Wednesday, April 01, 2020

5X5: #1--Since We Been Gone

Thinking about The New Life

A comment line I had today with another at the site of Political Wire, an ongoing, lively discussion of the latest political news.
(mi5scents)Likely changes from this--1. a greater re-evaluation of having so much manufacturing in China--including medical items and pharmaceuticals, 2. a greater willingness to accept tighter border controls and 3. a greater appreciate among many of the importance of a strong public health system and those who work in it. In Europe, Italians are likely to long remember the EU's response to their request for help, and not in a good way. Bottom line--it isn't likely to advance globalism.
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     Upvote for your thought piece, and I agree with 1. and 3. As for 2., though, border controls don't mean shite to a virus. I'm serious.
    Here's my shot: Big changes to airlines, which will have to change their Coach seating patterns (thankfully so, though it will cost us more), and to food production/consumption, which will become more local. Cruise lines will downsize their ships or disappear, with those monstrous boats re-purposed for something. Many people will fear to join in large gatherings for a long time, which will have some subtle effects (another blow to the rock music industry--rent those boats for "cruises to nowhere"?).

    What I'm praying for is that global capitalism will be replaced by global community as civilization's guiding force.
As a retired statistician, there's a lot I could bore you with regarding my study of the curves, but I will summarize and say that the second derivative of the number of new cases is a good leading indicator for the key statistic, which is the change over time (first derivative) of the net number of cases (active minus cured). 

The number of deaths follows from that, subject to adjustment for the quality of life-saving healthcare and the comprehensiveness of testing.  Based on that, and my assessment of the quality of the US' response to date, I estimated a few days ago that the number of deaths due to the coronavirus in the US for 2020 will be 80,000.  I'd call that a "good job" for Trump--a 3 on a scale of 5.   Or on a scale of 20,000 to 5 million.  So, yeah, a lot at stake.

One piece of good news (for me):  New Mexico seems to lead the nation in tests per capita to date, and our Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham is suddenly emerging as a potential VP nominee for Joe Biden.  I endorse the idea wholeheartedly; in fact she is my first choice, given that Pete Buttigieg seems to be out of the running.  She has stayed well ahead of the curve in terms of her communication and the clarity of her executive orders.

Trump's administration defines the curve, for better or worse. Mitch's point that it (Trump/Mitch/Congress/whatever) got distracted by the meteoric news cycle of the impeachment and critical Democratic primaries has some merit*.  That is no kind of excuse, though, not for an individual, and certainly not for a Federal government.  That is kind of the problem, though--the effort has been 'federated" way too much.  Granted, I wouldn't want Trump making life-and-death decisions for others, given his ethics, but this is a real good example of how bad states' rights thinking is in critical, national policy-making.

That is no criticism of the governors themselves.  As I have already suggested, there have been true standouts.  If this pandemic had just hit the US so hard a month sooner, we'd probably be seeing Draft Andrew Cuomo sweeping Super Tuesday (in the guise of "Undecided")--once again, for better or worse.  If we were a tree, we'd be looking pretty thin at the top, though our trunk be solid.

I aim to follow up with four more posts this week on possible divertissements, notwithstanding.

*I have elaborated somewhat to improve his argument, which failed miserably.  Hope remains alive to eliminate directly all possibility of Mitch pulling off a Netanyahu.

Tuesday, March 03, 2020

Super Tuesday Special Edition

So much has changed so quickly that I have to make a few comments prior to the election returns this evening (and beyond).

There is an unusually high degree of uncertainty, due to the mix of three new elements:

  • The arrival (finally!) of Mike Bloomberg on voters' ballots--the great, pure test of the effect of saturation TV advertising;  
  • The effect of another real-world 21st-century experiment: using multiple endorsements and perceived momentum in achieving real electoral results without traditional grassroots organization (the Biden campaign); 
  • The changing fluid dynamics from the rapid, simultaneous withdrawal of significant candidates in a race that remains multi-lateral.  
Apart from having real significance for the outcome of this momentous general election coming this November, today's results will provide fabulous grist for political scientists.   There is little experience on true multi-sided contests.  Much as the big picture, along with the tendency of US first-past-the-post election systems, would suggest we should expect convergence to a two-person showdown, right now there are still four contenders who can draw significant numbers of delegates today, and the variations of support evidenced for each lead to some very interesting contests to watch tonight. 

A Note on Methods
Somewhat amazingly, two polling outfits have been able to file results in each of the 14 Super Tuesday states, conducted entirely after Saturday's surprisingly-strong Biden victory there. So these reflect his sudden resurgence.  Even more impressively, in one of the two (Data for Progress), many of the states' polling seems to have been done on Monday, with some knowledge that Buttigieg and Klobuchar were dropping out. 

So, for my own analysis, I have allocated the percentages shown for Buttigieg and Klobuchar (and Steyer, when applicable) as:  40% to Biden, 20% to Sanders, 20% to Bloomberg, and 20% to Warren.  There are reasonable arguments as to how much of their previous supporters would move in the direction of their endorsement and how much to their previous second- or third-choice, if they were not Biden; this is supposed to be a simple compromise approach to estimate that unknown.  

The other adjustment is the "gross-up" to 100% (actually 98 or 99%, to give Tulsi her due) of these results.  The polls vary in the extent to which the sum of all the candidates' shares are less than 100%--the ones with 95-98% accounted for clearly used more pressing methods to get respondents to choose than the ones with 85-90% allocated.  I personally prefer the latter, as many of those "borderline don't know" people don't actually vote. 

Five Major Outcomes to Watch For Tonight
0. Delegates Won 
This is the most important one, but I expect the results will not be clear enough to report with confidence tonight, despite what will be very earnest efforts by the news networks.  The main reason will be the uncertainty about which candidates will achieve the binary 0/1 outcomes on the 15% vote threshold, for the statewide and congressional-district level delegates, and the leverage those will have on the calculations.  We can see (from prior coverage efforts) that the networks will try to use partial returns toward the objective of being able to call (to something like 95% likelihood) at least some of those outcomes, but there will be many, many delegate decisions remaining outstanding by breakfast tomorrow. 

1. How Strong the Biden Surge?  
 This primary campaign has had a "Flavor of the Month" characteristic for a long time.  Remember the surges for Kamala, Beto, Julian, Pete, Amy, Warren (last fall), Gabbard, Booker?  (OK, I guess not Booker)  Generally they have resulted from spotlighted media exposure driven by news stories or attacks they made.  Most of them didn't last, and the attackers usually suffered in the end.   Is Biden the flavor of this month, or will his momentum fade, due to our fickleness or some unusually huge gaffe (there will still be many small ones, I can guarantee). 
There are two aspects to the force of the surge we will be able to measure:  1) the rate of increase for Biden in states where he was not even viable prior to SC (Ex. CA, MN, CO); 2) The degree to which his support consolidates to produce big wins in states where he was already strong (NC, OK, AL, VA)--will these match up to the degree of his wipeout win in SC? 
Key test:  1)  Does Biden's % in CA exceed 25%; 2) Does his % in NC exceed 40%?
As for whether the Biden Surge is merely this month's flavor (great as this month/week was to have as his), or something that will either endure or grow stronger, that will have to wait. 

2. Who Wins More States, Biden or Bernie? 
In terms of clear indications from the current polls, eight states have clear indicated "winners"--plurality of the popular vote.  I'd say they range from 80% probability to 95%, so probably one of these will be wrong.  
For Biden:  NC, VA, OK, AR, AL;   For Bernie:  VT, CO, CA. 
The six others present a variety of close races, which will draw a whole lot of the attention.  They don't matter much for the delegate numbers, because of proportionality, but still: 
Bernie/Biden showdowns: TN (Biden favored--turnout may be adversely affected by tornadoes overnight in Nashville, yet another uncertainty), MN (Bernie favored--see #3 below), and, most significantly, TX.  
Three-way races:  UT (Bloomberg and Biden narrowly ahead of Bernie); ME (probably Bloomberg's best chance for a state today; he's slightly leading Bernie and Biden); MA (Bernie/Biden/Warren).  MA could be a close four-way race, as the poll from the other outfit (Swayable, which conducted their polls Sunday and Monday) actually had Bloomberg ahead of Warren.  A fourth-place finish in her home state might actually convince her to withdraw, which would create another ripple in the force fields later this week.   
My only prediction:  Biden 7 states, Bernie 6, Bloomberg 1. 

3. How transferable is endorsement support? 
Buttigieg's endorsement may be more meaningful to Biden in the long run than Klobuchar's, but the value of Amy's endorsement will have a very clear measure in MN.  Before last weekend, Klobuchar and Bernie were in a close race, with support around 30%, with Biden in the also-rans, well below the 15% threshold.   Though Bernie should be expected to finish first, how close Biden gets to him will make a meaningful difference in delegates.  It might also give an indication if, down the road sometime, Warren bows out and either endorses Sanders directly or implicitly. 
Key test:  Does Biden's number reach 30%?   

4. Is Bloomberg a real threat to Biden's dominance among moderates? 
Put another way, what is Bloomberg's ceiling, when he dominates voter contact through his ads?  It's more complicated than just a Biden/Bloomberg showdown anywhere, as Sanders and Warren also competed in all the states Bloomberg has saturated.  He was planting the seed, which might have flowered if Biden had not rallied, but Joe's still there.  The best ways to measure the relative strength of Biden and Bloomberg will be in states where they have both polled relatively well--AR,  UT, and ME--and those where Biden was weak, but coming on strong--CO, CA. 
Personally, I expect the strength of Biden's surge may falter in weeks to come.  Bloomberg may feel the same way, but if he does not do well enough today, he may feel the urge to fall in behind Joe.  It may also take a week or two to re-calculate his ROI for his first half-billion of expenditure.  
Key test:  In how many of those five states--AR, UT, ME, CO, CA--does Bloomberg edge Biden?  

5. Can Warren survive?   Is she still "viable"? 
Trends are clearly not in her favor, as conventional wisdom settles on the inevitability of a 'B-geezer' battle (Bernie/Biden, or if not that,  Bernie/Bloomberg); she gets no attention and not much respect for her First Four finishes in the First Four--none of which were better than third (IA; one was fifth).  Her long-run strategy of building organizations in many states ran afoul of the whiplash of the early primary/caucus results and associated news stories, with the result that her ceiling for results in Super Tuesday states are uniformly on the low side.   The only positive is that the withdrawal of Buttigieg, Klobuchar, and Steyer will give her a few extra percent, which may make the difference as to whether she reaches 15% or not in a number of states.   This result is important also for the other candidates' ultimate delegate results:  how many ways will the pies be divided? 
Key test:  In how many states will Warren reach 15% statewide?  
Should be safely above:  VT, MA, CO.  Likely below:  AL, NC.  Can't tell--projects right around 15%: VA, UT, TN, OK, MN, ME, AR, and most importantly, TX and CA. 
Her plan is to continue on, regardless, but embarrassment in MA or in her birth state of OK might change her mind.   I would say that if she reaches 15% in seven of these, and including both TX and CA, she should stay in, though I don't know if she will see it that way.  The true shape of the delegate race is not likely to be clear for a couple of weeks yet, and her share of delegates (probably will end up being 5-10% of the total) may be important, or meaningless, in the big picture. 

Watching the results from Texas and Massachusetts will answer many of these questions.  I would also cite--apart from the obviously important, but slow-moving CA results--the extent of Biden's win in NC.  If it is comparable to the one he had in the other Carolina, it suggests a strong argument for his eventual nomination:  if Biden can bring in NC for Democrats, it would be very good news for the Electoral College race. 

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Advice for Mrs. Warren

Following on my recent endorsement, i'm just trying to help my candidate by offering these suggestions.

 ( If you're pressed for time and want to skip ahead to the advice itself, it's in Bold, large type, at the bottom.)

The upcoming debate Tuesday is Sen. Warren's last, best chance to give herself a decent outcome on Super Tuesday.  She has suffered through a long period when she was either scorned or ignored; she was a good trendy pick for imminent demise for quite a while.

That turned around at the last debate, in Las Vegas last Wednesday.  The occasion was the entry onto the debate stage (far right, from the view of the stage) of Mike Bloomberg.  Warren shed her appeal for unity, just for the night, and attacked him viciously, and successfully, on a variety of topics.  She was even ready with attacks for the lesser healthcare plans put forward by Buttigieg and Klobuchar, revenge for the attacks she suffered, back when hers was tied too close to Bernie's Medicare for All.

As has been the case throughout this ridiculously long pre-campaign, the attacker derives an immediate benefit; I would say that has been true even when the actual attacks were not thrust as effectively as Warren's were.  It's a one-time lift, and it mostly has led toward mutual destruction in the long term.   There was no mistaking the intention; she wanted to take Bloomberg out of the consideration set for as many as possible.  Finally, a share of popular support she could win back!

She finally got some consideration in the post-debate discussion of winners and losers, and it was mostly positive.  (A notable exception was the Queen of Snark herself, Maureen Dowd; as a connoisseuse of the genre, she was Not Impressed)  The evidence of a lift, though, has been hard to detect.  The timing of the last debate in the run-up to the Nevada caucuses was such that the majority of votes there had been cast early, and she had been polling poorly there previously.  Worse for her developing some momentum in the days before the Mar. 3 vote bomb will be the South Carolina primary results this Saturday.

Here, though, is a glimmer of real hope that has gone unnoticed.  The poll is by CBS News/YouGov, and it has an unusually large national sample:  6,495 likely Democratic primary voters.  It was conducted Feb. 20-22, i.e. after the last debate.  It is the only national poll on the RCP chart conducted after the debate. *
Long story short, Elizabeth Warren is in second place, narrowly ahead of Joe Biden (19% to 17%), with Bernie in first place at 28%.   Bloomberg is at 13%, a bit of a dip for him.

I recommend reading the full report, which is well and clearly written.  It doesn't have all the crosstabs of the Quinnipiac reports, but it reproduces the survey itself.  The (online) sample may be a bit biased despite their weighting efforts, so massage the numbers a little if you must.  The bottom line:  Progressive Takeover is underway, due to the failure of the moderate wing to generate a single viable alternative, and there is complete alignment between her supporters and Bernie's.

Those who said Warren's problem was that she peaked too soon may have been way wrong:  if she makes a successful move upward on Super Tuesday, there is still very much of a path all the way.

Strategy of the Debate Itself 

Do not take the bait of the commentators, who are looking for you to bare claws against Bernie.  Continue what you are doing:  pounding Bloomberg silly.  (Get some new material, though:  everyone saw the lines you had last time.) 

When the inevitable Stop Bernie?  question comes, this should be your response: 
"Stop Bernie--No!   Bernie is my friend, I love his passion.  I want him to join with us--then we will truly be unstoppable." 

Just stick with that.  Let Mayor Pete go after Bernie, for now.  Your point of view is that you should be the one to lead the way forward, this time, and his digital machinery should be joined with yours.  The more subtle point is that Bernie, alone, cannot win--which, whether or not it is true, is a concern many people share.

Additional Strategic Points

Build more endorsements from the other candidates:  Steyer, Klobuchar (after Super Tuesday, or before, if she prefers), Booker.  Accept the reality that supportive PAC's will do what they do. (such as Steyer's)
Kamala should be Kourted. 

Warren already has Jay Inslee's, and Julian Castro's.  She gets enough endorsements, she can return to the unity candidate line, which should work (for someone) as the field shrinks.  She doesn't need to play the gender card anymore; now she's got her "meme", and the identification will stick.   But it could earn her endorsements, and generating enthusiasm from women voters will be far more important in the general election than the few white men that might be pried loose by someone like Sanders.

Money Stuff
Looking at it "from a CFO perspective", Warren has to gamble on something resembling an inside straight:  focusing media efforts and also paying bills, but not paying them for too much longer.  She has to count on others' opposition to Bernie keeping him from a clear majority, but none of them emerging well beyond her support level. What happens after that will then all depend on how the next three weeks go.  If they go well, money will be much less of a problem, as the field will surely be less crowded.

Spend the money in five states, but one must be California.

California is super-Tuesday-critical:  I saw a poll last week which had no one, at all, over 15% besides Bernie.  He could win a margin of +300 delegates just in one state, if he is not effectively challenged.  After a result like that, nothing else will matter.   Sanders' team is doing expert analysis at the Congressional district level; nothing less will be acceptable from yours.  Spend money to target media well in the biggest of all states.

Picking the other four states--targets to win one or more, in Super Tuesday and in the week following--now that's real strategy.  Warren has the advantage of choosing her terrain, and now she has some money, too. In terms of choices--She telegraphed that Washington (state) is one by going there straight from Nevada, which totally makes sense to me.  I'd recommend Colorado (ST state), Massachusetts (go big--no choice), and Michigan (Mar. 10) as good choices.  If she can show a good result in Michigan, that augurs well for her being The One who can Hold The Wall.+
The timing for the release of her (awesome!) Cannabis Legalization Plan fits well with these choices, too.

Her objective must be is to maintain a position, one not at the bottom, at each of the winnowing processes that will occur:  from 6 to 5 to 4, from 4 to 3, and then, crucially, from 3 to 2.  If she makes it to the final two, she will win.

Mrs. Warren as a Candidate
I have been crying out in the past weeks, as I really didn't understand why she was going down in the polls and in people's estimation of her chances.   She is clearly the candidate who has done her homework the best, who has the best content in her policies (and the most), and who is articulate and sharp as a debater, who reaches out to others and who listens (a rare skill among politicians).  Many have acknowledged she could be the best President of the lot, while still dismissing her chances.

My conclusion is that the perception of her "electability" suffered, because some don't feel she is "likable".  There's a whole ugly history about this kind of stuff, and I have explained that I believe that I, at least, don't know what electability may be, and I doubt others' expertise as well.  One thing that I do know is real is that some have a visceral, inexplicable (I know, because I've asked) distaste for her.

Here's my theory on this:  she "comes across" (the very subjective, yet perceptive, way that people assess others at an intuitive level) as a schoolteacher.  Which she was, before she was a professor. Not just any schoolteacher, though:  she's that really good teacher, the one who can motivate you to do better than you thought possible.    My theory is that the people who hate her instinctively did not like any of their teachers in school; she reminds them of those hated teachers, in the school they did not like attending.   Let me know whether your interaction with others confirms this theory, or not.  I know that support for her tends to correlate with education level.

My advice, based on this:
Don't try to educate; be sure to relate.  You can do it. 

* Disclosure:  I am on the YouGov panel and did the survey.
+ A bit too Game of Thrones, maybe.

Monday, February 03, 2020

Decision Time

Vote to Convict, Then Move to Censure
I didn't watch much of the so-called trial, but that was too much. 

There was a huge amount of discourse, from the counsel of the defendant in particular, about whether the two articles approved in the House were "impeachable" offenses.  Logically, that was completely erroneous:  the House approved the articles, and the Representatives, not the Senators, decide what is impeachable and what is not.  By definition, the House determined that "abuse of power" and "obstruction of Congress" are impeachable offenses.

I would argue that the Trump Impeachment* neither raised, nor lowered, the bar of what is impeachable; however, I would have preferred they include Bribery--specifically named in the constitution as grounds for impeachment, and very arguably an offense committed by Trump. That would've changed the more asinine of the Defense arguments to specifics of "the bribery statute in the US Code" instead.  That would've more successfully focused the debate, such as it was, on the venality of Trump's behavior.  This Year's Model was consistent with precedent and has specific similarity to the cases posed during the administrations of Nixon and Andrew Johnson.

The Senate trial should have been about a different question:  What is the bar for removal from office of a President?  For conviction? For this question, there really is no precedent in the affirmative, though Johnson's case, Bill Clinton's, and now this one will show historical precedents in the negative.  Nixon's arguably presents an example of what would have resulted in conviction (or in an obligatory resignation, as Nixon's was, which functionally works out the same), but that doesn't help too much because of the huge difference in evidence which ultimately was available to Nixon's prosecution after nearly two years of investigations.

The proper way to view this question is one of risk management:  How much risk do we face by allowing this impeached individual to remain in office?  And how severe is the damage, if things go wrong?

The calculation is one which combines time remaining in the term (so should be most strict, in the differing case of  lifetime appointments) along with assessment of the degree of damage, conditioned by the facts revealed in the case.  In that regard, those Republicans who reverted to the argument against removal in an election year, one which appeared stupid on its face, had the germ of a correct idea.  To give an extreme example, the last month of a lame duck Presidency would be a waste of effort for an impeachment-driven trial.  That argument in this case might have had value if it were not for the direct threat Trump's admitted interference posed to the looming election; in this regard we have to credit Pelosi's judgment.

What's the risk that Trump is going to do something unthinkable and damaging to the Constitution of our democratic republic? (alternately, to our society/our humanity/our planet)  It's quite high, as the recent fiasco-doppio of his rash decisions in the Middle East** prove.  Not to mention appeasement of That Country Invading Ukraine. We have a new Trump Unilateral Israel Peace Plan much more likely to spur a violent result than to bring any more peace.  I could go on--the risk is high, and compounded the longer we face it.

So, yeah, there are only arguments for removal, though the risk for acquittal at this moment is much less than it would be, say, in March, 2021+ .  That one about "63 million votes" I find especially shaky. 

Anyway, immediately after the vote to acquit Wednesday***, some intrepid Democratic Senator--Schumer would be the normal one, though I'd prefer someone like our Senator Tom Udall do it--should introduce a motion to censure the President.  The denunciation should be a simple statement that enlisting a foreign government to attack our election in any way is not permissible behavior for a President, nor anyone with an official capacity in the US government.  (Rudy Giuliani's crimes should already be covered elsewhere.)  It should be wordsmithed to maximize the number of Republican Senators who could support it. 

The second censure motion should address the recurrent problem of the disregard the Executive branch has proven to have of the Legislative one, particularly as regards the exclusive prerogative of Congress to control expenditures.  The third should address Attorney General Barr's intentional efforts to mislead the public and Congress on the meaning of the Mueller Report before it was released.

That's enough--for now.  Of course Trump will veto or ignore any censure motions, but they will be on the record, will provide guidance to those who come later, if not to the Dickhead, and should be approved without delay.  At least the first one.

Endorsement for President (20/20 Preface)
I begin by saying, first, this is not a prediction but an expression of my own personal preference.  Second, I have an impressively bad record of picking the person who is ultimately elected President.  I would describe it as disastrous.  Some examples:
  • Hillary, 2016 -- OK, I'm in a lot of company, both good and bad;
  • Gore, 2000 and 1988 -- In '88, Koch's endorsement killed him (and my hopes to repeal the Reagan Revolution);
  • John Glenn, 1984;
  • Wesley Clark, 2004. 
  • Tom Harkin, 1992 (?)
The one exception has been Barack Obama. So, I write this in spite of my fear that my endorsement  may be like Ed Koch's proverbial kiss of death.  I hope not.

One thing you may accurately conclude is that "electability" was often a factor in my past considerations given where I lie on the political spectrum.   (Another is that I have been really inept at identifying electable candidates.) "Strongly liberal", as they often suggest as the leftmost option in online polls, is not so accurate; I would describe myself as closer to the feared and nowadays unused term "radical", in the sense of seeking fundamental changes. So, my choice each cycle tries to balance the political climate and my sense of possibilities.  (Clark in 2004 was a particular example--I thought he was the perfect guy to deal with Bush's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and his positions were not at all obnoxious.  He just wasn't right for the times, politically, in the party--like Glenn was not just the Cat to catch the Rat Reagan, my theory in early '84.)

The Much Ballyhooed Endorsement 
My preference for Elizabeth Warren relies on the belief that she is the best candidate to unify the Democratic party and maximize turnout of its supporters in the general election vs. Donald Trump. Among other characteristics, she is a person who is inclusive in her approach, a person who is open to ideas, and one with strong convictions and obvious passion and energy.  In terms of her approach to policy, she goes to the root issues--corruption, inequality, injustice--and develops both the right maximal objectives and the short-term strategies to move toward them. 

I have had a firm intention to avoid criticism of the other Democratic candidates here, as I may be passionately supporting them as the nominee later.   I will go so far as to say that my personal preference is that our "viable" choices not be limited to what I would call the "old B-boys"  (Biden, Bernie, and, yes, Bloomberg). The media seems to me to be prematurely fixated on the story that it is down to Biden vs. Bernie (unless Bloomberg can buy it).

In that regard, I agree with the choice of the New York Times to endorse Warren and Amy Klobuchar.  Warren is the "not B-boy" progressive (leaving aside Tom Steyer), and Klobuchar is the "not B-boy" moderate (leaving aside Pete Buttigieg).  If you believe that women can be a choice that is just as good, if not better, to oppose the Dickhead, then these are sound choices, depending on your degree of "aggression" (as Charles Barkley said the other night, reaching unsuccessfully for the word "progression").   For me, that's Warren, but, as you may see by the above, my second, third, and fourth choices are Klobuchar, Buttigieg (whom I suggest as the VP nominee, for almost any nominee), and Steyer (who I now recognize has added value to the campaign, apart from the mega-dollars he has spent in our general cause, as per Bloomberg).

New Mexico's primary is not until June 6;  95% of delegate numbers will have been determined by then.  So, my vote is about 95% likely to be meaningless, in that someone will have won the nomination by then.  That 5% that remains, though, could be significant in the big picture if no one has established a majority of delegates won.

*Trump I Impeachment, I mean.  Hard to tell how Trump II Impeachment will go at this point.
+Don't even!
**To be clear, to evacuate our troops from NE Syria and to assassinate Qassem Soleimani.  Somewhat fortunately, neither of the two has produced massive warfare and humanitarian catastrophe yet. Nor Trump's walking the talk of 'just walk away' in Idlib.  I repeat, yet.  (added 3/3/20) 
***If you check back, the vote will be just a few days sooner than I thought; it will probably not be as good as the 47-53 I predicted, and the focus, instead of on whether there were 50 votes to convict, ended up being whether there would be witnesses allowed (and whether Mitt Romney would volunteer for a starring role in a chapter in the next volume of Profiles in Courage).  So, while it basically went as I expected, there were surprises.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Notes on the Impeachment Trial: 20/30 at Best

(I need the reading glasses for the close-up stuff, like fine print, or in bad lighting.) 

The Dershowitz Slant
Prof. Alan Dershowitz' dismissal of the legitimacy of the trial itself on constitutional grounds was good prime-time fun confusing the "poorly educated" in the base, while also providing, as Jeffrey Toobin said, a "fig leaf" for those who need a constitutional-based justification, not just for voting to acquit, but to prevent any witnesses from being heard. In that sense, it was well-designed:  the actual content of the two articles finally selected, though they were chosen for being incontestably provable, suffers from being less than optimal as a constitutional basis for conviction..

Dershowitz particularly went after Abuse of Power as being a weak standard for impeachment, though we all know it was exactly the kind of thing* that ultimate sanction for the President was meant to address.  Dersh cited the example of Ronald Reagan, who could have been impeached for it (for Iran-Contra).  On the contrary, it shows the difference;  while Reagan's Administration allowed illegal actions, the proof of Ronnie's direct involvement never emerged, with the high-water mark of implication for the Ollie North escapade reaching no higher than the NSC and Defense Secretary Weinberger.  In this case, Trump's authorship of the directives to withhold aid and a White House meeting were evident to those a full Degree of Separation away who examined the handwriting, and the closer Trumpsters were to the idiotic rants that accompany his improper directives, the more certain they were of it.   Abuse of Power is what the Founding Fathers knew about Mad King George of Britain and they wanted to protect our republic from its variegated form.+

Hear ye, Johnny"Thunder" Bolton!
He is almost the ideal witness for the impeachment case, which is why it is so critical for the Republican Senate leadership, working hand-in-hand with the White House, to prevent him from ever taking an oath before the Senate.  He is a lawyer who takes organized notes, and beyond that has excellent recollection for facts, especially for the "errors" of others.  He will have detailed information on where and when our POS Conman-der-in-Chief made it clear what he wanted. And how awful it was, from every standpoint.

I was afraid that Bolton was going to take the middle road and insist that that despised aid conditionality was simply a policy difference, or a ruse of some kind, and within the purview of legitimate Presidential prerogative, at least temporarily.  Not a reason for Bolton himself to leave the Administration.  Instead, none of this seems to be the case, if we can judge from the published leaks from Bolton's unpublished manuscript.

Turns out he has some ethics, too. Such an improbable hero!  It may not play out to his benefit, and the Trumpists will circle the wagons on him, at least until such time as their Fearless Twitter falls.
I like Sen. Doug Jones' suggestion to simplify and subpoena the manuscript, seeing as how it seems to have been circulated widely within the White House:  why shouldn't the Senate get its look (in closed quarters, if necessary, as it has not had all sensitive material redacted)?

There is a simpler solution:  revive the tabled resolution to subpoena Bolton and approve it by voice vote.  No recorded vote needed; it would be an appropriate rebuke to the would-be Caesar that would not change the ultimate outcome, which is destiny itself. ** Mitch's whip count is binary:  either the votes are there, or not; and if not, unanimous consent motions give him more power, in the form of control over proceedings, which is what he craves.
If I have one suggestion for the House staff, it is to prepare cases for some second impeachment  round: articles on Bribery, the Impoundment Control Act, and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (in his capacity as ex official chairman of the Trump Organization).  Or maybe also Obstruction of Justice, with regard to--yes!--the Mueller case.  If not to bring them forward--and just unveiling them in a timely way might compromise some of the Republicans' arguments, requiring of them the nuisance of inventing new ones--then to keep the House staff in working condition to prepare for the worst.

* "Da Kine"
+ Like the Devil (to cite the Church Lady).  SNL started a theme they can use in the future, of visitations in Hades by those assisting the Drumpfster. Dersh got his turn last weekend, played incompetently by Jon Lovitz.  It was intentional, I'm sure:  Acting!  Divine Comedy!  In that series, I'd like to see Alec Baldwin as a Witch from Hell. 
**Beware the Ides of March, Drumpf!  

Sunday, January 19, 2020

20/20 Vision: SXSW

The title does not lead to a a clear-eyed review of country music--its degradation, its vast untapped talent, its isolated shining stars of independence.  Instead, it's a misleading reference to the classic photo framing the progressives' dilemma in 2020: Tom Steyer, coming over to Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders after the debate. 

 Steyer, by Sanders/Warren.
   S by S/W.   Sorry!

I would insist on the inclusion of Steyer in the picture.  He represents a potent force (TV ads) which will be available to the winner of the Sanders/Warren competition for leadership of the progressive movement for the campaign.  His look of awkward recognition provides the clearest evidence possible of the tone of the interaction Warren and Sanders had.  Now, CNN has provided us a covert audio tape which discloses the content:  They accused each other of calling them* a liar.

The subject of the debate question, the meeting our progressive leaders had just after the 2018 election, had been reported publicly at the time. Afterward, I anxiously awaited the gracious announcement by one that they* would not be running (with or without implicit, or explicit, endorsement of the other).  Such announcement was not forthcoming, and since then both have made their current intentions known.

First, no one is or was lying.  Sanders did not say "a woman cannot be elected President".  And Warren did disagree with what he said.  It is now quite obvious almost precisely what was said.

The topic, of course, was The Movement:  Who is going to lead it in 2020?  Warren made an appeal for it to be her.  She passed on a draft movement and stood down in 2016 and let Bernie run.  Now, it is her turn.  We join in progress:

Warren: Anyway, you're not getting any younger, Bernie...
Sanders:  Now, now.  You're hardly a spring chicken yourself, Elizabeth.
 (I'm guessing that, rather than "Liz")Besides, this Trump is no one for a lady to run against.  Look at what he did to Hillary Clinton.  I don't want to see you go through that.  Let me take him on.
W (agitated):  Wait, you told me last time "Stay back"**  Are you telling me I can't win?
S:  No!  He would rip you open.
 (The actual source of the misunderstanding.  Bernie was not saying "No" to the question, but to the idea of her running against Trump.  The horror!) 
W:  I'll tell you what:  let's both run, and whoever can't win, endorses the other.
S:  You're on. 
And that's where we stood--until last weekend.  Elizabeth Warren needed to take action, as she was bleeding support on the left to Sanders and on the right to Buttigieg.  Warren is conflating the progressives' need for a champion in these primaries with the need to demonstrate that a woman can indeed be President--in the only way it can be proven, by doing it.  The strategy may work.

Neither she nor Bernie stood in critical condition as the voters begin to weigh in for real. Their combined vote in polling always tops Biden's, but rarely do they lead him individually.  The need for them to settle the dispute, definitively, is great, but it's not going to happen soon.  It will make it tougher if they end up taking both the top spots in either Iowa or New Hampshire (the latter seems particularly likely to me).   The Super Tuesday combined delegate haul for the two competing may top Biden's, but he'd be the leader in the count, and the effort to stop him early will have failed. The betting consensus seems to be more that Sanders will survive, or thrive, in IA and NH and Warren will finish third or fourth, and not the opposite, though I'm not buying it or betting on it.

Getting to the meat of the matter, though, the question remains:  who should be the progressive champion to face down Biden (or his successor in the moderate lane, if he implodes), and, what is to some degree the same question, who (between Sanders and Warren, or Steyer for that matter) is the progressive who can best face down Trump and win big in 2020?

I can answer it from my personal point of view, but I think a fair way to examine it is on the crucial distinction in their approach.  Sanders is the thought leader of the Movement, while Warren's approach is to apply the principles of the Movement in the most practical way to the challenges we face. Sanders continually broadens and makes deeper the reach of what he aims to achieve (in the last debate, though it went unnoticed, he called to "rebuild the United Nations"--a huge, idealistic, unpopular, and even somewhat arrogant challenge for the next President), while Warren tends to glom onto her original set of planned reforms the most popular formulations others develop.  I would suggest that US history has many examples of committed idealists who governed pragmatically (Lincoln, FDR, JFK/LBJ), while the closest I can think of as governing movement leaders were Reagan and Teddy Roosevelt.  Both are possible routes to the White House (though TR succeeded in after McKinley's assassination, then won re-election).

The objective data from head-to-head polling (vs. Trump) suggests Sanders polls slightly better than Warren (or Buttigieg), about equal to how Biden does, both nationally and in most in-state polls. We've been advised, though, that these polls do not predict outcomes well so far away from the election.   The objective data favoring Warren is more subtle and comes when the second choice among candidates is considered.  She seems to have recognized this, and is positioning herself as the best chance to unify the party for the general election.  Her previous endorsement from Jay Inslee and the more recent ones from Julian Castro and Ayanna Presley support that line of argument.  Sanders' script which started this mess went at this perceived Warren strength, suggesting her (first-choice) support was limited to educated elites and did not include other segments of the base.  That was the first shot which set off this important side battle.

As for Steyer, his chances to replace both Sanders and Warren as leader of the Movement are long and will depend on their being unable to resolve their dilemma, and the chances of both being buried as a result, so a late move after IA and NH.  More likely, he will be able to put his immense resources behind the winner of the face-off.

* Non-gendered single person subject and object pronouns. 
** I heard Bernie say in the debate, "Stay back", though the transcript says, "I stayed back".  I don't see as how he stayed back--she did. 

Tuesday, January 07, 2020

20/20 Vision: Democratic Scenarios

In the interests of my Clear Vision initiative (20/20), here are views of how the Democratic primaries could go. I would argue that the enunciation of these different sequences of results is clear and factual, though the weights on them are totally subjective. That being said, I'm trying to be as objective as possible here.

1) The Standard Scenario (40%)-
IA and NH look like the equivalent of four-way ties (with Klobuchar in the 'coveted #5 spot'), and SC an easy Biden win (with a battle for the 'coveted #2 spot'). None of those states have meaningful numbers of delegates, except as regards whether any candidates other than the leaders can score any of them.

So, the focus moves instead to CA to provide direction on the national sentiment, and for CA, the caucuses in Nevada (third round of voting) will provide a preview. Secondarily, on Super Tuesday, it will be on TX to see whether that state will truly be a difference-maker in the general election--turnout is the question there. The winner in CA is likely to emerge from Super Tuesday as the delegate leader and becomes a clear favorite to take the nomination. To me, that means Biden, unless Warren and Sanders can come to agreement on who will stop him before then.

Right now, with Bernie's resurgence, that doesn't seem likely. I have seen those who have suggested Warren may not make it to Super Tuesday; I think that's impossible. Instead, the current trend has dampened expectations enough that she can take a favorable spin from second in either IA or NH, which I think is highly doable.

With that configuration of forces, Biden takes a substantial lead, though winning less than half the total delegates awarded. The duration of the candidacies of Klobuchar, and eventually Buttigieg, will be critical in determining the degree of dominance Biden has in moderate delegates. If they stay in, it could still make it tough for Joe to go the distance.

Outcomes -- Biden 80%; Sanders 10%; Warren 5%; Klobuchar/Buttigieg/Field 5%.

2/3) Biden Explosion/Implosion (10% each)-
In the first case, he rises to substantial victory in Iowa and gets a draw or better in NH. That done, it becomes a question of the VP nominee, little more. The events that could lead this might include prolonged national security threat, or even more outrageous behavior coming out with regard to Trump in upcoming weeks. But more likely the next crisis comes later. (see below)
In the second case, that of Biden Implosion coming out of whatever source (health/scandal/dementia), it becomes a free-for-all, with either Sanders/Warren or any of the remaining moderate wannabe's, even in the Field, getting a chance to seize the momentum at a phase that is suddenly critical. That could lead to indecision, but that's a different scenario.
Outcomes -- Biden 50% (the first part); Sanders/Warren/Buttigieg 15% each; Klobuchar/Field 5%.

4) Takeover by the Progressive Wing (20%)-
It's about turnout and who can generate it.  The key indicator would be a 1-2 quinella of Sanders and Warren in IA and/or NH.   It would then need to be demonstrated again in NV, and accompanied by fresh flows of donation money that could convince a primary electorate hungry for change that it is, actually, possible in 2020.  If these two dominate in the delegate contest, at some point they will come to agreement as to who has won.  In that scenario, I think Warren's chances may be just as good as Bernie's, as the name "George McGovern" will appear for the first time in decades and moderates panic at the thought of Bernie as the flagbearer.  There could also be a Stop Bernie (or Stop Liz, as applicable) movement with an outside chance for a late comeback, which would be disastrous for the party's chances in the general election, in spite of the intention (think Humphrey in '68).
Outcomes - Warren/Sanders 40% each; Biden 10%;  Klobuchar/Buttigieg/Field 10%. 

5) A Surprise Outcome (15%)-
In times of great stress such as these, surprising things can happen in our electoral politics. Think Wendell Wilkie, 1940, or FDR's decision to run for an unprecedented third term that year (and the US had not even declared into WWII at that point, though it had started).  So that 15% estimate is a lot higher than what would be the norm. A winning surge by Buttigieg or Klobuchar would qualify, or someone from the Field (Bloomberg; Booker; Yang!) makes a move from next-to-nowhere all the way to the nomination itself.  Booker, thy name is The Black Swan!  One indicator could be something particularly crazy and stress-inducing from Drumpf, but it could also be some kind of groundswell of love that sweeps the nation.  (Think: unexpected Oprah endorsement)
Outcomes:  Buttigieg 35%; Klobuchar 30%; Field 35%.  

No Winner--Brokered Convention (5%)
This is always a low-probability outcome, and I think it is so this year as well.  The probability is higher in 2020 for the Democratic party, because of its rules that will drive dispersion, or even close division, of delegates in specific states.  Right now, public support in polls is similarly evenly divided. Still, you have to think this situation will not be stable at all. The media is already trying to force a Biden vs. Bernie showdown, and there have been no votes cast.  Or, whatever becomes the trend becomes inevitable, in some minds.
If it does happen, though, the chances of Field rise dramatically.  Sherrod Brown, since he won't actually have to run for it?   Bloomberg throws his wallet behind a candidate for the VP slot?   The other thing to note is that most or all delegates will be pledged to a specific candidate still in the race for the first ballot, but after that, they will migrate at will, and superdelegates (elected officials) will now get to vote. 
More likely, though, it will be more like the last one that was contested going into the convention, when Reagan challenged Ford in 1976--the obstacle course will have narrowed to two or three, with one near the finish line and willing to compromise for the lift over that final wall.  First ballot victory.
Outcomes - Biden 30%; Sanders 30%; Field 30%; Warren/Buttigieg/Klobuchar 10%. 

Betting the Come
Overall Outcomes:
               Biden 45.5%
               Sanders 16.5%
               Warren 13.17%
               Buttigieg 9.75%
               Field 8.58%
               Klobuchar 6.5%

The high chances for Field do help explain why Bloomberg and Deval might bother to enter so late.

I should bid accordingly on  Though the markets there are understating Warren's chances by this calculation, still I am overweighted on outcomes favorable to her as thing stand now.  As for Bernie, I'm betting against it, which puts me somewhat at risk, and in a sliding position, at present. 

Thursday, January 02, 2020

2019: A Year in Review (and Meta-Review)

You won't see a "best of the decade" from me this year, for the simple reason that I insist that the decade has one year left in it.+  This CNN article recites some very good arguments that our obsession with round numbers drives an illogical view of when a decade (century/millennium) begins and ends, though it finishes with a disappointing "bothsiderist" compromise conclusion.  The short version of that argument: There was no 0 A.D., between 1 B.C. and 1 A.D., because when those terms were invented in the sixth century, use of the number 0 had not yet reached the West.

A Washington Post article (by James Hohmann) announced that the "decade that started with Arab Spring ends with widespread protests".  I agree with him, if the point be that these upheavals put the lie to Nicholas Kristof's NY Times argument that "2019 was the Best Year Ever" (as Kristof would have it, due to reductions in global poverty, mortality, etc.).  The defeat of rising expectations is usually the cause of revolutions, and the counter-revolution to the Arab Spring (which began in, you guessed it, 2011) is moving steadily toward a regional-level proxy war sponsored by competing tyrannies (ours, and Israel's, not exceptions to that generalization), and that can't be good. 

Anyway, I've read a lot of recent "Best of the Decade" articles and a few other reviews of 2019.  The decade-level article I liked best was an Esquire piece on the best restaurants.  This truly is a Golden Age of Global Food--I don't know if it can last much longer--and the selection, though limited to US restaurants opening in the last 10 years, makes the mouth water and my wallet itchy to open.  As for 2019 reviews, I take my "Happy New Year!" hat off to the version by Dave Barry, the frequently corny and bothsiderist humorist, who had me laughing heartily several times reading it, and who concludes he had nothing good to say about the year.

I'm not quite so empty when it comes to praise, and here are a few choice tidbits.

My Sentence of the Year
Overheard on MSNBC recently:
"Their 'there is no there there' is what they're selling..."
(referring, of course, to the House Republicans' so-called defense in the impeachment process).  Includes five words (three different ones) with the same sound in a five-second sound bite.

Phrase of the year
"fairy-tale fantasies of eternal economic growth" - Greta Thunburg, Sept. 23 speech at the UN Summit on Climate Change.  
I think the Time Magazine Person of the Year will be winning the Nobel Peace prize next year. She raises a challenge which very few people (and approximately zero politicians) have dared even to identify.  And, if they did, even fewer have been able to propose any solution.  

Event of Long-term significance 
I would opt for the importance of the mass demonstrations in Hong Kong.  Though the casualty count pales in comparison to others (Iraq, Iran, Chile, Venezuela), or even to several of the many mass shooting incidents this year, there is now a huge question mark about the course of the "one nation, two systems" solution the Chinese and British set up for the handover of the colony in 1997.  We are now almost halfway through the 50-year transition period envisioned, and the 'Hong Kong people' suddenly noted that there had been absolutely no progress toward true democracy, and that, most importantly, they were not satisfied, as demonstrated in the (otherwise almost meaningless) elections they held recently for the public's share of the electoral body which chooses Hong Kong's Chief Executive.  

I have followed the events in Hong Kong fairly closely since The Handover (from Britain to China) in 1997.  Mostly, there were no events.   Things went on as they went before.  There were changes, but they are the ones we might expect:  Innovations, a fabulous new airport, new stores, new stacked apartments, new escalators, new highways, bridges, and tunnels.  There were economic cycles, good and bad, and there were major weather events (typhoons, landslides).  These were occurrences that the former colony, always improvised and hacked from coastal island hillsides, could easily--ahem--weather.
This year, something changed.  I have some idea what it is, because I resided in the region during the months before Handover and the years immediately after, and it was present there at the time.   What returned was Fear of the People's Republic of China.

The Chinese Communist regime is very willing to let Hong Kong be a mercantilist, free-trade haven, surrounded by their own government-sponsored enterprises.  That works for them.  What they are not willing to have is any Chinese entity with meaningful political opposition, because if they allow it there, it will be difficult to prevent in the "mainland".  I am glad, though, that the siege of the Polytechnic Institute did not end up in a Tienanmen- or Les Miserables-type massacre.  

Album of the Year
That's a little tough for me, as my listening behavior is not all-encompassing (especially, anymore).  I would propose Lana del Rey's  NFR: that's short for "Norman Fucking Rockwell", an ironic view of relationship bliss.  Her lyrics are brittle, profane poetry, and her musical composition, though often simple in the extreme, fits the music very well. 

Word of the Year
The non-gendered singular "they" was deemed so by Merriam-Webseter.  Not bad, but not so new; it's a usage I have preferred for decades over the also-not-specifically-human "one". My friends and I came up with "shey", a combination of he/she/they, some forty years ago, but it didn't catch on much.  
My Word of the Year is more provocative:  "wypipo".  Say it aloud.  First time I saw it in print I was wowed--it seems exotic, but is thoroughly US domestic.  In case I need to explain, it is used, by people of color, to refer to the generic 'Murican people of non-color, usually attached to some behavior, trait or belief which would be incredible, if not pertaining to those wypipo. (It's a collective noun, like "cattle".)

Favorite Round-Number Anniversaries 
50: Release of "In the Court of the Crimson KIng" - King Crimson.  We are just now realizing the truth of "21st-Century Schizoid Man".  And they are still playing it, better than ever. 
OK, and I do believe there was 'A Man on the Moon' (see the inside cover art). 

100:  Chicago Black Sox throw the World Series to the Cincinnati Reds.  My team's first baseball world championship (since their initial world-dominating barnstorming in the late 1860's).  It's tainted, but I'll take it. 

200:  Sir Stamford Raffles founds the port of Singapore for Britain.  In fairness to his enterprise, there was little to nothing there before him.

500:  Tough call between Cortes' conquest of Mexico and Carlos V being crowned Emperor.  Both were of massive importance for this era. 

256 (or 2 to the 2nd to the 2nd to the 2nd power squared):  Mason and Dixon begin surveying the line between Pennsylvania and Maryland.  (For a full-length exegesis, and more, read Thomas Pynchon's masterpiece, Mason and Dixon.)

Person of the Year
It's Nancy Pelosi, of course.  She came to the first rank of the Resistance at the beginning of the year, defeating Trump in the shutdown standoff, and she finished the year outfoxing even the master strategist of the Senate, Mitch McConnell.  He will not get exactly what he wants--a quick shutdown in the Senate impeachment trial, though the ultimate outcome of it will certainly not be the removal of the President.  At this point, the whole process must be about smearing our Dick-Head of State and Conman-der-in-Chief, and preparing for the general election battle:  are we willing to tackle corruption? Or will we sell out, just like our Fearless Twitter?

The Year Ahead
I am honestly thrilled for the coming year.  As you may realize, not so much about the impeachment thing, though I am enjoying the US-style Mexican standoff Pelosi and McConnell are conducting.  The best way to resolve it would be to start drafting new articles of impeachment:  Trump is a never-ending fountain of illegitimate action.  No, the Democratic primaries and caucuses will start soon (finally)--of course, I will have a lot to say soon about how those may turn out.   
Then there will be the Olympics--the US will no doubt break the record for Gold medals they set the last time Russians were banned (see 1980, Los Angeles), which will be a Good Feeling.  

Ultimately, though, whether this decade--which, in US political terms, began with the "shellacking" Democrats got from the Tea Party-inspired reaction in the 2010 Federal and state elections--will end well depends if it will finish with the drubbing of Drumpf and some sort of control of the Senate. 

+ See my review of the last decade, dated December 31, 2010. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Today Is the Greatest Day

....of a pretty lousy year, but more on that later.

My recent status as a (self-)confirmed retiree gives me time to engage in more time-consuming pursuits; it even frees one from the need for accounting for that time consumed. For example, we have availed ourselves of the opportunity to catch up on a number of second-tier pro tennis championships we missed the first time around, now being shown on the Tennis Channel to fill time during this brief respite from their season before the next one begins. My wife is now quite expert on all the up-and-coming pros from both major tours, in case you need her opinions about them.

With that in mind, I suggest that it is a high-quality use of my time today to observe the House debate on impeachment, looking outside from time to time, while walking the dog, getting the mail, preparing a manufacturing tool for transport to my niece, and (of course) preparing this post.

I find the debate to be an unusually high-quality one, though it does show the usual level of absence of public interest evidenced in the public gallery. Both sides prepared their speeches well and are coordinating them well. After trying everything else they could throw out to defeat the charges* in the preliminary rounds, the Republicans have now finally settled on a clear theme for today: this is just a partisan circus. The minority party leadership has successfully unified its caucus on the strategy, which is a good one for its political objective, but it permits no dissent. Its great virtue is that it tends to make its own case.

It is totally tangential to the question of the substance of the charges, which is the sole and exclusive responsibility of the House for the case, and it would have no effect in dissuading Democratic representatives. The Democratic side anticipated that argument and has provided its members with a green light to present the full array of factual charges. Coming from obviously diverse backgrounds and constituent-driven concerns, they could present, in the manner that suited each, all of their arrows toward the corrupt and treasonous behavior of our Conman-der-in-Chief and beyond, to the mysterious 'hand of the new God' guiding his actions--to show that the motivations for the articles are not pure political partisanship. Chairman Nadler has had brief rebuttals on hand for every possible Republican red herring.

I imagine a future Shakespeare reviewing this transcript, as a crucial courtroom-type scene for their dramatic tragedy, "America", in its segment on this decade--there should be no doubt that analysis of the decade ending next year will be critical to that future time's historical assessment of the critical arguments of our time, a la' Mark Anthony in Juilius Caesar. I have a couple of suggested notes below for the dramatist. +

i anticipate the closing argument from Speaker Pelosi, meticulously set up for the beginning of prime-time in the East. She should simply assert that these were the two articles about which there were no doubts whatsoever with regard to both rising to the level of impeachment, nor of the President's guilt. The best the Republicans should be able to muster--though I am unsure they will--would be the defector, Rep. Van Drew.

I applaud defectors--such as Justin Amash (MI)--who have the strength to walk away. It will be unfortunate for the Republi-Cons, though, if Van Drew turns out to be, as I suspect, a clown.

Many from both sides today have sad it is a sad day; I hope I have made the case for the opposite. I am sure they are sad to be constrained, as they are, to their individual destines, many of them ugly.

Drawing Some Conclusion and Suggestion

If Pelosi does not put to bed the question of whether the level of offense reaches that required for actual removal of the President, then there is still something important to establish in the Senate, though I do not think there should truly be much doubt about it.

The content of the Senate trial I addressed previously.

Excerpt from an online chat I had earlier this morning ("calbengoshi")

c: "Prosecutors are free to present more evidence and testimony at trial." Me: Except, probably not in this case. Defense has the votes in the jury to acquit, so it will "rest" the moment it knows its number is satisfied. We are seeing what a weak check the Constitutionally-prescribed impeachment/conviction is upon today's Executive powers, and that should be one of the enduring lessons. The follow-up to this episode should be a serious review of the powers of Congressional oversight, during which, for example, it would be extremely appropriate to bring in--under subpoena, as he requested--John Bolton.
(One Republican member mentioned in passing the idea of a recall petition, as part of a group of ideas the Founders did not see fit to include. I forgot his name, because he went on to totally "impeach" his own credibility.)

5:45 pm Eastern Standard Time, Dec. 18, 2019
(prior to final edits and additional links)

Additional Notes
*Refuted arguments include:

  • No quid pro quo
  • Bribery (Ukrainian abuse of power) not completed
  • Why the hurry?
  • It's just because Democrats hate Trump--this was a more insidious attack than most, because true
  • To overturn ("attempted coup") the 2016 election: this was the weakest, first because it simply makes Pence the President (as Nadler noted), and secondly because their argument in favor of "the will of the people" is so weak

6:12pm - Forgot the absurd "The abuse of Power was the Democratic (Socialist) party and Nancy Pelosi, who should be the one impeached!" I have to comment on the comical approach of Republican floor leader Collins who chose to put some of his party's ugliest members in a 30-second-each clown show in the end.

557 p.m. - Rep. Hines (CT) pointed out something I forgot: the key emotion today is anger! I add his to the noteworthy names below (D).

+(One can be certain the victors will be able to guide its telling, if that means anything.)

Just check the Congressional Record of the day (which must remain in print, even after the Internet version disappears in the ether, though it may be hard to find).
Noteworthy Intercessions:
R- Weber (TX) - wild but potent; Steube (FL) - for his clothes, nice cerulean vest and matching handkerchief; Womack (AK) - put it succinctly in the historical-dramatic tradition

D - Rep. Gallego (AZ); John Lewis (best Presentation skills); Sean Caster (one of most significant gains from 2018, where I formerly had residence); Rep. Engel, Maloney--both of them (NY).
I - Justin Amash!

Laughable:  Gohmert, Rick Allen (GA), many others

#1 Founder - Benjamin Franklin "a republic, if we can keep it"
#2 Maya Angelou, cited by Maxine Waters: "When someone show you who they are, the first time, believe them!" (check quote). It goes to her defense of being for impeachment early.

# OT: See this portrait of a defector in another critical area--our emerging electrocracy. It's a mixed review of the admirable Roger McNamee

Thanks to Billy Corgan for the phrase I adopted for title of this post.