5 things to watch in every state: Colorado

Colorado is a state that has flipped to the Democratic Party over the last few election cycles.  The Clinton campaign did not spend very much money here throughout the cycle and looks unlikely to go to Trump on November 8th.

There are actually more than 5 elections to watch in Colorado that will be interesting.  The Colorado State Senate may flip with the election.

  1. Proposition 106: This is one of my hobby horses, I’ll be honest. Mainly because I am selfish.  I want states to allow me to decide to end my life if I have a terminal diagnosis so that I can choose when I die instead of waiting for the terrible parts of my life to come up.  The Proposition would allow assisted death legal among patients with a terminal prognosis within six months. The fear of assisted suicide is that people will flood the state to be able to die legally, which is why Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts opposes the measure.  Or that insurers will drop certain coverages and treatments to increase the life of a patient who is terminal.  I am interested in how this measure does because like I said, I’m selfish, and want to see how it turns out so it can spread to other states, hopefully.
  2. U.S. House of Representatives Colorado’s 6th Congressional District: This will likely be the most competitive election in Colorado’s Congressional delegation.  This district is fairly moderate.  In 2012, the district voted 51.6% for Obama with 46.5% with Romney.  Coffman has shown some spine and is running away from Trump in his Congressional election against Democratic State Senator Morgan Carroll.  Coffman won re-election in the district in 2012 with 47.8% of the vote defeating the Democratic candidate by 7,000 votes.  He won another election in 2014 with 51.9% of the vote.  What Carroll and Democrats are hoping for is that Trump is unacceptable to moderate Republicans in Colorado or Coloradans, in general.
  3. Colorado State Senate District 19: Currently, Republicans hold a one seat advantage in the State Senate, currently.  One of the pick up opportunities for Democrats in the Senate would be this seat. Incumbent Democrat Rachel Zensinger lost her re-election bid in 2014 by less than 700 votes. She has decided for a rematch against Republican Laura Woods in 2016.  If Republican turnout is lower in the state than the Senate could essentially be tied with a loss in this district.
  4. Colorado State Senate District 35: Another hypothetical pickup for Colorado Democrats would be this district.  Republican Larry Crowder won election in 2012 with 49.2% of the vote and 1,500 vote advantage over the Democratic nominee and 2,461 votes for the Libertarian candidate.  Democrat challenger Jim Casias is trying to unseat Crowder in 2016.  The Libertarian candidate in 2012 is running again in 2016.  The hope for Democrats is a combination of reduced turnout for Republicans and enough people voting for a Libertarian candidate this low because of distrust of the Republican Party.  An increase in support of Gary Johnson would likely help in this goal.
  5. Colorado House of Representatives District 3: There are two reasons that I’m interested in watching this election.  The first reason is that the Democratic nominee’s name is Jeff Bridges.  The second reason is that this has been a pretty competitive district in 2012 and 2014.  So much so that both the Democratic and Republican State Legislature campaigns are targeting this race.  In 2012 which should have been a strong year for a Democrat in Colorado showed the Democratic incumbent get 50.8% of the vote with a 2,500 vote advantage over Republican Brian Watson.  Kagan won re-election in 2014 with 50.7% of the vote over Republican challenger Candice Benge which equated to a 450 vote advantage.  Kagan is term-limited and can’t run for re-election, again.  Enter Jeff Bridges (not the dude).  This is going to be a fairly close race but we can look at the advantages that an incumbent has over challengers.

5 things to watch in every state: California, take 2

Because California is a ridiculous state, we had to focus on 5 of the ballot measures that were on the ballot there before we moved on to the rest of the elections that we’re interested in watching. And since California is so populous, we have double the amount of elections that we are watching.

  1. California US Senate election: This is an interesting experiment.  One of the legacies of the Governator was his insistence on “jungle primaries.”  The jungle primaries moved the primary elections in California to put everyone on the ballot during the primary and the top two vote getters regardless of party would move onto the general election for statewide elections, including federal elections for Congress.  What you can have, since California is more or less a one party state is that you can have two Democrats move onto the general election.  Or if there are enough candidates, you can split the vote enough ways to move a typical liberal district to have two Republicans advance to the general election.  A lot of people believe that the idea of the jungle primaries favors the more conservative candidates.  Loretta Sanchez may be trying to take advantage of it.  She was able to finish 2nd in the primary to current California Attorney General Kamala Harris for the US Senate.  Harris has the support of the traditional Democratic Party.  Sanchez, despite also being a Democrat, is not getting the traditional support from either party.  Sanchez is a fill in for the Republican candidate in this instance.  I’m not sure if I really buy that but that’s what’s out there.  Harris and Sanchez are both Democrats which is the first time that two Democrats moved to the general election for such a high office in California.  The election strategy for Sanchez is to be able to pick enough voters from the Democratic Party + the Republican Party in California to be able to win.  What is being threatened by the California Republican Party is that they’re not going to vote for Senate.  That could be possible.  Republicans might simply not vote for Senate.  With Trump at the top of the ballot and no Republican running for Senate, it’s possible that Republican turnout in California will be even lower.  This is a historic election as there will be either a black woman elected to Senate or a Latina woman.  Either way, should be interesting to watch.
  2. U.S. House of Representatives, California’s 10th District: Let’s operate under the assumption that Republican turnout will be depressed because Trump and no Senate candidate.  We may see some Congressional Districts shift from Republicans to Democrats (yes, there are Republican members of Congress in California).  Jeff Denham is not that far right wing.  He is left leaning for the Republican caucus in the U.S. House but he is running in a district that is not that conservative.  Denham has supported broad immigration reform, as well as introduced legislation to offer a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who served in the military.  But his district voted for Obama in the past two elections, although it was very close about a 3 point win for Obama.  It’s possible that it swings to the left to support Hillary Clinton.  Denham has to continue to run significantly ahead of the Republican candidate for President which he did in 2012 by about 3 points.  That may not be enough in this election.  I’m interested in watching how this district turns out.  He is running in a rematch against Michael Eggman who he crushed in 2014 56-44.
  3. U.S. House of Representatives, California’s 25th District: It’s another moderate district in California.  In 2012, this district voted for Romney 49.8-47.8 Obama.  It had former member of Congress Buck McKeon who wasn’t exactly a Republican extremist.  In 2014, this district voted for two Republican challengers in the primary election advancing both to the general election.  Steve Knight advanced to the general election in which he won over fellow Republican Tony Strickland 53-47.  This time he is being challenged by Bryan Caforio.  The Los Angeles Times ntoed that Knight is the most vulnerable Republican in Los Angeles.  There has been a flood of dark money flooding into the district.  This is one worth watching to determine if turnout is lower than usual in 2016.
  4. U.S. House of Representatives, California’s 49th District: This is the district that I didn’t think was going to be in play at the beginning of the cycle.  This largely is going to come down to how bad Trump does in the district and how many college educated white voters show up to vote.  This district is represented by Darrell Issa.  You may think that Issa is relatively safe, which I thought at the beginning of the cycle.  This district voted Romney 52-46 in 2012 so it’s not terribly conservative.  Issa has also been sending out mailers of how he has worked with Obama in the past.  And I just can’t.  That’s insane to think about.  I’m interested to watch how Issa had to debase himself to potential primary voters.  Perhaps, this is an argument in favor of jungle primaries that it potentially decreases extremism on both sides of the political parties.  I’ve long thought that Issa is going to run for Senate or Governor in a lower turnout election.  But he needs to get re-elected to be able to do that.  He got nearly 60% of the vote in each of the last two elections.  But depressed Republican turnout and the moderate nature of the district could lead to an upset of Issa on November 8.
  5. California State Senate District 5: The Democratic Party in California holds a super majority in the state legislature (Senate and Assembly).  One of the districts that was very close in 2012 was District 5.  Democrat Cathleen Galgiani defeated Republican Bill Berryhill by about 3,000 votes.  In a year where Republican turnout was stronger either because of the top of the ticket or other elections, this would be a district that could potentially flip.  But it seems likely based under the assumption that we’re operating under, I believe Galgiani will double her margin.  If Republican turnout is somehow not depressed, this would be the State Senate seat that could flip and would be indicative of such a turnout.
  6. California State Assembly District 14: In what is becoming a race to have a referendum on education reform in California and education reform within the Democratic Party.  Mae Toralkson, wife of California Education Superintendent Tom Toralkson is running against Tim Grayson.  Tom Toralkson was endorsed in 2014 by the California Teacher’s Association (CTA).  Toralkson ran against Marshall Tuck who was championed by charter schools and the charter school business groups.  This same dynamic is coming into play within this district.  Mae Toralkson has been endorsed by the CTA and Grayson is aligning himself with charter schools and the education reform movement. He has also said that he would go up against teacher’s unions that “work against the interests of dynamic young teachers and students in low-income areas.”  The Democratic Party is having an intraparty war on education reform.  This is one district that will be a battle bulletpoint going forward.
  7. California State Assembly District 16: In 2012, this District went to the Democratic candidate Joan Buchanan.  She won 59% of the vote.  She chose not to seek re-election in 2014.  In 2014, Republican Catharine Baker and Democrat Tim Sbranti faced off in the general election.  Baker was able to get elected by less than 4,000 votes.  There were 74,000 less votes in this district from 2012 to 2014.  It seems likely to me that the vote for Baker was mainly because of depressed voter turnout rather than the district actually becoming more Conservative.  I’ve already said what assumptions I’m working under so I expect Republican turnout to diminish.  That is bad news for Baker.  This is one of the districts I’ve flagged to watch for my turnout prediction.
  8. California State Assembly District 39: In the 2014 election, Raul Bocanegra, who was the incumbent at the time, lost to fellow Democrat Patty Lopez by less than 500 votes.  Lopez has more or less been detached from the Democratic Party during her tenure in Sacramento. She does not have the support of the Party and is not making up for it with fundraising.  Bocanegra will likely be re-elected but it is the strength of the Democratic Party that is being tested in this election, which makes it well worth watching.
  9. California State Assembly District 65: In 2012, Sharon Quirk-Silva upset incumbent Republican Chris Norby by less than 5,000 votes.  Norby was elected in a special election in 2010  and was re-elected in November of that same year.  In 2014, Quirk-Silva lost by less than 7,000 votes in 2014 to Republican Young Kim.  Quirk-Silva has decided for a rematch with Young Kim in 2016.  If the election is basically just being flipped back and forth based on turnout, this would be an argument in Quirk-Silva’s favor for being able to win the election.  I think it’s worth watching because again, this is more data in the Republican turnout narrative.
  10. California State Assembly District 66: This is another district that seems to be flip based on turnout and elections that are better for one party or the other.  Democratic candidate Al Muratsuchi won election in 2014 with 102,136 votes and won by 18,000 votes over Republican Craig Huey.  in 2014, with 108,096 votes cast in the district, Muratsuchi lost by 700 votes to the Republican challenger Hadley.  The total votes lost from 2012 to 2014 was nearly 80,000 votes.  If the turnout is anywhere close to 2012, it seems like Muratsuchi is going to be headed back to Sacramento.

5 things to watch in every state: California

I’m going to cheat here.  There will be 10 things that I’m interested in watching in California. This first post will just be the statewide ballot measures that I’m interested in watching. With the election less than a forknight away, let’s get it done.

  1. Proposition 55: This is somewhat of a selfish election for me to watch.  I did volunteer work in California to pass Proposition 30 in 2012.  Part of Proposition 30 called for a personal tax increase for those with incomes over $250,000.  The vast majority of the funding, nearly 90% was allocated to fix K-12 schools with an additional 10% going to state community colleges.  Proposition 30 also had a sales tax increase.  Proposition 55 would extend the income tax increases from Proposition 30 until 2030.  Without this proposition, the income tax increases from Prop 30 would phase out in 2018.  The income tax rate would continue a 1% increase on taxable income at $263,000 – $316,000, 2% on $316,000 – $526,000, and 3% on incomes over $526,000.  It is overwhelmingly supported by Democratic elected officials and opposed by a few Republicans.  Liberal blogger Kevin Drum also opposes Proposition 55 because he argues that the California budget was a mess in 2012 and Proposition 30 was needed.  But we need a more stable tax structure.  Well, yes, that’s true.  But the problem is, without the extension of Proposition 30, the budget will likely be a mess, again.  I’m not personally that big of a fan of Prop 55 but I am interested in watching it.  If you are a casual observer of politics, you probably often hear about how California is going to go bankrupt, if it’s not already.
  2. Proposition 59: This is a dumb proposition.  A yes vote for the proposition would encourage state officials to use their authority to overturn Citizens United.  I am not a fan of the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United but the proposition also includes the idea of passing a Constitutional Amendment.  What does the Constitutional Amendment say?  Well, nobody knows.  Drafting a Constitutional Amendment for every bad Supreme Court decision is a bad idea.  Particularly so in this case, when a fifth Supreme Court justice could overturn Citizens United.  Oh well, it will probably pass.
  3. Proposition 62/66: This is pretty straight forward and is one of a handful of ballot measures that would help repeal the death penalty in their respective states. Proposition 62 is a fairly straightforward repeal of the death penalty with a maximum punishment being the life without possibility of parole.  Proposition 66 is more or less the opposite of Proposition 62.  Prop 66 would keep the death penalty in place, speed up the appeals process, require prisoners on death row to work and pay restitution to the victims’ families.  If it gets more votes on November 8, it will supersede Proposition 62, if they both pass.
  4. Proposition 63: According to some, this proposition was more or less part of the political ambition of Gavin Newsom.  I’m particularly harsh on Newsom because I think that he is eventually going to run for Governor in 2018 and for President in 2024.  Essentially, the ballot measure would require background checks for the sale of ammunition; prohibit large-capacity ammunition magazines; require lost or stolen firearms and ammunition be reported to law enforcement; and prohibit people convicted of stealing a firearm from possessing firearms.  Of course, because this is California, the ballot initiative is largely irrelevant since a number of gun control measures were passed this year to ban high capacity ammunition, regulate ammunition purchases, etc.  The proposition doesn’t do enough to improve on the gun control legislation already passed.  But, since there’s guns on the ballot, enough people might oppose it.
  5. Proposition 65/67: Proposition 65 and 67 are both about the ban on single use plastic bags in grocery stores.  Proposition 65 would redirect funds collected would be redistributed to the Wildlife Conservation Board.  The idea is to change the 10 cent fee into a tax to make it unpopular, in my opinion.  I’m interested to see if the confusing wording will do enough so that people end up supporting Proposition 65.  Proposition 67 is a referendum on Senate Bill 270.  Senate bill 270 was the bill that would ban plastic bags.  A yes vote keeps the ban.  A no vote would overturn the ban.  Plastic bags are probably a big driver in climate change, if you believe in that, or just takes up unnecessary space and is hard to get rid of without feeling bad. Also plastic bags are really difficult to carry.  Reusable bags make it easier to carry groceries, especially if you live in an apartment.  I speak from experience.  I can make one trip up the three flights of stairs to move my groceries if I use resusable bags instead of plastic bags.  This is very important when I have to take my 2 year old daughter up with me, as well.  I’m interested in watching the plastic bag ban to see if it gets upheld or overturned. I’m much more interested in this rather than the marijuana legalization bill.

5 things to watch in every state: Arkansas

The former Arkansas First Lady and somewhat of a home state is running for President but I don’t think it’s going to make much of a difference.  Arkansas has taken a decidedly conservative in recent years and even people like Mark Pryor got voted out of office.

  1. Issue 6/Issue 7: There are two ballot measures regarding medical marijuana in Arkansas, Issue 6 and Issue 7.  If they both pass, the one that has the most votes will be the one that is enacted.  Which, if you think about it, is kind of messed up. When it’s all said and done, when we look back at the elections of 2016, there will be a definite theme of marijuana in the same way that 2004 has often been talked about in behind the same sex marriage amendments that were passed during the same time. Issue 6 and Issue 7 are slightly different.  Issue 7 allows medical marijuana patients to grow marijuana in their homes, a statute that Issue 6 does not touch.  Issue 7 also expands the list of qualifying conditions and provides additional oversight.  The tax revenue for Issue 6 would be given to the general fund or for education whereas Issue 7 would use the tax revenue to provide medical marijuana to low income patients in need. Issue 7 also puts the Department of Health in charge of regulation as opposed to a new agency.  The little polling I have seen shows that Issue 6 is pretty split for Arkansas even though proponents of the measure suggest that 80% of Arkansasites support medical marijuana for patients in need.  Issue 7 does worse in polling seeming to suggest that Issue 6 has the better chance of passing.  I’m not confident that either pass but Issue 6 certainly seems more likely.  If we do see medical marijuana pass in Arkansas, a traditionally conservative state, it may open the floodgates for other states to pass similar statutes and may be a gateway for other states to pass similar measures.
  2. Arkansas State Senate District 27: Republicans hold the State Senate, State House of Representatives, and the Governor’s office.  There’s not very many competitive elections in the State Senate, in fact, there are only three State Senate districts where a member of each party is running against each other. All other districts, there is only one major party candidate running. Democrat Bobby Pierce is running for re-election.  Pierce won election in 2012 by 299 votes.  Romney won the state as a whole with 60.57% of the vote.  It seems unlikely to me that Trump will do much better than Romney (if he matches that total, at all).  But it’s even more likely to me that Pierce will be in for a close election against Republican Trent Garner. It can certainly be closer than 300 votes that he won by in 2012 but what I’ll be watching for is how Pierce does in this district.
  3. Arkansas State House of Representatives District 73: Supposedly, Arkansas Democrats are trying to focus on winning districts in the House of Representatives. If they’re looking to take back a seat, this is probably one of the ones that they’re targeting.  The Democratic incumbent John Wayne Catlett lost re-election in 2014 by less than 200 votes.  He had won re-election in 2012 by just over 300 votes in 2012.  There was a net loss of about 900 voters from 2012 to 2014 in terms of turnout.  Since it was recently taken by Republicans in 2014 by such a small margin, it could be one just as easily taken back by Democrats with normal Presidential election level turnout.  The other variable is the strength of the Democratic candidate Lesa Wolfe Crowell.   I’ll be looking to see if Democrats can potentially take back a seat in the House of Representatives.
  4. Arkansas State House of Representatives District 4: This is more of a longshot to take back by the Democrats.  Fonda Hawthorne won election in this district in 2012 with 4870 votes, less than 800 more than her Republican opponent.  As we saw with elections around the country and Arkansas, in particular, Republicans were able to turn out for the 2014 elections. Hawthorne received 2962 votes in 2014.  She lost her re-election bid to her Republican opponent DeAnn Vaught who received 4317 votes in 2014.  Vaught and Hawthorne are locked into an interesting rematch for November 8.  The only variable for the election is the turnout and how much of a coattail Clinton will have even in a Republican state.
  5. Arkansas State House of Representatives District 58: We’ll end on one more district that the Democratic Party might be able to take back in two weeks.  This seat changed hands in 2012 moving from Republican Jon Hubbard to Democrat Harold Copenhaver by a little less than 700 votes.  It switched to Republican Brandt Smith in 2014 by less than 500 votes.  It would make sense that the district switches hands again from Smith to Democratic challenger Nate Looney.  Again, what we’re trying to follow is how large a coattail Clinton can have even in  a state, she seems likely to lose by 15+.  By just increasing turnout, it seems that she may have a significant effect on these types of downballot races.

5 things to watch in every state: Arizona

Arizona is going to be a surprisingly fun state to watch a fortnight from now.  Unlike some of the states where I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel trying to find things I’m interested in watching, there’s easily 5 things that I’m interested in watching in Arizona on November 8th.

  1. Presidential election: In the last 60 years, the only Presidential election in which Arizona voted for the Democratic nominee was 1996.  Clinton’s second term, he was able to barely beat out Bob Dole in 1996 in Arizona (a Presidential election where Dole had pretty much given up before the end).  Is it possible that Hillary Clinton can win Arizona for only the second time in the last 60 years?  It’s certainly possible. Trump is not doing that well in Arizona thanks to the demographic make up of the state and Clinton doing historically well with Latino voters.  What’s more is that Hillary’s “get out the vote” efforts will start her up by quite a few points prior to election day thanks to early voting and absentee votes.  This is one of the states that I think is a true tossup for election day.  The Real Clear Politics Polling Average has Clinton up 1.5 right now. Gary Johnson might spoil some votes (he received 1.4% of the vote in Arizona in 2012).  Also, there are 418,959 Mormons in Arizona.  Evan McMullin who is more or less running as a spoiler for Donald Trump and a Mormom alternative for Mormons (who are really not wanting to vote for Trump) has write-in ballot access in Arizona.  The demographics and the potential spoilers should be enough to tip the election close enough where Clinton’s GOTV efforts should be able to win the state.
  2. Proposition 205: The ballot measure that a lot of people are going to be following throughout November 8th because it’s a marijuana legalization proposition which excites even the casual observer.  The ballot measure would allow for marijuana to be more or less regulated like alcohol and would be somewhat similar to Colorado.  The elected officials involved in Arizona are split along party lines on whether or not they support it.  According to the polls I’ve seen, it is pretty split whether or not Proposition will pass.  I’m not too sure of what is going to happen with regards to this proposition.  My gut is telling me that the way Clinton wins the state is thanks to demographics and enough third and fourth party spoilers that this proposition will be very close.  I think this will be significantly closer than the Presidential election in Arizona. That’s saying something.
  3. Arizona’s 1st Congressional District: For some strange reason, I’ve become slightly obsessed with this Congressional race.  The incumbent for this race is Ann Kirkpatrick who is going to run for the U.S. Senate instead of running for re-election.  She won re-election to this district in 2014 by less than 10,000 votes.  She won election in 2012 by less than 10,000 votes after losing to Paul Gosar in 2010 by 13,000 votes when she was running for re-election. This is a fairly close Congressional district and would typically be a target for taking the seat for the Republican Party.  Tom O’Halleran is running as the Democratic nominee in the district.  O’Halleran is a former Republican who changed from Republican to Independent to Democrat in the last few years.  He’s fairly moderate but doesn’t seem to be the strongest of candidates.  Especially, since opponents could potentially portray O’Halleran as changing his party as being a flip-flopper or someone changing his party out of political expediency.  But in the Republican primary, the Republican supporters decided to choose Paul Babeu with 30.8% of the vote in a crowded primary field.  Babeu is a controversial figure in politics.  He is a gay sheriff who tried to portray himself as tough on immigration, only he had a relationship with an undocumented immigrant whom he threatened to report to immigration services if word got out. I wrote more about Babeu previously.  In a typical election, the Republican candidate would probably be a slight favorite but I am having a a hard time believing that Babeu will win on November 8th.  But because of my slight obsession with this race, I have to watch how this race turns out.
  4. U.S. Senate Election: As I mentioned above, Ann Kirkpatrick is running for Senate.  She is running against the original Arizona maverick, John McCain.  McCain is runing for re-election in what is probably going to be his election he can stand for. Looking at the polls from Huffington Post Pollster is showing that McCain is doing better than I originally thought.  McCain has had a few gaffes including saying that he and all Republicans will be “united against any Supreme court nominee that Hillary Clinton, if she were president, would put up.”  Depending on your political persuasion, that was either a gaffe, the truth, or just what you wanted to hear.  McCain has tried to walk a tight rope on whether or not he is supporting Donald Trump and has eventually walked back his original support. McCain will still have a tough challenge in two weeks when Arizonans go to the ballot box to cast their vote.  Kirkpatrick is fairly moderate and is trying to run on her apparent youth and being in touch with Arizonans against McCain.  I think McCain is still a slight favorite in the state but more stumbles from McCain could let Kirkpatrick make up just enough ground to make it more interesting.  Since Arizona might tip the Senate balance one way or the other, it’s going to be very important for the country.
  5. Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District: This was another of the Congressional races that I was slightly obsessed with.  Ron Barber (D) was elected in 2012 by less than 3,000 votes.  In 2014, which became one of the most expensive races in the country, Martha McSally (R) was able to pull the upset over Barber by less than 200 votes.  McSally is more of a moderate Republican than the typical Republican currently in Congress.  I wrote more about the district here including effusive praise for State lawmaker Victoria Steele.  Steele lost the Democratic primary to Matt Heinz.  I’ve not done enough research on Heinz especially compared to Steele but Heinz appears to be running as more and more of a progressive in the district.  This district is slightly more left-leaning than the rest of the state.  Mitt Romney won the district with 49.9% of the vote compared to 48.4% of the vote for Barack Obama.  If Heinz is able to continue to run a strong campaign in the district, he may be able to win election.  Based on the limited polling I’ve seen for the district, it seems unlikely he will be able to.  What this means then, is that McSally is able to outperform Trump in the district by a significant margin (in all likelihood).  This should be a close race based on Presidential performances but will really fall to whoever had the stronger campaign.
  6. Bonus thing to watch out for is Proposition 206.  This proposition would increase the minimum wage to $10/hour in Arizona in 2017 and then it would be raised to $12/hour by 2020.  But what’s even better, in my opinion is that the proposition would guarantee 40 hours of paid sick time to employees of businesses with 15 or more employees.  This is significantly better legislation and more important legislation than the marijuana initiative, just for the paid sick time alone.  But this would also increase the minimum wage.  The polls that I’ve looked at show that this proposition is going to pass.  If you’re just a casual observer of politics, this is the proposition I would rather watch than the marijuana proposition.  But I know, I know, people have their own issues.

5 things to watch in every state: Alaska

Again, I want to write more about the elections happening in 2016 than any other rational person would or should.  Here are five things I’m watching for in Alaska on November 8th.

  1. Presidential Election: According to some people, prior to the announcement of Sarah Palin as John McCain’s Vice President, Barack Obama was targeting Alaska as a state that he could potentially win.  I’m not sure how much I really buy it but there’s that.  In 2012, Alaska had the third highest % for Libertarian Party Presidential nominee Gary Johnson with 2.46% (behind only New Mexico and weirdly Montana).  7.45% of the votes cast in 2012 for Congress in Alaska were for a third Party candidate including 5.19% for the Libertarian Party nominee. In 2014, this actually increased to 8.07% of the Congressional votes were for third party candidates including 7.61% of the vote being given to the Libertarian Party candidate.  If the Presidential vote goes the way that I believe it is going, the election will be called prior to the polls closing in Alaska.  But if Gary Johnson is going to get close to 5% of the vote nationally for the Libertarian Party, he is going to need a strong showing in Alaska.  I don’t think he is going to be able to pull enough votes to give Hillary Clinton Alaska’s electoral votes, what I am interested in is the ceiling of Gary Johnson both nationally and in the state of Alaska.
  2. Alaska’s At Large Congressional District: Don Young (R) is running for re-election, again.  He won in 2014 with 51% of the vote and 142,572 votes compared to 41% of the vote for Forrest Dunbar the Democratic challenger.  Dunbar received 114,602 votes.  There were a total of 279,741 votes cast in the 2014 Congressional race.  This was only a slight decrease from 2012 where 289,804 votes were cast.  Young lost 43,000 votes from 2012 to 2014.  The Democratic challenger gained 30,000 votes from 2012 to 2014.  The Libertarian candidate Jim McDermott gained 6,000 votes from 2012 to 2014.  If you’re trying to make an argument for a Congressional upset, then you are probably making an argument that the Democratic candidate’s gains are real, the Libertarian candidate makes a slightly bigger jump with Johnson’s coattails, and possibly slightly depressed Republican turnout.
  3. Ballot Measure 1: This Ballot Measure would essentially allow for universal registration for voting through the dividend fund.  I do believe that we should have universal voting registration because it helps to make voting even easier.  The criticism of the measure is that it would cost extra money and that the people who are going to be registered are more or less lazy, as there are many different ways to currently register to vote.  In Alaska, it is likely that many voters do not have driver’s licenses but are a part of the permanent dividend fund.  I think that this measure passes and we are getting one step closer to universal voting registration.
  4. Alaska State Senate District H: There’s not very many competitive state legislature races in Alaska.  Democratic candidate Bill Wielechowski is running for election in District H of Alaska.  He won re-election in District G in 2012 with 56.2% of the vote against Republican Bob Roses.  His district was changed when the redistricting process went through and it was changed to District H.  I’m only bringing him up as it is potentially the closest State Senate election in Alaska on November 8.
  5. Alaska House of Representatives, District 21: Again, there’s not very many competitive elections in Alaska. District 21 is the exception and is being targeted by the Republican State Leadership Committee.  The current representative is Democratic Party’s Matt Claman.  He won election in 2014 for District 21 with 3,849 votes winning the election by 90 votes over the Republican candidate Anand Dubey. In 2014, it was more likely to be a Republican year but as we saw with Young’s Congressional election, it seems that many Republicans didn’t vote then.  Claman is running for re-election and is a slight favorite for re-election but it’s possible that he loses to Marilyn Stewart because there’s some money and time being spent to flip the seat. This one will be fun to watch on November 8th and possibly later.

5 things to watch in every state: Alabama

In my never ending struggle to write more about the 2016 elections than any other website (and only having one writer), I’ve decided to highlight 5 elections in every state to watch on November 8th.  They can be as big as the Presidential election in the state or something as small as as state House of Representative district.  It’ll go in alphabetical order.

Alabama

Sadly, there’s not very many interesting elections in Alabama this year.  There are 14 Amendments on the bally for some reason.  That’s what we’re mainly going to focus on since the Congressional Districts are not competitive.

  1. Amendment 2: The first Amendment that I’m looking to see if it passes is Amendment 2 for the state ballot measures.  The Amendment would prohibit state park funds from going to other portions of the budget.  The idea is that it will keep the parks open and keep the funding for them within the parks system.  There doesn’t seem to be much of an opposition to the Amendment.  The reason that it is interesting to me is that it is an affirmative step to help save what should be important to many people.  The Alabama budget is sort of a mess so this may have larger impacts on Alabama’s budget.
  2. Amendment 6:  Alabama Impeachment Amendment – this Amendment would change the Alabama Constitution to require a two-thirds supermajority vote in the Alabama State Senate for conviction and impeachment of a state official.  Currently, the Constitution only requires a majority of the state senators present for voting for conviction and impeachment.  The impeachment Amendment came up because of the potentiality of impeaching Alabama Governor Robert Bentley.
  3. Amendment 8: This amendment, if passed, would allow for “right to work” policies to be enshrined in the Alabama Constitution.  Currently, Alabama is a right-to-work state.  There’s not really any danger of Alabama switching from a right to work state to a non-right to work state so it is only codifying the policy that is already in place into the constitution.  Right-to-work is already enacted by statute.  If the amendment passes, which it is likely to do, if they did decide to change the state from right-to-work, it would be much more difficult.
  4. Amendmet 13: Guys, there’s really not a whole lot in Alabama that’s interesting to follow.  This amendment would prohibit future age restrictions for government official positions exempting judicial positions. This would potentially impact trustees of the public university systems as there is currently age restrictions on university trustees.
  5. Martha Roby’s race in Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District: Roby was one of the first Republican members of Congress to renounce their support for Trump.  She is running in a very safe district in Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District.  She has not backed away from her renouncement of support for Trump.  What I’m interested in watching is how many votes it costs her.  Only 157 of the Congressional votes in 2014 for her district were write-in votes.  I’ll be interested to see if that increases or decreases from her principled stand.

 

Nebraska Voter Guide

Here is the often promised voting guide for Nebraska.  A few notes before we begin.  I make no apologies for any charge of bias that you think I might have.  I will give you the relevant information about the candidates out there, as well as a recommendation of who I would vote for.  I will also link to some policy posts that I have written over the last year to provide you with some background, as well.

100 Facts

Image result for beau mccoy

Statewide ballot measure:

The Nebraska Death Penalty Repeal Veto Referendum: I wrote much more about this subject earlier.

A More Perfect Union’s Recommendation: Retain

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U.S. Presidential Election

This is very difficult for me to write without coming off as a jerk.  The major party’s nominees for this election leave voters with an obvious choice.    Without going too far into it, voting for a third or fourth party simply does not make any sense in presidential elections.

The debt

Among the arguments against voting for a Democrat is the argument that Democratic policies will leave the country bankrupt and significantly increase the debt or deficit of the United States.

Trump’s tax plans, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, would reduce federal revenues by $9.5 trillion over the first 10 years and an additional $15 trillion over the next 10 years after that.  To put this in perspective, spending for the entire US Government in FY2015 was $3.7 trillion.  The Tax Policy Center found that the tax cuts could produce deficits as high as $11.2 trillion over the next 10 years.  To avoid creating a deficit, Congress would have to cut spending by 21% overall.  Discretionary spending could also be reduced by 82% to avoid the deficits.

Hillary Clinton’s tax plans would increase revenue by $1.1 trillion over the next decade and an additional $2.1 trillion over the next 10 years.  Not surprisingly, Clinton’s tax plans would reduce the national debt by $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years.

It would seem difficult to vote for Trump based on that information.

Taxes

The reason that Trump’s plan is so disastrous for the debt is that it would cut taxes at every income level.  The Tax Policy Center found that on average it would cut taxes by $5,100.  The highest 0.1% of income-earners would receive an average tax cut of $1.3 million in 2017 or about 19% of after-tax income.  Middle-income households would receive an average tax cut of $2,700 or 4.9% of after-tax income.  This would significantly increase the number of people not paying federal income tax.  63% of households would not pay federal income tax if the tax plans were passed, as is.

Trump would also repeal the estate tax, known as the death tax.  I wrote about this, in the past.  But long story short, the estate tax only affects 2 out of every 1,000 deaths.  Clinton’s tax plan would also increase the estate tax.

Clinton’s tax plans, meanwhile, would increase taxes on high-income filers. The most significant portion would be her support of the “Buffet Rule.”  The rule would require those with an adjusted gross income of over $1 million to pay a 30% effective tax rate.  This would reduce the after-tax income of those in the top 1% by about 5%.  The bottom 95% of income-earners (those earning less than $300,000) would see little changes to their after-tax income.  This report was written before any tax cuts for the middle class or lower.  While the report from the Tax Policy Center’s report was written when Clinton’s elderly care plan was proposed, the lack of specificity prevented the Tax Policy Center from analyzing the effects on middle class individuals.

Jobs

According to Moody’s analytics in their report on Trump’s economic policies, if Trump’s policies are enacted as is, there will be a lengthy recession with an estimated loss of 3.5 million jobs by the end of Trump’s first term.  After-inflation incomes  will stagnate, stock prices will decline, and real house values will also decline.  The biggest beneficiaries, according to this analysis, of Trump’s job plans are high income earners.  Moody’s gives a more favorable rating to Clinton’s plans on the economy.  They estimate that at the end of her first term, there would be an estimated 3.2 million job growth.  They estimate that there will be an average increase in real household income by $2,000.   The biggest beneficiaries of Clinton’s jobs plans are low – middle income earners.

Immigration

This is where I may lose some of you.  Trump is significantly hard-line on immigration, especially compared to Clinton.  Trump has promised to deport 11.3 million undocumented immigrants from the United States.  Deporting the undocumented immigrants here would cost the federal government $400 to $600 billion. The argument that undocumented immigrants are a drain on the taxpayer are based on the idea that undocumented immigrants do not have a high level of education and take more out of social welfare spending than they put in with taxes.  The estimates for how much undocumented immigrants are mixed, at best.  Beyond that, he supports ending birthright citizenship, which is likely unconstitutional as a violation of the 14th Amendment.  Further, Trump has called for a ban for Muslims entering America.  This is almost certainly unconstitutional.

Clinton has run on a campaign that is advocating for immigration reform, including a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and DACA and DAPA executive orders that President Barack Obama instated.

I can’t believe I got this far in talking about immigration without talking about the wall.  Trump repeatedly called for a wall between Mexico and the United States. Trump hasn’t talked about it recently because it doesn’t poll well outside of his base.  But he’s still advocating for it.  Of course, when he went to Mexico to talk, ostensibly about the wall, he choked.

Trade

Trump’s signature issue throughout the primary beside his strong stance on immigration was his distaste for trade and globalization.  People have been trying to make too much of this issue slowly creeping back into the American conscience that trade is something that most people understand.  And wouldn’t you know it, Trump doesn’t seem to understand it, either.  Trump is seemingly unaware that most Americans work in the service sector of the economy.  Not that many workers work in America in manufacturing internationally traded goods.  Despite his claims that the biggest plants in the world are being built in Mexico, the biggest plant is being built by Tesla in California.  The current biggest plant is in the United States.  The third biggest plant is in Illinois. The biggest plants are Mitisubishi and Boeing depend on international trade to be able to thrive and for how/why they are able to have their biggest plants.  Manufacturing output in the US has increased by 50% since the implementation of NAFTA which was negotiated by the George H.W. Bush administration.  Unemployment in Ohio and Michigan, in particular have declined since the implementation of NAFTA.  The problems of free trade tend to be overstated in an effort to blame complex issues on something simple.

To be sure, there are complex problems on globalizatoin and free trade.  There are winners and losers when you open free trade agreements.  No trade deal is perfect in reality.  What we have is an ideal economized version of trade vs the reality.  This is often my complaints about a number of minor parties and their vision of how the government works.  Their idealized version could almost never works out in reality.  Simply blaming the loss of manufacturing jobs or jobs in general on free trade or trade agreements, seems to me, to ignore real complex issues about the economy and how it works.

I’m not a free trade apologist, by any measure.  There are real concerns about free trade and the effect on workers.  I do believe that we should have principles to hold global supply chains accountable for their actions.  Clinton has repeatedly walked back statements over her initial support of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).  So much so, that she has now stated that she no longer supports it and would not sign it.  Trump also does not support the TPP.  If you do not support the TPP, then your question is how much do you believe Clinton and how much Trump.

Here’s a helpful primer of TPP.

Foreign Policy

We’re at a lot of words already for this voting guide and we’re not even close to being done.  Let’s pick up the pace. Trump’s foreign policy is largely based around the idea of trade and economic interests which don’t seem to make much sense.  Trump’s foreign policy, despite his claims to the contrary, are very hawkish.  Trump has repeatedly lied about his views on Iraq and Libya.  Trump has an unusually close relationship with Russian autocrat Vladimir Putin despite his denial.  His claims that Russia is fighting ISIS, as is Bashar Al-Assad is not one that is shared with US intelligence experts.  Trump’s original plan was to wait out the fight between ISIS and Assad.  He now thinks that we should send troops to Syria.

Nearly every comment Trump has made on foreign policy has been met with appropriate scorn.  Trump, in an interview with The New York Times, tried to set conditions for invoking Article 5 and protecting NATO countries.  His response to that was that he was misquoted.  Then New York Times then released the full transcript from the interview.  Beyond that, he apparently doesn’t know that Putin has made his play into Ukraine.  And even if Putin did go into Crimea (which he is) the people would prefer to be part of Russia but it was bad under Obama’s watch.  Despite his claims that he knows more than the generals or the ones giving the briefings to him, he does not seem to understand the very basics of foreign policy.

Clinton’s position on a no-fly zone is probably not that tenable without intense negotiation with Russia to prevent having another world war or a cold war with Russia.  I’m not as enthralled with Clinton on her foreign policy issues.  She cast a vote for the AUMF in Iraq and has made questionable calls for military intervention in Libya.  further, as it turns out, she made the wrong call with regards to Syria as it was happening.  Her foreign policy hawkishness seems to stem from the Clinton presidency failures in Rwanda.  Her basic fear of not being involved in ending human rights violations and potential genocide weighs heavily on her, as well as her husband.  Her cavalier remarks about Russia from herself and her staff do not speak well of her.  While I do think that Putin is an authoritarian who is not to be praised, painting Russia as the boogeyman for a number of issues is still problematic.

Temperament and “intangibles”

I can’t go through all of the policies that Trump and Clinton have that compare the two.  Clinton’s wonkiness on her campaign is a reflection of who she is.  She has plenty of plicy ideas and ideals of how to make America and the lives of everyday Americans (despite her hatred of that phrase) better.  You may disagree with how we get there.  You may disagree that the federal government should do something to help make college more affordable for young Americans.  Or you might think we do too much to help the poor because the programs, you feel, are rife with abuse.

More likely, you have a visceral hatred of Clinton because of things you have seen on the internet or saw briefly when you were younger.  You might have a strong belief of how Clinton handled her e-mails.  And yes, it is very obviously problematic that Clinton set up her own private e-mail server, most likely to prevent herself from Freedom of Information Act requests.  It was, as FBI Director James Comey stated, “reckless.”  But to cherrypick his claims, you have to continue.  There is simply not a precedent for criminal investigations.  And lest we forget, there were only 3 (!) classified e-mails found on her server by the FBI.  These e-mails were improperly marked in the e-mail, as well.  You might want to read the actual Benghazi report put out by the House Republicans. It’s not nearly as damning as the claims made in various right wing publications.

If you have a hatred of the Clintons because of the appearances of improprieties, I can’t really help you.  Almost all of these appearances of improprieties are just that, appearances.  Despite over 20 years of investigations of the Clintons, there has been little to show for it.  There was the perjury of Bill Clinton and the revelation that Hillary used a private e-mail server.  Even the supposedly damning e-mails published by Wikileaks do not seem to indicate a number of the problems that they try to point out.  I simply do not have the time to debunk your pet conspiracy theory about the Clintons.  Or debate the appearances of improprietis, especially since the reason they are problematic are because they seem to give power and undue influence to people like Donald Trump.

Supporters of Trump seem to cling to the idea that he will somehow protect American ideals and appoint the right justices to the Supreme Court and federal courts.  Trump released a list of Supreme Court justices that he would appoint.  Like many of the jobs, he seemingly creates, he outsourced the job.  Unlike his manufacturing jobs, he left it in the United States. They’ve largely been a production of the rightwing think tank, the Heritage Foundation.  They may be sufficiently conservative for some Republicans to want to vote for Trump, especially given the fact that there is an open seat on the Supreme Court.  Surprisingly, this is one of the rare instances where Trump has managed to stay within Constitutional grounds on the separation of powers.

An argument for Trump is that he will be constrained by the separation of powers and that he can be constrained by his own advisers.  Trump is still repeating the same policy gibberish that he has long said since the beginning of the year.  He ran in the Republican primary on this concept of “lines” in health insurance that need to be erased to bring in competition.  What this policy is referring to is the ability to sell insurance across state lines.  This is a terrible policy but it is at least a policy that Republicans advocate for.  His nonsense about lines is a reference to that.  Even though, he has literally no idea what that means.  If he was interested in learning health care policy, he could talk to his running mate Mike Pence.  Pence’s version of the Medicaid expansion is one way Republican governors are trying to reform healthcare.  It’s, again, not policy that I think is any good but it’s at least something.  It’s unclear if Trump is willfully ignoring the advice of his advisors or if he’s only willing to learn about certain subjects.

To be clear, what’s important is not that Trump isn’t advocating for Republican ideas and policy goals.  I would rather him not advocate for these types of policies.  What’s important is that over the course of the last year, Trump has not shown a willingness to to expand his knowledge or to respond to any new information.  If you’re counting on Trump showing an ability to learn or to respond to new information, there is simply no evidence.  Even in the very rare instances where Trump tries to take responsibility for something, he later doubles down making his apology null and void.  You can see that in the interviews that he holds, when called out for trying to bullshit his way through answers, he tries to double down on this bullshit.

One of the reasons that Trump supporters are still clinging to for the reason for their vote is because of the supposed idea that Trump will protect the 2nd Amendment.  I’ve written that this is false and all of the Constitutional Amendments that Trump’s policy will violate.  His stop and frisk policy where he would like to proactively take guns away from citizens is blatantly unconstitutional and more gun grabby than any policy Clinton or Barack Obama have ever advocated for.  Trump’s continued insistence on torture and trying to force the military to do illegal things would be a violation of international norms and our own Constitution.  In most normal elections, this would be enough to stop someone from being a serious contender for President.

Or maybe it’s his insistence to appoint a special prosecutor to have his political opponent jailed.  That is likewise a violation of our democratic institutions and our belief that we solve political battles and disputes with elections.  Trump’s insistence on this is in the articles of impeachment brought on Richard Nixon.  This is an abuse of power.  It threatens us to our democratic core.

Trump has been running explicitly on the idea that the only way he can be defeated is through voter fraud.  Not just voter fraud but voter fraud from minority communities.  This is the efforts of a racist demagogue.  There’s very little evidence of in-person voting fraud, yet his supporters believe that ACORN, an organization defunded for 5+ years will steal the election.  This insistence on voter fraud and his ideas of jailing his political rival is something seen in third world banana republics, not in the United States.

I could go on.  But Trump’s unique awfulness is a threat to democracy.  I’ve had multiple policy disagreements with John McCain, with Mitt Romney, with Republican members of the Legislature but I never am scared for the violations of our democracy and our institutions.  His outright lies and demagogic racism combined with the very tenuous grasp that he holds onto for his policy ideals makes him a threat.

Trump often ends various debates and statements with a misguided notion that he has “the best temperament.”  He often lashes out at reporter, politicians, officials, and staff who disagree with him when he has his feelings hurt.  Or when they tell him what he wants to hear.  From a number of Republican strategists, officials, and many numbers of people who have worked with Trump, he surrounds himself with “yes, men” who are too afraid to tell him, “no.”  We should not be afraid to tell him no.

A More Perfect Union’s Recommendation: Hillary Clinton

U.S. House of Representatives:

District 1:

Republican: Jeff Fortenberry
Democratic: Daniel Wik

Fortenberry, by GovTrack analysis, is on the right fringes of the moderate portion of Congress.  The most similar member of Congress based on their analysis was Aaron Schock.  Their analysis is based on sponsorship and cosponsorship patterns.  Fortenberry has introduced 15 bills during the 114th Congress.  The majority of the bills he has introduced during this Congress have been about healthcare.  His bills on healthcare have been focused on trying to strengthen health savings accounts and retirement accounts.  H.R. 1494 was introduced by Fortenberry to rollover retirement plans to health savings accounts.  H.R. 1169 was another bill that Fortenberry introduced to increase the maximum amount that someone can contribute to a health savings account.

He has tried to stay away from a number of controversial bills in recent years.  While scanning for my legislative scorecard, a couple of bills that he co-sponsored stand out.  He was a co-sponsor of H.R. 1147 Legal Workforce Act which would create a national mandatory E-Verify system.  I think this bill is problematic because E-Verify is a problematic system.

Fortenberry joined his Nebraska Congressional delegation member Adrian Smith in co-sponsoring H.R. 1885 Securing Access to Rural Postal Services Act of 2015 to try to protect rural postal service offices. It’s a decent bill to try to protect rural postal service offices; however, it does not attempt to help make the postal service solvent.

Fortenberry is pro-life and did co-sponsor H.R. 36 Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act which attempted to ban abortion at 20 weeks.  If you are a pro-life, single issue voter, Fortenberry has fairly strong credentials in that regard.  He has also supported legislation to include fetuses under protection of the 14th Amendment.  Of course, he only supports that protection if one parent is an American as he wants to end birthright citizenship and have to have one parent who is an American to receive citizenship.

The person running against Fortenberry is Dan Wik.  Wik describes himself as a financial conservative, repeatedly.  He has a link on his website about his thoughts on Brexit where he tries to capitalize on anti-globalization thoughts.  His thoughts on job and the economy are likewise influenced with a special affinity for manufacturing and a belief that we don’t have a “military industrial complex, and loose (sic) national security.”  Going futher, Wik would want to place a tariff to fund social security while cutting corporate tax, capital gains tax, and personal income taxes.  He would want to eliminate the rules of engagement and “let the military do what it is trained to do…win!”  . Wik also argues for a flat tax of between 0-18% depending on income and supports a balanced budget.  Wik does argue for universal healthcare coverage based on the current Medicare system.  This isn’t remotely politically possible in our current environment but it’s an interesting idea.  His immigration reform ideas of allowing undocumented immigrants to apply for a green card if they are not relying on social welfare programs, is likewise intriguing.

Wik’s policies seem to be as mishmash of economic isolationism and trying to nudge in the idea of fiscal conservatism.  His grasp of the issues leaves me unimpressed, his website is filled with easily corrected grammatical errors, and what’s more is that his ideas don’t seem to make a lot of sense if you think about them.  Manufacturing jobs is not the way to grow the American economy, at this point.  Even if it was, it seems like a strange argument to make at this point in time when manufacturing jobs are on the rise.  His insistence on a flat tax is also not economically feasible.  If I’m going to criticize Trump for his lack of policy chops, I have to do the same to Wik.

Fortenberry, in this Congress, has written bills that have attracted both Democratic and Republican co-sponsors on 38% of them.  Of the 146 bills Fortenberry has co-sponsored, 14% of them were introduced by a Democrat.  I think Fortenberry’s views on birthright citizenship are wrong.  I think both Wik and Fortenberry are wrong on the idea of a balanced budget amendment.  I believe Fortenberry is wrong on LGBT rights as well as wrong for not wanting to assist workers who lost their jobs due to free trade agreements.  I, again, think he is wrong on the PATRIOT Act, as well.  I wish that someone else would have ran against Fortenberry who in a wave election might prove to be vulnerable.

It’s hard for me to say who I would recommend to vote in this election as I oppose Wik and Fortenberry on a number of issues.  It’s not as if I can just hand wave around the problems Fortenberry has and I can’t just ignore the problems Wik has, either.  This honestly, comes down to who I think each candidate will vote for in leadership.  The House’s leadership has almost total control of what bills will be introduced.  I believe Wik will vote for Nancy Pelosi for Speaker of the House and Fortenberry will vote for Paul Ryan.  Since I believe in progressive legislation, I would reluctantly cast my vote for Wik.

District 2:

Republican: Don Bacon
Democratic: Brad Ashford

Ashford was elected in 2014, which was a pretty good year for Republicans outside of Omaha.  The Congressman who Ashford defeated made a weird remark that ended up sinking him.  Going into this election cycle, Ashford seemed fairly vulnerable.  But thanks to the tanking of Donald Trump and his lack of appeal among college educated white voters, it seems more likely that Ashford will be able to win re-election.

Ashford has introduced 9 bills since he took office in January of 2015.  The sense on Ashford is that he has been fairly moderate in Congress.  The bills that he has introduced have largely focused on government reform for either pay for members of Congress or how they are reimbursed.  He has stayed away from a number of controversial issues to try and stay in line with Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District which is fairly moderate.

Bacon is trying to run as a conservative and tries to contrast himself with Ashford.  They agree on a number of issues.  Both Ashford and Bacon oppose the Iran deal that the US negotiated with Iran.  They both support the building of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.  They both support a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.  Ashford helped introduce a bill in Congress to that effect  They both oppose closing Guantanamo Bay, as well.

They do differ on key issues.  Bacon believes that we should slowly raise the social security retirement age.  Bacon opposes bills that would essentially be ENDA or add sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression to nondiscrimination law. Ashford was a co-sponsor of H.R. 846 and H.R. 3185.   Ashford voted against the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act which Bacon said he would support. Bacon stresses that America pays one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world at 35%, he wants to lower the corporate tax rate to 25%. The 35% corporate tax rate refers to the statutory tax rate that is on the books for corporate tax.  There are a number of loopholes that bring the effective tax rate lower.  The Congressional Research Service put the US effective corporate tax rate at 27.1%. I e-mailed Bacon’s campaign about whether Bacon’s corporate tax reduction would be a decrease in the statutory rate or the effective tax rate. I have not heard back.

Bacon supports repealing the Affordable Care Act.  Ashford has repeatedly co-sponsored legislation from Republicans with an effort to reform health care in America but does not support the wholesale repeal of the law.  Ashford has repeatedly said that he would not have supported the law but that he is committed to reforming the law.  In the debate between Ashford and Bacon, Bacon said that Rep. Tom Price had introduced a number of bills that would repeal the ACA and still keep the prohibition on discrimination of pre-existing coverage, that people up to the age of 26 can stay on their parents health insurance, etc.  Basically, Bacon’s idea is to keep the popular parts of the ACA while getting rid of the individual mandate.  Here are the bills that Price have introduced regarding health care in the 114th Congress. We have H.R. 2650, H.R. 2300, and H.R. 1234.  Ashford rightly told Bacon that the bills Price have proposed would not do what Bacon claimed and Bacon just smiled.

I don’t want to relitigate the health care debate, again.  The individual mandate is what makes the ACA work.  I have my own issues with the ACA and don’t think it’s perfect.  It’s a significant improvement over the status quo prior to the ACA.  Unfortunately, like a lot of things, it gets blamed for more complex issues that are hindering progress.

Bacon further does not believe that the federal government should set a minimum wage.  Not just an increase, but no minimum wage.  That’s at least what he said in the Republican primary debate.  The idea that the minimum wage should be set by the private sector is a belief that private businesses operate in an idealized world.  This doesn’t seem to have any grounding in the actual world where Trump, who Bacon as of this week (10/10) still seemed to support had 25 violations of the FLSA since 2005.

Bacon also has a section on Common Core on his website.  Nebraska rejected Common Core. Bacon opposes a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants whereas Ashford said he would be supportive of the Gang of Eight immigration bill that would have granted citizenship.

I’ve been critical of Ashford for being a moderate in the past but Bacon is just much, much worse on many of the issues that I am supportive of.

A More Perfect Union recommendation: Brad Ashford

District 3:

Republican: Adrian Smith
Democratic: None

I guess we don’t really have a choice.

State legislature:

District 3:

Tommy Garrett
Carol Blood

Garrett likes my friend’s band, Faded, on Facebook and you should, too. Garrett’s biggest issue was medical marijuana in Nebraska.  He introduced the legislation to allow for medical marijuana in Nebraska and the regulation of it.  It eventually failed a cloture vote.  In return, Garrett voted against advancing LB10 which was a bill that would have changed Nebraska’s electoral votes back to winner take all. There was a tenuous deal in place between Garrett and supporters of LB10 and their support of his bill on medical marijuana.

Garrett voted in favor of LB268 which repealed the death penalty in Nebraska.  As a Republican, Garrett faced considerable pressure from Governor Pete Ricketts to change his vote after Ricketts vetoed the bill.

Garrett voted in favor of LB947 which allows for those here with protection of Barack Obama’s DACA executive order to obtain professional licenses.  He did, however, vote against LB485 in 2014 which was the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA) to protect employees from discrimination based on sexual discrimination or sexual identity.  He voted to table LB586 ENDA in a previous session, as well.  He also voted to table LB1032 expanding Medicaid, which is essentially a vote against the bill. Garrett also voted against LB943 in a previous session which would have raise the minimum wage to $7.65/hour in January 2015, $8.35/hour in January 2016, and $9.00 in January 2017.  Garrett continues to oppose a minimum wage increase.

While Carol Blood has not filled out the voter guide information that Nebraska Voter Guide uses, we do have some of her issues.  She does believe that voting is a fundamental right and that voter fraud is not a problem in Nebraska.  She does not support voter id laws.  Contrary to Garrett, she does support Medicaid expansion in Nebraska.  She also thinks that we should review mandatory minimum sentences and expanding prison alternatives.

A More Perfect Union recommendation: Carol Blood.  Despite Garrett’s noble quest to support medical marijuana in Nebraska and to repeal the death penalty.  I do believe that Blood is the better person suited for the job from District 3.

District 5:

Mike McDonnell
Gilbert Ayala

McDonnell and Ayala provide a much larger contrast than Blood and Garrett.  McDonnell would support ENDA or a similar law.  Ayala would oppose such a law.  McDonnell supports expanding Medicaid compared to Ayalsa who opposes it.  Ayala does support voucher programs to “increase school choice” and McDonnell opposes it.  McDonnell supports bringing casinos, horse racing, slot machines, or video keno in Nebraska which Ayala opposes.  McDonnell does support raising the minimum wage in Nebraska which Ayala opposes.

They both agree on not legalizing the recreational use of marijuna; prohibiting abortion, although Ayala opposes abortion in all cases; and opposing regulations for additional gun control measures.

A More Perfect Union recommendation: Mike McDonnell.  Both ENDA and Medicaid expansion are very important to me and issues that I support strongly.

District 7:

Tony Vargas
John Synowiecki

There was a bit of a scuffle for Douglas County Democrats when they listed Vargas as a Democrat running and did not list Synowiecki.  They are both Democrats so there was some problems.  Synowiekci is a former State Senator for the district.  He has been supported by Heath Mello, who is running for Mayor of Omaha, and Jeremy Nordquist current chief of staff for Brad Ashford.

Synowiecki was the co-sponsor of LB 239 in 2005 which would allow undocumented immigrants to be able to pay in-state tuition to attend college.  He was attacked in Republican mailers for this support. In 2007, he voted in favor of LB 476 which was a bill to eliminate the death penalty. He also voted in favor of a similar bill in 2008 LLB 1063.  He did vote against LB 395 in 2008 which was the Statewide Smoking Ban.

Vargas and Synowiecki both stated that they would support Medicaid expansion and giving professional licenses to certain undocumented immigrants.  Vargas has expressed some support for the role of charter schools (which is not part of the current educational environment in Nebraska).  He has walked back those comments saying that he has no interest in introducing legislation to introduce charter schools to Nebraska.

Synoweiecki, in the candidate forum, talked about rescheduling marijuana out of schedule I drug.  He supports a bill to study medical marijuana in cannabis studies to see if hemp oil is medically helpful.  He would support medical marijuana if the study with UNMC proves that hemp oil is effective.  Vargas, likewise, supports the UNMC study to see if hemp oil is proven to be medically effective.

You can watch their candidate forum here:

District 9:

Sara Howard
Larry Roland

Howard has been described to me as the real life version of Leslie Knope.  She was the co-sponsor of LB887 to expand Medicaid in Nebraska in 2014.  She did not vote on LB943 to increase the minimum wage.  She did vote in favor of ENDA, as well.  She was a co-sponsor of LB947 to allow those protected by executive actions to receive professional licenses.  She voted against LB10 to change Nebraska to a “winner take all” electoral system as opposed to splitting electoral votes.  Finally, she voted in favor of LB643 for medical marijuana.

Roland runs in stark contrast.  He opposes ENDA and expanding Medicaid.  He does support “increasing school choice.”  He supports prohibiting abortion in all instances except in the case of the health of the mother.  He would also oppose any increase in gun regulations.

A More Perfect Union Recommendation: Sara Howard

District 11:

Ernie Chambers
John Sciara

Chambers is a controversial figure in Nebraska.  There’s plenty of people out there who won’t vote for Chambers because of his style and overall demeanor.  What they may have missed is his importance in the Nebraska legislature.  When LB10 to change Nebraska to a “winner take all” state for electoral votes came up, Chambers became a one-man wrecking crew to filibuster the bill.  Arguably, he was the biggest impediment to LB10 getting a full vote (which likely would have passed).  If you think Nebraska should continue to split its electoral votes, then thank Chambers.

Chambers also voted in favor of repealing the death penalty and was one of the staunchest advocates for repealing the death penalty.  As he has been, for years.  He supported LB947 to license certain undocumented immigrants.  He supported a state ENDA bill and opposed tabling LB1032.

Sciara opposes ENDA, expanding Medicaid, and raising the minimum wage.  He supports vouchers for “school choice.”

A More Perfect Union recommendation: Ernie Chambers

District 13:

Jill Brown
Justin Wayne

Wayne unleashed a somewhat policy heavy portion on his website to talk about his economic plans. Some of it crosses traditional party lines.  He supports increasing wind energy in Nebraska.  But he also wants to focus on removing regulations for small businesses to be able to run.  He wants to expand Medicaid to be able to help support the economy while also creating “enterprise zones.”  He also supports paid sick leave for all Nebraskans. There’s a lot of good ideas in his economic plan if not completely fleshed out.

Brown’s website focuses on issues for expanding Medicaid, fighting for a living wage, and investing in education at the state level.  She opposes charter schools for Nebraska and wants to strengthen teachers’ say in educational reforms.

Wayne, while he has been criticized for charter school support, in the candidate forum proposed an idea of public options to give more choices to schools instead.  He declined the idea of introducing charter legislation. Brown also does not support charter schools. Wayne does support the idea of school choice and says that there is a distinction between school choices and charter schools.

Wayne does support medicinal marijuana in the form of cannabis oil.  In the forum, he brings up a story of a friend who moved to Colorado for seizures for her children.  He also opposes the legalization of recreational marijuana.  Brown does not support Garrett’s bill to legalize medical marijuana as many people get prescriptions for marijuana.  This is actually a very good point and distinction.  While I support medical marijuana because I think that there are some medical conditions that can be treated with it, I do believe that in a lot of states and a lot of bills out there, it is a way for more affluent people to be able to get access to legal pot while those who do not have access to it, to be arrested.

You can watch the candidate forum here:

A More Perfect Union recommendation: Justin Wayne

District 15:

David Schnoor
Lynne Walz

Schnoor voted against repealing the death penalty.  He voted to change Nebraska’s electoral votes to a “winner take all” system.  He also opposed ENDA and expanding Medicaid.  He has stated that he opposes all abortion.  He was also a co-sponsor in establishing a minimum wage for minors.  He did not vote for allowing medical marijuana in Nebraska.

Walz doesn’t have very many issues on her website about what she would support and did not find any data about her political statements.  Walz has been critical of Schnoor for not offering enough ideas or plans to try to help Nebraska.  Schnoor has disagreed stating that legislation “just adds red tape and government.”

I disagree with Schnoor on the role of government, as well as disagree with him on a number of issues.

A More Perfect Union recommendation: Lynne Walz

District 17:

Ardel Bengtson
Joni Albrecht

There’s not much information that I can find on these candidates.  Albrecht filled out the information to provide to Nebraska Voter Guide.  As you can see from there, she opposes ENDA, expanding Medicaid, and raising the minimum wage in Nebraska.  She would also oppose any new regulations for gun control in Nebraska.  She does support voucher programs to “increase school choice.”

Bengtson did not fill out the information for the Nebraska voter guide, as far as I can tell.  Her campaign website focuses on increasing better funding for public education to reform the public school system.  She would like to lower local taxes, as well.  I’m not sure how that would work, to be honest.

With this little information out there, it’s hard to really make an informed decision between the two.  But I have a hard time voting for someone who is not going to expand Medicaid and who is not going to support ENDA.

A More Perfect Union recommendation: Ardel Bengtson

District 21:

Larry Scherer
Mike Hilgers

Hilgers came very close in 2012 to be the State Senator in district in 2012.  He decided to run again, this year.  He describes himself as a fiscal conservative. He wants to lower taxes based on his website it would look like he would want to eliminate or reduce the state income tax.   Scherer is an opponent of charter schools or vouchers to “increase school choice.”  He is looking to work with secondary education and postsecondary education to help train for hard to fill jobs. Scherer also supports Medicaid expansion in Nebraska. Scherer also would like to make the income tax in Nebraska more progressive.  Both Hilgers and Scherer seem to agree that we should eliminate the state income tax on social security benefits.

A More Perfect Union recommendation: Larry Scherer

District 23:

Jerry Johnson
Bruce Bostelman

Johnson initially supported repealing the death penalty but ended up not voting to override the Governor’s veto.  Governor Pete Ricketts was slightly involved in propping up a challenger to Johnson in the primary citing that voters would want to hold their candidates accountable.  The votes Ricketts criticized included a gas tax hike and providing driver’s licenses to children of undocumented immigrants.

Johnson voted in favor of changing Nebraska to winner take all and effectively opposed ENDA and Medicaid expansion. Bostelman, likewise, opposes ENDA and expanding Medicaid.  Johnson and Bostelman largely agree on most issues.

A More Perfect Union recommendation: Jerry Johnson, I guess.

District 25:

Jim Gordon
Suzanne Geist

Gordon’s website includes the idea that there should not be a tax on Social Secuirty retirement benefits.  Gordon and Geist’s websites are both, what I can assume is intentionally, vague.  Geist does support repealing the ballot measure on the state ballot which would repeal the repeal on the death penalty.  According to the Nebraska voter guide, she opposes medicaid expansion in Nebraska.  She also opposes ENDA and the the legalization of recreational marijuana.  Finally, she opposes raising the minimum wage in Nebraska.  Gordon is a registered Democrat, so it’s not surprising that his website is vague in order to try to run for a more conservative district.  He also has a sweet mustache.

A More Perfect Union recommendation: Jim Gordon

District 27:

Anna Wishart
Dick Clark

I’m impressed with Clark for deciding to go with his nickname instead of Richard.  Wishart is a registered Democrat who is a former legislative aide for Rick Kolowski.  Kolowski is on the education committee and Wishart’s primary issues concern with education.  Wishart supports early childhood  education, creating new after-school opportunities, and attempting to help make college more affordable.  She also wants to promote career readiness programs.

Clark is a supporter of creating more school choices by creating “career academies, charter schools, and tax credits” (or essentially vouchers).  Clark also supports a new way of funding education to make it less complicated for schools.  He also wants to “reform Medicaid to provide better, more efficient services and help more patients.”  I’m not 100% sure how you can reform Medicaid to do so.  I’m open to ideas but it strikes me as a talking point.  He opposes ENDA, expanding Medicaid, and raising the minimum wage in Nebraska.  He also supports legalizing recreational marijuana in Nebraska.

A More Perfect Union recommendation: Anna Wishart

District 29:

Kate Bolz
Melody Vaccaro

Bolz voted to repeal the death penalty.  She voted against changing Nebraska to winner take all.  She supported professional licenses to certain undocumented immigrants and ENDA.  She also supported Medicaid expansion.

Vaccaro is mainly running on ideas to prevent climate change from spreading in Nebraska.  She also is trying to reform gun laws in Nebraska and ending the practice of putting juvenile offenders in solitary confinement.

A More Perfect Union recommendation: Kate Bolz

District 31:

Rick Kolowski
Ian Swanson

Swanson who swooped back to Nebraska after going to one of the most conservative colleges in the country.  Swanson’s website talks about how he is “uniquely placed to take out one of those politicians that is enacting ruinous policies that are bankrupting our state and nation.”

Kolowski is considered one of the more moderate members of the Nebraska Legislature.  He did vote for increasing the minimum wage in Nebraska, expanding Medicaid, ENDA, and repealing the death penalty.  He opposed changing Nebraska to a winner take all state.

Swanson’s website is full of various ideas.  They’re pretty vague but they’re there.  He argues that we need “commonsense” tax reform.  What would that be?  I’m not sure. He cites nonpartisan think tanks as the reason for this.  Some may argue that the nonpartisan think tanks would support an increased refund in the Earned Income Tax Credit or a circuitbreaker for property tax for low and middle income families as opposed to the Homestead Act.

Swanson believes “that one abortion is too many.”  He would want to work under the framework of Roe v. Wade to enact new laws.  Would they be TRAP laws that were largely ruled unconstitutional under the Supreme Court? Or would he support personhood laws since he told the Nebraska Voter Guide that he opposes abortions in all cases whatsoever.

He wants to fight against policies like Common Core (which Nebraska rejected) and wants to support mandatory minimums for violent criminals to keep Nebraska safe.

Swanson’s website is just a combination of standard Conservative ideas that are posted willy nilly on his website without any real sense of what needs to be done.  I’m sure that there are other Senate candidates who post similar ideas on their site without any explanation of what they actually support but Swanson’s run coincides with my former legislative district so I care more.

A More Perfect Union recommendation: Rick Kolowolski

District 33:

Les Seiler
Steve Halloran

Seiler was another one of the legislators who Governor Ricketts targeted.  Seiler’s race is a little bit different in that Ricketts has explicitly endorsed his opponent, Steve Halloran. Ricketts asked Seiler to change his vote on giving professional licenses to certain undocumented immigrants but Seiler chose not to.  Ricketts was also critical of Seiler for overriding his veto on the death penalty and hiking the gas tax.

Halloran entered the race because he didn’t like that Seiler overrode the vetoes that Ricketts sent through and that Seiler’s votes on professional licenses “had the effect of disregarding federal law on illegal immigration.” I’m sure Halloran and Seiler agree more often than they disagree but at least I know Seiler is willing to stand up for what he believes in.

A More Perfect Union: Les Seiler

District 35:

Dan Quick
Gregg Neuhaus

Quick is a union leader running for state legislature in Nebraska.  This seems a little strange only because of the intense conservatism that runs throughout the state.  Quick is running his campaign on an idea that he is the voice of the working class in Grand Island.  He thinks that we should be focusing on trade jobs in education and bringing new jobs to Grand Island.  Because of his role as a union leader, his website is, most likely, intentionally vague.

Neuhaus opposes ENDA, Medicaid expansion, and raising the minimum wage in Nebraska. Neuhaus also supports the death penalty.  He believes in “the sanctity of life and will fight to protect all innocent life.”   He also supports ending the tax on Social Security retirement benefits.

A More Perfect Union recommendation: Dan Quick

District 37:

Bob Lammers
John Lowe

Lammers and Lowe are both Republicans running for the State Senate seat.  They agree on raising the minimum wage, expanding Medicaid, and ENDA (they oppose all three).  They both support the death penalty.  They also think that we should lower property taxes.  Lowe believes that to pay for transportation infrastructure that we should direct a portion of the state’s sales tax revenue should be marked for transportation projects.

A More Perfect Union recommendation: Lammers, I guess.

District 39:

Lou Ann Linehan
Bill Armbrust

Linehan opposes ENDA, Medicaid expansion, and raising the minimum wage in Nebraska. Likewise, she supports the death penalty.  She is running as a conservative leader.  She is a former policy aide to Chuck Hagel.  She does believe that taxes are too high, including property taxes. Linehan argues that we would get away from taxing authority for the learning communities. Linehan opposes the “good time” provision.  She believes that expanding Medicaid is hypocritical to her idea of cutting taxes.

Her quote on Medicaid expansion:

We don’t gain by handing out health insurance to people who are able to work, ablebodied, who could get a job, and could get health insurance

Linehan also argues that Medicaid expansion paid for by the federal government is wrong because Nebraskans think their income taxes are too high and it’s a cost to the federal government.   She doesn’t think we should give health insurance to able bodied people.

Armbrust made the argument in the candidate forum that he is a sanctity of life candidate.  He also made the argument that that because Nebraska shifted away from funding education and shifted toward property tax funding education, property taxes have exploded. He would like more state support for educational spending.  Armbrust argued that we should expand Medicaid to cover the gap with health insurance with the subsidies from the ACA and making it about a fiscal issue.  He thinks that we can support Medicaid from the heart and the pocketbook.

Both candidates believe that we should do more to help mental health to keep people out of jail if they can.  Linehan and Armbrust agree that we should look for efficiencies and wastes on money to cover the budget shortfalls.

Candidate forum:

A More Perfect Union recommendation: Bill Armbrust

District 43:

Al Davis
Tom Brewer

Davis had one interesting vote.  He was one of the more conservative members of the legislature to vote to repeal the death penalty.  Otherwise, he supported changing Nebraska to a winner take all state.  He also opposed licensing certain undocumented immigrants.  He effectively opposed ENDA and expanding Medicaid in Nebraska.

Likewise, Brewer opposes ENDA, Medicaid expansion, and is probably fairly similar to Davis on other social conservative issues.  The biggest thing that Brewer has going for him is that Governor Pete Ricketts supported his challenge.

Ricketts has taken an active role in legislative races where his Republican supporters have not supported him.  This includes overriding his death penalty repeal veto, gas tax, and providing driver’s licenses to children of undocumented immigrants.

I’m not a big fan of either Davis or Brewer.  But I’d rather trust the devil that I know in Davis who, at least, is willing to stand up to Governor Ricketts.

A More Perfect Union recommendation: Al Davis

District 45:

Sue Crawford
Michael Cook

Crawford voted in favor of a number of progressive issues in the unicameral.  She voted in favor of LB268 which would repeal the death penalty.  She voted against LB10 which would have made Nebraska a winner take all state for electoral votes.  She cvoted in facvor of LB947 which would have provided licenses to certain undocumented immigrants.  She voted in favor of LB485 which would have created ENDA in Nebraska.  She voted against killing the expansion of Medicaid bill.

Cook’s website focuses on the idea that he needs to be elected for real “conservative leadership.”  The issues on his his website can be succinctly summed up in one sentences. His website uses the same skin from one of my favorite blogs that I read, so that’s sad. He is “opposed to the expansion of Obamacare in Nebraska.”  I believe that he is trying to say that he is opposed to the Medicaid expansion in Nebraska. He is pro-life and family values, as well.  This is mostly a nonsense statement.

Candidate forum here:

A More Perfect Union recommendation: Sue Crawford

District 47:

Karl Elmshaeuser
Steve Erdman

Erdman and Elmshaeuser are both running pretty much the same campaigns.  They’re both running as conservatives for a conservative district.  They both oppose ENDA.  They both oppose Medicaid expansion.  They both oppose any increase in gun control regulations.  They’re both pro-life.  Although Erdman is a little bit more “pro-life” and doesn’t think abortion should ever happen to save a mother. Erdman does support additional research for ethanol products as it’s a product that can be created in Nebraska and used in Nebraska.  He also believes that a funding formula for education in Nebraska should be 1/3 income, 1/3 sales, and 1/3 property taxes with income taxes returning to the district, as well.

A More Perfect Union recommendation: Elmshaeuser, I guess.

 

 

 

 

 

Hillary and civil liberties

As requested. Here we go.

Image result for hillary clinton

As with my post about Trump, this is focusing on specific Amendments in the Constitution notwithstanding problems of separation of powers, etc.

Reference:

No fly, no buy

Compulsory gun buy back

Clinton on more surveillance of the internet

Torture

1st Amendment

Clinton, while a Senator wrote a bill to criminalize flag burning.  Under Texas v. Johnson, flag burning is a first amendment protected form of free speech.

Clinton’s plan to have more oversight of the internet, depending on how it is enforced could be a violation of the 1st Amendment.  If she is actively going after people based on discriminatory reasons, such as they posted in a Muslim group, it would be violation of the 1st Amendment.

As noted below, she has supported the PATRIOT Act in the past but now supports the USA Freedom Act. The bulk collection of metadata infringes on our 1st Amendment right of association.

2nd Amendment violations

No fly, no buy: No fly, no buy is terrible policy, as I’ve written before.  It would certainly be challenged on the grounds that it violates the 2nd and 5th Amendment.

Opposition to Heller: Clinton was leaked in a recording opposing the Supreme Court ruling in Heller saying that the Supreme Court was wrong on the 2nd Amendment.  And they may be incorrect about it.  Clinton may be objecting to the idea that owing a firearm is a constitutional right but she doesn’t say so explicitly.  In the leaked audio, she argues that she is going to make that case (that the Supreme Court was wrong) every chance I get.

I’m going to note here that I largely agree with the Heller ruling.  It was an extremely narrow ruling and actually makes the case that firearms can have narrow regulations.  There are aspects of Heller that a liberal Supreme Court would scale back, including defining a “dangerous and unusual weapon.”

Compulsory buybacks: Clinton made a point to muse about Australia’s compulsory gun buyback program.  Compulsory buy back program would certainly be challenged. Without Heller being overturned, I do not see how it would be considered constitutional.  She also talked about a voluntary program, too, which would be constitutional.

4th Amendment

PATRIOT Act: While in the Senate, Clinton voted for authorization of the PATRIOT Act.  Warrantless searches and warrentless wiretaps are a violation of the 4th Amendment. She has since rescinded this support and supported the USA Freedom Act.

5th Amendment violations

No fly, no buy: Again, this will be challenged on the claims that it violates due process and the no fly list, certainly does.

Drone strikes: Drone strikes on American citizens would be a violation of due process and also a violation of the 8th Amendment, Obama’s damning memo, notwithstanding.

Torture: Due process clause prohibits interrogation by torture. Clinton has merely rejected torture as it is not effective

8th Amendment violations

Torture: This obviously violates the prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. John Yoo and the Bush Administration’s claim about enhanced interrogation techniques have been largely discredited and the McCain-Feinstein Amendment has prohibited US government agencies and officials from using interrogation methods not listed in the Army Field Manual.

 

 

 

 

 

Distorted reality part 3

Sorry for the delay, here is the next part in my series.  I am going to primarily focus on Donald Trump and the Constitution.  For the past 8 years, I have heard nothing but consistent attacks on Barack Obama for violating the Constitution, as well as consistent claims from conservatives that they are merely upholding the Constitution when they withhold their support for him.  I’m going to look at some (not all) of the times Donald Trump has advocated for violating the Amendments in our constitution.

Image result for barack obama painting constitution

Note: This does not even include other portions of the Constitution that Donald Trump has called on to violate throughout his campaign.

For reference:

The Muslim ban

Mass deportations including references to a “deportation force.”

Ending catch and release

On profiling Muslims

On shutting down mosques

On the surveillance of mosques

Trump on a Muslim database (I’m ambivalent on whether he called for a Muslim database)

Trump on torture

Libel laws

NSA and PATRIOT Act

Donald Trump ISIS families

Donald Trump birthright citizenship

Donald Trump criminalizing abortions

Donald Trump guns and stop and frisk

Donald Trump supports North Carolina Voter ID law

No fly, no buy

Image result for donald trump

 

First Amendment violations

Muslim ban: The ban on Donald Trump’s website states the following:

Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.

As the American Civil Liberties Union notes in their report, “The Trump Memos”, a policy that excludes members of a particular religion would violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.  This is based on the precedent in L:arson v. Valente.

It could potentially be a violation of the 1st Amendment based on the rights of religion, speech, and peaceful associations, as well.  It would be challenged almost immediately.

Profiling Muslims: Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses would likely be violated, as well as the freedom of expression .  The Supreme Court has previously ruled that the government would have to show a compelling interest otherwise it would be invalid.  The Supreme Court further wrote, “a law targeting religious beliefs as such is never permissible.”  The Establishment clause continues to prohibit the government from enacting a law or policy that favors one religion over another.  Further the government cannot pass laws to prohibit speech just because they disapprove of the ideas.

Shutting down mosques and surveillance of mosques: Both of these would violate the First Amendment under both the Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses.

Libel laws: There is no federal libel law.  They are administered by the state and are constrained by the First Amendment.  Libel laws are purposely constrained so that our political discourse is not hampered.  There has to be proof of actual malice.

NSA and PATRIOT Act: Storing bulk metadata of phone calls is a violation of the First Amendment as, the ACLU notes, “it vacuumed up sensitive information about Americans’ associational and expressive activities.”

Banning media outlets: Trump has repeatedly banned media outlets from covering his campaign.  Press bans would infringe on the right of a free press.

Second Amendment violations

Stop and frisk: When trying to defend the indefensibile policy of stop and frisk, Trump stated,”you know, [the police are] proactive and if they see a person possibly with a gun or they think may have a gun, they will see the person and they’ll look and they’ll take the gun away.”

That’s actual gun grabbing of individuals without any way of determining whether they legally have a gun.  States pass laws including conceal-carry and open carry.  Grabbing people’s guns as part of a stop and frisk policy seems problematic.

No fly, no buy: I’ve written about this before but “no fly, no buy” is both a violation of the 2nd and 5th Amendments.

Third Amendment violations:

Mass deportations: This is the only speculative violation on my list.  There’s not a lot of case law on the Third Amendment.  But in Engblom v. Carey, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a member of the National Guard is considered a soldier so housing the National Guard without consent would be a violation of the Third Amendment.  In order to effectively deport the 11 million undocumented immigrants out of the United States, the federal government would have to exponentially increase the number of immigration service agents or they could help rely on the National Guard to enforce the deportations.  If the National Guard take up residence in an immigrant community without consent, this would be a blatant violation of the Third Amendment.

Fourth Amendment violations

Mass deportations: Trump has repeatedly called for mass deportations of the 11 million undocumented immigrants that are currently in the United States.  Of course, undocumented immigrants are hard to distinguish between legal immigrants.  Now, we wait until they come into contact with the criminal justice system.  To weed out undocumented immigrants, we would need a massive increase in the number of border patrol agents and immigration service agents.  This would also likely lead to an increase in suspicionless interrogations and arrests, racially discriminatory traffic stops, warrantless searches of workplaces and homes, and warrantless home raids by law enforcement officials.

This is would almost certainly violate the 4th Amendment.

We’re not even getting into the possibility of warrantless wiretaps.

Profiling Muslims: Warrantless profiling, suspicionless interrogation, and warrantless wiretaps would likely violate the 4th Amendment, as well.

NSA and the PATRIOT Act: Warrantless recording of phone calls and e-mails is a violation of the 4th Amendment.

Killing ISIS family members: In 4th Amendment cases, including Tennessee v. Garner, the Supreme Court ruled:

“the use of deadly force to prevent the escape of all felony suspects, whatever the circumstances, is constitutionally unreasonable. It is not better that all felony suspects die than that they escape. Where the suspect poses no immediate threat to the officer and no threat to others, the harm resulting from failing to apprehend him does not justify the use of deadly force to do so.”

Stop and frisk: Warrantless or suspicionless stop and frisk would certainly be a violation of the 4th Amendment as it is racially applied in most jurisdictions.

Fifth Amendment violations

Muslim ban: Equal protection requirements apply to the federal government under the Fifth Amendment Due Process Clause. Denying citizens access to the country based on their religion would fail under the Due Process clause, as well.

Mass deportations:  Mass deportations cannot happen as soon as Trump becomes, gulp, President.  The government would still need to prove that the immigrant is not lawfully in the country.  Otherwise it would be a violation of due process.

“Ending catch and release”: This would violate due process principles spelled out in the 5th Amendment.  It has to follow certain procedural guidelines based on the ruling in Zadvydas v. Davis to make sure that it serves a legitimate purpose.

Muslim database: A requirement that would make every Muslim register with the government because of their religious beliefs would be a violation of the Privacy Act of 1974.  If they lost any rights or liberties as a result of this database, it would fail on Due Process grounds.

Torture: The Due Process clause bars interrogation by torture.

Killing ISIS family members: Drone strikes on US citizens have been argued against as an expressed violation of the 5th Amendment’s due process clause.  The Obama drone memo arguing against this, was an abomination.

Stop and frisk: Taking people’s guns away without any checks, probable cause, or proving allegations this would be a violation of due process.

No fly, no buy: No fly, no buy is a violation of the 5th Amendment.

Sixth Amendment violations

Mass deportations: The Supreme Court applied Sixth Amendment protections to immigrants in 2010 with the case of Padilla v. Kentucky.  Immigrants facing interrogations from the “deportation force” would likely require that immigrants have the right to an attorney present.  Without explicitly qualifying this, the deportation force would likely face violations of the Sixth Amendment. A fair and speedy trial with an immigration court already backlogged would likely not occur, as well.

Eighth Amendment violations

“Ending catch and release”: The American Civil Liberties Union has long argued that current immigration detention centers violate the 8th Amendment standards for “cruel and unusual punishment.”  Detaining immigrants until they are deported are likely going to deteriorate conditions further.

Torture: This obviously violates the prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.  John Yoo and the Bush Administration’s claim about enhanced interrogation techniques have been largely discredited and the McCain-Feinstein Amendment has prohibited US government agencies and officials from using interrogation methods not listed in the Army Field Manual.

Killing ISIS family members: This would almost certainly constitute a cruel and unusual punishment for merely being a family member of someone who joined ISIS.

Ninth amendment Violations

Personal privacy: The Ninth Amendment was used in part of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade which legalized abortion and struck down statutes of law that criminalized abortions.  The Ninth Amendment was also used in Lawrence v. Texas and Obergefell v. Hodges.  The Supreme court found that we do have a right to privacy from government intrusion.  Criminalizing abortions (even though he has tried to walk it back) would likely be a violation of the Ninth Amendment.

Tenth Amendment violations

Stop and frisk: If Trump did actually try to set policy for all police departments in the country by instituting stop-and-frisk, this would be a major violation of the 10th Amendment. If he set his gun grabbing strategy like above, it would violate the state’s ability to pass gun legislation.

There are more violations of the 10th Amendment but they usually fall on the grounds of Trump trying to usurp state’s rights and powers.

Fourteenth Amendment violations:

Muslim ban: In Afroyim v. Rusk, the Supreme Court opined that “the Fourteenth Amendment was designed to, and does, protect every citizen of this Nation against a congressional forcible destruction of his citizenship, whatever his creed, color, or race.”  Equal protection requirements apply to the federal government under the 5th Amendment’s Due Process clause.

Birthright citizenship: I’ll have something longer on this belief, soon enough.  Possibly a new project I’m working on.  But Trump ending birthright citizenship is a blatant violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Fifteenth Amendment violations

Voter ID: Trump has supported the North Carolina voter ID law.  The law was struck down as unconstitutional as being passed with discriminatory intent.  It was passed, in part, to ensure that minority voters could not show up to vote.  Hence, why I believe voter ID is unconstitutional.

Nineteenth Amendment violations

Voter ID: Demographics that vote for Democrats were explicitly targeted with voter ID laws.  This includes women.

Twenty fourth Amendment Violations

Voter ID: While voter ID is not considered a poll tax by everyone, voter ID typically requires a fee to be able to obtain valid ID.  Without paying this fee and without the ID, they will not be able to vote.  This is an abstract version of a poll tax.

Twenty sixth Amendment violation

Voter ID: One of the ways that the North Carolina voter ID law targeted voters was to prevent potential voters from preregistering so that they would be able to vote after they had turned 18 and were eligible to vote. A support for North Carolina’s onerous voter ID bill is support for making it more difficult to vote.