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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Trump, Bannon, and the GOP After Alabama



After Trump slut-shamed Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday for having the temerity to call for his resignation over allegations of sexual harassment, early Wednesday morning Trump was busy disassociating himself from the stench of Moore’s humiliating defeat in a haze of deflection. To be precise, at 6:22 a.m. Eastern time, our commander-in-chief tweeted, “The reason I originally endorsed Luther Strange (and his numbers went up mightily), is that I said Roy Moore will not be able to win the General Election. I was right! Roy worked hard but the deck was stacked against him!”
Numbers went up mightily? Decked stacked him? Trump may as well have said that he was for the Iraq War before he was against it. Apparently, Trump forgot, no one forced him to back Moore. In the run-up to Tuesday, Richard Shelby, Alabama’s senior senator, announced that he would not vote for Moore, while Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions and former senator, refused to say for whom he cast his ballot. The fact is that in a single cycle in a single state, Trump backed two losing candidates.
...
If Trump is the face of the Republican Party then Bannon is its soul, and therein lies the Republicans’ dilemma. In these polarized and polarizing times, the Republican base grows ever angrier, making the GOP primary playbook ever more likely morph into a roadmap for driving over a cliff come November. Whether the Republicans can do anything about that remains to be seen.
 Jones’s win is a reminder that running statewide is not the same thing as running for Congress but with more money and a louder megaphone. Rather, it is about speaking to a larger population with varied concerns. Nuance still matters, and being normal counts.
During the Obama years, the Democrats forgot these rules and saw their party get hollowed out, losing control of both houses of Congress as well as governorships and state legislatures aplenty. Hopefully, the Republicans will get a grip soon enough. Just don’t bet on it.
Philip Bump at WP:
 Using data from Pew Research and the Census Bureau, we put together this look in 2015 at how the country will change by 2050.
Older — but less white and, importantly, less religious. In other words, it will in significant ways look much less like the voters who supported Roy Moore than those who supported the Democrat, Doug Jones. Two-thirds of Jones’s support was nonwhite. Six-in-10 Jones voters were women. In fact, about a third of Jones’s support came from black women alone.

...
 Many Republican leaders have seen this demographic problem coming for a long time. They probably didn’t expect it to emerge so soon, and in Alabama. It’s not their party’s fault that it happened where and when it did, but it’s a reminder that it may start happening more and in more places.
One more word of warning for the GOP. Moore’s electorate was much less diverse than Trump’s — and even with that slightly-more-diverse electorate, Trump lost the national popular vote by millions of votes.

Child Molester Loses Alabama Race

In Defying the Odds, we discuss congressional elections as well as the presidential race.   In Alabama, accused child molester Roy Moore ran for the Senate with the support of sexual harasser Donald Trump.

In becoming the first Democrat to win a statewide federal election in Alabama since 1992, Jones proved that Democratic fears of low turnout among African-American voters — a reliable Democratic constituency in the racially polarized state — were unfounded. According to exit polls conducted by the National Election Pool, blacks made up about 29 percent of the electorate on Tuesday and voted for Jones almost unanimously, 96 percent to 4 percent — results that match turnout patterns showing greater than expected vote counts in many of the Black Belt counties and the state’s urban centers.
Jones also made some inroads among white voters — particularly women and those with college degrees. While Moore still won white voters by a more-than-2-to-1 margin, 68 percent to 30 percent, that is closer than other recent elections in which Republicans won nearly 4 out of 5 white voters.
Moore posted those kinds of margins among whites without a college degree, but he only carried white voters with college degrees by 17 points, 57 percent to 40 percent for Jones. And Jones successfully siphoned away 34 percent of white women, including 45 percent of white women with college degrees.
Among female voters as a whole, Jones won by 16 points, 57 percent to 41 percent, swamping Moore’s 14-point win among male voters.
Washington Post:

 
Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns at NYT:
Voters in Alabama’s cities and most affluent suburbs overwhelmingly rejected Mr. Moore’s candidacy, an ominous sign for Republicans on the ballot next year in upscale districts. In Jefferson County, which includes Birmingham and some of the state’s wealthiest enclaves, Mr. Jones, the Democratic candidate, captured more than 68 percent of the vote. And in Madison County, home to Huntsville and a large NASA facility, Mr. Jones won 57 percent of the vote.
While these Alabamians, many of them women, may have been appalled by the claims of sexual misconduct against Mr. Moore, results like these were not isolated to this race. They mirrored returns in last month’s statewide and legislative races in Virginia, a state filled with well-heeled suburbanites.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Affordable Care Act Is Now Popuar

Defying the Odds goes into some length on the economic and social distress that boosted Trump. Ironically,
Trump backed an unpopular bill that would worsen medical distress.

Hannah Fingerhut at Pew:
While the future of the Affordable Care Act is in question, the public increasingly thinks the law has had a positive impact on the country. Today, more Americans say the 2010 health care overhaul has had a mostly positive than mostly negative effect on the country (44% versus 35%), while 14% say it has not had much effect.
Overall support for the health care law also has grown since last year. Currently, 56% of the public approves of the law while 38% disapproves, according to a new national survey by Pew Research Center, conducted Nov. 29-Dec. 4. The law drew majority approval for the first time in February, when 54% expressed support for it.
As recently as April 2016, more Americans thought the law had had a negative impact on the country (44%) than said it had a positive effect (39%). Since 2013, the share of Americans saying the law has had a positive effect on the country has increased 20 percentage points, from 24% to 44%.

Monday, December 11, 2017

The Bizarro Politics of the Tax Bill

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the tax issue in the 2016 campaign.  

Sahil Kapur at Bloomberg:
The 2009 economic-stimulus bill contained a one-year tax break worth $800 for married couples in 95 percent of working households -- a little over $15 a week. A February 2010 poll found that just 12 percent said their taxes had been reduced. More than half, 53 percent, said they saw no change. A remarkable 24 percent thought their taxes had increased.
“Virtually nobody believed they got a tax cut,” said Jared Bernstein, an economist who worked in former President Barack Obama’s White House. He called it a source of frustration at the time.

That 2009 tax cut contains warning signs for President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans. Their tax plans would deliver about the same level of initial relief to households with incomes between $40,000 and $100,000 -- roughly $800 on average -- according to data from Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation. If those numbers hold, and if history’s any guide, Trump’s working-class voters may not feel the tax cut he has repeatedly promised them.
Alexander Bolton and Naomi Jagoda at The Hill:
Rubio on Friday warned there are “going to be problems” if Senate and House negotiators working on the final legislation reduce the bill’s child tax credit or increase the corporate rate without making the child tax credit refundable to help lower-income families.
“It makes a lot of sense in a tax reform bill to provide some relief to those on the lower end of the income scale as well as the upper end,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster who does work for Rubio.
Ayres said Rubio is right that “it will help the overall perception of this bill if it’s perceived of helping everyone who’s working, not just those at the upper end of the income scale.”

Another Republican senator who commented on the condition of anonymity said that “lowering the corporate rate is never popular.”

“Forty-four percent of the country won’t see anything and then they see headlines about a big corporate rate cut,” said the lawmaker, explaining the weak public support for the bill.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Cutting Taxes for Corporations, Putting Middle-Class Entitlements at Risk

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the tax issue in the 2016 campaign.  Current tax legislation would greatly expand the deficit, which puts social security and Medicare at risk.

Damian Paletta at WP:
Over several months, tax cuts for families were either stymied or scaled back. And corporate benefits only grew, a development that increasingly made some Republicans nervous as they saw the bill’s true impact.

“Fundamentally, the bill has been mislabeled. From a truth-in-advertising standpoint, it would have been a lot simpler if we just acknowledged reality on this bill, which is it’s fundamentally a corporate tax reduction and restructuring bill, period,” said Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.). “I think they were particularly concerned about innuendo and what that might mean, so it was labeled as a middle-class tax cut.”
Susan Page at USA Today:
A new USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll finds just 32% support the GOP tax plan; 48% oppose it. That's the lowest level of public support for any major piece of legislation enacted in the past three decades.

Americans are skeptical of the fundamental arguments Republicans have made in selling the bill: A 53% majority of those surveyed predict their own families won't pay lower taxes as a result of the measure, and an equal 53% say it won't help the economy in a major way.
Lloyd Green at Fox:
“We’re going to have to get back next year at entitlement reform, which is how you tackle the debt and the deficit,” [Speaker Paul] Ryan said. But a good chunk of the future deficit and debt would be fueled by separate tax-cutting bills approved by the House and Senate. The two houses still need to reach agreement on a single piece of legislation for it to go to President Trump for his signature.

As usual, the numbers tell the story. In 2016, older voters who were the most likely to look to Medicare to pay for their health care in retirement put Donald Trump over the top. According to Election Day exit polls, he garnered an almost 20-point margin among white seniors, a 28 percent lead among whites voters ages 45 to 64, and a historic 37-point victory with white working-class voters.
But now the GOP seeks to punish the very folks who brought them to power. Unlike food stamps and welfare, Medicare and Social Security are benefits that working Americans have earned over a lifetime of steady, reliable, and conscientious work. They paid for these benefit with weekly payroll deductions.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Trump: The Cable Guy

In  Defying the Oddswe discuss Trump's character.

Maggie Haberman, Glenn Thrush and Peter Baker at NYT:
Before taking office, Mr. Trump told top aides to think of each presidential day as an episode in a television show in which he vanquishes rivals. People close to him estimate that Mr. Trump spends at least four hours a day, and sometimes as much as twice that, in front of a television, sometimes with the volume muted, marinating in the no-holds-barred wars of cable news and eager to fire back.
...
The ammunition for his Twitter war is television. No one touches the remote control except Mr. Trump and the technical support staff — at least that’s the rule. During meetings, the 60-inch screen mounted in the dining room may be muted, but Mr. Trump keeps an eye on scrolling headlines. What he misses he checks out later on what he calls his “Super TiVo,” a state-of-the-art system that records cable news.
...
Mr. Trump’s difficult adjustment to the presidency, people close to him say, is rooted in an unrealistic expectation of its powers, which he had assumed to be more akin to the popular image of imperial command than the sloppy reality of having to coexist with two other branches of government.
His vision of executive leadership was shaped close to home, by experiences with Democratic clubhouse politicians as a young developer in New York. One figure stands out to Mr. Trump: an unnamed party boss — his friends assume he is referring to the legendary Brooklyn fixer Meade Esposito — whom he remembered keeping a baseball bat under his desk to enforce his power. To the adviser who recounted it, the story revealed what Mr. Trump expected being president would be like — ruling by fiat, exacting tribute and cutting back room deals.
But while he is unlikely to change who he is on a fundamental level, advisers said they saw a novice who was gradually learning that the presidency does not work that way. And he is coming to realize, they said, the need to woo, not whack, leaders of his own party to get things done.
During his early months in office, he barked commands at senators, which did not go over well. “I don’t work for you, Mr. President,” Mr. Corker once snapped back, according to a Republican with knowledge of the exchange.
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican majority leader, likewise bristled when Mr. Trump cut in during methodical presentations in the Oval Office. “Don’t interrupt me,” Mr. McConnell told the president during a discussion of health care.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Roy Moore on Slavery, Putin, and Evolution

In Defying the Odds, we discuss congressional elections as well as the presidential race In Alabama, accused child molester Roy Moore is running for the Senate with the support of sexual harasser Donald Trump.
Moore, like Trump, seems to be a fan of Putin.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Trump v. Party Organization

In  Defying the Oddswe discuss Trump's role in the party system.

Trump has told RNC to support Roy Moore in Alabama.  NRSC pulled out, and is staying out.

Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman at NYT:
In a departure from every modern White House, Mr. Trump himself largely dictates whom to back and how to support his preferred candidates. Even before tensions between the president and Senate Republicans flared back up over Mr. Moore’s candidacy, there was little regular communication between West Wing officials and Republicans overseeing the 2018 races, Republicans say.
The scheduled meetings between the White House, the Republican National Committee and the House and Senate campaign committees stopped months ago. Congressional officials find it difficult to get presidential signoffs for even small requests like using Mr. Trump’s name in direct-mail appeals, according to party officials. And less than a month until the election year begins, he has not scheduled a single fund-raiser for a candidate running for the House, Senate or governor.
...
“What’s lacking is a central hierarchy in any decision making, which is critical to candidates across country,” said Scott Reed, the senior political strategist at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a veteran of decades of campaigns. “You have this feeling that no one is fully in charge of Republican politics.”
The White House political affairs office has been effectively replaced by Mr. Trump and his Twitter account, handcuffing the president’s advisers. Requests for presidential assistance or, as in the case of the Alabama race, intervention often go unanswered because Mr. Trump’s staff members cannot offer any commitments, not knowing what the president will decide about a given candidate or campaign.
...
Yet the president does not completely understand his role as a principal, Republicans say, and his political operation does not have enough sway with him to make him fully grasp that he is the leader of the Republican Party.
For example, he is still telling his friends who attend high-dollar committee fund-raisers that they do not need to pay, the sort of favoritism that can create endless headaches for staff.
In two governor’s races, in New Jersey and Virginia, this year, the candidates and their top advisers up through Election Day were uncertain what Mr. Trump might say about the elections. When Mr. Trump tweeted about an ad run by Ed Gillespie, the Republican candidate for governor in Virginia, it was because he had just seen it broadcast on a Washington TV station.
“You can’t plan for him, you can only survive him,” said J. Tucker Martin, who was an adviser to Mr. Gillespie.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Collusion Update


Mark Mazzetti and Michael S. Schmidt at NYT:
Michael T. Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, told a former business associate that economic sanctions against Russia would be “ripped up” as one of the Trump administration’s first acts, according to an account by a whistle-blower made public on Wednesday.
Mr. Flynn believed that ending the sanctions could allow a business project he had once participated in to move forward, according to the whistle-blower. The account is the strongest evidence to date that the Trump administration wanted to end the sanctions immediately, and suggests that Mr. Flynn had a possible economic incentive for the United States to forge a closer relationship with Russia.
Mr. Flynn had worked on a business venture to partner with Russia to build nuclear power plants in the Middle East until June 2016, but remained close with the people involved afterward. On Inauguration Day, according to the whistle-blower, Mr. Flynn texted the former business associate to say that the project was “good to go.”
The account is detailed in a letter written by Representative Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee. In the letter, Mr. Cummings said that the whistle-blower contacted his office in June and has authorized him to go public with the details. He did not name the whistle-blower.
Ken Dilanian and Natasha Lebedeva at NBC:
Donald Trump Jr. asked a Russian lawyer at the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting whether she had evidence of illegal donations to the Clinton Foundation, the lawyer told the Senate Judiciary Committee in answers to written questions obtained exclusively by NBC News.
The lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, told the committee that she didn't have any such evidence, and that she believes Trump misunderstood the nature of the meeting after receiving emails from a music promoter promising incriminating information on Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump's Democratic opponent.
Once it became apparent that she did not have meaningful information about Clinton, Trump seemed to lose interest, Veselnitskaya said, and the meeting petered out

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Tax Legislation Remains Unpopular

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the tax issue in the 2016 campaign. 
As the Senate version of the Republican tax reform bill made its way through the legislative process this weekend, Gallup documented a highly partisan imbalance in Americans' reactions. Seven percent of Democrats and 25% of independents polled Friday and Saturday say they approve of the proposed changes to the federal tax code, contrasted with 70% of Republicans.
Mostly as a result of weak support from Democrats and independents regarding the proposed tax changes, 29% of U.S. adults as a whole approve of the plan, while 56% disapprove and 16% have no opinion. Still, 16% of Republicans disapprove, resulting in fewer Republicans approving of the plan (70%) than Democrats disapproving (87%).
The tax bill passed a major hurdle Saturday morning when the Senate approved it on a 51 to 49 near party-line vote. It now heads to conference committee where representatives from the House and Senate will work to craft compromise legislation that could get through both chambers by month's end.
Americans' current approval of the proposed tax changes is slightly lower than the 39% approval Gallup found the last time Congress took on a major overhaul of the federal tax code. That was in 1986, with President Ronald Reagan spearheading the legislation. However, the big difference between the two efforts is that far fewer Americans opposed the 1986 tax bill than oppose the proposals being debated today, 34% vs. 56%, respectively. More than a quarter of Americans in September 1986, just prior to final passage of that plan, expressed no opinion about it -- roughly twice today's level.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Meanwhile, Back at the Rezidentura

In Defying the Oddswe discuss Russian involvement in the 2016 campaign.

Reuters:
The special counsel investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election on Monday accused President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, of working with a Russian colleague to draft an opinion piece about his work for Ukraine.

In court filings, a prosecutor working with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team said Manafort’s request to lift his house arrest should be denied because, had it been published, the draft opinion piece would have violated a court order not to publicly discuss the case.
Nicholas Fandos at NYT:
A conservative operative trumpeting his close ties to the National Rifle Association and Russia told a Trump campaign adviser last year that he could arrange a back-channel meeting between Donald J. Trump and Vladimir V. Putin, the Russian president, according to an email sent to the Trump campaign.
A May 2016 email to the campaign adviser, Rick Dearborn, bore the subject line “Kremlin Connection.” In it, the N.R.A. member said he wanted the advice of Mr. Dearborn and Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, then a foreign policy adviser to Mr. Trump and Mr. Dearborn’s longtime boss, about how to proceed in connecting the two leaders.
Russia, he wrote, was “quietly but actively seeking a dialogue with the U.S.” and would attempt to use the N.R.A.’s annual convention in Louisville, Ky., to make “ ‘first contact.’ ” The email, which was among a trove of campaign-related documents turned over to investigators on Capitol Hill, was described in detail to The New York Times.
Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign, secured a guilty plea on Friday from President Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, for lying to the F.B.I. about contacts with Moscow’s former ambassador to the United States. But those contacts came after Mr. Trump’s improbable election victory.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Trump Inadvertently Admits to Obstruction of Justice






Friday, December 1, 2017

Flynn Flips (Offically)


Carol D. Leonnig, Adam Entous, Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky at WP:
Former national security adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty Friday to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, and court records and people familiar with the contacts indicated he was acting in consultation with senior Trump transition officials, including President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, in his dealings with the diplomat.
Flynn’s admission to the charge Friday in federal district court in the District could be an ominous sign for the White House, as Flynn is cooperating in the ongoing probe of possible coordination between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin to influence the 2016 election. His plea revealed that he was in touch with senior Trump transition officials before and after his communications with Kislyak — rebutting the idea that he was a rogue operator.
[Read the charge against Flynn]
Flynn said in a statement: “It has been extraordinarily painful to endure these many months of false accusations of ‘treason’ and other outrageous acts. Such false accusations are contrary to everything I have ever done and stood for. But I recognize that the actions I acknowledged in court today were wrong, and, through my faith in God, I am working to set things right.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Tax Bill: Exploding the Debt, Alienating the Public

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the tax issue in the 2016 campaign. 

Heather Long at WP:
Trump has promised Americans “huge” tax cuts, but only 44 percent of taxpayers would see their tax bills reduced by more than $500 in 2019, according to JCT's analysis of the winners and losers in the plan. The chart below was first reported by The Washington Post after a GOP senator's office shared it.
“We're going to give the American people a huge tax cut for Christmas — hopefully that will be a great, big, beautiful Christmas present,” the president said last week.

Overall, the majority of Americans -- 62 percent -- would get a tax cut of at least $100 in 2019, according to JCT. The remaining 38 percent would either pay about the same in taxes as they do now or get a tax hike.
But by 2027, just 16 percent of Americans would get a tax cut of at least $100. The "winners" fall dramatically because the tax cuts for individuals go away in 2026 in the Senate GOP plan. Republicans argue that those tax cuts are likely to be extended by a future Congress.
Harry Enten at FiveThirtyEight:
About a third of voters currently support the Republican tax reform package, according to an average of five surveys released1 this month. In a Quinnipiac University survey, just 25 percent of voters approved of the plan. Surveys from ABC News/Washington Post, CNN, Morning Consult and YouGov put approval of the plan slightly higher, but all are still at 36 percent or lower. Meanwhile, an average of the five polls puts opposition at 46 percent.
Why is support so low? Americans are opposed to the bill because they think it disproportionately benefits the rich. (It likely will.) President Trump’s administration has argued, however, that there were similar complaints about the Reagan tax cut plan of 1981, which preceded an economic boom.
The Reagan plan, though, was far more popular in 1981 than the current Republican plan is now. In a Gallup survey taken in the days after Reagan signed his tax cuts into law on Aug. 13, 1981, 51 percent of Americans were in favor of it. Just 26 percent of Americans were opposed. The other major tax cut of the Reagan administration (signed in 1986) wasn’t nearly as popular, but it was still more popular than the current GOP legislation. A CBS News/New York Times survey conducted in the days after the bill passed Congress found 38 percent in favor and 34 percent opposed.
Indeed, major tax cut plans are usually more popular than unpopular. Heck, even some tax hikes have been more popular than the current GOP bill.2

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Trump Retweets British Fascist

In  Defying the Oddswe discuss Trump's character.

During the campaign, Trump retweeted neo-Nazis.  He's at it again.

From Haaretz:
U.S. President Donald Trump retweeted three anti-Muslim videos purportedly showing violence by Muslim migrants. The videos were originally posted by Jayda Fransen, the deputy leader of the Britain first movement.
The first retweet was a video titled, "Muslim migrant beating up a Dutch boy on crutches," while the second, "Muslim Destroys a Statue of Virgin Mary!," and the third and most gruesome, "Islamist mob pushes teenage boy off roof and beats him to death!"

Britain first is a far-right ultranationalism group which purports to document Muslim activity across Britain and Europe. The group formed in 2011 as an offshoot of the far-right, fascist party - British National Party. The group's founder Paul Golding is a convicted felon and was reportedly previously a member of the neo-Nazi National Front.


Monday, November 27, 2017

Senate Tax Bill Would Help the Rich, Hurt the Poor

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the tax issue in the 2016 campaign. 

.

Heather Long at WP:
The Senate Republican tax plan gives substantial tax cuts and benefits to Americans earning more than $100,000 a year, while the nation’s poorest would be worse off, according to a report released Sunday by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
Republicans are aiming to have the full Senate vote on the tax plan as early as this week, but the new CBO analysis showing large, harmful effects on the poor may complicate those plans. The CBO also said the bill would add $1.4 trillion to the deficit over the next decade, a potential problem for Republican lawmakers worried about America’s growing debt.
By 2019, Americans earning less than $30,000 a year would be worse off under the Senate bill, CBO found. By 2021, Americans earning $40,000 or less would be net losers, and by 2027, most people earning less than $75,000 a year would be worse off. On the flip side, millionaires and those earning $100,000 to $500,000 would be big beneficiaries, according to the CBO’s calculations. (In the CBO table below, negative signs mean people in those income brackets pay less in taxes).
The main reason the poor get hit so hard in the Senate GOP bill is because the poor would receive less government aid for health care.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Sexual Harasser Backs Child Molester

In  Defying the Oddswe discuss Trump's character.

What the president did not foresee was that the friction would reach inside his immediate family. He vented his annoyance when his daughter Ivanka castigated Mr. Moore by saying there was “a special place in hell for people who prey on children,” according to three staff members who heard his comments.

“Do you believe this?” Mr. Trump asked several aides in the Oval Office. Mr. Moore’s Democratic opponent in the Alabama race, Doug Jones, quickly turned her comments into a campaign ad.

But something deeper has been consuming Mr. Trump. He sees the calls for Mr. Moore to step aside as a version of the response to the now-famous “Access Hollywood” tape, in which he boasted about grabbing women’s genitalia, and the flood of groping accusations against him that followed soon after. He suggested to a senator earlier this year that it was not authentic, and repeated that claim to an adviser more recently. (In the hours after it was revealed in October 2016, Mr. Trump acknowledged that the voice was his, and he apologized.)
...


The Senate leader has told fellow Republicans in private that Mr. Moore’s nomination has endangered the party’s hold on the Senate, according to people who have spoken with him — his starkest acknowledgment so far that the political environment has turned sharply against his party since Mr. Trump’s election. Mr. McConnell has also reiterated his intention to move against Mr. Moore if he is elected, though Mr. McConnell has made clear that he thinks that the candidate is unlikely to win.
Otherwise loyal Senate Republicans have started putting some distance between themselves and the president, a breach that could grow wider in the event of expulsion proceedings.
“As much as people would like to assume that, as Louis XIV said, ‘I am the state,’ there is more than one person who represents the Republican Party, and the preponderance of the party has dissociated itself from Moore,” said Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Flynn Flips


 Greg Price at Newsweek:
The information-sharing deal between President Donald Trump’s legal team and that of former national security adviser Mike Flynn has been a “scandal,” as well “ethically dubious” and could be construed as form of “witness tampering,” according to a top legal expert.
University of New Hampshire professor and attorney Seth Abramson shared his opinions in a 30-tweet thread posted Thursday night on a possibly nefarious deal between the two legal camps and provided greater insight and context into what he believes has gone on.

Abramson broke down The New York Times explosive report of how Flynn’s attorneys informed the president’s lawyers they could no longer discuss Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe. The report asserted such a breakaway could be a sign that Flynn is “cooperating with prosecutors or negotiating a deal.”

Friday, November 24, 2017

Wave?


At The Cook Political Report, Amy Walter notes that Democrats lead in the generic congressional ballot:
My colleague David Wasserman has been digging into the question of just how big of a wave Democrats need to get in order to surf into the majority. The short answer: they need to see a generic ballot advantage of +8 or more, which roughly translates to getting at least 54 percent or more of the national House vote in 2018.
The last time Democrats enjoyed a margin of +8 or more in a mid-term year was 2006. That year, Democrats won the House vote by 8.5 percent. The last time that Democrats got into the double digits was 2008 when they carried the House vote by D+11. This has led to a lots of talk that Democrats can only hit significant margins of victory in presidential elections when their base is more engaged and involved. It also helped to have a transformational candidate - Barack Obama - at the top of the ticket. Something they obviously don't have in 2018. But, there is precedent for Democrats winning the House vote by double digits in mid-term years. In the post-Watergate midterm of 1974, Democrats won by a whopping 17 points. In Ronald Reagan’s first midterm of 1982, Democrats won the House vote by 12 points.
Cook notes other evidence pointing to a wave:
The off-year election results also point to a wave. It was a foregone conclusion that Democrats would pick up the governorship of New Jersey, but state legislative gains in Virginia, Georgia, Washington, and elsewhere are ominous for Republicans. Tim Storey, the elections guru at the National Conference of State Legislatures, says that about 33 state legislative seats have shifted from Republican to Democrat this year, while just two have gone from Democrat to Republican, and a couple of seats could go either way. In special congressional elections, in strongly GOP districts in Georgia, Kansas, Montana, and South Carolina, Republicans have come out on top, but voting patterns showed them underperforming the norm by 6 to 12 points. These results do not bode well for the 23 GOP-held districts won last year by Hillary Clinton or for those that Trump won narrowly.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Punishing Blue Constituencies in the Tax Bills

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the tax issue in the 2016 campaign. 

At The Atlantic, Ronald Brownstein explains that GOP tax legislation screws Democratic constituencies. A couple of examples:
Taxpayers in Democratic-leaning states: To fund other tax cuts, the House and Senate plans rely heavily on retrenching the deduction taxpayers can now take for state and local taxes, known as SALT.
Of the 20 states where the highest percentage of taxpayers take that deduction, Hillary Clinton won 16 last year. Donald Trump, meanwhile, won 26 of the 30 states where the smallest percentage of taxpayers use the SALT deduction. In that way, the bill forces blue-state families to fund tax cuts for their red-state counterparts.
Homeowners in big-city markets: The impact of the SALT changes is magnified by the House bill’s provision halving the maximum mortgage-interest deduction to $500,000. In most markets, this affects few taxpayers since few home prices exceed that threshold. But data from ATTOM Data Solutions, which tracks property information, show that provision could hurt one-fifth or more of homebuyers in the most expensive markets around major cities, particularly along the coasts—places like Seattle, Southern California, Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay area, Northern Virginia, and the New York City metropolitan area. All those places, like most large metropolitan centers, gave Clinton commanding margins.
Between the mortgage and SALT limits, the bills hit many upper-middle-class taxpayers, especially in blue states. The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy calculates that by 2027 the Senate bill would raise taxes on about 45 percent of households between the 80th and 95th income percentiles in California, Virginia, New Jersey, and New York; and over one-third of such families in Oregon, Minnesota, and Illinois. Many of those families are precisely the white-collar suburbanites who have long resisted Trump.

In all, ITEP has calculated that by 2027 taxpayers in New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and California—which Clinton won— would pay nearly $17 billion more in federal income taxes. At the same time, those in Texas and Florida—which backed Trump—would pay over $31 billion less. “You can definitely see the ideological tilt here,” Carl Davis, IRET’s research director, told me.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Doug Jones Ads

In Defying the Odds, we discuss congressional elections as well as the presidential race.  In Alabama, Doug Jones -- former prosecutor of the KKK faces off against accused child molester Roy Moore.


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Roy Moore and Teenage Girls: Do the Math


At AL.com Kyle Whitmire on accused child molester Roy Moore:
First, read his book. In it, Moore describes how he met his wife at a Christmas party hosted by friends. He would have been 37. She was 23.
"Many years before, I had attended a dance recital at Gadsden State Junior College,"
Moore wrote. "I remembered one of the special dances performed by a young woman whose first and last names began with the letter 'K.' It was something I had never forgotten. Could that young woman have been Kayla Kisor?"
Moore later determined that it was.
"Long afterward, I would learn that Kayla had, in fact, performed a special dance routine at Gadsden State years before," he wrote.
Take a second to think about what's being said here. Moore first took notice of Kayla at a dance recital?
Perhaps you're wondering what "many years" means, and I wondered that too. Luckily, Moore again has cleared that up for us.
In an interview Moore gave earlier this year, he gave a similar account, but for one detail.
"It was, oh gosh, eight years later, or something, I met her," Moore said. "And when she told me her name, I remembered 'K. K.,' and I said, 'Haven't I met you before?'"
It's a simple matter of subtraction. When Roy Moore first took notice of Kayla she would have been as young as 15.
 There's a little fuzziness, to be sure, in the timeline. There's the "or something" Moore fudges with in the interview. Eight years before could have been slightly too early to put Moore in Gadsden, he started work as an deputy district attorney there in 1977.
So maybe she was 15, or maybe she was 16. But still, here is a grown man at about 30 years old attending a girls' dance recital, and doing what exactly?