Archive

June 5th, 2016

Libertarians could hurt somebody's campaign, but whose?

    Gary Johnson and Bill Weld may be the Ralph Naders of 2016, though it's not clear whether the casualty would be Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.

    Johnson and Weld, former Republican governors, were tapped last weekend as the Libertarian candidates for president and vice president. This party has never received even 1 percent of the vote in a presidential election.

    But never have the two presumptive major party nominees been so unpopular. Thus the Johnson-Weld ticket hopes to get the highest third-party vote since Ross Perot captured 19 percent running as an independent in 1992.

    They wouldn't necessarily need big numbers to make a big impact. Nader, running as the Green Party candidate, received less than 3 percent of the total vote in 2000. But he probably cost Democrat Al Gore the election by taking ballots Gore needed to capture decisive electoral votes in the excruciatingly tight contest in Florida.

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Demise of local news may be ruining Congress

    For several senators up for re-election this year, a significant problem is that no one in their home states knows who they are. This is a consequence, as The Washington Post's Paul Kane points out, of the collapse of local newspapers:

    "Overall, there are more reporters covering Congress than ever, except they increasingly write for inside Washington publications whose readers are lawmakers, lobbyists and Wall Street investors. A Pew Research Center study released earlier this year found that at least 21 states do not have a single dedicated reporter covering Congress."

    It isn't clear yet what that means for elections, although it's not going to bother most people if incumbents have less of an advantage than they once had.

    What's important is the potential impact on Congress.

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June 4th

The Ghosts of Old Sex Scandals

    We are now being forced to relive the decades-old sex scandals of Bill Clinton, as Donald Trump tries desperately to shield and inoculate himself from well-earned charges of misogyny.

    I say, if we must go there, let’s go all the way. Let’s do this dirty laundry, as Kelly Rowland, former Destiny’s Child member, once crooned.

    First, multiple women have accused Clinton of things ranging from sexual misconduct to rape. Paula Jones famously brought a sexual harassment case against Clinton. The case was dismissed, but on appeal, faced with the prospect of having to testify under oath, Clinton settled the case out of court.

    Clinton has maintained that he had inappropriate sexual relationships with only two women: Gennifer Flowers, a model and actress, and Monica Lewinsky, a White House intern.

    Clinton was impeached on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice in connection with his affair with Lewinsky.

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Alabama judge loves states' rights till he doesn't

    Alabama's erstwhile chief justice, Roy Moore -- twice suspended, now under investigation for flouting the commands of the federal courts -- is suing the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission ... in federal court. There might be a greater example of chutzpah in the history of judicial proceedings, but I can't think of it.

    The man who claims that the Alabama state courts have the authority to interpret the Constitution for themselves, ignoring the supremacy of the federal courts, is going over the heads of his judicial colleagues and challenging Alabama's judicial ethics process in the alien federal system.

    To make matters even more astonishing, Moore is a two-time loser in his one-man war against the judicial authority of the federal courts. In 2003, he was removed from the elected post of state chief justice after refusing to obey a federal district court order to remove a 5,200-pound granite statue of the 10 Commandments that he had unilaterally ordered to the erected in front of the state supreme court building.

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No, Sanders voters aren't more conservative than Clinton voters

    Are Bernie Sanders supporters more ideologically liberal than Hillary Clinton supporters? The conventional wisdom - that of course they are - was challenged last week when political scientists Christopher H. Achen and Larry M. Bartels wrote about some surprising findings in the New York Times.

    Achen and Bartels analyzed 2016 American National Election Study (ANES) pilot survey data to figure out Sanders supporters' attitudes on social welfare issues like the minimum wage and health care spending. According to their data, respondents who prefer Sanders held roughly the same positions as - or were more conservative than - Clinton voters, overall.

    How can that be? According to DW-NOMINATE scores, Sen. Sanders had a more liberal Congressional roll call voting record than Clinton did as a senator. Sanders's campaign has been dedicated to a very liberal - even moderately socialist - redistribution of wealth: a higher minimum wage, a "Medicare for all" federal healthcare plan and economic inequality reduced by redistributing income from the rich to everyone else.

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Trump's energy plan would distort free market

    Donald Trump gave a well-timed speech on Thursday, laying out his policies on energy. That day, for the first time in six months, oil hit $50 a barrel, and he was in North Dakota, which produces more oil than any other state but Texas.

    The audience there welcomed his calls for greater production of fossil fuels, an end to the Environmental Protection Agency and the lifting of federal restrictions against drilling offshore and on public lands. His approach, he said, would produce such a windfall for the U.S. economy "that we will start to pay down our $19 trillion in debt, lower taxes and take care of our Social Security and Medicare," not to mention rebuild roads, bridges and airports.

    But, if anything, Trump's approach would backfire. He would encourage so much production of fossil fuels that prices would plummet, not increase. By recalling regulations that force fossil fuel prices to recognize the cost of pollution, he would also subvert the free market and jeopardize advances that could help pave the way for future U.S. economic growth.

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Hillary Clinton is not very good at running for president

    The headline "Dems Panicky Over Upcoming Election" is sort of like "Parents Flummoxed by App Popular With Teens" or "Kardashians Continue to Seek Attention." It's certainly true, but not exactly surprising. That's the stage we seem to be entering now in the presidential campaign, with furious hand-wringing by Democrats over the prospect that their presidential nominee is ruining everything. And even though Hillary Clinton could be leading the polls by 20 points and you'd have no trouble finding a dozen Democrats in Washington who would tell you that her campaign is a disaster in the making and it's all about to crumble, there is a fundamental truth underneath it: For all her many skills, Hillary Clinton is just not that good at running for president. That doesn't mean she won't be good at being president, and it's a reminder that the two are not the same thing.

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Did You Know?

    Did you know that "The dinosaurs died out because only infant dinosaurs were placed aboard Noah's Ark and they died for lack of parental care;" Or that "Barack Obama was a male prostitute in his 20's to make money to pay for his drug habit..."? No, you did not know because neither is true. They were espoused by a near winner in a Texas school board election.

    The above is the kind of news we are getting out of Texas these days. Continuing in that vein Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, formerly known as Danny Loeb, and indicted Attorney General Ken Paxton are busy as bees suing the feds to stop the President's order allowing transgenders to use whichever/whatever restroom they consider appropriate. The two government officials apparently get their marching orders from Pastor Dr. Robert Jefferies of the First Baptist Church of Dallas. Separating church and state is not the way in Texas.

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Nothing Christian about heinous discrimination

    Compassion. Compassion. Compassion.

    Thumbing through the Bible, I’m looking for something about compassion.

    Oh, that’s right. It’s everywhere. Start with that Golden Rule thing.

    No need to cite chapter or verse to know there’s nothing Christian at all about the response attributed to conservative Christians regarding so-called bathroom bills. There’s nothing remotely Christian about Republican state leaders saying they’d forgo federal funds rather than abide by the Justice Department’s rules forbidding discrimination against transgendered people.

    It’s all posturing on behalf of people who won’t acknowledge that God doesn’t create us with a cookie-cutter.

    Bob Dylan sang: “Don’t criticize what you don’t understand.” But just listen:

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Feel the Math

    This is my fifth presidential campaign as a New York Times columnist, so I’ve watched a lot of election coverage, and I came into this cycle prepared for the worst. Or so I thought.

    But I was wrong. So far, election commentary has been even worse than I imagined it would be. It’s not just the focus on the horse race at the expense of substance; much of the horse-race coverage has been bang-your-head-on-the-desk awful, too. I know this isn’t scientific, but based on conversations I’ve had recently, many people — smart people, who read newspapers and try to keep track of events — have been given a fundamentally wrong impression of the current state of play.

    And when I say a “wrong impression,” I don’t mean that I disagree with other people’s takes. I mean that people aren’t being properly informed about the basic arithmetic of the situation.

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