He Woulda’ Lost

One of the favorite refrains of the Berner crowd is that “Bernie would have won.” Their logic is pretty straight forward- Hillary *barely* lost the 2016 Election, and Bernie had less baggage. The belief of Berniestan is that he would have won Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. After all, he’d do better with groups she underperformed with, he’d motivate more people, and he’s the most popular politician in the country. Right?

Hillary Clinton actually beat Bernie. Despite the fact she lost the general election, she beat Bernie Sanders handily in the 2016 primary, by every metric available. With or without super delegates, regardless of caucus or primaries, and without any DNC interference, Hillary beat him. She beat him in pledged delegates. She beat him by about 15% in the popular vote. She had all but won the nomination by March. In fact, if caucuses were eliminated in places like Nebraska and Washington, in favor of higher turnout primaries, she would have beat him even worse. When on the ballot, Bernie’s alleged popularity never showed up. He got crushed.

Hillary was once the most popular politician in America too. In fact, she was so right up until she ran for President in 2016. When you’re not a candidate, that’s normal. When you’re not the front-runner, that’s normal. When no one thinks you can win, you’re popular. Bernie did not face much in actual vetting and criticism in 2016, because no one believed he would win, ever. No one believed he would be nominated or elected. This time he will enter as one of the few front-runners in a big field. Had he been nominated in 2016, he would have faced unprecedented scrutiny, for him. A nominated Bernie would probably not be the most popular politician in the country, and would probably end up viewed quite partisanly.

Bernie is weak with white people too. Like every other Democrat in America, he’s under water. He’s above water with women, but under with men. He’s above water with African-Americans. In other words, once Bernie became known, he became similar to just about any national Democratic candidate in terms of who supports him. In other words, it’s far from clear he’d win people Hillary did not.

Bernie’s support from African-American’s is wide, but shallow. Like every other national Democratic figure, Bernie Sanders and his policies are popular with the most loyal Democratic voting bloc. The thing is, the votes never followed Bernie in 2016. He was crushed in South Carolina, and every other majority-minority primary, particularly African-American ones. His endorsed candidates in 2018 generally lost non-white voters. At no point has Bernie shown an ability to turn favorable ratings from African-American voters into votes. His inability to energize African-American voters, coupled with his rather normal white approvals, would have made winning in 2016, or for that matter 2020, very difficult.

Bernie is basically a left-wing Democrat, politically, but he simply rejects the party base. Bernie has spoken pretty openly against identity politics. In other words, he’s not trying to deepen his wide but shallow support among African-Americans, women, or Latinos. It would have been hard to turn out more of these voters by eschewing their particular interests. Given that Bernie is rather average as far as candidates go otherwise, how would he change the results of 2016?

Bernie Sanders would have lost- and would lose in 2020 if he changes nothing. While he has had high approval numbers in the past (his latest I’ve seen are 44-42), those numbers will melt towards an average Democrat’s over the course of the race. He will have to win in a rather standard, boiler plate fashion in 2020- something he was utterly incapable of in 2016. What’s worse for him is that he won’t have Hillary as a foil this time. This time it will be him under the microscope. That would have been the kiss of death in 2016. It should remain a concern in 2020.

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Re-Alignment

I registered to vote in 2001, as a Democrat. Michael Bloomberg was a Republican, no one was discussing whether or not demographic politics were destiny or not, and Donald Trump beating a Clinton or a Bush for President seemed like a total joke.

The two parties are changing quickly, right before our eyes. The Republican Party of 2001 was very different than 2019. Gone are the aristocratic Bush types at the top. Gone is the globalist view of military engagement and global trade from the Bush days, and in it’s place is Trump isolationist policy. The Republican Party is now a cultural identity party for “traditional” America, stressing nationalism, law and order, and aggressive anti-elitism. They’re both longing for a cultural America that is traditional, but also calling into question the last 80 years of globalism in American foreign policy. This is a far cry from the Republican Party of Bush- a neoconservative foreign policy, pro-big business (which they still mostly are in policy, but not as much rhetoric.), and theocratic morality politics.

The Democratic Party is basically on another planet too. Bill Clinton’s moderation politics are taking a beating from the activists. “Safe, legal, and rare” to describe abortion policy would almost be disqualifying in a primary. The party has moved a solid step left on everything from taxes to guns, from abortion to criminal justice reform, on health care to LGBT rights. Would a Democrat reiterate Bill Clinton’s pronunciation that “the era of big government is over” in a 2022 State of the Union? Would they even consider a balanced budget, such as Clinton oversaw, as a positive? While the reality is that the Democrats have not really moved crazy left as a practical matter, the rhetoric has shifted dramatically. The Democratic Party is abandoning much of the strategic practicality of Clinton and Obama for more ideological, direct appeal to what it sees as it’s base.

Perhaps that is the biggest shift in American politics over the past 18 years- who each party views as it’s base. When I started in politics in 2002, the Rust Belt man in a Ford pick-up truck was a Democrat, or at least a swing voter. The wealthier suburbs of Philadelphia were moderate Republicans. Now that’s switched. For all the talk of rural Republicans and urban, more diverse Democrats, perhaps those changes are minor compared to the exchange of blue collar whites to Republicans, and educated, white collar whites to Democrats. The Democratic Party is now more Starbucks, the Republicans more Dunkin (for the record, I love both.). The Democratic Party is adapting to a coalition of white collar suburban white people joining African-Americans and most every other group that is considered a minority. The Republicans, under the colorful rhetoric of Trump, are welcoming blue collar, lower middle class, Rust Belt whites to their billionaires and traditionalists.

The biggest driver of the political shifts is the way the two parties now view America’s place in the world. Donald Trump’s new base has driven the Republicans away from international trade deals, rhetorically against cheap foreign labor, to want out of NATO, to want to withdraw from treaties such as KORUS, and to want out of conflicts in places like Syria and Afghanistan. The basic tenet of the Trump doctrine is “why are we paying for it” with regards to the world, and for a desire to spend that money at home. Just as dramatic is the shift on the Democratic side. The Democratic Party is suddenly the party of free trade, foreign intervention in places like Syria, and arguing for at least a more liberal border. Republicans are increasingly uninterested in international collaboration with allies like Canada, South Korea, and our traditional EU allies. Democrats aren’t feeling so great about collaborating with nations they see as against their values, such as Israel, Saudi Arabia, or Italy. This shift has had impacts both in foreign and domestic policy.

All of this has left some people out of place in their own political parties. Michael Bloomberg, mentioned above, has gone from a Republican, to an independent, to a Democrat. The Blue Dog Democrats are virtually gone away, while there aren’t pro-choice Republicans in Congress anymore. Those pieces of their coalitions have left them, eliminating the base of support for most of those members. They’ve gradually lost primaries to more ideological candidates, and lost general elections because their own voters abandoned them.

The major question for the future is if the left-right divide will break down- will the Bernie voters and Trump voters eventually link up? Both are populists that want to shock the system. One took over their party, the other has not been able to so far. Could they eventually all be in the Republican camp if Democrats continue to reject populism?

We are living through a realignment in our politics that is changing both coalitions. The political parties are not what they were when I registered. If you had told me in 2001 that a Republican President would be for isolationist trade and foreign policies, and that I’d oppose that President like I do, I would not believe you. So imagine America by 2040.

In Virginia, View Post-Trump Politics

Like most people, I was horrified by the med school yearbook photo of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam. Let me correct that- like most political people. While nearly every major Democrat in Virginia and America has called for Northam to resign, as well as some Republicans, Northam is still living in the Governor’s mansion in Richmond. He’s totally unmoved by the calls for his head. Even after his disaster of a press conference on Saturday, he’s still in office.

So what the hell are we going to do about it? Already the story is being pushed off the front pages, first by the Super Bowl, and now by the State of the Union. More people will announce 2020 Presidential bids, further burying the story. Soon, it will be forgotten outside of Virginia, then even inside. Northam can’t run for re-election anyway, and he will become less and less relevant. What are you going to do about it? Impeach him? Why would the Republicans go along with that, and make his Lt. Governor an incumbent Governor for 2021? They’ll argue he committed no crime- and they’re right. Even if we assume Northam is a full blown racist/Ku Klux Klan man currently, that’s only socially objectionable, not criminal. The picture is incredibly offensive and unworthy of a public official- but what are you going to do about it?

And how about that Lt. Governor, Justin Fairfax? On Friday night, he was the darling of the American left, which of course meant the Republican Party wanted to destroy him. By Sunday night an old accusation of sexual assault was pushed out into the open against Fairfax. Sure, there was nothing but the accuser’s word against his, but Republicans took absolute glee in noting the similarity in this case and that of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Even worse, some are noting that national Democrats shoved Al Franken for a lesser set of accusations, but aren’t pushing Fairfax out. Is any of this fair? No. Are the cases the same? No. It really doesn’t matter to these folks.

But does any of this matter? I guess it depends who you ask. Remember that just about a month before the 2016 Presidential Election the “Access Hollywood Tape” dropped against Donald Trump, where we could hear him say he could “grab ’em by the pussy,” talking about women in general. Against a backdrop of many sexual assault accusations, many assumed he was finished. National Republicans (not for the first time either) called on Trump to drop out. There were open talks about removing him from the GOP ticket. What did the outrage, in many cases for Trump, actually matter? It didn’t. He kept running. He won. In fact, his vote share (46%) was higher than his personal approval, average polling, or really any poll was showing him. Trump simply soldiered on, and all we can tell from the data is that more people were willing to vote for him than we had envisioned beforehand.

In Ralph Northam we see someone adapting to the post-Trump norm, while in Al Franken we don’t. Trump bet that the public didn’t care that he was a bad guy. Northam seems to be taking that same bet. Franken took a throwback to the pre-Trump days, when shame could push a politician out. The idea was that your first act towards forgiveness was to go away. Ralph Northam seems to get that if he resigns, he’s gone for good. Like Trump, he’s betting that people will move on. My guess is that if it works, you are seeing the new norm.

In Justin Fairfax, you are also seeing a challenge to the new norms. Republicans learned in the Franken case that the Democratic Party wanted to be “zero tolerance” on sexual impropriety, and that Franken left because of that. They don’t have the same level of proof in the case of Lt. Governor Fairfax, and so far they have been less successful. If they fail in this case, perhaps this doesn’t become the norm.

In the age of the internet and changing standards of what is and isn’t accepted, I suspect this current mess in Richmond is going to be common for a little while. Perhaps society will eventually become more forgiving of past transgressions and accusations, perhaps they will be even less so. It seems very clear to me though that if Northam survives this week as Governor, he probably survives his term. If he survives his term, the tradition of resigning amidst scandal will be the latest casualty of the Trump world. Right now, I’d probably bet on that.

A Bold, New World View, Part 11- Regionalism Still Matters

Read Part 1 here.

Read Part 2 here.

Read Part 3 here.

Read Part 4 here.

Read Part 5 here.

Read Part 6 here.

Read Part 7 here.

Read Part 8 here.

Read Part 9 here.

Read Part 10 here.

Who is the Democratic base? This has been the central debate between Hillary and Bernie supporters since 2016. Hillary supporters largely argued that women and African-Americans, and most specifically African-American women, as well as Latinos, made up the “base” of the Democratic Party. Bernie supporters argued that the base were the most feverish ideological leftists in the party. I think Hillary supporters were wrong only in being overly general. I think Bernie supporters are just wrong. The Hillary “base” is slightly too small, unequally distributed, and ignores regionalism. The Bernie coalition is just not a majority, and probably never will be.

I don’t believe either political party has what amounts to a national base. Different political issues animate different regions of the country, and the demographics change dramatically. Even within regions there can be dramatic shifts from places like North Philadelphia to suburban Willow Grove, just minutes into the suburbs. Democrats can’t “nationalize” the question of their base. To be fair, Republicans can’t either, even though their demographic of voter is mostly the same everywhere.

Hillary’s defined base worked well enough to win the nomination, largely because it worked in the South. Hillary had a lot of success in 2008 in the west by winning the Latino base there. Hillary walloped President Obama in the Rust Belt states because she won the “labor/working class” demographic, the same people she lost badly to both Bernie and Trump in 2016. Every region of the country has it’s own “base Democratic” voting block. There are overlapping issues of economic fairness and access to opportunity, but the animating issues change. Labor issues are huge in Wisconsin, but voting rights are huge in Georgia. I can’t imagine a Democratic nominee opposed to either one, but the fight at this point seems to be over which set of issues get to be center stage.

What about the Republican Party though? Right-wing populism dominates in Appalachia and the South, energy issues in Texas and much of the Plains and Southwest, while tax cuts in the North. Rather than fighting over whether the tax cuts for their Northeast donors should take precedence over union busting in Wisconsin, or a border wall for Arizona and Kentucky, they just say all of the above. If their Wyoming Congresswoman wants to talk guns and energy exploration while their Massachusetts Governor talks tax cuts, they’re fine. A national nominee from the GOP will be expected to cut taxes, appoint conservatives to the judiciary, spend on the military, protect gun rights, and be tough on immigration- even though these positions make no sense together at times.

Regionalism also does a lot to explain elected official behavior too. Bernie Sanders famously was less tough on gun manufacturers than Hillary fans wanted. Cory Booker is more pharma friendly than many Midwestern members of Congress, but many of them are friendly towards agribusiness in a way he doesn’t have to be. Members of Congress represent the people who elect them, in fact all elected officials do. For that reason, almost no one has a 100% partisanship score in Congress. It would be nice to be ideologically pure, but most American voters aren’t ideological.

It is a fun, but almost always overlooked fact that the United States has no national election. Even Presidential elections are really 50 individual state elections (plus DC), where you have to win the electoral college, not the popular vote. Inevitably, the concerns of your district or state will occasionally trump the ideological concerns of your party. If you want to stay in office very long, you’d be best to hear that warning.

A Bold, New World View, Part 9- Of Class and Identity

Read Part 1 here.

Read Part 2 here.

Read Part 3 here.

Read Part 4 here.

Read Part 5 here.

Read Part 6 here.

Read Part 7 here.

Read Part 8 here.

“How are you going to vote to make her President?”

That used to be the main identity-based criticism of voting for Hillary Clinton that I heard. I heard it from other middle-class white guys who were basically flabbergasted that I was going to vote for Hillary Clinton for President. Many of them voted for Barack Obama at least once, but just couldn’t quite get there with Hillary Clinton. Some were explicit in their opposition to a woman being elected President. Others were not, and instead shrouded their opposition in many of *specifically* (not really) anti-Hillary stuff- she’s not likable, she’s mean, she’s crooked, she’s too ambitious, even that she “killed people.” Hillary Clinton had a “man problem,” and I’m sorry to say that *she* (to be read *they*) never fixed that.

The thing is, that discussion of identity politics and Hillary was, at least for me, a more 2015 conversation. By 2016, there was a new, leftist line of attack- that we should reject her “identity” politics in favor of a “class” argument. They argued that Hillary was distracting from the true division in America, class, because she supported corporations and the rich. Setting aside what I would call the obvious errors in their assessment of her and her political positions, their main argument had become that Democrats need to become “leftists” in a global sense, and take on corporations and the rich in traditional class warfare. Sure, they were blinded to some of the sexism in their rhetoric, but I found their rhetoric dangerous in the sense that it sought to separate class and identity, and put them in oppositional positions. This has the potential to be lethal. It only makes sense if you are trying to take an untenable position like socialism, and make it “mainstream.” Unfortunately that attempt did at least have moderate success.

Identity is who you are. Class is how you fit into the society you’re in. Everyone has an identity, and a class. Most people have a pretty decent idea of their identity. Many people don’t have a realistic idea of their class, because they have different definitions for it. Some folks, like the Bernie-leftists, define their class entirely by economic variables. Trump-ists over-value their personal characteristics in their identity- their race, gender, religion, and sexuality, namely. These extremes allow both groups to misidentify themselves with their candidates. This is what allows people in trailer homes to identify with their fellow white guy, who happens to be a born billionaire. It also gives both sides the ability to ignore all inconvenient facts, whether it’s the “socialist” paying his wife thousands of dollars a month from the campaign and buying another lake house, or the billionaire signing bills to cut his own taxes, while trying to take their health care.

The reason I vote for candidates with different backgrounds and experiences is that I know I share common needs and wants with what they are proposing. I don’t vote for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton because I hate white guys (I am one), or feel white guilt, or even because I necessarily prefer that people “like me” lose. I vote for them because they aspire to solve real problems that effect me. The truth is, the things I want to see the government do are more supported by women, African-Americans, Latinos, and generally oppressed people. Much of this is class recognition- I realize I share a lot more in common with them than wealthy, elite people, but also than rural white people and uneducated white people. A part of that class recognition is not assigning any higher value to my whiteness, maleness, or straightness. I realize those things are not making my life better.

The effort to pit class and identity against each other is foolish and misguided. There are specific issues to each identity that are unique and specific to them. Class is the weapon that should help us to understand and empathize with those different than us. One of the most alarming things to come of 2016 was the disconnect among leftists, that they could understand politics through a class-only lends, and be identity blind. If that becomes a trend, it could mean terrible things for America.

A Bold New World View, Part 5- The Parties

Read Part 1 here.

Read Part 2 here.

Read Part 3 here.

Read Part 4 here.

Steak or fish. A or B. Black or White. American politics is somewhat limiting and constrained. Our political system has been built for stability, not for passions of the moment. From our constitution to our election laws, the idea is to eventually get to something almost like a consensus. Having two parties to choose from increases the likelihood of that.

But really though, what are our political parties? Political parties, in the official sense, are the committee people who make them up. In most cases, you elect your county party committee at the precinct level, and your state committee people at a county level, or some other higher political division level. The DNC and RNC members are chosen by state party and elected leaders. In an official sense, both parties are people chosen directly and indirectly by the voters. In reality, parties are a lot more.

In the case of both parties, there are two other groups with very direct power and oversight in the parties- elected officials and major donors. Elected officials are elected directly by the public, get to set policies that usually end up as party policy, and most importantly get to hand out appointments and jobs- all the stuff the party faithful care about. Major donors have a ton of influence, because elections cost money. As long as TV, mail, internet ads, canvass programs, offices, and staff cost money, donors will exist. Candidates who can’t raise any money, and parties for that matter, can’t tell anyone why they’re great and deserve your votes. Both of these groups have a ton of sway over political parties, and how they’re going to operate.

The thing about all three of these groups though is that they combine to make up less than 1% of both our 320 million plus population, and our 135 million actually active voters. In other words, they can’t make our political system run on their own. In fact, they can’t even run the political parties on their own. They’re all indispensable, and yet entirely inadequate to drive our politics in 2019.

The great divergence of the two political parties occurs at this point- who the base, or activists are. For the Republicans, they are an alliance of groups- big businesses, military hawks, Christian conservatives, and other traditionalist groups (generally white and male)- who generally share an ideological view. For the Democrats, they are a coalition of groups who often don’t completely share ideological positions- African-Americans, leftists, feminists, labor, Latinos, Jewish Americans, Muslim Americans, the LGBT community, and many other change related groups. All members of the Republican alliance are conservatives, or part of the right, usually. Not every group in the Democratic coalition is part of “the left” though, at least in the eyes of the others. Member groups of the Republican alliance can move further right without fear of alienating the other partners, in part because they all agree generally in their world view, and in part because they all oppose the direction of Democrats, pretty much at their core. When some groups within the Democratic coalition move right or left, they draw the ire of other partners.

Obviously this doesn’t cover every voter in both parties, which speaks to the general dislike of politics that many people feel. Many voters end up picking the lesser of the two evils because they’re not very ideological themselves, or they don’t fit perfectly in any of these boxes, or they dislike one or two groups on their side. In normal elections, these voters end up as swing voters, up for grabs to the candidate willing to come get them. In recent elections, particularly 2016, these voters end up pressed into “their” corner- happy about it or not.

Our two party system leaves a lot to be desired in recent times, but it’s also the greatest tool for stability this country has seen. Ironically, displeasure for the increasingly polarized positions of the two parties may end up changing that in the near time. Even if the parties end up going the way of the Whigs though, we have a system that is built to accommodate two.

A Bold New World View, Part 4- Who Decides

Read Part 1 here.

Read Part 2 here.

Read Part 3 here.

Yesterday the Democrats officially took the House. Before yesterday, there were 195 Democrats in the House, now there are 40 more. Where did these 40 new seats come from?

They were not seats won in the Democratic base- urban America- for the most part. They also were mostly not in rural America, where Republicans clean up on whiter votes. Most of these new members (not all) are coming from suburban and even a few exurban districts. They’re not coming from previously safe “blue” districts, but districts that have shown a tendency towards moderacy and swing-voting.

American elections are generally decided in semi-affluent, higher educated areas. Suburban counties around Philadelphia, Cleveland, Miami, Raleigh, Washington, Des Moines, and Detroit tend to decide Presidential elections. Many of the districts that flipped in Congress and state legislatures in 2018 were in those same areas. These voters decide most of our elections.

This is not to say that a Presidential candidate should not seek to stoke their base voters to increase turnout, and/or seek to cut margins in the opposition’s strong turf. It’s to say that Presidents who win that way are not building a governing coalition. Winning with your base isn’t strengthening your party’s fortunes in the swing districts that decide partisan control in the legislatures. Without strong legislative majorities, you cannot pass laws and make changes.

Who are these voters? They’re college educated. They don’t live higher taxes, but do like good public services. They’re not very fond of the blatant racism, sexism, and bigotry of Trump. They tend to believe in science. They tend to not support “big government” or socialism. While not as diverse as the big cities, they’re not as lily white as “the sticks.”

These are the places that handed Donald Trump a beating in 2018, but Hillary didn’t spend enough time on in 2016. They’re the small cities of Pennsylvania, like Allentown, Reading, Bethlehem, or Scranton. They’re the suburban areas in Milwaukee County. They’re the suburban areas around Charlotte in Mecklenburg County, and the suburban counties around Raleigh, and even in Wake County. They’re obviously the areas outside of Detroit, within that metro market.

I’m not suggesting it’s an “or” choice. Should a Democratic nominee in 2020 campaign in Charlotte or Matthews? Philadelphia or Allentown? Milwaukee or Janesville? My answer is both. My answer is talk about the things that are applicable, and go to both. Campaign to your base, but also talk to and about things that matter to the voters who are up for grabs.

There are those that disagree, either because of perceived practical problems with it, or an ideological bias towards a particular base of voters. My suggestion is that they are incorrect in their view of the electorate, and in the pathway forward. Many of the areas that flipped or went more Democratic from 2016 to 2018 got an increase of campaign action and attention this time. Issues of importance to them- like health care- were now front and center. It’s not that they like or dislike either party’s base, but mostly that they have different issues.

Finally, there is a belief by some that demographics will simply change American politics in due time. It’s true- by 2045, the nation will be majority-minority, though it will remain plurality white for some time after that. Even as that happens, at least 37 states will remain majority white, and even more will be plurality white. Half the country will live in eight states. The voting population is likely to be even whiter than this. By the time the voters of America are a more diverse majority, many of us are likely to be very old, or even dead. Diversity will move the nation, but not as fast and dramatically as some believe.

Elections are not decided where either major party would generally like. They’re not decided among the activists. They’re decided among voters who are less ideological. Winning them over takes a more complex, higher political messaging. This makes a lot of political people uncomfortable.

One Month of Christmas, Day 10

Happy December 4th, 2018. Here’s today’s random thoughts…

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R.I.P. Mr. President

So last night I went to the U.S. Capitol and paid my respects to President George H.W. Bush in the Capitol rotunda. It took me about 90 minutes to get through the line, and I spent a few minutes there at the casket, then moved along. It was the quietist I’ve ever heard the Capitol.

When I was five, the 1988 Election captivated my mind. I obviously knew nothing about it yet, but it was interesting to me. It’s weird to bury powerful people from my childhood, as it does really mark the passage of time.

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Don’t Lock Him Up?

Apparently Robert Mueller doesn’t want to lock up Michael Flynn, because he cooperated fully and he served the nation in uniform. He probably gave Mueller some great information. All the redactions suggest some juicy stuff is in there.

Luckily for Michael Flynn, Robert Mueller is a better man than he is. While he could have made an example of Flynn, he chose not to. He didn’t lead an arena in chanting to lock Flynn up. He allowed him due process. He treated him humanely. It was the right thing to do.

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Tonight’s a light night for writing. I’ll be back at it more tomorrow.

One Month of Christmas, Day 5

Good day, today is Thursday, November 29th, 2018. It’s really windy out. Despite my rant yesterday about the Stones’ prices, my dad bought up a few seats for us today. My hypocrisy with things I want knows no end, I guess. On to today’s thoughts…

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Where the Action Will be, 2019 Governing

What will happen the next two years in government? The most common answer is nothing. Congress is divided, the nation is divided, the states are divided. Yet, in the past two days, I’ve sung a different tune to two PA State Reps I’ve advised in the past.

One is a newer representative (not a freshman), who asked me what committees she should ask for. I told her almost instantly “transportation.” I told her the only thing coming out of Washington the next two years is an infrastructure bill. When that money hits state capitols, you’ll want to be helping craft the state’s bill.

The other is a more senior state rep, who will be Democratic Chairman at Agriculture. My advice? Stay there. Trump will desperately want to help farmers across the Rust Belt heading into his re-election. The U.S. House Agriculture chairman represents probably the reddest Democratic seat in the country, and makes his political bones by being very engaged with the agriculture community. I think they may be sending some money to the states.

Just a hunch, though.

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The 30 for 30 Bobby Knight Special was Wow

I just watched the “30 for 30” on Bobby Knight and was absolutely stuck on it. It was incredibly well done, and paints a picture of an unlikable Bobby Knight. What an awful guy.

It was also a super sad story. Neil Reed was tortured by his experience at Indiana. He finally had escaped the shadow of his time with the Hoosiers, had happiness, and then he died. There was no happy ending.

The business of college sports was once again on trial. Like Ohio State and Michigan State’s recent problems, or Penn State and Baylor’s past problems, it’s clear that money causes questionable decision making. The NCAA never looks good when we view these sagas.

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Cohen Blows the Lid on Trump-Russia Connection

There is no question if Russia tried to help Donald Trump in the 2016 Election, only whether or not he and his associates knew. I’ve long since believed they did, but I had mostly assumed Donald Trump himself was largely shielded from that. I never thought he himself would get hit.

Today I’m not sure. Now we’re getting into connecting not only Trump’s campaign to Russia, we’re also connecting Trump’s company and finances to Russia. This is new territory for this case. Perhaps this was more than just an operation by Russia to influence an election, but also to control a foreign asset. If that is so, this is a new chapter, and not a good one.

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Back at it tomorrow…

One Month of Christmas, Day 3

Good day, today is Tuesday, November 27th, 2018. Christmas is now 28 days away. Here’s today’s random thoughts…

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Paul Manafort? #LockHimUp

Paul Manafort is going to prison. That was true when he was found guilty in his first trial. That was more true when he plead guilty before his second trial. Now that he lied to prosecutors? Lock.Him.Up.

There seems to be a convergence of events that is entirely circumstantial, but you can’t turn away from. First, the revelations that Manafort both violated his plea deal, AND that he had a secret meeting with Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, before the Wikileaks attacks on the Clinton Campaign. Second, Jerome Corsi’s bizarre rantings about rejecting a plea deal for perjury- which both seems to be the least of his crimes, and not the crime he’s describing. Third, Donald Trump just submitted his written answers to Mueller’s questions.

The only thing that makes clear sense to me is that Bob Mueller is trying to establish a back channel between the Trump campaign, Wikileaks, and Russia. Manafort probably wasn’t totally forthcoming about something related, Mueller had the goods on it, and the deal fell apart. Manafort is pretty much screwed. This isn’t great for Mueller either, as he loses a star witness. Things are at least beginning to become clear though.

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Goliath is Back, and Goliath is the Phillies?

As I write this, Twitter is buzzing with news that Patrick Corbin is at Citizens Bank Park. The elite left-handed pitcher on the market seems to be high on the Phillies wish list, along with Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, every major free agent, and every major trade candidate.

The Phillies are a big market team, with a big market TV deal. In fact, they’re the biggest market with just one team. They have a low payroll and young team. While 80-82 isn’t a great season, it’s good enough to now buy your way back into the playoffs. They have plenty of prospects to work with, one of the richest owners in sports (John Middleton), and a fan base that can fill the seats in a hurry.

The expectations for the Phillies this off-season are high, but not beyond their abilities as a franchise. I’m obviously most interested in getting Bryce Harper, but Machado, Corbin, Kimbrel, and major trade targets are all fine too. I’m just ready to watch a major superstar hit upper deck homers to right again, like the good ole’ days. The possibilities seem endless, and so does John Middleton’s desire to win. Goliath is back in the NL East.

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Make Gritty the new Flyers GM

Here’s some real talk- the Flyers have been a directionless, “good enough” to make a profit franchise for a long time. Here’s some other tough talk- over that long time, the Flyers keep putting ex-players in charge of the team. They haven’t done so hot though. It’s been 40 years since the team won a Stanley Cup. It’s been almost a decade since they blew up a team that lost in the Stanley Cup finals. The team is perpetually disappointing. The most successful thing they’ve done is make Gritty their mascot.

So, I put in the title here “Make Gritty the new Flyers GM.” I’m not really suggesting that, but I guess I am if they’re really going to let Paul Holmgren call the shots in the organization. Holmgren, the ex-GM that failed in his previous role, was rewarded for losing by being promoted to the Team President. If this is the kind of decision making the Flyers do here again, why not let an orange mascot run the operation?

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Democrats Should Stop Fearing White Voters

Over the weekend, I was watching Roland Martin on MSNBC, and he said something profound- Democrats need to stop fearing white voters. His point wasn’t to ignore them, it was to actually campaign at them. His point was pretty simple- what are they getting for voting for their guns, or against immigrants, or any other social issues? Campaign to them on health care, on education, on wages- because these issues apply to them. Will Democrats win white voters? I don’t know, but it’s unlikely. Will they do better? Most likely. This doesn’t mean stop campaigning to the Democratic base, or stop talking about civil rights. It means walk and chew gum.

I do know this- this will work far faster than waiting for demographic changes to get us to victory.

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My Favorite Christmas Specials?

  1. Rudolph
  2. The Grinch
  3. California Raisin
  4. Frosty

I basically make my picks based on the music. You can’t hate.