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“At This Point, I Am Out Of States”: Trump’s Path Goes Through Michigan And Pennsylvania

Right up front, I want to provide the caveat that I don’t think presidential polls, even state rather than national ones, amount to a hill of beans this early in the process. Having said that, let’s take a look at what it would mean for the Electoral College if the latest Quinnipiac polls out of Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania are correct.

The polls show Clinton with a clear lead in Florida (47%-39%), but locked in ties in Ohio (40%-40%) and Pennsylvania (42%-41%).

So, let’s say that Florida is solidly blue at this point but suddenly Pennsylvania is winnable for Trump. Or, to be more precise, let’s look at what it would mean if Trump lost Florida but won in both Ohio and Pennsylvania.

For starters, Obama won in 2012 with 332 Electoral College votes to Mitt Romney’s 206. If we keep everything the same and award Ohio and Pennsylvania to Trump, the result is 294-244.

So, winning Ohio and Pennsylvania is a good start, but without Florida being a possibility, it’s hard to get from 244 to the 270 votes needed to win.

Let’s give Trump Virginia. That get’s him to a 257-281 deficit. New Hampshire gets him to 261-277.

I don’t feel like I can give Trump Iowa based on his poor performance there in the caucuses, but even if I did, he would still lose 267-271. At this point, I am out of states. I can’t see Trump doing well in Nevada or Colorado. He seems terribly weak in Wisconsin. The only remaining state out there that is theoretically ripe for Trump is Michigan.

So, if Trump can win Ohio and Pennsylvania and Virginia and New Hampshire and Michigan (but not Iowa). That gets him a 277-261 victory. In fact, in this scenario, he doesn’t even need New Hampshire.

This seems like his only path.

And it assumes that he won’t lose Arizona or North Carolina or Indiana or Georgia, or any other states that were carried by Romney. But, of course, John McCain lost North Carolina and Indiana to Obama, and Georgia and Arizona are going to be hotly contested this time around.

If Quinnipiac is correct and Florida isn’t even a swing state this time around, the path to Republican victory is very, very narrow. But it is at least discernible. Trump will need to go after Pennsylvania and Michigan with everything he’s got.

 

By: Martin Longman, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, June 21, 2016

June 22, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Electoral College, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , | 1 Comment

“When Top Prosecutors Break Bad”: So What Does It Say About Our Politics That Two Of Them Were Indicted This Month?

In theory, attorneys general are the people who are supposed to catch the bad guys, not be them.

But now two attorneys general from big, important states have been indicted within the space of a few days of each other. One is accused of forgetting to tell investors in an energy project that he had a stake in it, and the other is accused of leaking secret grand jury proceedings to the media to smear political opponents.

The more colorful story comes to us from Texas, where Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton was indicted on felony securities fraud charges. If you’re from outside Texas and Paxton’s name is ringing a vague bell, it might be because a mere two days after the Supreme Court issued its same-sex marriage decision, Paxton came out roaring that judges in the great state of Texas were entitled to deny marriage licenses based on their religious beliefs. I think Alabama may have beaten him to the punch on that one, but that’s about it. Paxton’s move led some other Texas lawyers to start calling for him to be disbarred.

The merest look into Paxton’s track record leaves you shaking your head that the man ever managed to become Texas’s top lawyer to begin with. He’s been in the financial soup before. Back when he was a legislator, he got hooked up in a Ponzi scheme. In that one, he got bilked and lost nearly $100,000. The man who according to the Dallas Morning News perpetrated the swindle had previously established his credibility by being part of an expedition group that claimed to have found the remains of Noah’s Ark in Iran.

Paxton also seems to have lifted a $1,000 Montblanc pen that another man had left behind at a security checkpoint. This wasn’t revealed until after he was elected AG. And now, a grand jury in his home county north of Dallas says he talked friends into investing $600,000 in an energy company while failing to tell them that he was making a commission off their investments. An attorney general!

Paxton’s attorneys have said he will plead not guilty.

In Pennsylvania, the indicted attorney general is Kathleen Kane, who in 2012 became the first female Democrat ever elected to the job. In the Democratic primary, she beat Patrick Murphy, the former congressman and Iraq War veteran.

The Kane indictment has its roots in a 2014 Philadelphia Daily News article about how a different prosecutor bungled an investigation into a local civil rights leader a few years prior. Kane had sparred with that prosecutor, so when people started wondering where the Daily News got its info, thoughts turned naturally toward Kane’s office. Kane acknowledged that her office may have provided the paper with some material but insisted that none of it was bound by secrecy rules. Or maybe that someone in her office did that without her knowledge. Now she’s been charged with perjuring and obstructing administration of law, though she maintains she has done nothing wrong.

Kane is slightly more than just a local Philly story. After beating Murphy, she dispatched the Republican in a landslide. She got talked up for a lot of races. Big future. And she clearly has connections beyond southeastern Pennsylvania. It popped my eyes a little to see that Kane is being represented by Gerald Shargel. Why? Because Shargel is a New York lawyer. And he is, well, not to put too fine a point on it, a mob lawyer. Partly. He does other stuff. He’s a brilliant lawyer, and everybody up to and including John Gotti is entitled to a vigorous defense. It’s just a little surprising.

But Shargel is Clarence Darrow compared to the man Kane had doing her public relations, Washington lobbyist Lanny Davis. On this front, she chose to link arms with Ivory Coast war criminal Laurent Gbagbo and National Football League thought criminal and Washington, D.C., football team owner Dan Snyder, both of whom had been served by this same PR heavy. But about a month before her indictment, Kane’s wiser angels prevailed, and she ended her relationship with Davis. Or maybe he severed ties to her. It’s unclear. In any case, the Allentown Morning Call reports that Davis was her 10th PR adviser in the space of two years.

We’ve all come not to expect much from politicians. And in a lot of places, at the local and state level, when a pol retires after 20 or 30 years without ever having been indicted, that’s something that counts as a legitimate accomplishment. But from attorneys general, who direct huge staffs of lawyers and investigators and can destroy careers and put people in jail, it would be nice to do a little better than this.

 

By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, August 14, 2015

August 15, 2015 Posted by | Attorneys General, Kathleen Kane, Ken Paxton | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

“Changing The Way The Votes Are Counted”: Republicans Revive Bold Scheme To Rig Presidential Elections

After Republicans failed to capture the White House in 2012, they dusted off a tried-and-true plan to improve their future electoral prospects. No, they wouldn’t moderate their views or expand their appeal to win votes. They would just change the way that the votes are counted!

The plan: to rig the electoral college with the ultimate goal of squeaking out a Republican presidential win, even in an increasingly challenging electoral landscape.

Here’s how it was supposed to work.

Before the 2010 election, Republican strategists focused energy and resources on gaining control of state legislatures, and succeeded in flipping party control of legislative chambers in blue states including Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. This allowed Republican legislatures to draw congressional districts, gerrymandering their states to ensure future Republican gains even in states where Democrats tend to win statewide.

GOP strategists then took it a step further. What if Republicans used their control over these blue states and their favorably gerrymandered electoral maps to make it harder for Democrats to win presidential elections?

Under the Constitution, each state determines how it will distribute its electoral votes to presidential candidates. All but two states (Maine and Nebraska) have a “winner take all” system, in which the winner of the state’s popular vote earns all of its electoral votes. The Republican plan would keep the “winner take all” system in big, solidly red states like Texas. But it would change it in big, blue states like Pennsylvania and Michigan, ensuring that a Democratic candidate who wins the popular vote in the state doesn’t go home with all of its electoral votes.

For instance, under the plan originally proposed in Pennsylvania after the 2012 election, which would have divided the state’s electoral votes up by gerrymandered congressional districts, Mitt Romney would have won 13 of the state’s 20 electoral votes, despite having lost the state’s popular vote. Last year, the Republican-controlled state house in the presidential swing state of Virginia put forward a plan to do something similar. If the Virginia plan had been in effect in 2012, Mitt Romney would have carried away nine of the state’s 13 electoral vote, despite having lost the state’s popular vote to Barack Obama.

Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus made the goal of the scheme clear when he endorsed it last year, saying, “I think it’s something that a lot of states that have been consistently blue that are fully controlled red ought to be looking at.”

The proposals in Pennsylvania and Virginia sank after groups like People For the American Way got out the word and residents realized the proposals were part of a blatant political ploy. But this month, the scheme was resurrected in Michigan, where a Republican state lawmaker is proposing his own plan to dilute the power of his state’s reliably Democratic electoral college block. Under the plan introduced by Rep. Pete Lund, Michigan’s electoral votes would be distributed according to a formula tied to the popular vote. It’s not as blatant as the original Pennsylvania and Virginia proposals were, but it has the same goal: If it had been in effect in the last presidential election, it would have cut President Obama’s electoral total in Michigan down to 12 from 16.

These plans can initially seem reasonable, even to progressives, many of whom are wary of the electoral college system. But this isn’t a good-government plan to change the way our presidential elections are conducted. It’s a targeted plot to get more electoral votes for Republicans, even when they’re losing the popular vote. It’s no coincidence that these plans have often been quietly introduced in lame duck sessions, when voters are paying less attention. These measures, if allowed to be passed quickly in a few states with little debate and attention, could have national implications and change American political history.

Voters should be allowed to pick their politicians. But this is yet another case of politicians trying to pick their voters. Like with voter suppression schemes and extreme gerrymandering, the GOP is trying to change the rules of the game for their own benefit. Voters can’t let them get away with it.

 

By: Michael B. Keegan, President, People For the American Way; The Huffington Post Blog, November 20, 2014

November 21, 2014 Posted by | Election 2016, Electoral Colege, Gerrymandering | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“A Cop Killing And A Beheading”: How Fox News Picks And Chooses Its “Terrorism” Targets

Fox News is increasingly fixating on the gruesome workplace beheading last week in Moore, Oklahoma, by a recent Muslim convert, suspect Alton Nolen. Perhaps sensing a way to once again fan its patented flames of Islamophobia while simultaneously blaming President Obama for being indifferent to the threat of terrorism, Fox is treating the murder as a national story with sweeping political implications.

Sounding the jihadist alarms, Fox News and the right-wing media are eager to label the ghastly crime an act of Islamic terror. Law enforcement officials, however, aren’t in the same rush, noting that the attack came immediately after Nolen was fired and stating that they’ve yet to find a link to terrorism. While that story continues to play out, it’s worth noting that an actual act of political terror remains in the news. It’s just not a priority for Fox.

On the night of September 16, 31-year-old marksman Eric Frein was allegedly laying in wait outside the Blooming Grove police barracks in northeastern Pennsylvania, preparing to assassinate state troopers. Shortly before 11 p.m., Bryon Dickson was shot and killed as he walked toward his patrol car. Moments later, as he approached the barracks to begin his overnight shift, trooper Alex Douglass was shot and seriously wounded by a bullet fired from a .308-caliber rifle.

Described as a “survivalist,” Frein disappeared into the Poconos Mountains woods, where he’s been hiding ever since, eluding law enforcement and its massive manhunt, which includes hundreds of law enforcement officers with assistance from the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Considered “extremely dangerous” and possibly armed with an AK-47, officials were forced to close local schools in fear Frein might attack again. Lots of businesses in the area were ordered to stay dark, and some U.S. mail deliveries were suspended out of fear postmen might be exposed as possible targets for the shooter.

And what was the possible motivation for the killing spree?

“He made statements about wanting to kill law enforcement officers and to commit mass acts of murder,” state police commissioner Frank Noonan warned the public at the time. Another official noted the shooter has a “longstanding grudge against law enforcement and government in general” dating back to at least 2006.

A friend was even more explicit. “He was obviously a big critic of the federal government,” a friend name Jack told CNN. (Jack did not give his last name.) “No indications of really any malice toward law enforcement in particular. Most of his aggression was (toward) the federal government.”

Sounds like homegrown, anti-government terrorism, right?

“We have a well-trained sniper who hates authority, hates society, hates government, and hates cops enough to plug them from ambush. He’s so lethal, so locked and loaded, that communities in the Pocono Mountains feel terrorized,” wrote Philadelphia columnist Dick Poleman. “He kept camouflage face paint in his bedroom. He toted the AK-47 on social media. He collected, according to the criminal complaint, ‘various information concerning foreign embassies.'”

But turn on Fox News and you don’t hear much about Eric Frein from the channel’s high-profile hosts. You don’t hear much about the anti-government zealot who killed a cop while trying to assassinate two. And you don’t hear evening hosts diving into Frein’s background trying to figure out what sparked his killing streak.

There’s simple no interest.

In two weeks since the shooting, the Fox programs monitored by Nexis have mentioned Frein’s name in just six reports, and most of those were simply news updates that consisted of one or two sentences. Only one segment, which aired on On The Record With Greta Van Susteren, featured an extended conversation about the killing and the subsequent manhunt. In none of the six Fox reports, however, were Frein’s vocal anti-government leanings mentioned, nor was there any suggestion Frein was a domestic terrorist.

Hosts Neil Cavuto, Bill O’Reilly, Megyn Kelly and Sean Hannity have all ignored the shocking cop-killer story. In general, Fox has provided almost no commentary, no context, and certainly no collective blame for the execution.

By contrast, in the days since the Oklahoma killing, Fox programs monitored by Nexis have flooded the zone with coverage of the beheading, totaling hours and hours of coverage. Most of Fox’s reports offered extended, overheated commentary, and most of them dwelled on the fact the killing may have been an act of terror.

Cavuto, O’Reilly, Hannity, and Megyn Kelly have all hosted extensive coverage of the killing, with Kelly and Hannity devoting nearly their entire September 26 and September 29 programs to the Oklahoma story (“Terror In The Heartland”), allowing guests to make all kinds of unproven connections between the crime and to Islam and, of course, to politicize the tragic killing.

In other words, on Fox News a Muslim who killed a co-worker in Oklahoma and who remains in police custody represents a much bigger story than a suspected anti-government assassin who killed a cop and remains on the run, eluding hundreds of law enforcement officials while terrorizing a Pennsylvania community.

Note that one of the renewed right-wing talking point this week has been how Obama refuses to acknowledge the looming threat of Islamic terrorism. (His FBI is being “politically correct.”) Of course, a similar charge could be made of Fox News and its purposefully blind spot to homegrown, gun-toting, anti-government terrorists. It’s a deadly topic that the right-wing media refuse to grapple with.

As CNN’s Peter Bergen noted earlier this year, since 9/11, “extremists affiliated with a variety of far-right wing ideologies, including white supremacists, anti-abortion extremists and anti-government militants, have killed more people in the United States than have extremists motivated by al Qaeda’s ideology.”

If the Pennsylvania ambush was politically motivated, it represented just the latest sad chapter in a long string of recent extremist acts of violence in America. From neo-Nazi killers, to a string of women’s health clinic bombings and assaults, as well as bloody assaults on law enforcement from anti-government insurrectionists, acts of right-wing extreme violence continue to terrorize victims in the U.S.

Just this spring in Las Vegas, a premeditated gun rampage unfolded when Jerad Miller and his wife Amada executed two policemen who were on their lunch break. The killers, who months earlier traveled to Cliven Bundy’s Nevada ranch to join the militia protests against the federal government, reportedly covered the slain officers with cloth that featured the “Don’t tread on me” Gadsden flag, which has recently been adopted as a symbol of the tea party movement.

That ambush came just two days after Dennis Marx, member of the “sovereign citizen” anti-government movement, tried to lay siege to a courthouse outside of Atlanta. Sovereign citizens are militia-like radicals who don’t believe the federal government has the power and legitimacy to enforce the law. The FBI has called the movement “a growing domestic terror threat to law enforcement.”

As mentioned, Greta Van Susteren was the only evening Fox host who addressed the Pennsylvania cop-killing story in any detail. But even she whitewashed the story, omitting any mention of Frein’s anti-government bias and his clear embrace of terrorism. Right after the Frein segment ended on her September 22 program, Van Susteren urged viewers to stay tuned for a report about the “nightmare” looming from the threat of jihadist fighters inside the United States.

Note to Greta: Eric Frein represents another type of “nightmare” terror that looms in America. Fox News should stop ignoring that threat.

 

By: Eric Boehlert, Senior Fellow, Media Matters for America, September 30, 2014

October 1, 2014 Posted by | Fox News, Islamophobia, Right Wing | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Another Republican Gives Up Obamacare Fight”: Unfortunately For Corbett, It’s Probably Too Late To Save His Re-Election Campaign

Governor Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania is the latest Republican to retreat from the Obamacare wars.

On Thursday, the federal government approved Governor Corbett’s plan to expand Medicaid in the Keystone State, making it the 27th state in the nation to adopt the controversial provision of the Affordable Care Act. Corbett had initially opposed expanding Medicaid at all, but earlier this year he bowed to mounting political pressure by offering a plan that would expand Medicaid with a number of Republican-friendly conditions, such as a work requirement and the authority to charge premiums for recipients living below the poverty line. Those did not make it into the final deal.

The agreement should be a boon to Pennsylvania’s working poor; at least 500,000 Medicaid-eligible Pennsylvanians will now be able to sign up for coverage starting on January 1. It will also save the state $4.5 billion over the next eight years, according to Corbett (independent studies have pegged the savings to be even higher)

Corbett clearly hopes that the news will provide a political boost as well. The governor’s announcement of the agreement, which calls it “historic,” “innovative,” and “truly a Pennsylvania solution,” is just about the nicest thing that any elected Republican has ever said about the Affordable Care Act. Meanwhile, Medicaid expansion is wildly popular in Pennsylvania. And as of last week, the Republican governors on the ballot in 2014 who have adopted Medicaid expansion were polling an average of 8.5 percent better than those who hadn’t. It’s not hard to understand what prompted Corbett’s change of heart.

Unfortunately for Corbett, it’s probably too late to save his re-election campaign; the terminally gaffe-prone governor trails his Democratic challenger Tom Wolf by 16.6 percent according to the RealClearPolitics polling average. But plenty of other Republicans have also realized that it makes sense to buck the party line on Medicaid expansion. As The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent has documented, GOP senate candidates such as Scott Brown in New Hampshire, Tom Cotton in Arkansas, Joni Ernst in Iowa, Terri Lynn Land in Michigan, and Thom Tillis in North Carolina have tied themselves in knots trying to explain how they would repeal the Affordable Care Act without getting rid of any of the popular parts.

It’s almost as if voters would rather expand health care coverage than burn billions of dollars to thumb their noses at the White House.

Of course, this wasn’t supposed to happen. For over a year, Republicans have been promising that Obamacare would be the anchor that sinks every Democrat on the ballot and sparks a GOP wave in November. Instead, many Republicans are now either embracing sections of the law, or just ignoring it altogether. It appears that we can add this blown prediction to long list of Obamacare disasters that stubbornly refused to materialize.

 

By: Henry Decker, The National Memo, August 29, 2014

August 30, 2014 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, Tom Corbett | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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