The Clinton Distraction Game

Well, Trump is in trouble again, and that means it’s time for the Republican’s favorite pastime, the Clinton Distraction Game!

“The Whitewater scandal! That’ll get them!”

(Millions of dollars later)

“Okay, but THIS time we got them! The Vince Foster scandal!”

(Millions of dollars later)_42289464_clintons_afp416

“Okay, so there was nothing there either. The Clinton sex scandal!”

(Millions of dollars later)

“Okay, so no crimes were committed. Benghazi! This time for sure!”

(Millions of dollars later)

“Fine, fine. Hillary’s emails! Hoo boy, we got her good now!”

(Millions of dollars later)

“So maybe there was nothing with the emails.  But Clinton and the Russians! We can’t lose this time!”

(etc. etc. ad infinitum)

The latest anti-Hillary lies about that DNC lawsuit

First, a disclaimer: I supported Bernie in the primaries, and believe that had he won the nomination, he may very well be President today. But that’s an issue for another day.

Some rabid Bernie people (perhaps spurred on by Trump people behind the scenes who troll liberal pages and try to get us fighting each other) are making absurd claims about the recent lawsuit against the Democratic National Committee.

Basically, the lawsuit was filed by some Sanders supporters.  I’ll summarize their argument here:  “Waah! The Democrats were mean to us!”bernie-and-hillary

Okay, it’s a bit more complicated than that. What they said was that the leaders of the Democratic party were biased against Bernie and were doing what they could to make sure he didn’t get the nomination. The lawsuit complained that the DNC worked behind the scenes to schedule debates in a way that helped Clinton; that the people in charge supported her; that they planned events in ways that harmed Sanders. (The lawsuit did not claim — nor could it — that any laws were broken.)

Oh noes! Whoever thought there would be politics in politics!

Setting aside the problem of an outsider suddenly joining a group and demanding to be in charge of it and how that group would react, the lawsuit faced its first challenge that all lawsuits face: A Motion for Summary Judgment.

This is where the defendant in the case (the DNC) tries to get the case thrown out. The law requires the judge to say “assuming the plaintiff’s recitation of the facts is true, is there a claim for action here?” In other words, just because you may claim to be hurt doesn’t mean the law provides a remedy.

The judge rightly concluded that there was no case here and threw it out. Instantly, memes and blog posts started popping claiming that the judge found that everything the plaintiffs claimed was true. That’s not how it works.

The Democratic party is a private organization. They can set whatever rules they want for picking their candidate. The don’t have to have primaries (and in fact, many states have a caucus instead). They don’t have to sponsor debates. They can go back to the old days of choosing candidates in smoke-filled rooms (although being Democrats, it would be in a “smoking not permitted, have some latte and a croissant” room).

Don’t like it? Join the party and work to have the rules changed, instead of, you know, being an independent for your entire political career, joining the party just in time to run for office, and then quitting the party again as soon as you lose.

Did the DNC violate its own internal rules? Very likely. But that’s an internal problem they need to deal with — it’s not subject to a lawsuit.

So if you see someone claiming that the judge found that everything in the plaintiff’s lawsuit was true, they’re either completely unaware of how lawsuits work or else they are aware and are lying to you.

The Top 10 Reasons Hillary Lost

Clinton’s loss took everyone by surprise. Even Fox News had predicted her win. And did you see Trump’s expression on election night? Even he seemed astonished.

Everyone has a theory why this happened but the real answer is complicated. Anyone who insists there is just one reason is wrong.hillary2

Protest Voters. Many of my liberal friends seem to be only blaming those who voted for 3rd party candidates. There are always 3rd party candidates, and we’ll probably never get rid of them because there is a small percentage of voters who somehow think “This year for sure!” or otherwise delude themselves into believing these votes make a difference. They never do. And this was the year — when you had two candidates whose negatives were higher than their positives — where a 3rd party could have risen and won. None of them came close. If it didn’t happen this year, it never will.

Did this have an impact on the final vote?  Sure, but you always expect there will be a few percentage points going to some minor fringe candidate. Blaming the people who are always there and when you knew they were going to be there solves nothing.

They hate the Clintons. The Democrats just really underestimated how much people really don’t like the Clintons. Her negatives were huge. Most of it was unjustified and based on lies and right-wing propaganda, but justified or not, it was there. Nominating an unpopular candidate and then losing the election? Where is the surprise there?

And there were many Democrats who (like me) did not really like Clinton that much either but voted for her over Cheetoface. But there was no enthusiasm there. The enthusiasm gap really hurt us.

We Want Outsiders. Everyone is sick and tired of politics as usual. We’ve had enough Bushes and Clintons running things. On the GOP side, all the insiders lost their primary runs.

One reason Bernie Sanders had a lot of support is because, even though he had been in politics most of his life, he was the one railing against the insiders and Wall Street and “business as usual” — meanwhile, Hillary was giving speeches to Goldman Sachs. There’s nothing wrong with that, but that’s not the image you wanted this year.

We Democrats didn’t pay attention to this anger. The people on both sides are angry and we ignored them and picked the insider.

This is not to say Bernie would have won. There would have been terrible attacks on him, but I don’t see how it would have been any worse than the ones leveled against Hillary. Had Hillary not run, we would have been in a better position, as there are some very qualified candidates out there who probably could have destroyed Trump.

Now, on the Republican side, the irony is that Trump is not an outsider. The man is a millionaire who knows nothing about what the average man goes through and has never in his life shown the slightest interest in them. But hey, he’s a great con man, and this will go down as one of the greatest cons of all time.

Racists and Bigots. You can’t deny that this was their year — finally, a candidate who stood for hatred! When the KKK and the American Nazi Party endorse someone, that’s a pretty good sign. Their people usually don’t get involved but they saw their orange savior on the hill, and were going to come out and vote for him no matter what.

We’ve already started to see what this means; hate crimes have gone up as these people have become bolder. And it’s just going to get worse — but that’s a topic for another post.

This, in many ways, is what always happens historically. Progress is made and there are those who will constantly fight against it and conserve their precious way of life (that’s why they are “conservatives”). This backlash against progress explains the Civil War, the backlash against the Restoration efforts afterward, the fight against civil rights, the fights over immigrants that is constant in our history, and so on. In the end, progress always wins but there are many battles along the way.

That Woman Thing. Here in Pennsylvania, Democrats swept the state offices that were on the ballot — Attorney General, Auditor, Treasurer. The two that we lost? Senator and President — the only ones with female candidates. And we lost those by slim margins.

It’s not hard to imagine that there may be 2% of the population that is still so neanderthal that they won’t vote for a woman no matter how qualified.

Voter suppression. Republicans have done everything they can to keep Democrats from being able to vote. They’ve even admitted as such when they didn’t think anyone was paying attention. There were lots of stories about how the Republican-run states were closing precincts in minority neighborhoods, removing names from voting lists, and otherwise cheating to help their clown win, and they wouldn’t be doing it if it wasn’t effective.

Basically, Republicans will do everything they can to win an election except get the most votes.

Dirty tricks. Russia has now admitted it was helping Trump win. The FBI Director had a Trump sign on his lawn and did everything he could to discredit Hillary at a time when her chances were the greatest, and then recanted it all on a slow news day when hardly anyone noticed. Wikileaks posted fake emails. These things may not be the reason Clinton lost, but they certainly were a reason.

The Hubris of the Elite. This is a big one. I could write a book about this.

The real divide in America right now is not blue state versus red state — it’s urban versus rural. And the rural folks are being tired of being made fun of every night on the talk shows, tired of people calling them rubes for clinging to their religion, tired of being told they’re bigots. The “fly over” states are resentful of the “elite” who look down on the uneducated masses.

This is not new; it’s a basic populist message that has gained votes for generations.

I am not saying these people are right. A lot of them really are bigots, and deserve to be called that. They stand in the way of progress, wave their Confederate flags and refuse to serve gay couples. Many of them really are a “basket of deplorables.”

But they’re also not all like that. There are some good rural people who feel left out and who think no one stands up for them. They’ve seen their factories and mines close and take all the jobs in town away, and whatever economic progress is made always goes to the cities. They listen to Fox News and believe all their lies about what Obama is doing, and don’t realize that the programs he pushes helps them too. And they’re resentful and angry.

Many  could not stand Trump but (like many Democrats did with Hillary) they held their nose and voted for him anyway because it was better than the alternative. And that’s not going to change until the media and political elite stop treating them like idiots — even when they are idiots.

We Just Don’t Vote. The Republicans voted in the same basic numbers they always have, and we didn’t this time. Our numbers were down. So of course we lost. It doesn’t matter if there are more of us than them. If we don’t vote, they win.

In fact, a majority of Americans didn’t vote at all. If you insist on placing the blame on one factor, that would be it.

The government isn’t “them.” It’s us. We, the people. And as a society, we can’t bitch about what the government does if we don’t even do the most basic thing and get out and vote. It’s our fault.

That Damned Electoral College. For the fourth time in our history, the person with fewer votes won the election, and that’s twice now in the last 16 years — both times giving us absolutely terrible Presidents. (Hey, at least now George W. Bush can go down in history as the 2nd Worst President.)

Isn’t it ridiculous that the person the majority of Americans voted against gets to be President? (And, of course, Trump being Trump, he’s now claiming he has a “mandate.” What an asshole. And no, I’m not going to suddenly give him respect just because he has that office. I’ll respect the office, not the man.)

I’ve ranted about the Electoral College before, and if you’re interested, check this post and read the very extensive comments.

And finally, a disclaimer: This is a very basic overview and not the treatise that could and will be written about this terrible election.

Another non-scandal excites Trumpettes

Let’s see.

Days before the election, FBI Director (and Republican) James Comey announced that there were new emails involving Hillary Clinton.247be87d-7c13-4cd2-885a-9bebad10bd5a-jumbo16x9_ap16147060028688secofstate

He has not seen these and has no idea if there is anything in them.

The emails are not from Clinton’s server, and apparently are mostly between Clinton and her campaign staff.

Such an FBI announcement is unprecedented and prosecutors everywhere are calling it inappropriate and an obvious political move, as there is no legal reason to announce an investigation before you have even looked at the evidence.

Hillary has called for all of the emails to immediately be released so everyone can see that there is nothing incriminating or illegal in them — just like there was nothing incriminating or illegal in all the other emails that have been released.

Meanwhile, Republicans who gleefully jump on this are happily supporting a man who has a rape trial and a fraud trial scheduled within the next few months.

The Advantage of the Electoral College

Two years ago, I predicted the Democrats would win this election before we even knew who was running. The Electoral College strongly favors the Democrats (even though I’d like to get rid of it).

I posted this map, pointing out that the states in blue pretty much are in the bag for Democrats right now, and that alone gets the candidate 252 votes toward the 270 needed to win.

Well, I was wrong about one thing — Iowa isn’t necessarily voting Democratic this time. They’ve become more red over the years.  On the other hand, Virginia, Colorado and New Mexico can pretty safely be moved to the Democratic side, having been reliably blue for the last few elections and becoming moreso each time.

So if we take out Iowa and add those states in, we get to — oh look! 273.

These are the states that every single person who studies these things will tell you are 99.99% in the bag for Clinton. Currently, they all have Clinton at least 5 points ahead of Trump (according to Nate Silver’s weighed averaging of the polls)

So let’s compare that to the states that have Trump ahead by 5 points.  (5 points in an election is a lot.) The uncolored states are the real battleground states.

Even if Trump were to win all the current “battleground states” where the margin is less than 5 percent, he still wouldn’t win. Clinton was already over the 270 mark she needs.

And of these battleground states where the margin is less than 5%, she’s ahead in all of them except Georgia, and even that is moving in her direction. (Trump is ahead of her there by only 2.5%.)

Here, look — this is the map that shows what would happen if the election were held today:

This, of course, assumes that we all vote. If we get complacent and sit on our butts instead, assured of victory … well, honestly, there’s very little chance of Clinton losing at this point but we really need to sweep her in with a huge mandate, as well as elect lots of Democratic senators, representatives, and state house people to really send a message.

Republicans create conspiracies to explain losses

Conspiracies are an easy way to explain why you lost. “They’re all against me” allows you to justify in your mind why no one agrees with you — it clearly can’t be because you’re wrong. It can only because of that vast conspiracy.

We see this with all crazy conspiracy nuts, both liberal and conservative. But usually it’s just a small minority on either side — people who probably should be taking medication for their delusions.lizard_people-900x477-c-center

But lately, I’m seeing it from otherwise rational people, and especially among conservatives. “We have all these scandals involving Hillary Clinton — whitewater, Benghazi, emails, fixing elections — and none of them stick. Clearly, there is a vast left-wing conspiracy by the media to cover all this up!”

Or maybe those “scandals” only exist in your head.

The GOP has spent literally years and millions of dollars digging up and investigating anything they can to bring down Hillary — and have come up empty. They grab hold of any minor little statement and try to blow it up into something it isn’t, and when that doesn’t work, instead of saying “Guess we were wrong” they get all paranoid.

Usually that kind of thinking is only found in the “lizard people control our government, wake up sheeple” nuts. The right-wing news media keeps this alive though, legitimizing it, turning it mainstream. And it is hurting our democracy.

Part of it is also explained by a general tendency on the right to lack empathy toward anyone who doesn’t think like them. Remember in the last election when the GOP was shocked that Romney lost, despite every poll showing Obama would win?  “But everyone I know voted for Romney!” many actually said. The inability to consider that the other side may have some good points leads you to this kind of thinking. (Not that there aren’t Democrats who do the same thing, but certainly not to the level we see on the right.)

Now their Presidential candidate is saying everything is rigged, because he can’t explain otherwise why he is losing. I blame the lizard people.

Hillary’s zingers

You ever notice how there aren’t many funny conservatives?  There’s no equivalent to the Daily Show or John Oliver’s show or Stephen Colbert…

Why that is is a subject for another column, though. I just wanted to point out that the liberals tend to have the better comedians, and some of them have clearly written some wonderful jokes for Hillary Clinton.

Last night, at the Alfred E. Smith dinner in New York — an annual tradition where politicians kind of roast each other — Hillary got some great lines in. Trump, on the other hand, was mostly just mean and was even booed with some of his lines. (He even, at one point, looked at his script and made a comment about how poor his jokes were, as if he had not even read them until that point.)

Anyway, check out some of these zingers:

There are a lot of friendly faces here in this room, people I’ve been privileged to know and work with. I just want to put you all in a basket of adorables.

And you look so good in your tuxes — or as I refer to them, formal pantsuits.

Donald, after listening to your speech, I will enjoy listening to Mike Pence deny that you ever gave it.

People look at the Statue of Liberty and they see a proud symbol of our history as a nation of immigrants, a beacon of hope for people around the world. Donald looks at the Statue of Liberty and sees a four. Maybe a five, if she loses the torch and tablet and changes her hair.

Now, you notice, there is no teleprompter here tonight, which is probably smart, because maybe you saw Donald dismantle his prompter the other day. And I get that. They’re hard to keep up with, and I’m sure it’s even harder when you’re translating from the original Russian.

Donald really is as healthy as a horse. You know, the one Vladimir Putin rides around on.

Sharing a stage with Donald Trump is like, well, nothing really comes to mind. There is nothing like sharing a stage with Donald Trump.

I think the good news is that the debates finally allowed Republicans to unite around their candidate. The bad news is, it’s Mike Pence.

And whoever wins this election, the outcome will be historic. We’ll either have the first female president or the first president who started a Twitter war with Cher.

if Donald does win, it will be awkward at the annual presidents’ day photo when all the former presidents gather at the White House, and not just with Bill. How is Barack going to get past the Muslim ban?

I said no to some jokes that I thought were over the line, but I suppose you can judge for yourself on WikiLeaks in the next few days.


What a sad debate for America

“Hillary does not look Presidential because she doesn’t have stamina” – 1st debate

“What I admire about her is that she never gives up and works hard.” – 2nd debate

Trump will claim a win. Then Hillary’s team will have the new ads showing all the lies he said. Like last time, he denied saying things he actually said and there will be videos showing him saying those things. (I mean, really, do Republicans even understand how technology works?) Pence did the same thing during his debate, using the old Stalinesque tactic of “repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth.”161009232148-trump-clinton-debate-st-louis-obamacare-sot-00002122-large-169

Trump played to his followers, who still cheer when he claims, like a dictator, that he will jail his opponent. I don’t think he widened his base at all, and probably scared away potential new voters.

He has no clue about what Americans want, and does not know how to talk to anyone who isn’t a white male. When a black man asked him a question about bringing people together, he immediately started talking about inner city crime because, of course, all black people live in the inner city, right? When a Muslim asked how Trump could fight against the prejudices Muslims face, he talked about terrorism, because Muslim = terrorist, right?

As the spoiled man-child, he once again whined that everyone was against him and that any time he doesn’t win, it means someone else cheated.  He protested the mean questions he got (because, you know, Presidents never get asked tough questions) and claimed he was not getting as much time as Clinton (even though he actually ended up talking more than her).

Even worse, he was being questioned by two women and a gay man with a woman opponent. You could see his anger as he lurked behind Clinton as she spoke and paced nervously. He just can’t stand not being the center of attention and losing it to a woman? Unthinkable.

The bar was set so low that all he had to do was not throw up and some people would declare him the winner.

This is the saddest election I have ever seen. I am embarrassed for my country. While many of us had predicted this sort of thing happening over the years as the Tea Party radicals on the right controlled the GOP, I don’t think we ever expected it to get this bad.


Lowering the Qualifications

“Oh yeah?” someone posted recently in response to Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson’s inability to name even one foreign leader. “Let’s see how many you can name!”

That’s not the point. I’m not running for President. 

If I was applying for a job with a law firm and they asked me to name one of the amendments to the United States Constitution and I couldn’t even think of one, would you hire me? In your own job, there are things you need to know that I don’t know at all, which is why I would never be qualified to demand to be hired, much less to be hired as head of the entire business.

The President of the United States is, in many ways, the most powerful person on the planet. Shouldn’t there be some specific qualifications for the job?

Imagine you own a huge corporation that has a trillion dollar budget and millions of employees. You’re looking to hire a new CEO to run things. Who are you going to hire — the person who has spent their entire life working in exactly the field in which your corporation does business, who has numerous college degrees, who has definite plans on how to improve your business and who has proven she can work with others to accomplish your corporation’s goals — or the guy who has absolutely none of those qualifications but “tells it like it is”?

This is something I have never understood about politics — how some people are more interested in voting for the “guy they want to have a beer with” instead of the “guy most qualified for the job.”

Of course charisma is part of the job. Qualifications are more than just what is on your resume, and they include having the personality necessary to accomplish your goals. But even the dumbest most incompetent person can have a winning personality.

Last time we elected the “guy we want to have a beer with” we got the biggest terrorist attack on our soil ever, the complete crashing of the economy, and a costly, unnecessary deadly war.

Competence matters.


Trump a cocaine abuser?

People are saying that Trump abuses cocaine. That’s why he was sniffing so much during the debates. I’m not saying it, but some people are. Reliable people. Credible sources. People who would know. Believe me. Questions are being raised. Sad.14469546_10155410130908306_5529874775037840631_n

Trump should take a drug test. And we need to see the long forms of this drug test to be sure.  Why won’t he? Hiding.

An extremely credible source has told me Trump uses cocaine. Extremely. No more apologies.

Media silent. They know. Believe me.

People tell me, I know. They tell me they need to know. I’m just reporting, don’t blame me. This could be huge.  There are people out there who say this is all a lie and not true. So why won’t Trump submit to a drug test then? What is he hiding? I don’t know, I’m just asking. Sad.

(Thanks to Dan Kimmel for inspiration here)