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How She Lost

In more ways than one, I have returned.

After three years in Thailand, I am back living in the United States.

After a year and a half away from this blog, I am back writing. I’m not sure how long I’ll be back on these pages, but I am here now to put these thoughts down.

The 2016 presidential election is over and Republican Donald J. Trump has, in a stunning upset, defeated Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton to become the next President-elect.

The words “stunning upset” is used because most political polls showed Clinton winning even up to Election Day itself. The polling aggregating website, Fivethirtyeight.com, had Clinton winning 302 votes in the Electoral College and Trump taking 235 votes. This website gave Trump a 28.6-percent chance of winning the election. Three other websites that I followed (Electiongraphs, Real Clear Politics, Princeton Election Consortium) also predicted a Clinton victory.

There will be many more pieces written by others that will discuss how Trump won. I, instead, would like to take this space and explain how Clinton lost.

I posit that Clinton lost (and Trump won) three states that had voted for the Democrat in the past six presidential elections. This troika of states held 46 votes in the Electoral College that were more than enough to tip the election towards the Republican in 2016.

Those states are Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

I posit that it is not that Trump won those states, but Clinton lost them. For my proof, I will use the metric of votes cast in the 2012 and 2016 elections.

In Michigan, in 2012, Mitt Romney garnered 2,115,256 votes (44.71%). In 2016, according to the data from the Associated Press Trump received 2,279,210 votes (47.59%), an increase of 163,954 (0r +7.75%). For the other party, in 2012, Barack Obama received 2,564,569 votes (54.21%). Four years later, Clinton received 2,267,373 (47.34%), a decrease of 297,196 (or -11.58%).

Had Clinton received the same number of votes in Michigan that Obama received in 2012, she would have won the state and its 16 votes in the Electoral College. In fact, Clinton’s tally of votes in Michigan was less than the number of votes given to the Democratic presidential nominee in the past three presidential elections (2012, 2008 (2,872,579), 2004 (2,479,183)).

In Michigan, Trump grew the Republican vote total while Clinton’s numbers shrank. It’s not that people who voted Democratic in past elections went for Trump as his vote tally only grew slightly; it’s that people who voted Democratic in past elections did not come out for Clinton as her vote count decreased.

In Pennsylvania, in 2012, Romney, garnered 2,680,434 votes (46.68%). In 2016, Trump received 2,912,941 votes (48.79%), an increase of 232,507 (or +8.67%). For the Democrat, in 2012, Obama received 2,990,274 votes (52.08%). Four years later, Clinton received 2,844,705 votes (47.65%), a decrease of 145,569 (or -4.86%).

Had Clinton received the same number of votes in Pennsylvania that Obama received in 2012, she would have won the state and its 20 votes in the Electoral College. In fact, Clinton’s tally of votes in Pennsylvania was less than the number of votes given to the Democratic presidential nominee in the past three presidential elections (2012, 2008 (3,276,363), 2004 (2,938,095)).

In Pennsylvania, Trump grew the Republican vote total while Clinton’s numbers shrank. It’s not that people who voted Democratic in past elections went for Trump as his vote tally only grew slightly; it’s that people who voted Democratic in past elections did not come out for Clinton as her vote count decreased.

In Wisconsin, in 2012, Romney garnered 1,407,966 votes (46.04%). In 2016, Trump received 1,409,467 votes (47.87%), a increase of 1,501 votes (or +0.1%). For the Democrat, in 2012, Obama received 1,620,985 votes (53.01%). Four years later, Clinton received 1,382,210 votes (46.94%), a decrease of 238,775 votes (or -14.73%).

Had Clinton received the same number of votes in Wisconsin that Obama received in 2012, she would have won the state and its 10 votes in the Electoral College. In fact, Clinton’s tally of votes in Wisconsin was less than the number of votes given to the Democratic presidential nominee in the past three presidential elections (2012, 2008 (1,677,211), 2004 (1,489,504)).

In Wisconsin, Trump grew the Republican vote total (albeit slightly) while Clinton’s numbers shrank. It’s not that people who voted Democratic in past elections went for Trump as his vote tally barelt ticked up; it’s that people who voted Democratic in past elections did not come out for Clinton as her vote count decreased dramatically.

That’s my contention. In these three states that were the cinder blocks of the “Blue Wall”, there was an “enthusiasm gap” where voters who had selected the Democrat in 2012 did not do the same in 2016. It’s not that they voted for Republican. They either sat it out or voted for a third-party candidate. It’s not that “Reagan Democrats” or “angry white men” came out in unexpected droves in those states to tip the balance for Trump. It’s that the members of the “Obama Coalition” did not come out in droves to support Clinton.

Had this “enthusiasm gap” been turned around even slightly and those 46 votes in the Electoral College held by MI, PA, and WI swing away from Trump and towards Clinton. Those votes would have been enough to make her the President-elect.

And We’re Back

Please disregard the message of this post, as I am back to spilling my ramblings in electronic form.

I’m still in Thailand.

I’m still a resident of northern Virginia.

The work of my former roommate, David G., that I helped to type up is still available out in the e-wild.

I still have a job, a family, and the stress of living in a foreign country, but I do honestly believe that I can lessen that stress by using this space as an outlet. I may be wrong, but it’s worth a try.

Also, I am still hopelessly addicted to the video game The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. I am currently playing as a Bosmer rogue (thief/fighter) character.

Pulitzer Kudos

Congratulations to the winner of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

A long span of applause goes out to Anthony Doerr for his book All the Light We Cannot See.

As the saying goes, for winning this prestigious award, the first line of Mr. Doerr’s obituary has been written.

Also, kudos and a hearty slap on the back to those authors who were finalists in the Fiction category for this year.

If you see them out on the street, give a wave and a salute to Richard Ford (Let Me Be Frank With You), Laila Lalami (The Moor’s Account), and Joyce Carol Oates (Lovely, Dark, Deep).

Also, lest I forget, how about a big shout-out to the trio of folks who served on the jury. I’m sure it was no small feat to read through all of the entries to whittle it down to Doerr, Ford, Lalami, and Oates. Drinks all around for Elizabeth Taylor, Alan Cheuse, and David Haynes.

Just so you are aware, next year marks the 100th anniversary of the Pulitzer Prizes so if you have some piece of literature burning in you brain, this would be an excellent time to have it published and then submit it for consideration so that you can say you won a Pulitzer on its centenary.

Today in Thailand, as I write this, is the sixth day of May in the year 2014.

I started this blog in northern Virginia in January of 2010.

Four years after I started putting thoughts down in bits and bytes, I am here now to say I am done.

It’s been fun. It’s been interesting. It’s been a learning experience in some case. However, this path has been completed.

I find myself with less time to write and even less interesting thoughts to write down.

What started as an outlet to spit out some of my more random thoughts and earlier writing morphed into an avenue into publishing my former roommate’s autobiography.

Now that David G’s work has been released into the wild and now that I find myself with less free time due to the demands of a new job, existing family, and the stresses of living in a foreign country, I find that I cannot give this blog space the time and love I feel it deserves.

Plus, I am deeply hooked on The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and that game takes up gobs of time.

Until something of planet-shaking proportions occurs, I take my bow and thank you all for your patronage.

May we meet again one day.

The month of April, according to the folks over at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), is Fair Housing Month.

There’s even a link provided by HUD that describes what the Fair Housing Act is. Officially known as Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, the Fair Housing Act basically bans a home seller or landlord from discriminating against a buyer or renter on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

Originally, this post was going to be about the exceptions to this law. I was going to title this post “The Discriminating Discriminator”, but then I came across something bizarre enough to make me rethink my post. Something bizarre enough to share.

In 1988, an amendment was added banning discrimination against anyone with a handicap. Seems simple enough. The law even goes into detail as to define “handicap”. Title 42, Section 3602, paragraph (h) of the United States Civil Code (USCC) states:

(h) “Handicap” means, with respect to a person—
(1) a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more of such person’s major life activities,
(2) a record of having such an impairment, or
(3) being regarded as having such an impairment,

Again, seems simple enough…until you read the Notes section for this part of the USCC.

The Notes section states, in part, that “neither the term ‘individual with handicaps’ nor the term ‘handicap’ shall apply to an individual solely because that individual is a transvestite.”

Huh?

Double-Huh?

Who was it that ever thought being a transvestite was a handicap akin to a “mental impairment”?!?

Oh…up until May of last year, the bible of the psychological profession, the DSM-IV, thought so. The latest version, the DSM-V, has removed “gender identity disorder” as a mental illness.

Here’s another thought. Since someone took the time to put those Notes in the USCC, I wonder if there was ever a moment (after 1988 but before May 2013) when a transvestite attempted to buy/rent a home and the seller/landlord refused. Then, did this transvestite file a complaint claiming discrimination because of his “disability”. Hey, it was defined in the DSM-IV as a “mental disorder” so here was the transvestite’s one opportunity to use that moniker to his/her advantage. In the court case that followed, did the judge rule for the transvestite, which then prompted legislators and/or HUD officials to add the Note.

There’s a story here. Just wish I had the time to ferret it out.

I can only start this post off by saying that Japan – like F. Scott Fitzgerald’s description of the rich – are very different from you and me.

I’m old enough and cynical enough to not be surprised that there is a website whose membership are people trying to have extra-marital affairs. Husbands and wives have had wandering eyes since marriage became a social institution. So, no, the fact that a company like Ashley Madison exists is not enough of a thing to make me write about it. (Side Note: Now that I have had to search for Ashley Madison on this computer for this post, please excuse me for a moment while I erase my browser’s memory lest my wonderful wife accuse me of ill). However, the fact that over a million citizens of Japan have become members of Ashley Madison in less than nine months is an item of note. You can find the full story here. Japan is now the fastest country to reach the one-million membership mark. The United States took a year and Brazil took ten months. I had absolutely no clue that the Japanese were so interested in coveting thy neighbor’s spouse, but according to the linked story, “There is a tradition of wealthy men taking mistresses in Japan and its male-dominated society has provided plenty of outlets for married men to find casual sex.” Just to make my eyebrows rise in surprise again, the story ends with this observation, “…84 per cent of Japanese women in the survey believed an affair worked as a plus for their marriage.”

A follow-up question I would have is “How?”

From love (or lust) to employment, comes this news from the island nation of Japan that their premier crime organization, the yakuza, have launched a web site with the purpose of increasing their membership. You can read the full story here. I actually surfed on over to The Onion to make sure that this wasn’t a fake news story that other news outlets had bought. Hey, it’s happened before! No, apparently it’s on the up-and-up that an up-and-coming goodfella can use his (or her) browser of choice and sign up to be made.

How many hackers working for the police do you think are trying to break into that website and see who is signing up?

I’ll finish up my tour of the weird tales of Japan with two words: bijinesu neiru. Translated as “business nail”, it appears to be all the rage among Japanese worker drones who want to be less dronish. You can read the full story here. I’ll just leave the story here without comment save for the thought that I would pay dearly to see Warren Buffet sport a bijinesu neiru.

Of course, the trend is not new and should have been named the Penn Jillette nail. Jump here to find out why.

Back when I was growing up, one of the activities a younger version of myself did was to engage in scavenger hunts. Yes, it may be hard to believe, but there was a time when parents actually allowed their progeny to go door to door, knocking on the doors of strangers in the neighborhood, and ask for objects from a list of items such as blue rubber bands or combs with broken teeth.

Nowadays, scavenger hunts – like most other things – have migrated to the digital world and the Internet. Instead of rapping on doors, participants in scavenger hunts now use cameras to take part in photo scavenger hunts. These are activities where the object is to capture on film (or pixels) certain visual imagery. You can have an outdoor photo scavenger hunt with your kids, participate with Cisco in a photo hunt at the 2014 Mobile World Congress, or take part with the folks who brought you the largest scavenger hunt ever (according to the folks at the Guinness Book of World Records) – which would be GISHWHES (which stands for Greatest Internet Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen).

In that vein of photo scavenger hunts, I would like to offer up the following images (free of charge) for anybody who would like to use them for a future event. All I ask is a credit. We’ll start with a picture of actor Nicholas Cage selling watches.

DSCN6154

If you need a photo of melted store signs, this should suffice.

DSCN6258

I’m not sure why this would ever come up, but the beauty of photo scavenger hunts is that the organizers can come up with some odd objects to find. So, if your list of photos to procure includes “An advertisement for the country of Andorra on a bus”, here’s your sign.

DSCN6257

For my grand finale – and for an image that should be worth over 1,000 points in any hunt, I give you Beetlejuice in a Santa outfit.

DSCN5973Now go out there and snap some photos.