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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Thursday, July 19, 2018


Philip Ewing at NPR:
Charges accusing a woman of trying to build bridges between the Russian government and American political leaders via the National Rifle Association have delivered a breakthrough in understanding one aspect of the attack on the 2016 election: "infiltration."
After months of questions and speculation as to how or whether the NRA connection might have worked, prosecutors proffered an answer on Monday: The Russian woman, Maria Butina, was the intermediary between Russian government officials and Americans, both in the NRA and elsewhere in politics, according to court documents.
The government says she was acting as a foreign agent without registering. Her attorney called the charges overblown, as NPR's Carrie Johnson reported.
A grand jury in Washington D.C. returned an indictment against Butina on Tuesday afternoon.
Butina allegedly serves or served as the deputy to someone identified in court papers only as a "Russian official," who is probably Alexander Torshin, a now-sanctioned Kremlin official who cultivated relationships with American political leaders and the NRA over several years.
The two "took these steps in order to infiltrate these groups and advance the interests of the Russian Federation," FBI Special Agent Kevin Helson said in an affidavit that accompanied the criminal complaint.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Profiles in ... Something Other Than Courage

In Defying the Odds, we discuss congressional elections as well as the presidential race.
Mike Allen and Jonathan Swan at Axios:
Yes, almost every elected Republican we talk to privately thinks President Trump’s warm embrace of Vladimir Putin was unexplainable, unacceptable and un-American. Yes, they wish they could say this publicly. No, they won’t — not now, and probably never.

The cold, hard reason: They see no upside in speaking out — and fear political suicide if they do, numerous Republican officials tell us.
  • Why it matters: This is the mind-control power Trump has, thanks to 90 percent of Republicans approving of his tactics and performance.
  • These 90 percent empower and are empowered by Fox News and a pro-Trump social media ecosystem that always comes to the president’s defense, even if they flinch for a moment or two.
We just witnessed this power on full display:
  • You had a rare moment where virtually every Republican was aghast at Trump’s words.
  • But almost every Republican — except those leaving the stage — softened their direct criticism of Trump and ran from TV or reporters like the plague.
GOP lawmakers' immediate complaints about the press conference were quickly tempered. Trump’s cleanup and turnaround yesterday ("I said the word 'would' instead of 'wouldn't'") had one audience: Capitol Hill.
Senior staff saw a real risk of backlash — worse than after Charlottesville — if the brewing rebellion wasn’t nipped in the bud quickly, per sources close to White House.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The Surrender Summit

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Russian involvement in the 2016 campaign.

From the transcript of the instantly-infamous Putin-Trump presser in Helsinki:
  • "As president, I cannot make decisions on foreign policy in a futile effort to appease partisan critics, or the media, or Democrats who want to do nothing but resist and obstruct."
  • "No, actually I called him a competitor and a good competitor he is. And I think the word competitor is a compliment.:
  • "I  hold both countries responsible. I think that the United States has been foolish. I think we've all been foolish. We should have had this dialogue a long time ago, a long time frankly before I got to office. And I think we're all to blame."
  • :I think that the, the probe is a disaster for our country. I think it's kept us apart, it's kept us separated."
  • "My people came to me, Dan Coats, came to me and some others they said they think it's Russia. I have President Putin. He just said it's not Russia. I will say this: I don't see any reason why it would be. But I really do want to see the server but I have, I have confidence in both parties."
  • "I have great confidence in my intelligence people but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today and what he did is an incredible offer.He offered to have the people working on the case come and work with their investigators, with respect to the 12 people. I think that's an incredible offer."
And Putin:
REPORTER: Did you want President Trump to win the election and did you direct any of your officials to help him do that?
PUTIN: Yes, I did. Yes, I did. Because he talked about bringing the U.S. Russia relationship back to normal.
A non-denial denial on kompromat:
Yeah, I did heard these rumors that we allegedly collected compromising material on Mr. Trump when he was visiting Moscow. Our distinguished colleague, let me tell you this. When President Trump visited Moscow back then I didn't even know that he was in Moscow. I treat President Trump with utmost respect. But back then, when he was a private individual, a businessman, nobody informed me that he was in Moscow.

But let's take St. Petersburg economic forum, for instance. There were over 500 American businessmen - the high ranking, the high level ones, I don't even remember the last names of each and every one of them. Do you think that we tried to collect compromising material on each and every single one of them? Well, it's difficult to imagine an utter nonsense of a bigger scale than this.

Well, please just disregard these issues and don't think about this anymore again.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Putin Wins

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Russian involvement in the 2016 campaign.

The Russian Foreign Ministry:

From Russia with Love

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Russian involvement in the 2016 campaign.

At The Guardian, Lloyd Green reviews Sean Spicer's book:
For three consecutive pages, The Briefing: Politics, the Press and the President graphically details how Manafort beat back the efforts of Never Trump Republicans to steal the presidential nomination. Spicer gushes: “How Manafort and company did this was a scene out of 1950s politics – alternating between carrot and stick and sometimes bat.”
Time flies. In March 2017, Spicer was spinning a whole other yarn. Back then, at the White House podium, he was channeling the president, telling the press there was nothing to see: “Obviously there’s been discussion of Paul Manafort, who played a very limited role for a very limited amount of time.”
Manafort now sits in prison, having violated the conditions of his bail, awaiting trial on money laundering and tax evasion charges.
Jonathan Swan at Axios:
President Trump no longer doubts the basic intelligence assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 election — he just seems incapable of taking it seriously, and tells staff that is simply what nations do, several sources close to Trump tell me.
Between the lines: There is no evidence that could ever change Trump’s mind, the sources said.

Why it matters: To the extent that Trump does confront Putin over meddling at tomorrow's summit in Finland with Vladimir Putin — and the president has publicly promised to — it's not with any genuine seriousness or enthusiasm, the sources say. It'll be purely for domestic/media consumption. Trump has signaled as much in the sarcastic way he's talked about this with the press.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

The Conspirators

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Russian involvement in the 2016 campaign.

From the indictment of Russian agents:
On or about August 15, 2016, the Conspirators, posing as Guccifer 2.0, received a request for stolen documents from a candidate for the U.S. Congress. The Conspirators responded using the Guccifer 2.0 persona and sent the candidate stolen documents related to the candidate’s opponent.
The Conspirators, posing as Guccifer 2.0, also communicated with U.S. persons about the release of stolen documents. On or about August 15, 2016, the Conspirators, posing as Guccifer 2.0, wrote to a person who was in regular contact with senior members of the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump, “thank u for writing back . . . do u find anyt[h]ing interesting in the docs i posted?” On or about August 17, 2016, the  conspirators added, “please tell me if i can help u anyhow . . . it would be a great pleasure to me.” On or about September 9, 2016, the Conspirators, again posing as Guccifer 2.0, referred to a stolen DCCC document posted online and asked the person, “what do u think of the info on the turnout model for the democrats entire presidential
campaign.” The person responded, “[p]retty standard.”
From Lawfare:
Finally, the factual allegations in this document significantly improve the possibility of criminal conspiracy charges involving Americans. Until this action, there was little indication in the public record that the hacking operation persisted beyond the date the documents were released. While there were questions about whether the Trump campaign participated in some way in coordinating the release of these documents, the presumption based on public evidence was that the hacking scheme—that is, the violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which constituted the most obvious criminal offense—was complete. This left a bit of a puzzle for “collusion” purposes. If the crime was completed at the time the hacking and theft were done, what crime could constitute conspiracy? One year ago to the day, Helen Murillo and Susan Hennessey analyzed the possibility of conspiracy to violate the CFAA. At the time, they noted a stumbling block to the analysis even if individuals in the Trump campaign encouraged the release of documents or coordinated timing:
While the precedent isn’t entirely clear on the matter, it is possible prosecutors here would need to prove not just that a member of the Trump team was aware of the CFAA scheme when he or she took steps to support the tortious act or violation of another state or federal law, but also that the Russians had the intention of publishing the emails at the time they obtained the information in the first instance. It isn’t at all clear from the public record that the Russians initially obtained the emails for the purpose of publishing them. Indeed, there is some suspicion the original intrusion was just in furtherance or ordinary espionage and the plan to release the emails came later.
The Internet Research Agency indictment, in February, offered a potential legal solution to that puzzle.
This indictment, by contrast, offers a potential factual breakthrough. It tells us that the prior factual premise was wrong: the alleged conduct violating the CFAA continued to occur throughout the summer of 2016. That affects the earlier analysis in two ways. First, it makes clear that the Russians did intend to release the information at the time the hacking occured. Second, and perhaps more important, the indictment alleges that the criminal hacking conspiracy was ongoing at the time individuals in the Trump campaign were in contact with charged and uncharged Russian conspirators, raising the possibility of more straightforward aiding and abetting liability.
In other words, stay tuned. This indictment represents a tightening of the ring in the story of criminal prosecution for the 2016 election hacking. The government has now alleged that the social media manipulations by Russian actors constituted a criminal conspiracy. It has alleged as well that the hacking of Democratic Party and Clinton campaign emails were crimes conducted by officers of the Russian state. The question remains: Who, if anyone, helped?

Friday, July 13, 2018

The Dirty Russian Dozen

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Russian involvement in the 2016 campaign.

Ken Dilanian et al. at NBC:
Twelve Russian intelligence officers have been indicted in connection with the bitcoin-funded hacking of Democratic organizations and the Hillary Clinton campaign "with the intent to interfere" in the 2016 election, officials announced Friday.
The charges, brought by special counsel Robert Mueller and announced by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, come at a diplomatically sensitive time — just days before President Donald Trump meets formally for the first time with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.

Among the new details: the conspirators allegedly first tried to compromise email accounts used by Clinton's personal office on July 27, 2016, the same day that Trump appeared to urge Russia to go after her emails at a campaign press conference in Florida.

Prosecutors say that in August 2016, a U.S. congressional candidate requested and received from stolen documents related to an opponent from an online persona created by the Russian cabal. And a state lobbyist received stolen data on Democratic donors later that month, the indictment alleges.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

The Million-Dollar Club for Democratic House Challengers

In Defying the Odds, we discuss congressional elections as well as the presidential race. Campaign finance is a big part of the story.
Zach Montellaro and Scott Bland at Politico:
At least 13 Democratic House challengers have already announced they raised over $1 million in the second quarter of 2018, with a few more days to go until the FEC filing deadline: Josh Harder (CA-10), Andrew Janz (CA-22), Katie Hill (CA-25), Katie Porter (CA-45), Jason Crow (CO-06), Angie Craig (MN-02), Andy Kim (NJ-03), Lizzie Pannill Fletcher (TX-07), Gina Ortiz Jones (TX-23), MJ Hegar (TX-31), Colin Allred (TX-32), Jennifer Wexton (VA-10) and Randy Bryce (WI-01).

There is no historical parallel to this class of seven-figure fundraisers. In the second quarter of 2016, only 2 House challengers raised over $1 million without self-funding, according to a review of FEC records: Democratic challengers Zephyr Teachout in NY-19 and Tim Canova in FL-23, where he was waging a primary campaign against Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Bullock 2020?

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the early stages of the 2016 campaign, when many candidates were unknowns.  We are now in the early stages of the 2020 race.

At The Hill, Lloyd Green writes about Democratic reactions to the Kavanaugh SCOTUS nomination:
Where things got interesting is with Steve Bullock, Montana’s Democratic governor and another possible 2020 presidential candidate. Last night, Bullock was speaking in his deepest blue voice, and saying: “Our fundamental rights as Americans are at stake, from access to basic healthcare and a woman’s right to choose to voting rights, workers’ rights and marriage equality.” For the record, Bullock won reelection by five points, even amidst Trump’s 21 percent statewide blowout.
Paul Bedard at The Washington Examiner:
Montana Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock is edging closer to a 2020 presidential bid, according to associates.

Bullock, a rare mix of outdoorsman, tax cutter and Washington lawyer, is being encouraged to run by those who see the list of potential Trump challengers filling up with Washington liberals. 
At The Washington Post, Aaron Blake lists him among potential candidates "worth watching." 


Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Craziness in Georgia

In Defying the Odds, we discuss state and congressional politics as well as the presidential race.

Emily Birnbaum at The Hill:
GOP Georgia gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp on Monday released an audio recording of his opponent, Georgia’s lieutenant governor, saying the GOP primary in Georgia was about “who had the biggest gun, who had the biggest truck, and who could be the craziest.”
“The issues you talk about are the issues I care about as well,” Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle said in the audio recording to Clay Tippins, former candidate for Georgia governor. “The problem is in a primary — and you and I are just talking off the record ... they don’t give a f--- about those things.”
“In the general election, they care about it,” he added. “But they don’t care about it in a primary. This primary felt like it was who had the biggest gun, who had the biggest truck, and who could be the craziest.”

Kemp and Cagle are running against each other in Georgia’s July 24 GOP primary runoff to represent the Republican party in November's general election against the Democratic candidate, former state representative Stacey Abrams.

Cagle once boasted a considerable lead over Kemp, but Cagle’s numbers have taken a hit in recent weeks, partially because of the audio originally released by Tippins, according to the Albany Herald.

In the full audio recording, Cagle derides a bill that he voted for.

“It ain’t about public policy,” Cagle says in the recording, according to The Gainesville Times. “It’s about f---ing politics.”


Monday, July 9, 2018

Frist: Protect Mueller

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

Former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) in The Washington Post:
I’m a Republican because I stand for small government and also, as a physician, for the dignity of every life. But I am also a Republican because I believe in the rule of law. Republicans must fight for that principle today — even if it means pushing back against a Republican administration. As a party, we can’t let the president or his allies erode the independence of the Justice Department or public trust in the vital work of law enforcement. That would be true even if the stakes were much lower, but it is overwhelmingly so when it comes to investigating foreign interference in our elections. Congress must ensure that Mueller is able to do his job without interference or intimidation.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

North Korea: Heckuva Job, Orangie

In Defying the Odds, we discuss foreign policy issues in the 2016 campaign.

Mike Allen at Axios:
President Trump prides himself on negotiating savvy. But North Korea is trying to outfox him with a return to harsh public rhetoric immediately after the first overnight visit by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who came with press in tow.
  • After last month's Singapore summit, Trump tweeted: "There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea. ... sleep well tonight!" He assured reporters: "[T]hat problem is largely solved." On Tuesday, he congratulated himself: "If not for me, we would now be at War with North Korea!"
  • But then Pyongyang issued a statement accusing Pompeo of trying to jam them with denuclearization demands: "The U.S. is fatally mistaken if it went to the extent of regarding that [North Korea] would be compelled to accept, out of its patience, demands reflecting its gangster-like mindset."
A smart reading-between-the-lines of the North Korean statement comes from Vipin Narang, an MIT specialist on North Korean nukes, who tweeted:
  • "This is not the end of the process. It’s a negotiating tactic, but signals several serious things: (1) We aren’t unilaterally disarming. Stop saying it. Stop asking for it. Never going to happen. (2) Any other stuff short of that? Gonna cost you chief. And burn a lot of clock."

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Chaos President, July 2018

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's management style.

Greg Jaffe, Josh Dawsey and Carol D. Leonnig at WP:
The core of Trump’s freewheeling approach has been in place since his earliest days in the White House. Shortly after he took office, Trump began passing out his personal cellphone number to a handful of foreign leaders, and in April 2017, White House aides were startled when officials in Canada issued a standard summary of a conversation between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Trump. In it, Trudeau complained of “unfair duties” and “baseless” claims about trade by Trump administration officials.
No one at the White House was aware the call had taken place. “We had no idea what happened,” a senior U.S. official said.

Typically, such calls, even with close allies, are choreographed affairs. Regional experts prepare talking points covering the wide array of issues that might be raised. The national security adviser will brief the president ahead of the call and remain by his side to offer advice. After the call, a transcript is distributed to key aides, who will issue a public readout.

In this instance, U.S. officials had to rely on Trump’s memory. A terse public readout described “a very amicable call.”

After the call, White House aides urged Trump to route all conversations with foreign leaders through the Situation Room, as required under federal records law, the senior official said.
Trump’s lack of preparation has added a further level of unpredictability to his interactions with foreign leaders, the officials said. The president rarely reads his nightly briefing book, which focuses on issues likely to come up in meetings, a second senior U.S. official said. To slim down Trump’s workload, aides have sometimes put the most critical information in a red folder, the official said.
Susan B. Glasser in The New Yorker:
This Trump Unchained era is merely proof that no aide, not even a brusque Marine general with a chest full of medals, is going to bring order to a President determined to have his own way. It’s now clear that Trump is making major decisions without even a nod to the process and order that Kelly was supposedly bringing to his office; no one pretends that major moves, such as the risky nuclear summit with North Korea or recent conflicts with Congress over immigration and the budget, are the result of anything other than the President’s own spur-of-the-moment strategizing. At the same time, Trump has systematically undermined Kelly’s authority, telling both his new national-security adviser, John Bolton, and his chief economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, that they should report to him directly, not to Kelly. White House officials have also confirmed to reporters that many of the visible signs of Kelly’s authority—such as controlling access to Trump and the list of callers who can be put through to the President—are no more. Trump has, at times, gone to extreme lengths to get around his chief of staff, such as by conducting government business on his unsecured personal cell phone to avoid Kelly’s rules. (“An example,” CNN reported, of Kelly’s “waning influence.”) When I interviewed an outside Trump adviser whom the President consulted on a pressing national-security issue, the Republican told me a similar story: Trump, he recounted, had called him on a personal cell phone. When the adviser learned that the call wasn’t on a secure line, he warned Trump not to tell him what he was planning, but simply to listen. The President, who made so much of Hillary Clinton’s sloppy handling of confidential communications, was now apparently so eager to get around his own chief of staff that he was willing to take such risks.
Brookings tracks turnover in the administration.

Friday, July 6, 2018

A Bonkers Speech

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

Remarks in Great Falls, Montana, July 5:
So anytime I suggest anything -- so we've got $33 billion -- it's going to be a lot more money than that. But then they say, let's see, he's angry at NATO. I guess, yeah, he loves Russia. I love Russia. I will say this, I am meeting with President Putin next week and getting along -- let me tell you, getting along with Russia and getting along with China and getting along with other countries is a good thing. It's not a bad thing. It's a good thing.
"Will he be prepared? Will he be prepared?" And I might even end up having a good relationship, but they're going, "Will President Trump be prepared? You know, President Putin is KGB and this and that." You know what? Putin's fine. He's fine. We're all fine. We're people.

Will I be prepared? Totally prepared. I've been preparing for this stuff my whole life. They don't say that.
A vote for the Democrats in November is a vote to let MS-13 run wild in our communities.

To let drugs pour into our cities, and to take jobs and benefits away from our hardworking Americans, and we're not letting it happen.

Democrats want anarchy, they really do, and they don't know who they're playing with, folks.

I said it the other day, yes, she is a low IQ individual, Maxine Waters. I said it the other day. High -- I mean, honestly, she's somewhere in the mid-60s, I believe that.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Wacko Senate Candidate Has Wacko Husband

Andrew Kaczynski and Nathan McDermott report at CNN:
Arizona US Senate candidate Kelli Ward's husband has a history of promoting fringe conspiracy theories on social media, a CNN KFile review has found.
Mark Ward, who like his wife is a doctor, is an Arizona political activist and heavily involved in his wife's campaign for the Republican nomination for US Senate in Arizona in the race to replace retiring Sen. Jeff Flake. He frequently appears at campaign events, knocks on doors to speak with voters and has even appeared at a local event on his wife's behalf.
On Twitter, Mark Ward retweeted users who suggested that a murdered staffer of the Democratic National Committee, Seth Rich, was involved in the hacking of the organization's emails and who implied a conspiracy theory to cover up his death.
In March 2017, Ward claimed on Twitter that McCain "supports, funds, equips and trains #ISIS"
Ward frequently mocked McCain for his age on Twitter. In July 2016, Ward said that McCain "is the weakness frail and scared guy that won't debate @kelliwardaz." Also in July 2016, Ward tweeted that McCain was "a senior citizen masquerading as a competent Senator."
In June 2016, Ward retweeted an image calling McCain a "senile old fart" who "loves illegal immigrants" and "thinks he can make it all okay by calling himself a 'war hero.'"
In August 2016, he tweeted that McCain was old, stale, and feckless. Also in August 2016, Ward tweeted that McCain was too "scared and frail" to debate his wife.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Senate Committee Reaffirms that Russia Helped Trump

From the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence:
Today, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA) released the Committee’s unclassified summary of its initial findings on the Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) on Russian activities in the 2016 U.S. elections. The Committee finds that the overall judgments issued in the ICA were well-supported and the tradecraft was strong. The course of the Committee’s investigation has shown that the Russian cyber operations were more extensive than the hack of the Democratic National Committee and continued well through the 2016 election.
“The Committee has spent the last 16 months reviewing the sources, tradecraft and analytic work underpinning the Intelligence Community Assessment and sees no reason to dispute the conclusions,” said Chairman Burr. “The Committee continues its investigation and I am hopeful that this installment of the Committee’s work will soon be followed by additional summaries providing the American people with clarity around Russia’s activities regarding U.S. elections.”

“Our investigation thoroughly reviewed all aspects of the January 2017 ICA, which assessed that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign to target our presidential election and to destabilize our democratic institutions,” said Vice Chairman Warner. “As numerous intelligence and national security officials in the Trump administration have since unanimously re-affirmed, the ICA findings were accurate and on point. The Russian effort was extensive and sophisticated, and its goals were to undermine public faith in the democratic process, to hurt Secretary Clinton and to help Donald Trump. While our investigation remains ongoing, we have to learn from 2016 and do more to protect ourselves from attacks in 2018 and beyond.”
The summary is the second unclassified installment in the Committee’s report on Russian election activities.

The Committee held a closed door hearing in May to review the ICA on “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent U.S. Elections.” Members heard testimony from former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency John Brennan and former Director of the National Security Agency Mike Rogers, which informed the Committee’s report.
You can read a copy of the unclassified summary here.

Most Republicans Want a "Strong Leader Willing to Break the Rules"

In Defying the Odds,  we discuss the Trump phenomenon and its impact on broader attitudes.

"Do you agree or disagree with the following statements? - America needs a strong leader willing to break the rules"

Strongly Agree
Strongly Disagree

These are findings from an Ipsos poll conducted on behalf of the USA Today from June 26-27, 2018. For the survey, a sample of roughly 1,004 adults age 18+ from the continental U.S., Alaska and Hawaii were interviewed online in English. The sample includes 338 Democrats, 324 Republicans, and 213 Independents. 

At Ipsos, Clifford Young wrote earlier this year:
The logic of this system goes something like “the system is broken; it is broken because the system is rigged to favor the rich and powerful; we can no longer trust traditional parties and politicians to fix it; hence, we need a strong leader to take the country back, even if he or she needs to break the rules.”
 The latest flavor of anti-system populist actors, including Trump, has come from the Right—many with strong nativist, country-first messages. Such populist figures, however, are the offspring of low-trust environments. In this sense, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders were in effect “two sides of the same coin”—each representing different flavors of America’s disenchantment with the system. Looking forward, given our low-trust environment, what precludes a “Trump of the left” arising in the next few electoral cycles as a reaction to Trump himself? In my opinion, not much.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Hard Left

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the Sanders candidacy and the leftward drift of the Democratic Party.

Maxine Waters called for the harassment of Trump administration officials, and Trump is gleefully putting the spotlight on her.  A year ago, Lachlan Markay and Asawin Suebsaeng wrote at The Daily Beast:
Rep. Maxine Waters has been reborn at the age of 78, emerging as a folk hero to the anti-Trump resistance for her repeated torching of the president.
From the glowing coverage and partisan praise, you’d barely detect that just a few years ago the veteran California congresswoman was dubbed one of the nation’s “most corrupt” elected officials by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington for her role in pushing a bailout for a bank tied to her family.
Waters was eventually cleared by investigators, though her grandson who served as her chief of staff was not. And now, Democrats seem to be embracing—and some liberal ethics advocates willfully ignoring—her sudden emergence as one of the nation’s leading critics of ethical lapses in President Donald Trump’s administration.

Asked by The Daily Beast whether the group felt that Waters would be an effective critic of Trump’s own ethics given that history, Jordan Libowitz, a Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington spokesman, demurred.
“Going to have to pass on this one, I think that’s just a little too political of a question for us,” read an email from Libowitz, whose group is a key component of a well-funded network of political and policy outfits working to “kick Donald Trump’s ass,” in the words of Democratic operative David Brock, who formerly chaired CREW’s board and has remained active with the group this year.
Lloyd Green at The Hill:
Redistributive policies and identity politics loom as fast approaching storm clouds on a nearby horizon. Clintonian neoliberalism and triangulation just got belted with a left hook to the jaw, and the party’s poohbahs are looking dazed and confused.
Ocasio-Cortez calls for single-payer healthcare, abolition of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, and free college for all. Forget about the underlying arithmetic and how to pay for all of it, which either requires sky-high taxation or flat-out sorcery. Rather, this is a cultural manifesto, a cry for open borders, and a demand for one ginormous nausea-inducing free lunch. Against this backdrop, does anyone think Michael Bloomberg has a realistic shot at winning the Democratic nomination two years from now? There is nothing like an aging financialist to get people really excited and trudging out in the dead of winter to hang out for two hours at the Iowa caucuses.
Trump is working hard to trash the First Amendment, shred the rule of law, and gut reproductive freedoms. But when the smoke clears, Ocasio-Cortez, Maxine Waters, and Democratic “progressives” may well leave greater and more lasting cultural and economic resentments.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Senate Elections Align With Presidential Results

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

Drew DeSilver at Pew:
The vast majority of the regular and special Senate elections held since 2013 – 69 of 73 – have been won by candidates who belonged to the party that won that state’s most recent presidential race, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of election results going back to 1980. That represents a marked contrast with prior years: As recently as 2006, 12 of 33 Senate contests (36%) were won by candidates of different parties than their state’s 2004 presidential pick. (The election data we used came mostly from the Federal Election Commission, supplemented by information from the U.S. House Clerk’s office and media reports.)