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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Trump's Vulnerability

In  Defying the Oddswe discuss Trump's character..

Trump is sidestepping the Roy Moore story. He has good reason, given photos, videos, and stories involving Trump and minors.

German Lopez at CBS:
Donald Trump has said a lot of horrific things about adult women in the past year. But in a video unearthed by CBS News, Trump is seen targeting a different kind of victim: a young child.
In the 1992 video, Trump, who was 46 at the time, can be heard talking to a little girl, asking her if she’s going to go up an escalator. After she says she is, Trump turns to the camera and says, "I am going to be dating her in 10 years. Can you believe it?"
 Kendall Taggart, Jessica Garrison, Jessica Testa at Buzzfeed:
Four women who competed in the 1997 Miss Teen USA beauty pageant said Donald Trump walked into the dressing room while contestants — some as young as 15 — were changing.
“I remember putting on my dress really quick because I was like, ‘Oh my god, there’s a man in here,’” said Mariah Billado, the former Miss Vermont Teen USA.
Trump, she recalled, said something like, “Don’t worry, ladies, I’ve seen it all before.”
Tina Nguyen at Vanity Fair:
In a normal Republican administration, an allegation that Senator Al Franken, a Democrat, had groped a woman as she slept, accompanied by a damning photo, would be a political gift to the White House. When its occupant is Donald Trump, however, the story is altogether different—late in his presidential campaign, Trump was faced with accusations of sexual misconduct and assault from more than 16 women, which many believed would spell his political doom.
Trump and his ilk have vigorously denied the allegations, with press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders recently declaring from the podium that all of the president’s accusers are liars. But they’ve resurfaced in the wake of the Roy Moore scandal, which has left both Trump and the Republican Party metaphorically handcuffed to a Senate candidate accused of child molestation. Neither measure of hypocrisy seems to weigh on Trump, however, who gleefully ripped Franken Thursday night on Twitter.


Thursday, November 16, 2017

Tax Trouble

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

Most American voters — 52 percent — disapprove of the GOP proposals to overhaul the tax system, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday. Only 25 percent of respondents approve of the Republican effort.
The GOP says its push to chop taxes on businesses and individuals by year-end is designed to trim the burden on middle-class taxpayers while boosting job creation and wage growth.
  • Voters largely have not bought into the message, the Quinnipiac poll found.
  • Sixty-one percent of voters said the plan would mainly help the wealthy. Twenty-four percent responded that it would primarily benefit the middle class, while only 6 percent said the same about low-income people.
  • The proposals favor the rich at the expense of the middle class, 59 percent of respondents said. Only 33 percent disagreed with that statement.
  • Only 36 percent of respondents said the GOP effort will lead to more jobs and better economic growth. A majority, 52 percent, disagreed.
  • Thirty-six percent of voters said the proposals would not have much of an effect on their taxes. Thirty-five percent said the plan would increase what they pay, while 16 percent said it would reduce their tax burden.
In a national survey of 9,504 adults conducted for The New York Times by the online polling firm SurveyMonkey, 78 percent of respondents said they did not believe they would receive a raise if their employer received a tax cut. Even many Republicans doubted they would benefit directly from a corporate tax cut: Roughly 70 percent of self-identified Republicans — and roughly 65 percent of people who said they strongly approved of President Trump’s performance in office — said they didn’t think they would get a pay increase.
LAT editorial:
But the bill’s cuts in personal tax rates, its increase in the standard deduction and other benefits for individual taxpayers are partially offset by reductions in some popular tax deductions — including those for state and local taxes and mortgage interest payments, many of whose beneficiaries live in states with high income or sales taxes and high property values. As a result, according to a new analysis by the left-leaning Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, the House bill would force taxpayers in California, New York, New Jersey and Maryland to pay $16.7 billion more in personal income taxes in 2027 than they would under current law, while taxpayers in the other 46 states would pay $101.5 billion less. More than one-third of the cuts would flow to Texas and Florida.

California would be the hardest hit of all, with its taxpayers kicking a cumulative $12.1 billion in additional taxes into the federal kitty in 2027, the institute’s analysis found. But it’s not just the higher taxes that will hurt — the lower caps on the deductions for property taxes and mortgage interest likely would have an immediate, chilling effect on property values across the state. That’s good news for first-time homebuyers, bad news for millions of others who already own homes in this costly market.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Uranium One

 In Defying the Oddswe discuss the conservative media and attacks on Clinton:

 Alana Horowitz Satlin reports at The Huffington Post:
Fox News anchor Shep Smith broke from his network’s hyperventilating coverage of the “Uranium One” pseudoscandal to debunk allegations of wrongdoings by Hillary Clinton.

Smith, never one to blindly toe the party line, took to task President Donald Trump ― and, implicitly, his cable news network of choice ― over the “inaccurate” portrayal of the sale of a Canadian mining company with major U.S. holdings to a Russian company.

“Here’s the accusation,” Smith explained Tuesday. “Nine people involved in the deal made donations to the Clinton Foundation totaling more than $140 million. In exchange, Secretary of State Clinton approved the sale to the Russians — a quid pro quo.”

It’s a claim that has dominated Fox News in recent weeks after The Hill published a deeply flawed report about a “Russian bribery plot” involving the sale. Following pressure from the president and several Republican members of Congress, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced earlier this week that the Justice Department would consider appointing a special counsel to review the deal as well as other matters involving Clinton and other Democrats.

Rep. Louis Gohmert has his version of a conspiracy chart:

Monday, November 13, 2017

"Fresh New Faces"

In Defying the Odds, we discuss problems that brought down the Democrats. 

One is incompetence.

Another is the party gerontocracy:  Feinstein, Pelosi, and Sanders, among others.


The Case of the Alabama Child Molester

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

Sean Sullivan and Elise Viebeck report at The Washington Post:
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Monday that Republican nominee Roy Moore should end his Senate campaign in Alabama, following allegations that he initiated a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old girl when he was 32.
“I think he should step aside,” McConnell said. His comments marked the most definitive position he has taken on Moore’s candidacy since The Washington Post reported the allegations on Thursday.
Asked by a reporter whether he believed the allegations, McConnell responded: “I believe the women, yes.”
Although it is too late to remove Moore’s name from the ballot before the Dec. 12 special election, McConnell said he is exploring the option of a write-in campaign by Sen. Luther Strange, whom Moore defeated in the primary, or another Republican.
The Post reported Thursday that Leigh Corfman alleged that Moore initiated a sexual encounter with her when she was 14 and Moore was a 32-year-old assistant district attorney. Moore has denied the allegations and has vowed to continue his campaign.
A 7/23/13 Trump Tweet (screenshot in case they take it down):

Sunday, November 12, 2017

More Moore

Paul Gattis at
A new Alabama Senate poll, released Sunday morning, gives Democrat Doug Jones his first lead over Republican Roy Moore.
The race, though, remains close.
Louisiana-based JMC Analytics conducted the poll after allegations of sexual misconduct by Moore were reported by The Washington Post.
The poll had Jones received 46 percent support in the poll to Moore's 42 percent. With a margin of error of 4 percent, however, the race is essentially a statistical tie.
The poll also had 9 percent of participants declaring themselves undecided.
It's the second poll since the allegations came out that reveals a loss of support for Moore. A Decision Desk HQ/Opinion Savvy poll released Friday had the race tied 46-46.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

They're, Their, and There

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's way with words.  He and his underlings have a good deal of work to do.

I offer stylistic tips to my students, including a list of "dumbass mistakes."

Trump makes such mistakes in his tweets.

Image result for trump "their was afghanistan"


Image result for trump yates council


Image result for heeling fast trump


Trump Believes Putin and Trashes the Intel Community

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

Now that his bone spurs have apparently healed, Trump finally got to Vietnam.  He spoke with Putin at the APEC summit in Da Nang.  Departing on Air Force One, he shared his thoughts with reporters.

Eddie Scarry at The Washington Examiner:
Speaking to reporters on Air Force One, Trump said: "They're political hacks. So, you look at it, and then you have Brennan, you have Clapper, and you have Comey. Comey's proven now to be a liar, and he's proven to be a leaker. So, you look at that. And you have President Putin very strongly, vehemently says he had nothing to do with that. Now, you are not going to get into an argument, you are going to start talking about Syria and the Ukraine."
From Axios:
Reporter: Did Russia's attempts to meddle in US elections come up in the conversations?
Trump: "He said he didn't meddle, he said he didn't meddle. I asked him again. You can only ask so many times."
Reporter: Today?
Trump: "I just asked him again. He said he absolutely did not meddle in our election, he did not do what they are saying he did."
Reporter: Do you believe him?
Trump: "Well, look, I can't stand there and argue with him, I would rather have him get out of Syria, I would rather get to work with him on the Ukraine rather than arguing about whether or not... that whole thing was set up by the Democrats. Look at Podesta, look at all the things that they have done with the phony dossier. Those are the big events. But Putin said he did not do what they said he did. But we have a good feeling toward getting things done. If we had a relationship with Russia, that would be a good thing. In fact it would be a great thing, not a bad thing, because he could really help us on North Korea. We have a big problem with North Korea and China is helping us. And because of the lack of the relationship that we have with Russia, because of this artificial thing that's happening with this Democratic-inspired thing. We could really be helped a lot with Russia having to do with North Korea. You know you are talking about millions and millions of lives. This isn't baby stuff, this is the real deal. And if Russia helped us in addition to China, that problem would go away a lot faster."
Reporter: On election meddling, did you ask him the question?
Trump: "Every time he sees me he says I didn't do that and I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it. But he says I didn't do that. I think he is very insulted by it, which is not a good thing for our country. Because again, if we had a relationship with Russia, North Korea which is our single biggest problem right now, it would help a lot. I think they are doing very well with respect to China, they have cut off financing, they have cut off lots of oil and lots of other things, lots of trade and it's having a big impact. But Russia on the other hand may be making up the difference. And if they are, that's not a good thing. So having a relationship with Russia would be a great thing especially as it relates to North Korea."
"Hillary had her stupid reset button that she spelled the word wrong, but she does not have what it takes to have that kind of relationship where you could call or you could do something. But this is really an artificial barrier that's put in front of us for solving problems with Russia. He says that very strongly, he really seems to be insulted by it and he says he didn't do it. He is very, very strong in the fact that he didn't do it. You have President Putin very strongly, vehemently says he has nothing to do with that. Now, you are not going to get into an argument, you are going to start talking about Syria and the Ukraine."

Friday, November 10, 2017

Roy Moore

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

Stephanie McCrummen, Beth Reinhard and Alice Crites report at WP that, when he was in his 30s, Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore -- already a disgraced former judge -- sexually pursued several teenage girls.  He inappropriately touched one who was only 14 at the time.  The women went on the record.  "This account is based on interviews with more than 30 people who said they knew Moore between 1977 and 1982, when he served as an assistant district attorney for Etowah County in northern Alabama, where he grew up."

NRSC has withdrawn from a joint fundraising committee with Moore.

Axios: "Roy Moore, the GOP nominee for Alabama Senate, is tied with his Democratic opponent Doug Jones in the latest Opinion-Savvy/Decision Desk HQ poll after four women alleged Moore made sexual advances toward them when he was in his 30s and they were teenagers. Moore led Jones by 5.7% in the previous survey and another had him up by double-digits."

Mike Cason reports at that it is too late to strike his name from the ballot in the December 12 special election. The deadline was October 11.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Democrats and Fundamentals

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's impact down the ballot.

Nate Silver on why the fundamentals seem to favor Democrats ... so far.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The GOP's Off-Off-Year Wipeout

At WP, James Hohmann sums up the GOP wipeout in the off-off-year elections:
Democrat Ralph Northam was elected governor of Virginia Tuesday by an unexpectedly large margin of nine percentage points. He won more votes than any previous candidate for Virginia governor.
Republican Ed Gillespie could not escape Trump’s unpopularity, despite his best efforts to thread the needle. Four in 10 Virginia voters yesterday approved of the job that the president is doing, according to preliminary exit polls. Gillespie received over 9 in 10 votes from Trump approvers, but among the larger group of Trump disapprovers, Northam had nearly as large an advantage: 87 percent.
Trump’s impact on the race was also clear from other questions in the exit polling: 34 percent of voters said expressing opposition to Trump was a reason for their vote, with almost all of this group favoring Northam, per our in-house pollster Scott Clement. Half as many (17 percent) sought to express support for the president, while 47 percent said Trump was not a factor in their choice.
The GOP also suffered big losses in the VA House of Delegates.  But wait, there's more:
  • Maine, where Trump won an electoral vote last year, became the first state to expand Medicaid via ballot initiative. Despite active opposition from the Republican governor and an influx of outside money, the measure passed by a nearly 20-point margin. This will mean health-care coverage for an estimated 70,000 low-income residents.
  • Democrat Phil Murphy, a former banker and first-time candidate, won the New Jersey governor’s race by 13 points over Chris Christie’s lieutenant governor. That’s on par with Clinton’s margin a year ago, but it’s a remarkable turnabout from four years ago — when Christie got reelected with a 22-point margin of victory. It means that Democrats will have unified control of the Garden State’s government.
  • By winning a special election, Democrats took control of the Senate in Washington State.This gives the party full control of all three states on the West Coast: a blue wall of sorts.
-- Democrats didn’t just run up the score on blue turf, though:

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Donna Brazile and Paul Manafort, 1988

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the mechanics of the 2016 campaign and other problems that brought down the Democrats. 

I am currently writing a book about the 1988 campaign.

Donna Brazile has courted controversy with a new book about that campaign.  She was controversial in the 1988 campaign, too.

The Los Angeles Times, October 21, 1988:
A Democratic presidential campaign official resigned Thursday after the Dukakis campaign disavowed her comment that "George Bush owes it to the American people to fess up" about a rumor concerning an extramarital affair that rippled through Wall Street on Wednesday.
Dukakis personally apologized to Bush for the remarks, made by deputy field director Donna Brazile, when the two candidates met Thursday night in New York for the Catholic archdiocese's annual fund-raising dinner.

Brazile told reporters accompanying the Democratic candidate that "the American people have every right to know if Barbara Bush will share that bed with him in the White House."
Paul Manafort is in trouble over foreign lobbying.  On September 11, 1988, Robin Toner reported at The New York Times
Escalating his response to Bush campaign efforts to raise doubts about him, the Massachusetts Governor demanded at a news conference in Boston that Mr. Bush ''answer some questions that are being raised about the fact that several of his top campaign advisers had a contract with a foreign government, some of whose top officials were under investigation for drug profiteering.''
Mr. Dukakis read from a memorandum from Black, Manafort & Stone, a Republican consulting firm whose partners work as unpaid consultants to the Bush campaign. In the memo, he said, the firm ''brags about its ability to reach into high offices in this Administration as a result of what it calls back channel relationships.'' He added, ''I think the American people have a right to know that the back door of the White House will not be the front door for paid agents of foreign governments.''
''In a Dukakis White House,'' he continued, ''there will be no back door for foreign lobbyists. My staff will not have divided loyalties.''

Monday, November 6, 2017

Russia Today

Andrew Desiderio at The Daily Beast:
The so-called Paradise Papers were leaked to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, the same publication that obtained the “Panama Papers.” Süddeutsche Zeitung shared the new documents with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which led a global effort of 96 media organizations from 67 countries to pore through the records. The findings were published on Sunday.
The documents show that many of the wealthy individuals Trump brought into his administration have worked to legally store their money in offshore havens where they would be free from taxation in the United States. Trump has promised repeatedly to “drain the swamp,” in condemning the idea that well-connected individuals in Washington, D.C., preserve their own interests at the expense of the rest of the country.
Among the Trump administration officials implicated in the leaks is Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who according to the documents concealed his ties to a Russian energy company that is partly owned by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s judo partner Gennady Timchenko and Putin’s son-in-law, Kirill Shamalov. Through offshore investments, Ross held a stake in Navigator Holdings, which had a close business relationship with the Russian firm. Ross did not disclose that connection during his confirmation process on Capitol Hill.
Irina Reznik and Henry Meyer at The Daily Beast:
A Russian lawyer who met with President Donald Trump’s oldest son last year says he indicated that a law targeting Russia could be re-examined if his father won the election and asked her for written evidence that illegal proceeds went to Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

The lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, said in a two-and-a-half-hour interview in Moscow that she would tell these and other things to the Senate Judiciary Committee on condition that her answers be made public, something it hasn’t agreed to. She has received scores of questions from the committee, which is investigating possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. Veselnitskaya said she’s also ready -- if asked -- to testify to Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
“Looking ahead, if we come to power, we can return to this issue and think what to do about it,’’ Trump Jr. said of the 2012 law, she recalled. “I understand our side may have messed up, but it’ll take a long time to get to the bottom of it,” he added, according to her.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

"Jenna Abrams" and "Pamela Moore"

Ben Collins and Joseph Cox at The Daily Beast:
Those same users who followed @Jenn_Abrams for her perfect Kim Kardashian jokes would be blasted with her shoddily punctuated ideas on slavery and segregation just one month later.
“To those people, who hate the Confederate flag. Did you know that the flag and the war wasn’t about slavery, it was all about money,” Abrams’ account tweeted in April of last year.

The tweet went viral, earning heaps of ridicule from journalists, historians, and celebrities alike, then calls for support from far-right users coming to her defense.
That was the plan all along.
Congressional investigators working with social-media companies have since confirmed that Abrams wasn’t who she said she was.
Her account was the creation of employees at the Internet Research Agency, or the Russian government-funded “troll farm,” in St. Petersburg.
Jenna Abrams, the freewheeling American blogger who believed in a return to segregation and said that many of America’s problems stemmed from PC culture run amok, did not exist.
But Abrams got very real attention from almost any national news outlet you can think of, according to a Daily Beast analysis of her online footprint.
Abrams, who at one point boasted nearly 70,000 Twitter followers, was featured in articles written by Bustle, U.S. News and World Report, USA Today, several local Fox affiliates, InfoWars, BET, Yahoo Sports, Sky News, IJR, Breitbart, The Washington Post, Mashable,New York Daily News, Quartz, Dallas News, France24, HuffPost, The Daily Caller, The Telegraph, CNN, the BBC, Gizmodo, The Independent, The Daily Dot, The Observer, Business Insider, The National Post, Refinery29, The Times of India, BuzzFeed, The Daily Mail, The New York Times, and, of course, Russia Today and Sputnik.
Rob Tornoe at the Philadelphia Inquirer:
Pamela Moore, another popular online personality during the 2016 election who tweeted using the handle @Pamela_Moore13. was also created in the same Russian troll factory with the same basic mission — to sow division and heighten racial tension among Americans.

Unlike the Abrams account, which went out of its way to say it wasn’t pro-Trump, nearly all of Moore’s tweets leading up to the election appear to have crafted to support Trump’s campaign. Among the account’s most widely shared posts leading up to the election were tweets repeating lies and conspiracy theories about Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and pushing themes of Trump’s campaign, including this anti-refugee post that was shared more than 4,700 times.

Former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn followed both accounts. His son, Michael Flynn Jr., shared a tweet from the Abrams account just days before the election.

Flynn wasn’t alone: Donald Trump Jr., Kellyanne Conway and Brad Parscale, Trump’s campaign digital director, all retweeted fake Russian Twitter accounts in the month before the election. Vice President Mike Pence followed five different accounts tied to the Internet Research Agency, according to the Daily Beast.

Friday, November 3, 2017

"Complete and Total"

In  Defying the Oddswe discuss Trump's character.
The redundant phrase "complete and total" is among Trump's favorites.

For the sake of variety, he sometimes uses "total and complete."

And of course, his most famous "total and complete" was...

Trump's Banana Republic

In  Defying the Oddswe discuss Trump's character and impact on America.

Philip Rucker at WP:
President Trump on Friday pressured the Department of Justice — and specifically the FBI — to investigate Hillary Clinton, ticking through a slew of issues involving the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee and her party, and urging law enforcement to “do what is right and proper.”
Trump's advocacy for criminal probe of his political opponent marked a significant breach of the traditional boundaries within the executive branch designed to prevent investigations from being politicized.
In a Thursday radio interview, Trump said “the saddest thing” about being president is that he is not supposed to give orders to the Justice Department or FBI. The president said he was “very frustrated” that he could not be involved with those agencies, and said it was “very discouraging to me” that they were not “going after Hillary Clinton.”
“Hopefully they are doing something and at some point, maybe we are going to all have it out,” Trump said Thursday on “The Larry O'Connor Show.”

Back to Rucker:
The president directing a particular investigation — especially of a former political rival — would be viewed by most in law enforcement as inappropriate. When Trump made similar comments on the campaign trail a year ago, even former Republican attorney general Michael Mukasey, a vocal Clinton critic, said Trump ordering a prosecution of her would be “like a banana republic.”

Thursday, November 2, 2017

The DNC Disaster

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the mechanics of the 2016 campaign and other problems that brought down the Democrats.

Donna Brazile writes at Politico about a 2015 victory fund agreement between DNC and the Clinton campaign.  Its effect was to give the campaign de facto control of the committee.
Debbie [Wasserman Schultz] was not a good manager. She hadn’t been very interested in controlling the party—she let Clinton’s headquarters in Brooklyn do as it desired so she didn’t have to inform the party officers how bad the situation was. How much control Brooklyn had and for how long was still something I had been trying to uncover for the last few weeks.
By September 7, the day I called Bernie, I had found my proof and it broke my heart.

The Saturday morning after the convention in July, I called Gary Gensler, the chief financial officer of Hillary’s campaign. He wasted no words. He told me the Democratic Party was broke and $2 million in debt.
“What?” I screamed. “I am an officer of the party and they’ve been telling us everything is fine and they were raising money with no problems.”
That wasn’t true, he said. Officials from Hillary’s campaign had taken a look at the DNC’s books. Obama left the party $24 million in debt—$15 million in bank debt and more than $8 million owed to vendors after the 2012 campaign—and had been paying that off very slowly. Obama’s campaign was not scheduled to pay it off until 2016.
Hillary for America (the campaign) and the Hillary Victory Fund (its joint fundraising vehicle with the DNC) had taken care of 80 percent of the remaining debt in 2016, about $10 million, and had placed the party on an allowance.
If I didn’t know about this, I assumed that none of the other officers knew about it, either. That was just Debbie’s way. In my experience she didn’t come to the officers of the DNC for advice and counsel. She seemed to make decisions on her own and let us know at the last minute what she had decided, as she had done when she told us about the hacking only minutes before the Washington Post broke the news.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Where's Papa?

Papadopoulos also has stipulated that “other foreign policy” types were at the March 31 meeting. In the photo from the Trump campaign Web Site we see one of those who was in attendance was now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was named on March 3 chairman of Trump’s National Security Advisory Committee. You will recall he testified under oath he knew of no such contacts between the campaign and Russian officials. That will require explanation.
Related image

Anyone who was present, heard about the contacts and later denied any campaign contacts with Russians should be very nervous. Anyone who attended the meeting, knew about the contacts and then recommended Trump fire Comey who was exploring possible collusion, should be very nervous. And Trump, who is now placed in the same room as Papadopoulos has even more reason to be nervous, not the least because he does not know what else Mueller has up his sleeve.