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insta8er's Journal
insta8er's Journal
May 23, 2016

Democracy is OK if the votes go MY WAY 2.

Voter Suppression and Exit Poll Discrepancies in the Democratic Primaries

Voter Suppression

Insufficient polling places in Maricopa County
In this Tuesday’s Arizona Democratic primary, Maricopa County, the largest county in Arizona, reduced the number of polling places open compared to 2012 from over 200 to 60. Consequently, people spent entire work days waiting in line to vote, as voting lines stretched for over half a mile. Undoubtedly, many of them had to leave before voting, in order to avoid missing work, which I’m sure many of them could ill afford. The County recorder justified this blatant incident of voter suppression by claiming that “turnout is traditionally low” in Maricopa County. CBS reporter Joe Dana put this incident in perspective: the “2012 primary had 300,000 voters and 200 polling places. 2016 primary had 800,000 voters at 60 polling places. Polling places in densely populated Latino neighborhoods were particular targets for closure.

Numerous Democrats in AZ were mistakenly listed as independents
Consequently, because independents are not allowed to vote in the AZ primary, these voters were not allowed to vote. I don’t know the details of this issue. Were these recently independent voters who joined the Democratic Party close to the date of the primary in order to cast their vote for one of the candidates? (a perfectly legal thing to do). In any event, this mistake was never rectified.

Arizona was called for Clinton while people were still waiting in line to vote
Because of all the delays, many people were still in line waiting to vote when Arizona was called early for Clinton, with 1% of the vote in. A declaration of victory while people are waiting to vote is likely to discourage many people from voting.

Why does voter suppression hurt Sanders?
One might think that voter suppression in a party primary would not necessarily favor one candidate or the other. Of course, that all depends on whether or not the suppression was targeted at one candidate or the other. At this time I know of no good evidence that shows that to be the case.

However, one thing that must be considered is that, in general, any across the board voter suppression favors Clinton over Sanders. The reason for that is that Clinton did far better than Sanders across the board, in early voting, compared to Election Day voting, which took place largely when Bernie Sanders was hardly known to voters.

Consider Arizona, where voter suppression was especially marked. The election was called for Clinton with only 1% of the vote in, when she was ahead by a margin of 61.5% to 36.1%. All of that total reflected early voting. Yet, with 17% of the vote in (I don’t have later data on this), Sanders was leading Clinton in Election Day voting, by a small amount. Thus, any voter suppression would elevate the importance of early voting in determining the final statewide results and thus affect the delegate count in favor of the candidate who did better in early voting.

Conclusion on voter suppression
We don’t know for sure that the voter suppression in Arizona (and Ohio, where many voting precincts ran out of ballots before the polls closed and caused many potential voters to lose their chance to vote) was targeted at one candidate or the other. But to think that voter suppression didn’t happen in Arizona, where the most populous county in the state reduced the number of polling places from 200 to 60 and ended up with voting lines half a mile long, sounds naïve to me. This kind of thing begs for an investigation, aimed at discovering the cause and preventing future episodes during this primary season. Therefore, please consider signing this petition to the White House requesting that these episodes be investigated promptly.

Exit poll discrepancies

Background: The great exit poll discrepancy controversy of the 2004 Presidential Election
Those of you who spent much time on DU during the 2004 Presidential election and the months and years that followed will remember the great exit poll discrepancy of 2004, in which, according to national exit polls John Kerry won the national vote, whereas George W. Bush won the national vote according to the official vote count. The difference between the exit polls and the official vote count was about 4%. The difference was particularly great in the important swing states, where slight differences in the vote count might make a difference between winning and losing. But there was only one state where it did make a difference, and that was Ohio, where the exit poll discrepancy was over 6%. Ohio would have given the election to John Kerry.

Full post and author information can be found here: Democratic Underground
May 23, 2016

'I'm not with her': why women are weary of Hillary Clinton

As a whole, women support Clinton over Trump and Sanders, but 49% of women from across the political spectrum give her an unfavorable rating

Anoa Changa is a feminist who isn’t going to vote for Hillary Clinton. Last July, when the 34-year-old Atlanta-based attorney began volunteering with the grassroots organization Women for Bernie Sanders, she received immediate pushback from other women. Over social media, they accused her and other Sanders volunteers of betraying their gender, and of being fake feminists. Even former professors and friends questioned how she could support the Vermont senator over the secretary of state.

“Some women I encounter act as if I’ve betrayed some kind of secret society,” says Changa. “I reject this brand of feminism. I’m not only voting for my gender, I’m voting for other issues.”

For the first time in its history, America is close to electing a female president, yet many women from across the political spectrum don’t like Clinton.

It’s true that, as a whole, women support her more than both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, but that support is not nearly as overwhelming as black voter support was for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. Millennial women, for example, prefer Sanders to Clinton and 49% of American women give the secretary of state an unfavorable rating.

I’m not only voting for my gender, I’m voting for other issues
Anoa Changa
Women from across the political spectrum, who often can’t agree on basic policy, are united in their opposition to Hillary.

May 23, 2016

Trump slips by Clinton in a virtual dead heat in new poll

Donald Trump holds a razor-thin lead over Hillary Clinton in a Washington Post-ABC News poll released Sunday.

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee leads by just 2 points, 46 percent to 44 percent, over the Democratic front-runner among registered voters — essentially a dead heat, well within the poll’s 3.5 percentage-point margin of error.

The poll indicates a race in which Clinton once held a commanding lead is shaping up to be extremely close. Clinton led Trump 50 percent to 41 percent in a March Post/ABC poll.

The new poll also tested a race in which 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney jumps in. In that matchup, Clinton captured 37 percent of those surveyed, with Trump 35 percent and Romney at 22 percent.

Both Trump and Clinton are hampered by staggering unfavorable ratings — viewed unfavorably by 57 percent of those surveyed.

The poll of 829 registered voters was conducted May 16-19.

May 22, 2016

The question is now: Which is WORSE for America - Hillary or Trump?

A quick analysis of some of the problems --

1) They are both shameless liars. Thanks to the miracle of YouTube, five seconds of Internet research will provide endless examples of Hillary and Trump smugly proclaiming "as I've always said" along with the video of them proclaiming the exact opposite stances. Hillary is famous for her lawyer like word parsing (the FBI has apparently NEVER contacted her for an interview, but according to her spokesman that is because they are setting it up through her lawyer who is in daily contact with them), while Trump babbles on in a non-comprehensible fashion with "Twitter wars" his favorite pastime. Result: two narcissistic personalities who will say anything the listener wants to hear, and no clue as to what either will really do.

2) They both have legal problems. Hillary is directly responsible for 38 civil lawsuits against the State Department and is currently the subject of a year long FBI investigation. Trump is being sued for fraud with his "Trump University" project, a history of using bankruptcy to reorganize debt, and has been a part of over fifty suits both as Plaintiff and Defendant. Neither of these individuals are dealing with "nuisance" suits; they all appear to be self inflicted stupidity.

3) Questionable "charitable" issues. The Clinton Foundation took millions of dollars from foreign interests while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State despite having signed an agreement not to do so, with both she and her famous spouse collecting millions in questionable "speaker fees" from organizations with regulation issues. Meanwhile, Trump has his own accounting problems, with "raising money for veterans" just one example of problems with his "invisible money" accounting systems.

4) Purported plans for America. I wish Trump could win this one hands down in the "is he a lunatic?" category. From his plans to extort money from NATO allies to threatening immigrants to Roe v Wade concerns, the words misogynistic xenophobic racist seem appropriate. Unfortunately, Hillary's history of supporting fracking, bad trade policy and tragic foreign policy debacles terrify anyone who looks at past performance as an indicator of future performance, while her cruelty toward children (advocating for rejecting bus loads of South American refugee children, votes on cluster bomb usage and countless dead from her "regime change" adventures) only began with the "Welfare Reform" she supported during her husband's presidency.

5) Family problems. Trump is on his third marriage, and his current wife's naked modeling photos are easily found on the Internet. Hillary is still married to the world's most famous adulterer who is in the history books as being impeached for lying under oath. Since "slut shaming" is considered rude, not many people are talking about either spouse.

6) Popularity problems. In a polarized electorate, both Hillary and Trump fight for "most disliked" with on average two voters actively despising them for every voter who likes or finds them tolerable. Support is voiced as "voting against the other candidate" as opposed to "voting for" a preferred candidate. Clinton fundraising and Clinton Foundation money have assured Hillary of establishment support, but over half of the rank and file Democrats are loudly supporting anybody but her. Meanwhile, establishment Republicans appear to be horrified by their candidate, with some party leaders promising to support the Democratic candidate instead because they find his public persona repugnant.

7) Transparency issues. Trump is publicly a bad candidate, but since he is not beholden to anyone, he says what he thinks. He has criticized the Iraq War and the people who allowed it to occur without consequences. He is a blowhard and an asshole who has lowered the tone of public discourse, and gleefully shattered any pretense that the Republican Party doesn't suck. Unfortunately, Hillary has demonstrated complete contempt for the rule of law, and in paranoid fashion, hid government records (her emails) from the public for over six years/failed to comply with FOIA law. She made agreements with President Obama on how State Department business would be conducted, then broke those agreements while using the family "foundation" to enable back door access to NSA and CIA classified intelligence without reporting the security breeches. She appears to have no understanding of the seriousness consequences to the public perception of government transparency, and has actually rolled her eyes at "email questions". A further concern is that any press identification of inappropriate or criminal behavior by her or her team is automatically derided by her supporters as "Vast Right Wing Conspiracy Bullshit" (tm) which actually disables the safeguards of a free press to investigate corruption.

At the end, with the choice between Trump's INEXPERIENCE AND OVERT INCOMPETENCE when it comes to good government versus Hillary's COVERT BAD DECISION MAKING AND LACK OF ACCOUNTABILITY CONCERNS, it becomes impossible to decide which will actually be worse for America. Both can lie with varying levels of sincerity, and neither is trustworthy. One will sell out American interests publicly, while the other will do it behind closed doors.

I support Bernie Sanders, but if the choice is between Hillary and Trump, my answer is "NONE OF THE ABOVE".

Edit: Received approval from original poster to use this.

May 22, 2016

How Big Pharma Uses Charity Programs to Cover for Drug Price Hikes

A billion-dollar system in which charitable giving is profitable.

In August 2015, Turing Pharmaceuticals and its then-chief executive, Martin Shkreli, purchased a drug called Daraprim and immediately raised its price more than 5,000 percent. Within days, Turing contacted Patient Services Inc., or PSI, a charity that helps people meet the insurance copayments on costly drugs. Turing wanted PSI to create a fund for patients with toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection that is most often treated with Daraprim.
Having just made Daraprim much more costly, Turing was now offering to make it more affordable. But this is not a feel-good story. It’s a story about why expensive drugs keep getting more expensive, and how U.S. taxpayers support a billion-dollar system in which charitable giving is, in effect, a very profitable form of investing for drug companies—one that may also be tax-deductible.

PSI, which runs similar programs for more than 20 diseases, jumped at Turing’s offer and suggested the company kick things off with a donation of $22 million, including $1.6 million for the charity’s costs. That got Turing’s attention. “Did you see the amounts??? $22MM!!!” wrote Tina Ghorban, Turing’s senior director of business analytics, in an e-mail to a colleague. (The document was obtained by congressional investigators looking into the company’s pricing.) Turing ultimately agreed to contribute $1 million for the patient fund, plus $80,000 for PSI’s costs.
PSI is a patient-assistance charitable organization, commonly known as a copay charity. It’s one of seven large charities (among many smaller ones) offering assistance to some of the 40 million Americans covered through the government-funded Medicare drug program. Those who meet income guidelines can get much or all of their out-of-pocket drug costs covered by a charity: a large initial copay for a prescription, another sum known as the coverage gap or the donut hole, and more-modest ongoing costs. It adds up fast. After Turing raised Daraprim’s price, some toxoplasmosis patients on Medicare had initial out-of-pocket costs of as much as $3,000.

May 20, 2016

Why Hillary Clinton's 90s nostalgia is so dangerous

Times were good in the last years of Bill Clinton’s presidency. But to put the arch-deregulator in charge of an economy wrecked by financial bubbles is sheer folly

'I had never heard someone denounce deregulation and hail the economic achievements of Bill Clinton in the same speech. That kind of mental combination, I’ve always assumed, puts you in danger of spontaneous combustion.’

Donald Trump’s campaign to “Make America Great Again” is one big, flatulent exercise in delusional nostalgia, as so many have noted. Given the likely outcome of the American presidential contest, however, it is Hillary Clinton’s delusional nostalgia that may ultimately prove more harmful for the country.

Campaigning in Kentucky recently, she promised that, should she be elected, she would task former president Bill Clinton with “revitalizing the economy, because he knows how to do it”. A few minutes before, she had recited her husband’s qualifications for this job: “In the 90s, everybody’s income went up, not just people at the top. We lifted more people out of poverty than at any time in our recent history.” And so on.

Bill Clinton took some time out to dynamite the federal welfare system, then he came back and deregulated the banks
Ah, the 90s. It seems that Hillary, too, longs to make America great again, and she reminded the audience in Kentucky of the specific elements of our lost golden age. First among those gauzy memories: “A budget that is balanced and in surplus” – like the budget Bill Clinton built in the good old days before the spendthrift George W Bush administration came in. There were other ways in which the GOP had diverged from Clinton orthodoxy as well, like their desire to “Cut taxes on the wealthy [and] get out of the way of regulation of all kinds,” sins that, Hillary said, contributed directly to the financial crisis of 2008.

May 20, 2016

Sanders outraised Clinton in April after all

Hillary Clinton entered this month with a healthy $30 million in the bank, but her campaign did not take in more money than Bernie Sanders' in April, contradicting earlier assessments and calling into question suggestions that her fundraising had overtaken his small-dollar fundraising juggernaut.

Clinton’s main campaign committee directly received $25.1 million last month, compared with $26.9 million raised by Sanders’ campaign, according to reports filed Friday afternoon with the Federal Election Commission.

Sanders’ actual tally is slightly more than his campaign indicated earlier this month, when it put out a news release boasting of raising $25.8 million. A Sanders campaign source said the discrepancy resulted from the challenges of tallying huge numbers of small donations.

Meanwhile, Clinton’s tally is slightly less than the $26.4 million that her campaign touted earlier this month. The discrepancy in her fundraising figures arises from the accounting techniques of a joint committee called the Hillary Victory Fund that her campaign formed with the Democratic National Committee and 32 state parties. In addition to the $4 million transferred by the Hillary Victory Fund to Clinton’s campaign committee, Clinton’s aides counted toward its April tally $1.8 million in expenses paid out by the fund for the Clinton campaign’s share of joint fundraising costs.


May 17, 2016

Debunking Hillary’s Specious “Winning the Popular Vote” Claim

The claim that Hillary is winning the popular vote is one of the most deceptive, specious claims the Hillary Clinton campaign and her surrogates are making. The mainstream media is echoing and giving a total pass on this egregiously dishonest claim.

This is very important for several reasons.

1- Superdelegates are arguing that they are, by supporting Hillary, representing the majority of voters. The truth is that this not true.

2- The mainstream media repeat the “Hillary is winning the popular vote” mantra, or allow Hillary and her surrogates to make the specious claim many many times every day.

Actually, the claim is an affront to the truth, based on the numbers.

The truth is that caucus states don’t have a popular vote. That doesn’t make their vote less important. It just changes how the people of that state choose to make the decision on who to select in the primary.

Most people making claims about Hillary’s popular vote advantage talk about her having around a three million vote lead. I went to the 2016 Democratic Popular Vote page on RealClearPolitics. The page, not including West Virginia, shows Hillary with a 3,135,834 lead.

Then I took a list of the caucus states that Bernie has won, and he’s won almost all of them.

I dug up 2015 census data on the populations of those states and then pulled from Real Clear Politics, the total votes and the winning spread for Sanders in the caucus states. The numbers are below. First observation— for states totaling roughly 35 million people, some which Bernie won by 70%, he is given a total spread advantage of 160,000 votes. That’s outrageous.

Caucus states:

2015 populations according to wikipedia

Take a close look at Washington state, which Bernie won with 72.7% of the votes. RealClearPolitics gives him zero votes, with its 7.2 million population.

The same goes for Maine, where Bernie had a 29% spread and Alaska where he won over 81% of the vote. Zero. Zilch. Nada. In Wyoming, Bernie is given 32 votes, not 32,000. He is given 32 votes.


May 17, 2016

What the hell just happened in Nevada? Sanders supporters are fed up — and rightfully so

Chaos erupted at the Nevada Democratic convention on Saturday as supporters of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders clashed over the awarding of the state’s 35 pledged delegates. Clinton edged Sanders in the Nevada caucus on Feb. 20th (52.6 percent to 47.3 percent). On April 2, however, the state party held its Clark County convention and Sanders mobilized more delegates than the Clinton campaign (1,613 to 1,298), which swung the delegate count in his favor.

At the state convention this weekend, the final step in the process, Sanders supporters hoped to secure the lion’s share of the remaining 12 delegates. Instead, the delegate allocation rules were abruptly changed and Clinton was awarded 7 of the 12 delegates. State party chair, Roberta Lange, told caucus-goers that the “ruling by the Chair is not debatable; we cannot be challenged and I move that…and I announce that the rules have been passed by the body.” Predictably, a chorus of boos followed and the convention was forced to end on a frenzied note.

What happened in Nevada is likely to happen elsewhere. The perception that the DNC has thrown its institutional support behind Clinton has only deepened the internal divide within the party. The Sanders wing is pissed off, and rightfully so.

The establishment support for Clinton was apparent in the superdelegate gap. Superdelegates are a noxious device to begin with, but they’re part of the process and, however objectionable Sanders supporters find them, no rules have been broken on that front. In New York, however, where the process wasn’t so much rigged as designed to make it uncommonly difficult for non-incumbents or Democratic challengers to compete are problematic at best, particularly in this climate.

Then there’s the Hillary Victory Fund, which has become a massive fundraising vehicle for the Clinton campaign. The HVF was created by the DNC and Clinton’s super PAC Hillary for America as a means of raising funds both for the Clinton campaign and down-ballot races across the country. Individuals can give over $350,000 to the joint committee if they donate the maximum amount to Clinton, the DNC and the state parties. Federal elections laws, however, do not allow individual donations to specific candidates to exceed $2,700.


May 13, 2016

Hillary’s Hawkishness Out of Sync With Women’s Concerns

Hillary Clinton’s “woman’s card” campaign strategy is demeaning to women. She exploits grievance and group-think identity politics to serve her personal and political agendas and sometimes to shield herself from appropriate scrutiny. Not even Nancy Pelosi or Dianne Feinstein focuses on “gender” as cynically as she does.

She seems to assume she speaks for all women. But women, like men, hold diverse opinions. In fact, the views of many of us are completely at odds with hers.

For example, most women yearn for peace and stability. They are not enamored of costly wars that put loved ones at risk while doing nothing to enhance security. For all of our recent military involvements abroad, we do not regard ourselves as more secure.

Hillary thinks women care only about “women’s issues” and are not particularly interested in tax rates, the national debt, fair trade, foreign policy- and accountability from public figures—but she is wrong.

Many women—as well as men— consider Hillary’s leading role in the Benghazi debacle evidence of her poor judgment. According to Obama’s ex-secretary of defense, Robert Gates, Hillary, as secretary of state, pushed a reluctant Obama to bomb Libya. She seemed to take pleasure in the death of Libyan head of state, Muammar Gadaffi, boasting, “We came, we saw, he died,” a quip I find somewhat unseemly in a US Secretary of State.

NATO, at Hillary’s instigation, bombed Libya to rubble. Thousands were forced to flee for their lives across the Mediterranean to Italy. Meanwhile, Libya has become ISIS’s most important stronghold outside of Syria and Iraq.

In addition to the hundreds of thousands of refugees that have already entered Europe, French defense minister Jean-Yves Le Drian recently estimated there are 800,000 more people waiting to cross over from Libya to Europe right now.

Did Hillary not foresee these disasters when she insisted that Obama approve the bombing of Libya? Did she not understand that jihadi ideology would find fertile ground where people are desperate and have no place to go because their homes and infrastructure have been destroyed?
Although she was responsible for the security of US diplomatic installations and personnel abroad, she allowed our consulate in Benghazi to remain open in an environment so lethal that the British and even the International Committee of the Red Cross pulled out. Her bad judgment resulted in the deaths of four Americans, including the US ambassador. Her “what difference, at this point, does it make” testimony at the ensuing congressional hearings into Benghazi showed a shocking disregard of her responsibilities to the deceased and misreading of the gravity of what had taken place.


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