Friday, May 31, 2019

Nothing to see here

Should we believe President Donald Trump or our own lying eyes?  Plain and simple, Congress needs to start an impeachment inquiry into the country's chief executive.  Trump was not "completely exonerated" of obstruction of justice.  The road map to impeachment is in the Mueller report and, despite what Attorney General William Barr says, Special Counsel Robert Mueller intended Congress to take up the process from here, because he believed his office could not indict a sitting President no matter how compelling the evidence.

Mueller concluded his investigation, closed the Special Counsel's office, and rode off into the sunset, but not before telling the country that the torch has been passed on to Congress. (Listen to Mueller's full statement here.)

High Crimes and Misdemeanors

Like many concepts and terms in the United States Constitution, the phrase "high crimes and misdemeanors" is not defined.  The United States Constitution is a relatively brief document when it comes to constitutions, and that was the way the framers intended it to be.  The wisdom of the framers was that times would change and so would our understanding of the Constitution.  Anyone who believes that the Founding Fathers intended us to be stuck in time and to the absolute four corners of the United States Constitution does not understand the history of the early Republic.

The phrase "high crimes and misdemeanors" generally means any serious matter that violates the "public trust."  Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist 65, that impeachment "offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust."

Article I of the President Richard Nixon articles of impeachment charged that Nixon "prevented, obstructed, and impeded the administration of justice..."  All the Articles of impeachment never came to fruition, because Nixon saw the writing on the wall (Republican Senators Hugh Scott and Barry Goldwater telling him he didn't have the votes to stop a conviction) got the hell outta Dodge and resigned.  Scott, the Senate minority leader told Nixon that he had, at most, 15 Senators that would vote for acquittal (34 were needed to save the Nixon Presidency.)

Findings of the Mueller investigation that support impeachment

Nixon directed the Central Intelligence Agency to force the Federal Bureau of Investigation to shut down its probe into the Watergate burglary, he directed subordinates to pay hush money payments to subjects of the investigation, then he fired Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox.  All of these actions provided the basis for Article I of the Nixon impeachment.

Trump repeatedly tried to get then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions not to recuse himself from the Mueller investigation so Sessions could shut it down, he fired James Comey as FBI Director in order to attempt to stop Comey's investigations into Russian influence on the 2016 election, he ordered White House counsel Don McGahn to fire Mueller, and he urged Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, and Michael Cohen to "stay strong" and they would be rewarded (a Presidential pardon down the road.)  If this isn't obstruction of justice, the term obstruction has no meaning.

“Because we determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment, we did not draw ultimate conclusions about the President’s conduct,” the Mueller report said. “The evidence we obtained about the President’s actions and intent presents difficult issues that would need to be resolved if we were making a traditional prosecutorial judgment. At the same time, if we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state.”

Thursday, April 25, 2019

It depends on what the meaning of is is

Former President Bill Clinton famously said "it depends on what the meaning of 'is' is.  Republicans were appalled by Clinton's lawyer-speak, after all, words have meanings and to play games with words are not what the "strict constructionists" believe.

Strict Constructionism

Republicans are big fans of strict constructionism.  They say time and time again that Judges should not "make law," but should interpret the law as it was written.  Look to the statute and don't pull a Bill Clinton "is is." Strict constructionists look at the literal meaning of the words in question, or at their historical meaning at the time the law was written. Congress' demand to see President Donald Trump's taxes are grounded in an unambiguous statute which empowers them to do so.

Trump's taxes

The House Ways and Means Committee has requested the Department of Treasury (the IRS) to turn over six years of Trump's.  Trump has said he is not obligated to turn over his taxes and is directing the IRS to not turn them over.  Trump believes that the Democrats are acting "politically" and therefore Trump is not obligated to turn over his taxes.  Apparently, the President who appoints strict constructionists the federal bench doesn't believe in strict construction when it pertains to him.

Tax information is generally between the IRS and the individual.  There are a few exceptions to this general rule.  States, for example, can access your federal tax information if they deem it necessary to reconcile the information you sent your state versus what you sent the Feds,  Congress (the Ways and Means Committee in particular) has the power under a 1924 law to get tax returns and related tax information on any American if they ask for it.  This is an absolute rule.  Congress need not state a reason.

The 1924 law states, "Any committee (such as the Ways and Means Committee) shall have the authority ... to inspect returns and return information at such time and in such manner as may be determined by such chairman..."  This provision applies to anyone who files taxes, and the origins of this law had its impetus in scandals under the President Warren Harding administration.  Congress did not have the power to get tax returns prior to the 1924 law, so Congress granted themselves the power.

Why we need to see the tax returns

Congress needs to see Trump's tax returns for one simple reason --- we need to know if his business interests conflict with the interests of the American people.  If we don't know the exact extent of Trump's financial interests, we cannot know for sure whether Trump is acting in the best interests of the American people or in his own best financial interests.  Trump either does not understand this or doesn't care.  In either case, that's conduct inconsistent with the job of leader of the free world.

We do have precedent and a perfect example of what full disclosure looks like.  In 1974, President Gerald Ford (himself appointed to the job of Vice President) appointed a man whose name is synonymous with wealth --- Nelson Rockefeller. 

Rockefeller was Governor of New York for 15 years and a man who sought the Presidency in his own right a number of times.  Rockefeller was also extremely wealthy, with business interests all over the world.  When he was nominated by Ford, Congress had serious concerns that Rockefeller's job could be affected by his vast business interests.

Did Rockefeller give Congress the middle finger?  No, that was a couple years later and not directed at Congress.  Rockefeller engaged in a procedure foreign to Trump.  It's called "full disclosure." Rockefeller submitted himself to months of Congressional inquiry.  He was nominated by Ford on August 20, 1974, and was not finally approved by the Senate until almost four months later on December 10, 1974,

We need to know the exact extent of Trump's financial interests, and the fact that he won the 2016 Presidential election does not mean this issue has been already litigated.  The Republican Congress woefully neglected their oversight duties in 2017 and 2018 by not asking for the financial information. 

Checks and Balances

Congress is a co-equal branch of government, and in fact, it can be argued that the Founding Fathers actually believed that Congress was more important than the other two branches.  Congress' powers and duties are addressed in Article One, the President in Article Two, and the Judiciary in Article Three.  The Founding Fathers were afraid of any branch having too much power.  Each branch was directed to "keep an eye" on the other. 

As outlined in the Federalist Papers (No. 51), James Madison explained that "the biggest threats to the government of the United States would be the ability of one governing branch to obtain too much power over another..." 

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Get Over It, Obamacare Is Here To Stay

In 2010, the GOP kicked some electoral butt as a result of Obamacare, now they're about to get their butts kicked if they keep up efforts to appeal it.  The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is here to stay, and it is and always was the signature accomplishment of the Obama administration. To quote Joe Biden, it's a "big F**KING deal."

How does it work?

The Affordable Care Act is officially known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, but has become known as the "Obamacare."  Obamacare was the classic "law by committee." President Barack Obama took a hands-off approach to the crafting of the law and allowed Congressional Committees to craft differing versions of a law whose main goal was to cover as many Americans as possible.  The result which is by no means perfect was light years ahead of the messed up system that was in place.

Despite attempts for a single payer system or even a system with a "public option," the overall plan is still primarily a private insurance company based system.  Most Americans (excluding those over 65, disabled, or covered under the Children's Health Insurance Program {CHIP}) have some form of employer-based healthcare.  Obamacare made it mandatory for employers with over 50 fulltime employees (30 hours or more a week) to offer "affordable" and "minimum essential coverage." The rest of the public (excluding the aforementioned seniors and the disabled) fell under mandated Obamacare insurance.

Without getting into the specifics of federally run exchanges and state-run exchanges, Obamacare gave monetary subsidies to individuals making between 100 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level (around $12,000 a year per individual and an additional $4000 for each dependent.)  The Advanced Premium Tax Credits amounted to large "gifts" to the health insurance companies which allowed individuals to pay reduced premiums for health insurance.  The subsidies allowed millions of people the chance at health coverage.  This was the "carrot."  The "stick" was the individual mandate (a monetary penalty if you didn't buy health insurance.)

If your income is under 133 percent of the poverty level (about $16,000  a year for an individual or $32,000 for a family of four) you are eligible for Medicaid (the Medicaid Expansion.)  If you make over $48,000 as an individual or $96,000 for a family of four, you do not get any financial help buying insurance, but you still have to purchase health insurance or face a financial penalty assessed by the IRS on your next year's taxes.

All of this, by the way, is paid and did not increase the deficit.

The Supreme Court mucks it up

As soon as Obamacare became the "law of the land," Republicans (the guys and gals who abhor the courts "making" laws) filed legal challenges to strike down Obamacare.  The thrust of their argument was that the mandate to buy insurance was an unconstitutional use of power by the federal government.  It was argued that the Commerce Clause did not allow Congress to force people to buy health insurance, which, of course, lead to the crazy legal discussions by the late Justice Antonin Scalia about the federal government forcing individuals to buy broccoli.

In the end, Chief Justice John Roberts saved the day, by declaring Obamacare good to go constitutionally, but not under the Commerce Clause, but he reasoned that the individual mandate was a "tax" and Congress certainly has the right to tax.  He also threw a bone to the conservatives by saying that states were not required to enact the Medicaid expansion, because that was a bridge too far constitutionally.  A number of states (those controlled by Democratic legislatures or Governors,) took the federal money and expanded Medicaid.  Those under Republican control said "we don't want your stinkin' money" and shafted its poorest residents by refusing to expand Medicaid.  The number of states expanding Medicaid has steadily increased, and currently 37 states and the District of Columbia have expanded Medicaid (the most recent few by popular referendum.)

The Supreme Court may get another chance to muck things up if the case which is working its way through the federal court system makes its way to Washington. Before the GOP got its butt handed to them in the 2018 election, Republicans repealed the individual mandate as part of their tax "reform" legislation.  This afforded those diehard Obamacare haters to file suit which basically says that since there is no more individual mandate, there is no tax, and thus the whole of Obamacare is unconstitutional.  A federal judge in Texas agreed, but his ruling is on hold pending appeal.

Repeal and Replace

Repeal and Replace has been the mantra of Republicans for years when it comes to Obamacare.  While this slogan carried some weight when the GOP first coined the phrase, it no longer excites crowds, except for true believers.  This lack of favor came for two major reasons --- Republicans had no "replacement" and Obamacare now usually polls at least fifteen points on the positive side.  It seems like people are happy with the law's prohibition of discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions, keeping children on their plans until age 26, the subsidies, and the elimination of junk insurance plans.  The jury is also in on premium costs because even though health insurance costs continue to rise, the rate of increase has slowed dramatically.

The basic reason for passing Obamacare was to increase the number of individuals with health coverage.  Health insurance would no longer be a luxury only for those who could pay the bill.  Hard working individuals would now be able to go to get medical care without having to "tough it out" and pray for the best or get medical care and then seek bankruptcy protection.  At least 20 million people now have health insurance who wouldn't without Obamacare, and the GOP and President Donald Trump have no plan to cover these people.  Health Savings Accounts ain't gonna do it.

Where do we go from here?

Obamacare is here to stay, and thankfully so.  Millions of Americans now have health insurance who could never afford it.  One of the groups who benefit the most from Obamacare are those "small business people" the GOP loves to canonize.  It is not uncommon for a family health insurance plan to cost as much as $3000 a month, that $36,000 a year for those of you scoring at home.

A small businessman (making $60,000 a year) with a family of four would have to pay about $2000 a month for a family health insurance plan.  Under Obamacare, that small businessman would now get that same coverage for about $400 a month.  Now he can make that business grow and not have about being forced into bankruptcy by health insurance premiums or bills from an unexpected illness.

President Trump has promised a "really good" health insurance plan both on the campaign trail and now since he's instructed the Justice Department to join GOP Attorneys General in support of striking down Obamacare.  He recently said, the GOP will become the "party of healthcare."  This ain't gonna happen if you don't have a plan.  Trump's die-hard bases might take him on his word about healthcare, but a good majority of the American people won't.

Buzz and I are in agreement with a vast majority of the American people.  Fix Obamacare and don't throw the baby out with the bath water. Obamacare is not perfect, but it is so, so much better than what we had before.  Millions of more Americans are covered, and that's a great start.  Let's start tweaking it to cover even more Americans.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

The Fat Lady Hasn't Sung Just Yet

Despite President Donald Trump's victory dance on Attorney General William Barr's four-page summary of the Mueller report, the Fat Lady has not begun to sing on Trump's legal problems. 

Investigating a Murder and finding a Bank Roberry

Prosecutors cannot turn a blind eye to one crime when they are investigating another. Trump's victory lap is certainly premature.  This is not because the "deep state" is relentless or because the "fake news" media is out to get him,  it is because, despite the fact that Mueller failed to find evidence of criminal collusion, he conducted an investigation which resulted in numerous indictments, including the conviction of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

In addition to Manafort, Trump's former "fixer" and former lawyer (Michael Cohen) is counting the days until he goes to federal prison on charges that included paying a porn star (Stormy Daniels) for her silence in violation of campaign finance law.  Trump, by the way, was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in that case. 

Russia, Russia, Russia

We also found out that Trump lied repeatedly about his business dealings with Russia.  Trump repeatedly said on the campaign trail and well into his Presidency he had no business dealings with Russia, or that they ended prior to 2016.  Such is certainly not the case.

Trump's business interest in Russia (or at that time, the Soviet Union) began in the mid 1980s when he explored the possibility of building hotels in Russia, including one "across the street from the Kremlin."  He bragged about this in his book "Art of the Deal."   His interest in Russia as a business opportunity never came to fruition, but it also didn't end until well into 2016 when he was saying he didn't have and wasn't pursuing any business deals in Russia.

The best defense Buzz and I heard with regards to the collusion with Russia is that the Trump campaign was so disorganized that it couldn't collude with anyone, including itself.  We believe this, wholeheartedly. 

Where do we go from here?

As we said, this is not over, and rightfully so.  The Democratic Congress will continue to do its job --- provide the checks and balances spelled out in the United States Constitution.  They are investigating and will continue to investigate Trump, despite the summary of the findings of the Mueller investigation. 

In addition to the previously mentioned election finance law violation, Trump's inaugural committee is being investigated for possible illegal spending and fundraising, his charitable organization has been fined millions of dollars and forced to close its doors, and there are multiple issues being investigated by Congress and various United States Attorney's offices in Trump's past business dealings.  These investigations will, in all likelihood continue to haunt Trump for years to come.

Just because Trump squeaked out a Presidential election victory in the perfect storm of 2016 doesn't mean that we should turn a blind eye to prior wrongdoings.  He is not above the law since he has been elected President.  If Trump did not want increased scrutiny, he never should have ridden down the escalator in 2015 and announced his candidacy for President of the United States.  The Presidency has many perks, but being scrutinized on everything you do and ever did is not one of them.  It is a hazard of the job.

When it comes to investigations, we quote the late Yogi Berra, "it ain't over 'til it's over," and the "fat lady" hasn't even warmed up.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Uncle Joe is gonna run

Donald Trump's worst electoral nightmare is coming to a state near you. Buzz has been crunching data with the Univac 3000, and the results are in:  Joe Biden will run for President in 2020.  Biden needs to win the Democratic nomination first, but the blue-collar, "ordinary Joe" is just the type of candidate who has the best chance of putting Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin back in the Democratic column and sending Trump back to New York City and his "friends" at the Southern District of New York's prosecutors' office.

2016 Election was not a landslide but any stretch of the imagination

The 2016 election of Donald Trump was the perfect storm that cracked the vaunted Democratic Blue Electoral wall.  Let's look at the numbers first.

Trump did not win the popular vote, in fact, he lost it by almost three million votes, 62,980,160 to 65,845,063.  With regards to the electoral vote, he narrowly won that --- 304 to 227.  (There was an unusually large number of faithless electors --- those who vote for a candidate other than the one who won their respective states.  Colin Powell got three, and John Kasich, Ron Paul, Bernie Sanders, and Faith Spotted Owl each received one vote.)  For those of you scoring at home, you need 270 to win.  Without the faithless electors, Trump still wins 306 to 238.

The election came down to Trump's narrow victories in three of the blue wall states --- Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin.  Those 46 electoral votes went to Trump, but without them, he loses 278 to 260.  The popular vote victories in those states were Pennsylvania (44,292), Wisconsin (22,748, and Michigan (10,704), for a total of 77,744.  The victories in these three states were powered by first-time or first-time in a long time voters who overwhelmingly voted either for Trump or against Hillary Clinton.

Changing demographics put Arizona (11 electoral votes), Georgia (16), and Texas (36) into play for the Democrats in 2020, so Trump will no only have to hold the three rust belt states he won in 2016 but will have to play defense in these three soon-to-be Purple states.

Why Joe's gonna run

Joe Biden would be President now if he ran against Trump in 2016.  He did not enter the race, primarily because of the tragic death of his son 46-year-old son Beau in 2015 from brain cancer.  It's a decision that we believe he regrets greatly. 

Biden ran for President twice before (1988 and 2008), but both times did poorly.  The difference this time started when he got the call from candidate Barack Obama in 2008 to be Obama's running mate.  This changed everything.  He was instantly transformed from an also-ran to a somebody.  His tenure as the "stand-by-your-man" Vice President only enhanced his stature.  He has been involved in politics for over 50 years, having been elected to the Senate from Delaware at just prior to his 30th birthday in 1972.  The political bug is in his blood and it will never leave him until the day he dies.

Being the political animal he is, Biden certainly sees the poll numbers.  Biden either leads or is at the top of every Democratic Presidential preference poll and leads Trump in every electoral state that is going to make the difference in 2020.  Yes, a lot of this has to do with name recognition, but Biden is not only well known, but he is very well liked, despite his propensity to make a major gaffe now and then.  Actually, his gaffe-making adds to his genuineness.

Biden also polls very well with the blue-collar workers (the Reagan Democrats) who got up off their couches and cast a vote for Trump in the crucial states.  Hillary never made a connection with these voters in 2016.  They were never enthused enough and Trump seemed like someone who felt their plight.  Biden has the same effect on these voters, albeit not as strong as Trump did in 2016, but enough to make the difference in 2020.

For these major factors, Biden will run, and why not --- he loves the political arena, and for the first time in his political career (2016 doesn't count,) he actually has a pretty clear path to the White House.  As far as the age issue, Trump will be 74 on election day 2020 and Biden turns 78 17 days after election day 2020.  Biden is in good health, and besides, they say that 70 is the new 50, so Biden is only 56 years old right now.

So Biden's options are to sit on the sidelines and rue the 2016 decision not to run or follow the political animal blood in his veins and jump back into the political arena with much more than a Don Quixote chance at becoming President.  The Univac 3000 says he's in and so do Buzz and I.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

The New Normal

Impeach first, ask questions later.  If Barack Obama were still the President, the Republicans would be trying to ride him outta town on a rail if he tried to get away with a scintilla of the crap Donald Trump did.  A major part of the problem is a substantial sector of the American populace doesn't believe Trump did anything wrong.

When we look to the veracity of the two men the difference is stark.  According to the New York Times, Trump told six times as many lies in the first ten months of his administration as Obama did in his complete eight years at the helm.  Yes, we are not that naive to think that politicians don't stretch the truth, but as a good friend of mine says, "don't piss on me and tell me it's raining," and that's exactly what Trump is doing to the American people.

Truth is an absolute

The latest tally from the Washington Post has President Donald Trump at 9014 false or misleading claims over the first 773 days of his administration.  In Saturday's speech at the Conservative Political Action Committee annual gathering in Washington, D.C. he told 200 misleading or false claims in a two-hour speech.  Despite this, thirty-five to forty percent of the population is unmoved.  The objective truth that Trump is lying is chalked up to "fake news."

The late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan was fond of saying, "everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts."  Apparently, in Trump's America, Trump and his supporters are entitled to their own set of facts.  It is much easier to make an argument when you start with the argument and then move to the facts than to use objective facts and tailor your argument to those facts. By contrast, it is impossible to have a constructive argument or discussion if you can't agree on the facts.

Let's turn to baseball for a quick analogy.  Here are a couple of quick, objective, and easily verifiable facts.  Outfielder Barry Bonds hit 762 home runs over the span of his 22-year baseball career and Shortstop Ozzie Smith hit 28 home runs over the span of his 19-year career.  Once we agree on the number of home runs each player hit and the positions they played, it would be foolish to argue that Smith was a better home run hitter or that Bonds was a better shortstop, however, if you believe that Smith hit 800 home runs and Bonds won 18 gold gloves at shortstop, we could argue all day long on the aforementioned propositions.

When did we lose our way

Since the solidification of the two-party system in the United States (probably the election of 1860,) the two major parties have had their disagreements on a wide array of issues.  Their positions have changed on some issues and their basis of support has changed over the years, but since the founding of the Republic, we have been a nation which knows how to compromise when it comes to getting things done.  Our Constitution is rooted in some major compromises, such as the creation of two houses of Congress, the apportionment of House seats, the separation of powers which all came about through negotiation and compromise.

This idea of compromise helped us make our way through the past 200 plus years.  We have addressed issues and come to solutions by taking two divergent points of view and forging something which wasn't always the solution that either side originally envisioned.  This was possible because parties generally agreed on the facts or at least the major facts.  Today, it seems like the problem is not coming to a compromise agreement, it is agreeing on the facts to start working to that solution.

Republicans and Democrats have almost always disagreed on how to solve a particular problem, but in most cases, they were able to distinguish fact from fiction.  They also realized that most people involved in the political process were in it because they love this country and truly want to do what they see is best for their constituents.  A lot of this changed in 1994 when Newt Gingrich grabbed hold of the soul of the Republican party, and this change was exacerbated in 2010 when the Tea Party movement began.  The final descent into the rabbit hole was the election of Donald Trump in 2016.

We need to get back on track

The only way that we will forge ahead in this great nation of ours is if we start agreeing on the facts.  We need to realize that even our political enemies may have a point now and then, and believe it or not, those same people love America just as much as you do.  Buzz and I were not big fans of George W. Bush, but we never doubted his patriotism.  And, Bush's biggest mistake was not made because he made up facts and flat out lied to us, but because he believed faulty intelligence.  20/20 hindsight is a great thing, and we can now look back at the Iraq war disaster and realize it was based on bad intelligence.

In Trump's America, the truth is not objective.  It's whatever Trump says it is.  Did Russia try to influence the 2016 Presidential election?  Nope.  The intelligence agencies say yes, but Trump says no because Vladimir Putin said Russia didn't.  Was Kim Jong Un responsible and aware of the torture of Otto Warmbier?  Experts say yes, but Trump says no because Kim Jong Un says he didn't.

We cannot continue like this. We need to accept that certain things are verifiable truths.  This is serious stuff that affects the American people.  This is not Trump padding his wealth to jump up a few spots on Forbes' list of the wealthiest people or continually using superlative adjectives that categorizes everything he does as "the biggest, the largest, the best, or the most."  We expect politicians to paint things in the most positive light, but we don't expect or deserve them to continually lie about things that any rational person sees as outright false.

Monday, February 25, 2019

The one word that explains Trump 2016 victory: Hillary

Two plus years later, Buzz and I have come to a definitive conclusion.  Donald Trump won the Presidency for one reason and one reason only --- Hillary Clinton.  Bernie Sanders or even Martin O'Malley, Lincoln Chafee, or Tim Webb (yeah the three other Democratic candidates) would be touting the title of the 45th President of the United States.

The Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy

It took some time to realize exactly how bad of a candidate Hillary actually was.  It doesn't have anything to do with Benghazi or the missing emails.  They were made-up BS scandals that were disregarded by a vast majority of American voters, and remember, Hillary did beat Trump by over three million votes.  What it really came down to was what Hillary talked about 25 years ago --- the "vast right-wing conspiracy."  (Well maybe not vast, but persistent as all hell.)

For years and years, the GOP has been railing against Hillary Clinton.  The fact that she is not the warm and fuzzy candidate like her husband Bill made it easier for the attacks to stick.  Even good liberals had serious trouble warming up to her (hence the Feel the Bern.)  (And for those of you who believe Bernie got burned by the Democratic National Committee (DNC,) remember this, Hillary still kicked his butt in the popular primary vote and all those rules which favored Hillary had been in place for years --- they weren't changed mid-stream by Debbie Wasserman-Schultz or any other nefarious DNC figure.)

Don't get us wrong, we believe Hillary would have been a very good President, certainly much better than Trump could ever be, but even Buzz and I never really warmed to her.  She would have been an overly-hard worker who wouldn't continually embarrass the office home and abroad.  She also would not have prided herself in ignorance to all things Presidential.

Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania

Trump won in 2016 because the Founding Fathers set up this crazy thing called the Electoral College, a system which gives a disproportionate advantage to smaller states.  (Electoral votes are based on Congressional representation (one vote for each member of the House and one for each Senator.)  That's kind of fair for the House numbers, but totally undemocratic for the Senate number.  The state of Wyoming gets one electoral vote for 300,000 people on the Senate side, whereas California gets one electoral vote for 20,000,000 million people.  In other words, all things being equal, the California equivalent would be about 67 Senate based electoral votes.

Because of the Electoral College set up, Trump was able to win the Presidency by getting pluralities in three states --- Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.  The margin in these three states was 77,744 votes.  Trump's victory was the perfect storm of Electoral politics.  The big question is, can he repeat the perfect storm in 2020, that is if he survives until then.  Short of impeachment, Trump will win the Republican primary without any significant opposition.  A good majority of Republican voters have retreated to such a fact-free bubble that Trump could "shoot someone on 5th Avenue" and get away with it.  Their bubble is so impenetrable that only alternative facts get in.

It was highly unlikely that Trump could have pulled Electoral College magic out of his hat in 2016, but 2020 is even more unlikely.  He also has to worry about losing states like Arizona, and maybe even Texas this time around.  2018 saw major statewide wins for Democrats in 2018 in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.  Pennsylvania saw its incumbent Democratic Governor win by 17 points and its incumbent Democratic Senator win by 13 points.  Michigan had a Democratic defeat a GOPer in an open seat for Governor by 10 points and incumbent Democratic Senator win by seven points.  Wisconsin saw its two-term incumbent GOP Governor lose by one point and its incumbent Democratic Senator win by 11 points.

2020 Presidential Race

The Presidential Primary season begins in about 11 months, and there are already enough Democratic candidates to field an NFL team, with a least a few more guaranteed to enter the fray.  Trump will get some opposition, but as for the reasons mentioned above, unless he's impeached, he will be the Republican nominee in 2020.  He has insulated himself so well that even in the Robert Mueller report says Trump should be indicted, only an impeachment vote by the Senate (and that would require 20 GOP Senators to join the Democrats to vote for impeachment) would derail Trump's re-election.

The other problem Trump faces in 2020 is that fact that the voters who fueled his narrow 2016 victory were either first-time voters or voters who had not voted in any recent Presidential elections.  Sure some of them will vote again, but at least half of this usually apathetic group of voters will not venture to the polls again in high enough numbers to fuel another Trump electoral win.

So as long as Hillary does not win the Democratic nomination, Trump will not be in the White House come the afternoon of January 20, 2021, and to paraphrase Gerald Ford, "our long national nightmare will be over."