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Murder in the SunMorgue
by Denis O'Brien, PhD

Who killed hundreds of Syrian children in Ghouta, Aug21|2013? How, and why?

WordPress version


Antinomian Opinion Page

March 31, 2016

Kasich vs. Biden!! 
The prediction of the century (eat yer heart out, Nate Silver)



California Democratic Convention, Feb27|2016

If there's one advantage to being totally unknown, it's that you can make outrageous political predictions until the cow's come home and when you're wrong, nobody notices.  And, believe me, I've made my share of outrageous political predictions that were wrong, and, sure enough nobody noticed either the predictions or the cows.  But the present outrageous prediction is going to be spot on, and whether the cows come home or whether they just stand around out in the pasture barfing up their cud and chewing it, everybody's going to notice and I'm going to get to say the most coveted four words in the English language: I told you so.  Surely when this binary feat of political clairvoyance gets the attention it deserves, I will be booked onto CNN, the Hannity Show, the O'Reilly Show, Meet the Press, and Dancing with the Stars -- all in the same week!

Here's the prediction: John Kasich will be the Republican nominee and Joe Biden will be the Democratic nominee.

How wild is this double-barrelled prediction?  According to the prediction markets, it is bat-spit crazy.  Today PredictIt shares for Kasich being the Republican nominee are trading for $.09 -- that is 4 cents less than Paul Ryan, who is not even in the race.  This means that for a 9-cent investment, they will pay you a buck if Kaisch wins the nomination.  IOW, it's 9:1 odds against Kaisch. 

As far as Biden being the Democratic nominee, he is not even on the PredictIt board -- you couldn't bet on him if you wanted to.  In statistical terms, the odds of both of these predictions coming true are infinitesimal to nil, which is the definition of bat-spit crazy.  

But anyone can throw out a wacko, off-the-wall, contrarian prediction. I'm actually going to explain the reasoning behind it.  Hold tight, this is the hard part.  Jeane Dixon never did this with her wacko, off-the-wall, contrarian predictions.  Neither does Nate Silver.   

The Republican side

This part is fairly easy.  Ted Cruz and Kasich are in a very good position to block Donald Trump from racking up 50% of the delegates needed to avoid a contested, or brokered, convention.  Unless Trump can pull off a blitzkrieg attack, the monkey-business ends and the two monkeys in this circus-- Trump and Cruz -- will be left holding nothing more than bananas.  The only viable candidate, Kaisch, will be nominated because the party will have to choose the only candidate with a chance of beating the Democrats. 

Even though, for reasons discussed below, Hillary will be long gone before the conventions begin, at present we have to look at how all three Republicans left in the race hold up against her in order to gauge how those three Republicans stack up against each other.  And the way they stack up according to Real Clear Politics poll averages as of today (Mar31|16) is that Kasich is the only one of the three who could defeat Hillary Clinton.  Trump would lose by 11 points; Cruz by 3 points; Kasich would win by 7 points.  And that's pretty much the way it's been for the entire race, which is why Kasich has hung on so doggedly.

As for beating Bernie Sanders, Real Clear says none of these three Republicans can beat him, but Kasich comes within only 2 points while Cruz and Trump are short by 10 and 17 points, respectively.  Again, this is not to say I think Sanders will be the Democratic pick, I'm merely looking for a way to divine what the Republican leaders will be thinking if there is a contested convention, and what they will be thinking is that Kasich is in the best position to win the White House relative to the other two. 

Even though he has the best poll numbers for taking on the Democrats, it still sounds crazy that Kasich would be the nominee when as of today he has won a total of one primary out of 28 -- his home state of Ohio.  Here's the way Lisa Rose at  CNN puts it:

Kasich is banking on the idea that the delegates will embrace him as the most appealing candidate, even though the Republicans in the voting booths thus far don't seem to be as enthusiastic. Kasich's premise hinges on the delegates choosing him as a unity candidate. Then, everyone hugs it out in Cleveland and the Republicans take back the White House in 2017.

The Democratic side

In early February I explained why it doesn't matter whether Hil gets busted or not, she is, essentially, cooked meat, or at least her campaign is.  I won't go into those details here.  But today that argument is 10x stronger than it was 6 weeks ago, what with 1) Hil's IT guy Bryan Pagliano having been given immunity, which almost certainly means he is already talking to the grand jury, and 2) with the FBI having notified Clinton's aides that they are next up for some freaking hard questions.  The FBI doesn't leak information that they have put somewhere between 50 and 147 agents [ WaPo, whose story changes by the minute] to work on an investigation against one of the top-dog politicians in the country without an indictment coming out of that investigation.  

As I said in that previous post, the indictment doesn't have to be against Clinton personally to sink her campaign. If anyone on her team is indicted, it will not just stink up the bathroom, it will not just stink up the house, it's going to stink up the entire block and everybody will be moving as far away as possible. I cannot see a single good outcome here for Hil's humble aspirations of following her husband into the Oral Office.  Even if Loretta Lynch were to shut down the FBI investigation or evem if Barak Obama were to pardon Hil, the stench would be so bad the Republicans would win virtually by default regardless of who the Democratic candidate is.  Unfortunately for Hil, her stupidity and/or duplicity in shifting all of her government electronic correspondence to her basement server has sealed her fate.  Everybody remembers Bill's lying and philandering; everybody remembers Hil's Whitewater; everybody is sick and tired of the Clintons and their perpetual dramas spawned by mendacity layered on self-promotion. 

The democrats know all of this better than I do.  They are in nightmare mode at the moment.  If Hil waits until an indictment comes down to get out of the race, it may be too late for the Democrats to get far enough away from the stink regardless of who their nominee is, and yet Hil is not going to bail out until just before the plane hits the ground and bursts into flames.  

And that brings us to Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden.  

Sanders has to be kicking himself black and blue for his famous "I am damn sick and tired of hearing about the Emails" comment.  Instead of implicitly supporting Hil's stupid, and quite possibly felonious, mishandling of government documents, Sanders should be pounding Hil over her head with the Emails issue.  He should have grabbed the moral high ground, not just to get voters to see Clinton for what she is, but also to put as much distance as possible between him and the Clinton fiasco.  Sanders is in the same position and playing the same role as Al Gore during the 2000 election: two middling politicians too intimidated or too cowardly to take a strong public moral stand against the Clintons.  It is too late now.  Having supported Hil in the Em scandal, Sanders has painted a huge target on his own back. Imagine Sanders running for president because Hil got indicted -- the Republican mantra would be "Why did you not speak out against her criminal acts?"  

And now you can see why Biden is looking good.  Awfully good.  By stepping out of the race in October, he has been hovering above the mud. He does not have to express an opinion on Hil or sully himself with her troubles.  He is able to campaign without actually campaigning. If he didn't know from inside information that there was trouble coming from the FBI for Hil, then at least he was sharp enough to see that the chances were pretty good.  

And if you think he stopped campaigning, look at that photo at the top of this piece.  It is a screen grab from Biden's address to the California Democratic Convention in late February -- 4 months after he "dropped out" of the campaign.  "Go Joe" and "Biden" signs filled the convention hall.  No "Hillary" signs.  No "Bernie" signs.

And if you take 60 minutes to listen to his speech, what you will hear is the classic stump-speech.  He was not there to promote Democratic candidates for Congress, or Democratic candidates for the White House.  He barely even mentioned any of them and none of their races.  He was there to promote Joe Biden -- where else would all of the Go Joe campaign signs have come from?  Here are some examples from his speech to illustrate my point.  The time-points refer to this video

  • 10:19 -- I remember well the mess we inherited when the president and I took our hands off the Bible on that cold January day . . .

  • 11:30 -- President and I went to work and saved America . . .

  • 17:20 -- When Nancy, and Barak, and I were saving the country, "we" cut the deficit by 2/3.

  • 20:00 -- The goal that Barak and I so boldly stated when we ran in '08 . . .

  • 23:00 -- What Barak and I in our last two budgets are pushing . . .

  • 28:20 -- I was recently keynote speaker at the World Economic Forum with over 2400 CEOs. 

  • 31:20 -- I was able to get Republicans to raise tax top 2%.

  • 30:00 -- I've been talking about the middle class for my whole career.

  • 33:18 -- President and I have proposed eliminating expenditures with no social value.

  • 34:00 -- President and I have been proposing free community college.

  • 38:39 -- takes credit for attempts to increase child-care tax credit

  • 44:00 -- I've traveled more than 1 million miles as vice president meeting foreign leaders . . .

  • 45:38 -- In 1974 I proposed a constitutional amendment to publicly fund elections . . .

  • 48:00 -- The usual sob story about his wife getting killed and how heroic he was to go on and take the senate seat.

This is not a man no longer in the race stumping for his party; it's a man stumping for himself and very much in the race.  In addition to the predominant use of the first-person pronoun, you can tell what his real message is by the way he cashes in on his personal tragedies to build up a reserve of empathy, not for his party, but for himself.  He brings up his dead son, he brings up his dead wife and daughter to leverage their deaths into support for himself.   

I don't know of any other politician who does that.  You figure that there are 535 voting members of congress, a president, and a vice-president, and among all of those politicians there is a sub-set who have lost spouses, children, siblings in tragic circumstances.  You never hear about these tragedies, because to most people it would be unthinkable to try and turn personal tragedy into votes.  But Biden is OK with using tragedy as a political tactic because he is a politician right to the core.  

And that is what makes him the Democratic presidential candidate of choice in 2016 -- he is a politician and a Democrat right to the core.  Watch that February speech.  It is a masterpiece.  The man is far and away the most polished and effective speaker of anyone who is now or has ever been in this race.  He makes Trump look like a rhetorical nincompoop without once mentioning him. He makes Sanders look like the bilious rumpled old man he is without actually saying it.  When Biden enters this race, if he were to chose Elizabeth Warren as his running mate, they would crush any team the Republicans could ever dream of.  Even without Warren's demotic support, the man would be, at this point, a breath of fresh air to a public who has been over-dosed with strident wackos and their snakebite-remedies.  But he would have to get past the ideologue, Sanders.

In 1968 Vice-President Hubert Humphrey did not compete in any primaries, either. His tactic was to accumulate delegates in caucus states that could be controlled by party leaders. When Robert Kennedy, the Democratic leader, was taken out of the race by a bullet, the party bosses, including Lyndon Johnson, were able to take control of the delegates and insure that their man Humphrey beat the remaining antiwar ideologues George McGovern and Eugene McCarthy, even though going into the convention McCarthy had the most delegates and was clearly the grass-roots favorite.

Now, 48 years later, I believe we will see the 1968 scenario play out again: the sudden loss of the leading Democratic candidate late in the race, at which time the vice-president emerges from the wings and spoils the hopes of the second place candidate and his faithful grass-roots supporters.

And so this idea that Biden is not out of the race by a long shot is confirmed by the tone and tenor of his stump speech in California late in February.  And the idea that an indictment is coming down against Hillary and/or her associates is not just a wild guess, given the FBI's investment of resources and the way they have handed out immunity to one of Hil's operatives who would have a lot to talk about.  If the idea of Biden ending up as the Democratic nominee is daft, at least it's not as daft as the professional pundits' reasons for why Biden left the race in October.  

John Sides WaPo, Oct21|15 wrote an article titled Why Biden was smart to drop out -- in one single, solitary devastating, awesomely simple graph.  That super-graph -- or, rather, super-delegate graph -- reproduced below, shows the endorsements Clinton, Biden, Sanders and O'Malley had received from "Democratic Governors, Senators, and Members of Congress" as of October. 

It's immediately obvious from the title of the graph Sides is not entirely in touch with the American political scene, for Senators are members of Congress.  But never mind the slight gaffe, the point Sides was so boldly making was that, based on his metric, Hillary was so far ahead in the then nascent race that no one could catch her.  Biden was smart to call it quits.  Remember this was back in October, an eternity ago.

Today Sides' fawning shtick for Hillary sounds a bit daft . . . at least as daft as my position that Biden is still in this race.  For if Sides' logic had been applied to Sanders, who had even fewer endorsements than Biden, then Sanders didn't have a chance either and should have left the race along with Biden, giving Hil an early wrap on the Democratic nomination.  But more to the point, Hil's impressive early lead with the Democratic power-players won't mean squat if Comey announces so much as a misdemeanor indictment against anyone even vaguely close to the Clinton political influence peddling organization.   

It'll be Kasich v. Biden, irrespective of whether or not the cows come home.

Read more:

For an explanation of prediction markets and how they differ from polls, here's Natalie Jackson's HuffPo article.    

When Biden dropped out last October, Brett Parker of The Stanford Political Journal made comparisons between the Democrats in 1968 and 2016. 



Denis R. O'Brien, PhD/Esq.
denis [at-sign] logophere [full stop] com


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