Democratic candidates

The Democratic challenger will officially be known on July 16, the last day of the Democratic convention.   It will likely be known months before this.   It will be held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Donald Trump will officially be a candidate for the Republican party on August 27 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Conventions are not where candidates are chosen anymore.  It is where the party celebrates their candidate,  And along the way,  others make some unflattering remarks (“lock her up”) about the opposition candidate.   That’s just the way it goes.

I’m certain Wisconsin and North Carolina (Democrat and Republican conventions) were chosen because they  are one of the 7 to 9 toss up states.  The 7 states with electoral votes (EV’s) in parentheses are:   AZ  (11), FL (29),  MI (10), NC (15), NH (4), PA (20), WI (10).   I consider NH (4), ME (4) and NE (5) are “semi toss ups” because they permit the EV’s to be split.   While every vote counts, I don’t think these 3 states really are going to swing the election.    The 3 biggies (FL, NC and PA) are all on the east coast.

The best site so far on the prediction of the 2020 election is www.270towin.com


Click the map to create your own at 270toWin.com

Trump has a distinct advantage.  While the Democratic candidates focus on the primaries, Donald Trump will focus his campaign rallies on swing states.

Early Democratic primary battles in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Iowa may not be the best way to spend contributions.  The Democratic party needs to appeal to the sometimes voter, not that interested in the issues.  The month of March will greatly narrow the field.   Joe Biden is now out in front, and by March, he may have enough primary votes, for the other candidates to concede.  March 3 is Super Tuesday which ends primary voting in 14 states.  If none of the candidates have sufficient pledged candidates,   then it is a contested convention.  I don’t see this happening, as the Democrats lose their chance to laud praise on one candidate.

The most informative  link on the primaries is from Wikipedia:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2020_Democratic_Party_presidential_primaries

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

Trump’s Approval

Trump’s approval rating has  increased from 39% on October 1 -13 to 45% on Dec 2 – 15 and numerous commentators have mentioned this as a sign of Americans disapproval of impeachment.  This is really hard to say, because other polls show a high percentage of Americans support the impeachment.   Polls always contain noise and no commentator likes to say the polls are inconclusive, but that may be the truth.   A 6% change over 3 months, is not particularly significant and I look at graphs to identify trends.   Gallup tries to pick a random representative sample but surveys are always imperfect.   The links provided below are the best ones I could find.  Time will tell if there really is a trend as a result of the House actions yesterday.

The country is divided.   Except for brief periods of extreme events, it has been this way for the past two decades.  A breakdown of approval ratings, shows a rock solid support by Republicans (89%) and a similar lack of approval by Democrats (8%).  This recent small uptick in approval ratings seem to be coming from independents, who show a 10% increase in approval ratings over the last 3 months, to 43%. approval.

The really striking feature of Trump’s approval ratings, as compared to the past 12 presidents from Truman to Obama, is how flat  (little variability)  his approval ratings have been to date.   He never gets above 50% or below 35% in the polls.   So, the variability as measured by Trump’s high to low is around 15%.  Obama’s was 25%.  George W. Bush ratings ranged from 90% to 25%, or an incredible 65%.   Bush became extremely popular right after the 9/11 attack in 2001, and then his popularity began to slide as the US attacked Afghanistan and Iraq.

Without any extreme event,  approval ratings often hit their  high mark  in about the first 100 days following inauguration of the first term.   Obama had his  highest approval ratings (62 to 67%) from January to May, 2000 in the honeymoon period.   G. W. Bush had a similar honeymoon period of  57 to 62%, however this approval rating soared immediately after 9/11.   Neither Clinton nor George H.W. Bush had their highest ratings during the  honeymoon period of their first term,  but both Reagan and Carter did.  What sent George H.W. Bush’s ratings through the roof (89%) was the beginning of the Iraq war.

Nixon’s approval rating was generally quite high (above 50%) even though the perception is that he was an unpopular president due to the numerous anti-war rallies.  He was re-elected in Nov 1972 in a landslide election, and definitely enjoyed high approval of 67% in the first week of the honeymoon period.  The Watergate scandal galvanized public opinion in October 1973  with the battle for the tapes and the  firing of  the Special Prosecutor Cox, termed the “Saturday Night Massacre.”  Nixon’s approval ratings sank to below 30% in October  and never recovered in the next 10 months before his resignation.

Returning now to Trump’s flattish (trendless)  ratings and coming events,  In January,  the Senate will acquit Trump of the two articles of impeachment.  The headlines from the New York Times, Washington Post and all the print media that Trump hates so much , will have in big bold letters “The Senate Acquits Trump.”   This should help fuel his rallies.  Whether this translates into a boost in ratings, we shall see.

If Trump can sustain  approval ratings above “the line”  (50%) I will immediately concede that impeachment boosted his approval.   Likewise, if the Gallup approval  ratings fall in the usual range (35 to 45%), then the conclusion should be that impeachment had no discernible affect.   Sinking below 35% is rare, but it could happen, particularly if the Democrat campaign intensifies.

A couple caveats:  (1)  It takes time to do polling, so the period to watch is 4 to 8 weeks after the acquittal and  (2) I use Gallup polls for consistency.   I’ve included a link for the 538 website, which compares many surveys, and gives each of them a score.  Trump seems to do better by a couple of percentage points, when surveys include likely or registered voters.   I would think these surveys are better indicators of results of the 2020 election.

A final caveat is that surveys only ask if one approves of the president’s performance.  The 2020 election will give voters a chance to select which of presidential candidate they feel would best lead the country.   Obviously, the big unknown is the registered voters who do not vote. Also, to win an election, you have to be get a majority of votes in the swing states (PA, FL, MI, AZ, etc), not necessarily be the most popular in the country.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

Gallup poll 

(you can select various presidents, and their support from Republicans, Democrats and Independents)

Wikipedia – Presidential Approval Ratings (historical) 

Wikipedia = Presidential Approval Rating (Trump)

538 Website

(shows about an even split on those for and against impeachment.

 

Impeachment Trial in the Senate

By the end of next week, the Articles of Impeachment will be approved and sent to the Senate.  The trial of impeachment in the Senate will likely be confined to two to three weeks  in January 2020.   It will be run by Republicans and made to help Donald Trump.   In fact, at times, it may seem an impeachment trial is  a honorable exercise, to undo the damage from the House of Representatives.   It is a foregone conclusion that Trump will be acquitted of two articles against the him.  The voting in the Senate will be nearly entirely along party lines – meaning Trump will be acquitted.   I am 100% certain of this.

After the acquittal vote, there will be a moment of party unity among  Republicans.   Their speeches will be similar,  using such phrases as “totally exonerated” and “proved to all that the charges were baseless.”   They will in the process vilify Rep. Adam Schiff, Jerry Nadler and Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.    The Democrats acted deplorably and despicably.  The only reason for the impeachment was because they knew none of their candidates could beat him in November.   At least that will be the spiel – are we that naive?

There is intense discussion right now among Republicans on how to make the trial in the Senate one of “vindication and exoneration.”   Trump sees this as a time to glorify the achievements of the Republican party and vilify the Democrats.  It is as if you went to a ball game, and one team could pick the umpire.    This is free time on television, so why not?  I won’t watch much.

For me, it will be a sad day.  It will say to all future presidents that as long as you hold the majority in the Senate, then Article 2 of the Constitution doesn’t really apply.   I agree the bar for impeachment must be high.  The evidence must be solid.  The conduct of the president must clearly show he committed “high crimes and misdemeanors.”  Each of the Articles has been proven:  I.  Trump approved military aid for Ukraine conditional on announcements of two investigations to help him win elections and II.  He obstructed justice by refusing to let key witnesses testify at the impeachment inquiry.

Obviously, Trump has the authority to veto military assistance.   He also could have made an announcement, that he would attach conditions to the aid.    He did neither of these.  Instead, he had his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani and Ambassador Gordon Sondland to set up the “announcements” which would help support false accusations against Joe Biden.

It will be a sad day for the idea of elections free of outside interference.  It will be a sad day for the role of Congress to investigate wrong doing by the president, because the subpoenas now don’t mean much.  Trump and Republicans can celebrate his “exoneration” but he will forever be remembered in the history books, as the fourth president to be impeached by Congress.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

Voting in 2020

There are Republicans who will support and vote for Democrats.   Trump calls them scum.  I call them Americans.  There are Democrats who will support and vote for Trump.  I call them Americans.  Some of my friends think Trump is doing a fine job and deserves re-election.   They are my friends today, and will be after the election.

Furthermore, I can go to sleep a Democrat and wake up a Republican.   If lowering the deficient is a Republican idea, well count me in.  Of course, this means taking a hard look at the budget and cutting back appropriately.  The Europeans are not doing enough to support NATO and I support getting them to do more.  Is that a Republican idea?

Whatever candidate you choose behind the curtains of the voting booth  is your business.   Everyone that goes to the polls and votes, can be called anything but  loyal American doings their civil duty.

Stay tuned,

Dave

What happens next in the Impeachment process

There is little doubt in my mind, that the evidence is strong enough to impeach Trump.   Ambassador Taylor provided more details on the what the Ukrainian President had to deliver before receiving 391 million dollars in aid.  He had to announce in public that an investigation into Biden’s son prior work in Ukraine  was being undertaken.   This would be linked to Vice President Biden efforts to get the Ukrainian Chief Prosecutor fired.

Trump will lose in the House.  I predict a vote taken in the House in late December or early January.  Then the matter goes to the Senate.  A vote along party lines  mean that Trump will win.  How can Republicans vote to find Trump innocent can be answered in several ways.  First, that this deal never went through.   The Ukrainian President never announced an investigation of any kind.   Second,  people like Ambassador Taylor was not in constant contact with the President, and at any time Trump could change his mind.   Finally, the charges against him (Articles of Impeachment) do not rise to the level of misconduct to send Trump packing.

At present, the Republicans are arguing that the impeachment inquiry is illegal because the House has not passed a resolution to begin the inquiry.   It doesn’t need to.  The inquiry is legal.  The Fox News has yet to present on legal scholar which will say otherwise.  The inquiry can take place behind closed doors.  Both Republicans and Democrats take part in the questioning.

So, what is the final outcome?  I believe Trump will not be found guilty by a 2/3 vote and will immediately claim victory.  Maybe I’m wrong,    We shall see.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

Trump’s new occupation – Farming

Actually, he’s been at it for a long time.  Trump loves “dirt” and somehow I really believe he thinks it puts him out in front of the others.   He uses a blended mix, some actual facts mixed in with pure cow manure.  He connects up with experts in this area, who know how to concoct a good story and spread it on social media.   Trump did not write “Clinton Cash”  a book  filled with false accusations against Bill and Hillary Clinton, but he quickly connected with those involved, including Steve Bannon.

Trump has crossed the line between legitimate accusations and complete fabrication so many times,  he just doesn’t see the line anymore.    If you want to see a pattern of behavior that is so ingrained in Trump, you have to go back to his failed Taj Mahal casino, where he not only blasted a financial analyst who said his hotel was in trouble, but Trump was actually able to get the analyst fired from Barrons.  In this case, the story does have a happy ending, as the casino failed just as the analyst predicted, because revenues came up short during New Jersey’s winter months, and the analyst sued his investment firm and won.  I wrote about this in a two part blog, “I’ll see you in court”   See link

He needs help on his farm.  Sean Hannity, a commentator with Fox News is one hand who is so predictable and loyal to him.    “Sean, throw dirt on ___” and Sean will do it.  Lou Dobbs is another one.   The dirt farm bankers are the Koch brothers and Rebekah Mercer, daughter of billionaire hedge fund manager, Robert Mercer.   Rebekah gets her way because she’s got so much ready cash.   She’s on the board of the Heritage Foundation and other conservative organizations.  The Mercers contributed 25 million dollars to Trump’s campaign, in 2016.   Trump aided by Steve Bannon was lambasting Hillary’s connections to wealthy elites, and Trump as an independent with a self funded campaign.  This was a joke.

Need more support for the dirt farm?  Got money  and we’ve got the time,  Ready and willing conspiracy inventors includes Peter Schweizer, who is a master in world wide conspiracy theories.   It used to “all about Bill” or the Clinton Foundation.   I haven’t  read any of his books because from all serious writers, they are filled with unsubstantiated accusations. For 3 years, we’ve had a Department of Justice, CIA and FBI, all run by Trump nominees.   Yet,  no indictments.  The person leading the “Lock her up” chants at the Republican Convention, Michael Flynn went to jail.   He’s since is trying to get into the Republican conspiracy racket.

A lot of investigations are started with little information.   But, at some point, prosecutors at either the state of federal level, have to decide whether a crime been committed.   Now, the right wing conspiracy promoters were forever saying there was a massive coverup, because  Obama’s DOJ was not charging either Bill or Hillary Clinton with anything criminal.   Sean Hannity or Lou Dobbs had  already concluded there was enough on them that any half wit prosecutor could come and haul them to jail.   Trump gave the impression he would and for the last 3 years, the FBI, CIA and the Department of Justice did not charge the Clintons or anyone associated with the Clinton Foundation.  Note that the Department of Justice employs 11,000 lawyers.

In preparation for the 2020 election,  Trump has extended his search for dirt to the Ukraine, Australia and China.  I’ll have to do each of the dirt expeditions later.   It does remind one of the McCarthy era, where there were communist agents hiding our FBI, State Department  and finally the Army.   Joseph Welch, representing the Army finally let him have it, after McCarthy

“Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness.”  Welch asked, “Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last?” 

Why do commentators like Sean Hannity continue to be Donald Trump’s messenger boy?  Because it’s great money.  Sean makes approximately 36 million  dollars a year.   This stuff really pays!  Remember, that Trump  loved to talk about draining the swamp.  Well the swamp is huge now.

So,  even after allegations are found to be shot full of holes by real investigative  journalists, the myths live on in their own little world.   And stations like Fox News really don’t care.  That’s the real tragedy.

The conspiracy theories tend to morph themselves into huge cover-up fantasies.  The Hillary email scandal “cover-up” now extends over both Democratic and Republican administrations and now, via Trump’s call, extends to a potential hidden server in the Ukraine.  Pure tabloid trash.  It’s the only way for advocates to keep the story alive without admitting that it was a myth.    I call it the hot air balloon effect.  To keep a hot air balloon rising, it must be constantly fed more hot air.   Conspiracy theorists like to link a lot of myths together, which include FBI and CIA covering up crimes, in  smokey back rooms, to mislead people the directors of their respective agencies (which happen to be Trump appointees) in the fantasized “Deep State.”  I guess now the Deep State extends to the Ukraine, China and Australia.  Where to next?

Hot air balloons tend to use up all their fuel eventually.

I think the farm has enough cow made fertilizer to last for the next 15 months.

Dave

Links:

Feds say Michael Flynn is pushing conspiracy theories in bid to hinder case

“Have you no sense of decency?” Sen. Joseph McCarthy is asked in hearing

Wikipedia- Sean Hannity 

-Sean’s latest target is Adam Schiff, which seems to involve mostly name calling.

 

Mueller’s final report

Boy, there has been a ton of speculation.  Trump foes would like to see Mueller show how all these indictments and guilty pleas are connected into one grand conspiracy, making impeachment inevitable.   Trump supports are looking for exoneration of Trump.   I have opined that it seems unlikely that the investigation will end anytime soon.   I particularly like the view presented by Renato Mariotti,  a former federal prosecutor and the host of On Topic podcast, as published in Time Magazine this week (Dec 17 issue):

“As America anxiously awaits special counsel Robert Mueller’s so-called final report and proof of “collusion”, it should be very wary of two truths: Mueller may never write a full “final report”, and any bombshells he reveals are unlikely to outline  a grand conspiracy.  This will not be a failure of the investigation but rather of our own expectations.” 

He goes on to state that federal prosecutors aren’t historians or journalists.   He also points out there can not be a charge of “collusion” with Russian agents by the Trump campaign, because the word has no legal meaning.  He also states, “it is hard to imagine any federal prosecutor would ever charge the extensive conspiracy imagined by Trump’s critics.”   Mariotti’s view is Mueller’s team has already been successful, with a careful, targeted approach.  The American electorate has become become either apathetic or numb (neither words used by Mariotti) as he writes:

At any other time in American history, the President’s lawyer telling a federal judge under oath that the President directed him to commit a crime might have ended that presidency.  Yet that detail has been forgotten amid the daily avalanche of Trump-related news. 

The overload of news, mixed with commentary and outright misinformation, principally from Trump and his legal team,  is the way it will be until the end.   It is getting hard to swallow the idea that Cohen, Manafort, Flynn and now Maria Butina are all lying to get lighter sentences.

The more Trump lashes out at the Mueller investigation, the more certain  there were serious crimes committed by Russian agents, campaign officials,  and others, which may include the Trump Foundation and Trump’s Inaugural Committee.  Most knowledgeable attorneys, like Mariotti,  state that under Department of Justice written opinion, a sitting President can not be charged with crimes.   So, any final report would not contain crimes that Trump could be charged with.

The essay by Mariotti ends with a warning similar to his opening statement:  “… if Mueller finds evidence of narrower crimes and is considered a failure, the failure won’t be on him.  It will be on us, for our own outsize expectations, which just might save Trump’s presidency.”

I believe the report will be simply a summary of concluded successful prosecutions.   It is not coming anytime soon.   If it doesn’t make a strong case for obstruction of justice by Trump, then it would be best for Democrats not to waste their time on this.

In this case,  Trump’s way out of the White House would be through the same way he came in, through the election process.

Stay tuned,

Dave