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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

RNC for Sale

In  Defying the Oddswe discuss  Trump's record of scandal The update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.

Renae Merle at WP:
Billing himself as one of President Trump’s top fundraisers, Michael Hodges told fellow payday lenders recently that industry contributions to the president’s reelection campaign could be leveraged to gain access to the Trump administration.

“Every dollar amount, no matter how small or large it is” is important, Hodges, founder of Advance Financial, one of the country’s largest payday lenders, said during a 48-minute webcast, obtained by The Washington Post.

“For example, I’ve gone to Ronna McDaniel and said, ‘Ronna, I need help on something,’ ” Hodges said, referring to the chair of the Republican National Committee.
“She’s been able to call over to the White House and say, ‘Hey, we have one of our large givers. They need an audience. … They need to be heard and you need to listen to them.’ So that’s why it’s important.”

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Congressional Election Indicators

In Defying the Odds, we discuss state and congressional elections as well as the presidential race. The update -- recently published -- looks at political and demographic trends through the 2018 midterm.

Monday's retirement announcement by Republican Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon barely caused a ripple in the national news cycle, other than to note that he is the 15th GOPer retiring from the House without seeking another office at the end of 2020.
But it's a particularly telling sign that the House GOP does not expect to regain the majority.  He is only 62, practically a kid by congressional standards, so age and infirmity are not pushing him out.  And if the Republicans were getting back into power, he would be missing out on a lot.
Walden is the top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. And he has time left on his chairmanship. (Republicans have a six-year term limit on committee chairmanships.) Meaning that if Republicans took back the majority in the 2020 election, Walden would run one of the most powerful committees in the House for two more years.
...
Walden is close to House leadership. The Oregon Republican spent two elections -- 2014 and 2016 -- as the head of the National Republican Congressional Committee, one of a handful of leadership gigs among House GOPers. In that role, he worked closely with the likes of now-Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, a huge political junkie, and now-Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana.
While Walden's seat isn't going to be competitive between the two parties -- President Donald Trump won the district by 20 points in 2016 -- that Walden is willing to walk away from it and that the leadership isn't trying to convince him (or wasn't able to convince him) to stay speaks volumes. If the party leadership saw the majority not only within reach but also better than an even bet, there's no way that a "made" guy like Walden -- someone in the party's good graces and who would stand to benefit -- walks away
Mike Allen and Alayna Treene at Axios:
The biggest recent change is Republicans' increasingly precarious hold on the Senate.
National Journal's Josh Kraushaar writes in his "Against the Grain" column that "the pathway for a narrow Democratic takeover of the upper chamber is looking clearer than ever": "If Trump doesn’t win a second term, Democrats only need to net three seats to win back the majority."
Scott Reed, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce senior political strategist, tells me that third-quarter fundraising reports showing three Republican senators being out-raised by Democratic challengers (in Arizona, Iowa and Maine) "are a three-alarm fire."

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Christy Smith Video

In Defying the Odds, we discuss state and congressional elections as well as the presidential race. The update -- recently published -- looks at political and demographic trends through the 2018 midterm.

State legislators often make good candidates for the House. They have well-established networks of fundraisers and volunteers. They also may have plenty of campaign videos that they can repurpose for a congressional race.  Case in point:  Christy Smith, a member of the CA Assembly, who very quickly jumped into the special election to succeed Katie Hill, who abruptly resigned.


 

Impeachment Inquiry Resolution

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's character and record of bigotryThe update -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. This past summerhe told several Democratic congresswomen to "go back" to their countries. Impeachment is becoming likely.

A release from  Speaker Pelosi:
H. Res. ___ — Directing certain committees to continue their ongoing investigations as part of the existing House of Representatives inquiry into whether sufficient grounds exist for the House of Representatives to exercise its Constitutional power to impeach Donald John Trump, President of the United States of America, and for other purposes.

***
Dear Democratic Colleague,
For weeks, the President, his Counsel in the White House, and his allies in Congress have made the baseless claim that the House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry “lacks the necessary authorization for a valid impeachment proceeding.” They argue that, because the House has not taken a vote, they may simply pretend the impeachment inquiry does not exist.
Of course, this argument has no merit. The Constitution provides that the House of Representatives “shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.” Multiple past impeachments have gone forward without any authorizing resolutions. Just last week, a federal court confirmed that the House is not required to hold a vote and that imposing such a requirement would be “an impermissible intrusion on the House’s constitutional authority.” More than 300 legal scholars have also refuted this argument, concluding that “the Constitution does not mandate the process for impeachment and there is no constitutional requirement that the House of Representatives authorize an impeachment inquiry before one begins.”
The Trump Administration has made up this argument – apparently out of whole cloth – in order to justify its unprecedented cover-up, withhold key documents from multiple federal agencies, prevent critical witnesses from cooperating, and defy duly authorized subpoenas.
This week, we will bring a resolution to the Floor that affirms the ongoing, existing investigation that is currently being conducted by our committees as part of this impeachment inquiry, including all requests for documents, subpoenas for records and testimony, and any other investigative steps previously taken or to be taken as part of this investigation.

This resolution establishes the procedure for hearings that are open to the American people, authorizes the disclosure of deposition transcripts, outlines procedures to transfer evidence to the Judiciary Committee as it considers potential articles of impeachment, and sets forth due process rights for the President and his Counsel.
We are taking this step to eliminate any doubt as to whether the Trump Administration may withhold documents, prevent witness testimony, disregard duly authorized subpoenas, or continue obstructing the House of Representatives.

Nobody is above the law.
best regards,

Monday, October 28, 2019

Trump's Sunday

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

Trump's day started out well...

Then came the caveats...

And at the end of the day came the booing...

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Trump's Women

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's record of scandalThe update -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.

At The Guardian, Lloyd Green reviews a book titled All the President's Women.
Barry Levine and Monique El-Faizy parachute into the netherworld of weaponized libido that is the life of the 45th president. Salaciousness abounds. Their book is lurid, informative and aptly subtitled “Donald Trump and the Making of a Predator”.
...
The book rests upon firsthand interviews, transcripts and prior reports. It also contains a detailed appendix that lays out its sources. Said differently, if you can actually believe Barack Obama is a crypto-Muslim born in Kenya to a cocaine-addled Martian, then opting in to at least 50% of All the President’s Women should be a no-brainer.
Court records abound. It is not just the authors’ word or a birth certificate. Think Summer Zervos, Michael Cohen and “Individual-1” for starters.
...
More ominously for Trump, on Thursday Zervos filed a motion with the court that outlined a series of sexual assaults in late 2007 allegedly perpetrated by Trump. For good measure, the results of a polygraph are included. According to Zervos, in one instance Trump “began kissing” her “very aggressively”, then pawed at her. Zervos also attached portions of Trump’s calendar. Barron Trump, the president’s son with Melania, was less than two years old at the time.


Saturday, October 26, 2019

Impeachment, Subpoenas, and the Law

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's dishonesty and his record of disregarding the rule of law.   The update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.

Judge Beryl Howell rules that the impeachment inquiry is lawful and that the House can see Mueller's grand jury materials.
While close scrutiny of the historical record undercuts that justification for the “House
resolution” test proposed by Representative Collins, the more significant flaw with this proposal is as follows: while this test may address political legitimacy concerns, which are best resolved in the political arena, no governing law requires this test—not the Constitution, not House Rules, and not Rule 6(e), and so imposing this test would be an impermissible intrusion on the House’s constitutional authority both to “determine the rules of its proceedings” under the Rulemaking Clause, U.S. CONST., Art. I, § 5, cl. 2, and to exercise “the sole power of Impeachment” under the Impeachment Clause, id. § 2, cl. 5. T
... 
The White House’s stated policy of non-cooperation with the impeachment inquiry
weighs heavily in favor of disclosure. Congress’s need to access grand jury material relevant to potential impeachable conduct by a President is heightened when the Executive Branch willfully obstructs channels for accessing other relevant evidence
Giuliani on Charlie Rose, 7/21/98:

Team of Doofuses

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
Caitlin Yilek at The Washington Examiner:
Top White House aide Kellyanne Conway, describing herself as "a powerful woman," aggressively and disparagingly told a female reporter that it was improper to write about her husband and threatened to investigate the reporter's personal life.

This journalist, a breaking news reporter for the Washington Examiner, had written an article on Tuesday about President Trump considering Conway, counselor to the president, as his next chief of staff, based on reporting from Bloomberg News. Tom Joannou, Conway's assistant, contacted Caitlin Yilek on Tuesday evening to ask for her phone number without specifying why he wanted to talk. Joannou called Yilek on Wednesday morning.
Joannou requested that the conversation with him be off the record. This reporter agreed, but moments later, Conway took over the call, initiating a new conversation without any agreement that it was off the record. The Washington Examiner is publishing audio and a transcript of the full exchange.

Rich Shapiro at NBC:
Late in the evening on Oct. 16, Rudy Giuliani made a phone call to this reporter.
The fact that Giuliani was reaching out wasn’t remarkable. He and the reporter had spoken earlier that night for a story about his ties to a fringe Iranian opposition group.

But this call, it would soon become clear, wasn’t a typical case of a source following up with a reporter.
The call came in at 11:07 p.m. and went to voicemail; the reporter was asleep.
The next morning, a message exactly three minutes long was sitting in his voicemail. In the recording, the words tumbling out of Giuliani’s mouth were not directed at the reporter. He was speaking to someone else, someone in the same room.

Giuliani can be heard discussing overseas dealings and lamenting the need for cash, though it's difficult to discern the full context of the conversation.
Audio is available in the full story.

Note:  the need for caution is even greater when you are under criminal investigation.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Inner-Ring and Outer-Ring Suburbs

In Defying the Odds, we discuss state and congressional elections as well as the presidential race. The update -- recently published -- looks at political and demographic trends through the 2018 midterm.

Sabrina Tavernise and Robert Gebeloff at NYT:
The political dividing line in America used to be between cities, which were mostly Democratic, and suburbs, which had long been Republican. But today it runs through the very center of the suburbs themselves, between a densely populated inner ring that is turning blue and a more spacious outer ring that is becoming ever more red.
This is as true in Alabama as it is in New York: Rural places and newer suburbs swung for Mr. Trump, while urban places and older suburbs favored Hillary Clinton.
In 2016, those two suburban types fought to a near draw. Mrs. Clinton beat Mr. Trump by 5 million votes in inner-ring suburbs. He countered with a 5.1 million-vote advantage in outer-ring suburbs. This pattern tilted the race toward Mr. Trump in smaller cities, and toward Mrs. Clinton in big metro areas.

The Suburban Battleground

In 2016, Hillary Clinton won decisively in suburban neighborhoods near cities, but Donald J. Trump countered with a big advantage in more outlying suburban places.

Trump
Clinton
Urban
6.1m
17.8m votes
Inner suburbs
15.4m
20.4m
Outer suburbs
17.3m
22.4m
Rural
7.5m
16.8m
Sources: Density based on the American Community Survey and Multi-Resolution Land Characteristics consortium data for the continental U.S. Precinct results compiled by Ryne Rohla. Some absentee and other votes are excluded.
By The New York Times

In 1994, 54 percent of white Americans with at least a four-year college degree identified with or leaned toward the Republican Party, according to the Pew Research Center. Just 38 percent associated with the Democratic Party ... By 2017, the pattern that Pew identified in 1994 was practically reversed: Just 42 percent of well-educated white voters leaned Republican, while 53 percent preferred the Democrats.
White college graduates are only part of what is turning some suburbs blue. The other powerful force is rising racial diversity. Nearly 60 percent of all black people now live in suburbs. African-Americans, Hispanics and Asians together make up nearly one-third of the suburban population.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

House Jokers Jeopardize National Security, and Trump Approves

In Defying the Oddswe discuss Trump's character and record of dishonestyThe update -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.

Jenny McGrath at Digital Trends:
It’s called a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (pronounced skiff), and it has a no-phone rule. A group of Republican lawmakers may have violated that rule when they stormed a closed-door hearing Wednesday, October 23, allegedly bringing in cell phones.
“The facilities are carefully designed and controlled to ensure that electronic signals, surveillance methods, or other listening devices do not compromise the information discussed in these rooms,” tweeted Mieke Eoyang, a former staff member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. She notes that hackers can turn on a cell’s microphones without their owners’ knowledge.
Laura Cooper, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia, was scheduled to testify in front of the bipartisan House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees. Some of the Republicans who disrupted the hearing tweeted about being in the room, then later said their staff members were sending the messages for them. In one video, though, Rep. Alex Mooney appears to be holding a phone up as he walks into the SCIF.




Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Fox and the Bitter-End Trumpists

 In Defying the Oddswe discuss the role of the media, particularly conservative media.

Public Religion Research Institute:
While most who disapprove of Trump are set in their ways, Americans who approve of Trump’s job performance are more open to the idea of changing their mind: Two-thirds (66%) say he could do something to lose their approval, while 33% say there is nothing he could do to lose their approval. Republicans (42%) are about twice as likely as independents (20%) to say there is virtually nothing Trump could do to lose their approval.
Trump has extraordinary support among several Republican subgroups who hold favorable views of his job performance. A majority (55%) of Republicans for whom Fox News is their primary news source say there is nothing Trump could do to lose their approval, compared to only 29% of Republicans who do not cite Fox News as their primary news source. Similarly, 45% of Republicans who do not have a college degree say there is virtually nothing Trump could do to lose their support, compared to 35% of college-educated Republicans who say the same.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Lynching

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's character and record of bigotryThe update -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. This past summerhe told several Democratic congresswomen to "go back" to their countries. Impeachment is becoming likely.

Trump Listens to Sketchy Foreign Leaders About Ukraine

In Defying the Oddswe discuss social mediafake news, and Russian involvement in the 2016 campaign  The update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.  

Greg Miller, Greg Jaffe, John Hudson and Ellen Nakashima at WP:
President Trump’s effort to pressure Ukraine for information he could use against political rivals came as he was being urged to adopt a hostile view of that country by its regional adversaries, including Russian President Vladi­mir Putin, current and former U.S. officials said.

Trump’s conversations with Putin, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and others reinforced his perception of Ukraine as a hopelessly corrupt country — one that Trump now also appears to believe sought to undermine him in the 2016 U.S. election, the officials said.
Neither of those foreign leaders specifically encouraged Trump to see Ukraine as a potential source of damaging information about Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, nor did they describe Kyiv as complicit in an unsubstantiated 2016 election conspiracy theory, officials said.
But their disparaging depictions of Ukraine reinforced Trump’s perceptions of the country and fed a dysfunctional dynamic in which White House officials struggled to persuade Trump to support the fledgling government in Kyiv instead of exploiting it for political purposes, officials said.
 The role played by Putin and Orban, a hard-right leader who has often allied himself with the Kremlin’s positions, was described in closed-door testimony last week by George Kent, a deputy assistant secretary of state, before House impeachment investigators, U.S. officials said.

Monday, October 21, 2019

A Trump Weekend

In Defying the Oddswe discuss Trump's character and record of dishonestyThe update -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.

Michael C. Bender and  Vivian Salama at WSJ:
President Trump faces increasing public and private scrutiny from his own party over a series of recent White House moves, as the House impeachment inquiry reduces his margin for error with fellow Republicans and makes him more vulnerable to attacks.
In the past several days, Mr. Trump has been forced to drop plans to host next year’s Group of Seven summit at his Doral golf resort, and a top aide has tried to walk back comments linking Ukraine military aid to an investigation of the president’s political opponents. The fallout of Mr. Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria has continued to draw widespread criticism, including from Republicans.



Sunday, October 20, 2019

Hamilton v. Trump

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's dishonesty and his record of disregarding the rule of law.     The update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. Impeachment is becoming likely.

Ron Chernow at WP:
While under siege from opponents as treasury secretary, Hamilton sketched out the type of charlatan who would most threaten the republic: “When a man unprincipled in private life[,] desperate in his fortune, bold in his temper . . . despotic in his ordinary demeanour — known to have scoffed in private at the principles of liberty — when such a man is seen to mount the hobby horse of popularity — to join in the cry of danger to liberty — to take every opportunity of embarrassing the General Government & bringing it under suspicion — to flatter and fall in with all the non sense of the zealots of the day — It may justly be suspected that his object is to throw things into confusion that he may ‘ride the storm and direct the whirlwind.’ ” Given the way Trump has broadcast suspicions about the CIA, the FBI, the diplomatic corps, senior civil servants and the “deep state,” Hamilton’s warning about those who would seek to discredit the government as prelude to a possible autocracy seems prophetic.
...
In defending impeachment in two “Federalist” essays, one might have expected Hamilton to engage in close textual analysis, parsing the exact meaning of “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Instead he couched his defense in broad political language, stating that impeachment should “proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust.” In short, the president didn’t need to commit a crime per se. “If the federal government should overpass the just bounds of its authority and make a tyrannical use of its powers,” the people must “take such measures to redress the injury done to the Constitution as the exigency may suggest and prudence justify.” Trump’s telephone call with the Ukrainian president would seem to suggest a clear abuse of power and possibly a campaign finance violation, although we will need a fair and impartial inquiry to confirm this. As Hamilton wrote, “Caution and investigation are a necessary armor against error and imposition.”

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Biden Fundraising

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.

Marc Caputo and Natasha Korecki at Politico:
Biden spent almost $2 million more than his presidential campaign raised in the third quarter, a predicament caused by sluggish fundraising coupled with the expenses of maintaining a big payroll and a nationwide operation — one that included luxury expenses such as swank hotel stays at the Westin and The W, and nearly $1 million for private jets.
His cash on hand sum of $8.9 million is so low that it’s almost four times lower than the $33.7 million banked by Sanders, nearly three times lower than Warren’s $25.7 million war chest and more than twice as small as Pete Buttigieg’s $23.3 million.
Democrats on Wednesday expressed grave reservations about whether Biden’s fundraising performance is an indication he cannot go the distance.
“It’s a high burn rate and that’s a big problem,” said Joe Trippi, a veteran of multiple presidential campaigns. “They’ve got no margin for error with what they’ve got in the bank.”
Biden’s top tier opponents vastly outraised him. And unlike the former vice president, none of them spent more than they earned, according to the campaign finance reports that were released hours after the debate.

Friday, October 18, 2019

"Cleaned Out" and "Ultimate Solution"

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's character and record of bigotryThe update -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. This past summerhe told several Democratic congresswomen to "go back" to their countries.

Remarks by President Trump Upon Arrival of Air Force One, Fort Worth, TX, October 17.
So you have a 22-mile strip.  And for many, many years, Turkey — in all fairness, they’ve had a legitimate problem with it.  They had terrorists.  They had a lot of people in there that they couldn’t have.  They’ve suffered a lot of loss of lives also.  And they had to have it cleaned out.

And Erdogan is okay with Hitler allusions. From The Guardian in 2016:
Turkey’s president has been pushing for some time for a new presidential system to govern the country, sparring with critics who accuse him of attempting a power grab.

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s latest comments in favour of greater executive powers are unlikely to help him bring those critics round. On Friday he was quoted by Turkish media as citing a striking example of an effective presidential system – Germany under Adolf Hitler.

Asked on his return from a visit to Saudi Arabia whether an executive presidential system was possible while maintaining the unitary structure of the state, he said: “There are already examples in the world. You can see it when you look at Hitler’s Germany.
“There are later examples in various other countries,” he told reporters, according to a recording broadcast by the Dogan news agency and reported by Reuters.