Looks like both US Presidential campaigns could be built on “shaky Foundations”

Here at FPP, as things stand right now, our plan is not only to vote for Hillary Clinton but also to keep the pressure on her to come good on hers and the DNC’s pledge to adopt at least some policies from the Progressive platform during her administration.

Or to put it another way, we fully acknowledge that whatever we may say against her opponent, she herself is by no means perfect and her biggest pressure points in this campaign have been the seemingly never-ending amount of State Department emails and the suspicions surrounding The Clinton Foundation.

Naturally Donald Trump has been at pains to attack these pressure points, though rarely by being too specific…either he resorts to name-calling like “Crooked Hillary” or “Hillary Rotten Clinton” or he makes vague references to her alleged “terrible crimes”.

Well on the subject of dodgy dealings by a foundation bearing a candidate’s name, it would appear that he has his own questions to answer, as Rachel Maddow reports in this video from her show, and also in this follow-up blog where Steve Benen notes that the matter has caught the attention of NYT, WaPo and HuffPo.

Trump has been quite candid in his explanations for why he made so many political contributions to so many candidates and office-holders. “I’ve given to everybody,” he boasted earlier this year. “When I want something I get it. When I call, they kiss my ass. “It’s true. They kiss my ass.”…
…So the question in the Bondi controversy is obvious: was his $25,000 contribution an investment to an official he “needed something from”?

What particularly catches our attention is the contribution in the video from the WaPo’s David Fahrenthold who says that Trump stopped giving his own money to charities, even his own, back in 2008, ironically when Barack Obama was elected.  Maybe he was too busy paying people to look into the President’s birth certificate?  And maybe it helps explain why he won’t show us his tax returns?

If ever a story invited the saying “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”…

Exploring the true meaning behind USA’s “Labor Day”

You can always count on the good folks at Fair.org and their podcast Counterspin to give you the real story hiding behind the corporate media hype.

In her post ‘Invisibilizing the Workers Who Actually Do the Work’, Janine Jackson offers some history on the closest thing the US has to when we know as a “Bank Holiday”, namely today.

It’s presented by corporate media as, most importantly, a long weekend with a parade—or, more seriously, as a holiday fought for by US trade unions to honor American workers. But the day has more complex origins. A national holiday had been a goal of US labor—several states already celebrated—but Grover Cleveland declared Labor Day in the midst of an attack by federal troops on striking Pullman railway workers, leading many to see it as an attempt to appease workers more than honor them.

Some fascinating stuff there.  The post is an edited transcript of the podcast which is well worth a listen.

Oh and another thing…the US Presidential race is meant to crank up another gear after Labor Day – just sayin’

Unbelievably, something about these Paul LePage stories stinks more than his racism

We have our “tin foil hats” on here at FPP big time.

Paul LePage is the governor of Maine, the state at the northeastern tip of the USA.  He is a Republican with a big capital R.  And he is also a racist with an even bigger capital R.  These things have been well known on a national level for a while.

But what has us scratching our heads is the fact that he seems to have “upped his game” in recent times, as the NY Times reports

Paul R. LePage, the Republican governor of Maine, faced a torrent of outrage and political pressure on Monday even from some members of his own party, after 48 hours last week in which he threatened a Democratic lawmaker in a profane voice mail message, made sweeping statements about race and ended the week by doubling down and seeming to endorse racial profiling to address the state’s drug crisis.

We won’t beat around the bush…we believe that this has something to do with the recent revamp by Donald Trump of his top advisers.

If there is one thing that Trump has done consistently, then it’s alienating immigrants and African Americans.  Now that the polls have the gap between himself and Hillary widening by the day, while he’ll hardly pick up too many votes on the “left” he surely now has to be mindful of those on the right who won’t be too keen on his reputation as a racist.

So what better way to deflect the attention of the media than to have a known bigoted politician like LePage ramp up the racist rhetoric?  Make sure he achieves  coast-to-coast recognition so that Trump looks moderate by comparison?

Why else would so many examples of his tirades come out over such a short period of time?

It’s not as though LePage had a hope in hell of being re-elected anyway.  So maybe the Trump campaign went to him and said “If you help us with this, we’ll look after you when you move out of the governor’s mansion”.  Perhaps create a new “Secretary of White Supremacy” post in the Trump administration?

Of course this is all pure speculation.  But while we’re not fans of any kind of racism, we could see a smattering of intelligence behind this plan if indeed it is the case.  Perhaps we’ll never know.

 

The actual US Presidential Election method explained, plus the National Popular Vote movement

It never ceases to amaze me how the process of electing the political leader of a “super-power” nation of over 300 million people is so much simpler than that of the Republic of Ireland with its mere 5 million.

You try to tell American voters about surpluses, quotas, transfers and first preferences and they’re likely to head for the hills.  In fact, I’m pretty sure a lot of Irish ones head for the hills as it is.  No matter what defence you make for the PR-STV method we use here, it can’t involve one which claims it’s in any way “straightforward”.

But anyway…this post is meant to focus on the US.  I often get asked how it works, which reminds me how much of a nerd I am on things like that when my initial reaction (in my head) is “Doesn’t EVERYONE know this?”  Why should Irish people have a working knowledge of how things work in other countries?

The first phrase you need to know is “Electoral College”, because you’ll hear it a lot in official explanations.  This doesn’t mean a place you go to learn out about elections.  It simply refers to the body of people who actually choose the President.

The U.S. Constitution specifies that the President and Vice President of the United States are to be chosen every four years by a small group of people who are individually referred to as “presidential electors.” The electors are collectively referred to as the “Electoral College.”

The Constitution specifies that each state is entitled to one member of the Electoral College for each of its U.S. Representatives and U.S. Senators. Today, there are a total of 538 electoral votes in the Electoral College. This total corresponds to the 435 U.S. Representatives from the 50 states plus the 100 U.S. Senators from the 50 states plus the three members of the Electoral College to which the District of Columbia became entitled under the 23rd Amendment…

The 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia, have been allocated their own number of members (or “votes”) of this Electoral College based on population.  For example, a big state like California has 54 while a small one like Vermont has just 3.

On the first Tuesday in November an election will be held in each jurisdiction and whomever tops the poll receives ALL the electoral votes going.  So even if a candidate wins California by just ONE vote, they still get ALL FIFTY-FOUR members of the Electoral College to vote in their favour. (Note there are a couple of exceptions like Maine but this is the case in the vast majority of the states)

For the purpose of the 2016 Election, the “magic number” is 270…in fact it has been for many years now.  Once a candidate reaches that total, no matter what combinations of states brought it about, then that’s it.  They get to live in the White House for four years.

Before I go on I should clarify one thing…technically (not to mention unbelievably) speaking, the Electoral College members do NOT have to actually vote for the candidate their state chose.  I could write volumes on this, but I won’t because in practice it never comes to that eventuality.

Now to examine how this method relates to the actual campaigns, and here is where we have problems.

With the size of the US as it is, travelling isn’t easy.  This means that candiates have to be selective when deciding where they go.  And while you’ll hear a lot in the press about about national polls, in reality what matters are the indivual polls within states.  This, in turn, gives the candidates a road map of where they need to be shaking hands and kissing babies.

All of the above makes perfect sense, when to take into account the electoral system.  Why should Hillary Clinton, for example, spend a lot of time and money showing her face in California when she pretty much knows she can put its 54 EC votes in the bank?

This virtual “guaranteed” nature of some places’ vote creates what are known as “red states” (Republican) and “blue states” (Democrat).  Basically there is no earthly reason for either candiadte to go there.  Which leaves the real battleground in what are known as the “swing” states.

Ohio and Pennsylvania are two of the best known swing states, which is precisely why the two major parties held their conventions in Cleveland and Philadephia respectively.  Another well known one is Florida, where Al Gore arguably had the election “stolen” from him by George W Bush in 2000.

There is a movement in America which wants to change the process of electing the President to one which will ensure the candidates will have to listen to the whole country throughout the campaign.

National Popular Vote” is exactly wht it says on the tin…a campaign to have the President be the one for whom the most citizens voted, period.

And it’s not just a bunch of “crackpots” protesting outside Congress with a placard reading “Down with this sort of thing” either…they are actually getting elected bodies from jurisdictions around the country to sign up to the concept.

The bill has been enacted by 11 jurisdictions possessing 165 electoral votes—61% of the 270 electoral votes necessary to activate it, including four small jurisdictions (RI, VT, HI, DC), three medium- size states (MD, MA, WA), and four big states (NJ, IL, NY, CA)

So to put it simply,  once the bill has been enacted by enough states to bring the total electoral votes to 270, they win!

Only 105 to go.  We wish them well.

Personally, I wouldn’t mind some electoral reform here in Ireland.  Maybe not exactly the same as across the pond, but definitely something other than the mathematical maelstrom that is PR-STV.

 

 

 

Funny signs alright…but just how far left of Trump are you guys really?

foxford-sign

Call me cynical all you want but I’m getting a distinct whiff of BS off of this story.

Apparently the people of Foxford, Co Mayo are very proud of their reaction to a pro-Trump “Make America Great Again” sign put up by “someone” in their town.

I’ll let Lovin.ie continue the reportage

Local Fine Gael councillor Neil Cruise said he received a barrage of complaints from the townspeople, who were furious about being associated with “such a horrible, dangerous, racist and bigoted election candidate”.

This reminds me of George Hook’s drivetime show on BlueshirtFM Newstalk where he’d have a weekly chat with American right wing shock jock radio host Michael Graham (the guy Michael D Higgins famously called a “wanker” before being elected President).  Basically, Graham would spout his hyberbolic crap in order to make George look liberal.  It didn’t work very well.

Anyway what has me arching my eyebrow here is that it’s a Fine Gael councillor that everyone turns to with regard to the sign.  Now let me be clear…I have nothing against Foxford, nor Mayo for that matter, great county, lovely people etc.  But let’s face it…they do have a tendency to elect a lot of FG councillors and TDs so it’s pretty clear what end of the political spectrum they tend to reside.

So I suppose what I’m saying is that I’m not so sure they can rule out absolutely everything on that list you see in the photo, though I’ll give them the wigs thing.

Finally, yes, I’ll say it….maybe the whole thing was a set-up by the councillor in question?  I have no proof whatsoever but you have to admit it would be worth investigating.