a “basket of deplorables,” and his main base of support was just “undereducated, older, white males,” obviously racists, obviously women-haters, obviously afraid of anyone who would want to come into the country.

We then thought he was in it for the money – repay the “loans” he made to the campaign out of the donations from the masses, then collect the rest when he got out and call it a day.

I cannot envision the Con Man actually taking the job of POTUS or even attempting to. He’s not a grunt, he’s the front man. He’s the glad-hander, not the policy wonk. He famously offered Kasich the day-to-day chores of the presidency, which would fit my impression of him, and one has to wonder if he made the same deal with Pence. The ultimate delegator.

There should have been no way that Trump would win the nomination, but I (and everyone else) severely overestimated the Republican electorate. There was no low bar that Trump could trip over. There was nothing so horrible that he could say that would lose him a single vote.

But here we are.

The Democratic Party is in good shape going forward. As the Republicans have moved further and further right, the Democrats were becoming more centric. The 2016 campaign gave the Democrats a firm tug back to the left, to the progressive liberal roots of the party.

The Republican Party is in ruins, in disgrace, in flight. After Trump fails, who is left to raise the banner of the party? Who has not soiled themselves by embracing or promoting this clown of a candidate? Who still has any gravitas, any bearing to take the Republican Party into the future? Has the party had enough of the ultra-right wing, the Tea Party / alt-Right? Can the so-called “moderate Republicans” reclaim the party, or is it time to blow it all up and start over?

As I write this*, anticipating the 2nd debate (a town hall, in which Hillary should cement her election), I am expecting Hillary Clinton to win, to become POTUS45, the first woman to hold the office. Given her record, she is the ONE person who can bridge the divide and get the government moving again. Expect the Republicans to throw a hissy fit, but they’ll come around eventually.

It would help greatly if the Democrats can at least reclaim the Senate. After all, imagine a Republican Senate blocking Supreme Court nominations for the next eight years…

* Actually, as I write THIS, a 2005 video from Access Hollywood has surfaced, showing exactly what Trump’s attitude toward women truly is. This is a billboard, there is no walking back from this. This is who he is. This, finally, should end this threat to America.

VOTE, dammit (part 2)

Donald Trump thinks he’s going to carry Pennsylvania.

Democrats in Pennsylvania think of the state as a Blue State. Republicans think of it as Purple. The Republicans are correct. Although Pennsylvania tends to “lean Democratic,” Republicans can and have won the state.

The last time a presidential election ended up with Pennsylvania’s electoral votes in the Republican column was in 1988 – George H.W. Bush against a weak Michael Dukakis. Any Pennsylvanian who is 28 or younger today might assume that the state always votes Democratic. Don’t be so sure.

Looking at the six presidential elections since, the Democrat/Republican split in the Pennsylvania vote is far closer than we’d think. No Republican has won Pennsylvania in these contests, but the margin of victory is as little as 150,000 votes. Pennsylvania is about to be swamped with political ads, robocalls, door knockers, and blog posts (like this one), because the state would be an absolute plum for the Trumpers and a must-win for Clinton.

…The Democrats…for whatever reason, stayed home in 2010. The Republicans didn’t.

The Democrats can usually count on winning the cities – Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Erie, and perhaps Scranton, while the Republicans are left with all of the rest. The quote attributed to James Carville, “Pennsylvania is Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with Alabama in between,” is not far off. Pennsyltucky. Journalist Tom Ferrick wrote an excellent breakdown of just how Trump could (but probably won’t) win Pennsylvania.

Purple State

After Obama was first elected in 2008, the Democrats seemed to think “mission accomplished” and, for whatever reason, stayed home in 2010. The Republicans didn’t. The State House and Senate turned BRIGHT RED, along with a Republican governor to succeed Ed Rendell. Immediately, when not chipping away at abortion rights or giving tax breaks and subsidies to their wealthy patrons, the Republicans thought of how they might suppress the Democratic vote to ensure continued Republican wins. Witness Voter ID requirements and similar new burdens enacted throughout the Republican-controlled states. (Alternately, Democratic-controlled states are looking at increasing voter registration through Motor/Voter laws, even automatic registration on 18th birthday.)

In 2010, Corbett beat a Democrat no one remembers by about 350,000 votes. In that same election, the Pennsylvania U.S. Senate seat went to Pat Toomey (over Joe Sestak) by a margin of only 80,200 votes – out of almost 4,000,000 cast. That’s close! (Toomey was formerly president of the ironically named Club for Growth, an organization which opposed every measure put forth by both Bush and Obama to help recover the economy. Club for Growth’s answer to the Great Recession: “I’ve got mine and I’m keeping it. You’re all on your own.”)

Gerrymandering

Whichever party controls the State General Assembly in the beginning of a decade (a la 2010) gets to redraw Congressional districts. The Republicans swept into office in the 2010 elections were the ones who got to control who gets to vote in which district, thereby ensuring their own re-election in years to come and keeping Democratic voters to a majority in as few districts as possible. This PDF map shows the pure art form that is Republican district mapping. Take special note of the districts around the major urban areas of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. This accounts for the fact that Pennsylvania’s contingent to the U. S. House of Representatives is made up of only 5 Democrats but 13 Republicans, despite being a majority Democratic state. The fix is in, and will be for many years to come. Unless the Democratic Party can reclaim the General Assembly by 2020 (improbable), the Republicans will continue to control the state government for at least another decade.

District 6

The Sixth District (above) is a work of art. Spans four counties to ensure a majority Republican vote for the next several centuries.

If you don’t know whether you are eligible to vote in Pennsylvania, click here for the Pennsylvania Department of State’s Voter Registration services. It’s quick and easy.

Blue Since ’92

Here are the results from Pennsylvania over the last six presidential contests compared to national votes.

Bill Clinton won his 1992 race, but benefitted in large part from the insurgent campaign of Ross Perot. George H.W. Bush might easily have won re-election but for Perot.

1992 Total U.S. Percentage Electoral Votes Total PA Percentage
Clinton 44,909,806 43.0% 370 2,239,164 45.15%
Bush 39,104,550 37.4% 168 1,791,841 36.13%
Perot 19,743,821 18.9% 0 902,667 18.20%

In 1996, Clinton increased his vote total, while the Republican total remained flat. Insurgent voters seem to have cooled on Perot, with perhaps some of them ending up in Clinton’s column. Still, Clinton was re-elected easily.

1996 Total U.S. Percentage Electoral Votes Total PA Percentage
Clinton 47,401,185 49.2% 379 2,215,819 49.17%
Dole 39,197,469 40.7% 159 1,801,169 39.97%
Perot 8,085,294 8.4% 0 430,984 9.56%

The 2000 election was the one that went all the way to the Supreme Court. While Al Gore did compile a larger number of national votes, the all-important Electoral vote came down to the state of Florida (hanging chads). Whoever won this last state would win the presidency.

2000 Total U.S. Percentage Electoral Votes Total PA Percentage
Gore 50,999,897 48.38% 266 2,485,967 50.60%
Bush 50,456,002 47.87% 271 2,281,127 46.43%

Having endured the questionable 2000 election and the questionable invasion of Iraq, suddenly over 20,000,000 more voters came out of the woodwork for the 2004 race. Even so, the results were very close in the total of votes. Notice also that W won both times with a narrow victory in electoral votes.

2004 Total U.S. Percentage Electoral Votes Total PA Percentage
Bush 62,039,572 50.73% 286 2,793,847 48.42%
Kerry 59,027,115 48.26% 251 2,938,095 50.92%

The miracle of Obama’s first campaign was in getting millions more voters registered and getting them to the polls. Note that the Republican votes are down 2,000,000, while the Democrats total was UP by over 10,000,000.

2008 Total U.S. Percentage Electoral Votes Total PA Percentage
Obama 69,498,516 52.9% 365 3,276,363 54.47%
McCain 59,948,323 45.7% 173 2,655,885 44.15%

In 2012, Obama suffered voter disaffection, largely because of the historic Republican obstruction in Congress and the blowout Republican wins in the 2010 midterm elections. Even so, he was able to overcome a Romney challenge – but note how close the vote totals were. Even though Republicans were generally dissatisfied with Mitt Romney, they turned out in large numbers to pull the Republican lever.

2012 Total U.S. Percentage Electoral Votes Total PA Percentage
Obama 65,915,796 51.1% 332 2,990,274 51.97%
Romney 60,933,500 47.2% 206 2,680,434 46.59%

More dry numbers: As of the 2012 presidential election, Pennsylvania had 9,910,224 citizens of voting age. Of those, 8,508,015 were registered to vote (a healthy percentage), yet only 5,753,670 of us actually turned out.

As of this week, the breakdown of voter registration:
4,072,826 Democrat
3,155,935 Republican
674.460 Unaffiliated
427,374 All others

I SUSPECT (and I have no data to back this up) that a large portion of the unaffiliated are disaffected Republicans (like myself) who left the party because of recent events. This would be BEFORE the campaign of Donald Trump. So if they were disaffected before, they should be even more so now.

Donald Trump has managed to offend and antagonize virtually all groups of people except undereducated, older, white men. Yes, there are the exceptions that prove the rule, but by and large his base is what it is. The Democrats, seeing this, are fashioning an even larger tent to include Republicans unwilling to vote for Trump. More and more top-level Republicans are indicating that they may, just this once, vote for a Democrat, rather than allow Trump to embarrass us all for the next four years. I would suggest that this is exactly the way to go.

A sample of conservative columnists who agree:
Daniel Payne, The Federalist
Andrew Weinstein, Wall Street Journal
Donald Brand, Fortune

Two of the most common gerrymandering techniques are “packing” and “cracking.” In the first, the party in charge of redistricting tries to “pack” voters from the rival party into as few districts as possible, to minimize the number of seats the opposition is likely to win. In the second, blocs of opposition voters are parcelled out among several districts, to achieve the same goal.

Both techniques were brought to bear in Pennsylvania. The new Republican majority “packed” blue-leaning voters into a handful of districts around Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Then it “cracked” the rest into districts that tilted red.

Drawing the Line
How redistricting turned America from blue to red.

By Elizabeth Kolbert

Thank god I’m (now) a Democrat

Remember that Tea Party protest sign years ago? “Keep government out of my Medicare!”

That pretty much summed up the whole Tea Party movement. These folks were used and abused by the Koch brothers, who greased the wheels of the Tea Party Patriots to get the rabble all riled up. They were supposedly protesting taxes, but it was a time of historically low taxes. Then they were supposedly protesting Obamacare, but only 20% of the population would be eligible for Obamacare, and for them it was a godsend. No, it is not a coincidence that the Tea Party idiots came out of the woodwork in 2009, when the first African-American president was sworn into office. “I want my America back,” one stupid woman famously wailed in a moment of rare honesty.

Let’s be honest. Turn off the reactionary part of your brain and face facts. President Obama is not a communist, not a socialist, and not really all that much of a liberal. He’s NOT coming to take your guns, he is NOT a secret Muslim, and, yes, he WAS born in the United States, if you admit that Hawaii is a state. Obama’s two most famous accomplishments – the early stimulus program (including the Detroit “bailout”) and the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) – were Republican ideas.

Yes, his thinking on same-sex marriage evolved, as did Joe Biden’s, as did Hillary Clinton’s, but only after seeing the polls that said the American people were way ahead of him. If you are opposed to same-sex marriage today, you are in a certain minority. Even so, trust me that no one will force you to gay-marry.

Even his “assault on the [precious] Second Amendment” didn’t go as far as the vast majority of Americans (and Republicans!) wanted him to go. He did what he did through executive order, the same process that every president before him has used to effect change. Why is it that everything Obama does is an attack on our freedoms, when every president has done much the same? Because he’s black.

This president has been disrespected in ways that were never done before (i.e.: to the 43 old white guys that preceded him). From his very first State of the Union address (“YOU LIE!”), from the night of his inauguration when key Republicans held a meeting and determined that they would oppose EVERYTHING that Obama wanted, from Mitch McConnell’s famous declaration that the Republican Party’s Number One Task would be to render Obama a one-term president, there has been a unilateral, nasty, and (frankly) treasonous effort on the part of the right to deny this man his duly-elected office. The Republican leadership was willing to watch the American economy go down the toilet, rather than allow this president the chance to help, and thereby take credit for having done so. (If that’s not treason… )

Let’s look at who the Republicans have put forth to challenge for the White House this year, to succeed a good, gracious, thoughtful, and patient man.

Donald Trump is a joke. Period. Who has he not attacked? Even his recent statement that he could shoot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue, and it wouldn’t cost him a single vote is disgusting, arrogant, and true, because the drooling right-wing 10% loves him (for all the wrong reasons).

Trump recently polled at 39% of “likely Republican voters.” Even with a healthy 50% voter turnout, this 39% would be more like 20% of Republican voters. Assuming Republicans and Democrats vote in equal numbers (reference the last three presidential elections), that 20% would be 10% of all voters. And since not all Americans are registered voters (too young or too dumb), Trump is actually polling in single digits, where the whole of the U.S. is concerned. In this light, you can see that it truly is the less than 10% drooling right-wing that supports Trump, a fraction of the American public that is getting ALL the attention in the press these days. And increasingly, Trump supporters include white supremecists, who feel emboldened now to come out from under their hoods, because they’ve found a new national spokesman.

Ted Cruz is dangerous. And a liar. With a fluid philosophy that changes as circumstances warrant. He is incredibly bright, calculating, and wholly evil. He may, in fact, be the Antichrist, but I won’t go there. Yet.

Marco Rubio is a little child having a temper tantrum. He is so eager to prove that he’s every bit as manly as Trump, every bit as Constitution-centric as Cruz, that he’s embarrassing himself on a national stage. Before this campaign, he actually showed promise.

Jeb Bush… no.

Chris Christie is his own biggest fan and one hell of a blowhard. Keep your “Jersey attytood” in Jersey. (And now he will, apparently.)

The rest aren’t worth a mention.

If I were a Republican and HAD to vote for one of the current Republican candidates, I would vote for John Kasich. Simply because he is not a rabid, drooling hatemonger spouting nonsensical red meat phrases guaranteed to entertain the rubes, Kasich gets my vote. He is centered, honest, sensical, and has a solid record of actual governance – including negotiation and compromise with the opposite party.

Yes, I “would” vote for Kasich on commonsense ideas, except that I cannot abide his stance on social issues. Common to most Republicans, his thinking on women’s health, social programs, and much else held dear by the progressive element is anathema. If it were a choice of one, I’d stay home, rather than vote for this man.

Like so many others, I was convinced early on that the Republican nomination was Jeb Bush’s to lose. When Trump entered the race, and for months after that, I believed his campaign was a satire, a funny “impression” of a campaign. All of the news sources treated him that way, too. But after a time, something strange happened – the journalists started treating Donald Trump as if he were a serious candidate.

Want a serious candidate? The Democrats have two this time. Both are competent, compassionate, and capable of leading the U.S. While the “clown car” that is the Republican slate continues lurching its way along, Sanders and Clinton show a glimpse of what used to be – politics that is respectful, courteous, fact-checked, intelligent.

Yeah, it’s good to be a Democrat.

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The First Woman President

I was saying on Twitter last night that Hillary’s campaign is like a crash course in misogyny.

I am married to a strong (and often opinionated) woman, and I have a grown daughter who is one of the finest people you’re ever likely to meet. I thought I was attuned to the troubles that women face in everyday life, but my eyes are being opened wide these days and it’s exceedingly ugly.

When I scan the replies to Secretary Clinton’s tweets or even to tweets of people who just express an interest in voting for her, I see nasty, nasty, nasty people out there with a profound hatred of everything woman. I don’t get it.

There was much to-do recently over a segment on Morning Joe (MSNBC) where host Joe Scarborough and journalist Bob Woodward waxed poetic about Hillary’s speaking style – “she shouts too much.” Shrieks, too. They went on and on about her shrill voice turning off potential voters and how the great Ronald Reagan knew how to hold a mic and keep his voice down (’cause, you know, “man”).

Hillary shouts

Someone put together a video mix in response, showing some of the male candidates shouting and yelling, and at the end was Hillary just quietly answering a serious question. Now which talk show hosts are complaining about all of these men shouting? At best, they get made fun of on SNL or The Daily Show.

In my humble opinion, the real shrieker – the voice I can’t stand hearing – is Ted Cruz. There’s almost a cartoonish quality to his voice, a “regional theater” practiced style (as one writer put it), that I cannot abide. And listening to Donald Trump on the stump is like having a conversation with a gangster.

Hillary Clinton has been hounded, investigated, interrogated, called before Congressional committees, slandered, insulted, held up as Satan’s spawn or the ultimate expression of the Evil That is Woman

One of the questions that folks love to keep asking is why Hillary made $600,000 in speaking fees from Goldman-Sachs over the course of a year. I thought she answered it very well during a recent town hall event: “Well, that’s what they offered me.” Fact is, Hillary is very much in demand as a speaker, and her average fee per event is $225,000, ranging up to as much as $400,000 for a single appearance. She can get that because she has earned that. She was, after all, The Most Admired Woman in the World for 20 of the 23 years 1993 through 2015. But ONLY HILLARY is asked to make public transcriptions of her speeches, whether to Goldman-Sachs and clients or whomever. Who else has EVER been asked for this?

I wonder if anyone has ever asked any of the male candidates (of which there are many) about their own speaking fees. I know that some of W’s post-presidential appearances were criticized because of WHO he was talking to, but no one ever thought he was being overpaid. In fact, I just Googled “Ted Cruz speaking fees,” and I got an article about his loans from Goldman-Sachs, a link to his agency, a couple more articles about questionable dealings, and then a WHOLE BUNCH of articles about Hillary Clinton and Goldman-Sachs. So if Ted Cruz is speechifying and collecting fees, nobody is talking about it.

Women who support Hillary are accused of “voting with their vagina” (yes, really), as if the only reason a woman would vote for Hillary is because she is a woman. No man is ever accused of voting with his penis, if he supports any of the male candidates. (This might also have something to do with the fact that, other than Shirley Chisholm, we’ve only EVER had old white men to vote for.)

“Bernie Bros” have all kinds of reasons why they are voting for Bernie Sanders, thereby codifying their intellectual superiority. They must think that if you are going to vote for Hillary Clinton, it’s only because you haven’t done any research and you’re voting with your heart, not your head. (In other words, you’re WRONG and probably a woman.)

Since Bill Clinton was elected President in 1992, Hillary Clinton has been hounded, investigated, interrogated, called before Congressional committees, slandered, insulted, held up as Satan’s spawn or the ultimate expression of the Evil That is Woman. And still, today, she handles it with aplomb, with quiet strength. Watching her testify before the Benghazi committee (STILL ongoing) and the stark vision of this competent woman versus a host of Republican men dying to make their bones by bringing her (finally) down, I couldn’t help but be mightily impressed.

Clinton at Congress

Most of the candidates running for president this year are a joke, of one kind or another. But of all of the candidates on either side, the strongest is a woman, and Hillary Clinton is the one I want to see in the Oval Office.

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VOTE, dammit

I blame the Democrats. It’s all their fault.

Here comes another Election Day. Nobody cares. This time, it’s a bunch of judges, county commissioners, prothonotary (?), recorder of deeds, township supervisor, and a bunch of other offices for which we feel unqualified to vote. So we don’t. Over the years, the voter turn-out has declined to almost embarrassing levels. No, actually embarrassing levels.

When we pick a new president, over 50% of eligible voters turn out. But when it’s a mid-term and we’re only voting for Representatives in Congress or Senators, or – worse yet – when it’s an off year and we’re asked to pick local officials, 35% or fewer turn out. This is completely backwards, since the local and state officials have much more impact on our personal lives than the President ever will.

VOTE

RINO

When I turned 18 in 1972, I duly registered to vote (and registered for the draft). Being young, stupid, and apolitical, I registered as a Republican. Why, I can’t tell you. I had a choice of two, and that’s the one I picked.

Also, at 18, I was far more of a liberal than a conservative, although some of the conservative policies were attractive. In truth, I may have been representative of the huge middle – the Silent Majority, a pure centrist. While I wasn’t all that sure of my own politics, I know I wasn’t a hippie, but nor was I sporting a crewcut by any means.

It was a presidential election year – Richard Nixon was running against George McGovern, two candidates who couldn’t be any more dissimilar. I had a vested interest in this election, since the Viet Nam conflict was ongoing and the draft was still scooping up American kids to send over there. I had to vote McGovern.

Since then, in every presidential election, I have voted only for the Democratic candidate. There hasn’t been one Republican that I wanted in the White House, and yet I was a Republican the whole time*. Looking back over the presidential candidates during my voting adulthood (below), I still agree with that sentiment.

But while I and everyone else was focussed on the presidential races, a group of very determined hard-right Republicans were taking over state and local government. State houses, assemblies, senates, and state governorships went Republican, one after the other. It was masterful. By 2010, Republicans were in position to redraw districts (gerrymandering) to ensure that Republicans would continue to hold those state houses. And immediately, they (Priority No. 1) passed tax breaks and subsidies for their wealthy patrons, (Priority No. 2) began chipping away at women’s rights, and (Priority No. 3) severely cut or discontinued programs to assist the poor and or education budgets. Regardless of the words they say, Republicans show their true priorities by what they do. They tried to convince us that public school teachers were the true enemies of democracy and that public sector unions – all unions – were destroying our way of life (the way of life that we largely owe to unions).

taliban

This excerpt from Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom is brilliantly simple, simply brilliant. It says everything I see in the Tea Party.

PATRIOT, SPELLED M-O-R-O-N

In 2008 we elected a black man to the White House. Immediately, the Tea Party came out of nowhere to make fools of themselves. It was about taxes, they said, at a time when taxes were historically low. Okay, so that couldn’t have been the reason for this “grassroots” Koch-fueled uprising. Wonder what it could be?

Sheep

Regardless, the Republican officeholders from 2000 on have been dishonest, disingenuous, hardly fiscal conservatives, and absolutely hawkish. (Witness John McCain, of all people, who never met a conflict he didn’t want to fully engage.) The LAST thing they were was “Republican,” in the true sense of the word. When I saw a wave of Tea Party idiots elected to Washington, I’d had enough. In 2011 I changed my registration to Democrat. I was too embarrassed to be associated with the R word.

(If they can’t take having a black President, wait until we elect a WOMAN. Their heads are going to pop.)

There is only one reason that the United States is being taken down by right-wing radicals: Democrats. If Democrats would come out and vote in significant numbers, all traces of the Tea Party could be erased from public office within a four-year cycle. It starts at the local level, it centers in the state house. Democrats have until 2020 to turn things around, or the voting districts already drawn will ensure another TEN YEARS of Republican control. Yet voter turnout, especially in the meaningless local elections, remains pathetic. As if it meant nothing.

NEED ANOTHER REASON TO VOTE?

One party is busy attacking your rights. One party is actively trying to take away your right to vote. One party wants to shut you out of the electoral process, and thereby hopefully win back the White House. The Republicans.

By not voting, you’re helping them take away your vote.

* Here are the choices I faced every four years of my adult life. Looking at the Republican v. Democratic candidates, there is no wonder that I voted Democratic every single time.

  Republican Democrat Independent
1976 Gerald Ford
Bob Dole
Jimmy Carter
Walter Mondale
1980 Ronald Reagan
George H.W. Bush
Jimmy Carter
Walter Mondale
John B. Anderson
Patrick Lucey (ind.)
1984 Ronald Reagan
George H.W. Bush
Walter Mondale
Geraldine Ferraro
1988 George H.W. Bush
Dan Quayle
Michael Dukakis
Lloyd Bentsen
1992 George H.W. Bush
Dan Quayle
Bill Clinton
Al Gore
Ross Perot
James Stockdale
1996 Bob Dole
Jack Kemp
Bill Clinton
Al Gore
Ross Perot
Pat Choate
2000 George W. Bush
Dick Cheney
Al Gore
Joe Lieberman
2004 George W. Bush
Dick Cheney
John Kerry
John Edwards
2008 John McCain
Sarah Palin
Barack Obama
Joe Biden
2012 Mitt Romney
Paul Ryan
Barack Obama
Joe Biden

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