Weekend Open Thread: “It’s the Appointments, Stupid!” Plus: VOTE TRADING SITE HAPPENED!




Just when you thought that Halloween was over....

Just when you thought that Halloween was over … your new Attorney General and DHS Secretary!

No, I don’t think that you’re stupid.  (After all, you’re here, aren’t you?)  It’s a phrasing borrowed from Bill Clinton campaign strategist James Carville during the 1992 campaign, when he famously coined the slogan “It’s the economy, stupid!”  In other words, just focus on the big, significant, and easily understood issue: we were in a bad economic recession at that time and Bill Clinton said that he could fix it.  (And he did.)  Everything else was a distraction.

This year it’s not the economy, it’s not crime, it’s not foreign policy, and to the extent that it’s about character, it’s absolutely unbelievable that Donald Trump remains in the running — although with Hillary Clinton as his opponent of course he does.  (Just imagine that I’ve included every piece I’ve for the past 18 months written about how much better of a candidate Bernie Sanders would have been this year — and we can skip my actually including it.)  It’s hard to figure out what it actually is this year — and isolated and enlightened California is pretty much the worst place from which to try to figure it out.

But it’s not hard to figure out what “It” should be: “IT’S THE APPOINTMENTS, STUPID!”

I already find Hillary’s executive appointments deeply disappointing — and she hasn’t even made any of them yet.  The form and thrust of her Administration is going to be highly moderate — although if Sanders and Elizabeth Warren do successfully pull her chestnuts out of the fire, then perhaps we’ll get a good Chair of the Council of Economic Advisors or something like that, which will be nice.  (Futile, but nice.)  But Clinton’s Administration will be a lot like Obama’s — middle of the road and mainstream — and we’ve endured it for the past eight years and we can endure it now.

Trump’s Administration, by contrast, would be crazy nuts.  Even if Trump himself shows no interest in governing between the times that he’s elected and removed from office over the “13-year-old girl” thing — your choice, Donald, the Senate or the 25th Amendment! — the people whom he appoints will run the government (right into the ground) like a flock of rabid Cheneys.  (Look for Liz Cheney) as Mike Pence’s Vice-Presidential appointment, when to time comes, because that is how screwed up our government would be.  Pence will want someone who can ignore reality and morality with equal fervor, until our national influence on the world resembles that of Uzbekistan — except that the Uzbekis would be better loved.

Domestically, we’re likely to see an absolute nightmare for libertarians of all stripes.

Imagine Chris Christie as Attorney General — I know, I know, he’s likely to be convicted of crimes, but who’s going to stop Trump from appointing him?  Come on, “crimes”?  He’ll pardon himself of the state ones and Trump will pardon him from the federal ones.  Then no crimes, so shut up!  You don’t like it, you shouldn’t have voted for Trump, because, as the history books that remain will quote the new AG’s famous proclamation: “pardons are legal, asswipes, and they cancel out everything!

And the worst thing is that that’s not the worst thing.  Imagine Rudy Giuliani as Secretary of Homeland Security.  That’s what makes it the nightmare from which you never awaken.  You have no rights that trump (yeah, that’s the right word) the interests of National Security.  You don’t like it, talk to AG Christie and the Trump-packed courts.  And the first time that someone — on their own, or coerced, or as part of a false flag operation — commits and act of domestic terrorism to protest the new government, that will be the end of debate.  It’s not that hard to stir up a casus belli internationally — in fact, it used to be our country’s specialty, enough so for us to joke about doing it — and it’s even easier to stir up a domestic one.

But don’t worry: Trump won’t take away your guns — unless you’re a minority who is not Ben Carson-level trustworthy, or a leftist malcontent.  (And being liberal will itself be proof of one’s being a malcontent.  So there!  Talk to the AG!)  The notion that national security allows the Administration to determine that the Second Amendment — and the others — can be curtailed on the basis of race and ethnicity, because (just wait for this one to come out of the Trump-appointed courts) the Fourteenth Amendment cannot be allowed to trump national security.  Expect to hear that decision use an out-of-THIS-LARGE-a-context quote from a dissenting opinion by Supreme Court Justice and Nuremberg prosecutor Robert Jackson in Terminiello v. City of Chicago  about how “the constitution is not a suicide pact” — brought into majority jurisprudence by liberal Justice Arthur Goldberg in Kennedy v. Mendoza-Martinez — a case on draft resisters, for God’s sake! — that is the favorite of would be authoritarians anyway.  (Most people have no idea how close we came to adopting the principle of a modified “war constitution” — with no expiry date — after 9/11.  I was in law school at the time.  They literally told us to ignore every decision that had been made about Executive power and foreign policy prior to the 2002 New York Bar exam.)

People always, in the long term, slightly underestimate the probability of change; it’s part of why hubris is the signal character defect in classic tragedies.  What they massively underestimate is the possible extent of change once things get rolling, because we tend not to think about how the situation and prospects will look different once earlier changes have already been made.  (This is, in turn, part of the classic recipe for farce.)  This is part of why legal scholars worry about “the slippery slope” — and in a Trump Administration the slopes will be more slippery, in most (but not all) directions, than they have been since the Civil War.

That’s why swing state voters — I don’t really care that much what undecided Californians do — should support the wretched Hillary.  It’s the appointments, stupid!  And hers will not court unimaginable, compounded, Constitution destroying disaster.


I’ve presented my wish to build a website like this for this election, both here and on Facebook, but I couldn’t afford it.  I am THRILLED that someone else has done it!  Hat tip to electoral-vote.com!

Vote Trading Is Back

In 2004, some people who were worried that Ralph Nader voters would again hand the election to George W. Bush came up with a scheme that enabled the Nader voters to make their point without endangering John Kerry. They set up a vote-trading operation in which Nader voters in swing states were matched up with Democrats in deep blue states. The idea is that the Nader voter in, say, Colorado, promised to vote for Kerry and in return, a Kerry supporter in, say, California promised to vote for Nader. In this way, Nader’s national total would be the same, but Kerry wouldn’t be sacrificed in Colorado. The Justice Dept. took a very dim view of this since federal law prohibits trading a vote for anything of value.

Things changed in 2007 when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Porter v. Bowen ruled that such an arrangement was protected by the First Amendment. Now, vote trading is back. Silicon Valley entrepreneur Amit Kumar has created an app that allows a Jill Stein or Gary Johnson supporter in a swing state to make a deal with a Hillary Clinton supporter in a deep blue or deep red state to exchange votes, thus helping Clinton in a swing state without reducing the overall vote for Stein or Johnson. So, for example, after you log in and identify as, say, a Stein voter in Florida, you might be matched with a Clinton voter in New York and a Clinton voter in Texas, since their votes don’t matter. By allowing a Stein or Johnson voter to get two votes for his or her favorite candidate, the whole deal is more attractive. No proof of voting is required. It works on the honor system. (V)

The article is wrong: vote trading was first attempted back in 2000, when I and a bunch of other (mostly) New Yorkers, who saw disaster coming — people forget that Gore was behind in the publicly available polls going into the election, with speculation bubbling that he might win the Presidency with a minority of the popular vote — tried to drum up support through the Slate.com website (this was before blogs) for us to vote for whoever other people wanted so long as the people in the swing states would vote for Gore.  (It should still be in the archives somewhere.)  It’s legal — so long as no money changes hands — and it’s smart voting!

This is your Weekend Open Thread,  Talk about that, or whatever else you’d like, within reasonable bounds of decency and discretion, while both continue to exist.  And have a nice day!

About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-retired due to disability, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally runs for office against bad people who would otherwise go unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Corrupt party hacks hate him. He's OK with that too. He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)