CLINTON V TRUMP, ANYTHING BUT CONVENTIONAL by LARRY JOSEPHSON

election-2016 head butt

INTRODUCTION by Marilyn Armstrong

Let me begin by saying I am not the author of this article, but it’s a good one and I’m happy to publish it. Not only is it unusual for me to publish an article by someone who isn’t “on the staff” so to speak of Serendipity, I’ve actually never done it before.

This election has me worried at a deep level. Donald Trump is a dangerous demagogue with all the symptoms of a nascent Adolf Hitler. There. I’ve said it. What so many people I know are thinking, but we don’t want to say it out loud lest we somehow jinx ourselves.

Our silence is a jinx. All by itself. Our lack of involvement has consequences.

For those who still believe their vote does not count, you’re wrong. It counts. Bush got to be president in 2000 by a “margin” (arguably, he actually lost the election) of 547 votes out of millions. If 700 Democrats who didn’t bother to vote had instead gone to the polls in Florida, history would be different.

Do not sit this one out.

These racists and haters — even while they are spouting words that may ring sort of true in an angular way — are wrong. The problems of this country are not because of the non-white or immigrant population, nor because everyone isn’t a white Christian. These people feel disenfranchised because they cannot believe that merely being white and Christian isn’t enough to make them superior and powerful. They are racists, bigots, and a lot of them are, to put it in very simple terms, incredibly stupid.

Don’t be one of them. You can read the full article at by clicking this LINK. Following this section, there’s jump link to the second part of the article on the actual odds of who is going to win what in the upcoming general election. These numbers scare the pants off me and if you aren’t scared, maybe you haven’t given it enough thought.


GOP convention 2016 hall-2

CLINTON V TRUMP, ANYTHING BUT CONVENTIONAL – BY ERIN C. YOUNG


It’s a shotgun marriage, this odd relationship between Donald Trump and the Republican Party that he now calls his own. Can it hold together for another four months, long enough to reach the November finish line and accomplish the only real goal that the party has, namely, defeat Hillary Clinton?

Trump’s new significant others (Republicans) have signed on, and they don’t really seem all that interested in exactly what Trump would do as president, or how he would do it. Details, they have been told, are for losers. Policy, in some form or another, will come later, as soon as the Evil Beast has been vanquished. No one wants to talk about the nuts and bolts of raising the minimum wage, how to grow the economy, pay down the debt, or even be told how ISIS would be defeated. They already know that Donald Trump will do the right thing, because — well, because Hillary Clinton would do the wrong thing.

Besides, when Trump does talk specifics, he doesn’t feel the need to hold his line.

  • He won primaries by promising to keep Muslims out of the country, but has modified that stance three times since then.
  • He said he would force the military to torture and kill the families of suspected terrorists, then changed his mind less than 24 hours later.
  • He said he would self-fund his campaign, but has accepted donations via his website and, in an apparent violation of U.S. law, has solicited help from government officials abroad.
  • He has had four different positions on whether the federal minimum wage should be raised and changed his mind three times in the same day when asked about abortion.

Yet Trump still has a puncher’s chance at becoming the next president of the United States and leader of the free world. After all, much of what he’s doing is an embodiment of Richard Nixon’s famous advice to Republicans: run hard to the right in the primaries, then steer back to the center for the general election.

Bush 41 and Bush 43 both took the advice to heart and won. However, Mitt Romney twisted himself into a pretzel doing it, and was soundly defeated. Now it’s Trump’s turn to explain to the American public why he might not do the ultra-conservative things he’s heretofore promised.

“Everything is negotiable,” Trump recently said in an interview with the New York Times. That explanation will be good enough for people already leaning to the right, but what about the truly undecided?

For independents, this general election is a nightmare, forced to decide between the caricature that is Donald Trump and the seemingly robotic duplicity of Hillary Clinton. But it’s a choice that must be made. After all, it’s a two-party system, right? No third-party candidate could garner enough votes to impact the outcome.

Or could they?

As the Republican National Convention draws to a close and the Democrats get ready for their quadrennial coronation, I look at the odds for all the meaty questions leading up to the general election.
Let’s start with the big one …

Presidential Election Odds (and more)

ABOUT THAT SUPREME COURT APPOINTMENT …

People have been joking about it, as if it couldn’t happen. Appointing Barack Obama to the Supreme Court when he’s no longer president. What most of the people who say this don’t know is that it wouldn’t be the first time. Not only could it happen, it already has happened.

William Howard Taft, the 27th president of the United States, was appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court following his term as President. He is the only U.S. President to have served on the Supreme Court.  I have quite a fondness for Mr. Taft as he was a local kid, from … you guessed it … little Uxbridge, Massachusetts.

william howard Taft

It’s true. The Taft family is our primary claim to fame, if indeed Uxbridge has a claim to fame. But I digress.

There is no reason why a former president cannot be a judge, Supreme Court or otherwise. Or for that matter, anything else he might choose. Most presidents are well beyond retirement age at the conclusion of their terms in office. Many former presidents are happy to spend their remaining years writing their memoirs and donating time and energies to worthy causes. Those that are young and healthy enough to do more, often go into private corporate work to make some of the big bucks they don’t make as president.

POTUS earns $400,000 per year while in office. Compared to the CEO of any major company, this is chicken feed — even though it sounds like a lot of money to you and me. It represent slightly less than half his annual income. Obama, like most American presidents, has other sources of income, including investments and book royalties. He is not one of the wealthier presidents we’ve had through the years, but he’s doing okay — especially compared to the average working stiff.

That being said, there isn’t enough money in the treasury to make me want that job. There’s a reason why presidents go into office looking young and vibrant … and leave office looking old. Not older. Really old. You couldn’t pay me enough.

The First Lady gets a measly $10,000, which isn’t sufficient to cover a couple of nice gowns, much less shoes to match.

So if POTUS and FLOTUS were not rich when they took office, they may want to make up for lost income in subsequent working years.

William Howard Taft’s heart belonged to the law. He was an unhappy, unpopular president following the larger-than-life footsteps of Theodore Roosevelt. Getting appointed to the Supreme Court made up for much of what had gone wrong in his life. He served as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court from 1921 to 1930.

Official portrait of President Barack Obama in the Oval Office, Dec. 6, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.

Official portrait of President Barack Obama in the Oval Office, Dec. 6, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

So … for all those who’ve thought the idea was humorous that Mr. Obama might yet play a major role in American history, it may be humorous. It would certainly for many people be ironic as well. It’s also a good idea. Assuming Barack Obama would accept the job.

Regardless, I doubt he’ll have a hard time finding work. He looks pretty employable to me.

ELECTING A PRESIDENT THE AMERICAN WAY

It’s here! The Republican Convention — the big show we’ve been waiting for. I’m sure it’s the hottest thing to hit Cleveland since 1997 when they won the American League Pennant but lost the Series.

This first day wasn’t quite the thrilling event pundits have been touting, though it had its moments, at least a few of which will become sound bites on the late news.

No shootings, no riots worth noting, in or outside the convention hall. Trump didn’t say anything wildly outrageous, or at least nothing I remember. Frankly, after last night, when Trump declared Obama as personally responsible for the shootings in Baton Rouge while his so-called running mate said Hillary Clinton invented ISIS, he’d be hard put to top that.

GOP convention 2016 hall-2

This is about how our electoral system does — and doesn’t — work. It’s a rewrite of a post from last March when we were in the early stages of political self-destruction. We are much further down that road now.


The United States isn’t a democracy. We are a constitutional republic. Over all, the system is pretty good and usually works. Eventually. Except when it comes to election law and picking a president.

jefferson election poster2

The first time this became apparent, it was 1800. The U.S. was a mere 24-years old. It was only our second real national election because George Washington was selected, not elected.

Due to a glitch in the architecture of the electoral college, the Democratic-Republican candidates — Thomas Jefferson, for President and Aaron Burr for Vice President — won the same number of electoral votes.

According to History Central: 

… no one had the majority of votes, and the election was turned over to the House of Representatives. The House deliberated from February 11th to February 17th and voted 36 times. The Federalists had decided to support Burr … (and) would have won since they were the majority of the outgoing House. However, the constitution called for the election of a President by the House on a state-by-state basis. The Federalists could not carry enough states. On the 36th ballot Jefferson was selected.

That glitch got fixed in time for the next election in 1804, but twenty years later, there was a four-way election starring John Quincy Adams, Henry Clay, William H Crawford, and Andrew Jackson. The electoral vote was Jackson – 99, Adams – 84, Crawford – 41, Clay – 37. The three leading candidates went to the House of Representatives for a final decision. With a little help from media-fueled scandal, J.Q. Adams won on the first ballot of the House. After taking office, he appointed Henry Clay Secretary of State. Hmm. Nothing suspicious there.

Hayes-Wheeler

This was the last time the House made the pick, but it wasn’t the last race to be decided outside the ballot box.

In 1876 the Democrats nominated Samuel Tilden while the Republicans nominated Rutherford B. Hayes. Tilden won the popular vote by 250,000 votes (out of approximately 2 million), but the vote was tight in South Carolina, Florida, and Louisiana. Exactly how this got resolved is complicated. Suffice to say, it was a cooperative bag job by Congress and the SJC. The final decision landed Hayes in the Oval Office and brought an end to Reconstruction. Which, coincidentally, is what the south wanted all along.

cleveland-tilden campaign poster

In the election of 1888 Grover Cleveland (incumbent Democratic President) faced Republican Benjamin Harrison. Cleveland won the popular vote, but lost the electoral vote. Harrison became President, but lost to Cleveland in a rematch four years later, making Cleveland the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms. It’s also the only “disputed” election settled by an election.

The first memorable election of my life was the tight race between Kennedy and Nixon in 1960. It was the first election I watched on TV. It went on through the night and was still undecided as the sun rose.

kennedy election posterI was 13. I liked Kennedy. He made great speeches and was cute. The electoral vote was extremely close, but Kennedy held a lead in the popular vote for the entire race. This was the first time I remember hearing everyone say (after Nixon conceded) “We should overhaul the electoral college.” I’m still waiting.

Forty years later, the Supreme Court stepped in and stopped the recount of the tightest election in our history. Just over 537 votes out of more than 6 million separated Gore and Bush. Evidence strongly suggests Gore was the true winner, but the Supreme Court called the play. Which they had — have — no authority to do. The problem is, no one else had (has) the authority to decide a disputed presidential election. What’s a country to do?

bush-gore time mag

There are precedents, but each is a one-off, a solution cobbled together to patch up the crack in the liberty bell. If it happens again — we can safely assume it will — a new quickie solution will be thrown together.

When the Supreme Court stopped the recount in 2000 — a vote which was entirely along party lines (party lines don’t officially exist in the Supreme Court) — nothing in the Constitution gave the SJC the right to do it. But in the U.S., the Supreme Court is “the final word.” You can’t argue with the Supreme Court, can you? With no precedent for disputing the authority of the SJC, we accept it. The buck stops there. We grumble, complain, rail, and rant. But no one refuses to obey a Supreme Court ruling.

It’s something to ponder while we watch a terrifying election. Maybe it’s not the most terrifying election ever. As Stephen Colbert noted, “Trump might not actually be the worst ever president. We’ve had some really bad presidents …”

Election-2016-sign

Indeed we have had some terrible chief executives. The constitutional requirements to become president are that he or she be 35 years old, a resident of the United States for 14 years, and a natural-born Citizen (a term not defined in the Constitution). No requirement for education or experience. We are free to pick nominees from the bottom of the barrel. We are also free to pick the best and brightest — but apparently, we don’t want smart, capable people running things.

You wouldn’t hire someone to mow your lawn without knowing if they can use a lawn mower, yet we are nominating a guy to run for president because he has a lot of money and wants the job. Otherwise, he has no experience that would lead anyone to believe he can or should do the job.

That’s the thing about freedom. We are free to trade our freedom for a bag of baseballs or a puff of hot air. We won’t be the first or last country to choose a terrible leader. I hope we survive our choices.

NOW WE ARE FRAIL

To say this political year in the U.S. has been upsetting hardly begins to cover the range of emotions it has engendered. Beyond these borders, the world has gone from its usual level of whacked to incomprehensible, at least to me.

I’m personally suffering from “mad bomber overload” among many other maladies that as yet don’t have a name, but the one that pains me the most is watching the American political system blow itself up.

apathy quote

To say I’m not a Trump supporter doesn’t come close to how I feel. There’s a curious silence too about Trump, this clown and poseur. Most of what’s been said has been by late night comedians. Where’s the rest of the commentary?

Where are the editorials? The political analysis? Historians, and college professors. Where are the scholars taking up cudgels in defense of our integrity? Why are they silent in the face of this assault on our constitutional republican government?

CapitolBuilding

TV networks are obviously afraid … but of who and why? Have they been threatened? Blackmailed? I’m not sure what they are afraid of, but they are obviously scared. What good is a free press that’s got its collective jaws wired shut?

Newspapers? I know they don’t have the clout they once did, but wouldn’t this be a good time to show us how important they can be? Why we need them?

What happened to Hillary? For an intelligent, well-educated, long-term political animal, she has so flunked this campaign, it stopped being humorous months ago. I like Hillary, but at every turn, she’s made awful choices. Her campaign has been a disaster.

tyranny and oppression - madisonAll politicians lie all the time. If you don’t think they do, then you’re suffering from a lethal case of naiveté. You have the excuse of being a civilian … but what’s Hillary’s excuse? She’s been in politics since she got out of Wellesley. She’s seen them rise, seen them fall, been there from the early days in Arkansas through 8 years in DC with Bill. In the senate and as Secretary of State. That’s a lot of politics.

And hey there, Bill? Are you trying to finish Hillary off? What was that “runway meeting”? You mean to say you didn’t know how that was going to look? No one could accuse you of being politically naïve.

I’m going to vote for Hillary despite everything because I could not vote for Donald Trump even with a gun to my head.

As for Trump: we have a candidate who tells the world the police shootings in Louisiana are the fault of President Obama (I can’t even figure out how you can make that connection … ) and whose “running mate” is an anti-woman moron who tells the world Hillary Clinton invented ISIS. I know he said it because we watched him say it on network television last night. I wanted to barf. This is not a choice.

I thought our government was tough. We’ve had dreadful presidents in the past and survived. Obviously we’re going to have at least one more coming right up. I thought we could survive the stupidity of our electorate … but now I’m unsure.

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Some of our worst presidents have been good people and some of our most effective presidents have been complicated people who did not bear close examination. Being a great leader and being a good person are not the same thing. Jimmy Carter, as an example, was a bad president, but he’s a great guy. Lyndon Johnson was a great president, but a flawed human being. Me, I’d always prefer Lyndon because he got stuff done. Vital stuff. He moved the country forward.

How fragile are we? The Republican convention starts today. Let the games begin. Thrills and chills and just the future of the world on the line, so no worries, mate.

THE DAILY POST | FRAIL

FOLLOWING SCOTUS

SCOTUS, aka the Supreme Court of The United States, had itself one big day yesterday. They come down solidly on the side of women’s rights against the state of Texas. The ruling will put a serious crimp in the campaign to sneak around Roe-V-Wade and make abortion impossible, if not illegal. The war against women just lost a battle. Yay team.

scales of justice

In another decision yesterday, SCOTUS voted 6 to 2 supporting Maine’s right to prevent anyone convicted of domestic violence — felony or misdemeanor — from possessing guns. Not merely buying a gun, or even “owning” a gun — but possessing guns. This opens a lot of doors to questions about the meaning of the second amendment. Or, as Rory Little noted, “an unremarkable gun case may be harbinger of things to come.”

72-INFORMATION EMPOWERS-BOSTON_191403

I’m not going to present myself as any kind of legal scholar, but since I started following ScotusBlog, I feel I’m getting real information plus a sane interpretation of what it might mean — short and long-term. I recommend it. It’s good  to have a source for data on current issues.

With reality becoming increasingly slippery, with opinions more and more being proffered as a substitute for evidence, this is my antidote.

TRUMPED: REALITY, REALITY SHOWS, AND REAL TV – TOM CURLEY

It’s Tuesday again. Surely a super Tuesday because this year, all Tuesdays have been super. To honor the day, I’m rerunning my favorite yet still relevant political post by Mr. Thomas Curley, News Guy Supreme and Chief Editorial Satirist at Serendipity.


Ellin and I were on a brief ski trip last April and were away for a couple of weeks ago in Vermont. We learned three things.

  1. We are still not too old to ski.
  2. Gravity is a harsh mistress.
  3. It’s getting harder and harder to figure out what’s real and what’s not.

Let me explain.

We were on our trip on a Tuesday. One of the Super Tuesdays. I forget which one because they’re all Super now. We’re both fascinated by this incredibly bizarre presidential campaign, so of course we were watching …

house of cards

indiewire.com

House of Cards on Netflix. We love that show.

In between binge watching episode after episode, we’d check in on the (real) election coverage. And that’s when I noticed that on House of Cards, the characters are constantly on CNN with Wolf Blitzer, on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, CBS This Morning, and so on. All this stuff is shot on the actual news sets with real people playing themselves — while reporting on a fictional presidential campaign.

I’m not going to reveal any spoilers, but this season’s episodes were filmed way before the actual election began. Despite this, the show (House of Cards) contains a lot of surprisingly prescient plot lines.

We sat there watching CNN, MSNBC, CBS and all the other news shows interview and talk with Frank Underwood as he brilliantly manipulates the government and the world to get whatever he wants.

Then we’d change the channel to watch CNN, MSNBC, CBS and all the other news shows talk — with Donald Trump — where they were debating whether or not Trump has a large penis.

trumphands

washingtonpost.com

Then, a bunch of pundits complained this (real) campaign is nothing more than a bad reality show. They are correct. The Republicans are currently trying to throw their leading candidate off the island, but inextricably, he keeps winning the immunity idol.

immunity idol.jpg

survivor.wikia.com

The other questions everyone keeps asking is “How did a reality show star end up running for President?”

Good question. But I know the answer.

It’s all Dan Quayle’s fault.

dan quayle

businessinsider.com

You remember Dan Quayle, the guy who was George Bush Senior’s Vice President, don’t you? Dan had a reputation for not being the sharpest pencil in the box.

He was famous for misspelling potato as “potatoe” at a campaign stop at an elementary school in 1992.

quayle potatoe

Dailyhaymaker.com

Most people have forgotten the other important thing he did.

He started a fight with Murphy Brown.

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Murphy Brown was the fictional TV journalist and anchor. Played by Candice Bergen, she headed the cast in a 90’s sitcom about a fictional news show called FYI.

In one of the late seasons, she got pregnant and was going to be a single mother. Quayle gave a campaign speech (real) calling her out as being against “Family Values” because she didn’t have a husband. Murphy Brown was “mocking the importance of fathers” (an actual quote from Quayle’s speech).

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uselectionatlas.org

Here’s where it got brilliant. The producers and writers of the show didn’t put out a statement denouncing his speech. They had Murphy Brown go after Quayle on the television show. It made front page headlines (real) all across the country.

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dykewriter

So, now you had Dan Quayle fighting with — and being mocked by — a fictional character on a fictional show. And he fought back. In real life.

Pretty much nobody said “Has anyone noticed the Vice President of the United States is fighting with A FICTIONAL TV CHARACTER ????”

No one appeared to notice. Or care.

That’s was the beginning of the end, when American politics started down the rabbit hole. What began as a real-life politician appearing on a fictional TV news show, morphed into fictional politicians on real TV news shows. And real news shows showing up on fictional TV shows.

And a bad reality host running for President of the United States.

In the real world.

At least I think it’s the real world. I’m not sure anymore. I used to have to take drugs to get this confused. Personally I’d rather watch House of Cards. It makes more sense.

To paraphrase a quote from one of my favorite movies, Galaxy Quest, our current reality is a poorly written episode. And it’s not over, not nearly.