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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

“They look so innocent. They’re not innocent.”

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's positions on immigration.

 Seung Min Kim at WP:
President Trump and his top administration officials repeatedly warned Wednesday that unaccompanied migrant children arriving at the southern border are potentially exposing the nation to eventual gang crime. 
Immigrant advocates have long said that the children, primarily from Central America, are fleeing violence in their home countries and seeking safe harbor in the United States.
But the Trump administration has used their plight to justify cracking down on policies that allow these migrants to be released and obtain hearings before immigration judges, rather than being deported immediately. 
“We have the worst immigration laws of any country, anywhere in the world,” Trump said at the roundtable held at the Morrelly Homeland Security Center. “They exploited the loopholes in our laws to enter the country as unaccompanied alien minors.”
Trump added: “They look so innocent. They’re not innocent.”

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Bad Days for Ryan

In Defying the Odds, we discuss state and congressional politics as well as the presidential race

Melanie Zanona at The Hill:
Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Tuesday pushed back against reports that some Republicans want him to give up the gavel before November, arguing that holding leadership elections before the midterms would be “divisive” for the GOP conference.
“Obviously I serve at the pleasure of the members. Those are the people who drafted me in this job in the first place,” Ryan told reporters. “But I think we all agree, the best thing for us is to complete our agenda and not wedge into the middle of the completion of our agenda divisive leadership elections.”
The Weekly Standard reported over the weekend that House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and some White House officials were weighing an effort to push out Ryan before he retires in January so that McCarthy could take over as Speaker. That plan would also put Democrats on the record voting for Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) before the midterms.

Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney appeared to back up some of the reporting during a conference sponsored by The Weekly Standard, saying he has discussed the idea of Ryan handing over the gavel to his successor before November.
"I've talked with Kevin about this privately but not as much publicly,” Mulvaney reportedly said. “Wouldn't it be great to force a Democrat running in a tight race to have to put up or shut up about voting for Nancy Pelosi eight weeks before an election? That's a really, really good vote for us to force if we can figure out how to do it."
McCarthy vehemently denied the report on Tuesday.
A group of moderates frustrated with the lack of action to protect Dreamers from deportation is expected to collect enough signatures to force bipartisan immigration votes in the coming days, according to lawmakers and aides tracking the effort. And conservatives who oppose those bills are threatening to hold Republican leaders — starting with Ryan — responsible if they don’t stop it.
“If we run an amnesty bill out of a Republican House, I think all options are on the table,” Freedom Caucus member Scott Perry (R-Pa.) told reporters Monday night when asked whether Ryan could remain speaker if the so-called discharge petition succeeds.
“If leadership doesn’t stop it, they would be violating their own word, which was the Hastert rule, majority of the majority,” agreed Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.), referring to an unofficial Republican policy of not holding votes on matters that aren’t backed by more than half of the conference.
Conservatives are so desperate to stop the discharge petition that they’re suggesting Ryan strong-arm moderates to get them to back down — though they decried ex-Speaker John Boehner’s use of such tactics against them in the past. Leaders should consider revoking National Republican Congressional Committee financial help or other perks to keep moderates from forcing the issue, several have said. Such a move would be devastating for those centrists, many of whom hail from swing districts targeted by Democrats.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Future of Parties

In Defying the Odds, we discuss changes in the major parties.

Bruce Cain at The American Interest considers the future the party system,.
I am more inclined to think that U.S. politics is headed down a third path where we retain the duopoly form and the essential intermediating function of political parties, but the party as organization moves into the largely unregulated internet space. The history of U.S. political reform is that political activity gravitates into the areas of least legal resistance. This is no clearer example of that principle than campaign finance reform. We imposed stricter restrictions on campaign donations after Watergate, and it eventually gave rise to PACs, independent spending, and now Super PACs. We passed disclosure regulations, and big money found safer ground in nonprofit 501c4s. We tried to offset private campaign money with public subsidies, but the restrictions proved too burdensome, and presidential candidates now avoid the public finance system entirely.

In this third scenario, the Democratic and Republican parties are still dominant and favored in many ways by state and federal laws. But the political parties continue the present trend of morphing into networks of party affiliated groups that spend “independently” on behalf of candidates. Outside groups and social media figures with large followings enforce party discipline rather than Congressional leaders.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Oppo 2018

 In  Defying the Oddswe discuss opposition research.

At New York, Gabriel Debenedetti writes about American Bridge, America Rising, and the changing world of oppo:
In the old days, the group’s trackers — junior staffers with cameras who follow Republicans around, waiting for a gaffe — were instructed to identify themselves as American Bridge operatives when they got to an event, and they were told to remain passive, not asking questions or trying to trick their targets. Rule eliminated. (It took just until May 2017 for the group to post unflattering footage of a Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate grabbing a tracker’s camera and then angrily pushing him away.) In the pre-Trump era, the group stopped short of snooping for dirt beyond publicly available documents or clips. The no-digging-and-no-working-the-phones-and-no-sniffing-around-in-person guideline is now gone, fully thrown out the window by the time American Bridge dispatched staff to Alabama to look into Roy Moore last winter. And, after consulting local campaign finance and consent laws, Brock convinced some of his funders to set up a small fund that trackers can now tap into if they want to pay their way into GOP candidates’ private events where that’s legal. That move opened up a massive new stream of potentially damaging material for Republicans who think they’re speaking behind closed doors to friends and supporters. The tactic didn’t take long to pay off, either: it’s how the group caught Ed Gillespie, 2017’s Republican candidate for governor of Virginia, calling the northern part of his state “enemy territory” in a private fundraiser last September.

American Bridge’s bet is that most of the old laws of politics remain intact, but that it takes a new kind of alert system to call out violations. At a time that Missouri’s Republican governor is hanging onto his seat while he fights a handful of scandalous charges — including an explicit accusation of sexual assault — a Montana GOP congressman was elected one day after body-slamming a reporter (and is now favored for reelection), and, of course, Trump remains firmly ensconced in the Oval Office, it’s not clear that politicians around the country are so confident in the old rules’ stability.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Ryan Signed Discharge Petitions

In Defying the Odds, we discuss state and congressional politics as well as the presidential race.

House GOP leaders oppose a discharge petition to consider immigration bills. Last week, Speaker Paul Ryan said “[W]e don’t like discharge petitions because it surrenders the floor to the minority. So, I don’t think the majority should ever do a discharge petition. So yes, we do not think our members should be doing discharge petitions.”

As a member of the minority, however, Ryan signed at least 17 discharge petitions:
  1. H.Res. 220 to consider HR 511, 110th Congress, support for military, signature #63
  2. H.Res. 559 to consider H.Res. 479, 110th Congress, House rules, signature #153
  3. H.Res. 694 to consider HR2905, 110th Congress, Fairness Doctrine, signature #144
  4. H.Res. 1025 to consider HR1843, 110th Congress, temporary workers, signature #15
  5. H.Res. 1331 to consider HR1399, 110th Congress, DC gun rights, signature #116
  6. HR2279, 110th Congress, refining on military facilities, signature #135
  7. HR3089, 110th Congress, energy, signature #83
  8. HR4088, 110th Congress, immigration, signature #113
  9. HR5440, 110th Congress, FISA, signature #122
  10. H. Res. 359 to consider H. Res. 251, 111th Congress, AIG, signature #170
  11. HR391, 111th Congress, greenhouse gases, signature #85
  12. H.Res. 554, 111th Congress, require bills & reports on Internet, signature #59.
  13. H.Res. 847, 111th Congress, health legislation transparency, signature #123
  14. HR2294, 111th Congress, Gitmo, signature #30
  15. HR3105,111th Congress, Central Valley Project, signature #28
  16. HR4972,111th Congress, Obamacare repeal, signature #136
  17. HR5141, 111th Congress, corporate reporting, signature #107

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Top Two News

In Defying the Odds, we discuss state and congressional elections as well as the presidential race

Jonathan Cooper at AP:
Cox is backed by much of California's GOP establishment, including U.S. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield, who is close with Trump.
"I am honored and deeply grateful to my President and I am looking forward to working with him to make California great again," Cox said in a statement. "Like the President, I'm businessman who knows how to get things done."
Trump's decision is a blow to Allen, a Huntington Beach Republican who has been aggressively courting Trump supporters and often points out that he's the only candidate for governor who voted for the president. Cox voted for Libertarian Gary Johnson — a decision he now says he regrets.
Following the announcement, he declared on Twitter that Californians deserve a governor who actually voted for Trump.
If conservative voters split between Cox and Allen two Democrats could advance to November — an outcome Republicans fear would hurt them in down-ballot races for Congress and the Legislature, potentially compromising GOP control of the House.
Lisa Hagen at The Hill:
California and national Democrats have brokered an agreement between two House candidates to cease negative campaigning ahead of the June 5 primary in a key race that had gotten increasingly nasty.
California Democratic Party Chairman Eric Bauman announced that he had helped to engineer a deal between health insurance executive Andy Thorburn and veteran and lottery winner Gil Cisneros.
Bauman said Cisneros and Thorburn agreed to stop attacking each other and instead will focus on “promoting their positive visions” and “highlighting their contrast with the corrupt, incompetent Trump Republicans.”

Both candidates are running in a crowded Democratic primary in the race to replace retiring GOP Rep. Ed Royce. The race is seen as leaning Democrat given Royce’s retirement.
Democrats are growing fearful that they'll get boxed out of the general election, however, thanks to California's unique election laws.
The state’s “jungle primary” puts all candidates, regardless of party, in a single primary, with the top two vote-getters moving on to the general election. Democrats worry that the crowded primary fields could split up the party's vote and lead to two Republicans moving on to the November election.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Life After Trump

In  Defying the Oddswe discuss the people surrounding Trump.
The choice of servants is of no little importance to a prince, and they are good or not according to the discrimination of the prince. And the first opinion which one forms of a prince, and of his understanding, is by observing the men he has around him; and when they are capable and faithful he may always be considered wise, because he has known how to recognize the capable and to keep them faithful. But when they are otherwise one cannot form a good opinion of him, for the prime error which he made was in choosing them.
-- Machiavelli
Tarini Parti at Buzzfeed:
Trump administration officials looking to escape to the private sector are getting a rude awakening: No one wants to hire them.
Companies and firms who used to recruit from presidential administrations and brag when they were successful in poaching an aide are making the calculation that the risks of bringing on a Trump administration official outweigh the rewards, according to interviews with 10 current and former administration officials, top recruiters, and lobbyists who did not want to be named to talk candidly. BuzzFeed News reached out to them after previously reporting during an especially chaotic stretch for the Trump White House that some officials were trying to leave but finding their job prospects to be “pretty bleak.” That’s especially pronounced for more junior staff.
The leadership at a prominent, bipartisan Washington public affairs firm went as far as to make an active decision not to hire from the Trump White House because of the "reputational risk" associated with it, a former White House official was recently told. The official asked BuzzFeed News not to disclose the name of the firm.
In another case, a White House official said he was rejected out of the blue for a job after being given indications he would be hired and was explicitly told his affiliation with the Trump White House had been a problem for some at the company.
Annie Linskey at The Boston Globe:
Part of the problem, especially for the White House staffers who came from Trump’s ragtag campaign, is they don’t necessarily know how Washington works.
“There are not as many people who have the experience downtown,” said a Republican with ties to Trump who runs a lobbying firm.
The person has talked to some West Wing aides looking to jump ship and hasn’t been all that impressed. “When they talk about drafts, sometimes there’s a weak draft,” the lobbyist said. “This is a middle-of-the-road draft.”