Q&A about uncalled fouls and Russian hacking

Somewhere in the 1990’s Alonzo Mourning’s Charlotte Hornets lost a play-off game to Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls. Mourning complained afterwards that Jordan had fouled him on his last shot (which might have tied the game), but it was not called.

Jordan responded (I’m paraphrasing a little here – it was a long time ago):

“Did I foul him on the hand? Hell. I probably got his whole arm. Should they have called that? Sure. But if he thinks that’s why he lost the game, he’s going to lose the next one.”

I don’t remember if the Bulls swept the Hornets in those playoffs, but I know they prevailed. [update: the Bulls won 3-1 of a best of five]

This is where we’re at with the Russian hacking thing.

Is the Russian hacking thing a real scandal?  Yes – in that laws were broken. Even though the material stolen in the Watergate break-in was a non-factor in the 1972 election, no one disputed that the break-in was a crime.

Should the DNC have had better system security? Obviously.

Is this all the DNC’s fault? No. If you leave your car unlocked, it’s still a crime for someone to steal stuff out of your trunk

Does that excuse anything else that happened? No.

Is it as bad as Watergate? No – in that no-one in either Trump’s camp or the Republican Party had anything to do with it.

Did Vladimir Putin order the hack in an attempt to put Donald Trump in the White House? Not really.

Russian hackers who may or may not have been under contract with the Russian government hacked the RNC server as part of a wider effort to hack any political database. This data appeared, somehow, in the hands of Russian intelligence. Putin, it seems, saw it personally and after he stopped laughing, authorized its release to Wikileaks.

It is not so much that Putin likes Trump. It is that he really hates Hillary Clinton. Really. Hate.

Did this cost Clinton the election? No.

First, James Comey did far more damage with his November surprise press conference about nothing. If anyone should be called for a foul – it’s him.

That said, you know in your heart that Hillary Clinton cost herself the election, the way George McGovern was his own worst enemy in 1972. She was unable to present to voters any compelling reason to vote FOR her. Yeah- point to her position papers buried on her website all you want. This is Presidential politics. You have to find a way to deliver your message – deliver, and get them to listen to it.  The message she delivered was “Trump is worse” which isn’t enough in the fly-over states, as we have seen.

Should we, as a country, be concerned that Russia behaved badly? Sure.

BUT –BUT-BUT this is way down the list of the things that worry me about the upcoming Trump administration. While clearly self-serving, Trump’s admonition that we should all move on actually has some merit. That game is over. Look at the replays all you want – the score is going to stand.

BUT again, at least Jordan admitted that there was probably a foul.

 

 

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Nader’s warning

Normally, I would have forecast the presidential election months ago, and I have a pretty good record at that. I warned my tea-party friends sometime last March that if John Kasisch was not the Republican nominee, they need to get used to the idea of President Clinton again. But I never got around to writing that down. So you might take my word for it, but you don’t have to.

There’s who I think will win, and there’s who I want to win.

I’m kinda of fond of Ralph Nader’s  answer to BBC when they asked him who he would vote for. He didn’t answer the question directly, but insisted that the two major candidates were equally dangerous. The incredulous BBC guy pressed him, and he claimed that Hillary being clearly more competent made her even more dangerous. “Trump is so erratic that the Republicans will have to resist his policies to save their brand,” He said (I think – I’m paraphrasing a little) “At least until they find an excuse to impeach him.”

Clinton, meanwhile could do a lot more damage, by Nader’s reasoning, in small, reasonable increments. I hope he’s wrong, because she’s almost certainly our next president.

For the Trumpsters grinding their teeth about that, you can take some tiny comfort at this: history has not been kind to the same party successors of transformational presidents. That’s a tradition that goes all the way back to John Adams, and includes Martin Van Buren, Andrew Johnson,  William Taft, Herbert Hoover, Lyndon Johnson, Gerald Ford, and Poppy Bush.

Maybe we should cut Johnson and Ford from that list. They were never elected in their own right. Teddy Roosevelt and Harry Truman are the only ones to buck this trend.

There is nothing about Hillary’s performance as a candidate or as an official that makes me believe she could follow Roosevelt or Truman. She has an insular, defensive management style. She lacks both vision and real charisma. She is too business friendly to become beloved by the left, and too not Republican to become beloved by business. This does not leave her a working coalition that will survive the Never Trump movement.

Republicans are already talking about impeaching her. Absent of a dramatic changeover in congress, I don’t think Ralph Nader has much to worry about.

Then I reflect upon Richard Nixon, one of the most qualified men to ever run, who initially lost to a charismatic junior Senator, but then learned from his mistakes, and ran an exceptional campaign against an erratic demagogue that failed to capture the support of his own party. Nixon had a an insular, defensive management style. He lacked both vision and real charisma. He was too regulatory to be beloved by the business community (he was the father of the EPA) and to not-a-democrat to get any help from the left.

He was re-elected in a historic landslide.

I’m still going to vote for her. As a radical moderate, I really have no better choice. She is, really, the paragon of Reasonable Progress in Due Course. (This has been a journey for me. I voted for Nader in 2000).

But Nader’s warning haunts me. It will be up to her to prove him wrong.