Clinton 2784
Sanders 1877
 Needed   2383
Trump 1542
Cruz 559
Rubio 165
Kasich 161
Needed 1237

Orlando Shootings Already a Political Football

Americans woke up on Sunday to news of the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. Armed with an assault rifle and a pistol, Omar Mateen burst into Orlando nightclub Pulse, opened fire, and killed 50 people while wounding 53 more. He was then shot and killed by police after a three-hour standoff.

In this one horrific incident, arguably the three most contentious issues in modern American politics are all present. Namely (1) Islamic terrorism, since Mateen was a Muslim, (2) LGBT tolerance/equality, since Pulse is a gay club, and Mateen was apparently moved to action after seeing two men kiss several weeks ago, and (3) gun control, since Mateen bought his guns recently, and without any sort of background check, entirely within the bounds of laws of Florida. So, it was inevitable that it would become politicized; the only question was how long that would take.

Initially, the responses from the political establishment and the two presumptive nominees were measured, with the usual calls for "thoughts and prayers" and the like. That lasted only an hour or two, however. Donald Trump quickly took to Twitter and declared that the shootings were a reminder of the threat posed by Islamic terrorism, and how weak President Obama and the Democrats are on the issue. He also congratulated himself on correctly predicting that this would happen again, and announced that he would deliver a major address on the incident on Monday.

Hillary Clinton resisted the temptation to wade into the controversy for several hours longer than Trump did, but she eventually gave in, and used Twitter and other platforms to observe that The Donald's response was still more evidence that he does not have the temperament or the empathy necessary to be president. Later, she said that the real issue on display on Sunday morning was not the Democrats' being soft on terrorism, but instead the need for increased gun control. She was joined in this by several senators, including Chris Murphy (D-CT), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Robert Casey (D-PA). And in general, Trump was a fairly good proxy for the right's response to the incident, while Clinton filled the same role for the left. There is still much that we do not know about the incident, including Mateen's precise motivations, as well as his level of involvement with ISIS or other terrorist groups. But, as the Washington Post's Karen Tumulty observes, this is the new normal in American culture: There's little unity after tragedies like these, only divisiveness and finger-pointing. Expect to hear much more moralizing and pontificating from both sides of the aisle in the next few days. Then, the incident will be forgotten, and nothing substantive will have changed. (Z)

The Reality of Having Trump's Finger on the Nuclear Trigger

The issue that has become the ultimate symbol for Donald Trump's temperament, and for his suitability for the presidency, is the "nuclear football." The concern that some (many?) have is that the billionaire might not have the discretion and patience that commanding America's nuclear arsenal demands. Bruce Blair is an expert on the subject, having served as part of the military bureaucracy that oversees the football, and he has written a fairly exhaustive assessment of the situation.

Blair starts by observing that the United States has become what he calls a "nuclear monarchy." Due to the need for quick decisions, the president is invested with sole authority for ordering a nuclear strike, with essentially no checks on this power. This means that such an attack could be launched at any time for any reason, and the president would have no duty to explain himself to anyone. Examining Trump's public statements about nuclear arms, Blair concludes that he is pretty anti-nuclear, and does not appear likely to initiate a first strike as president, unless it were absolutely necessary.

The issue does not end there, of course, because the decision the president is vastly more likely to make is whether or not to launch a defensive response (as opposed to a first strike). The need for a decision could arise if it appears that a nuclear attack is incoming, or if an international incident spirals out of control and a nuclear attack upon the U.S. appears imminent. In these scenarios, the president may well be left with just minutes to decide what the United States' response will be. An error in those few minutes could needlessly start World War III, or else could allow the United States to be devastated without response.

Needless to say, whomever is president needs to be unusually calm and level-headed, in case such a situation were to arise. And beyond that, he or she needs to be a skilled diplomat, so as to keep potentially dangerous international incidents from even happening. They need to appoint the right people to help them manage his or her nuclear policy and nuclear response plan. It is in these areas that The Donald may well come up short. As Blair concludes:

It is not clear that Trump is up to the task. It is no more clear that his unnamed future advisers, successors and generals would be up to it. Trump certainly has not yet made a convincing case that we could sleep soundly with him at the helm.

For those interested in a fuller sense of Blair's analysis, or in a better understanding of how the nuclear football works in general (including a fair bit of detail about Barack Obama's management), the whole article is worth a read. (Z)

Trump's Business Career Under Increasing Scrutiny

The linchpin of Donald Trump's case for the presidency is his skill and success as a businessman. But the more time he spends as the GOP's nominee (or presumptive nominee), the more time that reporters have to unravel his complicated maneuverings, and to shed light on his career. And what they are finding is making Mitt Romney (who, remember, was excoriated in 2012 for his business dealings) look like George Bailey.

The latest story is about Trump's very first public company, Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts, which operated the Trump Taj Mahal and the Trump Marina Hotel Casino in Atlantic City, NJ. Most people know that the company eventually went bankrupt. The new revelations, however, is that Trump spent years looting the company for all it was worth, paying for his private jet and other luxuries, taking home big bonus checks, and selling millions in Trump-branded merchandise. He enjoyed all of these benefits despite the fact that Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts never once had a profitable year. When the bankruptcy hit, stockholders were left holding the bag. These sorts of shenanigans may impress the boys at the country club, but they're not likely to please John Q. Public. (Z)

Trump Lists "Dream Team" of Convention Speakers

It is generally the prerogative of each party's nominee to plan the details of the national convention, including the list of speakers. Donald Trump has already started to hint at his thinking on this subject, declaring, "We're going to do it a little different." In fact, he says he primarily wants people from the world of sports, including Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, UFC president Dana White, NASCAR owner Brian France, and former Indiana University basketball coach Bob Knight.

Is Trump being serious, here? It's certainly possible; he may have a desire to use sports figures rather than politicians because he knows he'll have trouble recruiting the latter group (Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin notwithstanding). The problems with the plan are (a) athletes are not necessarily gifted in the realm of public speaking, and (b) they may be a bit image-conscious since, to paraphrase Michael Jordan, Democrats buy tennis shoes, too. Roethlisberger has already made clear he's not interested, and several of the others (particularly Brady) seem likely to follow suit. (Z)

Sanders to Meet With Clinton

As we have noted, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is doing just about everything we would expect to see from a candidate whose campaign is winding down. He met with President Obama last week, stopped attacking Hillary Clinton soon thereafter, and then had a big pow-wow with his high-ranking campaign staffers. On Tuesday, he will meet with Hillary Clinton.

Officially, Sanders does not want to fold his hand until everyone has had a chance to vote, including the citizens of Washington, D.C., on Tuesday. But this meeting is surely meant to allow Clinton and Sanders to reach an understanding on what concessions he will get in order to drop out and throw his support to her. Assuming the negotiations go well, he remains on course to officially wave the white flag sometime later this week. (Z)

Massachusetts Could Increase Warren's Chance of Being Veep

In 2007, then-senator Craig L. Thomas (R) of Wyoming suddenly died, requiring then-governor Dave Freudenthal (D) to name a replacement. So Freudenthal picked a Democrat, right? Not so fast. Wyoming law requires that the new senator be from the same political party as the old one. Specifically, the law stipulates that the state party of the old senator gives the governor a list of three names as potential senators and the governor must choose one of them. The Wyoming Republican Party presented Freudenthal with a list consisting of Tom Sansonetti (R), Cynthia Lummis (R), and John Barrasso (R). Freudenthal picked Barrasso, who served as an appointee until he won a special election in Nov. 2008 to fill out the rest of Thomas' term. He was elected to a full term in 2012.

The implications for Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) are obvious. If the Massachusetts state legislature wants to increase the chances of Hillary Clinton's picking her as her running mate, it could simply pass a bill like the Wyoming law. Gov. Charlie Baker (R-MA) would certainly veto it, but since the Democrats have 2/3 majorities in both chambers of the state legislature, they could override his veto and pass the bill anyway. Doing so would ensure that if Warren is elected vice president, her interim replacement until the special election would be a Democrat, thus denying any Republican the advantages of incumbency.

As we pointed out last week, an alternative approach for the Massachusetts state legislature is to pass a law stating that the governor's interim appointment to the Senate must be confirmed by the state senate. The idea is that unless the governor appointed someone certain not to run for the seat, say an 82-year-old retired judge with no interest in politics and stage IV cancer, confirmation would not be forthcoming.

So by doing either of these things, the Massachusetts state legislature could eliminate one of the obstacles to Clinton choosing Warren. Another obstacle is that the two women don't like each other, but it is hard to see how a Massachusetts state law requiring them to like each other when they are both present in Massachusetts at the same time could be enforced. (V)

Does Clinton Have a Millennial Problem?

Democratic strategist Ed Kilgore has taken a look at that question in a brief op-ed for New York magazine. And his answer is a big "No." The case that he makes is short and sweet. First of all, millennials are low-engagement voters who don't reliably show up to the polls. Barack Obama did not do particularly well with them, particularly in 2012, since so many stayed home. Ergo, it's very possible for Hillary Clinton to replicate Obama's map without young voters, since he didn't have them either.

The second point is that while millennials have a pretty poor opinion of Clinton (37 percent favorable, 53 percent unfavorable), they have an absolutely atrocious opinion of Donald Trump (17 and 74). So, observes Kilgore, "Clinton goes into the general-election campaign with a sizable advantage among young people even before Bernie Sanders and other validating figures lift a finger to help her." And so it's another straw that Trump supporters should not really be grasping at. (Z)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
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Jun12 Trump Fires Back at Warren
Jun12 Trump Campaign Has Money Problems
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