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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Trump, the Globalist

No country has ever prospered that failed to put its own interests first. Both our friends and enemies put their countries above ours and we, while being fair to them, must do the same.

We will no longer surrender this country, or its people, to the false song of globalism.
In his inaugural address, he said: " From this day forward, it's going to be only America first. America first."

What has been made clear by current events and financial upheavals since 2008 is that the global economy has become truly that -- global.
The near meltdown we experienced a few years ago made it clear that our economic health depended on dependence on each other to do the right thing.
We are now closer to having an economic community in the best sense of the term -- we work with each other for the benefit of all.
I think we've all become aware of the fact that our cultures and economics are intertwined. It's a complex mosaic that cannot be approached with a simple formula for the correct pattern to emerge. In many ways, we are in unchartered waters.
The good news, in one respect, is that what is done affects us all. There won't be any winners or losers as this is not a competition. It's a time for working together for the best of all involved. Never before has the phrase "we're all in this together" had more resonance or relevance.

My concern is that the negligence of a few will adversely affect the majority. I've long been a believer in the "look at the solution, not the problem" theory. In this case, the solution is clear. We will have to leave borders behind and go for global unity when it comes to financial stability...

GOP Strength

Republican states continue to outnumber Democratic states based on residents' party affiliation throughout 2016. Overall, Gallup classifies 21 states as solid or leaning Republican, 14 as solid or leaning Democratic, and 15 states as competitive. That seven-state GOP advantage contrasts with a 30-state Democratic advantage in 2008.
Although there are more Republican states, the Democratic states tend to be more populous. As a result, Democrats maintain a slight edge in party affiliation nationwide, 47% to 42%. This Democratic advantage, too, has declined considerably since 2008, one of the stronger Democratic years on record, when Democrats led 52% to 40%. That year, Republican President George W. Bush's job approval ratings hovered around 30% as the nation dealt with the worst economic problems seen in generations, while still engaged in two prolonged wars overseas.
Chris Cillizza writes:
In the House, Republicans are now in the midst of a sustained period in which they control more seats than they have since the late 1940s. In the Senate, Republicans not only control 52 seats but have an election cycle in 2018 in which they could, plausibly, approach the coveted 60-vote plateau.
Given those numbers, it's not possible to argue that the Democratic Party is the healthier of the two national parties at the moment.
Now, the history of politics is littered with parties that overestimated their mandates and within a few years found themselves on the outside looking in when it comes to control of the levers of political power. And there is already some of that rhetoric seeping out of this White House.
"The message came through loud and clear that people want forceful leadership," Spicer said Monday of the 2016 election results. That's true — sort of. Trump did win the electoral college. But he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by nearly 3 million votes. And, while Republicans held onto their congressional majorities, they did lose ground in both chambers.
At the moment, it's Republicans who have every right to brag about their dominant status as a national party. But always remember that pride comes before the fall.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Congressional Demographics: Upstairs, Downstairs

At The Atlantic, Ronald Brownstein and Leah Askarinam report:
...Republicans now control three-fourths of all the House districts where whites exceed their share of the national population, while Democrats hold three-fourths of the districts where minorities exceed their national population share. Republicans hold just over 70 percent of the districts where there are fewer white college graduates than average, while Democrats hold almost 66 percent of the districts with a greater-than-average proportion of white college graduates.
The structural problem for Democrats is that, because of both partisan gerrymandering and the way the population is distributed, there are significantly more districts in the categories the Republicans dominate than in the ones that favor Democrats. Most important, whites exceed their share of the national population in 259 seats, and Republicans hold fully 196 of those—which puts them on the brink of a congressional majority even before they begin to compete for the more diverse seats. And there are 244 districts where the white share of college graduates lags the national average, and Republicans hold 176 of those. (Most of them overlap with the districts where the number of minorities is also fewer than average.)
“It is very hard to argue that there isn’t a structural Republican advantage in the House, that the sorting of voters along lines of urban versus rural, educated versus non-educated hasn’t netted out favorably for Republicans, given the concentration of Democratic voters in a relative handful of districts,” said Patrick Ruffini, a GOP consultant who specializes in demographic trends.

Overall, Republicans hold 241 House seats and Democrats 194 in the new Congress, meaning Democrats must recapture 24 seats to regain the majority.
Like the stark divisions in the presidential race, these patterns underscore the shifting class and racial basis of each party’s electoral base. From the presidency through lower-ballot races, Republicans rely on a preponderantly white coalition that is strongest among whites without a college degree and those living outside of major metropolitan areas. Democrats depend on a heavily urbanized (and often post-industrial) upstairs-downstairs coalition of minorities, many of them clustered in lower-income inner-city districts. They also rely on more affluent college-educated whites both in cities and inner suburbs.
Tellingly, the analysis found, Democrats hold 30 of the 50 House districts with the highest median income—and 32 of the 50 with the lowest median income. But Republicans crush them by 203 to 132 in the districts in between those two poles.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

History Has Its Eyes on You

At The Atlantic, Eliot Cohen writes:
Precisely because the problem is one of temperament and character, it will not get better. It will get worse, as power intoxicates Trump and those around him. It will probably end in calamity—substantial domestic protest and violence, a breakdown of international economic relationships, the collapse of major alliances, or perhaps one or more new wars (even with China) on top of the ones we already have. It will not be surprising in the slightest if his term ends not in four or in eight years, but sooner, with impeachment or removal under the 25th Amendment. The sooner Americans get used to these likelihoods, the better.
The question is, what should Americans do about it? To friends still thinking of serving as political appointees in this administration, beware: When you sell your soul to the Devil, he prefers to collect his purchase on the installment plan. Trump’s disregard for either Secretary of Defense Mattis or Secretary-designate Tillerson in his disastrous policy salvos this week, in favor of his White House advisers, tells you all you need to know about who is really in charge. To be associated with these people is going to be, for all but the strongest characters, an exercise in moral self-destruction.
 For the community of conservative thinkers and experts, and more importantly, conservative politicians, this is a testing time. Either you stand up for your principles and for what you know is decent behavior, or you go down, if not now, then years from now, as a coward or opportunist. Your reputation will never recover, nor should it.
Also at The Atlantic, David Frum writes:
A law-abiding person will want to stay as far as possible from the personal service of President Trump. As demonstrated by the sad example of Press Secretary Sean Spicer spouting glaring lies on his first day on the job, this president will demand that his aides do improper things—and the low standards of integrity in Trump's entourage create a culture of conformity to those demands.
A wise patriot might be wary of working directly for or near Flynn or anybody else tied to the Russian state, the entities it controls, or Russian business interests. The National Security Council staff has engorged itself to such an enormous size in recent years—now some 400 people—that there are many important roles to fill, safely firewalled away from Flynn.
At the other departments or agencies of government, here’s the test: Odds are that the department or agency head will sooner or later be called upon to some improper thing at some point during the Trump administration. Do you trust him or her to say “No”? If not, you may find that improper demand relayed to you—or, even more ominously, you may find yourself involved in actions whose impropriety you only discover too late.
...
So maybe the very first thing to consider, if the invitation comes, is this: How well do you know yourself? How sure are you that you indeed would say no?

And then humbly consider this second troubling question: If the Trump administration were as convinced as you are that you would do the right thing—would they have asked you in the first place?

Bad Times



Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R), a confidant to Donald Trump, acknowledged late Saturday that he advised the president on how to carry out his desire to enact a “Muslim ban,” making it significantly harder for the administration to deny that the new executive order is anything but that.

“When he first announced it, he said ‘Muslim ban,’” Giuliani said in a Fox News interview. “He called me up and said, ‘Put a commission together, show me the right way to do it legally.’”
Benjamin Wittes at Lawfare:
The malevolence of President Trump’s Executive Order on visas and refugees is mitigated chiefly—and perhaps only—by the astonishing incompetence of its drafting and construction.
NBC is reporting that the document was not reviewed by DHS, the Justice Department, the State Department, or the Department of Defense, and that National Security Council lawyers were prevented from evaluating it. Moreover, the New York Times writes that Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services, the agencies tasked with carrying out the policy, were only given a briefing call while Trump was actually signing the order itself. Yesterday, the Department of Justice gave a “no comment” when asked whether the Office of Legal Counsel had reviewed Trump’s executive orders—including the order at hand. (OLC normally reviews every executive order.)
This order reads to me, frankly, as though it was not reviewed by competent counsel at all.
Martin Niemoller:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
"NOT THIS TIME, M-F-"

Natasha Bertrand reports at Business Insider:
President Donald Trump signed a presidential memorandum Saturday that removed the nation's top military and intelligence advisers as regular attendees of the National Security Council's Principals Committee, the interagency forum that deals with policy issues affecting national security.
The executive measure established Trump's chief strategist Steve Bannon as a regular attendee, whereas the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Director of National Intelligence will be allowed to participate only "where issues pertaining to their responsibilities and expertise are to be discussed."
"The appointment of Mr. Bannon is something which is a radical departure from any National Security Council in history," Republican Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said on CBS' Face the Nation on Sunday.
"The one person who is indispensable would be the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in my view," McCain added. "So it’s of concern, this 'reorganization.'"
John Bellinger, an adjunct senior fellow in International and National Security Law at the Council on Foreign Relations and former legal adviser to the National Security Council, wrote on Saturday that the change is "unusual."
"In the Bush administration, Karl Rove would not attend NSC meetings," Bellinger said. "According to former Chief of Staff Josh Bolten, President Bush did not want to appear, especially to the military, to insert domestic politics into national security decision-making."
Trump issued a statement observing Holocaust Remembrance Day. It did not mention Jews. John Podhoretz writes at Commentary that he initially thought it was a sloppy error.
I won’t be making that mistake again.

Jake Tapper of CNN reported Saturday night that Trump spokesperson Hope Hicks defended and even celebrated the White House statement. The decision not to mention the Jews was deliberate, Hicks said, a way of demonstrating the inclusive approach of the Trump administration: “Despite what the media reports, we are an incredibly inclusive group and we took into account all of those who suffered…it was our honor to issue a statement in remembrance of this important day.”
No, Hope Hicks, and no to whomever you are serving as a mouthpiece. The Nazis killed an astonishing number of people in monstrous ways and targeted certain groups—Gypsies, the mentally challenged, and open homosexuals, among others. But the Final Solution was aimed solely at the Jews. The Holocaust was about the Jews. There is no “proud” way to offer a remembrance of the Holocaust that does not reflect that simple, awful, world-historical fact. To universalize it to “all those who suffered” is to scrub the Holocaust of its meaning.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Conflict of Interest: Trump and the Ban

Chris Sommerfeldt reports at The New York Daily News:
President Trump’s most recent executive order effectively bans citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. for at least 90 days — but some Muslim countries were spared from the order's blacklist, even though they have deep-seated ties to terrorism.
Conspicuously, records show Trump holds major business interests in several of the countries excluded from the list, while he doesn’t hold any stakes in the countries on it.
Friday’s executive order, signed at the Pentagon, suspends the issuing of U.S. visas or travel permits to people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.

Not a single American was killed by citizens from any of those countries between 1975 and 2015, according to statistics tallied by the conservative-leaning CATO Institute.
However, the same set of statistics show that nearly 3,000 Americans were killed by citizens from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Turkey in the same time period — with the bulk of those killed being victims of the 9/11 attacks. Yet, people from those four countries are still welcome to apply for U.S. visas and travel permits.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Fake Poll

A fundraising email from the National Republican Congressional Committee (curiously, it leaves out Fox News):


Liberal news organizations still can’t accept that Trump is our president.

Some are even reporting fake news to undermine President Trump.

Tell us: which media organization is the most biased?

Let us know.

FAKE NEWS POLL
CNN
MSNBC
ABC
NBC
CBS









Thursday, January 26, 2017

Trump Lies About Fraud

PRESIDENT TRUMP: And you're gonna find ...
DAVID MUIR: ... those people who are on the rolls voted, that there are millions of illegal votes?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I didn't say there are millions. But I think there could very well be millions of people. That's right.
DAVID MUIR: You tweeted though ...
PRESIDENT TRUMP: And I also say this ...
DAVID MUIR: ... you tweeted, "If you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally, I won the popular vote."
PRESIDENT TRUMP: David, and I also say this, if I was going for the popular vote I would've won easily. But I would've been in California and New York. I wouldn't have been in Maine. I wouldn't have been in Iowa. I wouldn't have been in Nebraska and all of those states that I had to win in order to win this. I would've been in New York, I would've been in California. I never even went there.
DAVID MUIR: Let me just ask you, you did win. You're the president. You're sitting ...
PRESIDENT TRUMP: That’s true.
DAVID MUIR: ... across from me right now.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: That's true.
DAVID MUIR: Do you think that your words matter more now?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Yes, very much.
DAVID MUIR: Do you think that that talking about millions of illegal votes is dangerous to this country without presenting the evidence?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: No, not at all.
(OVERTALK)
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Not at all because many people feel the same way that I do. And ...
DAVID MUIR: You don't think it undermines your credibility if there’s no evidence?
(OVERTALK)PRESIDENT TRUMP: No, not at all because they didn't come to me. Believe me. Those were Hillary votes. And if you look at it they all voted for Hillary. They all voted for Hillary. They didn't vote for me. I don't believe I got one. Okay, these are people that voted for Hillary Clinton. And if they didn't vote, it would've been different in the popular.
At Dartmouth, David Cottrell, Michael C. Herron and Sean J. Westwood have a study titled "Evaluating Donald Trump’s Allegations of Voter Fraud in the 2016 Presidential Election." The abstract:
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump repeatedly claimed that the presidential election would be tainted by massive voter fraud. Despite winning the presidency, Trump has maintained that position through November. We suspected prior to the election that fraud allegations might dominate the post-election political landscape, and to this end we initiated a research project with the objective of evaluating the relationship between election returns and potential sources of fraud in the vein of Trump’s claims. Our research focuses on non-citizen populations, deceased individuals, the timing of results, and voting technology, and we do not uncover any evidence consistent with Trump’s assertions about widespread voter fraud. Moreover, we do not observe any striking abnormalities in two sets of states recently highlighted as potentially problematic: Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin (the subject of ongoing recount efforts) and California, New Hampshire, and Virginia (three states cited personally by Trump). Our results do not imply that there was no fraud at all in the 2016 presidential contest, nor do they imply that this contest was error-free. They do strongly suggest, however, that the voter fraud concerns fomented and espoused by the Trump campaign are not grounded in any observable features of the 2016 presidential election.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

How Trump Corrupts His Subordinates

Tyler Cowen writes at Bloomberg:
By requiring subordinates to speak untruths, a leader can undercut their independent standing, including their standing with the public, with the media and with other members of the administration. That makes those individuals grow more dependent on the leader and less likely to mount independent rebellions against the structure of command. Promoting such chains of lies is a classic tactic when a leader distrusts his subordinates and expects to continue to distrust them in the future.
Another reason for promoting lying is what economists sometimes call loyalty filters. If you want to ascertain if someone is truly loyal to you, ask them to do something outrageous or stupid. If they balk, then you know right away they aren’t fully with you. That too is a sign of incipient mistrust within the ruling clique, and it is part of the same worldview that leads Trump to rely so heavily on family members.
In this view, loyalty tests are especially frequent for new hires and at the beginning of new regimes, when the least is known about the propensities of subordinates. You don’t have to view President Trump as necessarily making a lot of complicated calculations, rather he may simply be replicating tactics that he found useful in his earlier business and media careers.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The L-Word

Headline in The New York Times

Trump Repeats Lie About Popular Vote in Meeting With Lawmakers

Michael D. Shear and Emmarie Huetteman report:
President Trump used his first official meeting with congressional leaders on Monday to falsely claim that millions of unauthorized immigrants had robbed him of a popular vote majority, a return to his obsession with the election’s results even as he seeks support for his legislative agenda.
The claim, which he has made before on Twitter, has been judged untrue by numerous fact-checkers. The new president’s willingness to bring it up at a White House reception in the State Dining Room is an indication that he continues to dwell on the implications of his popular vote loss even after assuming power.
Mr. Trump appears to remain concerned that the public will view his victory — and his entire presidency — as illegitimate if he does not repeatedly challenge the idea that Americans were deeply divided about sending him to the White House to succeed President Barack Obama.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Trump v. The Constitution

When the courts opened at 9 am this morning, a legal dream team officially filed Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington v. Donald J. Trump to stop the President from violating the Constitution by illegally receiving payments from foreign governments.
The foreign emoluments clause of the Constitution prohibits Trump from receiving anything of value from foreign governments, including foreign government-owned businesses, without the approval of Congress.
CREW is represented in the case by an all-star team of top constitutional scholars, ethics experts and litigators who have combined to argue 45 cases before the Supreme Court. The lawyers on the case include CREW’s board chair and vice-chair Norman Eisen and Richard Painter, the top ethics lawyers for the last two presidents, Constitutional law scholars Erwin Chemerinsky, Laurence H. Tribe and Zephyr Teachout, and Deepak Gupta of Gupta Wessler PLLC.
Tribe, the Carl M. Loeb University Professor and Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard Law School, said: “I am enormously proud to be filing this lawsuit to stop President Trump from putting his continuing pursuit of personal wealth, and his willingness to serve the foreign interests that feed that wealth, ahead of the interests and needs of American citizens and watchdog organizations like CREW. It is already clear that nothing short of judicial force will end Trump’s flagrant disregard of the core barrier the Constitution’s Framers erected against presidential decisions driven by personal greed or by loyalty purchased from the President by the patronage of foreign powers.”
Eisen added: “President Trump is the first president in decades not to release his tax returns. Seventy five percent of Americans want to see the President’s tax returns and so do we. We will seek those in discovery in this case in order to establish the details of the emoluments clause violations here.”
Teachout, Associate Law Professor at Fordham Law School, said: “The framers of our constitution did everything they could to protect against corruption, especially foreign corruption. President Trump’s insistence on taking payments from foreign governments is a blatant violation of a foundational clause in our constitution, and a foundational principle of our country.”
Chemerinsky, Dean, University of California, Irvine School of Law, noted: “The Constitution is explicit that the President cannot profit from a foreign government without congressional approval and there is no doubt that President Trump has been violating the Constitution since he took the oath of office. This lawsuit simply asks the federal court to enforce the Constitution and reaffirm that no person, not even the President, is above the law.”
Gupta, Supreme Court and appellate advocate at Gupta Wessler PLLC, added: “The Framers had incredible foresight, and they wanted to make sure that our elected leaders wouldn’t be corrupted by foreign governments. This lawsuit isn’t about some technicality; it’s about making sure that the President serves the American people, and nobody else.”
Noah Bookbinder, CREW Executive Director and a former federal corruption prosecutor, said: “We always encourage officials to do the right thing. We did not want to get to this point. It was our hope that President Trump would take the necessary steps to avoid violating the Constitution before he took office. He did not. His constitutional violations are immediate and serious, so we were forced to take legal action.”


Sunday, January 22, 2017

Nominate First, Vet Later

Josh Dawsey and Eli Stokols report at Politico:
Steve Mnuchin, Donald Trump’s pick to be treasury Secretary, failed to list $100 million in assets on his federal disclosure forms. Vincent Viola, nominated to be Army secretary, punched a man in the face at a horse race last summer.
The ex-wife of Andrew Puzder, the labor secretary nominee, once appeared incognito on “Oprah” to raise domestic abuse allegations, which Puzder has denied. Betsy DeVos, Trump’s choice for education secretary, struggled to demonstrate a basic comprehension of department policy and basic education terms during her hearing this week. Two nominees didn’t pay taxes on their household employees.

This string of startling revelations over the past two weeks caught senior members of Trump’s staff by surprise, and they didn’t know some of the potential for problems before Senate confirmation hearings began, sources said. A person involved in preparing several nominees said, “They nominated these people first, and then they sort of vetted them. It’s exactly the reverse way you’re supposed to do it, and now you see the consequences.”

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Trump and Bane

Peter W. Stevenson reports at The Washington Post:
The speaker painted a bleak picture of a world run by elites, in which the little guy was being stomped on by the oppressive ruling class — a ruling class that could only be ousted by an unprecedented uprising by the masses themselves.
The solution to that oppression? Turning power back over to the people.
We're speaking, of course, about the bad guy in the last Batman movie — Bane in “The Dark Knight Rises.”


Alexander Hamilton got it.  In Federalist 1, he wrote:
[A] dangerous ambition more often lurks behind the specious mask of zeal for the rights of the people than under the forbidden appearance of zeal for the firmness and efficiency of government. History will teach us that the former has been found a much more certain road to the introduction of despotism than the latter, and that of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people; commencing demagogues, and ending tyrants.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Trump on a Fateful Day

Eliot A. Cohen writes at The American Interest:
Donald J. Trump has repeatedly revealed himself as a lying, crooked, narcissistic ignoramus, incapable of generous thoughts or deeds, indeed, incapable of seeing beyond himself at all. The idea of that man living in Lincoln’s house is nauseating.
...
[Underlings] will tell themselves that they have gone to work for the man because they think they can affect him; they will learn—or more likely, their friends and associates on the outside will observe—that actually, he is affecting them. Very few will resign in outrage, because the compromises to their integrity will creep up on them. As Sir Thomas More puts it in Robert Bolt’s A Man for All Seasons,they will be like the man who, having taken an oath, is “holding his own self in his own hands, like water” and when he opens his fingers, “needn’t hope to find himself again.” They will try to open their fingers just a little bit, and it will not work: the water will cascade out. Many of them will never find themselves again, but will instead spend the rest of their careers making excuses for things that once upon a time they understood were inexcusable.
...
And the rest of us? “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty” goes the old saw, and it is truer than ever. Churchill, as always, best laid out the right frame of mind. “Never give in. Never, never, never. Never yield in any way, great or small, large or petty, except to convictions of honor and good sense.”
The age of Trump will pass. The institutions will contain him and the laws will restrain him if enough people care about both, and do not yield to fear of him and whatever leverage he tries to exert from his mighty office. He may summon up internet trolls and rioters, attempt to sic the IRS or the FBI on his opponents, or simply harass individuals from the Oval Office. But political history tells us that would-be authoritarians usually come to unpleasant ends, their moments pass, and the mobs that cheered them on will come to denounce them just as vehemently.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

1988 and 2016

The remarkable thing is that Obama was unable to transfer enough of this popularity to Clinton, his chosen successor, despite the dramatic improvement in the devastated economy he inherited in January 2009. Consider the 1988 election as a comparison: According to Gallup, Ronald Reagan had a 51% approval rating in late October 1988, but the incumbent was a key factor — maybe the key factor — in Vice President George H.W. Bush’s 53%-46% victory over Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis.
...Clinton ran well ahead of Obama in Mega Cities (and there are quite a few in this region), though she “wasted” a lot of these votes in Atlanta. Everywhere else was a bit of a disappointment. She only tied Obama in large cities (though this is still ahead of Bill’s performances in the region), but ran behind Obama (and Bill) everywhere else. In large towns, she ran about even with Michael Dukakis, and in rural counties and small towns, she ran behind Dukakis by significant amounts. Again, rural counties and towns don’t cast a lot of votes standing alone, but they do add up.
... 
From 1988-1996, the Democrats’ coalition was well balanced. Bill Clinton basically took the Dukakis vote, and tacked on 10 points across the board. But beginning with Al Gore, the distributions are increasingly skewed toward the mega cities. The gains there are significant, but they aren’t enough to offset the losses in rural areas.
...'
As of 1988, the Democrats had a robust coalition in the South. They showed strength across Appalachia, in the “black belt” (named for the fertile soil), and in the Rio Grande Valley. Southern Louisiana (Catholics) and Arkansas outside the traditionally red northwest portion of the state were blue. Republicans, by contrast, were strong in the historically Republican areas of southeastern Kentucky, eastern Tennessee, and western North Carolina. They also held the cities, as metro areas like Miami, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, and Northern Virginia were all purple-to-red.
...
In summary: In 2009, we identified the outlines of what would become a Democratic problem: weakness among traditionally Democratic voters in rural areas and towns. In 2016, this weakness became significant enough that it overwhelmed Democratic strength in urban areas in two states that President Obama had won. As we saw above, this is significant, because while urban areas are growing, they are growing at a slower rate than many analysts seem to appreciate.
And the Midwest:
As you can see, the Massachusetts governor performed well in the region, especially in the western division. This is in part because of the farm recession, but as we’ll see, it wasn’t limited to this. We note Democratic strength in eastern Ohio, which is part of Appalachia, along the Lake Erie coast (reflecting the strength in old industrial cities), in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and in the Balkans (a rural, yet ethnically diverse section of southeastern Kansas). But in general, it is difficult to identify any particular home for the Democratic Party here. Democrats perform well in all sorts of places. This helped Dukakis carry Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, while coming close in South Dakota, Missouri and Illinois.
...

 Again, the Democratic decline in rural areas is apparent, although Clinton performed worse than any Democrat since 1988 in almost every area (and worse even than Dukakis in rural and small-town areas)...
As late as 1996, Bill Clinton ran strong in [Ohio portion of] Appalachia, and dominated in the industrial Northeast and along Lake Erie. The state had strong east/west and north/south splits that gradually disappeared over the course of the decades. In 2016, Democrats ran strong in Lucas (Toledo), Cuyahoga (Cleveland), Summit (Akron), Athens (Ohio University), Franklin (Columbus) and Hamilton (Cincinnati) counties. Again, these are significant prizes. But the drop-off in rural areas and the towns looks much like it does in the southern region, with Clinton running almost 15 points behind Dukakis in the rural areas, and about 10 points behind him in the towns...
During the summer, Dukakis told Slate's Isaac Chotiner:
My first convention was in Los Angeles in 1960 with Jack Kennedy. [Laughs.] So I go back a long way. We had a very good convention in 1988 and this was a very good convention. But my demise demonstrates pretty clearly that you can have a great convention and get beat.

California Opinion

In Defying the Odds:  The 2016 Elections and American Politics (forthcoming soon from Rowman and Littlefield), we note that California was an outlier in the election, heavily favoring Clinton, installing Democratic supermajorities in the state legislature, electing a Democratic senator with no GOP opposition in the general election.

A release from the Hoover Institution:
As Donald Trump prepares for his swearing-in as the nation’s 45th president, a new survey by the Hoover Institution at Stanford University shows that most Californians aren’t in line with several key proposals that could impact the entire country.
Hoover’s Golden State Poll, administered by the survey research firm YouGov and designed in conjunction with Stanford's Bill Lane Center for the American West, finds Californians bearish on Trump’s prospects – 36 percent believe he’ll succeed; 46 percent say he won’t.
While a majority of survey respondents (55 percent) favor lowering personal income taxes, other aspects of the Trump agenda are far less popular.
48 percent of Californians believe the state would be worse off if Obamacare is repealed while 34 percent said it would be better off with repeal.
45 percent of the respondents said Californians would be worse off with a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico while 35 percent said the state would be better off with the wall.
Other facets of the Trump agenda were above water, but not overwhelmingly so. Forty-one percent of survey respondents see ending what Trump has labeled "unfair trade practices" as a California net-positive, with 35 percent taking the opposite view. Forty percent see school vouchers for low-income kids as a positive; 29 percent believe vouchers are detrimental. For full poll results, go to the Hoover Golden State Poll.
“The numbers aren’t a surprise given that Donald Trump was the least popular presidential candidate in California since the Great Depression and (Franklin Roosevelt's) re-election,” said Bill Whalen, a Hoover research fellow who studies California and national politics. “What does stand out: despite other attitudinal shifts since the election, any warmer feelings about Trump haven't touched the Golden State.”

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Trump v. the JFK Inaugural

Trump reportedly said that he is writing his inaugural address with JFK's inaugural in mind.

I don't believe that.

First, he is probably not writing it himself.  He can barely manage a 140-character tweet without errors in spelling, punctuation, and grammar.

Second, he reads little and relies heavily on ghostwriters.

Third, the content of JFK's inaugural is at odds with what Trump has said.  Compare and contrast:

Graciousness
JFK:  We observe today not a victory of party but a celebration of freedom--symbolizing an end as well as a beginning--signifying renewal as well as change. 
 Trump:  I mean think of it. We won a landslide. That was a landslide. And we didn’t have the press. The press was brutal. You know what? Hey, in the great state of Ohio, we didn’t have the upper echelon of politicians either, did we?
Founding Principles
JFK: And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe--the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God.
Trump: The world is not fair. You know they come with this statement "all men are created equal." Well, it sounds beautiful, and it was written by some very wonderful people and brilliant people, but it's not true because all people and all men [laughter] aren't created—now today they'd say all men and women, of course, they would have changed that statement that was made many years ago.
Standing Up to Aggression
JFK: Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans--born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage--and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.
Trump: But, you know, the people of Crimea, from what I've heard, would rather be with Russia than where they were. And you have to look at that, also. Now, that was under -- just so you understand, that was done under Obama's administration. And as far as the Ukraine is concerned, it's a mess. And that's under the Obama's administration, with his strong ties to NATO.
Pay Any Price
JFK: Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.
Trump:  If we cannot be properly reimbursed for the tremendous cost of our military protecting other countries, and in many cases the countries I’m talking about are extremely rich. Then if we cannot make a deal, which I believe we will be able to, and which I would prefer being able to, but if we cannot make a deal, I would like you to say, I would prefer being able to, some people, the one thing they took out of your last story, you know, some people, the fools and the haters, they said, “Oh, Trump doesn’t want to protect you.” I would prefer that we be able to continue, but if we are not going to be reasonably reimbursed for the tremendous cost of protecting these massive nations with tremendous wealth — you have the tape going on? ... With massive wealth. Massive wealth. We’re talking about countries that are doing very well. Then yes, I would be absolutely prepared to tell those countries, “Congratulations, you will be defending yourself.”
Allies
JFK: To those old allies whose cultural and spiritual origins we share, we pledge the loyalty of faithful friends. United, there is little we cannot do in a host of cooperative ventures. Divided, there is little we can do--for we dare not meet a powerful challenge at odds and split asunder.
Trump:  Oh sure, I know that. I mean, I understand what’s going on, I said a long time ago — that NATO had problems. Number one it was obsolete, because it was, you know, designed many, many years ago. Number two — the countries aren’t paying what they’re supposed to pay. 
Foreign Aid
JFK: To those new states whom we welcome to the ranks of the free, we pledge our word that one form of colonial control shall not have passed away merely to be replaced by a far more iron tyranny. We shall not always expect to find them supporting our view. But we shall always hope to find them strongly supporting their own freedom... If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.
Trump: It is necessary that we invest in our infrastructure, stop sending foreign aid to countries that hate us and use that money to rebuild our tunnels, roads, bridges and schools—and nobody can do that better than me.
South of Our Border
JFK: To our sister republics south of our border, we offer a special pledge--to convert our good words into good deeds--in a new alliance for progress--to assist free men and free governments in casting off the chains of poverty. 
Trump:  When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. They're not sending you. They're not sending you. They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.
The United Nations
JFK: To that world assembly of sovereign states, the United Nations, our last best hope in an age where the instruments of war have far outpaced the instruments of peace, we renew our pledge of support--to prevent it from becoming merely a forum for invective--to strengthen its shield of the new and the weak--and to enlarge the area in which its writ may run.
Trump:  The United Nations has such great potential but right now it is just a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time. So sad!
Sacrifice
JFK: And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country.
Trump: I think I've made a lot of sacrifices. I work very, very hard. I've created thousands and thousands of jobs, tens of thousands of jobs, built great structures. I've done, I've had tremendous success. I think I've done a lot.
Citizens of the World
JFK: My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man. Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us here the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God's work must truly be our own.
Trump:  There is no global anthem. No global currency. No certificate of global citizenship. We pledge allegiance to one flag and that flag is the American flag.  From now on it is going to be: America First. Okay? America first. We're going to put ourselves first. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

The People Don't Like Trump

Gallup reports:
President-elect Donald Trump approaches Inauguration Day with a significantly lower favorable rating than his three immediate predecessors received when they were presidents-elect. Trump's 40% favorable rating is roughly half of what Barack Obama enjoyed before his inauguration in 2009 (78%) and is much lower than the pre-inaugural ratings for George W. Bush (62%) and Bill Clinton (66%).
The latest findings were collected in a Jan. 4-8 Gallup poll.
Of the four most recent incoming presidents, Trump is the only president-elect whose unfavorable rating outweighs his favorable score; a majority of 55% of Americans hold a negative view of Trump, compared with 18% who did so for Obama, 26% for Clinton and 36% for Bush. Gallup has asked favorable and unfavorable ratings for key figures in this format since 1992, so only comparisons to Clinton, Bush and Obama are available.
Trump's latest favorable rating -- along with his post-election November and December ratings -- remains slightly higher than during the course of the presidential campaign, when it never rose above 38%, including 34% in the week before the election. The three previous presidents-elect also saw improvement in their images after winning the election. Obama's favorable image increased 16 percentage points, Clinton's rose 15 points and Bush's seven points between Gallup's final pre-election poll and its last pre-inauguration poll in prior transfers of power.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Another Trump Database

John Templeton and colleagues report at Buzzfeed:
No American president has taken office with a giant network of businesses, investments, and corporate connections like that amassed by Donald J. Trump. His family and advisers have touched a staggering number of ventures, from a hotel in Azerbaijan to a poker company in Las Vegas.

So we compiled a list of as many as we could to keep track of them all.
...We spent two months building the dataset from public records, news reports, and other sources on the Trump family, his Cabinet picks, and top advisers — more than 1,500 people and organizations altogether. BuzzFeed News is the first news organization to publish such an exhaustive list of Trump’s business interests, and we hope it will help you, the public, better understand the new administration.
...
Please send tips and information to trump@buzzfeed.com. (If you’d like to send your tip securely and anonymously, see these instructions.)

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Siding With Trump

At The Huffington Post, Ariel Edwards-Levy reports on a HuffPost-YouGov survey:
Unsurprisingly, Trump voters overwhelmingly say they’d back him in a dispute against Democrats in Congress. Eighty-four percent say they’d be more likely to agree with the president-elect, with fewer than 1 percent saying they’d be inclined to side with Democrats.

But a majority also say they’d be likely to support Trump over both congressional Republicans generally and Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) in particular.

That’s despite the fact that Ryan is well liked among those who voted for Trump. In another recent survey, 60 percent of Trump voters said they approved of Ryan’s handling of his job as speaker, with just 24 percent disapproving.

Other traditionally powerful voices on the right also fared badly in a hypothetical argument against Trump. Just 13 percent of Trump supporters say they’d be likely to side with conservative commentators, like Bill O’Reilly and Laura Ingraham, over the president-elect, and just 23 percent that they’d be inclined to support evangelical Christian leaders. (Self-described born-again Christians who voted for Trump, however, say by a 19-point margin, 41 percent to 22 percent, that they’d follow their religious leaders.)

The one voice that Trump voters prioritized over the president-elect was that of the military. By a 7-point margin, 39 percent to 26 percent, a plurality say they’d be more inclined to agree with military leaders than with Trump in a political disagreement.

Trump's Unpopular Transition

Gallup reports:
In Gallup polling conducted two weeks before Inauguration Day, President-elect Donald Trump continues to garner historically low approval for his transition performance, with 51% of Americans disapproving of how he is handling the presidential transition and 44% approving. Last month, the public was split on this question, with 48% approving and 48% disapproving.
Trump's 48% transition approval rating in December was already the lowest for any presidential transition Gallup has measured, starting with Bill Clinton's in 1992-1993. Trump's current rating only further separates him from his predecessors -- particularly Barack Obama, who earned 83% approval for his handling of the transition process in January 2009, up from 75% in mid-December 2008.
Republicans' rating of Trump's transition has remained positive, with 87% approving in the Jan. 4-8 poll, similar to the 86% recorded last month. Very few Democrats approve, which has also been fairly steady, at 13% this month versus 17% in December. Meanwhile, his transition approval among independents has fallen from 46% to 33%.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Polarization and Global Threats

Pew reports on a new national survey on foreign policy.
Nearly eight-in-ten (77%) Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents say global climate change is a major threat to the well-being of the United States, compared with only 25% of Republicans and Republican leaners.
By contrast, Republicans are about twice as likely as Democrats to say the large number of refugees leaving Iraq and Syria is a major threat to the U.S. (63% vs. 30%).
The largest change in partisan views of global threats is seen in assessments of Russia. Currently, Democrats are 26 percentage points more likely than Republicans to say Russia’s power and influence is a major threat to the well-being of the United States (67% vs. 41%).
As recently as last April, before the allegations that Russia hacked Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee, Republicans were somewhat more likely than Democrats to view tensions with Russia as a major threat (46% of Republicans vs. 37% of Democrats). (For more on views of Russia and the alleged hacking, including ratings of Vladimir Putin, see: “U.S. public sees Russian role in campaign hacking, but is divided over new sanctions,” released Jan. 10, 2017)
The survey finds only modest partisan differences in views of the threat from the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. But the gap in Mideast sympathies – for either Israel or the Palestinians – now stands at its widest point in surveys dating to 1978.
Nearly three-quarters of Republicans (74%) say they sympathize more with Israel than the Palestinians; just 11% sympathize more with the Palestinians, while 15% say they sympathize with neither side, both sides or do not offer a view.
 Democrats are divided – 33% sympathize more with Israel, 31% more with the Palestinians, while 35% sympathize with neither, both or don’t express an opinion. While Republicans’ views of the Mideast conflict have changed little over the last few years, the share of Democrats sympathizing more with Israel has fallen 10 points since April 2016, when 43% said they sympathized more with Israel.

Left Coast Dems Head Farther Left

Jeff Horseman reports at the Riverside Press-Enterprise:
Self-described progressives, many of whom backed Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, claimed sweeping victories in last weekend’s California Democratic Party delegate elections. They hope to influence the leadership, policies and direction of the state’s dominant political party. 
“This is a ringing endorsement of the new direction the Democratic Party needs, not just in California, but nationally,” said RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United, which passionately campaigned for Sanders last year. Many new delegates are nurses, the association said.

Others are skeptical about whether the new delegates can dramatically change what’s already a left-of-center party. 
“They’re probably replacing like-minded people,” said Renee Van Vechten, a political science professor at the University of Redlands. 
It’s not clear how many of the 1,100 state delegate seats up for grabs were won by progressives. But liberals statewide say their slates dominated in elections held in each of California’s 80 Assembly districts on Saturday and Sunday.  
The district-level delegates – each district elects seven men and seven women – receive two-year terms and make up a third of the 3,200 or so delegates to the state party’s governing body, the Democratic State Central Committee. The other two-thirds come from central committees in California’s 58 counties or are appointed by Democratic elected officials and nominees.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Russia Law Firm of the Year Concocts Bogus Plan for Trump

We can’t risk creating the perception that government leaders would use their official positions for profit. That’s why I was glad in November when the President-elect tweeted that he wanted to, as he put it, “in no way have a conflict of interest” with his businesses. Unfortunately, his current plan cannot achieve that goal.
It’s easy to see that the current plan does not achieve anything like the clean break Rex Tillerson is making from Exxon. Stepping back from running his business is meaningless from a conflict of interest perspective. The Presidency is a full-time job and he would’ve had to step back anyway. The idea of setting up a trust to hold his operating businesses adds nothing to the equation. This is not a blind trust—it’s not even close.
I think Politico called this a “half-blind” trust, but it’s not even halfway blind. The only thing this has in common with a blind trust is the label, “trust.” His sons are still running the businesses, and, of course, he knows what he owns. His own attorney said today that he can’t “un-know” that he owns Trump tower. The same is true of his other holdings. The idea of limiting direct communication about the business is wholly inadequate. That’s not how a blind trust works. There’s not supposed to be any information at all. 
...
This isn’t the way the Presidency has worked since Congress passed the Ethics in Government Act in 1978 in the immediate aftermath of the Watergate scandal. Since then, Presidents Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama all either established blind trusts or limited their investments to non-conflicting assets like diversified mutual funds, which are exempt under the conflict of interest law.
Sophie Tatum reports at CNN:
Morgan Lewis, a law firm representing President-elect Donald Trump, was named the "Russia Law Firm of the Year" last year by a group that ranks legal organizations.
Facing the press Wednesday for the first time since being elected president, Trump yielded a significant part of his news conference to an attorney from the law firm, which is helping separate him from his various business ties.
In highlighting its receipt of the Russia award, Morgan Lewis' website cites Chambers and Partners.
"This active Moscow office of an American firm offers top-level advice in regards to the energy sector and also houses very strong banking and M&A teams," Chambers and Partners writes about the award.