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Analysis and perspective about what's happening in the political realm.

Fixing U.S. Elections

Experts rate the performance of recent American elections as the worst among two dozen Western democracies. Why?

Some longstanding practices are to blame. Partisan gerrymandering insulates incumbents. Infotainment-dominated commercial news reduce campaigns to spectator sport. Social media amplifies angry trolls. Ballot access laws restrict third-party challengers. Women and minority candidates have to fight a hostile cultural backlash. Outdated technologies are vulnerable to Russian cyberhacks.

All of these problems have been heightened by the close, heated and bitterly divided 2016 contest. The result: an erosion of American confidence in the electoral process – despite the fact that voter fraud occurs very rarely.

In mid-August 2016, Gallup found that only six in 10 Americans are “very” or “fairly” confident that their vote would be accurately cast and counted. That’s down from around three-quarters of all Americans a decade earlier.

Among Republicans, the proportion who are confident drops to around half, the lowest level Gallup has ever recorded. Similarly, a Washington Post - ABC News poll of registered voters conducted between Sept. 5 and Sept. 8 found that 46 percent of all Americans believe that voter fraud occurs very or somewhat often, a figure that jumps to 69 percent among Trump supporters.

My book...

The First Broken Promise of Hillary Clinton's Presidency

Hillary Clinton said nothing on Wednesday night that should derail her considerable chances of winning the presidency on November 8. But if she wins, one simple promise she repeated over and over again could come back to haunt her reelection bid in 2020.

“I also will not add a penny to the debt,” Clinton said toward the beginning of her final presidential-debate performance. She made a similar pledge two more times that night, and it’s a line she has used before on the campaign trail. It’s a short-hand reference to the fact that although she has proposed hundreds of billions in new federal spending for infrastructure, paid family leave, education, and other items, she would pay for those investments by raising an equal or greater amount in revenue through higher taxes on the wealthy and corporations.

The problem for Clinton is that even if she succeeds in enacting all of her fiscal policies—a humongous “if”—the national debt will still go way up during her time in office. The national debt now stands at about $19.7 trillion, and if policymakers wanted to keep it there, they’d have to approve hundreds of billions of dollars in...

These CEOs Made John Podesta’s Purported List of Potential Running Mates for Hillary Clinton

Tim Cook, Mary Barra, and Muhtar Kent purportedly were among the business leaders considered, however briefly, as vice presidential running mates for Hillary Clinton.

The disclosure comes courtesy of WikiLeaks, which has been releasing giant batches of communications purported to have come from the email account of Clinton’s campaign chair, John Podesta. The authenticity of the emails has not been confirmed, but the Clinton campaign has acknowledged the existence of efforts “to steal private campaign documents in order to influence an election,” and has blamed Russian hackers for the leak.

Along with sitting government officials including Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Claire McCaskill, Cory Booker (misspelled in the email as “Corey” Booker), and Julian Castro—as well as Clinton’s eventual pick, Virginia senator Tim Kaine—the list contained a grouping of names from the business world.

These are the names from that section, listed alphabetically, which is how they appeared in the leaked email. We’ve added the primary professional affiliations of each.

Mary Barra, chairman and CEO of General Motors

Michael Bloomberg, founder and CEO of Bloomberg LP, former mayor of New York

Ursula Burns, chairman and CEO of Xerox

Tim Cook, CEO of Apple

Bill Gates, former...

Donald Trump is Taking a Page From Reconstruction-era White Supremacists

Donald Trump has a lot in common with former Confederates – white southerners who “redeemed” the South by bringing an end to Reconstruction 140 years ago. Like the “Redeemers,” Trump fears that electoral fraud threatens the republic. And like them, Trump equates electoral fraud with black and brown voters.

Trump has often claimed that only a “rigged system” could deny him victory. How? Not through sabotaged debate microphones or a biased media but through unqualified voters.

At a recent rally in Pennsylvania – a must-win state – Trump digressed from his text to remind his mostly white audience of this danger, urging them to go to “certain areas” on Election Day and “watch” who was voting. The implication, of course, was that they should challenge anyone who appeared to be unqualified. Nor was this a random remark. The Trump campaign features a website where supporters can sign up to become a “Trump Election Observer” and “Stop Crooked Hillary From Rigging This Election!”

How can “Trump Election Observers” distinguish between qualified and unqualified voters? Trump doesn’t say. But his reference to “certain areas” – and the entire tenor of his campaign – suggests that their color will give them away.

‘Intelligence and virtue’

Trump supporters...

Paul Ryan's Alternate Election

This election was never the election that Paul Ryan wanted to run. This cage match between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, or in Ryan’s thinly-veiled dismissal, “a personality contest” that has nothing to do with ideas or policy.

With three-and-a-half weeks to go, Ryan has simply decided not to run that campaign at all. No matter how silly, dissonant, or just plain out of touch with reality it looks, the House speaker is waging the 2016 race as he believes it should be run.

“Are we are going to be positive and inclusive, bring people together, and reclaim our founding principles? Or we are going to be overrun by liberal progressivism, with more drift, more despair, and more decline?” Ryan said Friday in a speech delivered to college Republicans at his home-state University of Wisconsin-Madison. “That is the choice before us.” 

Ryan well knows that this is not actually the choice America faces on November 8. There is nothing “positive and inclusive” about the message that the nominee he’s endorsed, Donald Trump, is offering. And the Republican ticket is barely running against the notion of “liberal progressivism” that Ryan says that the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, represents.


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