“A man does a lot of praying in an enemy prison. Prayer, even more than sheer thought, is the firmest anchor.” — Jeremiah Denton (US Senate 1981-1987 & POW 1965-1973)

As I was born in 1960, I came of age during the Vietnam War. It was the lead story every night on the news and we watched the news before sitting down for supper. Except for family, in my youth, there was probably nobody we prayed more for than the POW’s. Similar to how people say regarding the plane crash “George Mickelson seven others,” we said “Leo Thorsness* and the POW’s.”

These men were the heroes of my childhood. I met three of these heroes.
• I shook the hand of Leo Thorsness during his Senate campaign outside the Ben Franklin in Pierre.
• Because I dated a staffer of Senator Jeremiah Denton, his office was directly one floor above Senator Abdnor and we often saw each other at Mass during Lent and other Holy Days (took the elevator down, walked to and from Mass, sat together, and elevator again just the two of us once), I got to know Senator Denton personally which gave me some level of insight in what being a POW does to a person and their family. When I heard of his death a few years ago, I actually teared up.
• John McCain was elected to the US House and on two occasions I had the privilege to shake his hand. Like Thorsness, no real conversation but thrilling just the same.

With that background, I need to give some other background. Senator Abdnor had two “mads.” One was his “let me tell you something friend” mad which wasn’t good because you sensed he wanted to tear your head off but wasn’t going to because you were his friend. The other is hard to describe but he would pull his lips close to his teeth and almost seeth when he was talking. This was really, really bad.

Anyway, Senator Abdnor was on the House side “doing business” and I was the staffer trailing him and taking notes. One of the people he spoke to was Congressman McCain. The conversation was private so I couldn’t hear but I could see. It was heated and before it ended I could see the “seething mad.”

Later, when I had a chance, I asked Abdnor what happened with McCain that caused him to get so mad. Jim looked at me with as an ashamed look as I ever saw him have and he said, “John McCain is a hero and didn’t deserve what I said.” That was it. I don’t even know the subject much less what was said.

When I got the news text Senator McCain (with Collins, Murkowski, and 100% of the Democratic Caucus) had voted against any reform of Obamacare, I seethed. I wanted to strike out. But, I’m trying to be like Jim Abdnor. John McCain is dying and he is a hero. I’ve prayed for him both in my youth and as an adult.

I know I can never be the man Jim Abdnor was but every now and then I have my moments where I step up. But it is really hard right now. Really hard.

*Leo Thorsness was from Minnesota, graduated from SDSU, married a SD girl, and I faintly remember somehow our family knew him or someone close to him. My guess is that is why we said his name and not the others.

“Quisling. What a windfall for the English language.” (D.F.P. Hiley)

Hiley goes on to say-“It is not only because of the contemptuous sound, suggestive of “squit.” It is also clearly a diminutive.”

Yesterday, GOP got the slimmest of a majority (51 votes including a tie-breaking vote by the Bice President) to open debate on amending Obamacare, with amendments limited to taxes or spending and items directly related spending or taxes. Under Senate rules, a full repeal requires 60 votes, which would require support from over 20% of the Democrat caucus.

A subsequent vote of the most broadly possible amendment of Obamacare as allowed under Senate rules failed 43-57. Any other possible changes will be less robust because of the Senate rules. Thus, we have on the record a definitive list of Obamacare Republicans.

Senators Susan Collins, Bob Corker, Tom Cotton, Lindsey Graham, Dean Heller, Mike Lee, Jerry Moran, Lisa Murkowski and Rand Paul.

These Obamacare Republicans betrayed the most central GOP position advocated in the past four elections and their stature will never be the same. They are Quislings. In addition to 9 Democrat Senators in states carried by Trump, the GOP must primary Corker and Heller. No Quislings allowed in caucus.

Update: Today, the following Senators voted against “skinny repeal” (what is possible with a simple majority) without a specific replacement: Sens. Shelley Moore Capito, Susan Collins, Dick Heller, John McCain, Rob Portman, Lamar Alexander, and Lisa Murkowski. Only Collins voted against the 2015 measure which passed both houses and was vetoed by President Obama.

Today, this adds Capito, McCain, Portman, and Alexander to the Obamacare Republican list.

“If it looks like a rat and smells like a rat, it’s a rat.” (Terrell Owens)

For two Presidential elections (Obama-Romney and Clinton-Trump) and four election cycles (2010, 2012, 2014, and 2016) the #1 Republican policy objective was the repeal and replace of Obamacare.

The following US Senators opposed this objective this week and announced opposition to the GOP Senate bill:

Shelley Capito (West Virginia)
Susan Collins (Maine)
Jeff Flake (Arizona)
Dean Heller (Nevada)- Added
Mike Lee (Utah)
Jerry Moran (Kansas)- Added
Rand Paul (Kentucky)

From this day forward, they are Obamacare Republicans, liberal co-conspirators, and deserving of being aggressively opposed in primaries. I support the rumored Trump recruitment of primary opponents.

“There is something in humility which strangely exalts the heart.” (St. Augustine)

Background and context: In 1980, I was the intern for State Senators Dick Gregerson & Dick Flynn. In roughly 1983, Dick Gregerson took a sabbatical from Woods Fuller and spent roughly three months as an “intern” for US Senator Jim Abdnor, where one of my duties was Intern Coordinator. In other words, I once worked for Dick Gregerson and he once “worked” for me. I think maybe the best tribute I can do is tell stories about Gregerson.

Story #1- Played to win: Gregerson and Flynn were polar opposites with regard to style and personality but they were close personal friends. As their intern, I can’t remember ever working “for” a bill but know I spent a lot of time helping them kill bills. One morning I get to the Capitol and they tell me to go to Lyndell Peterson’s committee and take down the names of every person who comes to the committee and what they say on what bill. If I don’t know their name, I am to ask for their name. No other direction than this. Part way into the hearing, Peterson cant’ stand it any more, looks at me and asks “What are Frick and Frack up to?” In all honesty, I tell him I’m here to take names and notes. But, I can tell Peterson is bewildered and maybe a bit rattled.

After the hearing, I type up the list of attendees and notes. When I give it to them, they don’t care about my notes but ask about it and I tell them what Peterson said and his reaction. They laugh and tell me they just want to get in his head because he has been messing with some pro-Sioux Falls legislation.

Story #2- Preacher’s Kid: That session, five of us from Augie were interns (three guys and two gals). Since I was from Pierre, I was charged with finding a place to live. I end up finding an empty house which was big enough for all of us. Well, Gregerson had a visceral reaction to gals and guys living under one roof so he told me it was MY RESPONSIBLITY to protect the gals reputation by stomping out any rumors and not giving cause for any rumors with regard to hanky-panky.

Story #3- Confident and could be made fun of: As I said above, my bosses were polar opposites and the moniker “Frick and Frack” was perfect. Flynn was boisterous and aggressive. Gregerson was always the gentleman. Flynn always teased Gregerson of being too nice. Anyway, one morning I’m instructed to go to the men’s clothing store and pick up a mannequin, get it up into an office without Gregerson seeing it, and then when Gregerson is stuck in Governor Janklow’s office at the start of session to get it into the chamber in Gregerson’s spot.

When Gregerson came into the Chamber, Flynn was crouched down at another desk and asked to speak. The Lt. Governor Lowell Hansen as President of the Senate recognized “Senator Gregerson” where Flynn mimicked Gregerson’s style which included “speaking on the bill” by saying something nice about each of the sponsors (attire, haircut, spouse, etc.) to only conclude with “Thank you for your great work on this bill but I’m sorry to tell you I’m voting against it.” The place couldn’t stop laughing.

Story #4- Trustworthy: While they didn’t know each other well at the start, when Gregerson spent his sabbatical with Senator Abdnor, as an unpaid intern, his “job” was basically to go everywhere with Senator Abdnor. He was in every meeting, sat in the lobby outside the Senate Chamber when Senate was in session, and went to every social engagement with the Senator. It wasn’t long before Senator Abdnor asked that every memo be also given to Gregerson. In short, Dick became wholly trusted by Abdnor in literally days.

Story #5- Humble: Every morning when he came to the office, he first came to my desk and asked if I (as Intern Coordinator) had anything for him. Part of it was for us to laugh of the “role reversal” since I worked for him in Pierre. Part of it was to express a willingness to do something besides be Senator Abdnor’s “boy Friday.” But, after awhile I came to appreciate it was Dick just being respectful to the office and every person who worked there.

I could tell more stories but want to end with the last time I saw Dick. It was at Kaladi’s where he was meeting friends/peers for coffee. I had stopped by myself to eat breakfast and answer some emails. I hadn’t even seen Dick when he stopped by to say hello. We quickly got updated in a cursory way and said to each other “we have to have lunch.” It never happened.

Of course, I have regret I didn’t make it happen. But, not as much as you might think. Over 30 years ago, in two 90 day tranches, I got to know Dick and developed a deep fondness and respect that never diminished. I never felt we needed regular contact to keep the bond formed so long ago. Even though he has passed, I have no sense of it diminishing either. Dick Gregerson is just that solid.

Dear Lord, the separation of our friends from us is concurrently a union with Eternal Destiny. By the merits of your Cross and by your Divine Mercy may our friend Dick Gregerson be an oblation to your Father. We praise and thank you for the blessing of Dick Gregerson for we could see glimpses of You in him. Amen.

“I’m not a chick-flick enthusiast” (Clint Eastwood)

As you all know, I like to use famous quotes as titles. At first, I thought I’d use a Reagan quote because Congressman Clint Roberts was the prototypical Reaganite but then I ran across the above quote and I laughed. Do you think Clint ever watched a chick flick?

I have cried twice in my life because my preferred candidate lost an election. Most who know me would correctly guess Senator Abdnor’s 1986 re-election loss. But, only the few who were there would know the other election night bawl was when Clint Roberts lost the 1978 GOP nomination for Governor. Clint’s gubernatorial campaign was really my first campaign. That Spring I went down to the campaign headquarters after track was over and volunteered until they were closing the office. Before long, I was taking mailers to school and recruiting friends to stuff fold them during study hall.

I was raised by a single mom and am the oldest of four children. As you might guess, I was able to go under my mom’s radar but fortunately some in our community kept a pretty good watch, for all of whom I’m most grateful. Well, because of that spring helping on the Roberts campaign, Clint and Bev Roberts became one more guardian angel for this kid living on the edge. Bev of course was the more angelic in how she talked to me while Clint was just as you would expect- stern and firm.

I’ve had the opportunity to observe up close four politicians who couldn’t be more different as people- Jim Abdnor, Bill Janklow, George Mickelson and Clint Roberts. Contrary to perceptions, in substance their political views were actually very close despite their different public personas, styles, and personalities.

As a politician, I found Roberts unique. Abdnor loved working a room and crowd. Janklow loved giving speeches and firing people up. Mickelson loved hearing ideas and sharing his. Put these three in these situations and you could see their energy go up. Roberts didn’t seem to like or dislike any of these things. He just did them with the same level of energy he probably moved cattle on his ranch- steadily and methodically. To this day, I’ve never seen a politician like him in this regard.

As a friend, I found Clint also unique. Clint didn’t want to listen to you babble to fill silence and he certainly wasn’t one to fill silence. If nobody had anything to say, it was silent. I remember one night when I must have been running something over from Abdnor’s office to Congressman Roberts’ office and he spontaneously invited me to dinner. We went to Bull Feathers (his favorite spot) on Capital Hill. After I had told him how school and my work was going and he told me how he was adapting to DC, we ordered our meal, had a few drinks, during which there were many periods where nothing was said. When we parted, I thanked him for the meal but wondered if he had regretted wasting his evening with me because he sure didn’t seem to be enjoying himself. Then, a few weeks later, he called and invited me again to dinner. Same type of evening. I wasn’t another member of Congress, a lobbyist, or on his staff. I think Clint was just longing to go for a horseback ride and dinner with me was as close as it got in DC.

I don’t remember how long ago it was that Clint and Bev lost their daughter Christie to cancer. I have some very faint recollections of asking how she was doing when she was sick and I suspect I expressed my condolences but don’t remember for sure. But, probably very close to exactly seven years ago, Clint Roberts called me at my office to talk after I lost my daughter Sydney. To this day, it is one of my most treasured conversations because Clint Roberts was an actual example of a Dad living after losing a daughter. Clint had something to say to me and he did all the talking. I can’t recall what he said. I just remember he called, he talked, I listened, and I cried.

Bev and family, you are in my thoughts and prayers. You were blessed to have loved and been loved by someone as unique as Clint Roberts. It had to have been a heck of a horseback ride. May the soul of Clint Roberts, by the mercy of God, Rest In Peace. Amen.

“Be not careless in deeds, nor confused in words, nor rambling in thought.” (Marcus Aurelius)

I guess I can’t help myself and follow the above advice of Stoic Philosopher and Roman Emperor. Too many things banging around in my head.

• Part of Leadership is keeping your head when all around you are losing theirs. Democrat’s scattered, hyperbolic response to all things Trump is evidence of their wholesale lack of competent leadership. The ancient Romans understood their greatest military strength was the Phalynx. They also knew their weakness was its flanks so they developed a defense for that weakness. But, even with that defense (called Joints), the flanks remained their weakness and their smart adversaries avoided the Phalynx and concentrated on the flanks.

o The national Democrats are attacking the Phalynx and unless they deviate they will suffer, at best, the same result as Pyrrhus of Epirus. Their eruption on the weekend announcement of a 90 day moratorium of non-Americans coming here from seven unstable, terror-haven countries is an attack on a portion of Trump’s Phalynx (Keep America Safe as a part of Making America Great).

o Their total lack of competent leadership is belied by the ease with what Trump drew them into a battle against the Phalynx. In 500 years, nobody beat the Romans by attacking the Phalynx.

o I even think Trump may have “bungled” it on purpose (or got lucky as it couldn’t have played out better long-term) to highlight the slow-playing the approval of the Cabinet and the need for him to have his team on board. The Democrats don’t even know they are playing into his hand. If Democrats are ever going to be effective opposition they have to quit under-estimating Trump. How big does the graveyard have to get for them to learn this lesson? Or do they have to be six-feet under to finally learn?

o In addition to dealing with the Phalynx and Joints, one has to understand the terrain. Spartucus was successful because he used the terrain (not just physical terrain but also societal terrain) to his advantage. This “carnival show” of not showing up for committee hearings not only ignores the terrain but actually makes the terrain an obstruction to their success. Most people want Congress to work and not showing up to work is doing exactly the opposite of what the people expect. Those applauding this “carnival show” are going to get a chance to praise their martyrs as they lower them into their political graves. Right now, I put the over-under after the election of being 57 Senate Republicans after the next election (not counting the defection of Manchin and King from the Democrat Caucus).

o Continuing with the Roman analogy, the biggest threat to the GOP nationally is what brought down the Romans. The Roman military strength allowed them to take territory they didn’t need and couldn’t manage effectively. The GOP doesn’t need to win every fight just because they can. Just win those that are critical and important. And be gracious and generous winners. Advice I think appropriate for both state and national Republicans. Hubris is a most unattractive trait.

• College students need safe spaces to deal with Trump winning the election and they not only deny safe spaces for people to say things with which they disagree but also become violent rioters. The irony is rich.

• Comments for who expect there would be more progress on tax reform and repeal/replace of Obamacare:

o Trump has not even been in office two weeks, he has none of his cabinet approved who will deal with these issues, and most importantly our multi-branch process works slow. Let’s not forget Reagan’s signature tax cuts passed Congress on August 4th.

o Speaker Ryan said today under the current Budget Law, Congress can only legally deal with one of these matters at a time. Congress will deal with Obamacare first because the current implosion of Obamacare is more immediate which he expects to be completed this Spring. After that he expects Tax Reform to move to the top and be completed by the end of the Summer (mid-September). Based on my experience working for Senator Abdnor, this is very aggressive.

• While a case can be made the Legislature is doing the right thing with regard to HB1069 and the other related bills (in the end “good government is good politics”), a case can be made they are mishandling it politically. Lucky for them, the SDDP and Weiland et. al. have proven themselves incapable of launching effective strategies. That said, don’t assume they will always be incompetent. Go to the people and explain what you did and why. The facts are on your side. All that must be done is to make your case. Do the hard work.

• Let’s not lose perspective. Nationally and in South Dakota, the Republican Party is as strong as ever. In my 40+ years of observing politics, this is arguably the strongest our party has ever been as measured in positions in elective office. We have an abundance of riches upon which to build.

o It’s really hard to objectively argue Pam Roberts has been a poor GOP Chair. Whether or not she is the person to build and maintain our position or it is Dan Lederman, I trust the Central Committee to debate and decide this matter. They will properly consider what Pam has done, the endorsement of Pam by our top elected leaders who observed her in the trenches with their campaign organizations, and the vision of Dan. I hope the rest of us won’t be distractions by denigrating the persons of Pam and Dan who have carried an awful lot of water for the Elephant for decades. Win or lose to be our Chair, both are winners and neither are losers.

o Our party has the prospects of deciding in a gubernatorial primary between our Member of Congress, Lt. Governor, and Attorney General. The Democrats have nobody. Before they have even begun to make their case (they all have jobs) or even decide if they are running, I lament we are trying to demonize them and drive them from the race (or office). Sure, if we don’t like something they do, point it out while remembering is only a single matter and keep it in perspective. In a year, the primary voters will begin the decision-making process. The election is 16 months away.

• Sioux Falls City Commissioner Pat Starr is proposing a gift of land to the Glory House as a means to expand our capabilities to transition former prison inmates back into society. Glory House is a rare example of a program which reduces recidivism and its expansion bears support. We (Federal, State, County etc.) can’t afford the astronomical cost of recidivism. An expansion of the Glory House for this small amount ($500,000 of land) promises a tremendous long-term reduction in government operating expenses needed to deal with people who otherwise would return to the criminal justice system. Few government expenditures promise a bigger potential return.

• Speaking of the City of Sioux Falls, the unexpected death of retired head of Planning and Development Steve Metli is a loss of a statesman and source of wisdom. I didn’t always agree with the specifics of Steve’s vision but I never ceased to have great respect for his smarts, grace, integrity, hard work and persistence. My prayers go out to his family who I’m sure had expected to enjoy many years with a man who gave so much to our City. May the soul of Steve, by the Mercy of God, Rest in Peace.

“There are no secrets that time does not reveal.” (Jean Racine)

As of Friday, almost 40 million Americans have already voted and there will be roughly 80 million votes cast tomorrow. In other words, the election will very soon be over except for counting the ballots.  Within 48 hours, this thread will become moot.

According to realclearpolitics.com, average of all polls, Hillary leads Trump by roughly 3% with roughly 7% who are undecided.  This translates into a Hillary Clinton lead in the Electoral College Votes 301 to 237. 270 Electoral Votes needed to win. 269 Electoral Votes is a tie.

In other words, for Trump to win, he has to win states which total 33 electoral votes currently in the Clinton column (actually 32 as it would be likely the House would elect Trump if there is a tie).

Going into the election right now, Clinton has in the bank 203 Electoral Votes vs. 164 for Trump (“in the bank” is shorthand for leading in the polls by more than 5%).

The following is my cheat sheet. If a “Likely Winner” loses a state I’ve allocated to them, they must pick it up somewhere else.

  • If Clinton loses Pennsylvania, Virginia or Michigan, she must win Florida. If she loses two of these three, call the election for Trump.
  • If Trump loses Ohio or Georgia, he would have to win Virginia and New Mexico or Virginia and Colorado.   As winning Virginia is unlikely with Senator Kaine on the ticket, a loss in Ohio or Georgia calls the race for Clinton.
  • If Clinton wins North Carolina and New Hampshire, Florida likely won’t matter.
  • If Florida matters, we will have another infamous Florida re-count.
State Polls Close (CST) Electoral Votes Likely Winner Electoral College Votes Comments
Maine CD #2 5:00 p.m. 1 DJT 203-165 DJT losing here could foreshadow NH
Maine Statewide 5:00 p.m. 2 HRC 205-165 HRC losing here could foreshadow NH
Virginia 6:00 p.m. 13 HRC 218-165 Sen. Kaine on ticket makes this likely HRC
Georgia 6:00 p.m. 16 DJT 218-181 DJT losing here foreshadows NC
Ohio 6:30 p.m. 18 DJT 218-199 Trump been holding lead for weeks
North Carolina 6:30 p.m. 15 Virtually tied
Florida 7:00 p.m. 29 Virtually tied
New Hampshire 7:00 p.m. 4 Virtually tied
Pennsylvania 7:00 p.m. 20 HRC 238-199 If Trump wins, he will win the election
Michigan 7:00 p.m. 16 HRC 254-199 If Trump wins, he will win the election
Iowa 7:30 p.m. 6 DJT 254-205 Trump been holding lead for weeks
Colorado 8:00 p.m. 9 HRC 263-205 Trump needs Independent candidates to do well
New Mexico 8:00 p.m. 5 HRC 268-205 Unpredictable with NM former Gov. on ballot
Arizona 8:00 p.m. 11 DJT 268-216 Trump loss foreshadows Nevada and NM
Nevada 9:00 p.m. 6 268-216 Virtually tied

There are some very interesting linkages because of similarities of the respective states.

  • If Trump loses Maine CD#2, it becomes likely he will lose New Hampshire. Similarly, if Clinton loses Maine Statewide, it becomes likely she will lose New Hampshire. Either one could be enough to tip the scales one way or another so the election could be “over” before our polls close barring an upset in New Mexico.
  • If Clinton loses Virginia, she will lose North Carolina. Similarly, if Trump loses Georgia, he will lose North Carolina.
  • If Clinton loses Pennsylvania, she could very possibly lose Michigan and Wisconsin where it would be a run-away.
  • If Trump wins New Mexico, he will likely win Nevada and a New Mexico win would negate a loss of Maine CD#2 and New Hampshire.

As you can see, Trump has to hold ALL STATES he leads by 3% or more and run the table on the states that are virtually tied (Florida, North Carolina, New Hampshire, and Nevada). If he runs the table but loses just Maine CD#1, we have a tied Electoral College and the House will select the next President of the United States.

The good news is Trump doesn’t have to win a state he is currently behind by more than 3% to win the election. The bad news is he has to win all the four closest states (FL, NC, NH, & NV).  In short, odds of Trump winning are the same as flipping a coin twice and both landing on heads.

The American body politic is deeply divided with roughly 45% on the liberal side and 45% on the conservative side.  There is about 5% which lean each way.  It is my opinion that this election will be decided by the very middle 5% of the American body politic.  These people usually confound the pollsters as they move generally in block on Election Day which explains Obama beating polls in 2008 and 2012 and Bush in 2004 or Reagan in 1980.

My gut:  Watch Maine CD#2 & Maine Statewide. If both go one way, I think it will foreshadow the winner.  That said, all of America is watching to see what happens in Florida.  Been there and done that for the last four elections.  Might as well keep it up.

P.S.  Sorry about the format.  Did the best I could in the time I had.  Not the graphics wiz Pat is.

“The Green Bay Packers never lost a game. They just ran out of time.” (Vince Lombardi)

Three nights ago, the Cleveland Indians were up 3 games to 1 on the Chicago Cubs and I pretty much counted them out. As a Twins/Nationals/Rockies fan, I really don’t have a dog in the fight. But, I love baseball so I’m still interested and will watch the game tonight.

Yes, the Cubs had two better pitchers scheduled in games #5 & #6 but not so much better it was a slam-dunk they’d win these two must-win games. And, for the 7th game, the Indians have the better pitcher scheduled on the mound. Three nights ago, Vegas oddsmakers gave the Cubs about a 15% chance of winning the World Series. Now, after winning two games in a row (25% chance they would win both games), the oddsmakers have the Cubs at a 45% chance of being the World Champions. It’s game on!!

Three weeks ago, the Billy Bush/Donald Trump tape came out and I begged for Trump to drop out and let us take our chances with Mike Pence. When the tape came out, Nate Silver handicapped Trumps chances at less than 15% (roughly equivalent to the Cubs odds three nights ago). Personally, I thought it was high. I reacted as I did with the Cubs and said “game over.” I almost entitled this thread “To win, you’ve got to stay in the game” (Claude Bristol). NOT!

Five things have happened in the last week which I didn’t expect (could have also entitled this “Skip, what are we gonna do about those numbers? They suck.” from the movie Perfect Storm):

1) The Wikileaks released emails provide a smoking gun on how the Clintons parlayed the Office of the Secretary of State to enrich the Clinton personally to the tune of what could be over $50 million. This is what I think is most significant because it goes beyond being a political fibber (the public seems to expect or at least tolerate political fibbing) who spins everything or says anything to curry favor with the voters. Personal graft and enrichment is beyond acceptable to a very large segment of the voting public.

2) This is what I think should have been the most insignificant. The FBI informed Congress they were re-opening the investigation into Hillary’s use of a private server. Comey said he’d keep Congress informed if he got new information. He got new information. And, he was clear he didn’t know if the information was significant and would report back. Should have been the end of the story.

3) Hillary totally badly muffed her reaction. She should have said, “Director Comey has a job to do and is accountable to both the President and Congress. I’m confident when they get through the new information the conclusion of a few months ago will be confirmed. Director Comey is an honorable public servant.” This response would have given the impression she was truly confident there is “nothing new” and would have matched her words “there is nothing there.” Additionally, it would have reinforced her earlier praise of Director Comey. Instead, the disconnects were palpable. She basically violated the Cardinal Rule of corporate crisis management. Twice. And reinforced she might not be trustworthy, her biggest weakness.

4) The Press went bonkers on the letter which belied how much they are in the tank for Hillary and it reinforced Trump’s message the system is rigged.

5) After watching great points and positions get lost in too many shallow bromides or distracting ramblings, Trump got on message AND presented it concisely and cogently. On Monday, Trump and Pence laid out a powerful case for a Trump Presidency, in particular replacing Obamacare and how his economic plan serves the interests of ALL Americans in ALL walks of life. It was so moving, I almost drove to Canton to vote just in case I got hit by a bus between then and Election Day. Frankly, I think this might in the end be more significant than even #1 above.

Today, Nate Silver updated his handicapping of the President race Trump a 30% chance of winning (assumed Hillary leading in the polls by 4%). He also did an analysis which assumes Hillary is leading by 2%. While he didn’t complete the math, I did and and a 2% Hillary leads changes the odds of Trump winning to slightly above 40%. Nate Silver’s latest analysis can be read here

Personally, I think Silver’s methodology masks a slight hidden disadvantage for Trump. Before the polls started to move last week, 20% of the votes were cast via early voting and Hillary was ahead by roughly 5%. Assuming early votes reflected the national position, Hillary has banked what translates into a 1% advantage. Trump has to move the population past even and make-up this 1% disadvantage.

Well folks, the current realclearpolitics.com race has Trump behind less than 2% and he clearly has the momentum. A few weeks ago, he was down 7%, narrowed it to 5.4%, and it is now under 2%.

Whether he can continue to move the voting public or there is enough people open to being moved, I don’t know. But, it appears Hillary doesn’t have the game to stop the momentum. Her recent acts of desperation, including bringing back Alicia Machado to the forefront, aren’t gonna get the job done.

The Cubs know they have at least 9 innings and maybe more.

Donald Trump is behind and has six more days and nothing more. I hope its enough time and Trump/Pence uses the time well.

There is a chance and its no longer a long-shot.

UPDATE: Cubs win. Trump do the “impossible” too? Well, Hillary seems intent on muffing again.

“Do the right thing. It will gratify some people and astonish the rest.” (Mark Twain)

Before voting, I decided at a young age to consider the following:

1) Does the candidate pass the “good neighbor test.” Would I want want my kids to observe this person and would they see an example of a life well-lived? Would I give them code to enter my house? Would I enjoy an evening with this person on the deck with an adult beverage?

2) Do I think they have the skills to be effective at the office they are pursuing?

3) Do I agree sufficiently with their views on the issues most important to me?

In the 36 years I’ve been voting, in general, whether they be Republican or Democrat, in most elections I have thought both candidates would be good neighbors and had the skills to be effective. In the few times a Republican couldn’t pass #1 or #2, in a general election state-wide race, I am sure I skipped the race because I don’t recall finding enough issue agreement with the Democrat to give them my vote. I think maybe I’ve voted for a Democrat or two in legislative or local races.

About when Donald Trump announced for President, here on SDWC, Pat asked the question “Have you selected a candidate yet” and I responded I was sufficiently comfortable with all the candidates on the issues. “I’m still watching to see who demonstrates the breadth of skills to be good candidates. . . . For me it is going to be a process of elimination as the campaign goes along. So far, I have only eliminated Trump.”

My rationale was Trump didn’t pass the “good neighbor test” and I doubted he had the skills to work with Congress, be Commander in Chief, and discern international matters.

When it became clear our choices were to be Trump and Clinton, I decided for the first time to set aside #1 (one is a bullying cad and the other is a lying crook) and #2 (one has no experience and the other has learned all the wrong lessons from her experience).

In short, I found Trump better on the issues despite him being the most politically and personally moderate (concurrently holding a disproportionate number of conservative and liberal positions) Presidential candidate the GOP has nominated in my voting lifetime.

When the infamous Billy Bush video broke, I admit being shaken to my knees. Not because I never heard or couldn’t handle crap in that vein. I’ve been in plenty of locker rooms. But, never before has such a person asked to be my President, someone my grandchildren will be expected to respect. And, most importantly, even in the most private of “locker rooms,” I don’t recall anyone ever saying crap like that with the proviso “because I’m rich and famous, I get to do it without permission.”

My first reaction was Trump has to drop out of the race. Besides my personal revulsion to the video, there is the practical matter it could be the difference between having Clinton as President or not.

Since the conventions and prior to the first debate, Trump had the momentum and had crept up to being virtually tied with Clinton. But, since then, the race is worse that it was after the two conventions. Currently, Clinton is up 5% or more in enough states to win the Electoral College.

To win the Electoral College, Trump essentially needs to attract over 90% of the undecided to have a chance to squeak out a razor thin victory. If I was behind in the final minutes of a football game, I’d rather put on the field my second string quarterback than my first string quarterback who just broke both his legs.

Contrary to popular perception, we don’t vote for President but select Electors of the Electoral College. If either Clinton or Trump died today, we wouldn’t just give the Presidency to the other. We’d have the election with the voters choosing between the Clinton/Kaine Electors and Trump/Pence Electors. So it could/would be if Trump dropped out.

Because Trump is that quarterback with two broken legs, we need a substitute who is at least healthy. Somebody had to stand up and call for a new quarterback and I’m proud and grateful Senator Thune and Governor Daugaard were among those who tried to induce Trump to drop out.

When Trump announced he would stay in the race no matter what, my second reaction was I’m just going to skip this race. The thought of voting for Trump makes me feel dirty, he obviously only cares for himself and not the country or down-ballot Republicans (right now both the RNC and DNC believe not only is it likely we will lose control of the Senate but the House is even in play), and voting for Gary Johnson felt like the easy way out to make myself feel good. Frankly and ironically, while I have confidence Hillary will pursue most of the harmful policies she has promised, I don’t have much confidence Trump will follow through on his promises because I don’t know if I know what he really believes.

But, over the last five days, the latest leaked emails bring me back to the discernment table as we learn:

1) Despite Hillary’s call for “getting money out of politics,” her campaign violated election law by coordinating with Super Pacs.
2) Hillary’s campaign induced/cooperated with DNC senior executives willing to violate their own neutrality rules.
3) Hillary’s campaign considered the State Department and Justice Department arms of her campaign as they coordinated how to obfuscate and/or minimize public disclosure of her conduct at the State Department.
4) The deepening melding of Clinton Foundation interests with State Department business.
5) The depth of the covert cooperation and support from the mainstream media to enhance Clinton’s persona and failure to report news because it was unflattering to Hillary.
6) And now we find out the career FBI and DOJ attorneys all wanted her to be charged and have her security clearance yanked. http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2016/10/12/fbi-doj-roiled-by-comey-lynch-decision-to-let-clinton-slide-by-on-emails-says-insider.html

While probably so remote to be unrealistic, I still hope Trump just says “I’m fired” if for no other reason than it will take away any Clinton claim to a mandate. Only 25% of the electorate say they support Clinton for who she is. The rest either oppose her or say they only dislike her less than they dislike Trump. As more and more of the recent Wikileaks information gets processed, I just can’t believe the voters will give to Hillary both the Senate and House to pursue her agenda unfettered by a Republican Congress. In fact, the greater her chances of the winning the White House might diminish the chances of Democrats winning the close Senate and House races.

If he drops out, we can then rally around Governor Pence, put him on stage for the last debate, and urge voters to vote for the Trump/Pence electors.

If the Trump/Pence electors get a majority of the Electoral College (270 Electoral Votes), the Constitution and Supreme Court will be tested to figure out what isn’t specifically provided for in the Constitution or Law.

Will the Supreme Court allow the Electors to select Pence as President? If not, Hillary doesn’t have a majority of the Electoral College, the House of Representatives selects the President.

In short, even if I wanted Trump to be my President, his only chance is a “Hail Mary” pass and we know how often they work out.

Personal Message to Donald J. Trump: If you really care about our country and don’t want Hillary to be President, drop out and let us take our chances. Whatever modicum of reputation as a man you want to retain, it is only possible if you put country before yourself and drop out. While I will still vote for you if you stay in the race, I beg you to take that cup from me.

Sidenote: Over the past few weeks, President Obama’s job approval numbers have been creeping up. Does anyone really think in the context of what is going on domestically and internationally people are saying he is doing a better job? Or could they just be saying he looks good compared to Clinton and Trump?

“You just can’t make this stuff up.” (US Sen. Elizabeth Warren yesterday in an interview)

Preface:  For many years, everytime George Brett came to bat (whether the Royals were playing the Twins or not), in the moment, I cringed and expressed how I didn’t “like him.”  But, when I looked at the box score and his stats over the course of the season, I had to always admit the guy could hit and was a heck of a baseball player.  No matter the pitcher’s strength (fastball, curve, slider, etc.), Brett had a strategy to take that strength away and augment the pitcher’s weakness.

So it is with Trump.   Hyperbolically, it seems 9 out of 10 times Trump opens his mouth, I cringe and often times disagree with him.  But, when I look at the “boxscore,” I have to admit the guy knows how to play to HIS strength and make the other side play to their weakness.  Like Brett, sometimes I just have to grudgingly give Trump the respect he earns by the results.

I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP.  A FEW DAYS AGO, TRUMP TOOK A BIG SWING AND MISSED, DARING THE DEMOCRATS TO RESPOND IN A PARTICULAR WAY.  AND, DANG IF THEY DIDN’T THROW A FASTBALL DOWN THE MIDDLE OF THE PLATE AND TRUMP HIT IT OUT OF THE PARK.  Yesterday on my drive home, I had on MSBC radio on to hear what they were saying about the Democratic Convention.  Rachel Maddow was having a conversation with Senator Warren (wasn’t really an interview).  Anyway, Maddow throws what she intended to be a softball to Warren about Trump’s call for Russia to release (if they have them) the 30,000 personal (not turned over to the government) emails from Clinton’s personal email server.

A)  Warren goes off on it is treasonous to for Trump to ask a foreign country to hack a high ranking government officials computer because of the risk to national security.  

  1. The server is in the hands of the FBI and can’t be hacked any more.  If they have the emails, Russia already committed the crime and wouldn’t it be better off knowing they have the information?
  2. I thought the emails were only about Clinton’s appointment with her hair stylists, emails to her daughter about her grandchild, and to her husband.  According to Hillary, there is nothing on those emails which are a risk to national security.  But, to Senator Warren they are a risk to national security.  What does she know that we don’t know?

B)  Warren goes off on the illegality to ask Russia to directly influence our sovereign election.  Ummmmm, It is against both US and Israeli law for the US government to influence an Israeli election.  Where was Senator Warren’s outrage when both Obama campaign funds and State Department funds were used to try to defeat Netanyahu in last year’s Israeli election?

However, I admit it is the nature of politics for one side to tactically respond to the tactics of one’s opponent.  And, in a vacuum, Warren’s response could be characterized as “par for the course” and not surprising.

But, the standard tactical response must contemplate the larger strategy, which for the Democrats is to address Hillary Clinton’s high unfavorable rating with the public (which at its core is Hillary is not considered trustworthy).  And the two biggest factors working against Clinton is her lack of forthrightness on her own personal email problem and most recently the revelation from emails that the Democratic National Committee didn’t follow its own rules of neutrality in the Clinton-Sanders primary (resulting in Hillary lapdog leaving her “neutral” position as head of the DNC directly to the Clinton campaign).

Strategically, ANY discussion of emails, foreign hacking, etc. feeds the Trump narrative.  The Democrats took Trump’s bait “hook, line and sinker.”  In addition to Warren, nearly every speaker yesterday RESPONDED to Trump which had the effect of reminding people about the emails, enhancing Trump’s gravitas, and making Hillary look small.

What is the major news story in the major papers and on the news channels?  Not a narrative from the Convention on how Clinton presidency would be good for Americans but emails and treason.  I’m not sure Trump could have gotten a better result if he had written the script himself.  Warren is right.  You just can’t make this stuff up.  

Bonus News Item #1:  President Obama’s speech was essentially a plea for Democrats to come together to preserve the work and legacy of his Presidency even if Democrats don’t want to do it for Hillary.  It was a glaring admission of how small Hillary is on her own.  Contrary to Hillary who openly admits she NEEDS Obama, Sanders, et. al., Trump has made it clear he doesn’t need the endorsement of Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, or anyone else to win this election.  He is willing to stand on his own. Warren is right.  You just can’t make this stuff up.  

Bonus News Item #2:  When the ink isn’t even dry on his endorsement of Hillary at the Democratic Convention, Bernie Sanders announced he is leaving the Democratic Party and returning to his historical Independent Socialist (caucusing with the Senate Democrats).  Bernie’s decision/announcement before the Convention even closes will be seen by many of his supporters as a signal Hillary and the Democratic Party didn’t move enough and their home is not here.  Warren is right.  You just can’t make this stuff up.