Clinton 1712
Sanders 1004
 Needed   2383
Trump 739
Cruz 465
Rubio 166
Kasich 143
Needed 1237

News from the Votemaster

TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  Pacific States Feel the Bern
      •  Could Trump's Sexism Trump His Racism?
      •  Come to Cleveland, Bring Your Guns
      •  Which Contested Convention Would 2016 Most resemble?
      •  Which Republican Party Will Survive?
      •  Jan 20, 2017 Under President Cruz

Pacific States Feel the Bern

Three states, three caucuses, three wins for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), as expected. To the extent that there were any surprises on Saturday night, it was in the extent of his victories, though the results were not dissimilar from other recent Western caucus states (Utah, for example). Here are the numbers (% reporting in parentheses):

Democratic Results
Alaska (100%) 18.4% 3 81.6% 13
Washington (100%) 27.1% 8 72.7% 23
Hawaii (81%) 29.2% 0 70.6% 0
Total   11   36

As has been the case several times during this election cycle, the three caucuses were something of a logistical disaster. This was particularly true in Hawaii, where turnout far exceeded expectations. Consequently, the state parties had not awarded most of the delegates as of late Saturday night, and they may not do so until Sunday afternoon or even Monday morning. Nonetheless, it is clear that Sanders had his best night of the campaign. When the numbers are final, he's going to pick up something on the order of 105 delegates to 37 for Clinton. That's plus-68, which is far and away the largest plus/minus he's recorded.

We will have a follow-up on Monday, once the numbers are more complete. (Z)

Could Trump's Sexism Trump His Racism?

Millions of words and trillions of pixels have been devoted to covering Donald Trump's racism concerning Mexicans, Muslims, etc., but Democrats feel that his sexist remarks to Megyn Kelly, Heidi Cruz, and other women will be a far more potent way to go after him. After all, most Latinos and Muslims are almost certainly going to vote Democratic anyway. A concerted campaign aimed at them could pick up a few percent more, but far more fertile territory is addressing the concerns of suburban and independent women. Their plan, if Hillary Clinton is the nominee, would be to frame the election as being the historic first of a woman nominee vs. an unabashed, unrepentant sexist who seems to enjoy demeaning women. A recent NYT/CBS poll shows that in a Clinton-Trump match-up, she gets 55% of the female voters to his 35%. This is double the gender gap that Mitt Romney suffered. There is no way Trump could win if he does this badly with women.

Suburban women would be the main target for the Clinton campaign. Outside groups are already collecting miles of footage of statements Trump has made over the years about women. The ads the Democrats would make don't even require any actors. They just need a good producer and video editor to select clips that make a clear point and assemble them together in sequence to show that Trump is a bully. Another approach would be to have actresses repeat his words before the camera. Liz Mair's Our Principles PAC—a Republican anti-Trump group—has already produced this blueprint. Once the impression has been made that someone is a bully, it is very hard to erase, as Trump will discover. (V)

Come to Cleveland, Bring Your Guns

GOP chairman Reince Priebus must wonder what he did to deserve 2016. Donald Trump alone creates a new headache for him three or four times a week, and whenever the billionaire takes a day off, someone else steps up to fill in the gap. Today's migraine: A petition calling for open-carry to be allowed at the Republican National Convention, which is being hosted at the no-guns-allowed Quicken Loans Arena. The petition suggests three reasons for this necessity: To affirm the Party's and the candidates' commitments to the Second Amendment, to allow delegates to protect themselves in "one of the top ten most dangerous cities in America," and to let delegates fight off a potential terrorist attack from ISIS. As of Saturday evening, the petition had just shy of 31,000 signatures.

Needless to say, there is no way the GOP can actually bow to this demand. Donald Trump has already threatened riots if he is not nominated, and his supporters have proven more than willing to get violent in public. They could bring an end to the Republican Party in an entirely different way than the one we've been expecting. And if people were to actually get shot, not only would the political damage be severe, but any decision-makers who facilitated open carry might be civilly liable.

By not acting on the petition, the GOP's leadership will appear hypocritical, unwilling to put their money (or their guns) where their mouths are. This is a particular problem for Gov. John Kasich (R-OH), who—as the governor of the state—has some authority to override the Arena's policy. Looks like he will need to join Priebus in breaking out another case of aspirin. (Z)

Which Contested Convention Would 2016 Most resemble?

The National Review, flagship publication of the conservative movement, is wildly against having Donald Trump as the Republican presidential nominee. It even ran an entire issue with articles from two dozen leading conservatives explaining how awful that would be. It has been looking around for precedents on how to stop him and has found one, albeit from 1912.

Teddy Roosevelt became president in 1901 after the president he was serving as vice president, William McKinley, was assassinated in 1901. Roosevelt was elected to a full term in 1904. In 1908, his hand-picked successor, William Howard Taft, was elected president. But Roosevelt became disenchanted with the direction Taft was taking the country, so he challenged him in 1912. There was a great battle at the Republican National Convention that year for the heart and soul of the Party. After a huge struggle, including credentials fights and floor fights and many issues, Taft's forces won and he was nominated. Roosevelt bolted the convention and formed his own party, the Progressive Party (popularly called the Bull Moose Party). With two Republicans running for President, Democrat Woodrow Wilson carried 40 states and got 435 electoral votes, even though he received only 42% of the popular vote. Roosevelt carried six states and got 88 electoral votes. Poor Taft carried only Vermont and Utah, good for eight electoral votes.

What National Review is suggesting is that if Trump is the Republican nominee, conservatives should bolt the convention, create a new party, and run their own candidate. Yes, that would probably mean that Hillary Clinton is elected president in a landslide, but a Trump nomination will have poisoned the Republican Party beyond any hope of repair, so conservatives will have to build a new party from the ground up. Losing one election is a small price to pay for that. (V)

Which Republican Party Will Survive?

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Republican candidate Donald Trump have completely incompatible visions of what the Republican Party should stand for. Ryan stands for a party of ideas that governs effectively using conservative principles; Trump stands for racism, sexism, and gutter politics. It is doubtful that the two visions can co-exist within the Party for very long.

But even if Trump is vanquished one way or another, the internal strife within the Republican Party won't end. Four years ago, Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein wrote a book, It's Even Worse Than It Looks, in which the authors clearly laid the blame for dysfunctional government at the feet of the Republican Party. Now they are back with an updated version: It's Even Worse Than It Was, repeating the same theme.

When asked by reporters, the authors said this is an existential crisis for the Republican Party. Will it become a problem-solving party the way Ryan wants, or will it just stand for blowing things up, the way the Freedom Caucus in the House operates? If the Party explodes, they have no idea what will happen next. (V)

Jan 20, 2017 Under President Cruz

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has made a lot of promises of what he would do on his first day in office. It will be a very busy day. Michael Walsh at Yahoo! consulted several law professors to see how many of these promises could be fulfilled on day one.

Overturn Obama's executive orders and regulations. This is the easy part. An executive order can be overturned with a new executive order. All Cruz would have to do is sign a document saying "EO #xxx is hereby repealed" and that one is history. However, if an executive order resulted in some federal regulation being created, Cruz would first have to convince the head of the relevant agency to cancel it. But he couldn't do that on day one because none of his cabinet choices would have been approved by the Senate yet. It might be weeks before the relevant cabinet secretary was confirmed and then that person would have to learn the ropes. In principle, a new cabinet secretary could cancel any regulation Cruz asked him to cancel, but it would be March or April at the earliest, not on day one.

Order the Justice Dept. to investigate Planned Parenthood. Nope. The President is not authorized to order prosecutions of specific individuals or organizations. It is completely illegal for the President to issue such an order. One of the articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon was that he had an enemies list and ordered the Justice Dept. to go after them. All a president could do is nominate a like-minded person as attorney general and after his confirmation, politely ask him to see if Planned Parenthood has broken any laws, and if so, proceed according to law. Again, we're looking at March or April before the process could even start. Then the new attorney general would have to start collecting facts to see if a case could made that would convince a jury. Since there is not a whit of evidence that PP broke any laws, come May or June, the new attorney general would report back that there was no case against PP.

End the persecution of religious liberty. Just as the President cannot order the DOJ to prosecute an enemy, he also cannot order the DOJ to overlook crimes committed by his friends. He could, however, pardon specific people for crimes they have committed, even before they are charged. But this power applies only to specific people and specific crimes. If baker John Smith refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple in violation of some federal law, Cruz could pardon Smith as soon as Smith applied for the pardon, but he couldn't issue a generic pardon to all bakers who planned to commit the same crime in the future. Also, when a pardon is issued, it tacitly assumes the person being pardoned has committed a crime. Although the baker wouldn't have to stand trial, not all bakers would like it to be a matter of public record that they have committed a crime, even if there is no punishment.

Cancel the Iran deal. Finally, we have a biggie that President Cruz could indeed do on day one. There is precedent for a President to back out of an international agreement. In the late 1970s, Jimmy Carter unilaterally nullified the Sino-American Mutual Defense Treaty. Senator Barry Goldwater filed a lawsuit claiming that a President cannot cancel a treaty approved by the Senate without consent of the Senate. The case was dismissed, so there has never been a Supreme Court ruling on the matter. In any event, the Iran deal is not a formal treaty and was not approved by the Senate, so Cruz could cancel it by sending off an email to President Hassan Rouhani of Iran saying: "The deal's off."

Move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. The President does have this kind of authority, but he would be extremely unwise to use it without consulting our allies, in particular Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel. The consequences could be enormous and very detrimental to U.S. interests, but yes, Cruz could issue the order on day one if he so chose. Of course, finding a piece of land and building a hyper-secure building would take years, but Cruz could make the decision to do it on day one.

Get rid of Common Core. Not only could Cruz not do this on day one, he couldn't do it ever. Common Core is a plan thought up by the National Governors' Association. The federal government has nothing to do with it. Furthermore, if Cruz were to ask Congress to pass a law giving the federal government the authority to regulate in detail what schools taught in what year, the Republicans in Congress would mutiny. It will never happen. It is said that the Minister of Education in France can look at his watch and know what is happening in every classroom in France. Such central regulation is inconceivable and Cruz's plan to kill Common Core is dead on arrival.

Strengthen the armed forces. It depends on what Cruz means. Does he mean increasing the Pentagon's budget? That would require Congress authorizing the expenditures, which Congress might do if the Republicans have a majority in both chambers, but it certainly wouldn't happen on day one. Does he mean carpet bombing areas where ISIS is strong, resulting in thousands of civilian casualties? That would be hard to do. International law and treaties the U.S. has ratified prohibit indiscriminate killing of civilians. If Cruz were to announce massive bombings of areas where ISIS was strong without regard to civilian casualties, he would certainly be violating international law. Furthermore, there is a chain of command issue. The President does not issue military orders directly. He can order the secretary of defense to see that his order is carried out. The secretary of defense would then call the secretary of the Air Force, who would then call the Air Force chief of staff, and so on down the chain to the bomber pilots. If the order was clearly a violation of U.S. law, international law, or a treaty the U.S. has ratified, anyone on the chain might balk for fear of later being tried as a war criminal. In any event, nothing would happen on day one because the secretary of defense would not even have been confirmed.

Finally, the biggest problem of all wouldn't be legal or constitutional. It would be getting the bureaucracy to carry out the orders, especially if lower down there were people who didn't like them at all and could think of 100 ways to sabotage them. The President can replace everyone in the upper levels of the administration, but that would take months to complete and even then, employees lower down could try to stall and thwart the President. (V)

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---The Votemaster
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