Sunday, October 23, 2016

Political Notebook 5

It’s been nearly six weeks since I last published a “Political Notebook” post, and I don’t know that I’ll do another before the election. The links I’m sharing today would be pretty pointless after the election, so best get on to it.

This bizarre campaign will continue to lurch all over the place in the final days, and most of that is down to Donald’s erratic and often bizarre behaviour. Just today, when he was supposed to be focusing only on what he would do in the first 100 days if, dog forbid, he became president, he instead launched into a rambling, mostly incoherent rant about how he would sue the women who have stepped forward to accuse him of sexual misconduct. This sort of behaviour is nothing new for him, of course, but it makes the campaign volatile and unpredictable.

Donald’s tinfoil hat conspiracy theory talk about “rigged” elections has had at least some positive results for him. “Trump gains on Clinton, poll shows 'rigged' message resonates”, is about a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll shows Donald cutting Hillary Clinton’s lead in their nationwide poll. Nationwide polls don’t mean much by themselves, since Americans don’t elect their president by nationwide popular vote, however, such polls can affect voter turnout by suppressing or encouraging voters (who this affects and in what way up depends on what polls are showing, and which candidate a voter prefers).

Still, even though this is only one poll, the volatility of this campaign means that no one should take anything for granted. Matthew Goodwin, a political scientist at a British university warns, “Why Trump Could Still Pull Off a Surprise You Americans should learn the lesson of the Brexit shocker, and the stunning success of right-wing populists in Austria and France”. Yes, it may seem like a remote chance, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

This is part of the reason that the New York Daily News, never a fan of Donald, published a blistering editorial: “Bury Trump in a Landslide”. The enditorial is divded into many “chapters”: “Trump The Demagogue,” “Trump The Fraudster,” “Trump The Head Case,” “Trump The Fake Philanthropist,” “Trump The Liar,” “Trump The Flip-Flopper,” “Trump The Ignoramus,” “Trump The Conspiracy Theorist,” “Trump The Tax Evader,” “Trump The Divider,” “Trump The Authoritarian,” “Trump The Security Risk,” “Trump The Misogynist” and, finally, “Trump The Enemy Of Democracy.” They conclude:
“Donald Trump is ending his campaign in an ever more inflammatory and destructive assault on American democracy. The end of his presidential dreams must come under an avalanche of anti-Trump votes on Nov. 8.”
“Read this Trump debate answer and tell me if you can make sense of it” is a look at one of Donald’s typical explosions of verbal diarrhoea. But people noticed something else in that debate, too: “Linguistics explains why Trump sounds racist when he says ‘the’ African Americans”. Donald has also said “the Gays”; I think this accurately explains why he does that.

For pure mockery, there’s “Hilarious hashtag on how Trump interprets classic literature”. THen, there's something a little unusual: A billboard alongside a Michigan highway brilliantly trolled Donald.

One of the funniest moments of the campaign didn’t come from Donald: “Paul Ryan attacked Bernie Sanders. It backfired spectacularly.” As the article points out, what Ryan did made perfect sense for the people HE wanted to motivate to vote, but I saw plenty of Bernie’s supporters get energised about downticket races because of it. All of which was predictable and suggests that Ryan is pretty naive or silly (draw your own conclusions on that).

A typically long piece in The New York Review of Books asks, “Why Is Assange Helping Trump?” It’s something I’ve wondered about, too, in a post earlier this month. Meanwhile, Wikileaks activists claimed credit for the large hacker-caused Internet outage last week, and said they did it in retaliation for Julian’s Internet link being cut off by the Ecuador Embassy. Internet Security experts doubted the claim, but the apparent willingness of the group’s activists to engage in cyberterrorism—even if it was baseless bragging—raises the ante quite a bit.

Also about something some people fervently believe in, can baseball predict the winner of the presidential election? Well…

So, where does all this leave us? Election prediction guru Nate Silver says, “There Are 4 Ways This Election Can End — And 3 Involve Clinton Winning”. Along with his methodical analysis and many caveats and qualifiers, he nevertheless points out that “one benefit of having a 6- or 7-point lead is that a couple of things can go wrong—including somewhat inaccurate polling—and you can still win.”

And that’s a very hopeful place to leave this look at some election-related things I’ve run across. I still expect Hillary Clinton to win the presidency, I’m reasonably optimistic that Democrats will regain control of the US Senate, and I still harbour hope that Democrats will regain control of the US House. The odds of the first, second, and third things happening will depend entirely on who votes, and in what numbers.

I fervently believe that Americans need to vote Democratic and to send the Republican Party a strong punishment for having inflicted Donald on the USA, and all the bad stuff his campaign has unleashed. With some luck and effort, we may yet do that.

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