Category Archives: Politics

The superdelegate schmozz

Having proven its electoral mettle in the New Hampshire primary, the Bernie Sanders campaign is apparently now just realizing that the Democratic Party’s nominating process is not entirely, well, democratic. 

Of the nearly 4,500 delegates who will cast a vote at next July’s Democratic National Convention, an estimated 713 of them are so-called “superdelegates” — party muckety-mucks who can vote however they please.

And surprise, surprise: a lot of the muckety-mucks are backing Hillary Clinton. Resulting in this seeming contradiction:

Bernie Sanders lost by a hair in Iowa and won by a landslide in New Hampshire. Yet Hillary Clinton has amassed an enormous 350-delegate advantage over the Vermont senator after just two states.

That’s because more than half of the unelected superdelegates have endorsed Clinton — although they are under no legal obligation to vote for her at the convention.

All of which prompts outrage in the Sanders camp. Outrage you might expect me to share.

Well, sorry, but I don’t.

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Tha Regan Dinnur

Looky here, the Vermont Republicans have another spectacular evening to warn tell us about. It’s the Reagan Dinner — pardon me, THE REAGAN DINNER all caps, with a photo of a noble Ronnie posing manfully in front of an American flag. It’s hosted by the Chittenden County GOP, and it’s all happening on March 10, getcha tickets early!

As usual, the Republicans are being stingy with the details — probably because it’s going to be the usual “excitement” of rubber chicken, cash bar and canned speeches.

Yup: Cocktails, dinner, and an “Energy Forum,” Lord help us all. Doesn’t look like they’ll have any high-profile out-of-state guests; the dinner is being artfully held the week following the Vermont primary, so I’m sure we won’t get any presidential candidates on the dais.

But all I want to know is, can the Chittenden County GOP afford a little copy-editing? Because the official announcement says the event will be at the “Cattamount Golf Club.”

Geez, how many Vermonters are unaware that “Catamount” is a one-T animal? That’s as bad as “Six Teats.”

But wait, there’s more!Take a gander at the list of special guests.

Special Guests include Bruce Liseman, Randy Brock, John McClaughry, Rob Roper

Yup, “Liseman.” Poor ol’ Bruce just can’t get any respect from the party, can he?

After the jump: Screenshot of the announcement, typos and all. 

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A respected politician is making a fool of himself

One of the unfortunate traits of Vermont’s Political Media is their tendency to kinda-sorta protect officeholders and officials. Keep a discreet distance when it comes to things they have decided It Is Not Our Business To Know. There’s a certain dignity in it, but they take it too far.

Please understand, I’m not asking them to start checking the sleeping arrangements at the Capitol Plaza or devise spreadsheets of politicians’ liquor consumption. But there are times when the private does touch on public interest. You’d think this would be perfectly clear in the Norm McAllister era. But it still happens; I have heard rumors of an affair between a citizen and the state official responsible for overseeing the state-funded activities of said citizen. That would seem to be something we have a right to know, since it directly impacts public responsibilities.

This week, the media silence was broken on one such issue: State Senator Bill Doyle simply isn’t up to the job anymore.

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Paul Ralston’s vanity project

This political season, with its rare turnover in the top ranks, has generated quite a bit of activity from politicos whose aspirations are no surprise — Phil Scott, Bruce Lisman, Matt Dunne, Sue Minter, TJ Donovan, etc. — but it’s also created some real headscratchers. There are people running for high office who cause me to wonder, “Who asked for this?”

So far, this category largely centers on the race for lieutenant governor, which has attracted a pair of high-profile liberal lawmakers and a trio of candidates who seemingly came out of nowhere: Brattleboro-area investment dude Brandon Riker, recently repatriated Washington journalist Garrett Graff, and Rutland-area doctor Louis Meyers. Nothing against these worthies or their noble intentions; but really, who asked for this?

Now comes another would-be candidate from out of nowhere, giving his own distinctive twist to this narrative: former State Representative and Vermont Coffee Company founder Paul Ralston. He has declared his potential candidacy for An Office To Be Named Later, under the banner of A Party To Be Named Later Or Maybe Independent, and created his own weekly radio show as a platform for his amorphous ambition.

Nothing against Paul Ralston; he makes my favorite coffees, a hell of a lot better than that Keurig sludge. But this whole thing strikes me as a vanity project more than anything else.

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Donald Trump is the apotheosis of modern Republicanism

I suppose it shouldn’t surprise that a super-wealthy real estate developer would run for President promising to turn America into a gated community.

Really, this is where Donald Trump’s rhetoric has been pointing since he launched his campaign by calling for “the greatest wall you’ve ever seen” to keep out Mexican criminals and rapists. His latest stand, for a ban on Muslims traveling to America, is of a kind with the Mexican wall. It’s just one tick crazier.

But after all the crazy shit Trump has said, the ban on Muslims was the straw that broke mainstream Republicans’ backs. Some Republicans, including a lot of Vermonters, sensing that the Crazy Line has been crossed, have finally criticized Trump as being out of step with true Republicanism.

Well, there’s a problem with that. It’s not true.

Donald Trump is, in fact, the inevitable end product of the past two decades of Republican and conservative politics.

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The hardest working man in the charity racket

This isn’t new news, but a correspondent has alerted me to some amusing details regarding the Ethan Allen Institute, a.k.a. the Vermont outlet of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Specifically, EAI’s required annual filing with the IRS for 2014.

EAI, for those blessedly unaware, produces modest quantities of free-market puffery. And it proudly states as a matter of sacred principle, right there in its IRS Form 990-EZ, “We don’t receive — nor would we accept — government funding or support.”

Which is true except for EAI’s tax-deductible status, which is definitely a tangible form of government support.

Now, you might be dismayed at the thought of your tax dollars effectively underwriting EAI’s “educational activities,” but you can take some comfort in knowing how hard those guys are working for your money. Because according to page 2 of its filing, EAI President Rob Roper is working an average of 80 hours per week. His salary: a paltry $50,000.

On an hourly basis, the poor guy’s making less than Bernie Sanders minimum wage!

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The cat came back

Hey, remember when Peter Galbraith gave up his bought-and-paid-for State Senate seat last year, to pursue a loftier cause?

The Townshend Democrat said his growing involvement in an informal effort to find a political solution to the Syrian civil war won’t allow him to continue serving as a state senator.

Well, that noble sentiment appears to be inoperative. Or so reports the (paywalled) Vermont Press Bureau:

Will former Windham County Sen. Peter Galbraith join the crowd of candidates hoping to succeed Gov. Peter Shumlin? It seems more and more likely. Galbraith has not returned calls regarding that inquiry, but sources say he is actively considering it.

GalbraithOh, good Lord. Longtime readers know how I feel about Galbraith; he spent $50,000 of his oil fortune to grab an open Senate seat in 2010, and quickly made himself a hated figure in the Statehouse because of his immense self-regard (even by Senate standards!) and his habit of loudly promoting his own ideas. Made you wonder how he ever made a living as a “diplomat.”

Well, apparently his ego is getting in the way of his peacemaking impulses. The people of Syria will just have to wait, while he ponders a vanity candidacy for governor.

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