Friday, August 12, 2016

Cognitive Madisonianism, splitting tickets, the 2016 Senate race, and why American voters are smarter than pundits and political scientists.

The Dividist's new favorite phrase is "Cognitive Madisonianism." It's just another way of saying that American voters, in their collective wisdom, prefer and vote for divided government.

Based on election results in the modern era, the assertion would seem to be unassailable. Since the end of WWII there have been 34 federal elections in the United States. In 22 of those elections, Americans elected a divided government. We chose divided government for 44 of the intervening 71 years or 62% of the time. We are currently in the 6th consecutive year of our most recent iteration with indicators pointing to divided government extending it's winning streak for at least two and probably four more years.

Wait. Do We Do That On Purpose?
That is the question. It's a simple fact that we vote for divided government far more often than not. It's that "cognitive" part that political scientists and pundits have a hard time swallowing.  They just can't believe we are doing this deliberately.

Monday, August 08, 2016

♫ Daisy, Daisy give me your answer sure... ♫
♫ Trump's half crayzeee... ♫
♫ That's why I'm voting for her... ♫

 I fixed the 'Daisy Ad" for the Clinton campaign. You're welcome, John Podesta  
Our last post outlined some of the geopolitical policy ramifications of  an American president being "unpredictable" with nuclear weapons - as was suggested by presidential nominee Donald Trump. Spoiler Alert: It's bad policy. Really, really bad. Not quite as important, but just as interesting, are the political ramifications of Trump's loose nuclear talk in this election.

This is not the first time the American voting public is being asked to consider the suitability of a Presidential candidate to have access to nuclear weapons. Probably the single most influential political TV ad in history was the infamous "Daisy Ad" run by the LBJ campaign against Goldwater in 1964:

Friday, August 05, 2016

Trump Deals "The Nuclear Card" -
On The Table or Off The Table?

 Metaphor for the Trump campaign? 
On Wednesday MSNBC broadcast a Morning Joe interview with retired general Michael Hayden. In the course of the interview Joe Scarborough related a second hand anecdote from an unattributed international affairs adviser's presumably private conversation with Donald Trump four months earlier:

Scarborough's story set the twitterverse a-twitter, which is weird, given that Donald Trump said exactly the same thing in a very public televised MSNBC Townhall with Chris Mathews on March 30:

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Through the Looking Glass And What the Voters Found There - The Donald and The Hillary

Through the Looking Glass with Hillary and Donald
The Donald and The Hillary - with apologies to Lewis Carroll
The conventions are over. The nominees are chosen. The tickets are formed. The campaigns are underway. When the Dividist hacked Lewis Carroll last fall, he did not actually believe that Trump and Clinton would be the final choice offered by the major parties to the voters:
 "... it was obvious to the Dividist that Hillary Clinton's campaign was mortally wounded by her e-mail scandal, unfavorable ratings,  and other assorted Clintonesque baggage. A Joe Biden cavalry charge to rescue the Democratic Party was clearly in the works....  
If, for reasons that pass all understanding or any semblance of rationality, Donald Trump prevails and becomes the Republican nominee, there is a silver lining. The prospect of a Donald Trump presidency will make it very easy indeed to vote for Hillary Clinton and four more years of happily divided government."
This is what happens when you take a tumble down the rabbit hole.

Time to update our Adventure in Wonderland:

The Donald and The Hillary

Hillary was shining up the Progs,
But her case was not yet made.
And Bernie did his very best
To throw a lot of shade.
So it was not so very odd,
Deb made sure the Progs were played.

Cruz was moping sulkily,
Because throughout the run
Donald had no business to be there
After the polls were done -
"It's very rude of him," he said,
"To spoil all the fun!"

"No one believed I'd do it!"
The Donald was quick to chide.
And mainstream media said nothing more, 
looking for a place to hide.
Not even Roger Ailes spoke,
Since there were no more blondes to ride.

The time has come - the blogger said -
To talk of many things:
Of polls and pols and caucuses,
And candidates with bling.
And when the voters will get smart
And whether pigs have wings. 

Monday, April 04, 2016

No, the GOP will not lose the House. Not even if Trump loses in a landslide of biblical proportions.

2016 Trump GOP House of Cards
A recent Cook Political Report (among other articles) excited Democrats and terrified Republicans by invoking the specter of a wave election flipping the House of Representatives majority control - "House Republicans Staring Into the Abyss: 10 Ratings Changes Favor Democrats":
"So many assumptions have been wrong this cycle that it's difficult to be definitive about another: that the House majority won't be in play in 2016.  Republicans are sitting on their largest majority since 1928 - 247 seats to 188 - meaning Democrats would need to pick up 30 seats, a daunting challenge given the GOP's immense redistricting advantage and the vaporization of swing districts. But all cycle, Democrats have daydreamed about Republicans nominating an extremely polarizing presidential candidate, and suddenly it's almost certain they will get their wish...   if November does turn into a Democratic rout, it's impossible to know just how bad it could get for Republicans sharing a ballot with Trump or Cruz."
The primary evidence offered by columnist David Wasserman was a shift in the Cook Report Rating for 10 seats (5 D, 5 R) with each seat ratcheting one notch in the Democrats direction. But, there is far less here than meets the eye.

Friday, April 01, 2016

United Coalition of the Divided - 2016 Edition

UPDATED: 27-Aug-2016 
Divided Government
The Dividist initiated this exclusive club during the 2008 election cycle and recycled it in every federal election since. It was an ignominious start, with the Democrats seizing unified control of the federal government. The 2010 edition was barely posted in time for the midterms among much angst and gnashing of teeth. Can't complain about the result though, as divided government was emphatically restored. We managed an earlier start on the 2012 membership drive, and that worked out fine with the reelection of Barack Obama and divided government. In 2014, it was just a question of how divided we were going to get. The Democrats accommodated by digging themselves an even deeper hole in Congress, much to the delight of our 2014 Midterm United Coalition of the Divided

So now it's 2016. We know why we should vote for divided government. We know how to vote for divided government.  We just need enough of us to actually vote for divided government. 

This cycle we'll be voting for a new President with the Republicans in majority control of Congress. At the time of this writing, Republicans and Democrats are focused on eating their own. Soon Democrats will realize that a divided government state is the best they can hope for in this cycle. As always, the Dividist will welcome with open arms all disingenuous, insincere, and hypocritical partisan Democratic and Republican Party pretenders to the 2016 United Coalition of the Divided!

Membership is open to anyone writing anything in any form in any media in a vaguely positive way on the subject of divided government. New recruits will be added to the ranks, updating this post and blogroll from now until the 2016 election.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

The new normal since President Obama declared "We will not accept attacks like Paris as the new normal."

 Attacks targeting civilians linked to or inspired by ISIS - from NYT

Declaring War On The New Normal

Last fall, in the wake of the October ISIS bombing in Ankara (103 dead), ISIS destruction of an Russian plane over Egypt (224 dead), the November ISIS bombing in Beirut (43 dead) and ISIS massacre in Paris (130 dead), President Obama said"We will not accept attacks on civilians in places like Paris as the new normal."

After the December ISIS inspired massacre in San Bernardino (14 dead), we wrote a post analyzing  President Obama's speech outlining his strategy to degrade and destroy ISIS. After reading the Graeme Wood Atlantic article entitled  "What ISIS Really Wants" we concluded the Obama strategy would do absolutely nothing to change the "new normal" terror dynamic until and unless the ISIS "Caliphate" was dislodged from Syria and Iraq:
The simple fact is this -  only ground troops can remove an enemy from territory they hold. And if we don't remove them - despite the President's platitudes - Paris and San Bernardino and the downed Russian Airliner are the new normal, and nothing will change that. 
We have a choice. We can continue a low grade war of attrition against ISIS (think "body counts" and Vietnam), with no firm timetable or strategy to decisively destroy ISIS and wait for ISIS and the Caliphate to wear down and collapse.  Or we can adopt a more focused assertive military posture and decisively remove ISIS from the territory they claim as a Caliphate. It does not have to be our ground troops, but is has to be a significant, overwhelming force. In either case, for whatever length of time the Caliphate is permitted to exist, Americans, Europeans, moderate Muslims and "infidels" the world over will continue to be gunned down, bombed, stabbed and massacred in these random "soft-target" attacks launched by True Believers in the Caliphate. Welcome to the New Normal."
Current Status Of The New Normal - President Obama talks the talk.

Since the San Bernardino massacre in December, the Obama administration has been repeatedly questioned by the press and Congress about the status of the President's strategy to defeat ISIS. Administration flacks and the President himself cite bombing sortie statistics, body counts, and incremental territorial gains as evidence that the strategy is working. More recently the President continued to talk the talk, as exemplified by his comments during his historic visit to Cuba in the first minutes of an exhibition baseball game. Here he is interviewed by ESPN on the very day of the ISIS attack in Brussels ...

Sunday, March 06, 2016

In Praise of the Smoke Filled Room
- or -
How I Learned To Love The Idea Of A Brokered GOP Convention

Image ripped from WSJ
As an undeniably lazy blogger, there are few things I find more satisfying than quoting myself while repurposing an old blog post. Why not? I often find my previously published blog posts to be insightful and profoundly moving.  Mitt Romney provided the catalyst for this particular exercise in self-plagiarization with his call for a brokered convention to stop Donald Trump from securing the nomination:
"If the other candidates can find some common ground, I believe we can nominate a person who can win the general election and who will represent the values and policies of conservatism. Given the current delegate selection process, that means that I’d vote for Marco Rubio in Florida and for John Kasich in Ohio and for Ted Cruz or whichever one of the other two contenders has the best chance of beating Mr. Trump in a given state."
In other words, everyone stays in to deny Trump the 1,237 delegates needed to win the nomination before the convention. Trump may arrive in Cleveland with a plurality, but not a majority. Denied a first round nomination, another candidate could be selected at the convention, presumably built out of a coalition of the majority of delegates that support Rubio, Kasich, and Cruz.  This seems like an eminently reasonable strategy to avoid nominating a megalomaniacal authoritarian with zero understanding of our constitutional protections who is afflicted by narcissistic personality disorder and delusions of grandeur.  But that's just me.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Krugman and Klein on how the Scalia Supreme Court vacancy battle will destroy America.
Because "divided government."
Or something.

 Let's start with Paul Krugman and his usual understated dispassionate analysis...
Once upon a time, the death of a Supreme Court justice wouldn’t have brought America to the edge of constitutional crisis. But that was a different country, with a very different Republican Party. In today’s America, with today’s G.O.P., the passing of Antonin Scalia has opened the doors to chaos...
In his opening paragraph, in around 50 words,  Krugman manages to blame the GOP for "chaos", a "constitutional crisis", and losing America. All because the GOP controlled Senate may delay confirming a Supreme Court appointment for 9 or 10 months. Even by the standard of Krugman's usual vitriolic, polarizing, partisan hyperbole, that is an impressive pile of horseshit.

Of course this is nothing new for regular Krugman watchers. Who can forget his 2010 classic meltdown on the eve of the Republican takeover of majority control in the House of Representatives:

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

State Of The Union - The Musical!
"Bye Bye Barry" Edition

Welcome to the Dividist's annual coverage of the Presidential Address to Congress - aka State of the Union - The Musical!

In 2007, as a blogging toddler, the Dividist despaired at finding a unique approach to the SOTU when so many other bloggers would be traversing the same ground. The answer came from Bob Woodward. In an on-line Washington Post forum the Dividist asked whether the SOTU had any real relevance. Woodward responded by saying it was "mostly theater." Genius. That was the answer. What better way to frame the SOTU, media and blog reactions than within the lyrics of a Broadway show tune?

The game is to start with a Broadway song then find blog posts, news stories, tweets, essays and commentary that can be vaguely referenced in the song and link them to the lyrics. It keeps the Dividist awake and blogging throughout the speech and mandatory drinking game.

The program so far...
2007 - "Comedy Tonight" 
2008 - "Georgy Girl Boy"
2009 - "Razzle Dazzle" from "Chicago" 
2010 - "The Wizard of Oz" 
2011 - Intermission 
2012 - "Do you hear the people sing?" from Les Miserables" 
2013 - "I don't know how to love him" from "President Obama Superstar" 
2014 - "How to Succeed as President Without Really Trying" 
2015"Let It Go" from "Frozen"
And now, for 2016, despite being pointless political theater, this SOTU holds out hope for a couple of interesting wrinkles. 1st -  It is President Obama's last State of the Union, and 2nd - The administration is hinting at something "different" for this edition. Based on the teaser, the President is going to be backed by a heavy handed organist...