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beware the ides of march…bernie.

Okay, so I was wrong. Again.

Before we start, let’s get the Republican side of this out of the way. We already know the story—Drumpf wins a bunch of states, Kasich wins his home state, Rubio was rejected by nearly EVERYONE in his home state and Cruz remains a smug, sweaty, chinless weasel. There. No need to talk about them anymore.

Moving on…

Ahead of tonight’s (rather undramatic) installment of America’s favorite reality show, Super Tuesday, I predicted Sanders would win Illinois and/or Ohio, but Clinton would carry the big prizes of the night: Florida, North Carolina and Ohio.

Clinton wins Ohio

Hillary Clinton’s Ohio victory might be the death blow for the Sanders campaign.

I was wrong.

Much to the chagrin of Sanders supporters—and shock, I’m assuming—it was all Clinton tonight. She locked down big wins in crucial swing states Florida, North Carolina and Ohio early Tuesday night, sparing a considerable amount of drama and taking the wind out of Bernie Sanders’ sails that were deflated of all that Michigan wind he gathered at his back a week ago. Clinton then went on to claim a close victory in her home state of Illinois and is clinging to a scant 1,500 vote lead in Missouri. We won’t call it a clean sweep, but it is a decisive night for Clinton. And one thing is perfectly clear: Hillary Clinton is going to win the Democratic Party nomination. Fair and square.

After the polls betrayed Clinton in Michigan last Tuesday, nobody knew what to expect tonight. Could the polls be believed after being so completely inaccurate in Michigan? Turns out, yes. The polls are to be believed.

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Source: CNN, FiveThirtyEight.com

Michigan was the outlier, not the beginning of a trend.

So, moving forward, what does this mean for the Democratic race to the nomination? It means Sanders is pretty much down to one bullet in the chamber. I don’t expect him to bow out of the race—and I don’t want him to do that—but would need to win every state by wide margins from this point forward. Even he knows the likelihood of that happening now is slim to none.

Make no mistake, though; Sanders still has a powerful voice in this campaign and can still motivate many people to champion his cause, but the million dollar question is will Sanders motivate them to get behind Clinton or not? He has said all along he would support Clinton if she wins the nomination. She hasn’t won it yet, so he should continue to fight the good fight, I say. But he and his supporters need to gear up for the inevitable. That doesn’t mean the Sanders message gets lost, though. In my mind, he’s already won the primary season. Sanders forced Clinton and the Democratic Party to pay attention to the left wing of the base; something party leadership seems wont to ignore and tamp down, sometimes.

No, party leadership did not rig the system against Sanders, so let’s put that one away for good. By my count, Clinton has pulled in about 2.5 million more votes than Sanders, thus far. I won’t call that a mandate, but it tells me the people have spoken.

That being said, I hope the Sanders and Clinton supporters can form a coalition come November and recognize their goals are closer than some realize. You say you want a revolution? Good. Then put it to work and carry the message forward, if not the candidate.

EDIT: According to MSNBC, here’s the delegate breakdown from last night.

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super tuesday, episode iii.

20140207091635-VoteForTheOtherGuy_indiegogo_cropToday is Super Tuesday, Episode III: Attack of the Drumpf. Unless there’s a big shakeup in Florida, the Republican nomination could be well in hand for a certain orange bully. The Democratic side is significantly more interesting, in the sense that nobody trusts any of the polling data after Michigan last week.

Here’s what I think is going to happen today…

First, for the Republicans
Although the races are going to tighten up, Trump will win Illinois, Florida, Missouri and North Carolina. John Kasich is going to win his home state of Ohio, thus, keeping himself alive in the hopes of a brokered convention. Cruz may steal a state (Missouri?), but Trump will still widen his lead.

The real news is it becomes a three-horse race, as Marco Rubio is going to lose his home state and be out of the running.

If Trump does, in fact, win the winner-takes-all state of Florida, he will essentially be daring the Republican Party to not give him the nomination.

This soap opera is far from over.

Speaking of Soap Operas, the Democrats!
Races in Illinois, Missouri and Ohio have tightened, so don’t be surprised if Sanders grabs one or two of these states. Clinton has a three-point lead in Illinois and Sanders is up by 1 point in Missouri. Both are well within the margins and could go in either direction. I think Sanders steals one or both.

Ohio is a bit of a wild card right now, if you ask me. Current polls show Clinton leading by 14 points, but I don’t trust it after Michigan last week. My gut tells me Clinton wins Ohio as well as Florida and North Carolina.

What does that mean for Sanders? Simple: not dead yet. Clinton will likely widen her delegate lead (actual delegates, so enough with the super delegate whining already, Bernie Bros!), but Sanders will still have enough in the tank to keep the campaign going.

While the Republican primaries are providing more salacious TV, the Democrats have a bit of a civil war brewing, too. It’ll be interesting to see how party leadership on both sides strives to achieve unity heading into November.

In the meantime, enjoy the drama. Tonight is going to feel as close to November election coverage as we’re going to get.

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super tuesday of reckoning.

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Super Tuesday is upon us and it’s going to be fairly straightforward. This Super Tuesday is going to be a day of reckoning where the frontrunners pull ahead and don’t look back. Who’s going to win? You already know, but let’s go through this pointless exercise anyway; just for fun. Before we start, let’s recap where we are, with the delegate count.

Republicans
Trump: 82
Cruz: 17
Rubio: 16
Kasich: 6
Carson: 4

Needed to win: 1,237 (out of 2,340)

Democrats
Clinton: 546
Sanders: 87

Needed to win: 2,383 (out of 4,132)

The parties’ headcounts are slightly different, but you get the point. Now, I have no idea how the parties decide which candidate gets how many delegates if they win. Not every state is “winner takes all.”

Republican Super Tuesday States
A total of 594 delegates are up for grabs today. If one candidate scores decisive victories in most of the states, he will be the likely nominee. Yeah, you know what that means: Trump. He won’t win Texas, but here’s how the day should break down:

Super Tuesday Republicans

Democratic Super Tuesday States
Things are more interesting on this side of Super Tuesday, but only in a handful of states: Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Oklahoma. We already know Sanders will win Vermont by the wides of margins. He is currently holding a slim lead in Oklahoma and we have no idea what’s happening in the caucus states of Colorado and Oklahoma. Everything else? Clinton. Period.

Super Tuesday Dems

Yes, I do think Sanders will win Minnesota. Call it a hunch, based upon Minnesota’s very liberal nature.

Will those three states be enough to keep Sanders competitive? Doubtful. Massachusetts is the state he really needs, and Clinton is pulling away from him.

Is it Over Yet?
After Super Tuesday? Probably not, but the results are nearly imminent. Trump and Clinton will take commanding leads, while the cast of also-rans will spin it as though they’re still in it. That may be true on the Republican side, if the also-rans drop out and throw their voters behind a single candidate.

On the Democratic side, Sanders supporters won’t give up, despite what could be pretty stark horizons. Nevertheless, Super Tuesday is Clinton’s to lose. While losing three states isn’t preferred by any candidate, the reality is Clinton has locked down support in delegate-heavy states.

Conclusion
Get ready for Trump vs. Clinton rhetoric, from now until November.

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elections lack of voting has consequences.

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Elections have consequences. People get the government they deserve.

These two cliches have been playing in my head for the past few years as I watch my birth state of Michigan suffer under the rule of Gov. Rick Snyder. It was no surprise the Republican handily won the gubernatorial election in 2010 after eight relatively lackluster years with Democrat Jennifer Granholm running the state.

What is a surprise is Snyder was re-elected in 2014.

Rick Snyder: The Fiefdom Governor
The “tough nerd” showed his true colors almost immediately. Included in Snyder’s first budget, shifting tax burdens away from businesses and onto pensions in the name of “economic growth.” He also expanded the emergency manager powers, which has turned into the hallmark of Snyder’s reign as Michigan’s governor.

Since Snyder took office, he’s implemented emergency managers 15 times, typically in predominantly African-American populated cities, such as Flint, Detroit and Benton Harbor. That’s more than Michigan’s previous two governors combined.

How’s that working out? Well, we already know what happened in Flint. Benton Harbor has been in a nonstop battle over a golf course; a battle that was exacerbated by the installment of an emergency manager (by Granholm, in April 2010) who stayed until March 2014, nearly the entirety of Snyder’s first term. And it was under Snyder that the controversial golf course project was launched.

Detroit was taken into bankruptcy under Snyder’s appointed manager, Kevyn Orr, and the results are…well, it depends on whom you ask. Did Orr save Detroit or kick the can down the road? The million dollar question: did emergency managers actually affect long-term, positive solutions that couldn’t be accomplished through elected government in those cities?

Lest we forget Snyder’s use of emergency managers includes his support for a 2012 law expanding emergency manager powers, despite being rejected by Michigan voters. Of course, Snyder and his allies enacted this piece of legislation after he was re-elected; after the will of the people was recorded on this matter…and promptly ignored by the governor. That is an absolute fact.

Lack of Voter Turnout = Rick Snyder’s Re-election
Shady work on the emergency manager laws notwithstanding, it’s not as though Snyder waited until his second term to spring his ultra-conservative agenda on Michiganders. The expansion and usage of emergency managers happened in his first term along with killing tax breaks for pensioners to make up for giving tax breaks to state businesses.

So how did a guy who is clearly a hardline conservative manage to win re-election in a state that hasn’t gone to a Republican presidential candidate since 1988? Simple: voter turnout, or lack thereof.

Turnout for Michigan’s 2014 gubernatorial election was 41.6 of the voter-age population; its lowest since 1990. By contrast, 66 percent and 63 percent of voting-age Michiganders turned out to the polls in 2008 and 2012, respectively. It doesn’t take a mathematician to glean from this all those Obama voters—who are typically Democrats—stayed home in 2014 (and 2010, really, when voting-age turnout was 42.9 percent).

Check out this article at Drawing Detroit. A county-by-county review of voter turnout in 2014 yields a troubling reality: less than 40 percent of voting-age adults came to the polls in 13 of Michigan’s 83 counties. Even worse, all but one of Snyder’s emergency managers have been implemented in four of those 13 counties: Berrien County (Benton Harbor), Genesee County (Flint), Muskegon County (Muskegon Schools) and Wayne County (Allen Park, Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park).

Drawing Detroit.jpg

Graphic courtesy of DrawingDetroit.com.

According to U.S. Census data, these four counties account for more than 25 percent of the state of Michigan’s voting age population, yet more than 1 million people in those counties did not exercise their rights to vote. A shade more than 128,000 votes separated Snyder from his second term as governor and unemployment. Suddenly, that figure seems ridiculously small when you consider the number of people who didn’t vote.

Elections Have Consequences
Given what has happened in Flint, it’s difficult to look at the 2014 election results and realize the consequences were dire. In addition to Snyder’s re-election, Republicans also gained four State Senate seats to push their majority to 63 – 47. Big deal, right? Well, considering two of those elections took place in low turnout counties and the results were separated by 547 and 58 votes respectively, I’d say the results are most definitely a big deal.

Every Four Years Ain’t Cuttin’ It
A common refrain this election year is “the system is rigged” against the middle class, college students, women, etc. Sadly, many of these same people shouting about the “rigged” system have only themselves to blame. Voters ages 18 – 29 are among the loudest voices in 2016, as they were in 2008 and 2012. But something happens between presidential elections and mid-term elections that renders this voting bloc MIA. In 2014—an election year with the lowest voter turnout since WWII—14 million fewer 18 – 29 voters turned out at the polls.

No, college student. The system isn’t rigged. The system is largely ignored. By your peers. That’s why your issues are not top-of-mind the same way health care and social security are mainstay political issues. You don’t get to complain about a rigged system if you’re a half-time participant in the process. If you only show up once every four years, you just might be getting the government you deserve.

According to BallotPedia.org, Michigan does not allow for: early voting, online voter registration, same-day registration or “no-excuse” absentee voting. Some might argue these factors present barriers to voting and they’d be correct. However, there is no direct, causal relationship between these barriers and low voter turnout. Look at the state of Illinois, by comparison. It allows for early voting, online and same-day registration as well as no-excuse absentee voting and its turnout was lower than Michigan’s in 2014.

In the end, it’s incumbent upon the voters to motivate themselves to get to the polls on Election Day.

You Get the Government Someone Else Thinks You Deserve.
Given what’s happened in Genesee County, specifically, I’d never blame the voters or non-voters for the failings of its state government. However, it’s plain to see if you don’t vote, you get the government someone else thinks you deserve. There’s only one way to reverse this trend.

Vote.

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indiana republicans – 1; indiana democrats – 0.

A couple weeks ago, the CEO for Angie’s List came out loud and strong against the passage and signing of Indiana’s new, so-called “religious freedom” act. The Indianapolis-based company took a position alongside several other large corporations in voicing opposition to the bill, which many argued provided legal cover to discriminate against people, based upon sexual orientation.

Former Angie's List CEO is testing the waters to possibly give Indiana governor Mike Pence a primary challenge.

Former Angie’s List CEO is testing the waters to possibly give Indiana governor Mike Pence a primary challenge.

In the weeks since all the hullaballoo, that Angie’s List CEO, William Oesterle, hasn’t given up his fight against the supermajority of Republicans in Indiana and its (in over his head) Republican governor Mike Pence. Oesterle feels the “fix” to the RFRA legislation did not go far enough and has continued his fight. He stepped down as Angie’s List’s CEO and is now eyeing a run for governor. Did we mention Oesterle is a Republican? In fact, Oesterle was a staffer to former Indiana governor and Republican darling Mitch Daniels.

Already, there are rumblings from the right that Oesterle stands no chance in Indiana by ignoring the social conservatives in Indiana. But here’s my question: where the hell are the Democrats?

Once again, Indiana’s Democratic Party can’t seem to organize a carwash. Here is one of the biggest political bombshells dropped in state politics anywhere and all the state Democrats have been able to muster are a few emails soliciting donations and a rally at the Statehouse. That’s all fine and good, but what they failed to do was show any level of leadership. They failed to capitalize on the momentum in a way that puts a face to their agenda the same way as Oesterle. Ideas don’t win elections. People win elections.

It is not hyperbole to say Mike Pence’s political career is going up in flames. According to Howey Politics Indiana, Pence’s approval rating dropped from 62 percent in February to 45 percent this month. His disapproval rating shot up to 46 percent. By a 2-to-1 margin, respondents of the same poll also said the RFRA bill was not needed. Seems voters were willing to forgive Pence for his previous boneheaded moves as governor, but the unneeded RFRA legislation (after ignoring virtually everyone outside his bubble) has proven to be a bridge too fare; even for Republican voters.

What have the Democrats done with this? Nothing. That sound you hear is nothing but crickets chirping through the night. Who’s stepping forth as the person who will unseat Mike Pence in 2016? No one. Well, no one from the opposition party—whose Indiana General Assembly members could caucus in a phone booth, thanks to tanking in the last three election cycles (and showing no signs of getting out of its own death spiral in the upcoming election).

But who did step up to give a voice and a face to opposition to Mike Pence and opposition to social conservatism? A Republican.

Could Oesterle actually stage a successful insurrection and knock off a wobbly, incumbent? Don’t be surprised if he does. After all, this is a state where social conservatives rallied behind Richard Mourdock and defeated popular and longstanding Republican senator Richard Lugar. It could most certainly happen if enough independents and Democrats choose to vote on a Republican ballot in the state’s primary election, but that’s a long way down the road.

Pence better hope Hillary has a legitimate challenger in her White House bid, otherwise state Democrats will have little reason to not vote on a Republican ballot in the primary…if they want to be rabble rousers.

Indiana’s Democratic Party needs to get in the ring for 2016. It’s only been a few weeks since the RFRA debacle and they’re already losing ground to Republicans. Again. The sad reality is, until Democrats put forth candidates the people can identify, identify with and can support, Republicans will continue to eat their lunch.

Time for Democrats to get hungry and steal it back.

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marsha blackburn: congressional dead weight.

What’s wrong with Congress? People like Marsha Blackburn are unbeatable in their home districts, yet she is clearly something of a party hack when it comes to answering simple questions. These are not gotcha questions being asked by Ashleigh Banfield. These are follow-up questions, asking an elected official to back up her own words. I just discovered this interview, which took place prior to the November 2014 elections.

Blackburn represents the Tennessee 7th Congressional district. She has never received less than 66 percent of the vote in all her elections, dating back to 2002. From what I’ve gathered about the Tennessee 7th, an old ashtray could run for Congress and win handily, so long as an “R” appears after its name.

I get that this district will probably never elect a Democrat, but don’t the Republicans who live there want someone with a higher intellectual acumen than Marsha Blackburn? Seriously, do better. This woman embarrassed herself in this interview, yet she seems to lack the self awareness to realize or care.

There was a time when I believed you had to be a truly intelligent, visionary and charismatic person to be in the US government. That was because I read about people like Henry Clay and Thomas Jefferson and Teddy Roosevelt and on and on and on. In reality, any schmuck with enough money and a cushy district can skate by for years—decades, even—before anyone even notices. Sadly, they rarely vote out dead weight. It just floats on and on.

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mike pence: the coward of the county.

So, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, who was rather boastful earlier this week about signing into law SB 101—the so-called “religious freedom” bill—did so in a “private ceremony” today. The once proud and gloating governor has become the Coward of the County. Gee, I wonder why.

It would be because his office, his phones, his Twitter feed and virtually every media outlet in Indiana has been flooded with angry, outraged, embarrassed Hoosiers demanding Pence to veto the bill. Calling it a reiteration of religious freedoms sound warm and fuzzy, but this bill is potentially dangerous, as it will provide legal cover to any business owner in Indiana to refuse service to anyone of their choosing. All they need to do is cite “religious freedom” as the reason.

We’re not talking about “no shirt, no shoes, no service.” We’re talking, “no gays, no atheists, no Jews.” Don’t believe me? We’re already there. The impetus of this pandering motion stems partially from an Indianapolis bakery that refused to provide a wedding cake for a couple. The baker was not asked to attend, officiate, sanction or even participate as a bride or groom. They were being paid to provide a service they’ve provided to scores of other people. But they refused. Why? Because the couple is gay. They cited their religion as the reason, which is another way of saying “my god allows me to be a bigot and you can’t stop me.” And now, the State of Indiana is codifying this bigotry into law.

Proponents of this measure always run to the same, tired, “free market” tropes Republicans love to espouse. In their minds, markets should be unfettered from any restrictions, free to run any way they choose because, in their world, the free market makes everything right.

Wrong.

It wasn’t so many years ago in this country it took an act of Congress to compel local governments, business owners and universities to end the practice of racial segregation. It was not uncommon for defenders of racism to cite Holy Scripture as basis for the legal justification of segregation. Just how free would the free market be in 1964 Selma, Alabama, were it not for the government stepping in and compelling business owners to desegregate? How long would it have taken?

Well, here we are again. Only this time social conservatives in Indiana and far too many other states are claiming victim status as religious people, being forced to serve gays against their faith. If your religion compels you to be homophobic (and yes, you are homophobic if you refuse service to a person simply because they are gay) then your interpretation of your religion is full of shit. You are praying to no god I ever want to know.

How we got here is the endless drumbeat from the far right that Christians in the U.S. are under the gun and on the run for their beliefs. This works great for cable news ratings and filling the coffers of predatory evangelists and shady politicians, but it’s also completely untrue.

People in this country of all faiths already enjoy broad freedom of religion. You can enter and exit any church, mosque or temple in America without fear of recrimination. Why? Because our Constitution guarantees you that right. With that in mind, Indiana Republicans decided the First Amendment needed more protection; at least, that’s their (completely erroneous) story and they’re sticking to it.

There is no reason to create new legislation reiterating the tenets of the First Amendment; especially when said measure can be weaponized to discriminate against all sorts of people in all sorts of situations. Whether or not that was the intent (and I have my own views on that), that is the reality.

This bill now gives cover to the devout Catholic pharmacist who refuses to fill a woman’s birth control prescription because it goes against his religion. Or a gay couple gets kicked out of a restaurant because the owner claims it goes against his religion. Or a cop refuses to answer a call to a strip club or a casino or an unmarried couple’s home because they all conflict with his religion.

Anyone who says that’s not the intent but goes ahead and supports the bill anyway doesn’t care about the bigotry and proselytizing that will happen in the business sector as a result of it. The bottom line: this bill not only protects bigots, it allows them to inflict their views on others.

Many of the examples I’ve cited have already happened. The difference is now in Indiana, they have been given legal cover by a band of Republicans who are refusing to see the forest for the trees, all in the name of placating fear and intolerance.

Your religion is your business and I would never take away your right to worship as you choose. But you don’t get to play god with your business because you don’t like gays or whatever other subjective interpretation of religion you come up with. The bible you claim to believe in, cover to cover, says a lot of kooky things.

On this issue, the Indiana State Chamber is right. Gen Con is right. Eli Lilly is right. Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard is right. SB 101 is problematic, unnecessary and is going to be trouble for the entire state.

The only course of action remaining for Hoosiers is one I truly hope that use: vote. All the talk in the world apparently isn’t going to sway the incessantly hardheaded and un-pragmatic governor of Indiana. But you know what you can do that will get his attention: VOTE. HIM. OUT.

You have less than two years, but the people have the power to fix this. Vote Pence out and vote out any statehouse legislator who signed onto this measure. It’s time to tilt the balance of power back to the people of Indiana. Otherwise, if you maintain this status quo, you might as well change the state motto to: “Welcome to Indiana…liberty and justice for some.”

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