Search This Blog

Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

American Bridge v. Trump

Trump's GOP opponents failed at oppo, but Democrats are not making that mistake. At The New York Times, Maggie Haberman and Ashley Parker report that American Bridge seeks to define Trump as effectively as it defined Todd Akin in 2012.
In 2016, the group is taking every opportunity to do the same thing with Donald J. Trump. It is maintaining an archive of digital video footage, with 6,500 clips of Mr. Trump speaking or being mentioned, going back to the 1980s, and 17,000 hours of footage over all. It has also compiled more than 5,000 pages of research on the presumptive Republican nominee and has 25 trackers monitoring him.
American Bridge is playing a more significant role in 2016 than it did in 2012, when the Obama campaign was leery of the group, which was founded by a close ally of Hillary Clinton’s. This cycle, Democrats have relied on it openly for research.
There are special systems that allow it to search by specific strings of words to identify issue targets. It is trying to expedite their ability to quickly frame a case against Mr. Trump. And it is monitoring roughly 600 candidates up and down the ballot, in addition to Mr. Trump.
In the 25th paragraph of the Times story about the Trump Institute's sleazy business practices and plagiarism, we find where the story cam from:
Asked about the plagiarism, which was discovered by the Democratic “super PAC” American Bridge, the editor of the Trump Institute publication, Susan G. Parker, denied responsibility and suggested that a lawyer for the Milins, who provided her with background material for the book, might have been to blame.

Trump Sleaze

At Bloomberg, Zeke Faux and Max Abelson report on The Trump Building:
“Iconic and wonderful,” Donald J. Trump said at a South Carolina town hall event last year, praising the 86-year-old Art Deco tower as one of his great possessions. The presumptive Republican presidential nominee also told fans in Maine that critics who mock his failed companies should focus instead on the Manhattan skyscraper. “They don’t want to talk about 40 Wall Street,” he said.
But the 72-story building has housed frauds, thieves, boiler rooms and penny-stock schemers since Trump took it over in 1995 in what may be the best deal of his career. No single property in his portfolio is more valuable than 40 Wall St., according to a Bloomberg valuation of his assets last year. And no U.S. address has been home to more of the unregistered brokerages that investors complain about, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission’s current public alert list.
Trump wrote in his 2008 book “Trump Never Give Up” that tenants at 40 Wall St. are “many of the top-notch businesses in the world.”

That was once the case. Aaron Burr, Alexander Hamilton’s nemesis, took an office at that site after founding the Manhattan Company, a forerunner of JPMorgan Chase & Co., in 1799. Work began on that spot 130 years later for the bank’s new tower, which was supposed to be the world’s tallest. It was bad timing. Not only did it lose the height race to the Chrysler Building, but Wall Street’s 1929 crash made renting out space difficult.
Seema Mehta reports at The Los Angeles Times:
As millions of people were losing their homes in the depth of the recession, instructors at Trump University were urging students to seek out anxious or desperate sellers to reap a financial windfall, according to recently released documents in the federal class-action lawsuit against presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump.
The now-defunct for-profit real-estate school, founded by Trump and two associates in 2004, offered workshops on how to take advantage of the foreclosure crisis in some of the hardest hit states, including California.
Jonathan Martin reports at The New York Times:
As with Trump University, the Trump Institute promised falsely that its teachers would be handpicked by Mr. Trump. Mr. Trump did little, interviews show, besides appear in an infomercial — one that promised customers access to his vast accumulated knowledge. “I put all of my concepts that have worked so well for me, new and old, into our seminar,” he said in the 2005 video, adding, “I’m teaching what I’ve learned.”
Reality fell far short. In fact, the institute was run by a couple who had run afoul of regulators in dozens of states and been dogged by accusations of deceptive business practices and fraud for decades. Similar complaints soon emerged about the Trump Institute.
Yet there was an even more fundamental deceit to the business, unreported until now: Extensive portions of the materials that students received after forking over their seminar fees, supposedly containing Mr. Trump’s special wisdom, had been plagiarized from an obscure real estate manual published a decade earlier. 
Michael Finnegan reports at The Los Angeles Times:
The Trump Baja fiasco fits a pattern in the Republican presidential candidate’s business record. Over decades of building a business empire in real estate, casino gaming, golf resorts, reality television and the sale of clothing and other merchandise, Trump has left a long trail of angry customers and vendors who accused him in court of cheating them.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Libya and the Wrong Target

Dan Friedman writes at Fortune:
Libya is a mess. No one argues that the decision by the United State and its allies to conduct a bombing campaign that led to Gaddafi’s death left behind a functioningcountry, let alone a liberal democracy. The September 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate that killed four Americans was part of the anarchy that resulted from Gaddafi’s ouster.
Yet the Benghazi Committee spent more than $7 million and wrote 800 pages in a mostly unsuccessful bid to fault Clinton’s actions before and after the attack. The reportdetails mistakes by U.S. officials, and the probe exposed Clinton’s use as Secretary of State of a private server for her email, the biggest drag on her presidential campaign so far.
But Democrats dismissed the inquiry as a partisan witch-hunt that revealed no information beyond what seven prior congressional probes unearthed. It failed to back conservative claims that Clinton or her staff inhibited a military response that could have saved lives, leaving two conservatives on the panel to issue their own addendum attacking Clinton.
For a political party that has famously focused on faulting anything Obama or Clinton touch, the Benghazi report represents a striking failure to coherently express a view most Americans have held since 2011: Clinton screwed up by urging intervention in Libya.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Trump "Charity"

David Farenthold reports at The Washington Post:
In May, under pressure from the news media, Donald Trump made good on a pledge he made four months earlier: He gave $1 million to a nonprofit group helping veterans’ families.

Before that, however, when was the last time that Trump gave any of his own money to a charity?

If Trump stands by his promises, such donations should be occurring all the time. In the past 15 years, Trump has promised to donate earnings from a wide variety of his money-making enterprises: “The Apprentice.” Trump Vodka. Trump University. A book. Another book. If he honored all those pledges, Trump’s gifts to charity would have topped $8.5 million.

But in that time, public records show, Trump donated about $2.8 million — less than a third of the pledged figure — through a foundation set up to give his money away. And there is no evidence that Trump has given to his foundation lately: The last record of any gift from him to his foundation was in 2008.
At Politico, Ben Schreckinger adds:
If Donald Trump’s claims that certain of his commercial ventures benefit charity are untrue, he could be held liable under Section 349 of New York’s General Business Law, which forbids deceptive business acts and practices, as well as under charitable solicitation laws, according to legal experts.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Hillary the Hawk

James Hohmann writes at The Washington Post:
Obama, who opposed going into Iraq in 2003, has been reluctant to embrace his role as a wartime commander-in-chief; Clinton allies insist she would be less reticent. “Unexpectedly, in the bombastic, testosterone-fueled presidential election of 2016, Clinton is the last true hawk left in the race,” Mark Landler wrote in a New York Times Magazine cover story in April.
And, of course, she was in the Situation Room during the Osama bin Laden raid. When it looked like Joe Biden might challenge her in the primaries, Clinton took to telling audience that she supported the risky operation and the vice president opposed it.
While she was embracing the president during the primaries to lock up the African American vote, one of the few issues she broke with Obama on was deploying more special operations forces to Iraq than Obama had committed. She also advocated a partial no-fly zone in Syria, which he has resisted.
-- Hillary’s hawkishness goes back much farther than Foggy Bottom. Clinton made a strategic decision when she arrived in the Senate after her husband’s administration ended to get a seat on the Armed Services Committee. She voted for the Iraq war and sat on an emerging threats subcommittee, all with her sights set on seeking the presidency in 2008.
The chief strategist on that campaign, Mark Penn, outlined his theory of the case for how she could win in a 2006 memo. ...
“And the best role model proves the case,” Penn continued. “Margaret Thatcher was the longest serving Prime Minister in British history, serving longer than Winston Churchill. She represents the most successful elected woman leader in this century – and the adjectives that were used about her (Iron Lady) were not of good humor or warmth. They were of smart, tough leadership. As we move forward, it is important to understand who we are and who we are not. We are more Thatcher than anyone else.”
Of course, it was Hillary Clinton who gave the name to the 1992 War Room. 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Anti-PC, Pro-Trump

Thomas B. Edsall writes of Trump at The New York Times:
Why is his opposition to immigrants and Mexicans in particular so resonant when immigration liberalization ostensibly has majority support in most polls?
Research conducted by Lefteris Jason Anastasopoulos, a lecturer and data science fellow at Berkeley’s School of Information, provides one answer: Support for immigration “may be greatly overestimated.”
In an email, Anastasopoulos writes that
polls conducted by large survey organizations never ask about immigration in geographic context. Instead they ask questions about whether respondents support increasing immigration or granting amnesty for undocumented immigrants in the “United States” overall rather than, say, Dayton, Ohio, or Wilmington, North Carolina, places where immigration has been rapidly increasing over the past few years. This kind of abstract framing tends to push respondents toward giving more “politically correct” answers to standard poll questions about immigration.
The result is
a significant underestimation of the backlash against newly arriving immigrants and an overestimation of the support for immigration among the public.
The refusal of Democrats and the American left to hear — or to grant some legitimacy to — the grievances of white America as it loses power and stature to ascendant minorities and to waves of immigrants from across the globe undergirds the Trump movement. In the zero sum world of immigration politics, it has proved impossible so far to convincingly affirm the validity of the claims of both sides.
The quest by American liberals and progressives for support, or at least tolerance, of diversity, inclusiveness and multiculturalism is likely to prevail — particularly if the compulsory dimension of compliance is curtailed.
Jonathan Haidt, a professor at N.Y.U., suggested to me that one way to better understand the intensity of Trump’s appeal is by looking at something called “psychological reactance.” Haidt describes reactance as
the feeling you get when people try to stop you from doing something you’ve been doing, and you perceive that they have no right or justification for stopping you. So you redouble your efforts and do it even more, just to show that you don’t accept their domination. Men in particular are concerned to show that they do not accept domination.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Conservative Talk

At National Review Online, Peter Spiliakos has a true insight. Trump talks to people in language they understand, even when he is lying through his teeth.  Conservatives don't even when they are telling the truth.
Cruz had big wins in Iowa and Wisconsin. Those wins gave him media coverage and an opportunity to make a public impression. Cruz had amassed enough money that he could have used commercials to drive his message in key markets.
And yet, Cruz’s message stayed “below the awareness threshold.” Part of the problem (though there are many parts of the problem) is the language that conservatives have used to communicate with the public. Trump is (sometimes) perfectly clear. If you like him or hate him, you know that he wants to build a border wall and ban Muslim immigration. Conservative politicians have developed rhetorical habits that make them incomprehensible to the average person.
Take the phrase “culture of life.” It isn’t just meant to be poetic. It is meant to signal to pro-life activists that the candidate opposes abortion while being obscure (though pleasant-sounding) to everyone else. Throwing “culture of life” into a speech allows a politician to imply a political commitment while making it difficult for opponents to create soundbites that will be used against them in the court of public opinion.
This has infected the rhetorical style of conservative Republicans. Religious liberty means giving people of faith the benefit of the doubt when government regulations conflict with deeply held beliefs. Growth means lower taxes (usually on the rich.) All of these phrases signal something to an activist community, but they add up to gibberish when they are strung together for a general audience. [emphasis added]

Monday, June 20, 2016

Leaked Oppo on Trump

The Smoking Gun reports:
An online vandal using the name “Guccifer 2.0” has claimed credit for the recent hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s servers and has provided The Smoking Gun with documents stolen during the illegal operation, including a 237-page opposition research report on Donald Trump.
In an e-mail today, the hacker wrote, “Hi. This is Guccifer 2.0 and this is me who hacked Democratic National Committee.” Claiming that the incursion was “easy, very easy,” the hacker added that, “Guccifer may have been the first one who penetrated Hillary Clinton's and other Democrats' mail servers. But he certainly wasn't the last. No wonder any other hacker could easily get access to the DNC's servers.”
To download a PDF of the DNC’s Trump report, click here ...
Politico reports:
The document relies on publicly available information from news reports and does not appear to offer much in the way of original research. A note above the section about Trump’s business record states, “The business research is being handled by an outside consultant. The following is only representative of some of the business-related research that the DNC has come across naturally in monitoring Trump’s campaign.”
And the document, apparently the work of a Democratic operative from Georgia named Warren Flood, was created in December, according to Gawker, making it six months out of date.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Clinton Won Fair and Square

Ari Berman writes at The Nation:

  • "Clinton did do better than Sanders in closed primaries, winning 17 to his 9, but she also won more open primaries than he did, 13 to 10."
  • "Nor did superdelegates decide the nomination for Clinton. They gave her a symbolic early lead and momentum, but Clinton’s pledged delegate lead over Sanders was three times larger than Obama’s margin over Clinton in 2008, under the same rules." 
  • "`To the extent that the nomination was rigged in the sense that there was illegal activity going on that was directed by the Democratic Party or the Clinton campaign to sabotage Bernie Sanders’s chances, I’ve seen no credible evidence of that,' says law professor Rick Hasen of the University of California–Irvine."
  • "The eight states with the lowest voter turnout in 2016 were all caucuses, according to political scientist Michael McDonald of the University of Florida, with an average turnout of 8.4 percent. Turnout was three times lower in caucuses than primaries in 2016. Yet Sanders has refrained from criticizing caucuses because he won 12 out of 18, compared to 28 of 38 primaries for Clinton."

Thursday, June 16, 2016

"If We Must Have an Enemy at the Head of the Government..."

On May 10, 1800, Hamilton wrote:
For my individual part my mind is made up. I will never more be responsible for him by my direct support—even though the consequence should be the election of Jefferson. If we must have an enemy at the head of the Government, let it be one whom we can oppose & for whom we are not responsible, who will not involve our party in the disgrace of his foolish and bad measures. Under Adams as under Jefferson the government will sink. The party in the hands of whose chief it shall sink will sink with it and the advantage will all be on the side of his adversaries.
Mona Charen wrote last month:
If Clinton is president, a united Republican Party will oppose her. Assuming Republican control of the House, she will not be able to pass a single piece of liberal legislation. She may attempt -- as she has promised on the campaign trail -- to rule by executive order, in the manner of Barack Obama. If she does, there will be pushback by Republicans. Just this month, a federal judge ruled in favor of the House of Representatives in its suit against Obama's use of executive orders in the implementation of Obamacare. If she nominates terrible judges to the federal courts, a Republican Senate (assuming Republicans hold the Senate) could decline to confirm. If she attempts to reprise or even exceed the many arrogations of power Obama has attempted, Republicans will block her as best they can. It will be ugly, and Republicans will not always be successful.

If Donald Trump is president, by contrast, there will be no united opposition among Republicans. As we've seen in the past few weeks, the urge to bend the knee is very strong. How much more intense will it be if he sits in the Oval Office? Republicans will actively assist President Trump in undermining conservatism. From entitlements to trade to NATO to nuclear proliferation to universal health care to abortion, President Trump will get a free hand. He thus has it within his power to sabotage the whole conservative enterprise.
At The Washington Post, Robert Kagan follows up:
Consider the reasons Republicans support Trump today. The first is party interest. Trump was chosen by the voters in a legitimate race and according to the rules of the Republican primary process. To abandon him, they fear, would destroy the party. Moreover, it would hand a victory to the “Obama-Clinton-Sanders” Democrats, who some Republicans insist would be an even bigger disaster. Finally, Republicans up for election fear that if they oppose Trump and anger his supporters, they will face dangerous primary challenges or lose in the general election.

Which of these motives will disappear once Trump becomes president? He will still be the Republican Party’s legitimately chosen leader, as well as the legitimately elected president. The election cycle doesn’t end in November. To oppose Trump as president will be even more contrary to the party’s interests than it is now. Will Republicans line up with Democrats to vote against Trump-inspired legislation — to ban Muslims from entering the country, for instance, or to deport 11 million illegal immigrants? To do so would only hand the opposition major political victories, setting the stage for Democratic congressional gains in 2018. Party interests will require that the party support its president.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Trump's Orlando #Fail

Nick Gass reports at Politico:
A majority of Americans surveyed in a CBS News poll out Wednesday say they disapprove of the way Donald Trump is responding to the terrorist shooting at a gay nightclub Sunday in Orlando, Florida.
In the wake of the deadliest shooting in American history as well as the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11, 51 percent said they did not like the way Trump has been handling the situation, compared with 25 percent who said they approve and 24 percent who said they do not know or did not give an answer.
Americans are markedly more positive when it comes to the way they feel about President Barack Obama's response, with 44 percent giving him favorable marks, 34 percent unfavorable and 22 percent who did not know or declined to respond. As far as Hillary Clinton is concerned, Americans are largely split, with 36 percent favoring her response to this point and 34 percent disapproving, with 30 percent saying they did not know or did not answer.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Trump and the Media

Thomas Patterson writes at the HKS Shorenstein Center:
A new report from Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy analyzes news coverage of the 2016 presidential candidates in the year leading up to the primaries. This crucial period, labeled “the invisible primary” by political scientists, is when candidates try to lay the groundwork for a winning campaign—with media exposure often playing a make or break role.

The report shows that during the year 2015, major news outlets covered Donald Trump in a way that was unusual given his low initial polling numbers—a high volume of media coverage preceded Trump’s rise in the polls. Trump’s coverage was positive in tone—he received far more “good press” than “bad press.” The volume and tone of the coverage helped propel Trump to the top of Republican polls.

The Democratic race in 2015 received less than half the coverage of the Republican race. Bernie Sanders’ campaign was largely ignored in the early months but, as it began to get coverage, it was overwhelmingly positive in tone. Sanders’ coverage in 2015 was the most favorable of any of the top candidates, Republican or Democratic. For her part, Hillary Clinton had by far the most negative coverage of any candidate. In 11 of the 12 months, her “bad news” outpaced her “good news,” usually by a wide margin, contributing to the increase in her unfavorable poll ratings in 2015.

Monday, June 13, 2016


As authorities were still counting the bodies in the Orlando shooting, Trump tweeted about himself:

Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don't want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Trump: Bad Business

At least 60 lawsuits, along with hundreds of liens, judgments, and other government filings reviewed by the USA TODAY NETWORK, document people who have accused Trump and his businesses of failing to pay them for their work. Among them: a dishwasher in Florida. A glass company in New Jersey. A carpet company. A plumber. Painters. Forty-eight waiters. Dozens of bartenders and other hourly workers at his resorts and clubs, coast to coast. Real estate brokers who sold his properties. And, ironically, several law firms that once represented him in these suits and others.
 Trump’s companies have also been cited for 24 violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act since 2005 for failing to pay overtime or minimum wage, according to U.S. Department of Labor data. That includes 21 citations against the defunct Trump Plaza in Atlantic City and three against the also out-of-business Trump Mortgage LLC in New York. Both cases were resolved by the companies agreeing to pay back wages.

In addition to the lawsuits, the review found more than 200 mechanic’s liens — filed by contractors and employees against Trump, his companies or his properties claiming they were owed money for their work — since the 1980s. The liens range from a $75,000 claim by a Plainview, N.Y., air conditioning and heating company to a $1 million claim from the president of a New York City real estate banking firm. On just one project, Trump’s Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City, records released by the New Jersey Casino Control Commission in 1990 show that at least 253 subcontractors weren’t paid in full or on time, including workers who installed walls, chandeliers and plumbing.
The New York Times describes his disastrous management of Atlantic City casinos:
“He helped expand Atlantic City, but he just did not put the equity into the projects he should have to keep them solvent,” said H. Steven Norton, a casino consultant and a former casino executive at Resorts International. “When he went bankrupt, he not only cost bondholders money, but he hurt a lot of small businesses that helped him construct the Taj Mahal.”

Beth Rosser of West Chester, Pa., is still bitter over what happened to her father, whose company Triad Building Specialties nearly collapsed when Mr. Trump took the Taj into bankruptcy. It took three years to recover any money owed for his work on the casino, she said, and her father received only 30 cents on the dollar.

Trump crawled his way to the top on the back of little guys, one of them being my father,” said Ms. Rosser, who runs Triad today. “He had no regard for thousands of men and women who worked on those projects. He says he’ll make America great again, but his past shows the complete opposite of that.”
Though he has acknowledged mistakes in piling crippling debt on Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts, has steadfastly maintained that his resorts were the best-run and highest-performing casinos in Atlantic City.
“The casinos have done very well from a business standpoint,” he told Playboy magazine in 2004. “People agree that they’re well run, they look good and customers love them.”
In reality, the revenue at Mr. Trump’s casinos had consistently lagged behind their competitors’ for a decade before larger forces ravaged the industry. Beginning in 1997, his share of the Atlantic City gambling market began to slip from its peak of 30 percent.

Revenues at other Atlantic City casinos rose 18 percent from 1997 through 2002; Mr. Trump’s fell by 1 percent.
Clinton is going after Trump University:

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Sanders and Jackson

Like Jesse Jackson in 1988, outsider Bernie Sanders is going to seek various concessions from the Democratic Party's nominee. At RealClearPolitics, Richard Benedetto writes:
Sanders and Jackson are kindred spirits and go way back in their friendship. Sanders, then mayor of Burlington, Vt., was one of the few white elected officials to endorse Jackson for president, first in in 1984 and again in 1988.

“We are going to give our support to a candidate for president who has done more than any other candidate in living memory to bring together the disenfranchised, the hungry, the poor, the workers who are being thrown out of their decent-paying jobs and the farmers who are being thrown off of their lands,” Sanders said when he endorsed Jackson in 1988.
Sound familiar?

Jackson, recalling those days, had high praise for Sanders last month in a Huffington Post podcast, “Candidate Confessional.”

“In many ways, Bernie is running the Jackson campaign,” Jackson said, “with much more money and today’s technology and much more coverage in so many ways. As we sought to broaden the base, many whites would support us but were afraid to face other whites — these cultural walls and fears. Bernie supported us in ’84 and ’88.”

Friday, June 10, 2016

Substitute "Republicans for Federalists," and "Trump" For "Burr"

[Some say] that Burr’s ambition will be checked by his good sense, by the manifest impossibility of succeeding in any scheme of usurpation, & that if attempted, there is nothing to fear from the attempt...The proposition is against the experience of all times. Ambition without principle never was long under the guidance of good sense. Besides that, really the force of Mr Burr's understanding is much overrated. He is far more cunning than wise, far more dexterous than able...He thinks every thing possible to adventure and perseverance. And tho’ I believe he will fail, I think it almost certain he will attempt usurpation. An[d] the attempt will involve great mischief.
If the Federalists substitute Burr, they adopt him and become answerable for him. Whatever may be the theory of the case, abroad and at home (for so from the beginning will be taught) Mr Burr will become in fact the man of our party. And if he acts ill, we must share in the blame and disgrace. By adopting him we do all we can to reconcile the minds of the Federalists to him, and prepare them for the effectual operation of his arts. He will doubtless gain many of them, & the Federalists will become a disorganized and contemptible party. Can there be any serious question between the policy of leaving the Antifederalists to be answerable for the elevation of an exceptionable man, & that of adopting ourselves & becoming answerable for a man who on all hands is acknowledged to be a complete Cataline in his practice & principles? ’Tis enough to state the question to indicate the answer, if reason not passion presides in the decision.

Primary Turnout

Drew DeSilver reports at Pew:
Turnout in the first 29 GOP primaries – up to and including Indiana – averaged 16.6%, according to our analysis. But turnout in the final nine contests, after Trump became the presumptive Republican nominee, averaged only 8.4%.
By contrast, the heated battle between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders engaged Democratic voters for longer. Less than a day before the final five states held their primaries, the Associated Press reported that Clinton already had clinched the nomination. But turnout in the five primaries held June 7 didn’t appear to be affected, averaging 14.1% compared with an average of 14.5% for the preceding 31 contests. (The District of Columbia will hold its Democratic primary June 14, but there likely won’t be enough voters there to significantly change the nationwide numbers.)
The overall Democratic turnout of 14.4% was well below the record 19.5% in 2008, but it was still the second-highest since 1988’s primary season.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Nihilistic Partisanship

Josh Kraushaar writes at National Journal:
Voters are increasingly casting straight-party ballots, and rooting for their party like sports fans cheer for the Yankees and Red Sox. The number of straight-ticket voters hit an all-time high in 2014, with 84 of the 100 senators now representing states that their party won in the last presidential campaign. By locking down the Republican nomination, Trump has been able to use the party label as a cudgel of loyalty for his campaign. Nearly 9 in 10 Republicans now are behind Trump, a remarkable turnaround from the widespread GOP resistance during the primaries.

“What we may be seeing today is the emergence of a new kind of party institution—one that is neither stronger nor weaker, but merely more nihilistic: Bereft of ideas, lacking in purpose, but still a potent force in national elections because of the intensity of hatred for its opponents,” wrote Jason Willick in a perceptive essay at the American Interest.

It’s this degree of party loyalty that prompted Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to line up behind Trump, not because they agree with him -- but because they fear the down-ballot consequences if the leadership breaks with their party’s presidential nominee. For all McConnell’s talk that Republicans will be running their own individual Senate campaigns, he clearly understands that his GOP colleagues will be rendered helpless if the party is divided in two.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Clinton Strategy: All About the Delegates

In the 2008 nomination contest, the Clinton campaign made a fatal strategic mistake.  We explained in Epic Journey:
"...Obama's post-Iowa strategy was all about delegate arithmetic...The Clinton campaign's strategy was different.  A staff member told journalist Roger Simon: “They thought it was all about winning states and not delegates.”
As I  wrote in The Art of Political Warfare:  "If winning can be debilitating, losing can be educational."  Clinton learned the lessons of her 2008 defeat and adjusted accordingly.  Karen Tumulty writes at The Washington Post that Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook focused relentlessly on the delegate count.  Bernie Sanders did follow Obama's example in one respect:  he did well in caucus states.  But in failing to build his strategy around delegate arithmetic, he repeated Clinton's 2008 mistake.
After his loss in South Carolina, Sanders barely contested delegate-rich states in other parts of the Old South, concentrating instead on places where he could beat Clinton — such as Oklahoma.

That made sense in some way, in that it maintained the appearance of momentum and kept his supporters’ enthusiasm going.

“They were going for wins, instead of spreading out their resources to narrow the margins everywhere,” a key calculation, given the Democrats’ system of proportionally allocating delegates, said one top Clinton campaign aide, giving a frank assessment in return for anonymity.

“It was a strategy for staying in the race. It wasn’t a strategy for winning,” the aide added.

At one point in April, Sanders could count seven victories out of the previous eight contests. But that string of wins did little to cut into Clinton’s delegate lead, thanks to the way the Democrats’ proportional system works. In Wyoming, for instance, he got 56 percent of the vote, but he and Clinton came out with seven delegates each.
Sanders's excellent fundraising forced Clinton to be tight with money.
Clinton had to be careful, for instance, in deciding where to buy television advertising. Instead of running spots in the expensive Dallas market, the campaign bought time in Waco, which was cheaper and had the potential to yield more delegates. Macon, Ga., made more sense than Atlanta because the campaign could reach into more congressional districts while spending less.

“Even though no one would have fathomed it, we ended up being the leaner, meaner campaign and were more efficient,” said spokesman Brian Fallon.

In accumulating delegates, Mook thought there were three big milestones: March 1, a.k.a. Super Tuesday, when there were contests in a dozen states and territories, including Texas and Georgia; March 15, another big round, including Florida, Ohio and Illinois; and a smaller trove on March 26, which would make her lead all but insurmountable.

In retrospect, those contests turned out to be as decisive as she had hoped. As of last weekend, Clinton held a lead of roughly 290 pledged delegates — nearly half of which could be attributed to Texas and Florida alone.

Monday, June 6, 2016

How Bernie Blew It

At The Washington Post, John Wagner, Philip Rucker and Robert Costa explain why Sanders fell short:
Perhaps the campaign’s biggest mistake was not realizing early on that Sanders could win. That led to a slow start, both in building the infrastructure needed to run a national campaign and in Sanders’s own presence among voters who knew little about him.

“I don’t think anybody had figured out how to win when we got in,” said senior strategist Tad Devine. “It was ‘How do we become credible?’ ”

As it became clear that Sanders was gaining credibility, though, he struggled to connect with black and Latino voters, as well as with older Democrats, groups that carried Clinton’s candidacy. Sanders repeatedly clashed with another vital constituency — the party leaders whose votes as superdelegates he would ultimately need to pry the nomination away from Clinton.

Sanders also overestimated the power of his economic message and, adamant that he run the kind of positive campaign that had been his trademark in Vermont, initially underestimated the imperative to draw sharp contrasts with Clinton.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Why Trump Would Have to Object to a Catholic Judge

Maggie Haberman reports at The New York Times:
Donald J. Trump said Sunday that a Muslim judge might have trouble remaining neutral in a lawsuit against him, extending his race-based criticism of the jurist overseeing the case to include religion and opening another path for Democrats who have criticized him sharply for his remarks.
The comments, in an interview with John Dickerson, the host of CBS’s “Face the Nation,” come amid growing disapproval from fellow Republicans over his attacks on Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel, a federal judge in California overseeing a suit against the defunct Trump University, whose impartiality Mr. Trump questioned based on the judge’s Mexican heritage.

Mr. Dickerson asked Mr. Trump if, in his view, a Muslim judge would be similarly biased because of the Republican presumptive nominee’s call for a ban on Muslim immigrants. “It’s possible, yes,” Mr. Trump said. “Yeah. That would be possible. Absolutely.”
By this logic, Trump would also have to object to a Roman Catholic judge.

On January 24, the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights issued this release:
Bill Donohue comments on a remark made by Donald Trump’s national spokeswoman, Katrina Pierson:
On December 18, 2011, Katrina Pierson sent the following tweet:
“Just saw a commercial from Catholic Church stating that Catholic Church was started by Jesus. I bet they believe that too.”
No one makes a comment like this without harboring an animus against Catholicism. It would be instructive to learn more about Pierson’s thoughts on the subject. Perhaps she can share them with us.
In the meantime, Pierson needs to apologize to Catholics for making such a snide remark. We would also like to hear assurances from Donald Trump that he will not tolerate anti-Catholicism in his campaign.
On February 18, the New York Times reported:
Donald J. Trump said it was “disgraceful” that Pope Francis questioned his faith on Thursday and suggested that his presidency would be the answer to the Vatican’s prayers because he would protect it from terrorists if elected.
As he returned to Rome after his six-day visit to Mexico, Francis said, “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian,” in response to a question about Mr. Trump aboard the papal airliner.
At The Washington Post on February 29, Philip Bump reported that Trump's father apparently joined in anti-Catholic Klan activity:
On Memorial Day 1927, brawls erupted in New York led by sympathizers of the Italian fascist movement and the Ku Klux Klan. In the fascist brawl, which took place in the Bronx, two Italian men were killed by anti-fascists. In Queens, 1,000 white-robed Klansmen marched through the Jamaica neighborhood, eventually spurring an all-out brawl in which seven men were arrested.
One of those arrested was Fred Trump of 175-24 Devonshire Rd. in Jamaica.
This is Donald Trump's father. Trump had a brother named Fred, but he wasn't born until more than a decade later. The Fred Trump at Devonshire Road was the Fred C. Trump who lived there with his mother, according to the 1930 Census.

The predication for the Klan to march, according to a flier passed around Jamaica beforehand, was that "Native-born Protestant Americans" were being "assaulted by Roman Catholic police of New York City." "Liberty and Democracy have been trampled upon," it continued, "when native-born Protestant Americans dare to organize to protect one flag, the American flag; one school, the public school; and one language, the English language."
Of course, objecting to a Roman Catholic jurist would be a bit of a problem if a Trump case ever reached the Supreme Court.  Five of the eight current justices are Catholic, including the four Republican appointees: Roberts, Alito, Thomas, and Kennedy.  Democratic appointee Sonia Sotomayor is also Catholic.

Trump: Bringing UsTogether

Kyle Cheney reports at Politico:
Donald Trump expanded his argument against a Mexican judge [sic:  the judge is an Indiana-born American] on Sunday, suggesting that a Muslim judge may not be able to rule impartially in a Trump lawsuit either because of his call for a temporary ban on Muslim immigration.
It’s the extension of an argument that has rattled even many Republicans who have called the argument racist for suggesting a judge couldn’t rule fairly based on his ethnicity. But Trump, showing no signs of backing off the suggestion, indicated that he’d include other groups as well.

Quizzed by CBS’ John Dickerson in an interview that aired Sunday on “Face the Nation,” Trump said he’d have similar concerns about a Muslim judge.
“It's possible, yes. Yeah. That would be possible, absolutely,” he said.
CNN reports:
Donald Trump sought to tout his support among African-Americans on Friday by pointing out a black man in the crowd and calling him "my African-American."

"Oh, look at my African-American over here. Look at him," Trump said. "Are you the greatest?"
Trump's remark came as he recalled an incident in March when a black supporter of his assaulted a protester at a rally in Arizona as he was being escorted out of the building by police. The comment didn't generate a noticeable response from Trump's audience.
On Saturday, Trump shared a tweet from "@Don_Vito_08"  that purported to show an African American family on the “Trump Train.”  But the family in question does not support Trump.  @Don_Vito_08 had merely copied it from an article by Cincinnati station WCPO on the Midwest Black Family Reunion.  In March, Trump retweeted an unflattering image of Heidi Cruz compared with his wife, Melania. That tweet and image also came from @Don_Vito_08.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Important Background on the Trump Cases

Matt Ford writes at The Atlantic:
We’ll start at the beginning. Curiel is presiding over two separate class-action lawsuits about Trump University. One of them, Low v. Trump University, was filed in April 2010 under the name Markaeff v. Trump University. The other, Cohen v. Trump, was filed in October 2013. (A third case brought by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in 2013 is also under way in that state.) Trump is named as a defendant in both cases.
The plaintiffs in Low and Cohen portray Trump University as a basically fraudulent endeavor, one that promised Trump’s secrets to real-estate success but instead dispensed generic advice for tens of thousands of dollars. They’veamassed a collection of evidence and testimony that seems to support their claims. Trump strongly denies the allegations and often cities numerous positive testimonials the seminars received from former customers of Trump University.
In his public remarks, Trump appears to make no distinction between Low andCohen. But there are crucial differences between the two civil class-action lawsuits. The Low plaintiffs sued Trump University and Trump himself under various consumer-protection laws in California, Florida, and New York—a relatively standard class-action lawsuit.
Cohen, on the other hand, targets Trump through a provision of the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, more commonly known as the RICO Act—the same statute federal prosecutors use to bring down mob bosses. In essence, Low accuses Trump University of engaging in fraudulent business practices, while Cohen frames Trump University itself as a criminal enterprise with Trump as the orchestrator of a racketeering scheme.

Trump v. the Rule of Law

 At The New York Times, Adam Liptak writes that Trump's attacks on Judge Curiel have prompted conservative and libertarians scholars to worry about the 
Mr. Trump accused the judge of bias, falsely said he was Mexican and seemed to issue a threat.
“They ought to look into Judge Curiel, because what Judge Curiel is doing is a total disgrace,” Mr. Trump said. “O.K.? But we will come back in November. Wouldn’t that be wild if I am president and come back and do a civil case?”

David Post, a retired law professor who now writes for the Volokh Conspiracy, a conservative-leaning law blog, said those comments had crossed a line.
“This is how authoritarianism starts, with a president who does not respect the judiciary,” Mr. Post said. “You can criticize the judicial system, you can criticize individual cases, you can criticize individual judges. But the president has to be clear that the law is the law and that he enforces the law. That is his constitutional obligation.”
“If he is signaling that that is not his position, that’s a very serious constitutional problem,” Mr. Post said.
Beyond the attack on judicial independence is a broader question of Mr. Trump’s commitment to the separation of powers and to the principles of federalism enshrined in the Constitution. Randy E. Barnett, a law professor at Georgetown and an architect of the first major challenge to President Obama’s health care law, said he had grave doubts on both fronts.
“You would like a president with some idea about constitutional limits on presidential powers, on congressional powers, on federal powers,” Professor Barnett said, “and I doubt he has any awareness of such limits.”
At The Washington Post, Callum Borchers reports that CNN's Jake Tapper asked Trump about his repeated attacks.
Actually, Tapper didn't quite get to form a question. Trump interjected to talk about Clinton's emails. So Tapper tried to steer the conversation back to whether Trump's complaint about U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel was racist. Trump deflected again. Tapper tried again. And again.

In all, Tapper made an astounding 23 follow-up attempts. This moment right here — with this look on Tapper's face — perfectly encapsulates the exchange.
Tapper's relentlessness ultimately paid off. He finally got a straight answer out of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.
TAPPER: If you are saying he cannot do his job because of his race, is that not the definition of racism?
TRUMP: No, I don't think so at all.
Tapper presumably had other subjects he would have liked to get to. Trump likely figured as much and assumed he could stall long enough for his interviewer to move on. That's usually how it goes.
But Tapper refused to drop the subject until Trump offered a yes-or-no answer. It was clearly an exhausting effort. But it showed that even Donald J. Trump can be worn down by a journalist who never gives up.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Ceaser on the 2016 Election and the Nominating System

Comments from James Ceaser in an Atlantic interview with Emma Green:
This is the danger of this fully popular system. There’s a higher probability that you could get a demagogic result—it’s ripe for that. And lo and behold, that’s what we have. It’s the realization of the fear people had about this system.

There are disadvantages to a limited system, too—no system is perfect. It can become stale; it can protect too much of the status quo; it can fail to hear messages that are surging up. This is a point that has been made in both the Sanders and Trump phenomena—there is something the political class is missing that became clear in this primary process. So it’s not as if one has all the benefits and none of the disadvantages—it’s a mix.
You also have two candidates who weren’t members of their party. That’s another extraordinary thing: The party used to say hey, we control this, we’re going to pick the one that we want. Now, a party at the national level is kind of like a public utility. They don’t have a basis even of limiting who the candidates are to their own party. Bernie Sanders is not a Democratic. He was a socialist. And Trump was really not a Republican. But they came in and rented a party because that’s the way the rules are set up.
By “public utility,” in a way, I mean [they’re] running an election by some neutral rule—they’re just sort of running the election for the candidates. Anyone can walk in, and the party can’t really shape this very much. Parties decided to do this on their own. Usually it works out—most of the time, you’ve gotten good candidates out of it—but now it’s come to the point that they haven’t been able to say, “Well, we don’t want this person because he hasn’t been a member of the party.” You would think a party would be able to do that.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Trump v. Hispanics

Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns report at The New York Times:
The head of Hispanic media relations at the Republican National Committee is resigning this month in what appears to be another indication of the lingering discomfort some party officials have about working to elect Donald J. Trump president.
Ruth Guerra, who is of Mexican descent and was in charge of carrying the party’s message to Hispanic voters, is joining the American Action Network, a Republican-aligned “super PAC,” she confirmed in a brief interview on Wednesday.
The American Action Network is expected to spend millions on congressional races, and the new job is in essence a promotion, one co-worker said.
But Ms. Guerra told colleagues this year that she was uncomfortable working for Mr. Trump, according two R.N.C. aides who requested anonymity to speak candidly about the difficulties surrounding the party’s presumptive standard-bearer.
Ed O'Keefe reports at The Washington Post:
The RNC announced Wednesday night that Guerra will be replaced by Helen Aguirre Ferre, a GOP operative and former Spanish-language conservative radio talk show host with deep roots in the Miami area. (Her father-in-law is Maurice Ferre, the first Hispanic mayor of Miami.)
Aguirre Ferre is a former aide and close friend of Bush and his family. She prepped the former Florida governor for major speeches and presidential debates and served as his top Spanish-language surrogate. The former host of a radio program for Univision's national network of talk stations, she also was a top Hispanic affairs adviser to Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign.
In a statement issued by the RNC, Aguirre Ferre said she's "eager to make the case to the Hispanic community why Republican ideas and values are the way forward for our country after eight years of an Obama agenda which has failed all Americans."
Despite that eagerness, she frequently expressed doubts about Trump in public during appearances on Spanish-language television programs and on Twitter — as recently as last month.
Appearing May 8 on Univision's "Al Punto," a Sunday public affairs program hosted by the network's popular anchor Jorge Ramos, she agreed with other panelists who said that a segment of the Republican Party would not unite around Trump.
"I think you're going to see a segment, Jorge, who won't be able to do it. Because they don't consider Trump to be a real conservative," she said in Spanish.
Seema Mehta reports at The Los Angeles Times
“I am concerned, and I’m saddened, and I’m bewildered,” said Luis Alvarado, a GOP media strategist who, like many other Latino officials in California, said he will not vote for Trump. “We had fought for every inch in changing the minds and hearts of not just fellow Latinos, but also fellow Republicans in understanding how we need to work together. And Trump comes along and everything just gets pushed aside.”
The Republican Party’s problem with Latino voters predate Trump because of the party’s stance on immigration. GOP strategists often say that Latinos may agree with the party on social and economic issues but won’t listen to their pitch if they believe Republicans want to deport their family members.

In California, there are 4.1 million registered Latino voters, with 55% registered as Democrats, 16% Republican and 25% having no party preference.

Trump insists that Latinos “love” him, but polling does not bear that out. A Fox News poll in May found Latino voters favored Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton over Trump 62% to 23%.

Many have had a visceral reaction to Trump's proposals that include deporting 11 million people and building an enormous border wall. Protests greet Trump whenever he holds rallies in California.

When former Downey Mayor Mario Guerra was wrongly listed as a Trump delegate, the Republican received many angry emails and phone calls from his constituents, accusing him of being disloyal to his ethnicity.
“People said, ‘You're betraying your people. What are you thinking?’’’ said Guerra, who is treasurer of the California Republican Party.
Javier Panzar reports at The Los Angeles Times:
Democratic operatives are using Trump as a sort of all-purpose boogeyman in a diverse range of down-ticket races all over the state.

Even in districts where there is no meaningful Republican opposition in sight, Democratic campaigns are milking Trump's rhetoric to raise money and bring out voters.

"It is the best political gift a Democrat running in California could get," said political consultant Dave Jacobson of the political firm Shallman Communications.
Compton City Councilman Isaac Galvan, running for an open state Senate seat in a safe Democratic district, sent out a mailer in English and Spanish quoting Trump's now infamous comment that Mexico sends "rapists" and drug dealers across the border to the United States.