Category Archives: Politics

Britain, Europe, and the Presidential Election

There is no constitutional mechanism for a federal referendum in the United States.  The federal government has only limited authority over elections, and that limited authority does not give the federal government the ability to put legislation to a national referendum.  That is not the case in other countries.  In recent years, the United Kingdom has put major constitutional issues to a referendum.  This Thursday will see the latest of these referendums in which the issue is whether the United Kingdom will stay in the European Union.

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Choosing a Candidate: The PA Senate Primary

VotingBoothImage_0The first time I was in a voting booth, I was 5 years old. It was one of those machines where you pulled the lever to close the curtain, clicked down the little metal bars, and then pulled the lever to open the curtain. My dad held me and told me which metal bars to pull and then put his hand over mine and we opened the curtain together. It was so much fun, I wanted to do it again, and the next guy on line offered to take me into the booth, but my dad was having none of that. I loved voting even then.

I’ve voted a lot since then. Since coming of age, I have missed exactly one election, which was an off-year primary, missed due to a medical emergency. And I always know for whom to vote: at the local level normally I know the candidates, and they know me. But this year I am facing a huge dilemma. Who to choose? Which of them? 

The race in question is the Pennsylvania Democratic Senate primary. The candidates are Joe Sestak, Katie McGinty and John Fetterman. None is a stranger to me. I interviewed Joe a number of years ago, have run my dog with Katie and her dogs, and spent an evening in a bar with John and a bunch of people. They are all good people. They all have their strengths and weaknesses. Any of them would be a far better choice then Pat Toomey. There’s not a whole lot of daylight between their positions: each is more passionate about their favourite causes and issues, but none would likely vote against my positions.

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Catching Up

I haven’t posted in several weeks as I ended up getting actual Influenza A (and yes, I took the vaccine). I’m not saying it was rough, but I didn’t even care that there were primaries and caucuses because I couldn’t raise my head. For those of you who know me personally, you’ll understand how low I was when I mention that for more than two weeks, I didn’t have even a sip of coffee.

There is so much to catch up on. First, Bernie is on a roll, and I have received a lot of emails and texts asking whether or not he can actually get the nomination. The answer is a full maybe. First off, those pledged delegates from the caucus states can move, as they did last Saturday as the process moves from election day to the county, district and state conventions. The split in Nevada has so far moved from 20 – 15 Clinton to 18 – 17 Clinton, but there are 8 additional delegates to allocate and the State convention in May. Maine is another state that could reallocate delegates. Will it be enough? Amazingly, it will depend on places like New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Pennsylvania and California which are normally non-starters in the primary race.

While everyone (including DCW) looks at the full delegate total, including Super Delegates, my math is a little different.

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Clinton-Sanders: Dream Ticket?

Bernie and HillaryAnother day, another set of primaries. Today, on the Democratic side, the contests will be in Michigan and Mississippi. The Republicans will be in both those states, with caucuses in both Hawaii and Idaho. So what are we thinking about today?

I’ve been getting A LOT of questions lately about whether a Clinton-Sanders ticket would be a viable idea, and whether Hillary Clinton, as president, could just create a special Cabinet position for Bernie Sanders.

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The New Hampshire Debate: Analysis

The first thing that struck me about last night’s Democratic debate in Durham, NH was how different is was from any of the Republican debates. First and foremost was the respect that the competitors showed to one another. Sanders called her “Madame Secretary”, and Clinton called him “Senator Sanders”. It bespoke professionalism and decency.

The questions were serious. Things like criminal justice, the Flint water crisis and other topics are never asked of the Republicans. (Probably because the moderators would have to explain what the question was about.) There were legitimate differences in both approach and substance but whenever possible, both Sanders and Clinton looked for, and noted common ground. Further, when given the opportunity to go after one another (Sanders about Clinton’s emails, Clinton about Sanders ads) they declined. At the very end, when asked whether each would choose the other for a running mate, both demurred and pledged to work together and said that either of them was a far better choice than any of the GOP contenders.

So who won? In my estimation, they both did. Both showcased their positions and presented themselves to the American public in ways that many low-information voters hadn’t seen before. An interesting aside: both have plans for what they’d like to get through Congress, but the truth is that Paul Ryan is likely to hold on as Speaker, and thus nothing gets to the floor of the House, even as we regain the Senate. Doesn’t matter who is elected president, until the intransigent leave Congress, it’s all gridlock.

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Also posted in Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, NH Primary | 1 Comment

Walmart is Closing 154 Stores. Here’s Why You Care

walmartIf you’re like me, you don’t set foot in Walmart. Ever. But I’m lucky. Within 6 miles of my house are two Wegman’s, one Trader Joe’s, one Whole Foods, numerous restaurants, and the largest mall in America. (See end note about that mall.) Oh yeah, and a Walmart to which I never go.

But the Walmarts that are closing ran the single grocery store out of town when they opened. Now tens of thousands of people will have no grocery store within 25 miles, or more.

It’s another blow to rural and small town America. It is indirectly related to the standoff in Oregon: the world is changing, and those who cling tenaciously to ranching and farming are left with fewer and fewer resources. Being unable to buy some fresh produce or pick-up a needed prescription makes life hard indeed.

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Iowa Math

While vote totals are not irrelevant to presidential elections (especially in the primary phase when trailing candidates quickly find that they lack the financial resources to continue), what ultimately matters is not the popular vote, but winning delegates (for the primaries) and electors (for the general).  The delegate math heading into the Iowa Caucuses are different for the two parties for two reasons:  1) the stage at which delegates are bound and 2) the two parties do proportional representation differently.

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The Road out of Iowa

In less than four days, voters in Iowa will head to some location in their precincts and cast the first official votes of the 2016 presidential campaign.  Both because of its small size and because of the unique compositions of the respective parties in Iowa (compared to the national parties), winning in Iowa is not essential to winning either party’s nomination.  What does matter is how Iowa sets up the rest of the race.

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A Note from your Doctor: Politics of the Zika Virus

Aedes_aegypti_feedingAs many of us shiver here in the Eastern United States, mosquito season seems very far away. The mosquitoes that carry it also carry Dengue Fever and Chikungunya. Zika is a disaster for pregnant women, and the latter two are bad for everyone.

Right now, they’re close to pandemic throughout most of South and Central America, and marching towards the Caribbean and onto the US. The mosquitoes themselves don’t actually have to fly here. Instead, people are infected, come home, are bitten by a local mosquito, and then the diseases are carried to other people.

If you think this is a remote issue, and not a political one, you’re wrong on both counts.

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Iowa Caucus — The Count and What it Means

Earlier this week, DocJess posted on the likely delegate count out of the Iowa Caucuses and her experience at a precinct meeting.  In this post, I am going to take a look at the rules of the two parties and what is being counted on February 1.

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