December 01, 2018

Poppy Bush, opportunist president, is dead

For those who cry "Too Soon" or like their hagiography sunny side up, no, it's not. It's never too soon to note the reality of a life of a recently deceased famous person.

In the world of modern conservative politics, that's as true of George H.W. Bush as of John McCain. And, facts are stubborn things.

"Opportunism" could be described as a byword, even a one-word summary, for Bush's political career. Yes, a certain degree of opportunism is part and parcel of democratic politics, but it doesn't have to be, and shouldn't be, the central theme.

Besides, the mainstream media which insists we must mourn has American Exceptionalism reasons for saying that.

Let's start with this Tweet from Corey Robin:
This will lead to Bush's opportunism.

Behind that was the whole schmeer of Bush's 1988 presidential run, which was a parade of opportunism.

That included an oversolemnized Pledge of Allegiance, part of Bush's attacks on and mocking of Mike Dukakis for defending the First Amendment. That was followed by the Willie Horton ad, which attacked an early release program for Massachusetts felons.

Before that, Bush's GOP convention was itself laden with opportunism and pandering. That's where he said "Read my lips, no new taxes." That's where he nominated airhead Dan Quayle as his Veep. And speaking of the Schmuck Talk Express, McCain said of him:
"I can't believe a guy that handsome wouldn't have some impact."
Well, there you go. The balloon of McCain gets further punctured with that.

Back to the main thread.

Bush hired the Lee Atwater who ran that ad, who pushed him into the Pledge of Allegiance dust-up. I have no doubt that Atwater was behind some of the rumors about Kitty Dukakis, claiming that she was involved in flag-burning years back.

Speaking of? Don't forget Bush's weaseling on the Flag Protection Act of 1989, written in response to Gregory Johnson's flag-burning outside the the 1984 Republican National Convention. Bush let the bill become law without his signature.

This and the Pledge fracas — and their campaign success — led to further coarsening of national politics by Republican candidates and consultants, above all, to politically weaponizing patriotism and the flag. Arguably, it led ultimately to "birther" claims against Barack Obama.

His opportunism had started decades before that.

He became pro-life to get Reagan's nomination as Veep. He also swallowed the previous truth of calling Reagan's pee-down "voodoo economics."

But, as TruthOut reminds and I had forgotten, he so ingratiated himself with Reagan to be part of his October Surprise against Carter. Consortium News has more.

He eventually showed that he thought deficits did matter when he told us to "read his hips" as he raised taxes.

He was right. But, he never called out his Secretary of Defense, Dick Cheney, when Darth said years later that "deficits don't matter."

He did resign from the NRA, some time after it started going wingnut but well before it got as wingnut as today. And, he didn't speak out in the 20-plus years after that 1995 resignation. Plus, back to 1988. He was opportunistic in accepting an NRA life membership that year.

Even in foreign policy, Bush was an opportunist of sorts. Not only was he slow in the pivot from Gorbachev to Yeltsin, he was slow to recognize the new de facto independence of the Baltic States. (The U.S. continued to recognize their de jure independence from 1940 on.) This led to my writing a letter to the White House.

I will give him credit, overall, for how he handled the end of the Cold War. And, if he had been re-elected, he might have actually given us a better Cold War dividend than Slick Willie Clinton did. Among other things, Bush might have honored the NATO pledge to Gorbachev to not expand eastward.

That said, what he gave Gorby with the right hand, he took away with the left.

But, I digress.

On the original Iraq War, he may not have deceived the public as much as his son a dozen years or so later, but deceive he did. We still don't know just what April Glaspie told Saddam Hussein about invading Kuwait, and on what authority, before she was recalled. Nor do we know ow much Bush himself knew about the incubator babies lying campaign Hill and Knowlton cooked up for the Emir of Kuwait.

I will give Poppy credit for one seemingly non-opportunist move in foreign policy. He threatened to cut off loan guarantees to Israel over Palestine/West Bank settlement housing, then stood by that threat. Philip Weiss at Mondoweiss offers more, and how it may have cost Bush re-election.

And, I haven't even mentioned Jennifer Fitzgerald yet. Who doesn't even have a Wiki entry.

Nor have I mentioned all the Iran-Contra pardons. Robin starts a mini-thread with this:
Others have commented as well.

I noted on Twitter this was a major step in the loss of backbone, and drift rightward, of national Democrats, in that they refused to discuss impeachment of Reagan, or even discuss discussing it, instead accepting the whitewash by Reagan's new chief of staff, Howard Baker. 

Baker, in turn, while knowing it would eliminate him from the 1988 prez race, indicated his work was for the good of the country, which was itself a lie. Add to it all of Bush's pardons as he left the White House, and you have further whitewashing.

I had forgotten, in his slot between Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No" and Bill and Hillary Clinton's superpredators, Bush's role in ramping up the War on Drugs. Which again, like most posturing on that, and on "getting tough on crime" in general, is opportunism. And with Bush, the opportunism was rank:
That's from this thread.

Speaking of the War on Drugs, there was also Bush throwing Noriega under the bus when expedient, and the unnecessarily civilian and military deaths in Panama as a result.

Nor did I originally mention the assassination of Orlando Letelier in DC in 76 when Bush was running the CIA, and our Pinochet-befriending cover-up. (And, surely, by this time, Bush knew the truth about the assassination of Allende.)

Nor him being the president who launched the trend of post-presidential speechifying for big bucks.

George H.W. Bush was a man who liked to give the appearance of decency, as part of New England Eastern Establishment noblesse oblige. Whether he went beyond appearances is on the table.

Beyond his leaving the NRA, there's no indication that Bush apologized for the Willie Horton ad, the First Amendment attacks via the Pledge, or for inflicting Clarence Thomas on the U.S., and Bush's "most qualified at the time" whopper.

Finally, he or whatever staffer ran his Twitter, supported Kavanaugh in what is reportedly his last Tweet.

==

Bonus: I had forgotten about my long-ago trip to Tsarskoe Selo, where an ex-spook gave me a very interesting conspiracy theory tale about Bush green-lighting Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait. Here's the details.

November 30, 2018

Grants, New Mexico: A story of a town's
promise and peril, uranium booms and busts

For the first time, I think, since I moved away from Gallup, New Mexico decades and decades ago as a teenager, I actually drove through all of Grants on old Route 66, rather than driving by on I-40. I had planned on driving up to the Mount Taylor trail and climbing to the peak, but time just got cramped.

Grants-old Uranium Cafe
The old former Uranium Cafe.
For those who don't know, Grants once billed itself as the Uranium Capital of the World. The "world" part was hyperbole, but it was, staying ahead of southeast Utah where Canyonlands National Park now is, definitely the Uranium Capital of the U.S.

That picture at left? The Uranium Cafe was the original name, and was when I was a kid in Gallup.

That being the Uranium Capital of the U.S., if not quite the world, ended the same year I moved out of Gallup, and for two reasons.

One is well-known to the general public: Three Mile Island.

The other, far less known, is a rupture of a tailings pond at the Church Rock Mine, near Gallup and west of Grants, that summer. It actually, it is believed, released more radiation than Three Mile Island, and per the link, the laggard response to it may indeed have had racism behind it. The mine employed mainly Navajos, who had already suffered from two decades of bigotry in uranium mine and milling safety. And, the tailings pond, when ruptured, eventually flowed into the Rio Puerco of the West, through "checkerboard" Navajo land and then through Gallup, often known at that time as "Drunk City."

Had Three Mile Island and the tailings pond rupture happen two years later? Not such a big deal. Sure, nuclear power plant building had already slowed down. But, this would have been in 1981, during the regulations-lightening Reagan Administration. And, after the Iranian oil embargo, which would have further pushed places like New England to move from fuel oil to electricity for heat if locales there hadn't yet done that.

But, that's not the way it happened.

Grants: The down side.
So, Grants kind of imploded. Fair chunks of the town still look like the site pictured at right.

And, I do mean fair chunks. I ran out of time to drive very far on the Forest Service roads, but I took NM 547 up to the first mile of FS road on the route to the Mount Taylor trailhead. There's more of Grants that looks like what I have here. Maybe 20 percent?

After I left Gallup, I used to joke that it and Española were the two armpits of the state. Maybe they're not alone.

Looking for tenants in Grants.
The city's still trying to recruit people and businesses to live there. Just a block away from the old Uranium Cafe building you have that fairly new business building I have at left.

Free rent on a relatively new business. Doesn't sound like a bad deal, does it? But, nobody's buying. That's with the city still growing, albeit tenuously, ever since losing one-quarter of its population, almost 3,000 people, in the 1980s. But, the growth is nothing more than natural population increase.

The lack of business interest shows in other ways.

Long before the current implosion in the newspaper industry, the old Grants Beacon, sometime after becoming the Cibola Beacon but long before today, went from five-day daily to semiweekly circulation. It then shut its doors two years ago, but was quickly replaced by the Cibola Journal.

Speaking of Journals, the Albuquerque Journal, at least on newspaper coin racks, appears to have deserted Grants. I grabbed some food at the Mickey D's there and saw two newspapers. One was the Cibola Journal, and the other was NOT the Albuquerque Journal.

It was the Gallup Independent.

Yes, Gallup is 15 miles closer than Albuquerque. But, seriously, if you're doing shopping outside of Grants, you're headed to Duke City, not Drunk City. This is to me another sign of how much the Albuquerque Journal is imploding in recent years. It's become more predictably wingnut on its op-ed pages, even as Albuquerque as a city becomes more liberal, and tightened its horns otherwise.

Part of Grants' River Walk Park area.
Anyway, Grants is trying. Gallup bills itself as The Indian Capital of the World, but Grants is nearer to Laguna, Acoma and the Rio Grande pueblos, and almost as close to the Ramah Navajos as Gallup is to the Big Rez. So, part of the city park, as shown at left, rightly ties in with this.

You can see three "bowls" here, all about the size of a large satellite dish. The block to the west has three more, on the same side of the street. This is all about in the center of town, next to city hall and the mining museum, which is pretty small. (It is closed on Sundays, so I couldn't check out it.

So, people are trying.

And, there's other "hooks."

Lava and life juxtapose at El Malpais National Monument.
Since I moved away, the core of El Malpais is now a national monument — with a nice visitors center on the east end exit off I-40. Bonus: It's a Park Service national monument, not a BLM one, though there is a BLM-run national conservation area flanking it.

It's still the main gateway to El Morro.

Both Acoma and Laguna have casinos, for people into that stuff. Albuquerque has plenty of arts and cultural life, museums, shopping and dining.

But yet, Cibola County's only grown 2,000 in the past 15-plus years, the same as Grants.

So, besides Grants' booms and busts, maybe it's the post-2000 history of New Mexico in a nutshell in some ways.

Get your kicks on Route 66? Well, maybe.
I don't know how well it markets itself not only for tourism, but as a retirement town. Yeah, snow on I-40 to Albuquerque can be bad at times, and those spring crosswinds are a mutha; I know both from experience.

Still, Grants isn't THAT isolated, and with all the nature stuff to do, and the history as well, you'd think it could draw more retirees who want a small town atmosphere while being relatively close to a big city.

On the other hand, the US as a whole was whiter 20 years ago, let alone 50 or 70 years ago, than today. A lot of retirees, even without the "bombed-out" buildings, would be leery of Grants.

And, we'll leave it all right there.


November 29, 2018

Does UCF have a shot at the College Football Playoff? Yes, I say

With Michigan losing to Ohio State last Saturday, after the three still-undefeated locks of Alabama, Clemson and Notre Dame, per ESPN, the rest of college football's power rankings is kind of unsteady.

Forget the Ohio State vs Oklahoma debate for the fourth playoff spot, assuming Bama thumps Georgia in the SEC title game.

Let's say Oklahoma and Ohio State, both known for not really having defenses, lose THEIR Big 12 and Big 10 title games to Texas and Northwestern, respectively.

Neither is at all outside the realm of probability.

Texas already trimmed the Sooners in the Red River Shootout. Northwestern and Ohio State haven't played, but the Wildcats could certainly take the Buckeyes.

So, what if all that happens and the Knights win the AAC title game against Memphis?

Will the CFP voters jump them into that No. 4 slot?

Personally, I would love to see this whole scenario play out. It reminds me a bit of BYU in 1984, finally hauling in a national title for a non-"major" conference, including being confronted by nobody more powerful than a 6-6 Michigan team wanting to play them in the Holiday Bowl. The playoff scenario was created to avoid this. If Oklahoma and Ohio State both lose, this is what should happen.

November 27, 2018

Why the Guardian's Manafort-Assange story likely isn't true
and is a nothingburger even if (largely) true

The Resistance and allies are breathless over the idea, as reported by The Guardian, that Paul Manafort met Julian Assange at least three times in his Ecuadorean embassy exile.

(Update, Dec. 12: A former consul at the embassy is officially calling it — and previous Guardian reportage on Assange — fake news and demanding a public apology. It's clear by now this is most likely lies; that said, Assange isn't going to sue because at some point, he would have to leave the embassy as part of legal pleadings, would he not? I highly doubt the British government would let a third party represent him.)

Although Glenn Greenwald first cautioned to "let things play out," and as the Idries Shah I've often mentioned notes there are more than two sides to an issue (more on that below) in all likelihood, as Glenn himself later writes, it ain't true.

Why?

1. The Assange-hating reputation of Luke Harding. (Yes, a second byline is on that piece, but that may just be camouflage, because of ...

2. The Assange-hating reputation of The Guardian. But, let's backtrack to ...

1A. The plagiarism reputation of Harding, along with his #TheResistance, British division, reputation, over unfounded collusion claims.

3. The skeeziness of alleged evidence:
That's the best the Guardian can do? And, there's no PDF of said document with the story.

4. The vagueness of timeframes, including the 2016 visit, that Manafort met sometime "around" becoming Trump's campaign manager. (Harding will of course say he can't be more precise because Manfor(d) wasn't logged in.

5. The claims that Senain would be so meticulous to keep an off-the-books record yet misspell Manafort's name. (Is this to make it look more authentic?)

6. The claim of "Russians" also coming to the embassy, but miraculously, Harding, Guardian and Senain have no names for any of said Russians.

On the other hand, there could BE a third side.

First, why would Manafort visit Assange in 2013 and 2015? He would seem to have nothing to offer "Paulie" at this time, unless Assange had hacked some Ukrainian government emails that he never publicly dumped, which is theoretically possible, I suppose

But, Manafort could indeed have then visited Assange in 2016.

Carl Bernstein says that Robert Mueller IS investigating a 2017 meeting between Manafort and Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno and asking if Assange was discussed.

The fourth side?

It's unclear if Harding and/or others put a bug in Mueller's ear before the Guardian finished up its story. (Most of the political Twitterverse has already assumed that Mueller's claim Manafort lied to him is related in some way or another to Assange.)

The fifth side?

Even if ALL the visits Harding claimed happened actually happened, no collusion has been proven. In fact, because of the vagueness of "Russians" in Harding's story, and zero timeline for when they allegedly dropped in the embassy, Harding has no way of tying any such Russians, should they actually exist, to Manafort and/or Assange anyway. (So, no, Emptywheel, along with Bmaz and other Kossacks, your wet dreams remain unfounded. They also remain unfounded in light of Thursday's Michael Cohen plea deal stipulations.)

I'd say it means Harding shot himself in the foot over nothing, even though Kossacks like Emptywheel and Bmaz are creaming their undies over this.

Harding probably claims that this just means he's waiting for his sources to tell him Part 2.

As for the Guardian? At one time, it was left-liberal, with vague tints of leftness for the UK and definitely for the US. Now, speaking of nothingburgers, that's exactly what it's become, and over far more issues than this.

That said, if Julian Assange could have kept his pants on in Sweden, or put them back on, in one of the countries in Europe where "no means no" is legally true, he'd never be in this state of trouble in the first place. Given both him and the American bipartisan foreign policy establishment, there'd be some other trouble instead, in all likelihood.

And, another that said — there is no "deep state" in the darkest sense of the phrase machinating all of this. Nobody put a gun to Trump's head and told him to hire Mike Pompeo to run first CIA then State or John Bolton to be NSA. He did that on his own. (That's despite a new nutbar book by David Bossie and Corey Lewandowski, which I noted because The Mooch himself, Anthony Scaramucci, is now following me on Twitter.)

Update:

The sixth side? Mueller allegedly believes Jerome Corsi tipped off Roger Stone in advance of WikiLeaks' actual leaks. And, while that story is on the Guardian website, it's an AP story.

And, lead Brexiteer Nigel Farange did visit the embassy in March 2017, while an ally of his, Ted Malloch, supposedly was asked by Stone, at Corsi's request, to get advance copies of the emails in July 2016.

The seventh side? July 2016 is three months after Manafort's alleged last visit. And, neither the AP nor the Guardian's newest say that Manafort talked to either Corsi or Stone.

So, this update only confirms for me what I thought a week ago: Jerome Corsi is in definite trouble, and Roger Stone could well be next. As for Randy Credico? Stone may just be trying to drag him down and hide behind him, or he could actually have been dumb enough to get mixed up in this.

I still see no proof of a Manafort-Assange meeting. I still don't see Manafort doing that in 2016, especially if he knew about the Corsi-Stone approach. No need to get personally involved. And, Assange doesn't benefit him in 2013 or 2015. People on the ground in Russia, or eastern Ukraine, take care of his needs.

The eighth side? Harding was fed some fake news. Would be poetic justice, if true. (This is setting aside the issue of Politico running a piece under a pseudonym that forwards the ball on CIA claims about Putin while ignoring its own long history of media interference.)

Further update: The Beeb notes the Guardian weakening its story line, beyond what Wikileaks first noted. At the same time, it notes Assange has lied before on this issue, namely, about contacts with Stone.

===

As for a timeframe for action?

I say by Friday afternoon we see further "movement" from somewhere. The Guardian softened its initial story just a few hours after publishing to put a few indicative verbs in subjunctive mood. Whether more comes, or whether Assange and/or Manafort file their threatened suits remains to be seen.

There was no budging by Friday evening, but ... this new revelation means that the Guardian better do something close to a retraction soon. If not a full retraction.

Manafort's meeting in Ecuador with Lenin? He reportedly was working on a deal TO GET MANAFORT BOOTED from the embassy in exchange for aid to Ecuador. Kind of undercuts that whole collusion angle, doesn't it?

With that said, any Guardian-Harding backdooring of Mueller didn't happen. Now, maybe, somebody on Mueller's staff gave Harding a backdoor tip to undermine the findings of boss-man Mueller. Stay tuned.

And, this just gets worse yet.

First, the Guardian used a third byline on the print edition. A skeezix connected to the National Endowment for Democracies. Hit this Twitter thread. And Bezos Post is now officially calling out Harding and the Guardian.


===

This is inevitably going to get confounded with the Michael Cohen plea deal stipulations.

So, let us note that:
1. Cohen, or even Trump family members, talking to Putin grandees about Trump building projects in Moscow has nothing to do with election collusion
2. Re Manafort, there's no evidence he talked with Cohen about these issues
3. The newly-announced German investigation of Deutsche Bank is about the Panama Papers. Last I checked, there were lots of rich people in America and abroad, or rich companies thereunto, with connections to Democrats as well as to Trumpistas.
4. As for anybody meeting with Dmitry Peskov, surely, some foreign real estate magnate has met in the past with a White House press secretary.
5. Again, Putin is too smart, if he's this all-powerful, to use Trump as a deliberately chosen tool. For those who say, "his goal was sowing confusion," Putin could do that by other means, like the Facebook ads, without relying on someone who would be windsock even on confusion.

Texas Progressives offer a post-turkey Roundup

!--StartFragment-->
The Texas Progressive Alliance hopes all readers had a happy Thanksgiving as it offers the newest roundup.

-->
 Off the Kuff analyzed Beto O'Rourke's performance in Harris County.

SocraticGadfly takes note that Thanksgiving Day was Nov. 22 this year, and reminisces about a previous Thanksgiving-anniversary visit to Dealey Plaza and all things Kennedy and Camelot.

 ====================

And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs and news sites.


The Texas Trib has the story on how the Court of Criminal Appeals has dealt a body blow to the prosecution of AG Ken Paxton.

The Dallas Observer details how Patriot Front, white nationalists, are “evangelizing” in North Texas.

Also at that site, Stephen Young takes a crack at what next year’s Texas Lege might or might not do on marijuana.

Also at the Texas Trib, Patric Svitek reminds us that Julian Castro still actually thinks he’s a 2020 prez candidate.

Lisa Gray pens a pre-obituary for Houston icon Ray Hill.

David Bruce Collins talks about Ranked Choice Voting and the Maine Second Congressional District election.

Jeff Balke identifies five social media trends we didn't see coming.

Juanita catches up on the border troop surge.

Bryce Hannibal wants us to be more mindful of food waste.

Mean Green Cougar Red offers his post-election thoughts.

The Waco Trib writes about Baylor scientists showing how humans are stressing out whales.

Texas Monthly has a roundup of holiday celebration locations.

November 26, 2018

Counterfactual history — electoral votes switch
and Clay is elected in president 1824

The presidential election of 1824, in the middle of a disintegration and re-alignment of American political parties, was the most vigorously contested in American history and is the second, and so far the last, to be decided by the House of Representatives after no candidate won a majority in the Electoral College.

Andrew Jackson had a plurality, though not a majority, in both it and the popular vote. John Quincy Adams was second in both.

And here is where alternative history is going to come in.

Henry Clay and William Crawford were third and fourth, respectively, but with different orders in the electoral college and popular vote. Clay was third in the popular vote, but fourth in the electoral college, with 37 electors to 41 for Crawford.

The Constitution specifies that, in cases of a runoff, only the top three people receiving electoral votes advance to the House, so Clay was out, by the 12th Amendment, which in addition to requiring president and vice-president to be on separate ballots with separate electors, (a fallout of the crisis-fueled election of 1800 between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr) also cut the "runoff" in the House from the top five candidates to the top three. (Note: This shows that the founders naively didn't anticipate political parties when they should have and that, IMO, they should have ditched their "balance of powers" shibboleth and gone done an optional route considered at Philadelphia — a semi-parliamentary system where the House, but not on a state-by-state vote, would elect the president.)

H.W. Brands, in his new book, talks about Clay's regret for not being able to swing Louisiana's caucus, and thus, eventually, its electors. (Several states still had doubly indirect voting for president at this time — voters didn't even vote directly for electors, let alone for president. South Carolina still had its state legislature select the electors until after the Civil War.)

As it was, Louisiana gave three electoral votes to Jackson and two to Adams. (Six states had split electoral votes in this election, so we cannot talk about faithless electors.) Had he been able to get all five electors, he's one ahead of Crawford and in like Flynn.

People who know the basics of the alleged "corrupt bargain" between Clay and Adams know the importance of this. Clay was Speaker of the House in the previous Congress, and in the previous several before that. That's why his offer to back Adams, rather than Jackson or Crawford, was so important.

As it turned out, one ballot, versus crisis-filled 1800, was all that was needed. The state-by-state vote was Adams 13, Jackson 7, Crawford 4.

What if it had been Clay instead of Adams in there? Let's look at Wikipedia's map of the House vote and go from there.



Let's give Jackson Crawford's Georgia and North Carolina. Let's give Clay Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri and Louisiana.

Nobody wins a majority on that first ballot.

Jackson now has nine states. Clay has eight. Adams has seven.

What next? Adams is out, right?

Well, no.

The 12th Amendment, in its own weakness after 1800, doesn't specify any winnowing or cutdown. Neither did the original Constitutional provision which mentioned the House considering the top five candidates if nobody got a majority. This in turn, contra "The Resistance" meatheads who glorify the Constitution because it has checks on Trump or something shows just what's wrong with such shallow thinking by them.

So, we have an 1824 version of 1800's cock-block, but now with a "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly" style Mexican standoff.

And, besides Jackson partisans in their own corner, other House members consider Clay and Adams both well-qualified for the presidency.

Rather than Clay and Adams dealing, Clay figures he has one more ballot, possibly two, to use his powers before things devolve into a Jackson-Adams showdown between the top two vote-getters.

So, second ballot.

Clay peels Indiana and North Carolina away from Jackson. Clay was second in Indiana's popular vote. Crawford won North Carolina as well as Virginia, but we'll assume Clay has charm to work there.

Through his vice presidential connections, he peels New York away from Adams. (Maybe he'd already do this in a first ballot, but we'll save it.) He does the same with Connecticut.

After two ballots?

Clay has 12 states, one short of a majority. Jackson is at seven and Adams five.

In the third ballot, anti-Jackson representatives from either New Jersey or one of the New England states or another, accept reality and switch from Adams to Clay.

The future of America?

Clay, unlike Quincy Adams, is not a personal iceberg. And, there's no "corrupt bargain" being flung in the background.

He gets about half of his major "American System" ideas passed. The 1826 midterms don't swing as heavily Jacksonian as in reality. He listens enough to Vice President John Calhoun to make his Tariff of 1828 not quite as inflammatory as the Tariff of Abominations, rather writing something like the Tariff of 1832.

But, even without a "corrupt bargain," Jackson still calls for the will of the people.

Jackson wins the popular vote in 1828, but it's much narrower than the real contest. Popular vote is about 51.5-48.5, for states that record it. Clay gets six more electoral votes than Adams from the split New York delegation, wins Pennsylvania and wins Ohio, Indiana and his Kentucky homeland. That's a 69-vote swing, making ...

Henry Clay re-elected, but again as a minority president, with a 152-104 margin.

Clay manages to push through a 20-year renewal of the Bank of the United States' charter in his second term, thus preventing the worst of the Panic of 1837.

==

What happens in the broader political world?

Clay, unlike Andrew Johnson, deigns not to serve in the Senate afterward. He does become a national statesman of sorts, and still makes recommendations from the bench as he deems fit.

Adams retires from politics at this point. He peevishly passes on being nominated for the House in 1826, but eventually accepts re-appointment to the Senate in the future. He defends the Amistad slaves, but being in the Senate, not the House, has no gag order to protest against.

Jackson's third time is the charm. He is elected in 1832 over Calhoun, who tries to pull together some John Tyler-like amalgamation of anti-Jackson Democrats and Whigs-to-be, not jet being as much a states-righter as in reality. Calhoun fails, being seen as too elitist.

Some Jacksonians, enraged at their lion's two losses, talk of abolishing the Electoral College. But southern Jacksonians, knowing that undermines the three-fifths compromise's power, refuse. Eventually, New York Congressional leaders, motivated by how that state chooses electors, proposes the New York Compromise. It states that one elector from each state's number must come from each Congressional district. The two remainders, the "Senatorial electors," can come from anywhere in the state. In a nod to federalism, unlike New York State's law then, and Maine's and Nebraska's today, it does not require the electoral vote to be split based on House districts, but it offers a "sense of the Congress" resolution that in the name of popular democracy, that is a preferred alternative. (In reality, in 1824, New York, like South Carolina, had the state legislature choose electors in a doubly-indirect presidential voting system, but unlike South Carolina, apportioned the results by House district. Five states — Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri and Tennessee — used electoral districts for ALL electoral votes, not just the "House electoral votes." Maine did as it does today.)

This Thirteenth Amendment, with the proviso that the idea isn't binding on states, but having the New York and Maine examples, and the quasi-example of five other states, four of them "frontier states" at the forefront of direct democracy, easily passes into law. The five states aforementioned slightly tweak their laws to follow Maine. Other states eventually follow suit.)

Jackson privately makes pledges to serve only one term if his health requires it, but actually serves two, with Martin Van Buren as his vice president.

Van Buren is elected in 1840, but schwaffles on Texas admission. Pro-Jackson Democrats call him a sellout and ram through the nomination of Polk after using the two-thirds rule to deny Van Buren renomination.

From there, counterfactual history looks similar to reality, other than that Jackson is unable to undo the renewal of the Bank of the U.S. Clay changes his mind about the Senate and accepts a special appointment, where he spearheads the Compromise of 1850. The Jackson-era Thirteenth Amendment generally forestalls further presidential election problems. Abraham Lincoln is still elected in 1860, but by a narrower margin than in reality.