A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Upset in Iowa

Well, the Iowans caucused and upset the media.

Rubio? Who he? He was outside the media narrative, which so much wanted a coronation of Trump and Clinton, so that the general election could be properly framed as a clash of good and evil. (Take your pick of who is which.)

They were so caught up in their horse-race paradigm that they were obliged to declare that Cruz and Clinton had "won" Iowa. But this is not a general election and electoral college rules don't apply. Nobody "won" Iowa. They won delegates to their Party's convention.

"U.S. Senator Ted Cruz soundly defeated billionaire Donald Trump." How "soundly"? By 8 delegates to 7. Rubio also gets 7 delegates.

OTOH, the media reported that Clinton "had won by a razor-thin margin..." "prevailing by only four delegates." The current internet count has reduced that margin to one also: 22 to 21. Perhaps the Democrats demanded a recount.

In any case, it's interesting to see what constitutes "soundly defeated" versus "razor-thin margin."

It was also amusing to see Rand Paul and Carly Fiorina lumped by the Paradigm among "the Establishment candidates." Almost as amusing as finding a certified member of the One Percent posing as a champion of the little guy. As long as the Little Guy [or aged widow] doesn't own a house in Atlantic City that the Champion covets for a staging area for limousines. Then it's eminent domain, sucker.

And how can Saunders campaign for the nomination of the Democratic Party when he is not even a member of the Democratic Party? Trump at least became a Republican in 2012. Previously, he had been unaffiliated (2011-2012), Republican (2009-2011), Democrat (2001-2009), Independence Party (1999-2001), and Republican (1987-1999).

In the whole run-up, TOF never heard it mentioned that Iowa distributes its delegates proportionately and the only thing that would matter is how many delegates each candidate would secure. But it's much harder to hype a nearly equal splitting of delegates than it is to hype "winning" Iowa -- and whether one would possess "momentum."

What the whole circus has illustrated is the fatal flaw of democracy: viz., the involvement of people. This is the belief that if a bunch of individuals pool their ignorance they will achieve collective wisdom. Back when the Parties chose their candidates the old-fashioned way, they wound up nominating the likes of Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, Adlai Stevenson, Hubert Humphrey, Dick Nixon, and so on. Nomination via beauty contests and media buys gave us Carter, Dukakis, Obama, and two Bushes. The basic divide was between competency and the ability to get things done versus media savvy and the mastery of the sound-bite. There were dud the old way, sure, and Reagan managed to slip though the new way. (And heck, even Clinton I knew how to work across the aisle when he had to.) But TOF prefers a competent manager over a flamboyant celebrity any day.


  1. Though I think it just to mention that in six cases, Hillary won the caucus by dint of a coin toss.

    1. I'm not even sure you can "win" the caucus. When I was running caucuses in Colorado, splitting went all the way down to caucus level. I remember one year when most of the caucus favored Gary Hart, but two union guys held out for Mondale, so the rules said the precinct sent two Hart delegates and one Mondale delegate to the County Assembly. (Since there were no TV cameras, the precinct only rounded up eight or ten Party members, so Mondale voters were more than 15% of the attendees.) Iowa and 2016 may have different rules, of course. We also had to ensure a 50/50 split between men and women delegates and if any were minorities to give them special consideration

  2. Why, again, are we assuming the good old days were so good?

    FDR is up there with Kennedy (and Lincoln too, though I think the poor guy has received TOO much backlash in some circles) in the running for most overrated President ever. His economic policies were a mega-disaster, and he was a power-hungry nut who put large swathes of American citizens into concentration camps for the crime of committing no crime.

    America has always had terrible Presidents (and good ones as well).

    1. Someone doesn't believe in MAGIC I guess.

  3. Are delegates actual persons or just numbers?
    I ask as a non-American.

    1. Actual persons. The way it worked in Colorado many years ago was that the precincts sent delegates to the County Assembly. The County selected delegates to the Congressional District Convention (which typically covered several counties and parts of counties) and to the State Assembly and Convention.
      The County Assembly nominated candidates for county offices, like sheriff. The District Convention nominated candidates for the US House of Representatives. The State Assembly nominated candidates for governor, district assemblymen amd state senators (iirc, these last two were handled by caucuses within the Assembly that covered their resp. districts. The State Convention, which ran concurrently, nominated candidates for US Senator and President. Depending on the year, the delegates were sent according to the preferences for the highest offices in play, either President or US Senator. The State Convention also chose delegates to the National Convention. Conventions were for Federal offices; Assemblies were for State or Local offices.

      Remember, all these were for Party nominees and as such were run only within the parties, though run in public. There was always some efforts to insert ringers into the opposition party -- people who were Democrats, but registered as Republicans (or vice versa) just to mess up the opposition nominees. This usually only mattered at the local county level, although one time we nominated a candidate for state representative who after winning switched to the other side.

    2. So are the delegates free to vote for anybody at the eventual Convention or they must stick to the results of the caucus that elected them?

    3. They were free to use their own judgement, because during the time, revelations might take place, like their original preference might make some bonehead announcement. They also discuss things at the Assemblies or Conventions. Usually, no one cares except in presidential years.

      One year, when J. Carter was head-of-Party, and Teddy Kennedy was challenging him, he had the nationsl committee issue a Rule that once you had committed in precinct, you could not change at the later Conventions. That did not sit well with Coloradans, who were a cantankerous bunch, so there was a revolt at the State Convention. Not only did one-third of the delegates break for Kennedy, but another third separated and caucused as Uncommitted. This group, which included TOF, was chaired by Mo Siegal of Celestial Seasonings.

  4. Mike/ Mr. Flynn:

    Off-topic but I've found a recurring error and couldn't easily find an e-mail address.

    You love to quote the delightfully tart words of Augustine about going to school rather than the Bible to learn astronomy. You cite the *Contra Faustum Manichaeum*. Wanting to use it in a paper, I discovered it is in fact from 1.10 of the *Contra Felicem Manichaeum*. Maybe you used the English (translation from the German?) of a lecture of Cardinal Schoenborn, found here:

    The Latin is: non legitur in Evangelio Dominum dixisse: Mitto vobis Paracletum qui vos doceat de cursu solis et lunae. Christianos enim facere volebat, non mathematicos. Sufficit autem ut homines de his rebus, quantum in schola didicerunt, noverint propter humanos usus.


    Chris Kirk Speaks

    1. For the other Reader of this blog, the *Against Faustus* is much longer and more famous than the *Against Felix*; and since the names are similar, it's an easy mistake. Chris Kirk

    2. Found (after some stumbling around) at

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.


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