Currently Browsing: 2016 Election

Misleading Pennsylvania’s Voters

Pennsylvania voters will be casting votes for a ballot initiative they have already defeated once this year. Why?

Because lawmakers realized what the outcome would likely be and decided at the last minute to invalidate the question wording to put something more misleading on the ballot instead. Based on a test run by a polling firm, they are going to get what they want by playing dirty.

What’s the issue? Judicial retirement ages.

In April, we were asked directly whether or not to increase the age at which judges could retire from 70 to 75. The question before voters was clear:

Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to require that justices of the Supreme Court, judges and justices of the peace (known as magisterial district judges) be retired on the last day of the calendar year in which they attain the age of 75 years, instead of the current requirement that they be retired on the last day of the calendar year in which they attain the age of 70?

It explained who it would apply to, the proposed change, and the old rule. Perfectly reasonable ballot question! Except that when you look at the history of these types of votes in other states, they almost always go down in defeat. So the lawmakers decided to change the wording at the last minute. Except absentee ballots were already printed and voting machines programmed. Instead, we were told that our votes wouldn’t count, so we shouldn’t bother voting on it. But 2.4 million people voted anyway, and they said no to the increase – exactly what lawmakers feared would happen.

When the new language was announced, a couple of former Supreme Court Chief Justices sued on the basis that it’s deliberately deceitful. You be the judge:

Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to require that justices of the Supreme Court, judges and magisterial district judges be retired on the last day of the calendar year in which they attain the age of 75 years?

Funny how now it sounds like you’re adding a judicial retirement age to the constitution instead of extending the terms of those in office! Even funnier that the current Chief Justice turns 70 this winter, and the next in line for the seat turns 70 next year. What an odd and completely unexpected coincidence! What an even stranger coincidence that the Supreme Court decided to leave the question alone with one Justice recusing, half saying it’s perfectly clear and the other half saying it’s confusing. Average age of the justices voting that it’s clear as day? 62. Average age of those voting that it’s clear as mud? 55. If you count the Chief Justice’s recusal as putting him in the camp of those wanting the new, confusing language, that average age goes up to 64.

While I did vote no on the initial non-binding vote, I could have been convinced that it’s worthwhile to increase the retirement age. But now, no way. This is a deliberate deception, and one columnist mentions that a local polling firm has found it’s likely going to work exactly how lawmakers and the courts wanted it to work.

Berwood Yost, chief methodologist for the Franklin & Marshall Poll, … found in a split-ballot experiment that voters presented with the current wording tended to vote “yes.” When asked if justices should be able to retire at 75 instead of 70, however, most say no.

If you’re a Pennsylvania voter, I would strongly encourage you to vote “NO” on the ballot question this November. More importantly, tell your friends and family who vote about what’s going so they know not to support this kind of deceit. In April, it was a legitimate vote on the retirement age. Next month, it’s a more of a vote on legal ethics. Don’t let them play these games and get away with it.

Never Let a Crisis Go to Waste

Or apparently lamenting that a crisis doesn’t quite fit the preferred narrative. We’ve always wondered if they sit around waiting for the right kind of atrocity, and now we have an answer. Without context we don’t really know whether the lament was that a terrorist act wouldn’t drive the gun control train in the same manner as they wished, but it sure seems apparent that something didn’t fit Podesta’s preferred narrative.

NRA Releases Candidate Grades for Pennsylvania

You can see here. It’s pretty much what I expected. Pat Toomey gets his grade reduced from an A to a C and loses his endorsement. In my local congressional race, it looks like Brian Fitzpatrick turned in a B questionnaire and is not going to carry an NRA endorsement. However, Fitzpatrick is running against Steve Santarsiero, whose F grade is really an understatement. Recall that Steve Santarsiero called for door-to-door confiscation of semi-automatic firearms. In other suburban Philadelphia races, Republican Pat Meehan is down to a B- with a D rated Mary Ellen Balchunis running against him. A race to watch is the sixth district, held by A rated and endorsed Ryan Costello, up against a D rated Mike Parrish. Costello is the only suburban district not running in mad fear of Bloomberg’s money. I cannot stress how damaging Bloomberg has been to gun rights in the Philadelphia suburbs, and that’s almost entirely because he brings more cash to the table than we can, and our local gun owners are not active enough in the issue politically to counter his money. It is not for lack of gun owners that we are losing ground, it is for lack of gun owners who give a shit enough to do something.

John C. Rafferty has drawn an endorsement with an A- grade in the  race for Attorney General. His Democratic opponent Josh Shapiro is D rated, and on his web site says that he plans to “Expand background checks to cover private sales of long guns.” I’m not sure how the AG has the power to do that, but there you go. We’d also continue to worry about our reciprocity agreements with other states with Shapiro in the AG seat. Also consider that the AG seat is a springboard for Governor.

Red Meat for their Respective Bases

I watched the debate last night, despite there not being enough booze in the world to get through that. Pass the Brawndo. I call it a draw, with the real loser being the American People. I think Trump’s base got a lot of red meat from Trump with his trade protectionism and good old fashioned “law & order” talk, and Hillary’s base got red meat both from her, and from plenty of Trump hate. Glenn Reynolds I think summed up my sentiment best:

Honestly, the bar was set so low that both cleared it: Trump didn’t throw anything, and she didn’t cough up blood. Happy 2016!

A Country Falling Apart at the Seams

I don’t really spend time participating in comment sections anywhere, but I do occasionally skim comments to gauge the mood. I’ve been appalled at how full of nastiness and vitriol the comments are even among many of my “happy warrior” sites like Instapundit. Most of this would seem to be coming from the new “alt-right” crowd. Let me offer an interview of Jonah Goldberg by Hugh Hewlett which I don’t even think ought to be controversial, but apparently is among some folks:

Jonah Goldberg, author of “Liberal Fascism” is big on the philosophical roots of political movements, and believes we ought to have nothing to do with the core, racist alt-right, and shouldn’t aid in expanding the use of the term. Because of Jonah’s comments here, I noticed this over at Instapundit of all places:

Jonah is a hundred times worse than the vaguely defined Alt Right. They are not traitors to their own side of the political spectrum. They are not trying with all their force to get the Alinsky communist government weaponizing Islamophilic mega-criminal Hillary Clinton elected president.

Jonah is part of what is in fact a Jewish cabal (prominently led by himself and Bill Kristol and backed by numerous other prominent Jewish conservatives like Ben Shapiro), created expressly to betray the strong majority of Republican voters who chose Trump as their nominee. Trump took the lead on the issue Republican voters most care about: stopping illegal and jihadist immigration. Establishment Republicans always betrayed the voters on this issue and now this de facto Jewish cabal is doing the same.

I’m not going to be a participant in a political coalition with racists and anti-semites. Note that I’m not saying I believe that every, or even the majority of Trump supporters are racist and/or anti-semitic, and I actually don’t believe Trump himself is either, but Trump was shameless enough willing to dog whistle racial politics to audiences eager to embrace it. This has emboldened some very distasteful individuals who now don’t feel so marginalized.

I also noticed recently that J.D. Vance, the author of Hillbilly Elegy (which I have not yet read, but I’ve been reading a lot of his commentary) takes a beating in the comment section of National Review over his article on why race relations have gotten worse. I don’t think there’s anything particularly ridiculous about Vance’s statements here, yet in the comments, you see comments like:

What a gigantic heap of baloney. White failure to empathize with black problems is responsible for all the problems in the black community? Good grief. Black behavior is responsible for problems in the black community. Vance is just another dizzy excuser of black pathology.

I know from a decade of blogging that reading comprehension is not the strong suit of a lot of people, but did this well-liked commenter read the same article I did? I didn’t get the impression Vance was making excuses so much as trying to promote understanding. Understanding among factions is a critical thing if we’re to avoid being at each other’s throats all the time.

One of my big problems with the anti-PC movement coming from alt-right camp is that there are some things that you don’t say… not because of PC conformity, but because decent people don’t say shit like that. I feel pretty confident in saying that if you utter “Jewish cabal” in public, you suck as a person and I don’t want anything to do with you. If that makes me PC, well, so be it. This is not the kind of thing I’m willing to tolerate or look past for the sake of political coalitions, and I’m glad there are other people who feel the same way.

How did we get here? Unlike a lot of people, I don’t blame Trump or his supporters. Trump is a symptom, not the cause of the disease, and I don’t think most of his supporters represent the kind of nasty discourse we see above.

In the current political situation, both parties have weak coalitions. The fastest growing party in this country is no party. Granted, most of those “independents” tend to lean one way or the other, but increasingly Americans aren’t all that interested in party politics. Johnathan Chait alludes to the weakness of the party system in his article, “Why American Politics Really Went Insane,” but I think Chait glosses over the fact that the Democratic Party’s leftist nuts are just as radical and out there as the Republican Party’s newly rediscovered alt-right whack jobs.

Barack Obama was, in fact, the transformational President he claimed to be. He was transformational in the sense that he realized (or perhaps accidentally stumbled upon) that the Democratic Party could build a stronger coalition than the one previously constructed by Bill Clinton. The limits of the Clinton Coalition showed with the Obamacare vote, and the devastating election results for the Democrats that followed. The Dems never really got what they really wanted out of Obamacare, but it cost them control of Congress, most state legislatures, and most governorships. Bill Clinton’s coalition was simply not capable of delivering European-style Social Democracy to US shores.

But the 2008 election results showed opportunity if that same coalition that easily swept Obama into the White House could be reproduced reliably.

What Democratic strategists figured out (and this is very much a “Chicago politics” divide-and-conquror style of running things) is that if money and grassroots effort was funneled to causes that helped nurse identity (racial, sexual, gender, etc) grievances, a thoroughly progressive coalition could be maintained that didn’t require catering to moderate suburban voters, as Clinton had done. But in order for the coalition to work, turnout among those groups needed to remain at Obama-like levels. The results had to be repeatable.

I don’t believe the fact that most people view race relations at an all time low is any accident. The Democratic political class engineered this in order to shore up their political power. That this would fuel the rise of white racial politics isn’t a bug, it’s a feature, and the hateful people coming out of the woodwork and participating in this nonsense are actually playing right into their hands.

This is not to let off the Republican Party off the hook in all this. They went into the 2016 elections thinking it was business as usual, which of course meant running someone else named Bush. I marginally more identify with “elites”, and I thought this was the very definition of insanity by the donor class. It would have been a moronic move even in a normal election year to line up behind Jeb!, but it was a disastrous one this year. The problem the GOP has is that they are beholden to the same wealthy interests as the Democrats. The difference between a Republican Wall Street Banker and a Democratic Wall Street Banker are not nearly as great as the difference between any Wall Street Banker and an unemployed coal miner from West Virginia, or some poor dude working two jobs to pay the rent and back child support. That gap in understanding is the real cause of our political woes, if you ask me. All this racial and gender bullshit is nonsense ginned up by our supposed rulers.

See, if working class whites, working class Blacks, and working class Hispanics suddenly realized they have more political interests in common with each other than they do with their wealthy coalition partners in the major parties, they might just figure out that if they vote together, they have the power to call the shots, and that would be the real disaster if you were to ask the donor class of either party. So best to keep the working classes divided against each other before they realize it. As for the rest of the rubes? Let them have bread and circuses culture wars!

That’s my cynical take on it all. I’m not comfortable with believing this, because class is something Marxists obsess over, and I’m not a Marxist. If we had a growing economy that was lifting all boats, I don’t think we’d be in this mess. But we don’t have that, and given the advances in automation and robotics, it’s going to be hard to achieve the kind of growth for the working class. The post World War II order is now coming to an end, and I don’t know what will replace it. But I don’t like what I’m seeing so far.

NRA Endorses Dem for MO Governor: A Good First Step on the Road Back

NRA has endorsed Democrat Attorney General Chris Koster for Governor of Missouri, and at least some of the media has taken notice. The current state of affairs we have reached with this election is not inexplicable.

It actually started after Al Gore’s defeat when the Democratic Party began to accept that gun control as an issue was hurting it. The thinkers and strategists that built the 2006 comeback did so on a “blue dog” strategy, of running Democrats who could win in their districts, which included being pro-gun if that’s what it took. Obama largely laid off the gun issue in his first term, largely because gun control threatened the seats of his blue dog coalition. In 2010, the blue dogs decided to en mass, unbox the tantō Obama had laid before them proceeded to commit ritual suicide one after the other…. by voting for Obamacare. The resulting political backlash was so severe that the gun vote couldn’t protect them, despite NRA endorsing a large number of Democrats.

Additionally, despite NRA’s endorsement of Harry Reid in the past, in the 2010 election cycle they experienced a backlash from their membership, largely driver by talking heads and conservative radio shows, most of which don’t give a rat’s ass about gun rights short of its usefulness to them for promoting conservatism as a whole or promoting themselves. The official line was that judicial votes now matter, and I think they ought to, but the perception (in politics, it’s perception that matters) was that NRA stiffed the Majority Leader because he was a Democrat, and their membership are conservative voters rather than single-issue voters.

After the death of the blue dog coalition, and Harry Reid getting stiffed, the Democrats no longer viewed being amenable to gun rights as being in their political interests. Then Bloomberg comes along with a huge pot of money and that seals the deal. If there’s ever going to be a bipartisan consensus on gun rights again, it’ll happen because the Dems have political talent to protect, and that has to start somewhere. Long term safety for this issue will only come if there’s a bipartisan consensus to protect gun rights. As long as this issue is tied to only one party it is tied to the fortunes of that party, and the fortunes of any political party go up and down as the political winds blow.

Pro-Gun Group I’ve Never Heard of Supports McGinty

Apparently American Gun Owners Alliance, a group I’ve never heard of until reading this article, is “encouraging its members to support McGinty”, apparently unaware that there is the option to not cast a vote in that race if you think Toomey is unacceptable. Go ahead and do that. I wouldn’t blame you. This is the kind of shit that makes me want to beat my head against a brick wall repeatedly. Seriously guys, you have more options than voting for one party’s candidate or the other if you want to send a message.

And to be clear, I’ve expressed before that I’m not sure it’s in our short term interests to knife Toomey’s candidacy in 2016, as opposed to 2022. So I’m also sympathetic to the groups that are reluctantly holding their noses. Sure, McGinty will be more junior than Toomey, but I feel a lot better about our chances to boot Toomey from that seat in an off year primary and holding the seat than I do about getting rid of Kate McGinty if she gets in. There’s also the possibility that Toomey can be convinced that his political self-interests resides in “coming back to Jesus,” so to speak. Stranger things have happened.

Pat Toomey Reaps the Rewards

Back in March, Sebastian called it when he noted that while Pat Toomey was touting support from CeasefirePA leadership, these are not people who would ever actually cast a vote for him. Granted, we thought that was more of a “won’t vote for you in the privacy of the voting booth” type of prediction, not a “will actively campaign against you despite doing what they wanted” kind of way.

But, it seems that’s how loyalty to gun controllers is rewarded. Toomey’s opponent has been endorsed by the very same group whose leaders were kissing his rear back in March, likely knowing all along that they would throw him under the bus come the run up to November’s general election.

Good call there, Pat.

You know what I was doing 6 years ago in November? Casting a ballot for you, Pat, when polls opened and spending the rest of the day standing outside of a senior citizen’s center asking voters to support your candidacy. You know what I won’t be doing this November? Telling anyone about your campaign – other than the fine readers of this blog about how you screwed us and fell for every pathetic lie from the gun control groups. You can rely on your new best buddies at Ceasefire to help out instead, Pat.

Oh, wait, no, you can’t.

How’s That Flip Flopping Working Out for Ya Pat?

It’s no surprise that Pat Toomey is still getting attacked by the Democratic Party for being too pro-gun. You’re seeing all the groups that no doubt promised him cover doing their level best to pull his ass from the fire. So does this mean the Democratic Party is now to the left of Bloomberg and Giffords on guns? It would seem so. What Bloomberg and his ilk are doing is trying to show they can help Republicans in a tough election fight. I think that’s doubtful, but all that matters is whether Pat Toomey believes it.

I’ve been torn between wanting to see Toomey go down in flames this year and the utter terror of Hillary getting to pick Scalia’s replacement with a Democratic Senate. I also worry that if we have a Dem in the White House and a Dem Senate, we might see several more justices retire, which would cement the Court as outright hostile to the Second Amendment for a generation. If that happens, I doubt I will live long enough to see a pro-2A court, and most of the folks reading this probably won’t either.

Grand opportunities have been are are actively being flushed down the crapper when it comes to the Second Amendment because, based on the memes I see going around Facebook, GOP voters are completely ignorant and it’s only getting worse. If we had won in 2008 or 2012, we never would have gotten to this point.

Second Amendment Solutions

A lot of hay is being made out of Trump’s statement on Hillary’s nominees to the Supreme Court:

“Hillary wants to abolish, essentially abolish the 2nd Amendment,” Trump told the crowd in Wilmington, N.C. “By the way, and if she gets to pick if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do folks. Although the 2nd Amendment people, maybe there is. I don’t know.”

I didn’t take this as an invitation for people to off Hillary or her nominees, but as an indication that we had the political power to block her nominees. That the left, and many people in our issue, are taking his statement this way is a form of self-immolation. The implication is that we would do such a thing, and are inarticulate enough to announce it publicly. And maybe Trump really believes that. Who knows? But I don’t think we should help them out by jumping on it ourselves.

It should be apparent by now that Trump doesn’t stop for two seconds to consider whether and/or how he should say the shit that moves to the tip of his tongue. I’m not going to engage in hand wringing over this one. This is what we’ve come to expect.

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