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For The Week Of October 19, 2016 Through October 25, 2016

A Fun Bet On The Presidential Election

By Zachary Gorchow
Posted: October, 25 2016 4:34 PM

The number almost everyone will watch on Election Day is 270, as in the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency.

Coworkers Nick DeLeeuw and Joe Becsey will have their eyes on another number: 150.

With expectations of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton winning decisively over Republican Donald Trump, Mr. DeLeeuw and Mr. Becsey, who work for the Resch Strategies firm, decided to spice things up with a bet, not over who would win, but whether Mr. Trump could even manage 150 electoral votes.

Mr. DeLeeuw proclaimed Mr. Trump would fall short of 150 electoral votes, which would be the worst performance by a major party candidate since 1988 when Democrat Michael Dukakis won just 111. Mr. Becsey, seeing a virtual lock on having Mr. DeLeeuw buy him lunch at the Lansing eatery of his choice (that’s what the winner gets), was all too happy to take the side of Mr. Trump hitting that meager 150 electoral vote threshold.

This bet was made many months ago. And at the time, it seemed Mr. DeLeeuw had little to no shot.

Ms. Clinton could win every traditional swing state, plus all the solid Democratic states, plus the congressional district in the Omaha region of Nebraska and she would have 348 electoral votes to 190 for Mr. Trump. In other words, even a very strong Clinton performance would still mean victory for Mr. Bescey and a lunch on Mr. DeLeeuw’s tab.

Even as Mr. Trump faltered after the conventions, this dynamic never really changed.

And in September, when Mr. Trump pulled almost even in national polls and the swing states began to tighten, it began to look like Mr. Becsey was not even going to break a sweat on election night with Mr. Trump passing 200, maybe even 250 electoral votes.

Now, however, with the three debates concluded and the revelation of the “Access Hollywood” video featuring Mr. Trump boasting about groping women "by the p---y,” the pendulum has shifted, and some once unthinkable results in longtime blood red states are becoming possible.

Arizona has gotten shaky and by all accounts is a tossup. Losing it would drop Mr. Trump to 179 electoral votes. The independent Evan McMullin could win Utah, whose heavily Mormon population has recoiled from Mr. Trump. If that happens, Mr. Trump falls to 173.

Mr. Trump has a small lead in Georgia. A Clinton victory there would drop Mr. Trump to 157 electoral votes.

Now is when the path gets really difficult for Mr. DeLeeuw.

Mr. DeLeeuw had once pointed to Missouri, its 10 electoral votes and onetime penchant as a bellwether, but that increasingly seems off the table and firmly in Mr. Trump’s possession.

The best scenario for Mr. DeLeeuw probably involves Texas. If Ms. Clinton somehow pulls off what most would have said was impossible – winning this longtime Republican bastion – then Mr. Trump falls to just 119 electoral votes and even flipping Iowa, where Mr. Trump is ahead, and Ohio, which is a dead heat, away from Ms. Clinton would still leave him short of 150 electoral votes with just 143.

Or Mr. DeLeeuw would need Ms. Clinton to hold onto Iowa and Ohio, and win a state like South Carolina, dropping Mr. Trump to 148, or a combination of states like Mississippi and Idaho, causing him to fall to 147 (Idaho almost surely would never vote for Ms. Clinton, but Mr. McMullin could have a shot there). Mississippi, with its large African-American voting population, and Idaho, with a large Mormon population, would be reaches but are getting at least a little attention.

So there you have it. If Mr. DeLeeuw is going to enjoy lunch on Mr. Becsey’s dime at The Creole, Soup Spoon Café, Meat, DeLuca’s or some other outstanding Lansing eatery, it’s going to come down to states like Texas, South Carolina, Idaho and Mississippi.

Now, if it wasn’t already clear, you know why Mr. Becsey was more than happy to take that bet.

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The Michigan ‘Hombre’ Connection

By John Lindstrom
Posted: October, 20 2016 2:49 PM

“We have some bad hombres here and we’re going to get them out,” Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said during the final 2016 presidential debate on Wednesday.

It was one line of many that grabbed attention and the public imagination during the debate with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

The Golden Harvest, Lansing’s rightly renowned and popular diner, memorialized all the best lines and a few others in its Thursday menu – according to photographs posted on social media. If you were dining there on Thursday you could have chosen from “3 Party French Toast,” “Putin’s puppet omelet,” “Nasty Woman pancakes,” “Trump is a master debater omelet,” “Spy vs. spy waffle,” “Trumped up trickle down sandwich,” and of course the “Bad hombre quesadilla.”

Republican commentator Ana Navarro – who abhors her party’s candidate and has had a jolly time this campaign trashing him – said that when Mr. Trump uttered the word “hombre” he showed he knew two words of Spanish: hombre and taco. (Ms. Navarro will appear along with former Vermont Governor Howard Dean at the Michigan Political Leadership Program’s fundraising dinner and breakfast in March. Gongwer News Service is a supporter of MPLP).

In all this we should also remember that Michigan has an important artistic connection to “hombre.”

Elmore Leonard was arguably one of Michigan’s best novelists, a vigorous writer in the style of two other great Michigan authors, Ernest Hemingway and Jim Harrison. While best known now for his crime caper books, among writers he was revered for his clean, sharp, muscular and edgy style. His rules for writing should be followed for any piece of writing, from a campaign handout to an epic novel.

When he started his writing career, the Detroit-area native, who died in 2013 in Bloomfield Hills, specialized in Westerns. It was a hugely popular genre in the 1950s and ‘60s, though it has faded in popularity.

Mr. Leonard wrote a bunch of great Western novels and short stories. Two in particular stand out: “3:10 to Yuma,” and “Hombre.” “3:10 to Yuma” was a short story later turned into a terrific movie starring Glenn Ford (avoid the Russell Crowe mishmash made decades later.)

“Hombre” was published in 1961 to critical applause and still stands as one of Mr. Leonard’s best books.

In 1967 it was turned into a movie starring Paul Newman and directed by Martin Ritt. The picture was part of Mr. Newman’s “H” period that included “Hud,” “The Hustler,” and “Harper.” All four are taut, emotionally complex and entertaining films. “Hud,” also directed by Martin Ritt, and the “The Hustler” are masterpieces.

Roger Ebert said of “Hombre,” it was “absorbing and suspenseful. … Hollywood seems at its best when it returns to its traditions and nothing is more Hollywood than the big, socially significant Western.”

“Hombre’s” story has to do with a white man raised among the Apaches who returns to white society and finds himself with a stagecoach of passengers who are attacked by thieves. In guiding the passengers to safety John Russell, the hombre, must resolve critical ethical dilemmas, especially one to save a woman being tied up in the desert to die of thirst.

Besides being greatly entertaining, one can wonder if “Hombre” has a message applicable to the messy state of presidential politics in 2016. One doubts Mr. Trump was trying to imply that. But perhaps Mr. Leonard saw the message as relevant in a variety of settings when he first wrote the novel.

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