Ancient aliens guy voting conspiracy
Basically my Facebook feed the past few days

I’ve been swimming in Trump supporters arguing that the polls are “rigged” against their man. In every political cycle, there’s always some fringe that argues the polls are understating support for their candidate. In 2012, Republicans argued why Romney would beat his polls, and the Romney campaign itself truly believed this. In 2010 and 2014, as the midterm polls looked better and better (for Republicans), it was Democrats screaming about “oversampling.” I myself indulged in this back in 2012 (but hahahaha oh boy was I wrong).

But it’s worse this year. Trump supporters are being publicly bolstered by their own candidate, who is claiming the polls are “rigged” to anyone who will listen. This has energized a base that is already inclined to believe many less-than-reputable sources because of their (completely justified) distrust of the mainstream media and the incredibly, genuinely dishonest cottage industry of so-called “fact-checkers”. Unfortunately, the simple fact that the MSM is basically untrustworthy does not mean sites of the lunatic fringe (like ZeroHedge.com) suddenly become trustworthy.

They aren’t. This year as in previous years, there is no poll-rigging conspiracy.

Now, it is possible that the polls are wrong. This happens routinely. In fact, I think the media on the whole is greatly underestimating Trump’s chances. By looking at the polls and other factors, FiveThirtyEight’s model at this hour projects Trump with a 17% chance to win. That’s not good, but it’s not doomed, either: it’s the college basketball equivalent of the Marquette Warriors coming back from a 6-point deficit with 15 minutes of play left in the second half to defeat the racist Adolf Rupp. Or, for nerds: it’s the equivalent of rolling a crit on a 17-20/x2 weapon.*  It’s not likely, but it still happens pretty routinely.  Trump could win this election, and I wouldn’t even be surprised to see the polls proved wrong.  (I also would be unsurprised by Hillary beating her polls and bringing home a landslide victory of 12 points or more. Thing about polling error is it goes both ways.)

But what the polls aren’t is rigged.

Here are four false rigged-polling stories I’ve seen in just the past 24 hours:

(1) Monmouth is Collaborating with Clinton!!!

I have no idea where this one came from.

Click for full size
Click for full size

An outlet called PolitiForum made the following claim two weeks ago (under the headline “Wikileaks Proves that the Polls Are Rigged for Clinton”):

The latest batch of files and emails show that Monmouth University was in bed with the Clinton campaign to skew polling data

This claim was attached to this document (at right), which does indeed appear to show Patrick Murray of the Monmouth poll deliberately skewing the polls in order to bolster Hillary.

Problem is, the document is fake. There is no such document in the WikiLeaks archive. There couldn’t be: this document is dated September 2016, but the WikiLeaks archive (at least so far) only goes through March 2016. The headers on this document are fairly clear photoshop jobs, given the giant lines in the page and the bizarre use of a mission-statement image seemingly clipped from the Monmouth website in the header (where no email could print an image). And the rest of the document is just absurd, exactly what you’d expect a Trump supporter with a heavy fever to dream up, from the misspelling of “embedded” to the “lying harpy” line in the summary. “Favored are liberal arts degrees, and, especially, sociology. See attached call files.” Seriously? Does anyone think Monmouth has call files of sociology majors?

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Trump for Thee but Not for Me

Oh, look, another comment on the 2016 election. I can’t seem to escape it. At least I’ve made it a whole year without ever using a Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton photograph as a featured image.

"This Is Fine" dog. Credit: K.C. Green
Is it, though?

One of the things I hear a lot from committed #NeverTrumpers is something like, “I won’t vote for Trump, but, if you decide to, that is okay.”  This has always made sense to me, even though I’m not committed to #NeverTrump.

However, I recently realized that, to those on the #TrumpTrain, it looks like madness at best, moral relativism at worst.  As one of my favorite Facebook friends put it last night:

“It is curious to me when people say ‘I think it is wrong for ME to vote for Trump, but not for others.’ [T]o suggest… that there is no right or wrong choice seems wrong to me. And not to engage that question in a community where we are all struggling to do what we can to stem the tsunami of destructive consequences for this great nation also seems somewhat irresponsible to me.”

In other words, there must be an objectively correct choice among the awful choices we have.  As moral voters, we have an objective duty to discern the correct choice and act accordingly.  Avoiding the question, or answering it indefinitely, is thus a form of moral cowardice.

Fair enough.

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You Can’t Start A New Party

This doesn't work. (Image Credit Brian Green)
This doesn’t work. (Image Credit Brian Green)

When I wrote my May post calling for the formation of a new political party, I had a pretty grand vision in mind.  Starting after the November elections, we’d build a nationwide network of powerful activists, win endorsements from sitting Congresspeople, develop some simple yet winning platform, and then start rolling out Congressional candidates to our mailing list of (now) hundreds of thousands of voters across the land, with lasting local organizations finally forming around our successful candidates.  I call this the “tree model” of party-building.  You plant a seed, you grow a trunk, you branch out.

I’m not the only person thinking along these lines.  Ben Domenech’s admirable proposal for a Party of Life seems to envision a party that starts in Washington, from the Washington network of activists, and grows downward.  Charles Camosy’s equally admirable push for a party premised on a “consistent ethic” of life is currently grappling with theoretical issues about the platform.  (Full disclosure: I’ve exchanged some emails with Prof. Camosy about a new consistent-ethic party.)  Heck, judging by my comment feeds, the first thing anybody wants to talk about when it comes to a new party is the platform — not the concrete plans for winning elections.  

I’d be remiss not to mention the kings in this field. Every single time I have mentioned a new party on the blog or elsewhere, some generous reader has taken the time to leave a comment or send an email asking whether I’ve heard about the American Solidarity Party, a minor party founded in 2012 on principles that are broadly pro-human and pro-subsidiarity.  The American Solidarity Party has followed largely the same path I first envisioned for my new party: assemble an attractive, centrist platform, develop a network of activists, build the brand, and then, eventually, once firmly established, start rolling out candidates wherever possible — making sure to get approval from the National Committee for each one (the ASP national committee approves all candidates, even for school board).

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Beyond Red and Blue: A Survey

I googled "survey" and this came up. Phoning it in on my image game, I know.
I googled “survey” and this came up. Phoning it in on my image game, I know.

I’m trying to develop a better picture of the American electorate, as we work to build a New Party.  I’ve developed a short (three-question) survey about your view of politics.  Should take you no more than 5 minutes, and it would be a big help to me personally.


It’s not a scientific poll, but rather an attempt to get a better sense of the many different viewpoints that come together to form the Red and Blue monoliths that dominate our politics.


Thanks for your time.

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Friendly Reminder: There’s Still Time for a New GOP Nominee

I wrote a few weeks ago that the GOP can and should vacate the GOP nomination and install a replacement for Donald Trump.

Technically, it’s still not too late.  The process takes 40 days at least 10 days and must be completed by the time the Electoral College meets on December 19th.

Will it happen? No. But we should be very clear that, if it doesn’t happen, it is because the leadership of the Republican Party chose to stand by Donald Trump.

That’s all! Good night!

UPDATE 9 October 2016: I’ve learned that the 40-day process could possibly be short-circuited by a motion to suspend the rules.

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NOTICE: Will Build Websites for Life

Update 7 October 2016: The response to this post has been even greater than I hoped, thanks be to God.  I have been contacted by several pro-life organizations and am working with them first-come, first-serve.  My door is always open to more, so feel free to reach out — it might just take me a while for me to get to your website.

If you represent a pro-life organization*, I want to help you.

My schedule makes it difficult for me to volunteer for pro-life service in the conventional way.  Nearly all of my free hours are after 10 PM, and most pro-life organizations need volunteers during the day.

However, by day, I am a web developer. I create and maintain websites for my employer, and I also create the occasional website in my spare time. (For a recent example of my work, see here.) I’m no genius, nor have I ever freelanced before, but I’ve been doing Web design for a few years. I know HTML5, I can build responsive websites, and I can tell you which Internet buzzwords you need to worry about (“mobile experience”) and which ones you probably don’t (“mobile app”).

I would be grateful for the opportunity to build, update, maintain, or otherwise help out with your pro-life organization’s website. I will work with you to define your vision for the website, I will implement your vision as best I can, and I will leave you with the tools you need to keep things running smoothly afterward. I will do this free of charge, working for a few hours a week, on what I expect will be a first-come first-serve basis.

So, if you represent a pro-life organization with an outdated website, write to me at james.j.heaney@gmail.com.  If you know a pro-life organization that could benefit from this, mention this to them.  I just want to help in the best way that I can.

* By “pro-life organizations,” I mean organizations that are expressly, primarily dedicated to creating legal protections for unborn humans, or to assisting needy mothers and their children (born and unborn) so that both moms and kids are able to live the happy lives they deserve. There are plenty of worthy causes out there that fall under the broader umbrella of the “consistent ethic of life,” but abortion is the particular area where I feel compelled to help out right now.

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Vacate the Nomination

Dump Trump: Save the Party of Lincoln.
Lincoln never stopped hoping, and neither should you.

This post was updated on 9 October 2016. Updates are at the bottom.

Since winning the nomination, Donald J. Trump has done all of the following: insulted the family of a man who died in service of his country; kicked a baby out of a rally; failed to rebut evidence that he was a draft dodger; embraced the opponent of the sitting Republican Speaker of the House while refusing to endorse the 2008 GOP nominee for president; attacked fire marshals at his rallies as “political” for enforcing occupancy limits; driven his staff and the RNC to despair; and denied the (very real) Russian conquest of Crimea.

I’m sorry, did I say, “since winning the nomination”?  Actually, that was just the past 36 hours (as of this writing). By the time you read this, no doubt Trump will have disqualified himself from the nuclear suitcase many more times – and it’s not like Trump was an angel before August, either.  Trump should not be the Republican nominee for president.  He should not even be the Republican nominee for Secretary of Transportation – 13th in the line of succession is far too close for a man of his low character.

Fortunately, he doesn’t need to be.

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Posted in Analysis, Horse Race, Law | Tagged , , , , | 19 Comments

Conservatism is Dead!

That’s the provocative title of my recent piece at The Federalist, which you should check out if you haven’t seen it yet. Here are some excerpts:

[T]here is no conservative movement. The “Reagan coalition” stopped existing as an operational political force some time ago. The conservative movement cannot use the Republican Party to advance its aims simply because, as a non-existent entity, the conservative movement has no aims to advance.

There are three factions within today’s Republican Party, all of them deeply and structurally opposed to one another. All three call themselves “conservative” and berate the other factions for their deviations from “true” conservatism, but each defines “conservatism” according to their own factional priorities.

The populists are nationalist, nativist, and pro-American. They supported Trump almost from the start, and they read Breitbart and Drudge

Because they consider giving voice to “Americans” the defining characteristic of conservatism, populist conservatives see support for illegal immigrants as an excommunicable offense, but are open to raising taxes on the rich to keep middle-class entitlement programs running, and are largely indifferent to (or “pragmatic” about) “culture war” issues like religious liberty.

Going by presidential preference polls, populists make up about a third of the Republican party. The other factions pejoratively refer to the populists as “Know-Nothings,” among other things.

The establishment is chiefly concerned with growing gross domestic product at all costs. They supported Jeb Bush or John Kasich at the end of February, and they read the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times.

Because they view “growth” as the defining characteristic of conservatism, establishment conservatives see tax increases or even tax cuts that do not flow directly to the pockets of so-called “job creators” as grave heresies against conservatism, but they are eager to increase immigration and happy, nay eager, to surrender to the Left on “culture war” issues.

Although smaller than the other factions, the establishment wields disproportionate clout through its well-heeled donor class. The other factions pejoratively refer to members of the establishment as “plutocrats,” among other things.

The grassroots, which fights for a culture that protects life, liberty, and the family, supported Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio by the end of February. They read the National Review,The Federalist, and First Things.

Because they see “culture” as the central feature of conservatism, grassroots conservatives obviously view so-called “culture war” issues as essential. They see economic growth as just one aspect of the movement (and do not take the establishment’s rigid view of how to achieve it), and they take a more nuanced, even “pragmatic” approach to immigration than either of the other two factions. Like the populists, they seem to make up about one-third of the GOP. The other factions pejoratively refer to the grassroots as “religious fundamentalists,” among other things.

When the modern conservative movement started out under the political leadership of Barry Goldwater and later Reagan, it was built on centuries-old principles handed down by men like Edmund Burke and Alexis de Toqueville. In 1953, the great intellectual, Russell Kirk, summarized those central premises of conservatism.

In his “six canons,” Kirk articulated a conservativism that embraces “a transcendant order, or body of natural law,” because “[p]olitical problems, at bottom, are religious and moral problems.” Conservatives, Kirk said, reject “uniformity, egalitarianism, and utilitarian aims,” even as they recognize “ultimate equality in the judgement of God and… before courts of law.” They maintain the importance of property rights against Leviathan government, and distrust “sophisters, calculators, and economists who would reconstruct society on abstract designs.” Finally, a Kirk conservative is prudent, recognizing “that change may not be salutary reform: hasty innovation may be a devouring conflagration, rather than a torch of progress.”

The modern “conservative movement” has lost touch with these essentials… Yet those core, conservative ideas, plainly stated and honestly championed, are still popular across a wide swath of American society, including large groups of voters who wouldn’t be caught dead identifying themselves as “conservative.” (I think here of black economic moderates, various first- and second-generation immigrant groups, white union Democrats, and others.)

The implications for the “new party” are clear: we need to return to the core ideas of conservatism, while at the same time we need to compromise on, attenuate, or even abandon some of the core policy commitments that have come to define the modern, corrupted conservative movement.  For example, if we grassroots conservatives are to establish a successful new anti-abortion party based on Kirk’s core conservatism, we are not going to be able to maintain a commitment to the “abstract designs” of the “sophisters, calculators, and economists” on the Wall Street Journal‘s editorial board.

In this process of realignment and reassessment of our policy commitments, we will lose some old allies — the WSJ comes to mind — but, if we are honest and not too stubborn about old political habits, we will gain many more.

More on this later.  (Soon, I hope!)  For now, go read the article.

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Should I Watch: Mr. Robot?

Looks like I’m back with a TV review after all! Here’s my two cents on USA’s Golden Globe-winning hit drama, Mr. Robot.

Type of Show: Though it aired on a (cable) network, Mr. Robot is another in the new genre of “binge-watch” shows, in which every episode must be watched in sequence to make any sense, the most exciting story beats happen at the end (rather than the beginning and middle) in order to keep you watching for another hour, and everything from storylines to individual shots are padded to make the show fill an entire season. (see also: The Man in the High Castle)

One of my favorite parts of MR. ROBOT is how realistic its hacking is. This code is pretty close to something that would actually work.

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Where’s James Been?

Things have gotten a little stoppered up here at De Civitate, and you, the faithful reader, deserve a wee update.

I’ve been hesitant to post any of my regular blog fare (discussion of social issues, horse race updates, TV reviews) until I’ve fleshed out the New Party proposal a little more. Many of you put your faith in that proposal and I want to show that I remain serious about it.

However, the next piece in my series about the New Party (and the need for it) was submitted to a conservative magazine last month. They’ve agreed to publish it, but, as sometimes happens in the publishing world, they got a little delayed, especially with the conventions.  We’ll see what happens there.

In the meantime, I’ve been in a holding pattern.  One way or another, we’ll be back soon. Whether it’ll be with a new post about the New Party or my review of Mr. Robot, I don’t know yet.

Cheers, all.

Posted in Housekeeping | 12 Comments