Puerto Rico Overwhelmingly Votes For Statehood

In Sunday’s referendum, the citizens of Puerto Rico chose statehood by a landslide. However, it is still far from certain if the island is on track to become the 51st state of the union.

The plebiscite gave Puerto Ricans three options: become a U.S. state, remain a territory or become an independent nation.

Almost 7,800 people voted for independence and a little more than 6,800 voters chose to keep the current territorial status. On the other hand, nearly half a million voters chose a path to statehood – putting their margin of victory at a resounding 97 percent.

While the outcome was decisive, there are still arguments that the vote was not completely legitimate. Three of the island’s political parties – including former Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla – told supporters to boycott the election. Rather than participating in the election, many opponents of statehood abstained from Sunday’s vote entirely. Of the 2.2 million eligible voters, only 23 percent actually took part in the referendum.

Gov. Ricardo Rossello campaigned heavily in favor of statehood. Rossello, a member of Puerto Rico’s New Progressive Party (a pro-statehood party) believes the best path forward for the island is to join the United States. While proponents of independence waved the Puerto Rican flag on election night, Gov. Rossello spoke at an election rally riddled with American flags.

“The United States of America will have to obey the will of our people!” Rossello yelled to the crowd of statehood supporters. Now that the election is over, the governor has vowed to put pressure on Capitol Hill to make Puerto Rico the 51st state.

A major factor in this election is Puerto Rico’s financial standing. After decades of heavy borrowing, the island is now $70 billion in debt. The poverty rate stands at 45 percent while countless government programs go underfunded. Close to half a million Puerto Ricans have fled to the United States in search of better opportunities. Many believe becoming a U.S. state will open the door to economic growth. Residents also feel they are second-class citizens due to the fact that they cannot vote in presidential elections (except in primaries) and lack real representation in Congress.

The vote is over, but Congress actually reacting to the outcome is a whole other process entirely. There are several big issues to be considered. The island comes with a lot of baggage ($70 billion to be exact). If the statehood process were to be successful, Puerto Rico would be the poorest state in the union. A Republican-controlled Congress should be hesitant to accept a new state that would undoubtedly favor the Democratic Party. Puerto Ricans, much like the overall Latino electorate, heavily favor liberal lawmakers. Accepting the island as a new state would certainly chip away at the GOP’s standing in the Senate and House.

These financial and political considerations will weigh heavy on Congress in deciding what to do next. The voters of Puerto Rico may have decided their fate, but Washington isn’t so sure yet.

 

Le Pen Was No Trump and the French Election Was No Brexit: The Polls Got It Right This Time.

Donald Trump put out a gracious note to Emmanuel Macron on Sunday evening, congratulating him on his win over Marine Le Pen in his bid to claim the French presidency: “Congratulations to Emmanuel Macron on his big win today as the next President of France! I look very much forward to working with him!” Although Trump had words of support for Le Pen earlier this year, he had fallen well short of any formal endorsement. In contrast, during the first round of voting two weeks ago (apparently taking a break from preparing to give $400,000 Wall Street speeches) former President Barack Obama waded into the election by making a much-publicized supportive call to Emmanuel Macron, and Obama made his endorsement of Macron official this past Thursday in a video saying in part: “I know that you face many challenges, and I want all of my friends in France to know how much I am rooting for your success … Because of how important this election is, I also want you to know I am supporting Emmanuel Macron to lead you forward. En March! Vive la France!” And once the results came in on Sunday evening showing that Macron had bested Le Pen, former presidential candidate (and wannabe 2020 presidential candidate) Hillary Clinton weighed in too, managing to make the election results about herself, tweeting out: “Victory for Macron, for France, the EU, & the world. Defeat to those interfering w/ democracy. (But the media says I can’t talk about that).” This was apparently in reference to Macron’s emails being hacked and then made public (like Wikileaks did to Clinton), although this seemed to demonstrate that a candidate can, in fact, win despite some hacked emails. That is, of course, if they’re a halfway decent candidate.

MACRON DEFEATS LE PEN

In the hotly-contested French presidential race between Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen, though the race was closely-watched the official results themselves didn’t end up being too close – Macron defeated Le Pen by a wide margin of roughly 66.06% to 33.94% (more than a 30-point spread) as of the time of this writing. Put simply, in the end the race wasn’t much of a race. Emmanuel Macron – leader of his independent party En Marche! (On the Move!) – and Marine Le Pen – leader of the National Front party – differed strongly on many key issues, and so the French people’s choices were pretty clear. Where Macron favored staying in the European Union, keeping the Euro, bringing in high-skilled labor from outside the country, sanctioning Russia, strengthening the French role in NATO, and allowing for continued immigration (including from Muslim-majority nations), Le Pen took very divergent views – she advocated leaving the EU, ditching the Euro, prioritizing French workers, lifting sanctions on Russia, questioning NATO, and severely restricting (if not ending entirely) immigration from Muslim countries. After they both made it through the first round of voting, Macron consistently polled well ahead of Le Pen, with an average margin of 61.5% to 38.5% – and in the end Macron actually slightly over-performed with Le Pen under-performing slightly. Although some outlets tried pushing the idea that Le Pen really could upset Macron a la the Brexit win and the Trump victory, polling from all three events showed that the French election simply was not comparable, at all, to the British & American elections, and that Macron’s win over Le Pen was never really in doubt.

IT WASN’T BREXIT & IT WASN’T TRUMP:

THE POLLS IN FRANCE GOT IT RIGHT

The first round of voting in the French presidential election took place two weeks ago on April 23, 2017 – and for the first time in French presidential history, neither of the two candidates that emerged to face off against each other for the May 7, 2017 run off were from a major party. Emmanuel Macron of En Marche! (with 23.7%) and Marine Le Pen of the National Front (with 21.7%) defeated leftist Unsubmissive France candidate Jean Luc Melenchon (with 19.5%), Republican Francois Fillon (also with 19.5%), and Socialist Benoit Hamon (with 6.2%). The election results for the first round of voting were almost exactly in line with what the election polling predicted, which was the first major sign that the second round of voting would likely line up with polling as well. As Nate Silver, election data guru of Five Thirty Eight put it back on April 23, 2017:

Emmanuel Macron, a centrist candidate, and Marine Le Pen, of the far-right-wing National Front, will advance to a runoff in the French presidential election, after finishing in the top two positions in a first-round vote on Sunday. Macron is an overwhelming favorite to win the runoff on May 7. But we’re likely to hear two weeks of punditry that draws misleading comparisons between Le Pen, President Trump and Brexit – and that exaggerates Le Pen’s chances as a result. The pre-election polls – which had shown Macron at 24 percent, Le Pen at 22 percent, the center-right François Fillon at 20 percent and the far-left-wing Jean-Luc Mélenchon at 19 percent – should come within a percentage point or two of the final result for each of the top four candidates.”

So the polls for the first round of French voting were accurate down to about one percent, meaning that only an extremely tight race would be likely see a Le Pen win over Macron – put as pointed out earlier, the margin was never close to 1%, or even 10%, as it hovered around 20% or more the entire time. This was vastly different than the polling situation regarding both the June 2016 Brexit vote and the November 2016 Trump-Clinton election, where polls were actually extremely close. As Nate Silver further pointed out:

Before the U.S. election, Trump trailed Hillary Clinton by only about 2 percentage points in the average swing state. In the Brexit vote, the ‘Remain’ campaign’s lead was at least as narrow: about 2 points according to a simple average of polls, or just 0.5 percentage points according to a more complex averaging method. So while Trump’s victory and Brexit were historic events in world history, they were utterly routine occurrences from a polling standpoint; 2- or 3-point polling errors are extremely common.”

Where Trump was just a normal polling error behind Clinton, Le Pen was a gargantuan polling error behind Macron. All of the talk about Le Pen somehow pulling off a Brexit or a Trump were simply not based in reality – the British & American races were pretty tight throughout and were tightening down the homestretch, whereas the French election looked like a blow out from start to finish. Pollsters certainly have a lot to answer for in missing the Brexit & Trump phenomenons by a bit – but any commentators predicting a Le Pen win were never basing that possibility on anything but wishful thinking. While some may have wanted Le Pen to win (and many argued that she would be the preferable candidate), the facts never indicated that it was ever going to happen. Facts don’t care about your feelings, unfortunately.

WHAT THIS ALL MEANS

Many on the Right seemed to see some sort of kinship with Marine Le Pen, based upon her anti-EU and anti-immigration stances, specifically her desire to limit Islamic immigration into France. But French politics is not American politics – there is no limited government, pro-liberty, pro-free markets party in France. Emmanuel Macron certainly didn’t stand for any of those things and neither did Marine Le Pen and neither did the assortment of other candidates who got the boot after the first round. It simply doesn’t exist in France. And though Le Pen was routinely called “Far Right”, this is extremely misleading in an American context, and American conservatives should have been much more hesitant in embracing Le Pen. Jonah Goldberg over at National Review made the distinctions between Le Pen and the American Right pretty clear when he wrote:

As for what constitutes ‘far-right,’ that has come to be defined as a grab bag of bigotry, nativism, and all the bad kinds of nationalism. Le Pen is the youngest daughter of the even more ‘far-right’ anti-Semitic politician Jean-Marie Le Pen, who until recently led the National Front party (FN), which was founded in 1972 by, among others, veterans of the Nazi-collaborationist Vichy government … Le Pen rejects the ‘far-right’ label, preferring a ‘third-way’ approach that has a long intellectual history among nationalists and fascists. She says that the symbiotic issues of immigration and globalization (specifically relating to the European Union) yielded a new politics that ‘no longer put the right and left in opposition, but patriots and globalists’ … Her ‘economic patriotism’ – a mélange of anti-immigration, protectionism, support for civil-service protections, and entitlements (at least for the native-born French) – is an updated variant of old-fashioned national-socialism.”

Le Pen didn’t care about the traditional left-right divide (big government vs. limited government, socialism vs. free markets, and so on), but was clearly much more concerned with the issues of EU globalism vs. French nationalism, advocating at times for policies that are fairly foreign to traditional conservatism inside the United States. The singular issue that did seem to connect her to the Right was her stance on Islamic extremism (and France’s pro-unfettered immigration, pro-open borders policy towards it), a problem that elites in France have ignored for decades:

The topic became radioactive for reasonable politicians, creating an opening for unreasonable ones among the working-class constituencies most affected by immigration. This is precisely what has happened in France. Interviews with Le Pen voters tell this story over and over again. They bemoan the great replacement’ of not only workers but also customs, traditions, and lifestyles brought by waves of immigrants. These resentments are perhaps more acute in France than elsewhere, a country where national identity precedes political and ideological orientations, and where assimilation is narrowly defined. But the same dynamic is playing itself out across Europe and America.”

While many on the American Right didn’t really care that Le Pen was no true conservative (arguing that there were way bigger things at stake than whether she fit such labels), many others have pointed out that her losing out to Macron might not be the worst outcome. Le Pen was no real friend of the United States – her pro-Putin and anti-NATO stances were extremely troubling and her being a pro-abortion socialist didn’t exactly make her some conservative hero – but she did touch on an immigration issue that is roiling Western nations worldwide and fueling anti-elite populist sentiments across the globe. Someone like Le Pen is what you get when your country ignores these problems for far too long. But, as the election results in France showed, sometimes this populism only goes so far. Again, Brexit is not Trump is not Le Pen – and the massive wave that carried ‘Leave’ to a Brexit victory and Trump to a presidential win didn’t make it very far up the French shore.

Stop Trying to Make Hillary Clinton Happen (Again). It’s Not Going to Happen (Ever).

NEW INTERVIEW. NEW PAC. SAME OLD HILLARY.

She’s baaaaaaack (I mean, did she ever really leave?). After six months of perpetually coming out of the woods and then hiking back in, Hillary Clinton seems to have re-emerged from the forest for good like some pantsuited Big Foot, ready to throw some blame around for her stunning loss in November and apparently eager to assume her position as Shadow-President-in-Waiting and as leader of #TheResistance in anticipation of 2020 – if they’ll let her. It’s a turnaround that, to many, seemed unthinkable just a few months ago, but it’s not at all surprising if you’ve been paying attention. By early January 2017, before President Trump had even been inaugurated, Hillary’s assorted supporters, aides, sycophants, & hangers-on were already keeping her name out there by pushing the absurd idea that she’d challenge Bill DeBlasio and run for mayor of New York City later in 2017. This was, of course, a ridiculous idea, but it was an idea that Hillary Co. refused to let die a natural death, with the story continuing to spill tons of digital ink well into February & March as well — all to maintain the idea that she still has a Final Act left. At the same time, a coordinated media effort emerged to prop up the uninteresting & unaccomplished former First Daughter Chelsea Clinton. (Okay, maybe calling her unaccomplished isn’t entirely fair, since her interview of the Geico Gecko is truly a pièce de résistance.) The stilted effort to foist yet another member of the Clinton clan upon us drew, shall we say, some mixed reviews (even some at Vanity Fair would turn on the idea). And so six months of random trial balloons came to an inglorious end – and Hillary Clinton herself finally jumped back into the thick of things with a May 2nd interview with Christiane Amanpour followed swiftly by the (I’m sure purely accidental and not at all coordinated) May 4th leaked announcement that Hillary would be forming yet another political group to take yet even more money from yet even more gullible Democrats. Both the Hillary interview and the new Hillary PAC developments are worth exploring in brief.

 

THE NEW CLINTON INTERVIEW:
HILLARY JOINS “THE RESISTANCE”

Earlier this week, Hillary Clinton sat down with Christiane Amanpour in her first major interview since losing the election last November. It was the very definition of a soft ball interview, but Hillary still managed to make some interesting comments in spite of herself. The most interesting was regarding the responsibility that she herself bore for losing the race, and she answered thusly: “Of course. I take absolute personal responsibility. I was the candidate, I was the person who was on the ballot, and I am very aware of the challenges, the problems, the shortfalls that we had … It wasn’t a perfect campaign – there is no such thing – but I was on the way to winning until the combination of Jim Comey’s letter on October 28th and Russian Wikileaks raised doubts in the minds of people who were inclined to vote for me but got scared off … “As [stats guru] Nate Silver … has concluded, if the election had been on October 27, I’d be your president.” It must’ve been devastating when she found out that the date upon which presidential elections are held is based on Article II, Section 1, Clause 4 of the Constitution, and not on when is most convenient for Hillary Clinton.

Wikileaks revealing that Clinton’s aides were a bunch of sniping, backbiting, conniving hacks certainly didn’t help the campaign. And James Comey revealing that emails had been found on a laptop that was in the FBI’s possession because Clinton right hand gal Huma’s husband Anthony Weiner was under investigation for his sexual conversations with underage girls certainly didn’t help. And now, of course, we know that Huma had been using this same device to send classified information — directly to Anthony Weiner himself! So those things hurt Hillary, no question. Yes, being a corrupt person and having that surreptitiously leaked hurts you. And yes, surrounding yourself with corrupt people whose spouses are themselves under criminal investigations doesn’t help. Pro-tip: don’t be corrupt and don’t surround yourself with corrupt people.

But let’s get real here. Vladimir Putin & James Comey very likely did have some effect on the election. But did Vlad & Jim force her to break federal rules and to handle classified information on an unsecured server? Or did Vlad & Jim force her to essentially cut Republican campaign ads by screaming “What possible difference at this point does it make?” at the Benghazi hearings or by calling a huge swath of the population “Deplorables”? And did Vlad & Jim force her to skip campaigning in Wisconsin & Michigan? Ultimately, when Hillary Clinton points one finger forward, three fingers point right back at her. Or, as CNN’s Jake Tapper snarkily put it, ““Hillary Clinton today accepting full responsibility for the election loss. Except for the part when she blamed Comey, Putin, Wikileaks, misogyny, and the media.”

To sum up her future plans, Hillary told Christiane: “I’m back to being a private citizen – and part of the resistance.” But, as we will see, Hillary Clinton’s idea of “being a private citizen” means asking you for bunches of money and Hillary Clinton’s idea of being “part of” the resistance means, as is always the case with her, being in charge of it.

 

THE NEW CLINTON PAC:

GIVE HILLARY MORE MONEY. SHE SWEARS SHE WON’T WASTE IT THIS TIME.

Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign (when combined with pro-Hillary PACs) spent around $1.2 billion dollars to lose to Donald Trump in embarrassing fashion. And now, according to Axios, it looks like Hillary has decided that she’s ready to get back into the family business of spotlight-chasing, influence-peddling, and collecting & spending other people’s money again (you know, just like any “private citizen”): “Hillary Clinton soon will launch a PAC as a way of ‘acting as a quiet catalyst’ for organizations she cares about, and eventually will help 2018 congressional candidates – but with no intention of making it a vehicle to run for anything herself [editorial note: riiiiight]. According to a source familiar with the planning, the initial focus will be on lifting up organizations that are the product of the energy and activism she has seen since the election, and existing groups that have been reignited and reinvigorated by that energy. She has met with some of these groups, and it’s something she’s become increasingly passionate about with each meeting, the source said.”

POLITICO provides further details regarding the set-up, structure, & mission of the nascent Clinton operation: “The former secretary of state is building a new political group to fund organizations working on the resistance to President Donald Trump’s agenda, spending recent weeks in Washington, New York City, and Chappaqua, N.Y., meeting with donors and potential groups to invest in, and recruiting individuals for the group’s board of directors, multiple people close to the two-time White House hopeful and people familiar with the group’s planning told POLITICO … She is looking to launch the group, expected to be called Onward Together — a nod to her campaign slogan, Stronger Together — as soon as next week, they say … The effort is starting to come together as its leader is increasingly stepping back into the public spotlight — and while her party is still searching for its path ahead. After going quiet for a stretch after the campaign, Clinton has started publicly supporting groups aligned with her main goals, and is now not hesitating to jab at Trump when asked about him.”

In a newly released book, Shattered, we get an inside look at the type of manager Hillary Clinton is by examining her disastrously run Clinton presidential campaign. The same confidants who assisted with the campaign are now among the same people setting up the new Clinton PAC and asking for the new Clinton money. The New York Times review of the book is both fair & damning: “It’s the story of a wildly dysfunctional and ‘spirit-crushing’ campaign that embraced a flawed strategy (based on flawed data) and that failed, repeatedly to correct course. A passive-aggressive campaign that neglected to act on warning flares sent up by Democratic operatives on the ground in crucial swing states, and that ignored the advice of the candidate’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, and other Democratic Party elders, who argued that the campaign needed to work harder to persuade undecided and ambivalent voters (like working-class whites and millennials) instead of focusing so intently on turning out core supporters.” Dysfunctional? Check. Spirit-crushing? Check. Passive-aggressive? Check. Incompetent? Check. Great, now let’s give those same people millions of dollars for their new PAC. What could possibly go wrong?

After years of scandal after scandal being uncovered at the Clinton Foundation, I think it’s fair to say that the one thing that America really doesn’t need is another elaborate Clinton money scheme. And after seeing the criminally incompetent political campaign that Hillary Clinton ran, it’s utterly astonishing that anyone would consider giving a penny to the group (although we all know it’ll be awash in tens of millions soon enough). But at a certain point, enough is enough. I think we reached that “certain point” with the Clintons about a decade ago – and it’s time that the Democrats realize that the Clintons are not only bad for the nation, but they’re nothing but bad news for the Democratic Party too.

 

“I’M WITH HER”? “STRONGER TOGETHER”? “ONWARD TOGETHER”?

HARD PASS.

 

As one recent scathing New York Post op-ed put it: “Clearly, Hillary still sees herself as the leader of the Democratic Party. And why shouldn’t she? Democrats have been locked in an abusive relationship with the Clintons for decades, enabling, explaining, convincing themselves that next time will be different. Party faithful hew to Hillary’s excuses for losing to Donald Trump: It’s James Comey’s fault, plus the Russians, white supremacists, misogynists, the deplorables and immobilized millennials, among other things … Her losses in 2008 and 2016 have been framed as things that happened to Hillary — not one, but two Black Swan events that stymied her historic destiny … How is it that Democrats have fealty here, let alone sympathy? How is it that Hillary routinely walks into standing ovations at Broadway theaters? Where is the realization that Hillary is to blame or the rational rejection of a two-time loser?”

 

In some sense, it really would perfect for #TheResistance to give Hillary one last try. Sure, she lost to Obama in 2008. And sure, she just lost to Donald Trump in 2016. But that makes them a natural fit for eachother. I mean, so far the stunning successes of #TheResistance have included: losing the Kansas special election; coming up short in the Georgia special election (while running a carpetbagger who, mind you, couldn’t even vote for himself in said election, with Democrats spending a cool $5.3 million just to fall flat); getting crushed in the fight over Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch (it’s still fun to write that — Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch); rioting at Berkeley; somehow letting the GOP push the AHCA through the House; and generally seeming like they are totally right on the verge of impeaching Trump just as soon as they manage to make their way out of the paper bag they’re stuck in.

 

Hillary Clinton is a woman who had to rig the DNC process and get debate questions ahead of time (or, in other words, this is a woman who had to cheat) to beat Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries. This is a woman who couldn’t even make the infamous Hollywood Access tape stick because of who her husband is, because of the terrible ways in which he himself has treated women, and because of terrible things Hillary herself did to attack & denigrate Bill’s accusers. This is a woman who treated our national security like a joke as she conducted top-secret business on an unsecured, private, hidden server. And this is a woman so devoid of charm, so robotic, and so unlikable that she could never seal the deal against the real estate mogul & reality TV star. But sure. Give even more of your money to the woman who just burned through $1,200,000,000 of it – and lost to Donald Trump anyway. Go ahead. Run Hillary again.

 

Seriously, Democrats: Do you want Trump? Because this is how you got Trump in 2016, and this is how you’ll get him again in four years. So stop trying to make Hillary happen. It’s not going to happen. Ever.