Can Trump Win the 2020 Race?

To win, he has to pull an inside straight. With time running out, it’s not likely. But it is possible. 

The Biden campaign strategy has always been to focus the race on Trump’s personality and avoid policy. In this he has been mightily helped by Trump and his compulsive need to be the center of attention. But Trump has not helped himself here at all because his personality is so abrasive and off putting, to say the least. 

Further, the most important medium that presidents and candidates use to communicate with voters is television. When a political figure is on TV, it is like he has been invited into your living room. And Trump represents the grouchy, cantankerous guest who simply won’t leave. That behavior appalls coastal America. But when the medium is changed there is a different reaction.  In live appearances, his obnoxious behavior thrills the crowds that gather by the tens of thousands to see him. 

In contrast, Biden’s entire campaign message has consisted of declaring that he is not Donald Trump. The reason is not simply that Trump’s personality is so distasteful to so many, although it is an important factor. It is also because the hard left of his party is ascendant, and their policy agenda is unlikely to be popular with rank and file voters. So Biden’s strategy is to concentrate on personality, avoid policy, and run the clock out. That strategy allows the rank and file to believe that Biden is a moderate, while the left wing gets to own policy making after the election, particularly if the Democrats sweep the House and Senate. 

The election has always been tighter than the national polls suggest. Biden has maintained a consistent lead against Trump for going on a year. But so did Hillary Clinton. The main difference is that there exists a reservoir of fondness for Biden in a good part of the electorate while there was none for Hillary Clinton. Moreover, Trump has the Coronavirus hanging over him, which he didn’t have before. So the question is: How is it possible for Trump to come from behind to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat at this late stage?

It is possible because (1) there is lingering suspicion of Biden stemming from the 1994 crime bill, particularly among African-American males; (2) Biden made a significant unforced error on energy policy in the second debate, and (3) while there is hatred for Trump on the left, there is no enthusiasm for Biden. 

So how does this square with the polling that shows Biden with a national lead of around 8 to 9 points? It doesn’t. If Biden carries the popular vote with a margin of 8 or 9 percentage points it is virtually impossible for Trump to win. Actually it would be more indicative of a blue tidal wave in which Biden picks up 340 – 360 votes in the electoral college, well over the 270 needed to win. Add to that the probability of Democratic control of the House and Senate. 

On the other hand if Biden’s lead in the popular vote slips to 3 or 4 points, it is very possible that Trump could pull it out of the fire. That’s because the battleground state polls are much tighter than the national polls, with much wider margins of error. But for Trump to win the key battlegrounds and gain 270 electoral college votes, the polls have to wrong. What are the chances of that?

More than you’d think. That is because Biden has shown significant weakness, compared to the usual performance of a Democrat, among African-American voters, particularly males. In part it stems from Biden’s criminal justice record, which wound up exacting a heavy price on African-American males. A significant fall-off in the votes of African-American males could tip the margins in Michigan (14% African-American), Pennsylvania (11%), Minnesota (12%) and maybe Wisconsin (6%).  

Add to that Biden’s falling into the Energy v. Climate trap during Thursday’s debate. Politicians are prone to claim that costs are really benefits—because they get away with it. But you can only go so far claiming that there will be all these brand new “Green Jobs”, especially when you are looking for votes in a jurisdiction that produces lots of fossil fuel based energy, especially by fracking. When Biden denied he ever said he would ban fracking and then tried to pivot to “transitioning” to clean energy, fossil fuel industry voters in Pennsylvania, Texas, Oklahoma and maybe Minnesota took notice. 

Pennsylvania is a critical state. Combine the impact of a lower than usual percentage of African-American Democratic votes in Philly and Pittsburg with motivated energy industry voters; and then factor in a net increase of Republican registrations on the order of of 125,000 voters and a Democratic decrease of 65,000 voters since 2016 and you have the formula for an upset. And it is wise to remember James Carville’s description of the state: In-between Pittsburg and Philadelphia lies Alabama. 

Then there is the factor of enthusiasm and its cousin, momentum. While there is a lot of enthusiasm for getting rid of Trump, there is little enthusiasm for Biden. That could make it difficult for the Biden campaign to motivate new voters and get existing registrants to the polls in sufficient numbers. That said, fear of Covid could be a factor motivating Biden voters to show up. 

Trump, on the other hand, still retains the loyalty and enthusiasm of his base. But he may be losing suburbanites, particularly suburban women who normally vote Republican. On that score Biden didn’t help himself any when he tried to explain away the corruption issue, news of which is only going to get worse in the next week. Nor did he do himself any favors among affluent and highly educated Republican suburbanites when he pretended that his tax plans would not affect them. 

The final question has to do with what pollsters refer to as “shy Trump voters”. That phrase refers to people who are actually in favor of Trump but hide it or lie about it to pollsters because of the chilling effect of cancel culture. It is possible that Trump could actually perform significantly better in the battleground states than the polls currently suggest. If we see the national polls tighten to where Biden is ahead by 3 to 4 points, Trump could possibly eke out a victory at the last minute the way he did in 2016. But if Biden maintains a lead in the 8 to 9 point range, it is virtually impossible. 

At the moment, I’d put the odds of a Trump victory at about 1 in 3. 

Let’s wait and see if the polls tighten over the next week.

JFB

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Biden Inc

We are being treated to a new level of liberal hysteria, and that is truly impressive when you consider it has being boiling hot ever since the darkest day in American history, November 8, 2016. The proximate cause for the wail du jour has been set off by the NY Post, which had the effrontery to report on what it claims are e-mails that show that Biden Inc. used its influence for personal enrichment in the Burisma matter. 

Sure enough Facebook and Twitter went into suppression mode and tried to limit the reach of the story. (Note to Republican Congressman: these companies are private actors and have every right to publish or not publish pretty much whatever they want. So butt out). More to the point, lefty journalists have been very quiet about the subject hoping it will go away. And they have been working overtime trying to silence other journalists who would deign to cover the story. 

The usual routine, which is on full display here, is to refer to an inconvenient story as having been “debunked”. Which in no way means that the story has actually been shown to be false or inaccurate. That would require authentic reporting, as in asking who, what, when, where and why. We get precious little of that these days. 

But the whole business does raise a rather obvious question, namely why the effort to suppress the story? Surely if the story is demonstrably false it would redound to Mr. Biden’s benefit as well as to any reporter who could produce hard evidence showing it to be false.  That has not yet happened, despite the obvious incentives.

Perhaps that is because it is very likely that the story is true. That the Biden family’s financial good fortune is intertwined with Mr. Biden’s political career has been amply documented in the past. It is worth reading, for instance the Atlantic Magazine on the matter. Or this article in Politico. Biden rates an entire chapter in Peter Schweitzer’s “Profiles in Corruption”. 

That Biden has used his political positions to enrich his family is not really seriously in question. What he has done may have been legal, in which case we are just talking about legal corruption. What is instructive is the frantic effort to bury the story. 

Anything or anyone that threatens the power grab underway by the new authoritarians of the left will be met by whatever means necessary. And if that requires running over pesky constitutional rights, corrupting the courts, changing electoral processes on the fly, and using government power to suppress the opposition, so be it.  

There are no enemies to the left, and all that matters is acquiring political power. 

Anyone who doubts the Democrats’ all consuming lust for power had only to watch the performance of the allegedly moderate Senator Amy Klobuchar (D.MN) on the Senate Judiciary panel in the hearing for Judge Amy Coney Barrett. Here is what she said responding to Judge Barrett. 

[“ …I appreciate it, judge, that you said that you didn’t want to be a queen. I actually wouldn’t mind being a queen around here, truth be known. I wouldn’t mind doing yet. Kind of a benevolent queen in making decisions so we could get things done…”].  

That says it all. 

JFB

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Joe Biden–“Moderate” –on Court Packing

Vice President Joe Biden, currently masquerading as a moderate, has been a gas bag for pretty much his entire career. But recently he has shown a remarkable reticence. He has refused to discuss where he stands on the Democrats’ threat to pack the Supreme Court, if they take control of the Senate after the November elections.

We hear a lot these days about how President Donald Trump violates norms. And for good reason: He does. That said, it is Mr. Biden who has taken a sledge hammer to political norms in a way that makes Trump look like a piker. 

In response to a question about the voters desire to know his position in the matter of Court packing, Mr. Biden said to reporters “They’ll know my opinion on court-packing when the election is over”.  He then went on to say “Now, look, I know it’s a great question, and y’all — and I don’t blame you for asking it. But you know the moment I answer that question, the headline in every one of your papers will be about that.”

Not content to leave it at that, days later Biden went on to say that the voters don’t deserve to know his position, complained that questioners were “probably Republicans” and in any event Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett for the Court was “non-constitutional”.  The assertion that the President doesn’t have the Constitutional authority to nominate someone for an empty seat on the Court is simply astonishing, even by Biden standards. 

So now we have a situation in which the allegedly “moderate” Democratic Presidential nominee (1) refuses to respond to questions about Court packing, a threat made by his own party, and a truly fundamental issue; (2) complains that if he were to answer the question reporters would write about it, and (3) claims to believe that the President’s nomination for an empty Court seat is “non-constitutional”. 

In the meantime the left wing of the  Democratic Party is chomping at the bit to pack the Court, end the legislative filibuster, add Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia as states and end the electoral college. All of this is for the purpose of transforming America into a one party state run by leftist ideologues.

Some discerning voters are curious to know what Mr. Biden thinks about all this. And up until now, Mr. Biden has made it clear that he has no intention of telling them. 

Let us remember that a couple of short weeks ago, Mr Biden, in a burst of Trumpian grandiosity, proclaimed himself to be the Democratic Party. So why won’t the alleged moderate who is supposedly the personification of the Democratic Party unequivocally state his position on a matter that goes to the very foundation of the American republic? Perhaps it is because he is an institutional wrecking ball. Or maybe, just a coward.

JFB

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The Virginia Senate Race

Before being elected to the US Senate in 2008, Mark Warner (D. VA) served as governor of Virginia from 2002 to 2006. In 2014 ran for a second term against Republican Ed Gillespie, winning by just under 1% of the vote. During that race Senator Warner vowed not to run again. 

Needless to say, Senator Warner is running for a third term.

This time Warner is running against Republican nominee Daniel MacArthur Gade. A retired lieutenant colonel, Gade lost his right leg in the Iraq war where he served as a tank company commander. He is a graduate of West Point and has both Master’s and PhD degrees in Public Administration from the University of Georgia. Prior to securing the Republican nomination for the Senate, Gade worked as Professor of Practice at American University in the School of Public Affairs. 

Gade is no slavish follower of Donald Trump. In his October 3 debate with Warner at Norfolk State University he openly criticized Trump’s response to a question on white supremacy. In the Senate debate he said “If you are a white supremacist and you are watching — I don’t want your vote. I don’t want your money, and shame on your attitudes and disrespect. Now, the president badly fumbled that question.” 

He has also called on fellow Republicans to join him in support of social justice for African American citizens. Importantly he makes a distinction between thought and action. He argues that racism is an internal belief; that it is not a domestic security threat unless it is acted upon. Senator Warner on the other hand believes (or pretends to believe) that the US is systemically racist. In response to a question he said “So do I think systemic racism exists? I do,” adding pointedly, “Black lives matter.”

Gade is a self-described conservative. He is strongly pro-life; is adamant about protecting religious liberty, does not support taxpayer forgiveness of student loans and is opposed to taxpayer funded education through college. He does not believe it is up to government to provide an income; nor is it a governmental responsibility to make sure everyone has health insurance.  He is a strong defender of property rights and the free market system. 

All in all it is fair to describe Dr. Gade as the type of conventional conservative that dominated the Republican Party during the Reagan era. 

On the other hand it is also fair to describe Senator Mark Warner as hewing closely to the party line. He is a typical abortion rights fanatic. He supports abortion on demand and is a co-sponsor of S.1645 which, if enacted, would invalidate nearly all state and federal restrictions on abortion. He also voted against confirming Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. 

In general Senator Warner is a conventional businessman turned politician. He isn’t a member of the wild eyed crowd populated by the likes of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. But he is not about to lift a finger to protect liberty either. That is the crucial difference between challenger Gade and Senator Warner. Warner is a technocrat; Gade understands the importance of liberty. And that, in the end, is why Professor Gade is going to get my vote. 

JFB

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Reason TV on Judge Amy Coney Barrett

As the leftist hysteria continues to mount on Donald Trump’s nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, it may be a good idea to take a look a the libertarian perspective. Here below is a short video from Reason TV that provides such a look.

Reason TV on Judge Amy Coney Barrett

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Judge Amy Coney Barrett

The Party of Science is about to make yet another spectacular display of its rampant anti-intellectualism as it gears up to contest the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. Among other things, we are told that Judge Barrett should be denied a seat on the nation’s highest Court because she has 7 kids, 2 of whom are non-white adoptees from Haiti. Trans racial adoption is supposedly evidence of racism. Then again, for progressives, everything is evidence of racism of one sort or another. 

One Democratic operative went so far as to insinuate (without evidence as CNN loves to report about Donald Trump) that Judge Barrett and her husband may have illegally spirited the 2 children in question out of Haiti. Dana Houle, a Democratic operative, recently tweeted that “[He]… would love to know which adoption agency Amy Coney Barrett and her husband used…Some adoptions for Haiti were legit. Many were sketchy as hell. And if the press learned they were unethical and maybe illegal adoptions, would they report it? Or not bc it involves her children.” 

Needless to say the airwaves haven’t been full of progressive objections to this sleazy innuendo. 

We have also been treated to attacks on Judge Barrett as being emblematic of the submissive women in Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel the Handmaid’s Tale. This despite the fact that she graduated #1 in her class at Notre Dame Law school, served as executive editor of the Notre Dame Law Review, served as a clerk for Justice Antonin Scalia, served as a tenured Professor at Notre Dame Law school where she was awarded the Distinguished Professor of the Year 3 times, and despite the quality of her academic publications as well as her signed opinions as a federal appeals Court judge on the 7th circuit. 

Judge Barrett’s long publication record will be used —misused actually—to distort her positions on legal and political questions. Then again it is important to understand that truth is of little importance to Judge Barrett’s progressive opposition. Their goal is to make the confirmation vote as costly as possible for Republicans. Their chosen tactic will be to smear the Judge and her family with personal attacks on her religious beliefs and her policy preferences, and then imply that the Judge will use her position on the Court to impose those beliefs on the nation. 

The irony in this is obvious. It is progressive justices who have done precisely that, arguing that the Constitution is a “living breathing” document; apparently believing it is a document only capable of breathing progressive doctrine. And here it is worth considering what Judge Barrett has actually said and written.

For example, when during her 2017 confirmation she was queried about if and when it would be proper for a judge to impose her personal beliefs when applying the law, this is how she responded. (See The Washington Post).

“Never. It’s never appropriate for a judge to impose that judge’s personal convictions, whether they derive from faith or anywhere else on the law.” 

This is where the rubber meets the road. Progressives and Democrats are united in their opposition to Judge Barrett precisely because she actually believes and acts in a way that progressives only pretend to. The proof is in the campaign against her. Progressives argue that she “will take your health care away”, that she will “restrict abortion rights”, that she has had the effrontery to write that 2nd amendment rights are not second class rights, and that she will not show sufficient deference to a bureaucracy dominated by progressives. 

These are all complaints about preferred policy outcomes; they are not legal arguments. Courts are not supposed to be super legislatures. Ruling on the law as written is what judging is supposed to be about. In a democracy changing the law requires gathering the votes to do so. The more important the change, the larger the required margin. That requires using powers of persuasion to develop a legislative consensus.  

That is why Amy Coney Barrett is such a threat to the control freaks who call themselves progressives. By adhering to the law as written, she respects the structure of the U.S. government as it was founded, with its checks and balances designed to allow a functioning democratic government while protecting individual people’s “unalienable rights” from the majority’s passions of the day. 

She should be confirmed without delay. 

JFB

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The Left Wing Embrace of Violence

“If they even TRY to replace RBG we burn the entire fucking thing down”. 

Reza Aslan.

For those lucky enough not to know who Reza Aslan is, he is a Professor of creative writing at the University of California, Riverside; an author of 4 books on religion including No God but God, a member of the American Academy of Religion and a member of the National Iranian American Council. 

Wikipedia lists his citizenship as Iranian-American despite the fact that there is no such category. Furthermore Iran does not permit dual citizenship at all, and the US. does not recognize dual citizenship of Iran and the United States. Ironically, the scholar who promises to “burn the entire fucking thing down” is the author of Beyond Fundamentalism: Confronting Religious Extremism in the Age of Globalization

Perhaps Professor Aslan should consult his own book before going on another Twitter rant.

In his review of the book, John Meacham writes “It is Aslan’s great gift to see things clearly, and to say them clearly, and in this important new work he offers us a way forward. He is prescriptive and passionate, and his book will make you think.” The LA Times wrote “Aslan is not only a perspicuous, thoughtful interpreter of the Muslim world but also a subtle psychologist of the call to jihad.”

The Washington Post writes that Aslan’s book “Offers a very persuasive argument for the best way to counter jihadism.”According to New Yorker, his book represents “[A] thoughtful analysis of America’s War on Terror.”

Well. Aslan is clear, but I would hardly characterize his outburst (on Twitter of course) as subtle or thoughtful. Unfortunately, remarks like Professor Aslan’s are not all that unusual these days. The turn to violence has become increasingly common as small minded “activists” have foregone debate in favor of intimidating and silencing those with whom they disagree, a phenomenon increasingly prevalent on the nation’s campuses. 

While this is being glossed over, progressive media cheerleaders have spotted intimidation by Trump supporters in Fairfax Virginia. The New York Times reports that supporters of President Trump showed up at the Fairfax County voting center, waved flags and signs and chanted 4 more years. The Times noted that election officials said that the group stayed 100 feet from the building’s entrance and were not directly blocking access to the building, contrary to social media posts. 

Nevertheless, Democrats and their cheerleaders in the press made the case that Trump supporters were using tactics of disruption and intimidation. At this point it is worth examining the photo that the Times ran to see the alleged voter intimidation in action.  

Photo Credit: Kenny Holston for the New York Times

Here is a photo of six—count ‘em—six middle aged people, two of them women. Four are holding banners, one has his hands in his pockets and one has his arms folded across his chest. They are standing at a reasonable distance from the voters on line, who are busy ignoring them as they wait to vote. This is hardly a picture of what what any reasonable person would call intimidation. 

But the riots that have engulfed Seattle, Portland and other cities are routinely characterized as “mostly peaceful”. All in the service of the narrative. And so it is hardly a wonder why so many media outlets have lost so much credibility.

JFB

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The Many Absurdities of 2020

Pennsylvania is one of 8 states that chooses its Supreme Court justices by election. Both the Democrats and Republicans nominate candidates; third party nominees are occasionally on the ballot as well. Election winners are placed on the Court for an initial 10 year term. In 2015 Democrats won 3 open seats and flipped the partisan make-up of the Court. 

One year ago the Pennsylvania state legislature passed and Democratic Governor Tom Wolfe signed an election bill specifying that mail-in ballots must be received by 8:00 PM on election day. The State Supreme Court apparently had other ideas. On Thursday, despite the clear language of the law, they extended the deadline for the return of ballots to the following Friday—which is after the election has already happened. In other cases they ruled that mail-in ballots could be returned to drop boxes (apparently obviating the need for post marks) and knocked the Green candidate off the ballot this November. 

This is obviously a recipe for chaos. And it is clearly designed to assist Democrats in what is widely expected to be a close contest in a critical state. Democrats who keep complaining about the Trump Administration’s contempt for the rule of law have remained remarkably quiet about the Court’s partisan attack on just that. 

Freudian Slips

Meanwhile on the campaign trail Kamala Harris referred to a “Harris Administration”. The nominal head of the ticket, Joe Biden, referred to a Harris / Biden Administration. So for all those who think that Biden is both “moderate” and in control…Dream on.  

Kamala Harris
Joe Biden

Political Accountability

We hear a lot these days about how the Trump Administration is violating the independence of executive agencies and in the process threatening “our democracy”. Of course everything that leftists don’t like threatens “our democracy”. And it remains the case that in what is left of our Constitutional system, the executive agencies and their officers are subordinate to the elected President, derive their powers from him and report to him. It is called political accountability. 

So let’s conduct a thought experiment on political accountability by asking a question. When are Mayors of big American cities going to announce that going forward, their police departments are going to be independent and not answerable to elected officials? 

A Final Thought

Q. What is the proper course of action when the two major political parties nominate repulsive candidates?

A. Vote for a third party. 

JFB


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