Thursday, July 28, 2016

November 2016 Questions

Conventions are done.  Lots of media discussion about things.

Three questions for the pub:
  1. Given who Hillary Clinton is and how her team rolls, what are the odds that she/her team doesn't do something that is highly unethical (gray to black area legally), get caught, lie about it and then get caught in the lie?
  2. Given who Donald Trump is and how he has run his campaign as a gigantic cry of victimization against a corrupt establishment, what are the odds that he concedes quietly if he does lose?
  3. What are the odds that both happens?  Who's planning for a constitutional crisis?
PF Khans


  1. I'd rate the chances to be similar to the chances that one of gets shot. Low but non-zero. This election cycle is already a "full contact" sport and it could get even rougher.

  2. Q1 - 100 to 1 against. But then you will surely hear of some manufactured unethical crisis. Fox and friends are salivating at a chance to throw more garbage.

    Q2 - Again 100 to 1 against. No way the Trumpinator is going to go away quietly.

    Q3 - Zero

  3. Ael,

    I don't know, both of their characters are pretty set, and both of them quite clearly put themselves over everything else. Trump more obviously, but Clinton (or her team) clearly feels entitled to do whatever they want and let someone else pick up the tab. I have been generally assuming that this will all end in November when the polls close and a decision is made, but why should it?
    While I know that contentious politics are part of of American heritage, Donald Trump has no reason not to keep the election going forever. He has no political base except for a group that wants to see some serious change no matter the cost. He has next to no political allies. He's entirely a media figure, and what's more entertaining than a constitutional crisis with Donald Trump leading the charge against the corrupt Clintons?
    To me, these are more likely than a shooting on either because the leopards don't change their spots. Clinton will do whatever it takes and Donald is a sore loser, and more to the point, who has leverage over him to overcome his most destructive impulse?

    PF Khans

  4. I concur with mike's answer to Q1. Hillary has been "investigated" ad nauseum since her husband's election in 1992. First to "nullify" his election, then to undermine any presidential ambitions she may have had. With the many millions spent, and the huge number of GOP investigative staffers trying to hang any possible crime on her, if there was anything criminal to be found, however slight, it would have been.

    Several years ago, I was discussing Hillary with a friend who is a retired GOP election strategist. He made an interesting observation. He opined that Hillary's years in the Senate were a major political maturation experience. Prior to that, all her governmental/political experiences were in an appointed position, accountable only to the person appointing her, most typically Gov, then Pres Clinton. Serving in the Senate was the first time she was accountable to a constituency, and he truly felt it had a major impact on her. And a very positive impact, in his view. Thus, the deep fears in the GOP of Hillary, the potential Presidential candidate.

    As to Q2, who knows how Trump will behave if he loses. IMO, he will simply try to keep the spotlight by being a professional detractor of the Hillary Administration. He has spent a lifetime painting his setbacks and failures as the works of others, or "sound business practice". Prior to his candidacy, he really was small potatoes, except in the world of media entertainment coverage. Unlike other wealthy businessmen, no one sought his sage counsel on business or economic matters. Thus, he could make it up as he went along, without regard to the veracity of his statements, in an attempt to be the star of the show.

    I will make on prediction of what will follow a possible Trump loss. He will probably be treated as a pariah by the GOP. No way in hell we he seen as an "elder statesman" for the party as was the case with Bob Dole or Barry Goldwater, or in the case of the Dems, Adlai Stevenson. He may retain his support among his most avid fans, and be a regular on Fox News, but that will be it. The mainstream GOP will avoid using him in their attempts to nullify Hillary's election, which, as history shows, they will most surely do.

  5. Speaking of Bob Dole, after Bill Clinton left the White House, Dole and Clinton co-chaired a major humanitarian operation. They were later, along with their wives, interviewed on PBS, in sort of "An evening with the Doles and Clintons". The interviewer asked Dole if he though it was unusual for two political enemies to work together as they were doing. Dole responded, "Bill and I were political 'opponents', not 'enemies'. It will be a very dark day when our system becomes one where 'enemies' are competing to lead the country."

    1. Aviator,

      I respect your opinions, my primary concern is that Donald Trump doesn't have a tether to the political world that can be yanked in any meaningful way. It would have been yanked successfully by now because the whole of this country's establishment have lined up against this guy. He's in the middle of what should be at least his third, career ending media screw up that doesn't faze him.
      Since there's no one with the ability to shut him up, what's to keep him from refusing to concede in November? He's already got a large mob and he already has made it clear if he loses that its the result of collusion and double dealing. And even though Hillary Clinton won't do anything personally illegal, she's perceived by the vast majority of Americans to be corrupt and untrustworthy.
      And we've just seen several instances of Hillary Clinton and the Democrats lying about their activities and engaging in a dirty sort of politics which both further enhances her reputation as a liar.
      There will be discrepancies this year because there always are and Trump will shout them loudly and pointedly and he'll have an opponent that will lie to save face. There's a recipe here that I do not like at all.


      And for what it's worth about the opponents versus enemies, I think that that is an important point. I know the media makes money in portraying the race as between enemies, so I'll be interested to see how it goes.

      PF Khans

    2. PFK - you raise a legitimate concern. Heaven only knows how Trump would respond to a loss, particularly if it is a "close" one. Assuming your characterization of Clinton is correct, and she is immoral, then by definition, she knows the difference between "right and wrong" and simply chooses to choose "wrong" as befits her needs. However, that can be addressed in the public or legal arena, as it's her choices that can be measured for right or wrong. She may try to defend her forays into "wrong", but there would be standards which she would have to face, whether she liked it or not.

      On the other hand, I would conclude that Trump is "Amoral". In short, there is no such principle as "right or wrong", and thus is would be very hard to hold him accountable to, or get him to admit any sort of standards. He is a master of situational ethics, with only the situation that benefits him as the equivalent of a moral standard.

      Could he cause a Constitutional crisis? Not sure if it would be exactly that, but he could tie the country up in a knot while he pursued his quest with claims of conspiracy and the like, much like the birther arguments, for which the standard of proof became more and more ridiculous.

      Sadly, in Bush v Gore, the Supremes pretty much established that the voting date for the Electors, the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December (Title 3 US Code), is virtually more important than the actual election results themselves. Who knows, with that in mind, what havoc a litigation lunatic, such as Trump, could cause if he lost. But at least that "deadline" could limit any attempts to nullify the results thereafter. I'm not sure a US court has ever overturned a federal election. All Bush v Gore did was influence the outcome. Following that "magic date" I would guess that the GOP would simply revert to their other nullifying tactics, but I'm not sure they would rally around Trump in doing so, but would seek to invest their efforts in making Hillary a one term president, as they did with Obama.

      I does, indeed frighten me that Trump has risen to being a Presidential candidate of a major party. All rules are off, and he sees us a nation of personalities, not a nation of laws.

  6. Al,
    it's hard for me to swallow the concept that we are a nation of laws.
    what law were we following when we co-starred in Muomar K's murder?
    what law allows us to bomb Syria, or for that point what allows the potus to bomb isis? does the congressional approval remain open ended?
    how did isis,syria or libya earn our bombing?
    that stuff sure can be laid on hrc's lap.shes a war dog without a leash.

    i can see an october surprise from snowden showing that hrc's private server was in fact hacked by several nation states, or a bunch of hackers.
    i say this as a reply to PFK.
    best to you all.
    jim hruska

  7. Best to you Jim. I fear you are right about an October Surprise. It will be bogus but will hurt anyway. Hopefully we have been inoculated to it over the past decades.

  8. Al: Re: your mention of the Doles and Clintons, over at Fallows joint there's a good discussion of why the present GOP is no longer a "political party" in the post-WW2-United-States sense (

    The whole thing is worth the read, but for my money the crux of the biscuit comes from the guy Fallows quotes at length at the end:

    "The country depends on its political parties to scrub out the infectious elements; to make sure that, whatever candidates are put forward, at the root they will put the institutions and the norms that provide the glue for our democracy ahead of their ideological and power questing goals. I wonder how graciously GW Bush/Cheney would have responded to the Supreme Court’s ruling in 2000 had it gone the other way. And in the subsequent Congress, I wonder how graciously the Republicans would have allowed a President Gore to function had the result gone the other way. I wonder how normative the Republican response would have been had 9/11 happened on the watch of a Democratic president. Oh. Wait. BENGHAZI!!!!!

    The GOP no longer puts the country, its institutions and its norms, ahead of party. And McConnell and Ryan and the Vichy Republicans are glaring truth of the long road down which they've come. Thank you, and Mr. and Mrs. Khan, for directly calling them out. We need the GOP. We need a functioning, filtering, democracy glue-enhancing GOP. We haven’t had one since it started decaying during the first Clinton administration."

    1. Having lived in Europe the past 11 years, it is interesting to see the difference between "parties" here, and "parties" in the US. No one could simply declare him or herself a member of a given political party and run for office. And, the party can eject a rebellious parliament member from that party, and at the next election, replace him or her in the party slate. Take Bernie, for example. He declared himself a Democrat about a year ago, after never having been a member of the party. He basically ran against the mainstream of the party. Yesterday, he declared himself, once again, to be an Independent, not a Democrat. Hell, Karl Marx could rise from the dead, declare himself a Republican and run in any primaries he might choose. The only way a party could "scrub out the infectious elements", should such elements gain popular support, would be to disavow that party member or campaign against him or her. But, the cannot remove the party label from them.

    2. Thing is, Al, that the U.S. system wasn't designed for "parties" as parliamentary systems have to be. The first-past-the-post voting system forces the creation of two large umbrella parties, and when politics in the U.S. is relatively healthy the parties act like this guys says; they bring the outliers inside the tent and file off the edges - or they kick them out, like the GOP did the Birchers back in the day.

      The Southern Democrats did that back in the Sixties, which is why Wallace ran as an independent.

      The point here is that the GOP is no longer a "party" in the sense that those of us who grew up in the Fifties (or Sixties and Seventies) think of the word. The teabaggers effectively captured the GOP and forced it into being an extremist organization, unable to even compromise, much less conform to the old social norms. The "infection" has, as you note, captured the entire organism and, no, the GOP can no longer reject that parasite. The parasite IS the organism. Which is why, as I always do, I repeat my Catoesque reminder: the GOP must be destroyed.

      Hopefully once the teabag CHUDs have been whipped back into the sewers from whence they came the remaining sane conservative Americans can build a new party. Once they have sewed the ruins of the old with salt.

    3. As I posted way back, the "infection" you describe has very strong similarities to how Moscow's Communists used anti-Nazi positions to enter and "infect" or from coalitions with other political parties in Hungary and other East European countries to coopt and take over the parties, rather than openly run against those parties as Stalinist stooges.

      Sadly, the GOP is just now faintly aware that the parasite is becoming the organism. When basically honest broker like Dick Armitage bails, you have to know something is rotten.

  9. Shame on you, PF, for swallowing whole the ridiculous pottage of propaganda that the GOP's Pretty Hate Machine has cooked up for you about the Clintons.

    Is HRC a repulsively corporatist, relatively deepseated-values-free, Beltway insider? Youbetcha. Is she "UNethical"? I dunno, you tell me. After fucking Mena Airport, Rose Law Firm, Vince Fucking Foster, Whitewater, the Travel Office, Hillarycare, the Iraq War vote, Wall Street speeches, e-mails, BENGHAZIIIII!!!!!...don't you think that 1) something, somewhere, would have actually turned up as a dead-solid indictable ethical crime to hang on her? or 2) HRC is really a secretly criminally brilliant mastermind of the comic-book-villain variety?

    And if #2, then...why NOT elect her? Shit, we had eight years of Dopey McFlightsuit. A brilliant criminal might be a better option...

    Here’s the thing, tho PF: Trump isn’t uniquely awful because he’s Trump. Yes, he’s a blabbermouthed, narcissistic, thin-skinned, moronic meathead. But…the awful thing is that, aside from that, he’s a Republican.

    That is to say, he’s against civil rights, women not being property, equal prosperity at home and an absence of punitive violence abroad. His “positions” (those that aren’t utter nonsense, like the shitgibbonesque “border wall”) are bog-standard GOP positions, which is to say utterly Gilded Age punching-down punishment of anyone not in the two-yacht family.

    So I have no new outrage about Trump that isn’t tempered by my overall loathing of the renegade madness of the bizarre mashup of economic royalism and theocratic triumphalism that is the current GOP. I can watch the latest metastsization of the brain-cancer that has destroyed the higher functions of the GOP since Reagan conned it into submission and Gingrich fed it the monkey brains with the ruminative calm of an arsonist contemplating where to place the accelerant so as to ensure that the shitheap of a madhouse goes up quickly and thoroughly enough to roast as many of the vile coterie of malicious gibbering loons inside as possible.

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  11. he has run his campaign as a massive con that harnesses the fine whine of white resentment and entitlement and economic distress against a fake wave of dusky invaders and imaginary liberal regulations while all the time beavering away at the bog-standard Republican goal of ensuring that no wealthy person misses so much as an after dinner mint..."

    Fixed that for ya.

  12. I will agree with one thing, PF: Trump's whining about "rigging" in November is a genuinely worrisome thing. If he doesn't concede, or if his rhetoric fires up the Trumpendross to the point where they attempt to "reverse" the results we're down the road to political implosion.

    The problem with the "zero-sum" politics in many parts of the world is that none of the political players are confident in losing power because they don't trust the winner to cede it back. Trump is, in effect, stating that this is the case NOW, that the election is being gamed to prevent his taking power.

    We all know what Republicans will do when they win; we say it between 2000 and 2008. Now we may get the chance to see if they are just as feckless when they lose.

    1. I disagree with you, Chief. The current Republicans are FAR less capable than those that governed us from 2000 to 2008. I think victory would lead them to about a 2 week honeymoon and then an implosion when the public discovers that they can't stop being the party of "No" even within the party.

      Through no fault of his own (and he's got way too many faults), a vote for Trump is a vote for legislative gridlock and executive failure.

      This article describes a lot of Trump's supporters pretty well:

      They feel the political system has failed them and they are enjoying watching Trump attack it with no concept of what a Trump victory would mean (admittedly, it probably would not mean much to them, they've lost nearly everything).

  13. The Chief brings up a good point.

    Let's pick the high probability shot. Clinton wins, Trump retreats into classic "stab in the back" rhetoric. Republicans maintain a lock on the House, but (barely) lose the senate (but retain a filibuster veto).

    Whither American politics? Can Hillary govern effectively? Can she get any appointees past the senate to run her administration? Can things get even more partisan? Or does politics fragment in small groups where the only thing people can agree on is "no"?

    1. Trump doesn't matter, Ael. The GOP is going to obstruct, obstruct, obstruct regardless. The bottom line for them is that they have given up on the idea of "democratic government" - both as "democracy" (in that they don't believe that any form of policy other than their own is legitimate) and "government" (in that they don't believe that government is a compact between citizens as opposed to a foreign power imposing itself on the populace (unless it requires people to do or not do things that "conservatives" like...) and therefore they don't really care whether the government functions at all).

      So, no, neither HRC nor any other Democrat can govern effectively.

      The frightening part - for me, anyway - would be if the GOP managed to seize both the Executive and the Legislative branches of government. IMO there'd be a free-for-all Randian Day of Jubilee that'd make ol' Ayn's head spin, and by the end of it we'd be back in 1929 (or 1899, if the party REALLY goes wild...).

    2. I can see it now: - - The Omnibus Repeal Act of 2017