Search This Blog

Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Trump Greets Murderer

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's dishonesty and bad character.   The update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.

Allie Malloy at CNN:
President Donald Trump said Friday he was "extremely angry and very unhappy" about the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi but claimed that "nobody has directly pointed a finger" at Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, despite the conclusions of the CIA and a United Nations report.
"I'm extremely angry and unhappy about a thing like that taking place," Trump said when asked by CNN's Jim Acosta about Khashoggi.
Earlier Saturday, during a working breakfast with the prince, Trump brushed off a question about whether he would raise the subject of Khashoggi's murder.
"Uh," Trump said, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sat frowning next to him, "thank you very much."
And despite Trump's claim that "nobody has directly pointed a finger" at bin Salman, his own CIA, according to a senior US official and a source familiar with the matter, concluded the Saudi ruler authorized the brutal murder, CNN reported in November 2018. A United Nations report released last week also implicated bin Salman.

Neo-Nazis Go After Kamala Harris Online

 In Defying the Oddswe discuss social media and fake news in the 2016 campaign.  The update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.  We are now in the early stages of the 2020 race.

Craig Silverman and Jane Lytvynenko at BuzzFeed:
Not long after Sen. Kamala Harris challenged Joe Biden’s record on race during part two of the first Democratic debate last night, a barrage of tweets questioned her race and US citizenship. While these claims erupted into national prominence last night, in part due to a quote-tweet from Donald Trump Jr., falsehoods about her have long been simmering in fringe conspiracy and neo-Nazi circles.
Just as Barack Obama’s US citizenship and background became a full-fledged conspiracy theory — promoted at the time by Donald Trump — Harris has also been targeted with disinformation questioning her race and legitimacy as a US citizen. Obama birther conspiracy theorists and prominent neo-Nazis, including Andrew Anglin, have questioned her eligibility to run for president, and she’s been labeled an “anchor baby.


Friday, June 28, 2019

G20 Disgrace

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Russian involvement in the 2016 campaign  The update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.

Sara Boboltz at Huffington Post:
President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin shared in their mutual scorn for the press as they sat surrounded by journalists at the G-20 summit in Osaka on Friday, the one-year anniversary of the Capital Gazette newsroom shooting that left five dead.

“Get rid of them,” Trump jokingly said of reporters. “We also have,” Putin replied. “It’s the same.”

Trump told reporters the day before that his conversations with the Russian president are “none of your business.”

In Russia, 38 journalists have been murdered since 1992, with 26 of those occurring in the years Putin served as president, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

It was a surreal moment that occurred one year to the day after a gunman opened fire in the Maryland paper’s newsroom, killing staffers Wendi Winters, Rebecca Smith, Robert Hiaasen, Gerald Fischman and John McNamara.


...

The G-20 summit marked Trump’s first formal meeting with Putin since last July’s controversial Helsinki meeting, and his first since special counsel Robert Mueller finished his report concluding that Russia had meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Asked whether he would discuss the interference problem with Putin, Trump smirked and wagged his finger at the Russian president, saying, “Don’t meddle in the election.”

Putin and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo both laughed.




The Debate and the Danger of Veering Left

In Defying the Odds, we discuss leftward drift of the Democratic Party.  The update -- recently published -- includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.

Isaac Stanley-Becker at WP:
At Thursday’s Democratic debate, the second of two held this week in Miami, Biden was called to account for his views.
Sen. Kamala D. Harris of California, claiming authority to speak on the issue of race “as the only black person on this stage,” assailed the former vice president for touting his ability to work with segregationist senators
She specifically hammered him for his position on busing.
“And it was not only that, but you also worked with them to oppose busing,” she said, revealing that she herself had traveled across districts as part of the second class of students bused to integrate the public schools in Berkeley, Calif.
Democrats might not want to lead with the issue of busing.  There has not been any recent polling on the issue, but past surveys strongly suggest that the general public hates the  idea.
In 1999, 15 percent of Americans favored “transferring students for integration” instead of letting students attend local schools, according to Gallup polling.
And in 2007, polling conducted by Pew revealed that 59 percent of Americans would prefer that students stay in their local schools even if that meant most students would be of the same race.
Nicole Fisher at Forbes:
Four of the 20 candidates raised their hands when asked who would do away with private health insurance. Sen. Bernie Sanders (sponsor of the Medicare For All bill), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (co-sponsor of the MFA bill), Sen. Kamala Harris (co-sponsor of the MFA bill), and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand countered on night two of the debate that the quickest way to get to a single payer system would be not to eliminate private health coverage, but to “compete with insurers.”
Kamala Harris quickly flip-flopped, saying that she misunderstood the question, even though it came up the night before.  No wonder. A Kaiser Family Foundation found that support for Medicare-for-All plummets when people find out that it would eliminate private health insurance:


 

Thursday, June 27, 2019

First D Debate -- and the One Who Was Not There

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the early stages of the 2016 campaign, when many candidates were unknowns.  The update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.  We are now in the early stages of the 2020 race.

At The Guardian, Lloyd Green assesses the first presidential debate of the cycle:
Cory Booker won Wednesday’s debate, and – for one night, anyway – stole Elizabeth Warren’s thunder. Booker scored the most TV time, close to 11 minutes, and New Jersey’s junior senator sounded progressive but not extreme.

Substantively, Booker made a difference in the discourse. He refused to buy into Medicare for All, and acknowledged the “need to check corporate consolidation” without sounding as if his candidacy was an anti-business crusade.

In the end, Booker was simultaneously assertive and reassuring. His closing had both heft and lift, the latter being something badly needed but in short supply this election cycle.
From WHO-TV in Des Moines:
 Bullock entered the race for president late and didn’t meet requirements set by the DNC to make the cut for the first debate.  Instead Bullock joined political director Dave Price for a special hour-long town hall preview of the Miami debates.
 On Tuesday evening Americans were shocked by the release of images of a father and daughter who drowned while trying to cross into America illegally.  Bullock laid out his plans for securing the US border, addressing the migrant crisis and what to do about Dreamers and the millions of others who live in America illegally.

Reid J. Epstein at NYT:
As one of 10 white men fighting for relevance from the lower echelon of a Democratic field dominated by a diverse list of well-known names and social media sensations, Mr. Bullock is aiming to translate the retail campaigning skills that powered his three statewide victories — each in years when a Republican presidential nominee carried Montana.
Mr. Bullock sells himself as a member of the I-won-and-got-things-done caucus, a group that includes Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado and former Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado. They are betting on personal appeal and a political record over far-reaching policy proposals.
Also crucial to their success: the collapse of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s campaign.
“With the front-runners, if they put their foot in their mouth in the next two months, it gives the people in the second tier an opportunity,” said Fred Keach, a Concord, N.H., city councilor who ran into Mr. Bullock at a street festival in the shadow of the state Capitol.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

WinRed

 In  Defying the Oddswe discuss campaign finance The update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.

For years, Republicans have coveted ActBlue. ActBlue is a progressive fundraising engine started by the grassroots on the left who were frustrated with the Democrats’ ability to block progressive candidates from party fundraising. Through ActBlue, activists could compound small dollar donations and use ActBlue as a pass through entity to candidates.
It exploded over time and a non-profit has ActBlue under its wing. Democrat Party operatives often privately complain about it because of privacy and data concerns, but they recognize that ActBlue has become a crucial vehicle to mobilize the progressive grassroots.
Over the years, various conservatives have tried something like ActBlue. For two election cycles at RedState, we used SlateCard, which performed like ActBlue, allowed us to pick a list of candidates we supported, and fundraise just for them. SlateCard went away. ActRight sprung up to do something similar, then died. Someone else tried something. Nothing ever really took hold.
Well, the Republican National Committee, the President, and some from the President’s orbit have decided to try a top-down approach and build it by fiat, but I think we should all be really concerned with the product, privacy, its cost, and how undoubtedly it will be a get rick quick scheme for a select group of consultants.
This is not a non-profit effort to benefit candidates. This is a for profit effort to make consultants rich at the expense of candidates and small dollar donors.
David Nir at Daily Kos:
After a delay of 15 years, Republicans finally launched the site that’s supposed to level the playing field with progressive fundraising powerhouse ActBlue, only … it’s really just a landing page. There’s no directory of candidates, no ability to sign up for an account, no way to create a fundraising page, nothing. Just an animated GIF and a contact form. As of Monday at noon, its Twitter account hadn’t even tweeted.
WinRed (Donald Trump named it himself and tweeted a link to its lone functional page) has a long, long way to go to catch up with the $3.5 billion-with-a-b raised through ActBlue since its founding in June of 2004, and there’s good reason to doubt it ever will. For starters, there’s the grifty fee structure: While ActBlue charges a flat 3.95% per contribution, WinRed takes a 3.8% cut plus 30 cents per transaction.
That might not sound like a big difference, but it’s huge. On a $5 contribution, ActBlue will net 20 cents. WinRed, however, will take 49 cents, which in percentage terms is a giant 9.8%. What’s more, on a contribution page that lists multiple campaigns, it sounds like WinRed will get 30 cents per donation. (From the site itself: “There is a 3.8% + 30 cents per transaction fee with each donation made.”) In other words, if you split $25 across five candidates, that’s a cool $2.45 for WinRed. ActBlue would take less than a buck.
These high fees will make Republican campaigns want to look elsewhere, but the real obstacle for WinRed isn’t uptake from the consulting class. Republicans have long imagined that what they have is a technology problem—“Build a better website and we can take on ActBlue”—but what they really have is a culture problem.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Monday, June 24, 2019

The Vetting Docs

In  Defying the Oddswe discuss the people surrounding Trump (The update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.)
The choice of servants is of no little importance to a prince, and they are good or not according to the discrimination of the prince. And the first opinion which one forms of a prince, and of his understanding, is by observing the men he has around him; and when they are capable and faithful he may always be considered wise, because he has known how to recognize the capable and to keep them faithful. But when they are otherwise one cannot form a good opinion of him, for the prime error which he made was in choosing them.
-- Machiavelli
Some highlights:
  • Scott Pruitt, who ultimately lost his job as EPA Administrator because of serial ethical abuses and clubbiness with lobbyists, had a section in his vetting form titled "allegations of coziness with big energy companies."
  • Tom Price, who ultimately resigned as Health and Human Services Secretary after Trump lost confidence in him in part for stories about his use of chartered flights, had sections in his dossier flagging "criticisms of management ability" and "Dysfunction And Division Has Haunted Price's Leadership Of The House Budget Committee."
  • Mick Mulvaney, who became Trump's Budget Director and is now his acting chief of staff, has a striking assortment of "red flags," including his assessment that Trump "is not a very good person."
  • The Trump transition team was so worried about Rudy Giuliani, in line for Secretary of State, that they created a separate 25-page document titled "Rudy Giuliani Business Ties Research Dossier" with copious accounting of his "foreign entanglements."
...
Behind the scenes: In the chaotic weeks after Trump's surprise election victory, Trump fired Chris Christie as the head of his transition. The team that took over — which V.P. Mike Pence helmed — outsourced the political vetting of would-be top officials to the Republican National Committee.
...
Traditionally, any would-be top official faces three types of vetting: an FBI background check, a scrub for financial conflicts of interest from the Office of Government Ethics, and a deep dive from the president-elect's political team, which veteran Washington lawyers often handle.
We obtained many of the political vetting forms. According to sources on the RNC vetting team, senior Trump officials asked them to do an initial "scrub" of the public record before Trump met the contenders. But in many cases — for example the misguided choice of Andrew Puzder as Labor Secretary — this RNC "scrub" of public sources was the only substantial vetting in Trump's possession when he announced his picks.
The full list here.


 

Friday, June 21, 2019

Blue Demographics in Texas

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the demographics of the 2016 election.    The update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.

Alexa Ura and Connie Hanzhang Jin at The Texas Tribune:
The gap between Texas’ Hispanic and white populations continued to narrow last year when the state gained almost nine Hispanic residents for every additional white resident.
With Hispanics expected to become the largest population group in Texas as soon as 2022, new population estimates released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau showed the Hispanic population climbed to nearly 11.4 million — an annual gain of 214,736 through July 2018 and an increase of 1.9 million since 2010.

The white population, meanwhile, grew by just 24,075 last year. Texas still has a bigger white population — up to 11.9 million last year — but it has only grown by roughly 484,000 since 2010. The white population’s growth has been so sluggish this decade that it barely surpassed total growth among Asian Texans, who make up a tiny share of the total population, in the same time period.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

2020 House Elections: Advantage D

In Defying the Odds, we discuss congressional elections as well as the presidential race The update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.
.
Scott Wong and Juliegrace Brufke at The Hill:
The 2020 election is more than a year away, but some Republican lawmakers are pessimistic about their chances of winning back the House.
President Trump’s approval ratings in key swing states are under water. Infighting on the GOP leadership team and a notable retirement [Susan Brooks of Indiana, in charge of NRCC recruitment] have raised questions about the party’s campaign strategy.

And Republicans acknowledge that many of the at-risk Democratic freshmen in Trump districts are going to be difficult to beat as they resist calls for impeachment and stay focused on kitchen-table issues such as health care and infrastructure.
“It’s going to be tough. [The Democrats] have really good majority-makers — [Reps.] Abigail Spanberger, Dean Phillips, Max Rose. They’ve got some good members that know what they’re doing. They seem to not be embracing the crazy,” said one senior GOP lawmaker who requested anonymity.
“There is a path for us to take it back, but they have good candidates. They have money they are still raising left and right,” the source added. “You just don’t know if the intensity of our voters will be enough, because [Democrats] are still engaged.”
In the first three months of this year, the House Democrats’ campaign arm hauled in more than $32 million, while the GOP’s campaign operation raised $25 million.
Another GOP lawmaker said it will be hard for Republicans to make the case to voters they deserve the majority when they failed to repeal ObamaCare or fund Trump’s border wall in the last Congress when they controlled all the levers of the government.
“It would be very difficult to take back the majority when most people see it as a squandered opportunity when Republicans had the majority,” the second GOP lawmaker told The Hill.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Economic Clouds

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the tax and economics issue in the 2016 campaign.  The update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. and explains why the Trump tax cut backfired on Republicans.

A boom in employee bonuses handed out by some companies in the wake of the 2017 Republican tax cut proved to be temporary, Labor Department data released Tuesday showed.

Private-sector companies’ spending on nonproduction bonuses fell 24% in the first quarter of 2019 from a year earlier, the largest decrease for the category of benefit costs on record back to 2005.

Those bonus payments jumped in late 2017 and early 2018 after Congress approved its package of tax cuts. Walmart Inc., AT&T Inc. and Wells Fargo & Co. were among prominent employers that announced bonuses in the wake of the new tax law. President Trump and other Republicans touted the bonuses as an example of how the law benefited everyday workers.
Those gains appear to largely have been a one-time windfall. 
Heather Long at WP:
The Federal Reserve did not change interest rates Wednesday but strongly signaled a willingness to cut soon to prevent the economy from slowing further. President Trump has urged the central bank to cut rates for months to boost growth.
Business investment is slowing, uncertainty has increased, and the U.S. economy is growing at a “moderate” pace, the Fed said Wednesday, a notable downgrade from last month when the central bank characterized the economy as “solid.”
The Fed indicated it would take action if the economy shows any more signs of decline.
“In light of these uncertainties and muted inflation pressures, the [Fed] committee will closely monitor the implications of incoming information for the economic outlook and will act as appropriate to sustain the expansion,” the Fed wrote in a statement.
Wall Street investors are widely anticipating a rate reduction when Fed leaders meet next in late July because of Trump’s trade war and slumping business investment, especially in manufacturing.
“Many on the committee do see a strengthened case for cutting rates," Fed Chair Jerome H. Powell said Wednesday. “News about trade has been an important driver of sentiment in the inter-meaning period. We’re also looking at global growth.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

McConnell v. a Half-Century of GOP History on Puerto Rican Statehood

In Defying the Odds, we discuss state and congressional politics as well as the presidential race  The update 
-- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.

Baily Vogt at The Washington Times:
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he is happy to be the “grim reaper when it comes to the Democrat’s socialist agenda,” including blocking measures that would grant Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico statehood.
“They plan to make the District of Columbia a state — that’d give them two new Democratic senators — Puerto Rico a state, that would give them two more new Democratic senators. And as a former Supreme Court clerk yourself, you’ve surely noticed that they plan to expand the Supreme Court,” the Kentucky Republican said on Fox News Channel’s “The Ingraham Angle,” addressing growing calls from 2020 Democrats to add additional members to the high court. 
“This is full bore socialism on the march in the House. And yeah, as long as I’m the majority leader of the Senate, none of that stuff is going anywhere,” he said.
As far as Puerto Rico is concerned, he is blocking his own party's position and accusing it of "full bore socialism."  The GOP has officially supported Puerto Rican statehood in every platform in the past half-century.
  • 2016: We support the right of the United States citizens of Puerto Rico to be admitted to the Union as a fully sovereign state. We further recognize the historic significance of the 2012 local referendum in which a 54 percent majority voted to end Puerto Rico's current status as a U.S. territory, and 61 percent chose statehood over options for sovereign nationhood. We support the federally sponsored political status referendum authorized and funded by an Act of Congress in 2014 to ascertain the aspirations of the people of Puerto Rico. Once the 2012 local vote for statehood is ratified, Congress should approve an enabling act with terms for Puerto Rico's future admission as the 51st state of the Union.
  • 2012: We support the right of the United States citizens of Puerto Rico to be admitted to the Union as a fully sovereign state if they freely so determine. We recognize that Congress has the final authority to define the constitutionally valid options for Puerto Rico to achieve a permanent non-territorial status with government by consent and full enfranchisement. As long as Puerto Rico is not a State, however, the will of its people regarding their political status should be ascertained by means of a general right of referendum or specific referenda sponsored by the U.S. government.
  • 2008: We support the right of the United States citizens of Puerto Rico to be admitted to the Union as a fully sovereign state after they freely so determine. We recognize that Congress has the final authority to define the constitutionally valid options for Puerto Rico to achieve a permanent non-territorial status with government by consent and full enfranchisement. As long as Puerto Rico is not a state, however, the will of its people regarding their political status should be ascertained by means of a general right of referendum or specific referenda sponsored by the U.S. government.
  • 2004: We support the right of the United States citizens of Puerto Rico to be admitted to the Union as a fully sovereign state after they freely so determine. We recognize that Congress has the final authority to define the Constitutionally valid options for Puerto Rico to achieve a permanent non-territorial status with government by consent and full enfranchisement. As long as Puerto Rico is not a state, however, the will of its people regarding their political status should be ascertained by means of a general right of referendum or specific referenda sponsored by the United States government.
  • 2000: We support the right of the United States citizens of Puerto Rico to be admitted to the Union as a fully sovereign state after they freely so determine. We recognize that Congress has the final authority to define the constitutionally valid options for Puerto Rico to achieve a permanent status with government by consent and full enfranchisement. As long as Puerto Rico is not a State, however, the will of its people regarding their political status should be ascertained by means of a general right of referendum or specific referenda sponsored by the United States government.
  • 1996: We support the right of the United States citizens of Puerto Rico to be admitted to the Union as a fully sovereign state after they freely so determine. We endorse initiatives of the congressional Republican leadership to provide for Puerto Rico's smooth transition to statehood if its citizens choose to alter their current status, or to set them on their own path to become an independent nation.
  • 1992: The Republican Party supports the right of the United States citizens of Puerto Rico to be admitted to the Union as a fully sovereign State after they freely so determine.
  • 1988: Puerto Rico has been a territory of the United States since 1898. The Republican Party vigorously supports the right of the United States citizens of Puerto Rico to be admitted into the Union as a fully sovereign State after they freely so determine. Therefore, we support the establishment of a presidential task force to prepare the necessary legislation to ensure that the people of Puerto Rico have the opportunity to exercise at the earliest possible date their right to apply for admission into the Union. We also pledge that a decision of the people of Puerto Rico in favor of statehood will be implemented through an admission bill that would provide for a smooth fiscal transition, recognize the concept of a multi-cultural society for its citizens, and ensure the right to retain their Spanish language and traditions.
  • 1984: The Republican Party reaffirms its support of the right of Puerto Rico to be admitted into the Union after it freely so determines, through the passage of an admission bill which will provide for a smooth fiscal transition, recognize the concept of a multicultural society for its citizens, and secure the opportunity to retain their Spanish language and traditions.
  • 1980: Puerto Rico has been a territory of the United States since 1898. The Republican Party vigorously supports the right of the United States citizens of Puerto Rico to be admitted into the Union as a fully sovereign state after they freely so determine. We believe that the statehood alternative is the only logical solution to the problem of inequality of the United States citizens of Puerto Rico within the framework of the federal Constitution, with full recognition within the concept of a multicultural society of the citizens' right to retain their Spanish language and traditions. Therefore we pledge to support the enactment of the necessary legislation to allow the people of Puerto Rico to exercise their right to apply for admission into the Union at the earliest possible date after the presidential election of 1980. We also pledge that such decision of the people of Puerto Rico will be implemented through the approval of an admission bill. This bill will provide for the Island's smooth transition from its territorial fiscal system to that of a member of the Union. This enactment will enable the new state of Puerto Rico to stand economically on an equal footing with the rest of the states and to assume gradually its fiscal responsibilities as a state.
  • 1976: The principle of self-determination also governs our positions on Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia as it has in past platforms. We again support statehood for Puerto Rico, if that is the people's choice in a referendum, with full recognition within the concept of a multicultural society of the citizens' right to retain their Spanish language and traditions; and support giving the District of Columbia voting representation in the United States Senate and House of Representatives and full home rule over those matters that are purely local.
  • 1972: The Republican Party adheres to the principle of self-determination for Puerto Rico. We will welcome and support statehood for Puerto Rico if that status should be the free choice of its people in a referendum vote.
  • 1968: We will support the efforts of the Puerto Rican people to achieve statehood when they freely request such status by a general election, and we share the hopes and aspirations of the people of the Virgin Islands who will be closely consulted on proposed gubernatorial appointments.

Misunderstanding Medicare for All

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the health care issue in the 2016 campaign.  the update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.

The Kaiser Family Foundation finds that Poll most Americans do not understand how much the leading Medicare-for-all proposals would restructure health care..
The most recent KFF Health Tracking Poll finds majorities across partisans think taxes for most people would increase under a national health plan, sometimes called Medicare-for-all (78 percent), and about half (53 percent) think private health insurance companies would no longer be the primary way Americans would get health coverage under such a plan. However, when it comes to other key changes that the leading Medicare-for-all bills introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Pramila Jayapal would bring, large shares are unaware of how the current health care system may be affected. For example, majorities say people would continue to pay deductibles and co-pays (69 percent) and continue to pay premiums (54 percent) under a Medicare-for-all plan. Likewise, majorities say people with employer-sponsored or self-purchased insurance would be able to keep their plans (55 percent each) under a Medicare-for-all plan.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Trump and the Russian Electric Power Grid

In Defying the Odds,we discuss Trump's approach to governingThe update --recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.

David E. Sanger and Nicole Perlroth at NYT:
 The United States is stepping up digital incursions into Russia’s electric power grid in a warning to President Vladimir V. Putin and a demonstration of how the Trump administration is using new authorities to deploy cybertools more aggressively, current and former government officials said.
...
Officials at the National Security Council also declined to comment but said they had no national security concerns about the details of The New York Times’s reporting about the targeting of the Russian grid, perhaps an indication that some of the intrusions were intended to be noticed by the Russians.
... 
Two administration officials said they believed Mr. Trump had not been briefed in any detail about the steps to place “implants” — software code that can be used for surveillance or attack — inside the Russian grid.
Pentagon and intelligence officials described broad hesitation to go into detail with Mr. Trump about operations against Russia for concern over his reaction — and the possibility that he might countermand it or discuss it with foreign officials, as he did in 2017when he mentioned a sensitive operation in Syria to the Russian foreign minister.


Sunday, June 16, 2019

Bullock and the Debates

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the early stages of the 2016 campaign, when many candidates were unknowns.  The update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.  We are now in the early stages of the 2020 race.

Gabriel Debenedetti at New York:
Steve Bullock would love for everyone to know that he’s been elected statewide three times as a Democrat in Montana, a state Donald Trump won by 20 points. But getting that message out is going to be a bit more difficult than Bullock planned, since he won’t be on the first Democratic presidential primary debate stage in Miami later this month, barely falling short of the Democratic National Committee’s polling threshold. Bullock, who only got into the race in May after his legislative session ended and he reauthorized Montana’s Medicaid expansion, didn’t make the cut after the party decidednot to count an early Washington Post/ABC poll in its qualifying criteria. Then, on the last day he might have snuck in, he came one respondent shortin a Nevada poll. He’s not happy about it.
Cheyenne Haslett at ABC:
If there's a silver lining for 2020 Democratic candidates who didn't make the cut for the first Democratic debates later this month, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock is certainly looking for it.

As the only candidate elected in a state that also voted for President Donald Trump in the 2016 election, Bullock has argued that the DNC is blocking the one Democrat who can truly connect with Trump voters. He's taking advantage of not making the debate stage to emphasize what's he accomplished working with a Republican legislature in Montana -- and giving his campaign a chance at what his many rivals in the 2020 field wish for: a moment to stand apart from the pack.

Capitalizing on that moment, it took just a day after the DNC's announcement, Bullock's campaign to issue a fundraising call. In a new campaign ad obtained exclusively by ABC News, a man born and raised in Montana sits in the bed of his truck and rails against the DNC's decision not to include the governor on the debate stage.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Pocketbook Politics

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the tax and economics issue in the 2016 campaign.  The update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. and explains why the Trump tax cut backfired on Republicans.

Federal tax payments by big businesses are falling much faster than anticipated in the wake of Republicans’ tax cuts, providing ammunition to Democrats who are calling for corporate tax increases.
The U.S. Treasury saw a 31 percent drop in corporate tax revenues last year, almost twice the decline official budget forecasters had predicted. Receipts were projected to rebound sharply this year, but so far they’ve only continued to fall, down by almost 9 percent or $11 billion.
Though business profits remain healthy and the economy is strong, total corporate taxes are at the lowest levels seen in more than 50 years.
t the same time, overall taxes paid by individuals under the new tax law are up so far this year by 3 percent, thanks to higher wages and salaries, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Last year tax payments by individuals went up 4 percent.
Sarah Min at CBS:
The longest economic expansion in U.S. history could soon come to an end, according to a survey of chief financial officers released Wednesday. Their fear is that growing economic uncertainty and trade wars could finally halt the record streak of U.S. GDP growth, now barely a month shy of its 10th year.

Nearly half, or 48%, of chief financial officers in the U.S. are predicting a recession by mid-2020, according to the Duke University/CFO Global Business Outlook survey, which is conducted quarterly. And more than two-thirds, 69%, are predicting a downturn by the end of next year.
"It looks likely that an economic recession is on the horizon for 2020," John Graham, finance professor at Duke University, said in a video statement.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Fire Kellyanne

In  Defying the Oddswe discuss the people surrounding Trump (The update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.)
The choice of servants is of no little importance to a prince, and they are good or not according to the discrimination of the prince. And the first opinion which one forms of a prince, and of his understanding, is by observing the men he has around him; and when they are capable and faithful he may always be considered wise, because he has known how to recognize the capable and to keep them faithful. But when they are otherwise one cannot form a good opinion of him, for the prime error which he made was in choosing them.
-- Machiavelli

A release from the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC)
The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) today sent a report to President Donald J. Trump finding that Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway violated the Hatch Act on numerous occasions by disparaging Democratic presidential candidates while speaking in her official capacity during television interviews and on social media.
Although the President and Vice President are exempt from the Hatch Act, employees of the White House are not. OSC’s letter to the President accompanying the report refers to Ms. Conway as a “repeat offender” and states: “Ms. Conway’s violations, if left unpunished, would send a message to all federal employees that they need not abide by the Hatch Act’s restrictions. Her actions thus erode the principal foundation of our democratic system—the rule of law.”
Today’s report follows a March 2018 OSC report finding that Ms. Conway violated the Hatch Act during two separate television interviews in which she advocated for and against candidates in the 2017 Alabama special election for U.S. Senate.
Moreover, during a media interview on May 29, 2019, Ms. Conway downplayed the significance of the law as applied to her. When asked about the Hatch Act, she stated, “If you’re trying to silence me through the Hatch Act, it’s not going to work,” and “Let me know when the jail sentence starts.”
Like with other presidential appointees, the President has the authority to discipline Ms. Conway for violating the Hatch Act. Given that Ms. Conway is a repeat offender and has shown disregard for the law, OSC recommends that she be removed from federal service.
OSC’s full report is available here

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Trump Invites Foreign Interference

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Russian involvement in the 2016 campaign  The update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.

Lucien Bruggeman at ABC:
Asked by ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos in the Oval Office on Wednesday whether his campaign would accept such information from foreigners -- such as China or Russia -- or hand it over the FBI, Trump said, "I think maybe you do both."
"I think you might want to listen, there isn't anything wrong with listening," Trump continued. "If somebody called from a country, Norway, [and said] ‘we have information on your opponent' -- oh, I think I'd want to hear it."
...
"It's not an interference, they have information -- I think I'd take it," Trump said. "If I thought there was something wrong, I'd go maybe to the FBI -- if I thought there was something wrong. But when somebody comes up with oppo research, right, they come up with oppo research, 'oh let's call the FBI.' The FBI doesn't have enough agents to take care of it. When you go and talk, honestly, to congressman, they all do it, they always have, and that's the way it is. It's called oppo research."
...
"Somebody comes up and says, ‘hey, I have information on your opponent,' do you call the FBI?" Trump responded.
"I'll tell you what, I've seen a lot of things over my life. I don't think in my whole life I've ever called the FBI. In my whole life. You don't call the FBI. You throw somebody out of your office, you do whatever you do," Trump continued. "Oh, give me a break – life doesn't work that way."

"The FBI director said that is what should happen," Stephanopoulos replied, referring to comments FBI Director Christopher Wray made during congressional testimony last month, when he told lawmakers "the FBI would want to know about" any foreign election meddling.
But on Wednesday, the president refuted Wray's sentiment.
"The FBI director is wrong, because frankly it doesn't happen like that in life," Trump said. "Now maybe it will start happening, maybe today you'd think differently."