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The Merrick Garland Disaster

It’s impossible for me to feel more bitchy about this nominee.

I’m not going to take a deep dive into his record because I’m positive that if you’re reading this blog, you’ve already done that. I will say that his record on criminal justice is abysmal, especially if you’re a president who has been talking about criminal justice reform. He’s a former prosecutor so he’s prone to seeing every defendant as a criminal that needs punishing. And he has, in virtually every criminal justice case he’s ruled on. He’s the guy that always dissents from more liberal judges on these issues.

Here’s what ScotusBlog said about him (in 2010) in regard to his rulings on constitutional issues;

“In various other contexts, Judge Garland has in a few cases rejected assertions of constitutional rights, disagreeing with his more-liberal colleagues.  I am not aware of counterexamples in which he has staked out a more liberal position.”

He seems okay on civil rights issues, but we really don’t have very many civil rights rulings from him to look at.

Like Roberts, Garland has never met a corporation he hasn’t agreed with. YAY!

We don’t have really anything from him on the issues of campaign finance (my biggest issue) or women’s reproductive rights.

Here’s the bottom line: there isn’t much evidence to demonstrate that he’s liberal so at best, he’s a complete centrist.

We know that republicans love him. Right wing whackadoodle senator Orrin Hatch said this about Garland;

“Merrick B. Garland is highly qualified to sit on the D.C. circuit. His intelligence and his scholarship cannot be questioned… His legal experience is equally impressive… Accordingly, I believe Mr. Garland is a fine nominee. I know him personally, I know of his integrity, I know of his legal ability, I know of his honesty, I know of his acumen, and he belongs on the court. I believe he is not only a fine nominee, but is as good as Republicans can expect from this administration. In fact, I would place him at the top of the list.

Mega whackadoodle senator from Alabama Jeff Sessions said;

“He has a high position with the Department of Justice and, by all accounts, does a good job there. There will be a number of judgeship vacancies in the D.C. trial judges. He has been a trial lawyer. He would be a good person to fill one of those. I would feel comfortable supporting him for another judgeship.”

Former republican senator from Arizona, Jon Kyle said;

“I believe Mr. Garland is well qualified for the court of appeals. He earned degrees from Harvard College and Harvard Law School and clerked for Judge Friendly on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and for Justice Brennan on the Supreme Court and, since 1993, he has worked for the Department of Justice. So there is no question, he is qualified to serve on the court.”

Remember, Jon Kyle is the lunatic who proclaimed (on the senate floor) that 90% of what Planned Parenthood does is abortions. When he was called on it, his office released a statement saying, “that was not intended to be a factual statement”. Wow, you must be awesome to get that guy’s praise.

It gets better. Here are Strom Thurmond’s thoughts on Garland;

“I have no reservations about Mr. Garland’s qualifications or character to serve in this capacity. He had an excellent academic record at both Harvard College and Harvard Law School before serving as a law clerk on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court. Also, he has served in distinguished positions in private law practice and with the Department of Justice. Moreover, I have no doubt that Mr. Garland is a man of character and integrity.”

This is not a person that a “liberal” president should be nominating to the Supreme Court. Wanna know how I can tell? Because when republicans get their turn, they nominate and fight for people like Clarence fucking Thomas, Sam Alito, and Antonin Scalia.

I love it when republicans talk about preserving the balance of the court. You mean like when you guys replaced Thurgood Marshall with pervy, right wing mute, Clarence Thomas? Preserve the balance like that?

“Preserving the balance” of the court is only an issue when a democrat occupies the white house. When a republican occupies the white house, they get to go for the fringiest of the right wing fringe nominee they can find. But democrats don’t ever get their turn at nominating anyone who is anything resembling left of center. Or left of center right. And democratic voters are happy with this. It’s like they suffer from some kind of fucked up Stockholm Syndrome, where they can’t even conceive of going for a nominee in the model of Earl Warren.

So to recap; republicans get to assemble their right wing dream team when given the opportunity, but democrats are perfectly content with someone who “isn’t as bad as Scalia”. I have some news for you; comparing a nominee to the worst of the worst isn’t a good calibration of your good nominee barometer. That’s like comparing a president to George W Bush. Why not aim a little higher with your comparisons?

Now let me get to the heart of the Stockholm sufferers’ argument. Obama is actually playing three dimensional chess by nominating someone republicans like, and forcing their hand on a nomination. And by refusing to hold hearings on a “friendly” nominee, he’s exposing republican obstructionism.

Let me pick this argument apart. First off, republicans have already done that when they proclaimed that they wouldn’t consider anyone Obama nominates. That already happened. Republicans have already exposed their own obstructionism. Check. Polls taken days after that announcement show that republican senators prospects for reelection had been damaged by that stance. Three republican senators are in big trouble in terms of their prospects of being reelected if the republicans refuse to confirm anyone. That’s without knowing who the nominee even is. Americans are fundamentally fair. Yes, there are partisan hacks on both sides but that’s not the majority of Americans who approved of Bill Clinton to the tune of 68% after republicans tried to impeach him over a private affair. You don’t get to 68% without the support of a significant number of people who call themselves republicans.

The idea that Obama is forcing their hand by nominating someone they like, and thereby furthering that perception of their obstructionism is predicated on the idea that the American people pay attention to the background of a Supreme Court nominee. That’s nonsense, and there isn’t a shred of evidence that’s true. In fact, the evidence points the other way. Two thirds of Americans can’t name a single sitting Supreme Court justice. That’s right, two thirds of Americans can’t come up with a single name. A whopping 20% can manage to come up with the Chief Justice’s name. Wow, that’s impressive. The percentages go down after naming Roberts:

  • John Roberts — 20%
  • Antonin Scalia — 16%
  • Clarence Thomas — 16%
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg — 13%
  • Sonia Sotomayor — 13%
  • Anthony Kennedy — 10%
  • Samuel Alito — 5%
  • Elena Kagan — 4%
  • Stephen Breyer — 3%

Trust me when I tell you that Americans give almost no shits about the background of a Supreme Court nominee. Not only is there no upside in nominating a centrist, but the huge downside is that it perpetuates the current reality that democrats can’t ever nominate a liberal. This is a terrible long term strategy. Obama should have nominated Thom Hartmann or the ghost of George Carlin. The further left, the better. Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders would also be excellent choices.

There’s another factor that hasn’t been considered by democrats who think that Obama is being “brilliant” with this move: Trump. Democrats are convincing themselves that this is a brilliant move because republicans are never going to confirm this guy. I believe they’re wrong. Right now, republican operatives are trying to figure out what to do about the Trump problem. They really only have two choices:

  • Let him be the nominee, which jeopardize all of the down ticket candidates. They’re justifiably afraid that an anti-establishment nominee hurts down ticket establishment senators and congress candidates. In order to save the senate, they’re effectively going to have to run against their own presidential nominee. They’re already talking about sacrificing the presidency to save the senate.
  • Pull a fast one at the convention and pick another nominee. This poses a risk of revolution within the republican party and also hurts down ticket candidates, since it makes the establishment look even slimier than they look now.

That’s it. There are no other options for the GOP. Trust me when I tell you that, given these two options republicans are going to try and save the senate seats. Saving the senate means not doing anything to jeopardize a single senator who’s up for reelection.

The three dimensional chess theory is dependent on republicans refusing to confirm this guy. I think that the odds are that they will because they have to. Certainly given the Trump factor, the odds are better than they will confirm, than they won’t.

As I said, I don’t see anything good about this nomination. For a democrat to think this is a good thing, you would have to employ some magical thinking that combines the acceptance that we’re in a perpetual hostage situation, blind ignorance to the position that republicans are in with their inevitable nominee, and assumptions that are completely supported by a shred of evidence.

I don’t suffer from Stockholm Syndrome so I’m experiencing some acute bitchiness this morning.

 

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Hillary’s Bubble

By now you know that Hillary spectacularly stepped in it a couple of days ago when she praised Nancy Reagan for “starting a national conversation” about AIDS. Here are her exact words,

“It may be hard for your viewers to remember how difficult it was for people to talk about HIV/AIDS back in the 1980s. And because of both President and Mrs. Reagan — in particular Mrs. Reagan — we started a national conversation. When before nobody would talk about it, nobody wanted to do anything about it, and that too is something that I really appreciate with her very effective, low key advocacy but it penetrated the public conscious and people began to say, ‘Hey, we have to do something about this too.'”

If you already didn’t know it, you know now that what Hillary said is literally the opposite of the truth. Not only did the Reagans ignore the suffering and death of the nameless, faceless masses who were dying, but their cruelty also extended to their personal circle of friends. Rock Hudson, who was a personal friend sent a plea for help to Nancy in his final days. She refused him. The Reagans were not nice people. They were not compassionate people, and they were not intelligent people. No intelligent person would assume that this disease that’s plaguing the dreaded gays who are “getting what they deserve”, would think that the spread would be limited to those they deem to be the dregs of society. They were stupid, stupid, loathsome people.

So why did Hillary say what she said? Before I get to that, I want to share a statement she put out last night,

Yesterday, at Nancy Reagan’s funeral, I said something inaccurate when speaking about the Reagans’ record on HIV and AIDS. Since then, I’ve heard from countless people who were devastated by the loss of friends and loved ones, and hurt and disappointed by what I said. As someone who has also lost friends and loved ones to AIDS, I understand why. I made a mistake, plain and simple.

I want to use this opportunity to talk not only about where we’ve come from, but where we must go in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

To be clear, the Reagans did not start a national conversation about HIV and AIDS. That distinction belongs to generations of brave lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, along with straight allies, who started not just a conversation but a movement that continues to this day.

The AIDS crisis in America began as a quiet, deadly epidemic. Because of discrimination and disregard, it remained that way for far too long. When many in positions of power turned a blind eye, it was groups like ACT UP, Gay Men’s Health Crisis and others that came forward to shatter the silence — because as they reminded us again and again, Silence = Death. They organized and marched, held die-ins on the steps of city halls and vigils in the streets. They fought alongside a few courageous voices in Washington, like U.S. Representative Henry Waxman, who spoke out from the floor of Congress.

Then there were all the people whose names we don’t often hear today — the unsung heroes who fought on the front lines of the crisis, from hospital wards and bedsides, some with their last breath. Slowly, too slowly, ignorance was crowded out by information. People who had once closed their eyes opened their hearts.

If not for those advocates, activists, and ordinary, heroic people, we would not be where we are in preventing and treating HIV and AIDS. Their courage — and their refusal to accept silence as the status quo — saved lives.

We’ve come a long way. But we still have work to do to eradicate this disease for good and to erase the stigma that is an echo of a shameful and painful period in our country’s history.
This issue matters to me deeply. And I’ve always tried to do my part in the fight against this disease, and the stigma and pain that accompanies it. At the 1992 Democratic National Convention, when my husband accepted the nomination for president, we marked a break with the past by having two HIV-positive speakers — the first time that ever happened at a national convention. As First Lady, I brought together world leaders to strategize and coordinate efforts to take on HIV and AIDS around the world. In the Senate, I put forward legislation to expand global AIDS research and assistance and to increase prevention and education, and I proudly voted for the creation of PEPFAR and to defend and protect the Ryan White Act. And as secretary of state, I launched a campaign to usher in an AIDS-free generation through prevention and treatment, targeting the populations at greatest risk of contracting HIV.

The AIDS crisis looks very different today. There are more options for treatment and prevention than ever before. More people with HIV are leading full and happy lives. But HIV and AIDS are still with us. They continue to disproportionately impact communities of color, transgender people, young people and gay and bisexual men. There are still 1.2 million people living with HIV in the United States today, with about 50,000 people newly diagnosed each year. In Sub-Saharan Africa, almost 60 percent of people with HIV are women and girls. Even though the tools exist to end this epidemic once and for all, there are still far too many people dying today.

That is absolutely inexcusable.

I believe there’s even more we can — and must — do together. For starters, let’s continue to increase HIV and AIDS research and invest in the promising innovations that research is producing. Medications like PrEP are proving effective in preventing HIV infection; we should expand access to that drug for everyone, including at-risk populations. We should call on Republican governors to put people’s health and well-being ahead of politics and extend Medicaid, which would provide health care to those with HIV and AIDS.

We should call on states to reform outdated and stigmatizing HIV criminalization laws. We should increase global funding for HIV and AIDS prevention and treatment. And we should cap out-of-pocket expenses and drug costs—and hold companies like Turing and Valeant accountable when they attempt to gouge patients by jacking up the price of lifesaving medications.

We’re still surrounded by memories of loved ones lost and lives cut short. But we’re also surrounded by survivors who are fighting harder than ever. We owe it to them and to future generations to continue that fight together. For the first time, an AIDS-free generation is in sight. As president, I promise you that I will not let up until we reach that goal. We will not leave anyone behind.

That was a good apology. She unequivocally took responsibility for fucking up. “I made a mistake, plain and simple” is the kind of apology that we need to hear more often. I’m of the opinion that when someone apologizes for something in earnest, you accept the apology and move on. Not accepting this type of apology discourages people from making honest apologies. If you want good behavior from people, you have to applaud it when it happens. If there’s no positive reinforcement for good behavior, you’re just encouraging bad behavior. Moving on entails not holding this against her anymore, but it does not entail forgetting about it.

So why did she say it? She’s running for president against an insurgent candidate who is turning out to be a much bigger threat than she had ever anticipated, so why would she say something so stupid and blatantly untrue? Because she believed it when she said it. I read once that our memories are 78% inaccurate or flat out lies. You can see that’s probably true when you read multiple witness statements to a crime. People don’t see the same thing while something is happening. And then our memories take over to further embellish and rewrite what we saw differently from the guy next to us in the first place. That 78% statistic doesn’t seem unbelievable to me.

Hillary believes that Nancy Reagan was a better person than she really was because everyone who knows a terrible person believes they’re better than they really are. We’re all guilty of this. All of us. No, you’re not exempt. Trust me, you’ve done it too and so have I. These are bubbles we all live in. Hillary’s bubble is made up of politicos, lobbyists, and corporate executives so she definitely knows more terrible people than the average bear.

This bubble is what made Hillary think that bringing up Henry Kissinger at a democratic debate was a good idea. Do some of you think that Bernie brought it up first? Well, that memory would fall into that 78% statistic I cited earlier. Hillary was the first to mention Kissinger,

“I was very flattered when Henry Kissinger said I ran the State Department better than anybody had run it in a long time. So I have an idea about what it’s going to take to make our government work more efficiently.”

Bernie didn’t actually throw that back in her face until the next debate. Being flattered at Henry Kissinger’s high opinion of you and then bragging about it to a democratic debate audience is as bubblicious as it gets. In her mind, Kissinger is beloved and respected because he’s someone she knows well. She and Bill used to spend winter vacations with the Kissingers and Oscar de la Renta.

Her opinion of Henry Kissinger, and the magnitude to which that opinion is divorced from reality is a function of the bubble. You can’t despise very many people that you routinely socialize with, and that run in your circles. Again, this isn’t a Hillary issue. This is something we all do. Just talk to the family members of any cop who shot an unarmed person. They’re all really good people who made one mistake or worse yet, didn’t make a mistake at all because they’re just that righteous. I digress.

Hillary’s bubble is full of people who have done terrible things to the middle class and the poor. That’s just par for the course when you’ve lived Hillary Clinton’s life. She didn’t choose to surround herself with terrible people. They chose her because of her position. Lloyd Blankfein, Henry Kissinger, and Nancy Reagan just come with the job. Respecting, admiring, supporting, and sharing the values of those people is just a function of human nature. It’s not a failing on Hillary’s part and I don’t blame her for it.

But I don’t like it, and I don’t like what it means for a Hillary Clinton presidency. That’s just me. When “democrats” like Diane Feinstein, Claire McCaskill, and Chris Dodd endorse Hillary, I’m moved in the opposite direction because that’s the bubble that has kept wages flat for the past 30 years. This is not a bubble that I revere or respect. This is the bubble I’m very much interested in bursting.

To be fair, Bernie doesn’t have a bubble but he does sometimes suffer from tunnel vision. He’s so focused on the macro issue of government corruption and the income inequality it’s caused, that he missed a lot of the micro (they’re not micro, but you get what I’m trying to say) issues like the concerns of black lives matter and the issues that are important to the families of mass murder victims. He understands that the corporate corruption of our politicians is the cause of the vast majority of our issues (military spending, climate change, guns, corporate tax evasion, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc), but he’s so focused on that, that he forgets that these issues need to be addressed not just from the top, but all way down to the actual victims. He gets that taking money out of politics will help to level out income inequality, which will greatly help the black community, but he can’t see the immediate issues that need addressing for that community. In his defense, he does seem to be listening and learning.

I’m much more comfortable with Bernie’s tunnel vision than I am with Hillary’s bubble. That’s just me.

Anyway, that was my very long way to say, don’t demonize Hillary for the Reagan comment. It wasn’t malicious and it wasn’t an attempt to propagandize. It was purely a product of the bubble. And she apologized, so let’s move on from attacking her for it.

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Bernie’s Healthcare Plan By The Numbers

I keep hearing a couple of things about Bernie’s single payer healthcare plan that I need to address. The Hillary supporting left likes to say that he doesn’t actually have a plan to pay for it. WRONG. The right prefers to proclaim that he’s going to massively raise your taxes to pay for it. Not totally wrong, but not even remotely the whole story.

So I’m going to break this down, so that I never have to hear these bullshit talking points again. So here it is, point by point.

Right now, we pay twenty trillion dollars for healthcare (all of my numbers represent 10 years of spending). That breaks down to about fifteen trillion dollars in premium costs, and another five trillion dollars in copays.

Of that twenty trillion dollars, six trillion is currently guaranteed profits and administrative costs. Remember that the ACA capped these costs at twenty percent. To give you some context here, medicare’s administrative costs are four percent. There are obviously no profits, so four percent is the whole number. That’s four percent for medicare, vs twenty percent for private insurance so that six trillion dollars in costs would all but evaporate.

We pay 3.1 trillion taxpayer dollars out to employers in the form of tax incentives to provide their employees with health insurance. So you’re actually paying for some of that employer subsidized health insurance through your taxes in addition to your monthly premium contributions. That 3.1 trillion dollars evaporates under Bernie’s single payer system.

If you’re keeping track, we’re already at over nine trillion dollars in savings, and we haven’t even gotten to your premium contributions yet.

We’re left with a balance of eleven trillion dollars. That’s where Bernie’s tax plan comes into play. Yes, we will be paying 100% of that eleven trillion dollars through our tax dollars, rather than premium contributions.

Bernie’s plan is to raise your taxes by 8.4% (6.2% if your income is under 28,000) so that’s where the republican talking point is true. But remember that you will no longer be paying those insurance premiums. So ask yourself, are you currently paying more than 8.4% of your income for healthcare? Actually, don’t. I have the numbers. The median single person household spends 21% of their income on health insurance. The median family household spends 23% of their income on health insurance. That’s the part that republicans leave out. You will be saving around 11% – 15% of your total income overall. Bernie also creates new tax brackets. Right now, the highest tax bracket kicks in at an income of $415,000. So we don’t treat anyone who makes $10 million dollars, or $1 billion dollars a year any differently than we do someone making $415,000. That top tax rate is currently 39.6%. What Bernie is proposing is the following:

  • 37 percent on income between $250,000 and $500,000.
  • 43 percent on income between $500,000 and $2 million.
  • 48 percent on income between $2 million and $10 million. (In 2013, only 113,000 households, the top 0.08 percent of taxpayers, had income between $2 million and $10 million.)
  • 52 percent on income above $10 million. (In 2013, only 13,000 households, just 0.01 percent of taxpayers, had income exceeding $10 million.)

I literally copied and pasted those last four lines from Bernie’s official campaign website, so sorry Hillary supporters. Your ambiguity argument, just demonstrates that you didn’t bother to look at Bernie at all. There are several other tax increases he proposes aimed at the filthy rich. You should go to his website and familiarize yourself with that tax plan.

Bernie’s plan saves us five trillion dollars in healthcare costs every decade, according to the critics of his plan. The best estimates have us saving nine trillion dollars every decade.

That’s how he pays for it. It’s not an ambiguous plan, nor is it a plan that is going to hit the middle class and the poor. They come out way ahead under Bernie’s plan. I’m sincerely hoping that at least democrats, stop peddling these falsehoods I’ve been hearing. I know that truth has never gotten in the way of a good republican talking point, but I hope this will end some of the bullshit I’ve been hearing.

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Michigan Berned

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that I’ve been looking at the primaries in the context of what the results mean for the general election. My concern has been what every democratic voter’s concern should be: Which democratic candidate has the best chances to beat Trump in the primary?

If you need a recap, I laid most of it out here. I laid out my thoughts on the relevance of Michigan here (you’re going to want to read those for context to understand this post). Well, the massive upset that Bernie pulled off in Michigan has seriously amped up my anxiety level over the thought of Hillary becoming the nominee.

Hillary’s general election prospects are not looking awesome. That’s just a fact. When I posted my March 1st blog, with the mountain of evidence to support my thoughts, one Facebook commenter (a Hillary supporter) actually told me to “have faith”. Why? Why the hell would I rely on faith when I have freaking numbers? Should I have faith that the climate isn’t changing too?

I don’t want to ever have to utter the words “President Trump”. That is my primary objective here. Supporting my candidate at all cost is not. I earnestly don’t understand people who don’t share that objective. I’m completely flummoxed by this thinking, and I sincerely need someone to help me out by explaining this to me.

My concerns aren’t based on subjective flaws of Hillary. My concerns aren’t even based on bullshit fortune telling like, “she could be indicted by the FBI any minute now”, or “Ted Cruz’s wife is definitely in the position to leak Hillary’s speeches to Goldman Sachs when the time comes” (she actually is, and I would be a fool not to think they’re coming when it’s the right time). I haven’t done any of that.

My concerns are based on the data that is available to me today. There isn’t a single poll that shows Hillary beating Trump by a higher margin than Bernie does. Not one. The aggregate of all the polls puts Hillary at a 2.8 point margin of victory, while Bernie’s is a 6 point margin. Wanna know what another Hillary supporter said in response to this? He posted a poll that has Hillary beating Trump by 8 points. One poll against my aggregate of polls. Wanna know what that same poll, in that same article he posted said? That Bernie beats Trump by a twelve point margin. Wow, that was some clear headed thinking on that commenter’s part. I do not understand emotional voting. Emotional voting results in people turning stupid and doing what that commenter did: made an ass of himself.

In that earlier post, I placed a lot of importance in Michigan because it’s a swing state. Hillary isn’t winning swing states. She’s winning southern states that she can’t win in the general. When I was positive that Hillary was going to win Michigan, I said that winning it by 20 points would allay some of my fears about her chances against Trump in the general. Well not only did she not win by 20 points, but the polls were turned on their heads when Bernie took it by nearly 2 points.

This is a disastrous sign for Hillary’s viability against Trump in the general. My concerns are compounded by the fact that Michigan had the highest voter turnout in a primary election since 1972. People were turning out in huge numbers to vote in both the republican and the democratic elections. Trump is getting people out to vote in swing states. That should put the fear of God into anyone who also vomits at the thought of a President Trump scenario. Since Michigan is an open primary and they had record turnout and Bernie won instead of losing by the 20 points he was supposed to lose by, we can reasonably conclude that he’s also bringing voters out.

Remember, 42% of voters self identify as independents. 26% self identify as democrats, and 23% self identify as republicans. Bernie will always do better in open primaries. 77% of independents voted for Bernie. Wanna know who can vote in the general with no restrictions? Independents.

If Trump is bringing out right wing independents and first time voters, democrats better be damned well sure to select the candidate who is doing really well with independents. That’s clearly not Hillary.

I’m sorry Hillary supporters, but it’s time to care about who controls the white house next year and to leave your emotional attachment to your candidate behind. The numbers here aren’t ambiguous about the general. And so far, every primary that has already happened should have you as concerned as I am.

The next two states to keep an eye on are Florida and Ohio – both swing states. Hillary is currently leading by a large margin in both states. Florida has a closed primary, meaning that registered independents can’t vote in the democratic primary. Ohio has an open primary. I’m going to say this to Hillary supporters: winning Florida and losing Ohio would completely support my assertion that Hillary isn’t our best chance in the general.

I know that no other media outlet is going to lay this out for you the way I have, so it’s easy to dismiss what I have to say but look at past posts for accuracy before dismissing my analysis. I left the door wide open for myself make the case that Hillary is viable by spelling out exactly what would have made her viable in Michigan. She didn’t make the threshold that would have had me writing a very different post today. Let me be very clear on this: if Hillary loses Ohio, you would be a fool to vote for her in any primary moving forward.

Yes, Florida matters. Yes, Florida is a swing state. But Florida won’t help you make any sort of reasonable calculation about the general since Bernie’s strongest voting block is independents who can’t vote in the Florida primary. Let me repeat: those independents will be voting in November. Ohio and its open primary is where you should be looking to decide if a Hillary nomination could lead to a President Trump.

Hillary needs to win Ohio to demonstrate her viability in the general. Once again Hillary supporters, I am laying out the parameters upon which her general election viability looks better. I’m not making a “Bernie is awesome sauce in all scenarios” argument. I’m telling you how you and I can tell if voting for her is a good idea in the long term. I’m also telling you that if she loses Ohio, any Florida victory she may (or may not) have means significantly less.

Independents are the key in this election cycle. It’s not millenials, it’s not all about the older black vote, it’s about the independents because that’s who Trump is bringing into this election. Hillary can’t win the general if independents are so apathetic that they can’t be fucked to go out and vote in November.

Six more days. That’s when the next test of whether I’m an idiot or not will happen. And believe me, my hands are yuuuuuge….oh wait…….I got confused…. I meant to say believe me, I will not be back peddling on anything I’ve said here today if Hillary wins both Ohio and Florida. If that happens, I will be doing what any critical thinker should be doing: reassessing.

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Super Tuesday 2016 Edition

I’ll admit that there were a couple of surprises for me last night, but nothing too significant in terms of delegates.

Let me start with the republican primaries. There were almost no surprises there. Minnesota was a surprise, but there was very little data to rely on since it’s a caucus state. Caucus states are always going to be difficult to pin down because they’re hard to poll so most polling firms won’t try. We had one poll this year (conducted 2 weeks ago), showing Rubio up by 2 points. So: a) that’s one poll (we all know how I feel about putting much weight into a single poll) and b) the spread was within the margin of error. So I was surprised that he won, but I was not at all surprised that he was Mr. Third Place in most of the rest of the primaries.

Trump remains the inevitable nominee.

In any other election, Rubio would be announcing that he’s suspending his campaign today. But he’s not going to do it because he won a whole state!

There were more surprises for me on the democratic side. They weren’t so much surprises for me, as they were interesting since they mostly happened in states I deemed to be toss ups.

I’m not going to lie: not winning Massachusetts hurt Bernie. His path to the nomination did narrow last night. It wasn’t a resounding loss, so there’s that, but he should have won. The fact that Hillary eked it it out isn’t good for Bernie. The fact that Bill pulled this slightly desperate move in order to help his wife, isn’t awesome for Hillary, but she won nonetheless. By “won”, I mean purely from a numbers perspective. Every time Bill and Hillary pull moves like this, they become a little more untrustworthy so I’m not sure this is really a “win”.

On the upside for Bernie, he took every other state that was in play. Yesterday morning, I said that if Bernie pulls off MA, plus CO and MN, he would have pulled off an epic ass kicking. He lost MA, but he won both CO and MN which appeared too close to predict. Neither were even a little close. That fact does mitigate the loss in MA, but not entirely. Oklahoma was too close to call for me because there was only one poll. That poll had Bernie up by 5 points but again, I don’t put too much weight in one poll so I didn’t expect that he would win. He took it by 10 points. Again, not even a little close.

Here’s the thing: remember my post from yesterday regarding my anxiety over the general election? Well, that anxiety has grown slightly. With the exception of MA and VA, Hillary only won states that Trump will resoundingly win in the general. Virginia is a swing state, so that’s the only glimmer of hope. MA will always go blue in the general so that victory does nothing to calm my anxiety. I would feel better about the Virginia win if so many Virginia voters didn’t work in DC. But she did win, and and that does give me a little hope for her in the general. No other state that she won last night gives me any more hope about her chances in the general.

Bernie kicked major ass in Colorado, which is another swing state. Every swing state that Hillary doesn’t win (decisively), makes me more and more concerned about the general, especially since Trump is the only candidate who seems to be bringing in new voters.

The next measure of my anxiety over the general will be next Tuesday in Michigan, which is another swing state. The aggregate of eleven polls has Hillary winning by a nineteen point margin but, those polls were taken over a seven month period. She needs to beat Bernie by a twenty point margin in Michigan for me to feel a little better about her prospects against Trump in the general.

After Michigan, the next two tests for general election viability happen in Florida and North Carolina (also swing states) on the 15th.

It’s going to be an anxiety riddled couple of weeks for me, but I’m going to keep my eye on the general election prize.

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I’m Worried About The General Election

I haven’t been all that concerned with how the presidential election is going to turn out until this week. I had no doubt that whether it’s Hillary or Bernie on the democratic side, no republican candidate was going to pose a threat.

I can now see Trump’s path to the presidency. Let’s be clear: Trump is going to be the republican nominee. Unless the RNC pulls a seriously unseemly maneuver to stop him, I don’t see how Trump can be stopped.

When Trump announced, I didn’t think there was a snowball’s chance in hell that he was going to be the nominee. I was wrong. When Trump’s numbers were at around 24% of republican voters, I didn’t think that it was possible for his numbers to go up because they held steady at about 24% for months. I was wrong. When his poll numbers moved into the 30s, I thought that the republican party apparatchik were going to strategize over who they needed to get to drop out in order to consolidate the “establishment” vote. I was wrong.

So now Trump is almost certainly going to be the nominee. He steamrolled the entire republican party establishment and outbullied the bullies who like most bullies, were so scared when confronted, they were literally stunned and unable to act.

Donald Trump is the populist candidate on the republican side. He doesn’t have a platform other than his hatred for all things not white, and his seeming disdain for politicians and the establishment. He’s unpolished, unscripted, unconventional, and completely unconcerned with what politicos have to say about him. When you mix those qualities with the factphobia that republicans have contracted from their exposure to nearly twenty years of Fox News propaganda, you have an unstoppable force.

The disdain for the establishment isn’t sequestered within the republican party. Bernie is our populist. Despite a main stream media blackout until the day after the Iowa caucus, despite the (as Larry Wilmore puts it) top secret democratic debates that were all scheduled when television viewership is at its lowest, despite massively handicapping himself by refusing to have a superPAC, Bernie has managed to draw the biggest crowds we’ve seen at any political rally in this election cycle. He’s managed to keep up with Hillary in fundraising. Liberals aren’t any happier with corporatist, establishment candidates than republicans are.

Here’s where my worry lies: if Hillary is the nominee, we’re putting up a corporatist, establishment candidate against a populist. Ugh. That’s not a bet I feel good about. Head to head polls consistently show Bernie beating Trump by a larger margin than Hillary does. If you average all the polling, you get Hillary beating Trump by 2.8 points, while Bernie beats him by 6 points.

Why? Because it’s populist versus populist. More importantly, it’s a populist who has nothing but fear and hate to offer you, versus a populist who wants to give you back what the rich looted from you. I’m a sunny optimist so I don’t believe that Americans are more hateful than they are hopeful.

I feel great about putting a liberal populist up against a right wing populist. I feel great about putting a liberal corporatist up against a republican corporatist. I do not feel good about putting up any establishment corporatist against any populist in this climate.

I especially don’t feel good about it given the polling we have on Hillary versus Trump and Bernie versus Trump. I know what a lot of people are going to say at this point; “polls this early out are meaningless“. To which I say, no information is ever meaningless so stop dismissing information you don’t like. You never get the luxury of hindsight voting before an election happens. This information is the best information you have right now, and objective decisions are made by examining the information you have before you at the time that you have to make a decision. So unless you have other information to contradict this information, please spare me your efforts at dismissing information. This isn’t one, two, or five polls. This is information based on seven months of polling. At no point does Hillary ever do better against Trump than Bernie does. There are no outliers on this in any of the polling. You can’t logically dismiss this.

Let me address something else that is being said about democratic voter turnout. It’s true that democrats almost always have a voter turnout problem, but there is a cyclical element to primary election turnout that no one is talking about. Historically, the party who hasn’t held the white house for eight years are more fired up to vote in the primaries. That’s just a fact. Republicans were always going to be more fired up this primary season than democrats, just like democrats were more fired up after being Bushwhacked for eight years. Yes, president Obama had a lot to do with the numbers we saw in 2008, but that cyclical component was also a factor. The “problem” isn’t an issue with Bernie’s base not showing up to vote. The problem is that the cyclical voting patterns aren’t being taken into consideration here, and this election is being compared to a historic and anomalous election when Obama ran.

I don’t believe that millennial apathy is Bernie’s biggest issue in this primary.

I believe that Bernie’s biggest issue is that independents can’t vote in a lot of democratic primaries. More people refer to themselves as independents now, than in the past two decades. Do I really believe these people are “independent” and regularly vote across party lines? No. But I do believe that referring to ones self as an “independent” is a pretty good indication of how that person feels about establishment politics. Today, 39% of the electorate calls themselves independents. 32% call themselves democrats, and 23% refer to themselves as republicans. Yes, you read that correctly: the biggest block of the electorate refer to themselves as independents.

Here are some responses from a Quinnipiac poll of independents done in December:

  • Shares our values  – Clinton 33%, Sanders 47%
  • Cares about the needs of people like me – Clinton 40%, Sanders 59%
  • Honest and Trustworthy – Clinton 26%, Sanders 64%
Sanders leads Clinton among independents by a range of 20 – 50 points, depending on which poll you read. I could only find three polls of independents by credible polling firms. I don’t normally put too much weight in a mere three polls, but the results I’m seeing would explain how Bernie has a wider margin over Trump than Hillary does. More “independents” would have to be supporting Bernie than Trump. Populist versus populist.

I’m not as comfortable with a 2.8 point lead over Trump, as I am with a 6 point lead. If just one San Bernadino style event happens in the next eight months, that 2.8 points could evaporate. If you look at the polls, San Bernadino is what increased Trump’s support from the mid 20s (where he had been for a couple of months) into the low 30s.

I’m starting to see Trump’s path to the presidency, and it’s terrifying. Why did I highlight all of the ways I was wrong in the beginning of this post? Three reasons;

  • I can admit when I’m wrong so that
  • I can learn from my past mistakes and
  • Never underestimate Trump again
The “electability” argument that Hillary and her supporters have been making until now has been completely turned around on her by Trump. That’s the reality based on the information that we have today. Since I’m neither clairvoyant, nor am I prone to dismiss information just to make myself feel better about the opinion I started off with, I’m very worried about the general election.
This would be a change in my position from four months ago, that we had nothing to worry about from any republican nominee. That change in opinion is based on information that I didn’t have four months ago.
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