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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Orange to Blue

Nate Cohn reports at The New York Times:
There is no guarantee that the Democrats can put the House in play, even if Mr. Trump’s approval ratings remain as low as they are now or slip further. The Republicans have so many safe seats that they could even survive a so-called wave election like the ones that swept Democrats to power in 2006 and out of power in 2010. The Democrats need 24 seats to retake the House.
But whether the Democrats can do it will come down to places like Orange County, which is more populous than Iowa. Four congressional districts that have at least some territory in the county still have Republican representatives, and all four were carried by Mrs. Clinton.
It’s not much of an exaggeration to say that the road to a Democratic House begins and ends at Laguna Beach.
Darrell Issa, who represents the California coast from southern Orange County almost to La Jolla, is probably the nation’s most vulnerable incumbent. That’s based on factors that tend to predict which districts are likeliest to be competitive — like the result of his last election (he won by just 1 point) and how the district voted in recent presidential contests.
By the same measures, the 24th-most vulnerable Republican is Dana Rohrabacher, whose district is immediately north of Mr. Issa’s — stretching up the Orange County coast from Laguna Beach to Sunset Beach. In between, Ed Royce and Mimi Walters represent the 13th- and 20th-most vulnerable districts.
...
But Orange County is not an outlier. Across the nation, the most vulnerable Republican incumbents among the 50 or so most competitive seats tend to be in relatively well-educated, metropolitan districts with above-average Hispanic populations. It’s the opposite of most of the 2016 presidential battleground states, which were whiter, less educated and far less Hispanic than the country as a whole.
From The Orange County Register:

 


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Anti-Trump Manual Sounds Like Tea Party Guidelines

The Iron Law of Emulation is at work.  In 2009, liberals complained about astroturf protests at Democratic town halls, pointing out that the protesters had written guidelines.

The lobbyist-run groups Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks, which orchestrated the anti-Obama tea parties earlier this year, are now pursuing an aggressive strategy to create an image of mass public opposition to health care and clean energy reform. A leaked memo from Bob MacGuffie, a volunteer with the FreedomWorks website Tea Party Patriots, details how members should be infiltrating town halls and harassing Democratic members of Congress:












— Artificially Inflate Your Numbers: “Spread out in the hall and try to be in the front half. The objective is to put the Rep on the defensive with your questions and follow-up. The Rep should be made to feel that a majority, and if not, a significant portion of at least the audience, opposes the socialist agenda of Washington.”
— Be Disruptive Early And Often: “You need to rock-the-boat early in the Rep’s presentation, Watch for an opportunity to yell out and challenge the Rep’s statements early.”
— Try To “Rattle Him,” Not Have An Intelligent Debate: “The goal is to rattle him, get him off his prepared script and agenda. If he says something outrageous, stand up and shout out and sit right back down. Look for these opportunities before he even takes questions.”
Paul Sperry reports at The New York Post:
Organizing for Action, a group founded by former President Barack Obama and featured prominently on his new post-presidency website, is distributing a training manual to anti-Trump activists that advises them to bully GOP lawmakers into backing off support for repealing ObamaCare, curbing immigration from high-risk Islamic nations and building a border wall.
In a new Facebook post, OFA calls on activists to mobilize against Republicans from now until Feb. 26, when “representatives are going to be in their home districts.”
The protesters disrupted town halls earlier this month, including one held in Utah by House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, who was confronted by hundreds of angry demonstrators claiming to be his constituents.
The manual, published with OFA partner “Indivisible,” advises protesters to go into halls quietly so as not to raise alarms, and “grab seats at the front of the room but do not all sit together.” Rather, spread out in pairs to make it seem like the whole room opposes the Republican host’s positions. “This will help reinforce the impression of broad consensus.” It also urges them to ask “hostile” questions — while keeping “a firm hold on the mic” — and loudly boo the GOP politician if he isn’t “giving you real answers.”

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Anne Frank Center on Antisemitism and Trump

From the Anne Frank Center:
MR. PRESIDENT, YOUR TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE ACKNOWLEGMENT OF #Antisemitism TODAY IS NOT ENOUGH.
Statement of Steven Goldstein, Executive Director of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, on President Trump's acknowledgment of Antisemitism today:
“The President’s sudden acknowledgement is a Band-Aid on the cancer of Antisemitism that has infected his own Administration. His statement today is a pathetic asterisk of condescension after weeks in which he and his staff have committed grotesque acts and omissions reflecting Antisemitism, yet day after day have refused to apologize and correct the record. Make no mistake: The Antisemitism coming out of this Administration is the worst we have ever seen from any Administration. The White House repeatedly refused to mention Jews in its Holocaust remembrance, and had the audacity to take offense when the world pointed out the ramifications of Holocaust denial. And it was only yesterday, President’s Day, that Jewish Community Centers across the nation received bomb threats, and the President said absolutely nothing. When President Trump responds to Antisemitism proactively and in real time, and without pleas and pressure, that’s when we’ll be able to say this President has turned a corner. This is not that moment.”

Iowa to the Right, Nevada to the Left

Thomas Beaumont writes at AP:
After decades as the crossroads of prairie populists and checkbook conservatives, Iowa has suddenly become solidly Republican like many of its Midwestern neighbors.
It was one of four states — along with Kentucky, Missouri and New Hampshire — that flipped to complete GOP control in the November election, but Iowa's rush of new legislation has been the most intense.
In an all-night session last week, Iowa lawmakers approved a bill similar to one enacted in Wisconsin six years ago that strips most public sector unions of long-held collective bargaining rights, including health insurance.

Jeff Orvis, a veteran northern Iowa high school teacher, said he sees the measure leaving permanent damage to Iowa's century-old reputation for quality schools, enshrined on the state's 2004 commemorative quarter: "Foundation in education."
"Now, I don't even see how Iowa is going to attract good teachers," said Jeff Orvis, a union representative from northern Iowa. "That's my biggest worry."
Jeff Singer writes at Daily Kos:
Daily Kos Elections’ project to calculate the 2016 presidential results for every state legislative seat in the nation hits Nevada, a rare Democratic bright spot in 2016. You can find our master list of states here, which we'll be updating as we add new states; you can also find all our data from 2016 and past cycles here.
Hillary Clinton carried the Silver State 48-46, a drop from Barack Obama’s 52-46 win against Mitt Romney. However, Clinton’s narrow victory, thanks in no small part to the formidable get-out-the-vote machine built by retiring Sen. Harry Reid, helped Team Blue avenge its embarrassing loss of both chambers of the state legislature two years before. Democrats all but conceded the 2014 gubernatorial race against GOP incumbent Brian Sandoval, and uninspired Democratic voters largely stayed home; Team Red won a 27-15 majority in the Assembly, and an 11-10 edge in the Senate.
But 2016 was a complete reversal, with Democrats taking back a 27-15 Assembly majority and an 11-10 Senate edge. A few days later one Republican, state Sen. Patricia Farley, announced that she was becoming an independent and caucusing with the Democrats, giving her new allies a 12-9 majority. The entire Assembly is up every two years, while half the Senate was up in 2016 and the other half, including Farley, will be up in 2018.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Iran-Contra Redux

Megan Twohey and Scott Shan report at The New York Times:
A week before Michael T. Flynn resigned as national security adviser, a sealed proposal was hand-delivered to his office, outlining a way for President Trump to lift sanctions against Russia.
Mr. Flynn is gone, having been caught lying about his own discussion of sanctions with the Russian ambassador. But the proposal, a peace plan for Ukraine and Russia, remains, along with those pushing it: Michael D. Cohen, the president’s personal lawyer, who delivered the document; Felix H. Sater, a business associate who helped Mr. Trump scout deals in Russia; and a Ukrainian lawmaker trying to rise in a political opposition movement shaped in part by Mr. Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort.
...
The amateur diplomats say their goal is simply to help settle a grueling, three-year conflict that has cost 10,000 lives. “Who doesn’t want to help bring about peace?” Mr. Cohen asked.
But the proposal contains more than just a peace plan. Andrii V. Artemenko, the Ukrainian lawmaker, who sees himself as a Trump-style leader of a future Ukraine, claims to have evidence — “names of companies, wire transfers” — showing corruption by the Ukrainian president, Petro O. Poroshenko, that could help oust him. And Mr. Artemenko said he had received encouragement for his plans from top aides to Mr. Putin.
“A lot of people will call me a Russian agent, a U.S. agent, a C.I.A. agent,” Mr. Artemenko said. “But how can you find a good solution between our countries if we do not talk?”
Sounds an awful lot like Iran-Contra... 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Powerful Analysis of Trumpism

If some of you in this room are students of political philosophy, you know where this argument originates. This is a version of Thrasymachus’s argument in Plato’s Republic that justice is the advantage of the stronger and that injustice “if it is on a large enough scale, is stronger, freer, and more masterly than justice.”
Substitute the words “truth” and “falsehood” for “justice” and “injustice,” and there you have the Trumpian view of the world. If I had to sum it up in a single sentence, it would be this: Truth is what you can get away with.
...
One of the more fascinating aspects of last year’s presidential campaign was the rise of a class of pundits I call the “TrumpXplainers.” For instance, Trump would give a speech or offer an answer in a debate that amounted to little more than a word jumble.
But rather than quote Trump, or point out that what he had said was grammatically and logically nonsensical, the TrumpXplainers would tell us what he had allegedly meant to say. They became our political semioticians, ascribing pattern and meaning to the rune-stones of Trump’s mind.
.
In his 1953 masterpiece, “The Captive Mind,” the Polish poet and dissident Czeslaw Milosz analyzed the psychological and intellectual pathways through which some of his former colleagues in Poland’s post-war Communist regime allowed themselves to be converted into ardent Stalinists. In none of the cases that Milosz analyzed was coercion the main reason for the conversion.
They wanted to believe. They were willing to adapt. They thought they could do more good from the inside. They convinced themselves that their former principles didn’t fit with the march of history, or that to hold fast to one’s beliefs was a sign of priggishness and pig-headedness. They felt that to reject the new order of things was to relegate themselves to irrelevance and oblivion. They mocked their former friends who refused to join the new order as morally vain reactionaries. They convinced themselves that, brutal and capricious as Stalinism might be, it couldn’t possibly be worse than the exploitative capitalism of the West.
I fear we are witnessing a similar process unfold among many conservative intellectuals on the right. It has been stunning to watch a movement that once believed in the benefits of free trade and free enterprise merrily give itself over to a champion of protectionism whose economic instincts recall the corporatism of 1930s Italy or 1950s Argentina. It is no less stunning to watch people once mocked Obama for being too soft on Russia suddenly discover the virtues of Trump’s “pragmatism” on the subject.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

"You Are the Special People"

Darren Samuelsohn and Annie Karni report at Politico:
So, this is my real group,” Trump said at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, on November 18, according to the audio tape. “These are the people that came here in the beginning, when nobody knew what this monster was gonna turn out to be, right?”

He added: “I see all of you. I recognize, like 100 percent of you, just about.”
Trump had a packed schedule of meetings that weekend less than two weeks after the election. On the Saturday after the cocktail party, Trump met with Mitt Romney, Michelle Rhee, Betsy DeVos, Todd Ricketts, Bob Woodson, Lew Eisenberg and Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong. On Sunday, John Gray, Kris Kobach, Wilbur Ross, Chris Christie, Rudy Giuliani, Robert Johnson and David McCormick all schlepped out to Bedminster for meetings.
Trump often appears to want to include his friends in the decision-making process.
Turning to a longtime club member that night, he said: “We were just talking about who we [are] going to pick for the FCC, who [are] we going to pick for this, who we gonna accept -- boy, can you give me some recommendations?”
The supportive crowd ate it up as the relaxed Trump, in his element, gave them a close-up view of how he was setting up the government. “You are the special people,” he told the crowd of about 100 members, who mingled around a sushi station served by a waiter wearing a camouflage “Make America Great Again” cap.