Monthly Archives: January 2020

Next Monday: The Iowa Caucus

The formal process of choosing the nominee in each party takes place at the national party conventions, which will be held in the summer.  Between now and then, the parties in each state choose the delegates to send to their respective conventions.  In most states, it’s a primary election, where each voter shows up, steps into a booth, pulls a lever, then leaves.  A handful of states do it differently: they have caucuses.

A caucus, usually held in the evening, is a local event.  The voters show up, stay a few hours, listen to speeches on behalf of the candidates, then vote.  The local caucuses send delegates to a state convention; the state convention chooses the delegates to the national convention.  Even so, from the outcome at the caucus, it is known that night who has won the caucus.

The first two events in the primary season are the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary.  What those two states have in common is that they are small, predominately rural, and predominately white.  And they have enormous influence over the rest of the season.  It’s usual for some of the candidates to drop out of the race right after the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary.  So, a small and unrepresentative portion of the American voting population has a grossly disproportionate amount of influence over the outcome.

And there’s nothing illegal about it, for the following two reasons:

  1. The Constitution says absolutely nothing about there being a popular vote for the president.
  2.  The primaries are run by the parties, which are essentially private clubs, in cooperation with state legislatures.  The national government has little control or influence over them.

That said, next Monday’s Iowa caucus is important to watch.  Right now, the polls and the conventional wisdom mostly favor Joe Biden as winning the nomination.  But if someone other than Joe Biden wins the Iowa caucus, or even makes a good showing in it, that candidate will have picked up some momentum and thus become a more viable candidate.  This especially applies with Bernie Sanders.

This website,, has a synthesis of poll results as well as a complete list of the primaries and caucuses in the order in which they’ll occur.  It’s also recommended that you follow the news, which the links at the right of this page are designed to facilitate, to keep up with what’s going on.

Glancing at this evening’s stories on NPR, I see there’s one on Sanders’ appeal to Progressives.  NPR report, January 30, 2020.

Oh…and I see Trump is out there in Iowa tonight (Thursday) for a rally.  NPR report, January 30, 2020.

The Trump Administration and the Press: A Recent Incident

We are currently in one of those time periods in which the population is sharply divided, not only on whom they want in power and what policies they want enacted, but on what the reality is.  A case in point is when Trump calls the press corps “enemies of the people.”  To one set of Americans, it’s a frightful thing for the president to be making that remark.  From that standpoint, it negates the importance of a free press, whose function is to hold political leaders up to critical scrutiny, and it encourages the violence against journalists of which there have been some serious incidents in other countries.  But to Trump’s supporters, the label is well deserved, because the press has been mercilessly picking on Trump from the moment he entered the election.  To those supporters, the media is dominated by a left-wing bias, and they’re out to get Trump and the conservatives because they hate America, and Trump and the conservatives are standing up for America.

Recently, NPR news host Mary Louise Kelly had an interview with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.  She pressed him with a question that he took umbrage at, and the exchange grew heated.  When the interview ended, she gave him a polite thank-you, and he just glared at her.  A few minutes later, he summoned her to a private room and yelled at her for ten minutes.  She gave a full description of his tirade in her report; Pompeo claims that their post-interview conversation was supposed to be off the record, which Kelly insists was not the case.

Americans will clearly see this in two different ways.  From one perspective, this is an example of Trump’s administration having a complete lack of dignity and a complete lack of respect for the role of the press as watchdog.  From the other perspective, Pompeo is standing his ground against the press’s reckless attacks on the administration.  And on the question of whether Kelly gave Pompeo the impression that the private exchange was off the record, it is to be expected that one camp will believe her, the other him.  The country is polarized.

I’d like to identify, now, two key ways in which the current times are different from when things are normal.

When things are normal, it’s usual for the president and others in the administration to find the press annoying and, at times, to raise their voices to reporters.  It’s also not abnormal for presidents to sound off profanely about the press when they’re alone with their close advisers and allies.  Nobody likes being held up to critical scrutiny, and there’s nothing out of the ordinary about political figures resenting the press.  But calling them “enemies of the people” is not normal, and a secretary of state having a ten-minute tirade at a reporter like that is not normal.

Second point, the degree of polarization in public opinion:  there’s usually some polarization, but it’s not usually quite this intense.  Americans don’t just disagree on opinions now; they disagree on what the facts are.  This applies to the impeachment and everything surrounding it, and it also applies to Trump’s general performance in office and its significance for America and its place in the world.

We are not living in normal times right now.

NPR report, January 24, 2020, with the full interview and Mary Louise Kelly’s depiction of  what followed

New York Times article on the incident, January 24, 2020

New York Times article with Pompeo’s subsequent remarks, January 25, 2020


Trump’s Impeachment

President Trump has been impeached.  As we say that, it’s important to remind ourselves that the word impeach merely means “accuse.”  The House passes articles of impeachment, which merely means that the House votes to accuse the president (or whatever official it is) of wrongdoing.  The Senate then conducts the trial, which is going on now.  According to the Constitution, when it’s the president having an impeachment trial, the Chief Justice presides, and thus John Roberts is the one wielding the gavel.  The Constitution also says that it takes a two-thirds  vote in the Senate to convict and remove the accused person from office.

However, there’s a lot to the impeachment process that isn’t in the Constitution and wasn’t anticipated by the framers.  For one thing, political parties are playing a decisive role.  Trump is a Republican president, and it’s the Democrats who want him impeached.  The impeachment vote in the House had almost all Democrats and not a single Republican voting aye, and so far in the Senate, where the Republicans have a 53-47 majority, there’s no reason to think that even one Republican is going to vote for a conviction.  Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell openly stated at the outset that he was going to coordinate with the president, and this morning (Friday, January 24), Republican Senator Lindsay Graham of South Carolina was quoted on NPR as saying that he was taking notes on the arguments against Trump in order to make suggestions to Trump’s defense team.  In short, it’s like a trial where there’s no jury, where everybody in the room is either a prosecutor or a defender, and the defenders have the deciding vote.

It would appear, then, that there is no realistic chance of Trump being convicted in the Senate and removed from the presidency.  In fact, although Trump’s lawyers are probably going to present a long defense, it seems to me that they could get up there, recite “Little Bo Peep,” and rest their case in a minute, and still count on an acquittal.  Of course, nothing is absolutely certain–if this were a movie, you could count on a last-minute reversal of course with chase music playing in the background–but it’s almost a certainty that Trump will be acquitted.

Both sides are under intense popular pressure.  When the revelations about Trump’s phone call with the president of Ukraine broke, the Democrats in the House could not sit still any longer.  It should be noted that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, effectively the leader of the Democratic Party in the House, was getting really vicious attacks on her character on social media for her reluctance to impeach Trump a lot earlier.  So she was under pressure.  As for the Republicans, the Republican Party, which was once the party of various conservative social ideologies and economic and foreign policy preferences, is now, more than anything else, the party of personal loyalty to Trump.  Republican primary elections in 2018 were contests of who was more loyal to Trump.  Thus, any Republican in either the House or the Senate who even hints at favoring Trump’s impeachment is likely to lose the next primary election in his or her state to a Trump loyalist.

The longer-term question is, how will this affect the next election?  The ultimate jury is not the Senate; it is the voters.  To be more specific, it is the swing voters in the swing states.  The swing states are essentially Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Florida, states with large electoral vote counts that went for Obama in 2008 and 2012 and then for Trump in 2016.  In those states, the question is which narrative the swing voters will buy: that Trump is a crook and the Republicans covered up his misdoings, or that Trump is a victim of a witch hunt perpetrated by sore losers who just can’t accept the results of the election.

The result of the impeachment trial is predictable.  The election, however, is up for grabs and could go either way, putting 2020 on track to be one of the most dramatic years ever in American political history.


Death to America?

The Constitution needs to be rewritten the forefathers of this Nation obviously had no idea – follow me, like this, retweet this would become a thing of the future. Most of the world looks towards the United States of America with respect. However how can we be arbitrators of any Global situation when we can not govern our own country. The position of President of the United States is a job and requires some form of experience. Until we get our s#¡1 together we should stay out of foreign affairs!

Donald Trump should not have been qualified to even be placed on the ballot. Based on this method next up… ? Katy Perry?