Tag Archives: Illinois

Political Strategy Offered to Defeat ‘The Left’ in 2016

By Paul R. Hollrah

To be elected president or vice president of the United States requires a total of at least 270 votes in the Electoral College. Through the strategic spending of other people’s money, especially among minority populations in our major urban areas, Democrats have fashioned an electoral map that gives them a relatively firm base of 22 blue states with a combined total of 257 of the needed 270 electoral votes. Of the remaining 281 electoral votes, they only have to pick up 13 in order to elect a president and a vice president.

Editorial cartoon courtesy David Donar at http://politicalgraffiti.wordpress.com.

Editorial cartoon courtesy David Donar at http://politicalgraffiti.wordpress.com.

Republicans, on the other hand, have a firm base of 23 red states with a combined total of 191 electoral votes, leaving a total of six swing states… Colorado, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia… with a combined total of 90 electoral votes. In order for a Republican to win in 2016 and beyond, he/she must carry all 23 of the red states, plus at least five of the six swing states. They could afford to lose either Colorado’s nine electoral votes or Iowa’s six electoral votes, but not all 15. To lose both Colorado and Iowa, while carrying Florida, Ohio, North Carolina and Virginia, would leave them with a total of just 266 electoral votes, four short of an electoral majority. It appears to be a nearly-insurmountable obstacle for Republicans, but is it?

With a bit of foresight and strategic planning, Republicans could do a great deal between now and November 2016 to mitigate the Democrats’ electoral advantage. In a December 2012 column, Real Electoral College Reform, I analyzed what would happen to the political balance of power in the United States if all 50 states were to adopt the Maine-Nebraska method for allocating electoral votes.

In the Electoral College, each of the 50 states are allotted two at-large electoral votes, one for each of their two U.S. senators, and one vote for each of the state’s congressional districts. With the exception of Maine and Nebraska, the winner of the popular vote in each state takes all of the state’s electoral votes. In Maine and Nebraska, however, the candidate who wins the statewide popular vote is allotted that state’s two at-large electoral votes, while the remainder of the electoral votes are allocated based on the winner of the popular vote within each of the state’s congressional districts.

If the Maine-Nebraska formula had been in effect in all 50 states in 2012, and assuming that the vote for the presidential candidates of each party would roughly approximate the votes for the congressional candidates of the respective parties in each congressional district, Obama would have lost 115 of his 332 electoral votes to Mitt Romney in the 26 states, plus D.C., in which he won a majority of the popular vote. On the other hand, in the 24 red states carried by Romney-Ryan, they would have lost only 39 electoral votes to Obama-Biden.

The end result?  In 2012, instead of a 332 to 206 vote victory for Obama-Biden in the Electoral College, the Maine-Nebraska system would have produced a comfortable 282 to 256 vote victory for Romney-Ryan, an outcome that would have been far closer to expressing the will of the people than the present winner-take-all system.

To understand this phenomenon, one need only look at the county-by-county electoral map of the United States with the counties colored either red or blue. It is reflective of: a) the preference for Republican principles among a substantial majority of the people, and b) the overwhelming size of the vote for the Democratic “sugar daddy” in the inner city precincts. The electoral process is disproportionately skewed by the fact that, in the heavily-populated inner-city precincts, the vote is nearly always 95 percent to 110 percent for Democratic candidates, while in the suburbs and the rural areas the vote is nearly always within the 60-40 range, one party over the other.

If it is true that “all politics is local,” as the late House Speaker Tip O’Neill once remarked, then to replace the current winner-take-all system with the Maine-Nebraska electoral system would help to bring political decision-making much closer to the people because of the increased interest generated in local and congressional elections.

The Maine-Nebraska electoral system would deemphasize the key battleground states such as Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia and require candidates to campaign in all fifty states. As matters now stand, presidential candidates spend little time in states such as California, New York, Oklahoma and Texas because the outcome of presidential voting in those states is almost always a foregone conclusion. Had the Maine-Nebraska system been in place for the 2012 General Election, Obama would have found it necessary to defend the 15 votes that Romney could have won in California and the six votes he could have won in New York, while Romney could not have ignored the 12 electoral votes that Obama might have captured in Texas.

Liberals and Democrats are notorious for expressing appreciation for whatever they see as being most “democratic.” But is there a chance that Democrats in the bluest of blue states… such as California, Illinois, New York, Massachusetts and Oregon… would agree to such a reform once they figured out that the Maine-Nebraska system would cause them to lose a significant number of electoral votes to Republicans, and that the Maine-Nebraska system would all but guarantee that no Democrat could be elected president or vice president for many years to come? Among liberals and Democrats, when it come to a choice between what is best for the country and what is best for their party, the country will always come out on the “short end of the stick.”

Image above represents voting for president by county in 2012 presidential election (i.e., Red = Romney, Blue = Obama).

Image above represents voting for president by county in 2012 presidential election (i.e., Red = Romney, Blue = Obama).

So, while we cannot expect to ever see an electoral system in which all 50 states utilize the Maine-Nebraska formula, is there something that can be done now to level the playing field a bit? The answer is yes, and it can easily be accomplished in advance of the 2016 General Election. Here’s what must be done:

At the present time, there are 11 states with a total of 139 electoral votes that were carried by Barack Obama in 2012 which now have Republican governors. Of those 11 states, the states of Florida, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio and Wisconsin now enjoy Republican majorities in both houses of their legislatures. What this means is that, if the governors and legislative leaders in those five states understood what could be accomplished, they would take immediate steps to repeal the winner-take-all electoral system and adopt the Maine-Nebraska system. With Republican majorities in both houses of their legislatures, Democrats would be powerless to stop them.

Even if Democrats should win the popular vote in each of those five states in 2016, as they did in 2012, the Maine-Nebraska formula would create a much different scenario than the winner-take-all system:  Instead of winning all 29 of Florida’s electoral votes, Democrats would win 12 and Republicans would win 17; instead of winning all 16 of Michigan’s electoral votes, Democrats would win seven votes and Republicans would win nine; instead of winning all six of Nevada’s electoral votes, Democrats would win three and Republicans would win three; instead of winning all 18 of Ohio’s electoral votes, Democrats would win six and Republicans would win 12; and instead of winning all 10 of Wisconsin’s electoral votes, Democrats would win five and Republicans would win five.

Applying these totals to the expected blue state and red state totals, the Democrats’ expected advantage would increase from 257 electoral votes to 258, while the Republican disadvantage would move from 191 electoral votes to 237. As matters now stand, Democrats have to take only 13 (14 percent) of the 90 swing state votes while Republicans have to take 79 (8 percent) in order to win the presidency. On the other hand, if Republicans in those five states were to adopt the Maine-Nebraska system in the current legislative sessions, Democrats would have to take 12 (28 percent) of the remaining 43 swing state votes to win, while Republicans would have to take 33 (76 percent) of the remaining 43. Taking 76 percent of 43 votes is easier than taking 88 percent of 90 votes.

But what if many of the low-information Obama voters in Florida, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio and Wisconsin decide to stay home in November 2016, giving Republicans popular vote victories in all five states? After eight years of disastrous Obama-Biden-Clinton-style governance, it is a distinct possibility. Under that scenario, Republicans could put another 10 electoral votes in their column.  Democrats would have 248 electoral votes and Republicans 247 electoral votes before the 43 electoral votes of Colorado (9), Iowa (6), North Carolina (15) and Virginia (13) were won or lost. Democrats would have to win 22 (51 percent) of the remaining 43 swing state votes, while Republicans would have to win 23 (53 percent). The playing field would be substantially leveled.

However, in order to greatly increase their chances of victory, Republicans should not hesitate to target Minnesota, with 10 electoral votes; New Hampshire, with four electoral votes; New Mexico, with five electoral votes; and Pennsylvania, with 20 electoral votes… all winner-take-all states, and all states that Obama carried with less than 53 percent of the vote in 2012. After eight years of Obama-Biden, at least five percent of the good people in those four states should be anxious for a change.

In the meantime, those readers who live in the states of Florida, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio and Michigan might wish to place copies of this analysis into the hands of their governors and their legislative leaders. With seven states utilizing the Maine-Nebraska system we may witness the  beginning of a trend as other blue states follow suit. The question is, do Republican leaders in Washington and in the state capitals have the political sense to recognize the advantage they enjoy? Given their past history, we know that they= are not always quick to act when political advantage falls into their laps.  t may be necessary to lean on them a bit.

Paul R. Hollrah is a resident of Oklahoma who writes from the perspective of a veteran conservative politico and retired corporate government relations executive whose life experience includes having served two terms as a member of the Electoral College. Even if you disagree with him, this piece will make you think long and hard.

For links to other articles of interest as well as photos and commentary, join me on Facebook and Twitter.  Please show your support by buying my books and encouraging your friends and loved ones to do the same.  To learn how to order signed copies, click here. Thanks in advance!

Click on image above to order Bob's books.

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Thief Nets Sweetheart Deal from Local Judge

Today, I came across an article about Kevin James Guerra, a former St. Charles County (Mo.) Ambulance District board member who recently pleaded guilty to taking more than $500,000 from a private urgent care center. Apart from being pleased the 44-year-old was caught, I’m appalled by the sentence given to him by Circuit Judge Jon Cunningham:  120 days shock time, five years probation, and  repayment of $150,000.

Kevin James Guerra

Kevin James Guerra

To understand why Guerra’s punishment — if you can call it that — troubles me, one needs only compare it to that given other individuals around the country for crimes involving comparable dollar amounts stolen, embezzled or otherwise taken illegally. Below are three cases I found through a simple online search:

Case #1 (Los Angeles, 2012) — Third Brother Sentenced to Over Four Years in Prison in Plot That Stole Over $500,000 Designated for Low-Income, Disabled Residents;

Case #2 (Springfield, Mo., 2011) — Springfield Man Sentenced to Five Years and Ten Months for $500,000 Fraud Scheme; and

Case #3 (Downer’s Grove, Ill., 2012) — Former Office Manager Gets 10 Years for Embezzling More Than $500K from Suburban Chicago Law Firm.

What was the Judge Cunningham thinking when he doled out punishment for Guerra that appears many orders of magnitudes less severe than that received by others around the country? According to the article, he said it was unrealistic to expect Guerra to pay back the entire $500,000 during the five years he will be on probation.

Simple math tells a different story: In exchange for his sentence, Guerra appears to be $350,000 ahead.

For links to other articles of interest as well as photos and commentary, join me on Facebook and Twitter.  Please show your support by buying my books and encouraging your friends and loved ones to do the same.  To learn how to order signed copies, click here. Thanks!

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The National Bet Receives Front-Page Newspaper Coverage

I learned Thursday night that my first crime-fiction mystery novel, The National Bet, had made the front page of a major daily newspaper in Illinois despite having been released only last month!

Bill Grimes' story about The National Bet made the Aug. 11, 2014,  front page of the Effingham Daily News (Image used with permission of newspaper).

Bill Grimes’ story about The National Bet made the Aug. 11, 2014, front page of the Effingham Daily News (Image used with permission of newspaper).

The newspaper about which I’m speaking is the Effingham Daily News, THE major daily serving the people of Effingham County in Southern Illinois where much of the drama takes place inside the book’s 368 pages. The article appeared on the front page of the Aug. 11 print edition of newspaper under the headline, Fiction novel set in Effingham.

Why did it take me so long to discover the article had been published? Allow me to explain.

Around the first of August, reporter Bill Grimes called me after I had sent out pre-release feelers to news media folks I thought might be interested in the story. He interviewed me for about 30 minutes, and then I kept my eyes open for an alert about the article to appear in my email inbox. But it never did.

After spotting a brief-but-positive review of the book in the form of a status update Thursday night on Grimes’ Facebook page, I contacted him to find out if he had written any full-length article about the book. In reply, he told me he had indeed written the aforementioned article.

With permission from Grimes and his bosses at the Effingham Daily News, I share a large chunk of Grimes’ article below:

When Bob McCarty put out a quarterly magazine in the early 2000s, he periodically traveled to Effingham to oversee production at Kingery Printing.

After McCarty found out he lost his job, he decided to strike out on his own as an author. With two nonfiction books under the belt, his first fiction novel pays homage to Effingham.

McCarty, an Oklahoma native who now lives in St. Charles, Missouri, is getting ready to publish “The National Bet,” toward the end of this month. Much of the book is set in Effingham, and McCarty says local people are generally portrayed in a favorable light.

FBI Special Agent Joe-L Wilson has been assigned to investigate the deaths of thousands over a Fourth of July weekend. The probe leads him to Effingham, where he interviews people at a fictitious Illinois Chemical Company.

Other characters include students at Ben Wood College, as well as a female reporter at the Effingham Courier newspaper and a local judge who just can’t behave himself. Ben Wood College is named for the late Benson Wood, Effingham mayor, congressman and namesake of the landmark Benwood Hotel in downtown Effingham.

McCarty said Effingham struck him as a logical place to portray middle America.

“When you drive through that part of Illinois, you see cornfields and mostly small towns,” he said. “I’ve lived all over the planet, but Effingham just struck me as a quintessential American setting.

“I didn’t spend much time in Effingham, but it struck me as a good place to have as the setting for this book,” he added.

Nearly all of the people who die over the tragic weekend depicted in the book are not from Effingham, however.

Aside from having to mention the part about me losing my job (click here for the ugly details about that), Grimes did a good job with the story. Now, I’m waiting for calls from other journalists and bloggers who might be interested in the fictitious action set in their cities (i.e., Groton, Ct., Brooklyn, N.Y., Campton, N.H., and Charlotte, N.C., as well as Manila, Republic of the Philippines, Grozny, Chechnya, Berbera, Somalia, and Washington, D.C. Know anyone?

UPDATE 4/19/2015 at 1:29 p.m. Central: Check out the limited-time free-books offer here.

If you like this article and my other efforts, please show your support by buying my books and encouraging your friends and loved ones to do the same.  Thanks in advance!

Click on image above to order Bob's books.

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Book Excerpt: ‘That Others May Live’

My first crime-fiction thriller, The National Bet, went on sale last week, and I thought I’d offer another excerpt to go along with one I shared earlier this month.

HH-60_Pave_Hawk

“K-man! K-man! Wake up! We’ve gotta go!” Waking to those words, Master Sergeant Josh Kastens knew the day was about to get serious.

A twelve-year veteran who had reached his current rank almost two years ahead of his peers, Josh was a member of the elite Air Force pararescue fraternity known as “PJs.” Assigned to the 347th Rescue Group at Moody Air Force Base near Valdosta, Georgia, he was pulling his first six-month tour in Somalia even as most Americans didn’t realize members of their country’s military had been deployed to the African nation since 2007.

Being rousted out of bed at “oh-dark-thirty”—2:15 a.m. local time on this occasion—usually meant an aircraft was down and a pilot needed rescue—or, in PJ vernacular, “saved.”

“A viper flamed out,” said Captain Eddie Hoskins, speaking loud and being unmistakably clear. “Briefing room in five!”

During the briefing, Josh learned the mission would take him and his crew from their base near Berbera on the coast of the Gulf of Aden to an insurgent stronghold almost fifteen miles west of Saylac and ten miles south of Somalia’s border with Djibouti.

By 2:30, their HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter was airborne. Estimated time to target: twenty minutes. Outside the chopper, the early morning temperature was a stifling ninety-seven degrees Fahrenheit. Inside, the heat was even more oppressive as engine noise drowned out everything but the headset chatter between crewmembers.

Two gunners stood ready at their GAU-2/B miniguns, while Josh and his PJ partner, Staff Sergeant Stu Duckworth, sat with their legs hanging out opposite doors, M-4 carbines across their laps. Just in case.

Josh had made six saves during previous combat tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, but something about this new battlefield gave him the creeps.

Flying fast and low at a ten o’clock heading, the chopper pilot followed instructions from controllers aboard an E-3B Sentry Airborne Warning and Control Systems aircraft flying high above, and they reached the downed pilot’s location without incident.

Due to the latest round of Pentagon budget cuts that had dramatically reduced the number of rescue aircraft in theater, only one chopper participated in this mission. And, thanks to misguided Rules of Engagement that no longer allowed gunners to use preliminary fire to clear landing zones of bad guys, every LZ was considered hot.

Approaching the LZ, the pilot took his chopper down at a steep angle while making a number of irregular turns designed to make it more difficult for anyone to shoot his bird down. Then, after dropping the PJs in a clearing, he climbed back into the sky. The entire process took less than forty seconds, and his chopper took no incoming fire. Now, he and his crew would keep watch over the area as the PJs went to work.

Equipped with night-vision goggles, the PJs reached the downed pilot quickly after spotting him crouched behind an abandoned truck some fifty yards north of the LZ.

“Are you hurt?” Josh asked the pilot, Captain Bud McGowan, who showed no signs of serious injury but was understandably nervous.

“No, but I think there are some bad guys out there,” the pilot replied, motioning with his eyes toward the east. “I heard them shouting to each other, so they can’t be too far away.”

Captain McGowan’s F-16C Fighting Falcon had lost hydraulic pressure in its lone engine. As a result, he had to eject in an area only a few miles away from an enemy base where, a short time earlier, members of the terror group al-Shabaab had been on the receiving end of one of his laser-guided five-hundred-pound bombs. Now, instead of being the hunter, he’d become the prey, hunted by dark-skinned men now less than half a mile away and closing fast.

After attaching a harness to the pilot, Josh radioed the chopper to return for an immediate pickup. As the word “copy” left his lips, a single shot rang out and, out of the corner of his eye, he saw Sergeant Duckworth—“Duck” to his friends—reach up with his left hand to the side of his head. A large chunk had been ripped out of the PJ’s helmet, but it didn’t appear as if the bullet had penetrated his partner’s skull. It did, however, cause him to be disoriented and have a hard time keeping his balance.

“Mama bear, we’re taking fire!” Josh screamed into his radio. “Duck’s hit! Duck’s hit! We need cover! East, one hundred yards! We need cover!”

More shots rang out, but all missed.

As Josh half-carried his partner toward the makeshift LZ, Captain McGowan fired his 9 mm Beretta in the direction of the attackers who had cut the distance between themselves and their prey in half.

“How many are–” Josh began to ask Captain McGowan before stopping in mid-sentence as an AK-47 round grazed the left side of his neck. Then another round hit him inches above his right hip. Adrenaline surging, a quick assessment confirmed neither wound was life threatening.

Seconds later, the chopper—their lifeline to the world— appeared out of nowhere from over a ridge to the south. After the helo’s right-side gunner spotted the rebels through his night-vision goggles, he unloaded a barrage of 7.62 mm rounds on the enemy positions and declared over the radio, “Enemy destroyed!”

Such an outcome had been made possible only after a U.S. Marine Corps three-star general had taken over as commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan and succeeded in convincing his superiors in the chain of command to allow crews aboard casualty- evacuation choppers (a.k.a., “CASEVACs” or “dustoffs”) to defend themselves in hot LZs.

Upon hearing the E-D announcement, the chopper pilot dropped his aircraft to the ground within twenty yards of the PJs and the aviator they had come to save.

Ignoring his own wounds, Josh partnered with Captain McGowan to load Sergeant Duckworth onto the chopper. As they began lifting him up to the floor of the chopper, three more gunshots rang out in quick succession and Josh felt more pain. Looking down as he began to collapse, he saw his left leg nearly severed above the knee.

For what seemed an eternity, Josh watched through his night-vision goggles as his own warm blood poured from the leg, yielding a bright-red thermal-infrared signature. Less than a minute after he was hit, he lost consciousness.

Responding to the burst of unexpected gunfire, the chopper’s right-side gunner quickly located and eliminated its source, another Somali sniper who seemed to appear out of nowhere some sixty yards northeast of the LZ. But it was too late for Josh.

While both PJs stayed true to their warrior fraternity’s creed, “That Others May Live,” only one survived.

The National Bet isn’t a military fiction novel, but the action in the book begins in East Africa and makes its way to several locations across the United States. One of those locations, tiny Effingham, Ill., is home to several of the book’s characters, including the father of the fallen PJ.

You can learn more about the book here and order a copy of the book here.

UPDATE 4/19/2015 at 1:31 p.m. Central: Check out the limited-time free-books offer here.

Click on image above to order Bob's books.

Click on image above to order Bob’s books.