Bob Schwartz

Tag: election

You Can Stop Worrying About Trump Being the Republican Nominee. But You Can’t Stop Worrying.

New York Daily News - Trump for Prez

If you were worrying about Donald Trump being the official nominee of the Republican Party, you can stop worrying about that, no matter what the results of Super Tuesday voting.

I have predicted for months that the GOP would never allow him to be its standard bearer, no matter what the delegate numbers. Whether that means changing the nominating rules, or splitting the party, or whatever, that part isn’t as clear. But the party of Lincoln and Reagan was never going to be Trump’s to represent.

The party will find a way to deny him its blessing. And then Trump will execute what has always been his contingency plan: amass as much support and publicity as possible, and then run as an independent candidate. Or maybe run as the candidate of a portion of the split Republican Party. And then win the presidency with a plurality of votes.

That’s where your worrying shouldn’t stop. Forget all the talk about people flocking to Trump because of their frustration and anger about political gridlock and ineffectiveness. You don’t have to take a deep dive into the research to see that tens of million Americans want to roll back progress not to the Reagan years, but to the years before civil rights and other modern principles of tolerance and equality. (My sad favorite remains the Trump supporter wearing a baseball cap saying “Make Racism Great Again!”).

These people may not be your friends, but they are your neighbors and fellow voters. Whether there are enough of them to elect a President of the United States is an open question. It certainly would be easier if they had the passive imprimatur of the Republican Party. But it finally appears they will not. Which is a good thing.

Unless we do have a multi-candidate election. And one of them is Donald Trump. Because one of them will win.

War on ISIS: You Can’t Ask About Boots on the Ground Without Asking About the Draft

No poll about sending ground troops to fight ISIS—or anywhere else—is complete without asking questions about the military draft.

A recent NBC News poll taken after the events in Paris asked:

Would you support or oppose the United States sending additional ground troops to fight ISIS (Islamic militants) in Iraq and Syria?

Strongly support: 33%
Somewhat support: 32%
Somewhat oppose: 18%
Strongly oppose: 13%
DK/NA: 3%

The following questions should be added:

Do you have any family members in the eligible age range for Selective Service registration, between ages 18 and 25?

If a military draft was put in place by Congress, would you support or oppose the United States sending additional ground troops to fight ISIS in Iraq and Syria?

If your representative in Congress voted in favor of a military draft, would you be more likely or less likely to vote for them in the next election?

(That age range is based on the current requirement for men between 18 and 25 to register with Selective Service. At various times, the draft has covered a much wider range, all the way up to age 45.)

If a military draft was in place, the support for ground troops would likely plummet, if respondents were honest (which they sometimes aren’t). If the mandatory service included women—as it does in Israel, the darling of conservatives—the support number might approach zero. Especially if respondents/voters weren’t sure they could pull strings to get their loved ones out of serving.

Any member of Congress who voted in favor of a military draft, men only or men and women, is almost assured of losing the next election.

This is no way diminishes regard and thanks for the extraordinary valor and service of those who voluntary choose to serve in any military action. This is simply to suggest that those who righteously support such actions in the abstract might have a very different opinion when they, to put it bluntly, crudely and literally, have precious skin in the game.

Suit and Tie: The Sad and Silly Syrian Election

Syrian President Assad Votes

It is reported that President Bashar al-Assad wore a dark suit and light blue tie for voting in today’s Syrian election. Good reporting. He looked good. So did his wife Asma.

Assad actually had opponents, the first time Syria has had a contested presidential election in fifty years. No one could think that this opposition meant anything. The other candidates could not think so. And yet there were supporters and voters at the polls, maybe out of fear, maybe out of hope, maybe just wanting to pretend things are normal. Some new normal, so that with one more term, a few more years added to his enlightened regime, there would be no more deaths after the 160,000, no more displaced and refugees after the millions.

Journalists and other nations are sworn by a sense of fairness and professionalism and diplomacy and sovereignty to pretend that this is an election, even if they have some quibbles. They might, if they had a better sense of irony or humor, treat it like Halloween or Mardi Gras. An occasion on which one dresses up to play the part of something you are not, say, a democratically elected leader in dark suit and light blue tie.

The U.S. also had an election during a civil war. Lincoln did have opposition and he did win. Whatever he wore when he voted, he certainly didn’t look as slick as Assad, nor was Mary Todd as socialite beautiful as Asma. By that point Lincoln was deeply tired and sick of the horrible conflict and would do anything he could to finally end it. The good news is that there would be only a few more months of war. The not so good news is that even with the good that came, it would take decades for the wounds to begin healing. The worst news, for Lincoln and the country, is that he would soon be assassinated.

Lincoln and the civil war were sad but never silly. Assad, in his dark suit and light blue tie, within this hollow semblance of an election, is sad and morbidly silly. Unlike Lincoln, he may be around for years, continuing to rack up votes and deaths. But looking real good.

Should We Test Our Elected Officials?

IQ Curve
There is currently a right to have an abortion in America during the first trimester of pregnancy. This is one of the most divisive moral and legal controversies of our time. Some who support that right make clear that it is not necessarily a right they would exercise personally. Many who oppose the right would like to see it disappear entirely, whether through reconsideration by the Supreme Court or by constitutional amendment.

In the absence of constitutional reinterpretation or change, a number of states have passed laws to circumscribe that right, or at the very least to reduce its exercise. One of the most common laws, signed a few days ago in Wisconsin, requires pregnant women seeking abortions to undergo an ultrasound. This is aimed at emphasizing to these women that they are carrying a fetus—as if they had forgotten—in hopes of deterring them from going through with an abortion. The states just want to be sure these women are well and fully informed.

Great examples of conditioning a right are the sorts of literacy tests that were used in the Jim Crow South to keep black people from voting. Questions were often so difficult that even government officials would have trouble passing. From the Alabama literacy test of 1965 (68 questions):

19. Who passes laws dealing with piracy?
30. Of the original 13 states, the one with the largest representation in the first Congress was _____________.
39. If it were proposed to join Alabama and Mississippi to form one state, what groups would have to vote approval in order for this to be done?
41. The Constitution limits the size of the District of Columbia to _____________.
66. After the presidential electors have voted, to whom do they send the count of their votes?

The use of these sorts of literacy tests for voter suppression was challenged and ultimately outlawed.

Still, there may be the germ of a good idea here. A correlate of the right to vote is the right to hold public office. Sometimes, just sometimes, it seems that this right is being taken for granted by our elected officials. Perhaps there are some of the executives and legislators, at the state and national level, who might benefit from having their ability to hold office tested. Maybe they need to be tested on the arcane intricacies of how government works. Maybe they need to be better informed.

So the proposal is for all public officials to be tested before they are allowed to take office. No ultrasounds. Just the sort of knowledge assessment that prospective black voters had to undergo in 1965. Just the sort of test to see if these officials really understand what rights are and how, in America, we allow change to happen, and what to do lawfully if we don’t like the direction (we don’t terrorize people to make rights painful or impossible to exercise). We will see just how many of them can pass that test.

Answers to above questions:

19. Congress
30. Virginia
39. Congress and the legislatures of both states
41. 10 miles square
66. Vice President (President of the Senate)

Compassion for Karl

In the movie Runaway Jury, based on the John Grisham novel, a gun company is being sued for the death of a man in an office shooting. Gene Hackman plays Fitch, a jury consultant who specializes in using dirty tricks to extort the “correct” verdict out of jury members. The chief executive of the gun company has paid Fitch big bucks to “buy” a verdict. But the trial doesn’t seem to be going well:

Mr. Fitch, I looked into the faces of those jurors. I didn’t see any friends sitting there. Now where the hell are we with securing my verdict?

It’s a cat-and-mouse game. We’re about to change all that…

You just be a little more cat, a little less mouse.

That’s Karl Rove above, honored by fellow conservative and conceptual artist Stephen Colbert with the sculpture “Ham Rove.”

Like Fitch, Rove promised some very rich men a verdict. And like Fitch, he ultimately didn’t deliver. A little too much mouse.

Unlike the scripted moment above, we don’t know what the conversations have been like in the aftermath of the election. We would like to know, and are sure that is much, much more dramatic than the Grisham book or film.

Rove’s anticipation of that moment is probably what explains his now-legendary appearance on Fox News last night, immediately after Fox called Ohio and the election for Barack Obama. Rove simply refused to believe it, babbling and furiously calculating in a scene worthy of a tragic absurdist mathematical drama. He was undoubtedly imagining the conversations he would soon have to have with some very powerful and disappointed people, and he genuinely appeared on the verge of a breakdown. Having questioned the capability and integrity of the very news channel that has served him, the decision desk at Fox was brought in to assure him that they were right to call the race.

This led—and this is completely earnest—to feeling a little sorry for Karl Rove. Strategists lose, whether in business, war or politics, and there is always a price to pay. Some learn from it, some don’t. There is no indication of what, if anything, Karl Rove has learned. But when the stakes are very high, that loss can leave “the smartest people in the room” as the loneliest people in the world. And that’s sad.

Of course, Rove’s response to such sentiment might be that he doesn’t need anyone’s pity and that there’s no crying in politics. Okay then, but for a moment, it did look like that was exactly what was about to happen on Fox last night. Or maybe not.

This closes with good news. Maybe juries can be bought, maybe they have been. After Citizens United, we have been right to worry that maybe elections were now going to be regularly bought. We still have to fix that, but in the meantime, the result of this particular election is that floating on oceans of money, democracy is alive and well.

Election Poem: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised


A poem for Election Day seems in order.

Maybe surprising, maybe not, there are a bundle of poems about elections. Walt Whitman’s Election Day, November 1884 from Leaves of Grass, for example. That seems too literal and expected. Going in an entirely different direction, Allen Ginsberg’s Howl, a milestone in modern culture, was in the running. (And if this election is about anythings, modernity is one of them.)

Somewhere in the middle—well, not exactly in the middle—is Gil Scott-Heron’s poem and song The Revolution Will Not Be Televised. Gil Scott-Heron (1949-2011) was a celebrated cutting-edge poet and musician. Even if you don’t know him, you’ve heard his work, as his version of an old R&B song, I’ll Take Care of You, was the foundation of the Drake hit song Take Care.

First recorded in 1970, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised may seem an offbeat choice for an election poem. But it does contain the lines

NBC will not be able predict the winner at 8:32
or report from 29 districts.
The revolution will not be televised.

More than that, it is about brighter days not being found in a media mediated version of reality

You will not be able to stay home, brother.
You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out.

Forty years and more, and it’s still visionary.

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

You will not be able to stay home, brother.
You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out.
You will not be able to lose yourself on skag and skip,
Skip out for beer during commercials,
Because the revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be televised.
The revolution will not be brought to you by Xerox
In 4 parts without commercial interruptions.
The revolution will not show you pictures of Nixon
blowing a bugle and leading a charge by John
Mitchell, General Abrams and Spiro Agnew to eat
hog maws confiscated from a Harlem sanctuary.
The revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be brought to you by the
Schaefer Award Theatre and will not star Natalie
Woods and Steve McQueen or Bullwinkle and Julia.
The revolution will not give your mouth sex appeal.
The revolution will not get rid of the nubs.
The revolution will not make you look five pounds
thinner, because the revolution will not be televised, Brother.

There will be no pictures of you and Willie May
pushing that shopping cart down the block on the dead run,
or trying to slide that color television into a stolen ambulance.
NBC will not be able predict the winner at 8:32
or report from 29 districts.
The revolution will not be televised.

There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down
brothers in the instant replay.
There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down
brothers in the instant replay.
There will be no pictures of Whitney Young being
run out of Harlem on a rail with a brand new process.
There will be no slow motion or still life of Roy
Wilkens strolling through Watts in a Red, Black and
Green liberation jumpsuit that he had been saving
For just the proper occasion.

Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Hooterville
Junction will no longer be so damned relevant, and
women will not care if Dick finally gets down with
Jane on Search for Tomorrow because Black people
will be in the street looking for a brighter day.
The revolution will not be televised.

There will be no highlights on the eleven o’clock
news and no pictures of hairy armed women
liberationists and Jackie Onassis blowing her nose.
The theme song will not be written by Jim Webb,
Francis Scott Key, nor sung by Glen Campbell, Tom
Jones, Johnny Cash, Englebert Humperdink, or the Rare Earth.
The revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be right back after a message
about a white tornado, white lightning, or white people.
You will not have to worry about a dove in your
bedroom, a tiger in your tank, or the giant in your toilet bowl.
The revolution will not go better with Coke.
The revolution will not fight the germs that may cause bad breath.
The revolution will put you in the driver’s seat.

The revolution will not be televised, will not be televised,
will not be televised, will not be televised.
The revolution will be no re-run brothers;
The revolution will be live.

Alabama GOP To Hold Victory Party At Shooting Range

The Alabama Republican Party

will be holding its Victory Party tomorrow night at Hoover Tactical Firearms

Entertainment by Act of Congress

Special Guests Anna Laura Bryan, Miss Alabama 2012

Amie Beth Shaver, Miss Alabama 1994