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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Americans Turn Against Trump on Race, Immigration, and Trade

 In Defying the Odds, we talk about public opinion on key issuesThe update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.

At The Atlantic, David A. Graham says that Trump has turned the public against his views on race, immigration, and trade.
A Reuters poll released today contains a trove of interesting data on race. Trump has long sought to use racial tension to gain political leverage, but this summer he has become especially explicit about exploiting and exaggerating racial divisions, with a series of racist attacks on four Democratic congresswomen, and then on their colleague Elijah Cummings, as a strategy ahead of the 2020 election.
But the Reuters poll casts doubt on that strategy: “The Reuters analysis also found that Americans were less likely to express feelings of racial anxiety this year, and they were more likely to empathize with African Americans. This was also true for white Americans and whites without a college degree, who largely backed Trump in 2016.”
...
Reuters found that white Americans are 19 percent more supportive of a path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants than they were four years ago, and slightly less supportive of increased deportations. Other polls find related results. A record-high number of Americans—75 percent—said in 2018 that immigration is good for the United States. Although the Trump administration took steps last week to limit even legal immigration, the Trump presidency has seen an increase in the number of Americans who support more legal immigration—not just among Democrats, but even slightly among Republicans.
...
One big problem for Trump is that voters have now gotten a chance to see him implement ideas that seemed novel or at least worth a shot during the campaign, and they don’t like what they’re seeing in practice. A trade war with China might have seemed worthwhile in summer 2016, but now that there’s actually one being fought, the public is having second thoughts, and fears of a recession are growing. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released yesterday found that 64 percent of Americans think free trade is good, up from 57 in 2017, 55 in 2016, and 51 in 2015. Meanwhile, the percentage who say free trade is bad has dropped 10 points since 2017.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Pompeo

In  Defying the Oddswe discuss the people surrounding Trump (The update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.)
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

Susan B. Glasser at The New Yorker:
On March 5th, Trump and Senator Ted Cruz, of Texas, arrived in Wichita for the caucus. Rubio left his closing argument to Pompeo, who told the crowd at the Century II arena, “I’m going to speak to you from the heart about what I believe is the best path forward for America.” An Army veteran who finished first in his class at West Point, Pompeo cited Trump’s boast that if he ordered a soldier to commit a war crime the soldier would “go do it.” As the audience booed, Pompeo warned that Trump—like Barack Obama—would be “an authoritarian President who ignored our Constitution.” American soldiers “don’t swear an allegiance to President Trump or any other President,” Pompeo declared. “They take an oath to defend our Constitution, as Kansans, as conservatives, as Republicans, as Americans. Marco Rubio will never demean our soldiers by saying that he will order them to do things that are inconsistent with our Constitution.” Listening backstage, Trump demanded to know the identity of the congressman trashing him. A few minutes later, Pompeo concluded, “It’s time to turn down the lights on the circus.”

Extreme Liberals

In Defying the Odds, we discuss leftward drift of the Democratic Party.  The update -- recently published -- includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.

Samuel Abrams at The Washington Examiner:
To many, those on the extreme left appear to be more politically radical, insular, vocal and politically active than their moderate or even extremely conservative counterparts. It turns out that this is entirely correct.

In addition to a host of new studies and reports showing that liberals live in a digital bubble and have less diverse social media networks than moderates or conservatives, new data from the AEI Survey on Community and Society adds another layer to the story: Extreme liberals are notably more active on social media generally and are far more politically engaged than their moderate and even very conservative counterparts.
The AEI data reveals that social media has helped created an echo chamber around extreme liberals at rates significantly greater than other ideological groups. While 25% of very liberal respondents stated that social media made them “a lot” more involved with like-minded others, just 13% of moderates and very conservative identifiers believed that the internet increased their connections to similar people to that degree.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Economic Clouds

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the tax and economics issue in the 2016 campaign.  The update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. and explains why the Trump tax cut backfired on Republicans.

Trump has a somewhat conspiratorial view, telling some confidants that he distrusts statistics he sees reported in the news media and that he suspects many economists and other forecasters are presenting biased data to thwart his reelection, according to one Republican close to the administration who was briefed on some of the conversations.
“He’s rattled,” this Republican said. “He thinks that all the people that do this economic forecasting are a bunch of establishment weenies — elites who don’t know anything about the real economy and they’re against Trump.”
Trump has relentlessly bludgeoned Fed Chair Jerome H. Powell over interest rates and has told aides and allies that he would be a scapegoat if the economy goes south.
 Catherine Rampell at WP:
Trump’s economic brain trust consists of a guy who plays an economist on TV, a crank who has been disowned by the (real) economics profession and the producer of “The Lego Batman Movie.”
...
Moreover, Mnuchin’s Treasury Department is rife with vacancies. Many senior jobs lack even a nominee. There is likewise no nominee for the Senate-confirmed job of chair of the Council of Economic Advisers. The acting chair is a health expert.
John Harwood at CNBC reports that there is no tail wind from the tax cut:
Instead, benefits from what President Donald Trump called “the biggest reform of all time” to the tax code have dwindled to a faint breeze just 20 months after its enactment. Half of corporate chief financial officers surveyed by Duke University expect the economy to shrink by the second quarter of 2020. Two-thirds expect a recession by the end of next year.
Corporate executives blame the darkening outlook on Trump’s trade war with China. The president blames mismanagement by Jerome Powell, the Federal Reserve chairman he appointed.
But economists who have examined the impact of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act say it isn’t helping much in any of the ways advocates once advertised: overall growth, business investment, or worker pay. The strongest current case for the law’s economic benefits is that it remains too early to see them. 

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Rhetoric and Violence


At ABC, Mike Levine reports on Trump's rhetoric:
"I think my rhetoric brings people together," he said last week, four days after a 21-year-old allegedly posted an anti-immigrant screed online and then allegedly opened fire at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, killing 22 and injuring dozens of others.

But a nationwide review conducted by ABC News has identified at least 36 criminal cases where Trump was invoked in direct connection with violent acts, threats of violence or allegations of assault.
In nine cases, perpetrators hailed Trump in the midst or immediate aftermath of physically attacking innocent victims. In another 10 cases, perpetrators cheered or defended Trump while taunting or threatening others. And in another 10 cases, Trump and his rhetoric were cited in court to explain a defendant's violent or threatening behavior.
Jeremy W. Peters et al. at NYT:
There is a striking degree of overlap between the words of right-wing media personalities and the language used by the Texas man who confessed to killing 22 people at a Walmart in El Paso this month. In a 2,300-word screed posted on the website 8chan, the killer wrote that he was “simply defending my country from cultural and ethnic replacement brought on by an invasion.”
It remains unclear what, or who, ultimately shaped the views of the white, 21-year-old gunman, or whether he was aware of the media commentary. But his post contains numerous references to “invasion” and cultural “replacement” — ideas that, until recently, were relegated to the fringes of the nationalist right.
An extensive New York Times review of popular right-wing media platforms found hundreds of examples of language, ideas and ideologies that overlapped with the mass killer’s written statement — a shared vocabulary of intolerance that stokes fears centered on immigrants of color. The programs, on television and radio, reach an audience of millions.
Brennan Gilmore at USAT:
I attended the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville equipped with only a cell phone. I happened to be filming counter-protesters as Heyer’s murderer gunned his engine down 4th Street. As the killer and his motive were mischaracterized in the hours after the attack, I feared that others might be in danger and I shared the video to give people an unobstructed eyewitness view: Heyer’s murder was an intentional act, full stop.

But I had no concept at the time of the conspiracy theory network that was about to be ginned up to maximum effect against me and others already traumatized by the events in Charlottesville, including Heather’s own mother. This online community has a terrifying capacity to warp perceptions of an event and mangle it into something unrecognizable, while also inflicting lasting damage on the victims of a heinous act and the bystanders who document it.

Alex Jones and InfoWars comprise perhaps the most powerful conspiracy factory of them all. Pointing to my work with the State Department, they and other online conspiracy theorists militantly propagated a narrative through their online channels that I was a CIA operative. They said I was part of a plot to orchestrate the Charlottesville events, and convinced untold numbers of people.
As a result, my family and I were doxed and I was incessantly harassed online and even in person, in what has become a sadly predictable pattern for online targets.
Every day since, I have had to worry if any one of the countless death threats streaming into my inboxes would materialize into actual violence. These worries are not frivolous. In May of this year, the FBI identified fringe conspiracy theories as a domestic terrorist threat for the first time, in recognition that these dangers do not remain online.

Friday, August 16, 2019

"Go Back" and "Too Bad"

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's character and record of dishonestyThe update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. Earlier this month, he told several Democratic congresswomen to "go back" to their countries.

Joe Davidson at WP:
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) cites words similar to Trump’s in a previously issued document explaining employment harassment based on national origin:

“Ethnic slurs and other verbal or physical conduct because of nationality are illegal if they are severe or pervasive and create an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment, interfere with work performance, or negatively affect job opportunities. Examples of potentially unlawful conduct include insults, taunting, or ethnic epithets, such as making fun of a person’s foreign accent or comments like, ‘Go back to where you came from,’ whether made by supervisors or by co-workers.”

When Trump tweeted that Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.), Ilhan Omar (Minn.) and Ayanna Pressley (Mass.) should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came,” he used the kind of racially offensive language that has led to hefty fines, as EEOC employment discrimination cases have shown.

The congresswomen can’t complain to the EEOC because Trump isn’t their boss — he has no authority over the legislative branch and the congresswomen, though he sets the tone for the government and appoints the head of the EEOC.
Private sector employees have successfully taken action against those who make or tolerate similar comments. A Federal Insider review of EEOC documents shows the agency has won lawsuit settlements on behalf of employees in at least a dozen cases over the past decade, in part because a supervisor or colleague said “go back” to an employee in a bigoted context.