Tag Archives: Trump

Cat Meet Pigeons

smoking-gunTrump has been tweeting again and this time he’s dropped the bomb on the Obama Administration’s alleged tapping of the Trump campaign.

Assorted Obama spokespeople have said that Obama himself did not order the wiretaps. Which many have taken as tacit confirmation that there were wiretaps but that the big O did not actually put them in place.

There is a bit of business about two separate applications to the FISA Court which grants wiretap authorizations for surveillance of agents of foreign states – but not Americans. And the wonderfully oily James Clapper told “Meet the Press”:

“For the part of the national security apparatus that I oversaw as DNI, there was no such wiretap activity mounted against the President-elect at the time, or as a candidate, or against his campaign,” Clapper said Sunday morning on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Asked whether he could confirm or deny whether the FBI could have tapped Trump’s phones under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, Clapper was unequivocal.
“I can deny it,” he said. “There is no FISA court order, not to my knowledge, of anything at Trump Tower.” CNN
That this activity was reported some time ago in the NYT is largely dismissed as the Times apparently relied on a report at Heat Street where the very excitable Louise Mensch reported that the FBI had been granted a FISA warrant.
Clapper has a bit of form as being willing to lie under oath but I can’t see any reason why he would lie in these circumstances when it is pretty much inevitable that a FISA application will or will not have been made and decided. There is a record and that record will come out.
At the same time, there is no reason to believe that Trump is not in possession of some evidence that his campaign was tapped. Otherwise, why make the allegation? (And, for sake of argument, let’s put aside the idea that the human Cheeto is simply a deranged lunatic liable to tweet anything.)
The  “Trump ties to Russia” story keeps surfacing as various members of the “intelligence community” leak material to MSM. There does not seem to be much there but what there is can be amped up and puts the Trump Administration on the defensive.  From his tweets and other statements, it is pretty clear Trump is, like many Presidents before him, annoyed with the leaks.
Unlike many Presidents whose response to leaks usually involves some sort of internal investigation, Trump seems willing to try and get to the source of the leaks. He has called for, and is apparently getting, a full scale Congressional investigation of his allegations within the context of an overall investigation of the “Russian influence” on the election.
One read of this is that Trump wants to put the Russian connection allegations on ice for a while and kicking the whole thing over to Congress might have that effect. It is a plausible explanation but it seems somehow inefficient. Very little reward for a significant risk.
My own sense is that Trump has, or thinks he has, a smoking gun. Something which will tie Obama and his administration to illegal activity. If there was a FISA application there would have to be affidavits in support of that application. There would have to be disclosure of the sources and methods whereby the DOJ (the only entity which appears before the FISA court) concluded that there was foreign agent activity at Trump Tower. And that would open several cans of worms.
It is also pure speculation. What is not speculation is that no one in the Obama administration ever, for a minute, believed that Trump would win. Playing a bit fast and loose with rules when there was a Hillary lock on the next administration might well have seemed like a good idea at the time.After all, the orangutang and his flying monkeys were hardly ever going to be in a position to find out.
If there is a “smoking gun”, Trump, by making his allegations and then calling for a Congressional investigation, is ensuring that its discovery will be the work of Congress and not the Trump Administration. Which is not to say the Trump Administration will not leave a trail of boulder-sized, glow in the dark, bread crumbs which even the thickest Congressional investigator will be able to follow.
Trump and his people know that if they are going to put the Russian claims behind them and, perhaps, tarnish the halo the MSM has placed on Obama’s head, the actual investigation has to be at arm’s length. Trump has got his arms-length investigation, now the question is whether he has the actual smoking gun.
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Trump and the Canadians

Trump, CanadaCanadians’ views on American politics are generally fairly predictable. Being Canadian means a degree of smugness blended with a drop or two of envy and a fairly constant need to assert moral superiority. In a very polite, but persistent way.

The candidacy, nomination and election of Donald Trump gave the better class of Canadian plenty of opportunity to show each other just how intelligent and enlighted they were. The Coynes and Kinsellas competed with each other in the political snobbery sweepstakes. Trump was Hitler, the Republicans the Nazi Party, Steve Bannon was a badly dressed Goring or, more likely, Satan himself. Breitbart News was Der Stürmer, the alt-right was universally the SS, the Trump regime overnight transformed America – save for the brave “Resistance” – into an anti-semitic, racist, fascist, misogynistic state in which freedom of the press and human rights in general were crushed under the jackbooted heels of Trump’s evil to a man (and pretend woman) Cabinet.

It has been tons of fun to watch ostensibly rational, intelligent, people reach immediately for the white supremacist smear tool kit in the face of the unthinkable occurring in our neighbour to the South.  The fact that, one month into the Trump Presidency, the worst he seems to have done is be rude to CNN and the New York Times doesn’t deter our good and decent Canadians one bit. They just know that Trump is an evilton and, at any moment, will open the concentration camps and start rounding up Mexicans, Jews, Blacks, Muslims, Women, Queers, NYT reporters and anyone else the human Cheeto and his henchmen find objectionable.

And, to make the entire thing even more ominous, there seems to be a belief that Trump was put into position by none other than Prince of Darkness, Vladimir Putin and that Trump is simply following orders. Or something.

Step by step refutations of all or some of this hysteria have next to no effect. the Canadian reaction to Trump is not a “political” reaction in any common sense of that term. It is far more visceral, more religious, more tribal: Trump could be a very good President, accomplish great things, improve the condition of black people, defend the 1st Amendment and preside over an economic boom lifting all boats and he would still, to the Canadian commentariat, be the Hell Spawn of Satan.

Now some of that commentariat, like Kinsella, are simply stupid partisans for whom nothing Trump says or does will ever be anything but evil. These were the people who, had they been Americans, would have eagerly voted for Hilly on her merits. (A touching act of faith performed by very few actual Americans – the “hold your nose for Hillary” voters constituted the bulk of her support.)

The mildly more rational, like Coyne, seem to see Trump as essentially impossible. Back before the election Coyne was rumbling on about not being able to see how anyone could support Trump. More recently, he is using the Trump re-alignment in American politics as a stick with which to beat up the Canadian conservative Manning Center conference for having rightish agenda items and some populist speakers.

The biggest worry, the nightmare scenario, for the Canadian media and political elite, is the possibility that Canada is not entirely unanimous in its fevered rejection of Trump and all he stands for. There is an awful possibility that we do not live to welcome refugees. And there seem to be some ungracious Canadians who believe that people who come to Canada should adopt Canadian ways and “fit into mainstream Canadian society”. Yikes!

There is some evidence that, once they realize what it costs and how little effect it will have, Canadians are not entirely willing to do whatever it takes to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

There are even some Canadians who are growing a tiny bit suspicious that mainstream Canadian media might not be reporting objectively. In fact, when Macleans let a bunch of its staffers go a few weeks ago, there were nasty Canadians saying “good riddance”.

Despite the frantic efforts of the Kinsellas and Coynes of this world, there are disturbing signs not every Canadian is thrilled with rule by the Laurentian elite.

For all of his foibles, the late Rob Ford’s success in Toronto, worried Canadian elites. I mean it’s one thing to have yahoos in Alberta electing hard core conservatives, but this was Toronto.

The three leading contenders for the Conservative Party of Canada’s leadership are all running from the Right. Leitch because that gave her an edge in the early going; O’Leary because, well, who knows what goes on in that strange little man’s head; Bernier because he has run and been elected as a libertarian conservative for years.

Mainstream media is bleeding out, unable to compete with online, unable to adapt to the internet and unable to attract revenue. It is being replaced by everything from VICE and The Rebel to news and views delivered by social media. The cozy relationship between the Globe and Mail, CTV, CBC and the Ottawa political world is collapsing because ambitious politicians can by-pass the media elite.

If our commentariat thought about it for a bit they would realize that the actual reality of Trump is not that he is orange Hitler; rather he and the people around him have figured out how to culture jam traditional media, traditional politics and, perhaps, the deep state. Thinking about how Trump managed to do that would be more interesting than thinking crapping on him from great height somehow matters.

The people, the Canadians, who realize that Trump was actually about something important and transformative will have a clue about what is likely to go on in Canada in the next few years.

 

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She Skates?

Grrrr….

There is just so much wrong with this: http://nypost.com/2016/11/22/trump-wont-pursue-charges-against-clinton/

First off, it is not Trump’s decision to make. The basic principle is that the Attorney General makes the call as to whether and when to appoint a special prosecutor. That is designed to prevent politics from getting in the way of the operation of law.

Second, sending your ex-campaign manager off to deliver the news is entirely wrong. If you are serious you need to appear serious. Either Sessions or Trump himself should have dropped this particular bomb. Coming from Kerryanne Conway it is not in the least clear what, in fact, was decided. Does this mean there will be no investigation ever? Or is it the current view of the incoming administration subject to revision in the light of new evidence. Does it just include Hilly or does the “stay” include the Clinton Foundation, Huma, Cheryl Mills and so on?

Third, what does it say about the idea of the rule of law? It is all very well to talk about “healing” but not at the expense of having a justice system which operates differently for elite players.

I completely understand the impulse to be gracious in victory and to avoid even the appearance of trying to jail your political opponent. At that level it is a political decision and one which might be defended at a political level. However, at a process level and a legal level, this is exactly the sort of seat of the pants decision making which creates contempt for the Office of the Presidency.

Not smart Trump, not smart at all.

UPDATE: 

“I’m not looking to go back through this,” he explained to reporters at the New York Timesoffices on Tuesday.

When asked if he was taking prosecution off of the table, Trump said “no,” but he appeared eager to move on.

“My inclination would be for whatever power I have on the matter is to say let’s go forward,” he said. “This has been looked at for so long, ad nauseum.“

Trump argued against prosecuting the Clintons, suggesting that it would be better for the country and his administration if they moved on.

“I think it would be very, very divisive for the country,” he said. breitbart

That leaves the door open but it is still a lousy way to deal with a question of law. Nice as it is for Trump to have an “inclination” the correct way to proceed is to leave the door wide open until Sessions is confirmed by the Senate and has conduct of the file(s).

Part of the reason for electing Trump was to restore some semblance of the rule of law and respect for process. Short cutting that process is not helping.

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racist/homophobic/islamophobic/fascist/nazi poopy pants

Trump, Hitler, Dr. DawgHoward Dean is a proven idiot but he eliminated any doubt on Evan Solomon’s show by announcing, “He appoints a reasonable person, who’s much more conservative than I am, but someone you can talk to, as his Chief of Staff — and then the senior adviser’s a Nazi,” link

Keith Olbermann has examined the evidence and arrived at the conclusion Trump’s campaign manager, Kerryanne Conway is a fascist. link

My pal Dr. Dawg is happy to announce today that “Donald Trump, [who] is busy at the moment staffing the White House with fascists.” link Dawg goes on to talk about how he “prefer(s) to focus on Trump and his Fourth Reich supporters” in the comments. (link)

I get that these poor people are beside themselves with anti-Trump hysteria. But to go direct to “Nazi” or “fascist” or misogynist or racist suggests a degree of intellectual laziness which does not bode well for the left’s capacity to rebound from the shock of the Trump victory.

It also suggests that the left is under the illusion that these epithets still have much power. Even ten years ago calling someone a racist was a really powerful slur. It signified because it was a word which actually meant something. Now, people are called racist for saying that “all lives matter” or that open borders have real costs. Apparently, you can be labelled an anti-Semite because someone you don’t know and certainly don’t countenance has said something anti-Semitic somewhere on the internet which has nothing to do with your own patch of the net. All that needs to happen is that these people have to vaguely endorse your site.

No one really knows what goes on in Howard Dean’s rather worn out brain but when Solomon followed up on his Nazi remark he said vis a vis Bannon,

“Well, he’s anti-Semitic, he’s anti-black and he’s anti-women.”

“It’s a big word,” he said. “I don’t usually use it unless somebody’s really anti-Semitic, really misogynist, really anti-black.” link

Dean seems to think that if someone (in his opinion and without evidence) is “really” some bad things then, well, “He’s a Nazi.”

This is the language of the pure smear. It is not about any sort of political discourse or argument, it is simply taking the worst word you can think of and slapping it on your political opponent. Three-year-olds understand the tactic.

“You’re a poopy pants.” they will merrily cry in the sandbox.

The infantilization of the left, replete with safe spaces, Play-Do, puppies, safety pins continues apace in the face of Trump. I expect we’ll be seeing more acting out as Trump appoints more adults to his Administration. But it is just unfortunate when people who should know better join in the sandbox melee.


Having said all that, it would be wise of Bannon and the rest of the White House team to keep a lot of blue water between themselves and the actual Nazis at the Richard Spencer backed National Policy Institute. The alt-right contains many, often contradictory, strands of thought and blocking the NPI line would be both prudent and right. Bannon says zero tolerance for anti-Semitism and racism, making sure that NPI is pointedly excluded from even a look in at the Trump White House would be a good first step.

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Press Out

By convention the major news networks and several newspapers and organizations form the White House Press Corps replete with office space in the West Wing and daily press briefings from the “Press Secretary”. This convention goes back to the end of the 19th century and has become more formalized with the passage of time.

Need it continue?

I think it is fair to say that the establishment media in the US has been universally hostile to President Elect Trump. Editorially that would be one thing, but it is pretty clear that the reporters and opinion columnists (and is there really a difference any more?) can’t stand Trump. And Trump cordially returns the favour calling out dishonest reporters and what he sees as biased coverage.

Perhaps it is time for there to be a bit of distance between the President and the Press. Physical distance. Setting up a briefing room and offices for the Press Corps in a basement at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building across the street from the White House would make clear the Press Corps’ status in a Trump Presidency. And a weekly rather than daily briefing would be more than sufficent to cover the routine matters an Administration has to announce. Yes, the media would howl. But so what?

At the moment Trump can get any coverage he wants or needs when he wants or needs it from any number of non-traditional media outlets. Breitbart, Daily Caller, Drudge…Hell, the Daily Mail does a better and less biased job of covering Trump than the US mainstream media.

“Draining the swamp” means more than kicking the lobbyists out of government, it also means breaking up the media cabal which has enabled the swamp to fill up in the first place. Dumping the Press Corps into a basement half a mile from the center of power will make their actual importance very clear.

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A Week Later

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About this time a week ago most people thought Hilly had the election in the bag and were resigned to four years of, at best, uninspired American Presidential leadership. While very few people were enthusiastic about Hilly there was a sense of inevitability about her.

And then it happened. The polls were, largely, wrong. Trump managed an upset for the ages and we now have President Elect Trump.

Several million words of analysis later we discover a couple of things. First, as I suspected, black voters did not turn out for the nice white lady in the same numbers as they had for Obama. I can’t help but think this was baked in and should have been reflected in the turnout models the polling people use. But, apparently, it wasn’t. Second, deplorables showed up and voted. Again, not surprising. Third, these two factors put states into play which the HRC campaign – pathetic as it was – believed were locks for Clinton. Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan(!) all jumped to Trump. Not by much but by enough.

It turned out that the scare mongering about Trump – which, realistically, was all the HRC campaign had – played great in New York City and coastal California, but it didn’t pull many votes. Turnout, overall, was down.

This left mainstream media and the pollsters it relied on looking deeply dumb. The major newspapers and networks did not even try to conceal their support for Clinton and their contempt for Trump and his voters. While Hilly can shamble off the national stage to her well-deserved obscurity (and one hopes indictment and conviction), MSM has to show up for work knowing that it managed to get the 2016 election entirely and completely wrong.

There are, of course, assorted post-election melt downs. Apparently, a small but vocal subset of university students need grief counselling and another sub-set of alleged Hilly supporters think that roaming the streets with baseball bats will make a difference. #notmypresident had its moment and sunk.

Now the left is, rather predictably, making unsupported claims about Trump being surrounded by racist/fascist/anti-Semitic/homophobic/islamophobic/misogynists. Eviltons to a man. I suspect this will go on for a while as Trump appoints people whose positions are not congruent with the pernicious political correctness which has characterized the Obama years.  The very idea that conservatives and people on the right may be part of a Trump administration seems difficult, if not impossible, for lefty commentators to accept. I suspect Trump does not care.

Trump, and the Republican Party which took both House and Senate, has received a “change” mandate. He set out policies from immigration reform to calling out the Global Warming hoax which represent a clear break from business as usual. Not only was he elected but Republicans in their droves were elected too. Now the question is will they deliver?

At this moment Trump has the wind at his back and the enormous reservoir of goodwill an incoming President always begins with. We all know that goodwill dissipates very quickly, but if Trump can work out an agenda with Congress he may be able to get a great deal done very quickly.

Of course, the Europeans are freaking out. But this is not a surprise and not really important. Putin is showing willing, the Chinese are proffering olive branches and the rest of the world seems willing to wait and see. Right now Trump can, simply by being friendly, drain a good deal of the venom which has built up over the years of incompetent Obama administration foreign policy.

The single biggest thing Trump has going for him at the moment is the ignorant contempt of the mainstream media, the left and many foreign “leaders”. By casting Trump as a Yahoo, a buffoon, they set the bar very low for Trump success. It is not that these people underestimate Trump, it is that they don’t estimate him at all preferring to cling to a caricature. This gives Trump a huge advantage.

Now we’ll see how he uses that advantage.

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Inept

Hillary, losing election, rain

Melting….

Hillary Clinton needed to do only a few things well to beat Donald Trump. She needed to put the email scandal to bed. She needed to motivate black voters to show up and vote. She needed to stay out of Trump’s way as he bumbled and lurched along the campaign trail.

A few days before Election day it is not at all clear that she has succeeded in doing any of these things.

A thoroughly professional political operation would have made it its business to know where Hilly’s emails might be. Not where they probably were, rather where they might possibly be. Weiner’s laptop is an odd place for 650,000 emails to have ended up but it was certainly a machine which should have been considered. It wasn’t.

As importantly, the HRC campaign never really came up with a solid message on the emails. Especially the deleted emails. Blaming Russian hackers never got to the bottom of why Hilly caused so many emails to be deleted when they were subject to a Congressional subpoena. And the campaign had to have realized that some of the erased emails would probably be found on other machines. Given that vulnerability it made no sense at all to break the law by having uncleared lawyers vet the trove. What would have made more sense would have been to turn over all the emails – yoga classes and wedding plans and all. Why was this not done? Realistically, because there are some emails in that trove which are ugly if not actually criminal.

No question that the Comey intervention pretty much destroyed the HRC campaign attempt to move on after Comey’s earlier non- exhoneration. But the campaign itself needed to tell a better, more complete, story from the go and it didn’t. That hurts among the undecided because it gives substance to the “Crooked Hillary” narrative. It also hurts in the ranks of committed Democrats. Not because they will suddenly vote Trump, rather because they lose motivation to vote Hilly.

Black turnout is part of the story. The nice white lady was never going to have black turnout numbers anywhere near America’s first black President’s; but to win Hilly had to see a fairly minimal drop off. Early indications are that black voting numbers are down but it is not clear by how much. And some of the polls are suggesting that the black people who do go to the polls are not universally voting for Hilly. Sample sizes are tiny but I think it fair to say that low black turnout will be a thing to watch on Election Day. Whether, if it occurs, it will be reported by MSM is an interesting question.

It would not take much for Trump to do better than the last two Republican candidates in terms of attracting black support. Roper reported 93% to 6% for Obama in 2012. Hitting 10% would be a big step forward for Trump. The Washington Post (as of October 13) reports Hilly as holding 79% of the black vote. Which leaves 21% up for grabs.

Hillary’s ability to get out of the way while Trump defeats himself was deeply compromised by two things: first, the spotlight swinging back onto her reckless emailing practices, the Clinton Foundation pay for play outrages, and the ongoing revelations of what a nasty bunch of people correspond with her campaign chair John Podesta. Second, Trump has figured out a script he can stick to in his well attended rallies. Somehow he has managed to avoid chasing squirrels and shiney objects and focus on his message.

All of which is beginning to suggest a total absence of any sort of preference cascade in Hilly’s direction. At best whe can hope that claiming that Trump is “literally Hitler, a Nazi, a fascist, a KKK supporter, a woman hater and a groper” will scare enough voters into voting for Hilly. But I doubt it.

The question is whether people who are no longer fightened of Trump will vote for Trump. There are a good 40% of the voters who actually like Trump and want to vote for him. This election was never about those voters any more than it was about college educated suburban mums.

If there is going to be a landslide, and I think there will, it will be because Hilly’s support is soft and Trump’s is growing as more and more voters realize Hilly is a crook and, long before she is in office, will be the subject of an active FBI investigation. Not voting for Hilly is not the same as voting for Trump and that is why his current strategy of repeating a sunny vision of an America, Great Again, at rally after rally makes a lot of sense.

The people at the rallies are true believers. Many of them have already voted for Trump. But, as the rallies are covered and the message re-inforced by paid media, the possibility of voting for a positive vision of a strong America is going to be more and more appealing to the undecided voters. If you are undecided the choice between voting for someone who is pretty certainly a crook and someone who offers a positive vision for the country is not that difficult. Especially as the attempt to demonize Trump hit peak effectiveness a couple of weeks ago.

Throughout this campaign the Clinton campaign has spent a lot of money on advertising, most of it negative, and not much time putting their candidate in front of the public. My suspicion is that the HRC internals are saying that the more people see Hilly the less they like her. But you can’t beat a populist with a “front porch” strategy. Especially if buckets of mud from your own back yard are constantly being hurled at that porch.

Even with the MSM carrying barrels of Hilly’s water she has not managed to shed her scandals or, more importantly, connect with the American people in a positive way. She might win but I doubt it. Far more likely is Trump winning one of the great upsets.

 

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When bubbles collide

It is pretty easy to live online without being aware you are in a bubble. If all you read are liberal or conservative sites your understanding of the current American Presidential election is likely to be deeply distorted. There are even different sets of polling numbers depending on which side of the aisle you are getting your information from.

Whether you are in the “Literally Hitler” bubble or the “Most corrupt presidential candidate ever” bubble, you can pretty much avoid contact with any information which does not reinforce your views. But, in six days, the bubbles will collide and one of the narratives is going to collapse in the face of actual electoral results. The other bubble will take its victory as confirmation that its narrative was right all along and that the people who did not accept that narrative are either stupid or evil.

Which means that one group of Americans are going to wake up on November 9 disoriented, stunned, angry and feeling a deep sense of betrayal. Unlike previous elections where there has been at least a veneer of objectivity and non-partisanship in the media, in this election, the major media has been all in for Hillary. Which, in the post-election period may make it even more difficult for the losing side to understand and accept its loss because the “talking heads” will either be completely at a loss themselves or will spend their time congratulating each other on their perspicacity.

The collision of the bubbles will be especially nasty if, as I suspect it will be, the election is not even close. A tight win for either side will allow the other side to console itself with just how close it came. But a romp will bring into question the entire narrative of the losing side.

For Trump supporters a loss, especially a large loss, will bring up the dark underside of American politics: vote fraud, rigging, Soros controlled voting machines, a rigged media, the failure of the FBI to indict when it had the chance. But, realistically, many Trump supporters have already baked this into their narrative and their understanding of the Trump phenomena. They want to win but, grimly, they expect to lose.

Hillary supporters faced with a big loss will, I suspect, resemble the losers in Brexit who were in shock that a bunch of provincial yahoos could somehow destroy the metropolitan consensus. Supporting Hillary is regarded as something of an IQ test by her supporters. It’s pass/fail and if you fail you are obviously not the sort of person a Hillary supporter would want as a friend.

A Trump landslide would suggest to Hillary supporters that America is on a forced march back to the dark ages of the 1950’s where women stayed home and “negros” knew their place. It is not an America they are prepared to accept. Worst of all, hardcore Hillary supporters expect to win as of right. After all, they got the top marks, went to the right college, have the responsible jobs. As a class Hillary supporters see Hillary winning as an affirmation of their own status as the leaders America needs.

On Tuesday one of these bubbles will burst. If Trump comes up short I expect his supporters will accept the result and look forward to the indictment of Clinton and her enablers. But if Hilly loses I am afraid we can look forward to a very long, very loud, whine and about a million words in print on “How America Lost Its Way.”

Trump’s people are cynics. They have been beaten too many times, ignored all too often, taken for granted by their own party and despised by the other party. They don’t expect to get a fair shake and will be astonished and elated if they, somehow, manage to break through. They will not be in the least bit surprised if Trump loses.

Hillary’s people are true believers. They can trace the great, progressive, wave in American politics all the way back to FDR and have been taught to regard the Nixon and Reagan Presidencies as aberrations and Bush I and II as abominations. Elections in which the Democratic candidate loses are historic mistakes, disastrous deviations from the path to righteousness laid down in the sixties and seventies. Hillary’s defeat is a falling away from this great procession to the liberal city on the hill. For Hilly supporters defeat, especially defeat at the hands of a New York rube billionaire, is a repudiation not only of their crooked candidate but also of the New Deal and the Great Society and whatever it was that Obama stood for. It is “The End”.

Now, personally, I don’t much like Trump but, the happy thought of Hillary’s awful, self-entitled, elite supporters bawling their eyes out and saying really pompous things about the end of the American Project, fills me with dirty delight. There are plenty of reasons for my American friends not to vote for Hillary, but a vote for Trump will not only “drain the swamp” it will also annoy all the right people. Worth doing just for that.

 

 

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Preference Cascade

A few months ago I wrote that I believed that the American Presidential election would be a landslide but I was unsure which side of the mountain was coming down. Wiki-leaks hurt Hillary by exposing the sheer cynicism and routine corruption of Clintonland; but Trump talked about groping women a decade ago so the big guns of the media ignored Wikileaks and concentrated fire on Trump’s sex life.

But today the first boulder of the landslide came crashing down the mountain:

The FBI will investigate whether additional classified material is contained in emails sent using Hillary Clinton’s private email server while she was sectretary of state, FBI director James Comey informed Congressional leaders Friday.

The announcement appears to restart the FBI’s probe of Clinton’s server, which previously ended in July with no charges. The explosive announcement, coming less than two weeks before the presidential election, could reshape a campaign in that Clinton, the Democratic nominee, had been leading in public polls.

In a letter to congressional leaders, Comey said that the FBI had, in connection with an “unrelated case,” recently “learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the Clinton investigation.”

Comey wrote that he had been briefed on the new material Thursday. “I agreed that the FBI should take appropriate investigative steps designed to allow investigators to review these emails to determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation,” he wrote. washington post

Two weeks to election day the FBI re-opens its investigation into Hilly. That is something the MSM cannot suppress and it is something that the average voter can take onboard.

Politically the minutia of Wiki-Leaks was gaining traction but, realistically, probably too slowly to reverse Hilly’s momentum. Trump – contrary to the consensus polling – was, in my view keeping the election close. But he was not able to break through and start running up the score in the states he needs to win. The FBI re-opening its investigation will knock the HRC campaign back on its heels. Now Trump’s far greater positive appeal has a chance to create a genuine landslide.

 

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Legitimacy

In the Canadian political system the Prime Minister is the leader of the party which can muster a majority in the House of Commons. The members of that House are elected by paper ballots in 338 constituencies and a plurality of votes in each constituency elects. There are lots of procedural things about Writs and Returns of Writs but that is the basic structure. To vote you need to identify yourself “show one piece of government-issued identification with your photo, name and current address; show one piece of identification with your name and a second one with both your name and address; or, show two pieces of identification with your name and have someone you know attest to your identity.” You have to be 18 and you have to be a Canadian citizen.

It is a remarkably simple system and, of course, the Liberals are thinking of screwing it up with “electoral reform” but even then the basics of paper ballot voting and voter ID are not going to change. And Canadian Federal elections are governed by the Canadian Federal Government. The rules are the same across the country.

Our American cousins have a rather different system for running elections.Or, realistically, they have 50 different systems run by 50 different states with an added layer of potential complexity in the form of the Electoral College which actually elects the President but has no other role in government.

In each of those fifty systems the ID requirements are different. You have to be an American citizen, be 18 or over and meet the residency requirements of the state in which you are voting. The ballots in every state are different: some are paper, some are electronic.

To add a little confusion, not only are Americans voting for their President they are also voting for a Representative, perhaps a Senator, State Officials, Judges, ballot measures and even municipal issues. (Here is a sample ballot for an address in San Francisco.)It is little wonder that every election there are polling stations which are overwhelmed, ballots which are spoiled and a certain sense of barely controlled chaos. But it is all wonderfully democratic.

In Canada there are election lawyers but not very many and they mainly deal with issues going to the very stringent election financing rules which we have. There are, occasionally, recounts in particular ridings. In 2011 there were 6 judicial recounts. Non-judicial recounts are triggered automatically in really tight races and it is open to any citizen to file a complaint alleging electoral fraud which does happen once in a while.

In the US there is a large, active and litigious election bar. Flocks of lawyers monitor the activities of the state election officers and are primed to pounce on irregularities. Not for nothing did the term “hanging chad” enter our vocabulary in the wake of the 2000 contest between Bush and Gore.

There is a long and rich history of voting and election fraud in America with the delivery of the 1960 Election to JFK by Richard Daley’s Chicago machine as, perhaps, the most notable case.

Any Presidential candidate needs to be aware of that history and be prepared to act where fraud is apparent. Trump has kept that option open as has Hilly. But, as the expression goes, “if it isn’t close, they can’t cheat”. But what if it is?

The flocks of hungry election lawyers take wing at the merest hint of impropriety and engage the Courts in a determination of which ballots count and which don’t. It is not efficient but it does ensure a level of scrutiny. Yes, the evil George Soros and his flying monkeys may try to tamper with voting machines and, on the night of the election, fake results might make it into the tallies. But they are unlikely to last there very long.

Widespread systemic voting fraud is not impossible; rather it is almost impossible to conceal. American elections are deeply public events held in public places, monitored by people appointed by both parties. Anomalies are likely to be detected and reported. Not every anomaly but enough that a concerted campaign of reanimating the dead for electoral purposes or bussing large numbers of people across state lines to vote a second time will likely show up.

One of the strengths of the American Presidential election system lies in its diversity. Assume that the fix is in in Chicago – the dead vote, voters are able to vote several times – and Hillary wins a tremendous victory. Big enough that she takes the Illinois Electoral college votes just like JFK did 56 years ago. That one state is only 20 of the 270 EC votes she needs to win.

The legitimacy of the winner of the American Presidential election rests only partially on how “true” the vote actually is. Even if a JFK sized fraud could be hung around the neck of one of the candidates, that would not likely be enough to destroy their claim to office if they had won convincingly in other states where no fraud could be proven. This is particularly true if the EC votes from the state where the fraud occurred were surplus to the 270 needed to win in the EC.

Where it gets dicey – and where people like Al Gore and his supporters – can maintain an election is “stolen” and therefore the winning Presidential candidate is illegitimate, is when the overall election is very, very close. In 2000 Gore won the popular vote outright. He lost in the Electoral College by 5 votes and then because the Supreme Court of the United States stayed a recount in Florida. My lefty friends never ceased to say that Bush had stolen the election and was “selected” not elected.

Whatever one may think of Al Gore, and I think very little of the man, the fact was that he had a perfectly good reason to contest the 2000 election. The fact that he lost in the Supreme Court in no way detracts from the position he took in the face of real uncertainty. But once the Supreme Court had made its decision, legally, the matter was closed.

A President’s legitimacy is only partially derived from an electoral victory. That victory has to be inside the bounds of the law. Was did Bush outlawyer Gore? Possibly, but Gore was represented by a brilliant legal team led by David Boies.

In fact, ultimately, Gore chose to stand down his legal team notwithstanding the SCOTUS leaving the door open for further legal action in Florida. Perhaps he did not like his legal chances, or perhaps he realized that the Presidency itself would be undermined if he persisted.

Trump is fully entitled to say that the 2016 election is rigged – there is no doubt that the old school media hates him and is protecting Hillary  by suppressing the vast weight of evidence of her corruption – but that is not the same as saying its eventual winner lacks legitimacy as the next President. Even provable cases of voter fraud on a relatively small scale, while certainly evidence of just how nasty the Democratic machine and its creature are, does not undermine the legitimacy of the next Presidency. Nor would hard evidence that Putin personally hacked John Podesta’s email account sound as de-legitimating a Trump victory.

To lose legitimacy a candidate and a campaign would have to a) win, b) by a tiny amount that c) could be proven conclusively to have come about by fraud or other illegal means. And that fraud would have to be really, really, really clear: a confection of exit polls deviating from actual results is not, in my view, going to be enough.

However, all that said, if I was running the Trump campaign I would encourage all my voters to wear red on Election Day. If there are as many as Trump says there are, and there is every chance that he’s right, an ocean of red will be hard to ignore and harder to disenfranchise through fraud.

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