Patterico's Pontifications


California Voter Guide

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:16 pm

I was going to write one up, but my colleague at RedState, Kira Davis, has already written one — and I can’t say I disagree with any of it.

I just have this to add: please, please, PLEASE vote against Proposition 57. If you care about the safety of our society, it’s important. (I say this knowing that the polls show it will pass comfortably. All I can do is tell you what’s right.) It will defang important sentencing enhancements, and it most assuredly is not targeted at non-violent criminals, notwithstanding its deceptive title. More details here.

Also: vote against the repeal of the death penalty (Proposition 62), even though this one is already likely to fail. And vote for Proposition 66, which would get the death penalty working again.

I am not opining on judges this time around, so please don’t ask. I may not ever do that again; we’ll see. But not this time.

Do read Kira Davis’s guide. It’s quite good.

New O’Keefe Video: Journalist in Burka Obtains Ballot While Claiming to Be . . . Huma Abedin

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:00 pm

Very cute. Remember the guy who boasted in an O’Keefe video about how Democrats commit voter fraud by busing people from place to place to vote multiple times?

He makes a reappearance . . . and we remember that he said that one way you can get away with it is by wearing a burka.

So that’s what O’Keefe’s undercover journalist does — while giving the name of one of the most famous women in the world at the moment. Watch:

[Cross-posted at RedState.]

The Electoral College and Popular Vote Predictions Thread

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:26 pm

Here are my predictions. I made them this morning.

Clinton wins.

Electoral college breakdown: Hillary 275, Trump 263.

Popular vote splits 51% to 49% for Hillary. [UPDATE: I mean, counting only the people voting Trump or Hillary. Nobody else matters; let’s be honest.]

[Factoring in the third-party folks, I’d say 49% Clinton, 47% Trump, 3% Johnson, 1% Stein, everyone else negligible.]

Get yours in now, before voting starts and it looks like you cheated!

P.S. GOP retains the Senate.

Patterico’s Closing Argument: A Return To Constitutional Principles, Or: This Ain’t MY Trainwreck

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:00 pm

A lot of people today are making “closing arguments” about how you should vote tomorrow. I won’t do it. I refuse to do it.

I am a passenger on a train being driven by the most reckless conductor I’ve ever encountered in my entire life. To make this as heavy-handed and obvious an analogy as humanly possible, I am going to name the driver “Mr. Electorate.” Clear enough? Good!

This conductor has worked himself into a situation where he has the kind of choice you usually see discussed in ethics textbooks or dorm-room bull sessions. He can plow directly into a large crowd of school children, which will certainly kill dozens of innocent young kids. Or, he can steer the train onto a different track, in which case he will kill a Nobel-winning scientist who appears to be, but may not be, on the verge of curing cancer.

I’ll leave it up to you whether Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump represents the kids or the scientist. One of the less attractive features of political debate on the Internet, especially approaching an election, is that people get wound up in silly analogies like this. The point of my analogy is that I don’t care which happens.

It’s not that I don’t care because I am not concerned about the kids, or because I don’t care about cancer. It’s not that I think one eventuality or the other isn’t just unthinkably awful. They both are! Of course they both are! But I’ll be honest with you: I don’t know which of these situations is worse, and I don’t feel qualified to choose.

Depending on who is on the train with me when I am asked to give advice to the conductor (I’ll call these people my “audience”), it might be tempting to make my choice based on what will please the audience. If my audience consists of parents of the schoolkids, it will be tempting for me to advise the conductor to kill the scientist. The more adamant and forceful I am about it, the more applause I will get. If I can vilify scientists as low-life scum who are all worthless and should probably be run over on general principles, whether the kids are killed or not, so much the better. If I can climb on a soapbox and sing about how the children are our future, I’ll be carried on the shoulders of these parents like a conquering hero.

And if my audience consisted of people with loved ones dying of cancer, it would be equally tempting for me to say the conductor should kill the kids. For the greater good! Hooray!

Either way, I’ll be blamed by someone -– even though I’m not the guy who got us into the situation. So you know what? I’m not going to decide. I’m going to let Mr. Electorate decide.

And guess what? That’s what he’s going to do anyway. You see, even though the audience will blame me for giving him bad advice, Mr. Electorate is going to do what he wants no matter what I say. He was always going to do what he wanted. He was never going to listen to me.

So I’m not giving him any advice. But it doesn’t mean I’m washing my hands of the whole thing. It means I’m concentrating on a Bigger Picture. As I stand in the middle of a train full of people who are busy arguing about which murderous track we should steer ourselves onto, I’m thinking about one thing and one thing only:

What can we do to keep this from happening again?

You see, Mr. Electorate drives the train. He has always driven the train. It is expected that he always will drive the train. But, you see, it kinda seems like Mr. Electorate is the problem here. It kinda seems like our first mistake was giving the keys to Mr. Electorate, without making sure he knew what he was doing, or setting up better rules to make sure he was going to steer us responsibly.

Am I saying that we snatch the keys from Mr. Electorate and hand them over to Mr. Dictator? Not at all. That guy has an even worse track record.

But I do suggest that, if we survive this calamity, our top priority should be to figure out why Mr. Electorate screwed up. How did he get us in this situation?

Allow me to cut the crap and stop talking in analogies.

What we face tomorrow is horrible by any definition. I believe the only way to respond is to re-focus ourselves on our fundamental principles. Why are we interested in politics anyway?

I don’t know about you, but the key principles for me are liberty, the free market, and the Constitution. When Ted Cruz bowed out, I decided that the time was ripe to begin assembling a movement of people who care about these principles: a group I call the “Constitutional Vanguard.” The idea is still in its formative stages, but my general idea is that we need to educate the public in these principles, and I want to do what I can to make that happen.

My key goal, therefore, is educating people on liberty, the free market, and the Constitution. And in creating structural reforms that promote decentralization, freedom, liberty . . . and ultimately, better, more responsible and restrained governance.

I know, I know. It sounds naive and idealistic and pointless in the era of Trump — a man who has taken over the only party that even pretended to stand for these principles, while also having a chance of winning. But I don’t think the era of Trump can possibly last forever . . . and it may be over tomorrow. When it ends, it will be time to pick up the pieces. I hope you’ll join me. If you’re interested, I discuss the idea in more detail here.

I’d love it if you’d join and share your ideas on how to prevent Mr. Electorate from doing this to us again.

[Cross-posted at RedState.]

“In Defense Of Trump Voters” — Your Must-Read For Today

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:30 am

Class, I have some mandatory reading for you today — especially if you do not plan to vote for Donald Trump. No, it’s not yet another effort to make you change your mind. It is, instead, an eloquent defense of the reasonableness of voting for Trump — written by a Trump opponent: our old friend Dan McLaughlin aka the Baseball Crank. It’s a piece that deserves a standing ovation.

Like me, Dan plans to vote for Evan McMullin. He could never bring himself to vote for Hillary or Trump. However, he shows a deep understanding of the reasons that someone might choose to vote Trump in this election. I agree with almost every word of this piece. It says what I think, but says it better than I ever could. Please: if you read nothing else today, read the entire piece, titled In Defense of Trump Voters. I hope Dan doesn’t mind if I borrow some longish quotes for the purpose of whetting your appetite:

I have many grave concerns about Trump, both as a potential president and as leader of the Republican party, and intend to cast a protest vote for Evan McMullin for those reasons. And I have my own bones to pick with voters who chose Trump over better Republican candidates in the primaries, when we had a choice. But in the context of an American general election, the rancor and scorn directed at his voters is unreasonable and uncharitable, in ways the critics would never direct at themselves or (in the case of liberal criticisms) at their own allies.

There are rational arguments for supporting Trump in the general election against Hillary Clinton, even if I regard those arguments as naive or blind to the realities of Trump. And there are other legitimate reasons that don’t fit neatly into polite, rational, educated debate. Let’s look first at the sophisticated, reasoned justifications offered for voting to Make America Great Again, and then at why the lower-information Trump voters might reasonably decide to support him. We will find that both are rooted, however misguidedly, firmly in defense of the American system.

Dan offers three rational reasons (all of which he ultimately rejects) for voting Trump, and they are all rooted in the binary nature of the election: one of the two bad candidates will win. The reasons are instrumental (Trump will be better on policy), structural (the structure of the D.C. apparatus will resist Trump), and the “drain the swamp” argument. Let me give you the beginning of Dan’s analysis of the “instrumental” argument, as a way to encourage you to read his analysis of the other two:

The first of the three rational arguments for Trump is the instrumental argument. This is the argument that Trump may not mean anything he says or even know what he’s talking about half the time but that electing him would still cause better public-policy results, from a conservative perspective, than electing Hillary. Maybe Trump wouldn’t keep all his promises to appoint conservative judges, but he’d appoint some, and Hillary would appoint none. Maybe Trump would do more to sign parts of Paul Ryan’s legislative and budget agenda than Hillary would. Maybe Trump would hire a lot of Steve Bannon types to work in his White House, but eventually he’d run out of those and have to staff the rest of the executive branch with normal, essentially sober Republicans. Maybe Trump’s basic laziness and lack of understanding of the workings of the system would cede power to Mike Pence, his basically conservative and fundamentally responsible vice president. Maybe, as I’ve speculated before, the Democrats would refuse to do business with Trump, leaving him no real choice but to work with the people who elected him.

That’s a lot of maybes, and a lot of faith placed in a guy who is so renowned for being beyond anyone’s control or influence that the RNC is reduced to arguing in court filings that it literally can’t control Trump when he ignores a consent decree placed on the party years ago. It’s a lot of hope for conservative outcomes from a 70-year-old con man whose instincts have always been those of a big-government statist and social libertine, and who seems to delight in humiliating those who support him. And it underestimates the extent to which weighty foreign-policy decisions are often made by the president almost alone, with little input from Congress and less from the courts.

But for more than a few conservatives, the risks of Trump outweigh the certainties of Hillary. That’s not irrational. Neither is the decision of some conservatives to support Hillary, having made the assessment that the risks of Trump to national security are just too high — although given how terrible Hillary’s foreign-policy record is, I can’t agree with them either.

McLaughlin also explores the attitudes of the more low-information Trump-supporters — and the reasons, rooted in public choice theory, that they do not pay sufficient attention to the candidates and their positions.

There is something here for everyone. If you’re a Trump voter, you’ll certainly recognize the reasons you have decided to vote Trump, expressed in a fair way that shows Dan understands your concerns, and is not belittling them, or you. If you’re a Trump opponent, you get to see Dan bat down those arguments, even as he shows respect for them.

Again: I agree with virtually every word. It’s a tour de force and you have no excuse not to read it, right now. Go.

[Cross-posted at RedState.]

Janet Reno, 1938 – 2016

Filed under: General — JVW @ 8:52 am

[guest post by JVW]

Former Attorney General Janet Reno has died from Parkinson’s Disease, with which she had been diagnosed over twenty years ago while serving in the Bill Clinton administration. Ms. Reno was the rare cabinet official who served for two full terms, and was the only attorney general during the contentious and largely unlawful Clinton Administration.

There is some poetry in her passing coming right as the Clinton family is on the verge of making a controversial return to the scene of the crime As a measure of how partisan memories of the Clinton Administration have become through the years, here are two different announcements of Ms. Reno’s passing. The first is from Nina Totenberg of the Pravada of twee progressives, NPR (all bolded emphasis is added by me):

Reno served longer in the job than anyone had in 150 years. And her tenure was marked by tragedy and controversy. But she left office widely respected for her independence and accomplishments.

[. . .]

Reno arrived at the Justice Department knowing no one, and was immediately plunged into the siege at the Branch Davidian compound outside Waco, Texas. Four federal agents had been killed and 16 wounded while serving a warrant to search for illegal guns. Seven weeks into the siege, pressed by the FBI, Reno authorized a raid on the compound, resulting in 76 deaths, including as many as 25 children and the Davidian leader David Koresh, who ordered his followers to set fire to the compound.

In two sets of Waco congressional hearings over the next two years, Reno would successfully quell critics on the right and left.

For good measure, Ms. Totenberg of NPR goes to former Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick — the woman who plundered Fannie Mae to the tune of $26 million as it was crashing and burning towards a taxpayer bailout — who assures us of Ms. Reno’s competence and integrity. Not exactly the character witness I would want singing my praises. In the end, Ms. Totenberg sums up the career of the recently departed by providing the all-important perspective on how she was viewed by the left-wing elite in the entertainment industry, declaring that Ms. Reno “outlasted her critics and earned such a reputation for integrity and independence that comedian Will Ferrell’s parody of her became one of the iconic skits on NBC’s Saturday Night Live.” Left unanswered the question of why this woman with such a sterling reputation would be rejected by her own party when she ran for the Democrat nomination for Governor of Florida less than two years after leaving office.

A more critical and, probably to most of us here, realistic appraisal of Janet Reno’s tenure is provided by the Associated Press in an article that appears on the Fox News website. Unlike Nina Totenberg’s valedictory, this unattributed piece takes a more critical look at Ms. Reno’s tenure as the nation’s top law-enforcement officer (again, bolded emphasis is mine):

Janet Reno, the first woman to serve as U.S. attorney general and the epicenter of several political storms during the Clinton administration, has died. She was 78.

[. . .]

One of the administration’s most recognizable and polarizing figures, Reno faced criticism early in her tenure for the deadly raid on the Branch Davidian compound at Waco, Texas, where sect leader David Koresh and some 80 followers perished.

[. . . ]

After Waco, Reno figured into some of the controversies and scandals that marked the Clinton administration, including Whitewater, Filegate, bungling at the FBI laboratory, Monica Lewinsky, alleged Chinese nuclear spying and questionable campaign financing in the 1996 Clinton-Gore re-election.

Missing from this account are the sycophantic quotes assuring us that Republicans never laid a glove on her and that Ms. Reno emerged from her Washington years as a figure of integrity and respect. Janet Reno was a complicated woman who served in an administration which had very little respect for the law. She was on no one’s short list of top law enforcement figures back in 1992, but was selected for the job because Bill Clinton had promised that his attorney general would be a woman and because his first two choices had to pull out when it turned out they played fast and loose with the law themselves. The best thing that could be said about Janet Reno is that she sought to overcome her limitations through dogged determination, which is certainly an admirable trait. Still, her tenure should serve as a reminder of the damage that can be done when tribal politics are placed ahead of competency, a timely reminder as we inch closer to returning the Clintons to the seat of power.

May she rest in peace.


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