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Thread: 2019 American Political Scene

  1. #76
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    Quote Originally Posted by WABs_OOE View Post
    That is democracy. That scenario means that 78% of the population did not vote.
    No sir, you misunderstand me. I am saying that you only need 22% of the popular vote regardless of turnout.

    Far better it is to dare mighty things, than to take rank with those poor, timid spirits who know neither victory nor defeat ~ Theodore Roosevelt

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    Quote Originally Posted by snapper View Post
    I am not sure I can agree with this. I understand that apathy is sadly part of human psyche and the "oh I am not interested in politics" type people and can to some extent respect that choice (or ignorance in some cases). However I cannot bring myself to believe that if only 22% of the people vote and the 'winner', who may get 10-12% of the peoples vote has any "mandate" to use Government to enact changes that the vast majority may deeply dislike. Winning an election should confer a mandate; a right and duty to implement the changes the politico has proposed but when you do not get a majority of the votes (as Trumpkin and which I believe happened in the UK twice) I would prefer that the election goes to another round.
    There is NO system that is NOT open to a minority run government. I guarrantee you that 100% of the voters in a Parlimentary system DID NOT vote for any minority government. The two parties that form a minority government do not have a mandate for their partner party's voters.

    Quote Originally Posted by snapper View Post
    Regarding astralis quote this again is problematical; do you respect the rank/Office or the person? I mean obviously is someone is abusing their rank or Office neither is warranted. But in the military or Civil Service (or a company maybe) you are promoted by your seniors who you have worked with/for on an almost daily basis. In a democratic election most voters will never meet the people they vote for and know nothing about them.

    Having said that I feel the two greatest threats to democracy that 'populist' victories have highlighted are the danger of lies which the press report and repeat without comment such as "Farage/Trumpkin/whoever says we will all be better off if we do x" which is blatantly false but which becomes almost a slogan. A good example was Trumpkin's "Mexico will pay for the wall", another was the famous bus during the UK/EU referendum promising 750m extra per week if UK left the EU. Plainly lies which were repeated time and again.

    The other problem is transparency in funding of campaigns. There is now a criminal investigation into the funding of UK 'Leave' campaign and the NRA, which itself received funding from Moscow (hence the Butina arrest - who by the way is not really a redhead), to the GOP should also be a matter of concern.

    I do not claim to have solutions to solve these problems but it might perhaps be worthwhile for our democracies to assemble some experts to look at them and make recommendations that can further safeguard the threats we now see arising to liberties.
    Right. Blame the voters for the failure of losing candidates to do their jobs. Hogwash. The blame for voter apathy and losing the election falls squarely on the losing candidate and no one else.

    Clinton had the EXACT same playing field as Trump. Trump obviously had more dirty laundry than Clinton. Not only did she failed to inspire several key states, she failed to show just how much of an asshole Trump really is which really ain't that hard to do. You played the cards that you're dealt and she had a winning hand. She threw away 3 aces, betting she had an inside straight. That's how much she thought of herself.

    To blame the system is really a cop out and I don't buy it.

  3. #78
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    Quote Originally Posted by TopHatter View Post
    No sir, you misunderstand me. I am saying that you only need 22% of the popular vote regardless of turnout.
    So what's the answer? You're pointing out a problem but it's a known problem and while there may be no solutions, there are workarounds.

    The Electoral College: How It Got That Way and Why We're Stuck With It | AMERICAN HERITAGE

    In reviewing the history of the Electoral College, it quickly becomes clear how little anybody has to offer that is new. All the plausible reform ideas, and all the arguments for and against them, have been debated and rehashed for well over a century, in terms that have remained virtually unchanged. What has killed all the reform efforts has been the lack of a single alternative that all the reformers can agree on. As the politicians say, you can’t beat somebody with nobody, and you can’t beat one plan with three.

    Moreover, the present system at least has the benefit of familiarity. Any change would be attended with an element of uncertainty, and politicians don’t like that. Opinions differ widely about who would gain or lose from electoral reform, but too many states and interest groups think they would lose and too few are sure that they would gain. After all, as we have seen, the original Electoral College functioned nothing like what its designers had expected.

    In the end, Americans are likely to do what they have always done about the Electoral College: nothing. Every reform or abolition scheme works to the disadvantage (or possible disadvantage) of some special interest, and when a good-government issue collides with special interests, you know who’s going to win. Outside of academia and government, there is no obvious constituency for reform; since most people don’t understand how the Electoral College works, most of them don’t understand the case for changing it. The lack of exact numerical equality and other supposed biases have always bothered political scientists much more than the average citizen, who may endorse reform when questioned by a pollster but will hardly ever feel strongly about the issue.

    So we’re probably stuck with the Electoral College until the next close election, when reformers and abolitionists of various stripes will once again surge forth, only to end up annihilating each other. To break this pattern, someone will have to either find a novel and compelling set of arguments for reform and waste enormous amounts of political capital to pass a measure that arouses no public passion and has no clear-cut beneficiary, or else devise a new scheme that is simple enough to be grasped by the average citizen yet has never been advanced before. Good luck.

  4. #79
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    Quote Originally Posted by WABs_OOE View Post
    So what's the answer? You're pointing out a problem but it's a known problem and while there may be no solutions, there are workarounds.
    Overhauling the system so that very large and very small state populations aren't skewing the results would be a good place to start.
    Far better it is to dare mighty things, than to take rank with those poor, timid spirits who know neither victory nor defeat ~ Theodore Roosevelt

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    Quote Originally Posted by WABs_OOE View Post
    Clinton had the EXACT same playing field as Trump. Trump obviously had more dirty laundry than Clinton. Not only did she failed to inspire several key states, she failed to show just how much of an asshole Trump really is which really ain't that hard to do. You played the cards that you're dealt and she had a winning hand. She threw away 3 aces, betting she had an inside straight. That's how much she thought of herself.
    Not entirely accurate. She did not have active operations from Moscow working to assist her and release GOP hacked emails.

    In the end though it is not about Clinton or Trumpkin - or any other politician. It is about safeguarding our democracies such that astralis quote is true about our highest elected officials. It is clear further safeguards are required and it should be a matter of emergency to form the systems and oversights we need.

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    Quote Originally Posted by snapper View Post
    Not entirely accurate. She did not have active operations from Moscow working to assist her and release GOP hacked emails.
    As if that mattered! Everyone, including Trump, thought Clinton was going to win. Where Clinton lost ain't any hack emails, it's her ignoring key states.

    Quote Originally Posted by snapper View Post
    In the end though it is not about Clinton or Trumpkin - or any other politician. It is about safeguarding our democracies such that astralis quote is true about our highest elected officials. It is clear further safeguards are required and it should be a matter of emergency to form the systems and oversights we need.
    Bullshit! The ONLY SAFEGUARDING OUR DEMOCRACIES is getting people to VOTE! You're suggesting that the people we elect go against our Constition and ignore our vote to dictate to us what our vote should be. We and the US fought wars against such tyranny.

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    Sure, let's get rid of the Electoral College. Any President who can't get a majority of the vote shouldn't be President. If it's undecided, it gets thrown to the House as a contingent election.

    Something tells me that this won't get approved, because that's an incredibly hard bar to cross in modern elections. The only Democratic candidate to have done it is Barrack Obama. But I don't see why you can automatically assume that HRC should be President, when she can't win a majority. Even if you use rank-order preference, do the Libertarian candidates vote for Hillary or Trump if you point a gun to their head?

    And you can win the Presidency with much less than 22% of the vote. If the Electoral College had ended up with no majority, the viable third candidate was Colin Powell, who probably got a few hundred write-ins at most. And with revisions, I don't see the problem. I see absolutely no reason why, if Americans cannot decide between two candidates, the US House shouldn't be allowed to pick someone else entirely if they have a super-majority, since it means that BOTH parties would recognize that as a consensus candidate in an otherwise divided electorate.

    However, these arguments tend to trend into extremely narrow feelings about what is just, and just ignore that Donald Trump won a higher percentage of the vote than Abraham Lincoln, and it absolutely isn't an affront to the republic that a candidate with THAT much support ended up in the White House.
    Last edited by GVChamp; 21 Jan 19, at 22:04.
    "The great questions of the day will not be settled by means of speeches and majority decisions but by iron and blood"-Otto Von Bismarck

  8. #83
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    Giuliani backtracks on comments Trump sought Moscow deal throughout 2016

    WASHINGTON, Jan 21 (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani backtracked on Monday from earlier comments that Trump pursued a business deal to erect a tower bearing his name in Moscow throughout 2016, saying his statements "were hypothetical and not based on conversations I had with the President."

    Giuliani told NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday that Trump may have continued to pursue the project and had discussions about it with his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, until as late as October or November 2016, when Trump was closing in on his election victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

    Giuliani went a step further with the New York Times, where he quoted Trump saying the Trump Tower Moscow discussions were "going on from the day I announced to the day I won."

    The Moscow deal ultimately did not materialize, but Giuliani's remarks suggest that Trump's discussions about the project with Cohen may have dragged on until the election, raising new questions for congressional investigators looking into possible ties between the president and Russia.

    Senator Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee who appeared as a guest on the same show as Giuliani, said, "That is news to me. And that is big news."

    But in an emailed statement on Monday Giuliani changed his story, saying: "My comments did not represent the actual timing or circumstances of any such discussions."

    An investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into Russia's interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion between Moscow and Trump's campaign has loomed large over the Trump presidency amid media reports of his team's alleged connections with Russia. (Reporting by Karen Freifeld Editing by Bill Berkrot)
    _______________

    This stupid fool can't even keep the most simple lies straight...no wonder he identifies with Trump so much.

    Day after day, I shake my head in bemused disgust at how "America's Mayor", a former crusader against organized crime....winds up working for the biggest crime boss in American history.
    Far better it is to dare mighty things, than to take rank with those poor, timid spirits who know neither victory nor defeat ~ Theodore Roosevelt

  9. #84
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    Trump Must Be A Russian Agent, The Alternative Is Too Awful

    IT WOULD BE rather embarrassing for Donald Trump at this point if Robert Mueller were to declare that the president isn’t an agent of Russian intelligence.

    THE PATTERN OF his pro-Putin, pro-Russia, anti-FBI, anti-intelligence community actions are so one-sided, and the lies and obfuscation surrounding every single Russian meeting and conversation are so consistent, that if this president isn’t actually hiding a massive conspiracy, it means the alternative is worse: America elected a chief executive so oblivious to geopolitics, so self-centered and personally insecure, so naturally predisposed to undermine democratic institutions and coddle authoritarians, and so terrible a manager and leader, that he cluelessly surrounded himself with crooks, grifters, and agents of foreign powers, compromising the national security of the US government and undermining 75 years of critical foreign alliances, just to satiate his own ego.

    In short, we’ve reached a point in the Mueller probe where there are only two scenarios left: Either the president is compromised by the Russian government and has been working covertly to cooperate with Vladimir Putin after Russia helped win him the 2016 election—or Trump will go down in history as the world’s most famous “useful idiot,” as communists used to call those who could be co-opted to the cause without realizing it.

    At least the former scenario—that the president of the United States is actively working to advance the interests of our country’s foremost, long-standing, traditional foreign adversary—would make him seem smarter and wilier. The latter scenario is simply a tragic farce for everyone involved.

    We’re left here—in a place unprecedented in American political history, wondering how much worse the truth is than we already know—after four days of fresh revelations in the public drip-drip-drip of the Russia investigation. The past two months have seen the public understanding of the case advance into almost unthinkable territory. Now we’re simply trying to figure out how bad things really are.

    Consider: On Friday, The New York Times reported that the FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation of the president himself in 2017; on Saturday, The Washington Post published a story saying that Trump has gone to great lengths to cover up and hide—even from his own aides—his interactions with Putin; on Sunday, columnist Max Boot outlined the case for Trump as a Russian asset; and on Tuesday the Times came back with an authoritative recounting of Trump and Putin’s interactions, a recounting that included a bizarre telephone call from Air Force One where the president tried to argue off the record that contrary to the unanimous conclusion of his own intelligence community, “that the Russians were falsely accused of election interference.”

    Like so much of the strangeness of the Trump era, these new revelations are simultaneously shocking but not surprising. Of course the FBI wondered why Trump’s actions toward Russia and the intelligence community were so aberrant and felt compelled to investigate. But to fully understand why these revelations matter so much in the grand scheme of the special counsel's investigation and the Russia probe, it helps to understand a bit about spies and the unique, dual mission of the FBI—which is tasked not just with enforcing federal criminal laws but also with protecting the nation’s secrets, politics, and economy from undue foreign influence.

    I've said before that one of the most misunderstood aspects of this investigation—from the start and to this day—is that it began by targeting the Trump campaign and Americans like Carter Page and George Papadopoulos. Quite the opposite, in fact.

    Page and Papadopoulos (and more recently, Michael Flynn) have shouted from the rooftops in recent months that they were entrapped and targeted by the Deep State FBI—that’s even the name of Papadopoulos’ forthcoming, fever-dream-inspired book—but the FBI started with their best interests at heart: Agents saw people with ties to the Russian government circling around the Trump campaign, and so the bureau stepped in, entirely appropriately, to monitor that activity.

    The FBI was apparently alerted to this activity by its own intelligence and by tips from friendly foreign intelligence overseas. It wasn’t like these Russia-affiliated characters were necessarily new to the FBI: In 2013, agents in New York had watched as undercover officers from the Russian SVR, its foreign intelligence service, akin to the CIA, tried to recruit Page as an asset—only to determine he was too scatterbrained to be of any use.

    To fully understand why these revelations matter, it helps to understand a bit about spies and the dual mission of the FBI—which is tasked not just with enforcing federal laws but also with protecting the nation from undue foreign influence.

    The FBI's investigation during the 2016 presidential campaign, which we know now was codenamed Crossfire Hurricane, began as an attempt to protect Trump, to protect a political neophyte and the bizarre assortment of advisers who had surrounded him (the political equivalent of the Star Wars bar scene) from what the FBI believed were the nefarious efforts of Kremlin-linked players.

    Now counterintelligence investigations, as shadowy as they are, are just that; their singular goal is to counter the specific activities of foreign intelligence services. Counterintelligence cases are markedly different from criminal cases, because when they begin the ultimate goal isn’t necessarily a pair of handcuffs and a courtroom—the goal is simply to counter the targeted actions. That can mean an arrest in some cases, but it also can mean simply watching—monitoring a suspected intelligence officer’s or agent’s routines and meetings, as the FBI evidently did with the NRA’s Russian friend, Maria Butina, for years.

    It can also mean covertly disrupting or neutralizing the activity in some way, which can be as simple as showing up unannounced in US offices to warn unwitting Americans that they might have interacted with—or are about to interact with—a suspected undercover intelligence officer. (The Trump campaign did, in fact, receive so-called “defensive” briefings from the FBI to be wary that it might be the target of outreach and attempted influence from foreign powers—warnings the campaign pointedly ignored, either stupidly or conspiratorially.) At their most advanced, counterintelligence investigations can lead to the recruitment of double agents, triple agents, or the feeding of false intelligence or information back through identified spy channels.

    Counterintelligence cases come with special authorities, including powerful FISA warrants for monitoring communications, along with special oversight, coordinated nationally through the Justice Department’s National Security Division—because they’re vital to the security of the United States and meant to help protect both ordinary, unwitting Americans as well as the nation’s political and military leaders.

    The evolution of the FBI’s inquiry—from starting out in the spring of 2016 by attempting to protect the Trump campaign and realizing by the fall that the Trump campaign was open for business with Russia, to wondering by the spring of 2017 whether the candidate-turned-president himself was in on or even directing the plot—must have been head-spinning for the bureau and its allies in the Justice Department.

    We still don’t understand nearly enough about what transpired inside the ironically paired FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover Building headquarters on one side of Pennsylvania Avenue and the Justice Department’s Robert F. Kennedy building across the street during the 10 days between FBI director James Comey’s firing and the appointment of Mueller as special counsel—the panic on the part of acting director Andrew McCabe, the befuddlement of deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, and the horror among agents and prosecutors. (We might know more when McCabe’s memoir comes out later this spring.)

    But we know that there was evidence that deeply concerned both McCabe and Rosenstein. And we know too that we haven’t yet seen that evidence. It’s easy to forget how much of this case the FBI and Mueller know that we don’t.

    For just one example: We know thanks to the bumbling of Representative Devin Nunes of California that Carter Page was targeted with a FISA warrant that was renewed three times, each for an additional 90 days, by two successive deputy attorneys general: Sally Yates and Rod Rosenstein. Each time the FISA warrant was renewed, the Justice Department would have had to demonstrate to a court that it had uncovered new intelligence showing that Page was having contact with foreign agents. What was this new intelligence? What was Page doing during this whole period, which stretched from a couple weeks before the November 2016 election right through the transition and the beginning of the Trump presidency? We don’t yet know.

    NEARLY ALL OF the revelations we’ve seen thus far from the Mueller probe and the Russia investigation have focused on the “what.” Some of the whats we know so far: Paul Manafort—a money launderer, deeply indebted to Russian oligarchs, who was working for free as Trump’s campaign chair—passed polling data to someone tied to Russian intelligence. The Trump Tower Moscow project continued well into the campaign. National security adviser Michael Flynn tried to cover up his conversations with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. The attack on the 2016 election by Russian intelligence, approved by Putin himself, shifted over the course of 2016 from merely attacking Hillary Clinton to actively boosting Trump himself. Kremlin-linked figures sat down with Trump’s campaign leaders in June 2016. Trump confiscated the notes of his government interpreter after meeting with Putin in Hamburg.

    What we haven’t seen in any of these instances (and many others) is the “why.” That’s where we’ll ultimately learn the truth about which scenario we face: an incredibly hapless and easily coopted president—or an active criminal conspirator. Why was Manafort funneling campaign polling data through Konstantin Kilimnik? Why does Mueller believe Kilimnik is tied to Russian intelligence? Why does the US believe the Russian president himself approved the attack?

    So now we can add the following whys: Why has Trump covered up his interactions with Putin from his own government? Why has he sought out Putin for private conversations? Why did he confiscate the notes from his interpreter?

    Presumably, the FBI and Mueller uncovered all these whats relatively quickly and easily. The investigation has stretched on to document and understand the whys.

    As Esquire’s Charlie Pierce noted this week, The New York Times’ carefully written story on the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation includes a deeply pregnant phrase: “No evidence has emerged publicly that Mr. Trump was secretly in contact with or took direction from Russian government officials.” No evidence has emerged publicly. But there are plenty of bread crumbs pointing to the idea that such evidence exists secretly, with investigators.

    Understanding and answering those “why” questions will mark this final phase of Robert Mueller’s investigation. Only then will the nation and the world know the answer to the one big, honking “what” question that’s left: What are Trump’s motives for all his inexplicable actions? It’s hard to know which answer will be worse for the country. Link
    _________________

    Occam's Razor suggests what this op-ed fears the most: The United States elected the world’s most famous “useful idiot.”
    Far better it is to dare mighty things, than to take rank with those poor, timid spirits who know neither victory nor defeat ~ Theodore Roosevelt

  10. #85
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    Sure, let's get rid of the Electoral College. Any President who can't get a majority of the vote shouldn't be President. If it's undecided, it gets thrown to the House as a contingent election.

    Something tells me that this won't get approved, because that's an incredibly hard bar to cross in modern elections. The only Democratic candidate to have done it is Barrack Obama. But I don't see why you can automatically assume that HRC should be President, when she can't win a majority. Even if you use rank-order preference, do the Libertarian candidates vote for Hillary or Trump if you point a gun to their head?

    And you can win the Presidency with much less than 22% of the vote. If the Electoral College had ended up with no majority, the viable third candidate was Colin Powell, who probably got a few hundred write-ins at most. And with revisions, I don't see the problem. I see absolutely no reason why, if Americans cannot decide between two candidates, the US House shouldn't be allowed to pick someone else entirely if they have a super-majority, since it means that BOTH parties would recognize that as a consensus candidate in an otherwise divided electorate.

    However, these arguments tend to trend into extremely narrow feelings about what is just, and just ignore that Donald Trump won a higher percentage of the vote than Abraham Lincoln, and it absolutely isn't an affront to the republic that a candidate with THAT much support ended up in the White House.
    on the other hand, i don't think it's an accident that there's a popular/EC vote split twice in less than two decades.

    it's also problematic because the EC obviously isn't working as designed in the first place. we get all the downsides of non-representation and none of the upsides of the supposed elite wisdom.
    There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."- Isaac Asimov

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