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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

The Impeachment Managers' Brief

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's dishonesty and his record of disregarding the rule of lawThe 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.

IN THE IMPEACHMENT TRIAL OF PRESIDENT DONALD J. TRUMP ;
President Trump’s solicitation of foreign interference in our elections to secure his own
political success is precisely why the Framers of our Constitution provided Congress with the power to impeach a corrupt President and remove him from office. One of the Founding generation’s principal fears was that foreign governments would seek to manipulate American elections—the defining feature of our self-government. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams warned of “foreign Interference, Intrigue, Influence” and predicted that, “as often as Elections happen, the danger of foreign Influence recurs.” The Framers therefore would have considered a President’s attempt to corrupt America’s democratic processes by demanding political favors from foreign powers to be a singularly pernicious act. They designed impeachment as the remedy for such misconduct because a President who manipulates U.S. elections to his advantage can avoid being held accountable by the voters through those same elections. And they would have viewed a President’s efforts to encourage foreign election interference as all the more dangerous where, as here, those efforts are part of an ongoing pattern of misconduct for which the President is unrepentant.
The House of Representatives gathered overwhelming evidence of President Trump’s
misconduct, which is summarized in the attached Statement of Material Facts and in the
comprehensive reports prepared by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Committee on the Judiciary. On the strength of that evidence, the House approved the First Article of Impeachment against President Trump for abuse of power. The Senate should now convict him on that Article. President Trump’s continuing presence in office undermines the integrity of our democratic processes and endangers our national security.
President Trump obstructed Congress by undertaking an unprecedented campaign to
prevent House Committees from investigating his misconduct. The Constitution entrusts the House with the “sole Power of Impeachment.” The Framers thus ensured what common sense requires—that the House, and not the President, determines the existence, scope, and procedures of an impeachment investigation into the President’s conduct. The House cannot conduct such an investigation effectively if it cannot obtain information from the President or the Executive Branch about the Presidential misconduct it is investigating. Under our constitutional system of divided powers, a President cannot be permitted to hide his offenses from view by refusing to comply with a Congressional impeachment inquiry and ordering Executive Branch agencies to do the same. That
conclusion is particularly important given the Department of Justice’s position that the President cannot be indicted. If the President could both avoid accountability under the criminal laws and preclude an effective impeachment investigation, he would truly be above the law.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

House Fundraising: Advantage D

In Defying the Odds, we discuss campaign finance and campaign technologyThe 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.

Sarah Ewall-Rice at CBS:
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the group that works to elect Democrats to Congress, is touting a fundraising advantage and expanding its battleground map after learning it outraised its GOP counterparts by $40 million in 2019.

The DCCC announced this week it raised $125 million last year, roughly $20 more than it raised in 2017, the last off year between elections. The fundraising was fueled by $59.6 million in grassroots contributions. At the same time, the 42 Democratic "frontline" members in competitive races raked in more than $91 million in 2019.
"We know that this gives them a huge tactical advantage in their districts because they can buy TV time at a significantly lower rate than the committee, than outside groups, than anyone else," said DCCC political director Kory Kozloski in a call with reporters. "They're going to have the resources to tell their stories in a significant way, in a way that incumbents have never had before, in a way that Democratic candidates in many cases have never had before."

Earlier this week, the National Republican Congressional Committee chair Tom Emmer revealed his committee raised $85 million in 2019, $40 million less than the DCCC. Emmer raised alarm bells to Republicans as they seek to take back the House in 2020.

Friday, January 17, 2020

"Dopes and Babies"

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's character and record of dishonestyThe 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.

At The Washington Post, Carol D. Leonnig and Philip Rucker report on a 7/20/17 national security briefing for Trump.  He berated the military for not winning in Afghanistan and taking the oil the Middle East.
Trump by now was in one of his rages. He was so angry that he wasn’t taking many breaths. All morning, he had been coarse and cavalier, but the next several things he bellowed went beyond that description. They stunned nearly everyone in the room, and some vowed that they would never repeat them. Indeed, they have not been reported until now.

“I wouldn’t go to war with you people,” Trump told the assembled brass.

Addressing the room, the commander in chief barked, “You’re a bunch of dopes and babies.”

For a president known for verbiage he euphemistically called “locker room talk,” this was the gravest insult he could have delivered to these people, in this sacred space. The flag officers in the room were shocked. Some staff began looking down at their papers, rearranging folders, almost wishing themselves out of the room. A few considered walking out. They tried not to reveal their revulsion on their faces, but questions raced through their minds. “How does the commander in chief say that?” one thought. “What would our worst adversaries think if they knew he said this?”
Mattis and Pence held their tongues.
Others at the table noticed Trump’s stream of venom had taken an emotional toll. So many people in that room had gone to war and risked their lives for their country, and now they were being dressed down by a president who had not. They felt sick to their stomachs. Tillerson told others he thought he saw a woman in the room silently crying. He was furious and decided he couldn’t stand it another minute. His voice broke into Trump’s tirade, this one about trying to make money off U.S. troops.

“No, that’s just wrong,” the secretary of state said. “Mr. President, you’re totally wrong. None of that is true.”

Tillerson’s father and uncle had both been combat veterans, and he was deeply proud of their service.

“The men and women who put on a uniform don’t do it to become soldiers of fortune,” Tillerson said. “That’s not why they put on a uniform and go out and die . . . They do it to protect our freedom.”

There was silence in the Tank. Several military officers in the room were grateful to the secretary of state for defending them when no one else would. The meeting soon ended and Trump walked out, saying goodbye to a group of servicemen lining the corridor as he made his way to his motorcade waiting outside. Mattis, Tillerson, and Cohn were deflated. Standing in the hall with a small cluster of people he trusted, Tillerson finally let down his guard.

“He’s a f---ing moron,” the secretary of state said of the president.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Withholding Ukraine Aid Was Illegal

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's dishonesty and his record of disregarding the rule of lawThe 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.

From the Government Accountability Office:
“Today, GAO issued a legal decision concluding that the Office of Management and Budget violated the law when it withheld approximately $214 million appropriated to DOD for security assistance to Ukraine. The President has narrow, limited authority to withhold appropriations under the Impoundment Control Act of 1974. OMB told GAO that it withheld the funds to ensure that they were not spent “in a manner that could conflict with the President’s foreign policy.” The law does not permit OMB to withhold funds for policy reasons.” The full decision can be found here: https://www.gao.gov/products/B-331564

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Impeachment Apocalypse Redux

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's dishonesty and his record of disregarding the rule of lawThe 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.



Speaker Nancy Pelosi today named Impeachment Managers.
Chair Adam Schiff of California, Lead Manager: Congressman Adam Schiff, Chair of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, is serving his 10th term in Congress. Before Congress, Mr. Schiff was a California State Senator and served as federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles for 6 years, most notably prosecuting the first FBI agent ever to be indicted for espionage.
Chair Jerry Nadler of New York: Congressman Jerry Nadler, Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, is serving his 15th term in Congress. Mr. Nadler has served as the top Democrat on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties for 13 years. Before Congress, Mr. Nadler served in the New York State Assembly for 16 years.
Chair Zoe Lofgren of California: Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, Chair of the Committee on House Administration, which has jurisdiction over federal elections, is a senior Member of the House Judiciary Committee. Ms. Lofgren is serving her 13th term in Congress. The Congresswoman has played a role in three presidential impeachment proceedings: as a staffer for a Judiciary Committee Member during Nixon, as a Judiciary Committee Member during Clinton, and now as a Manager.
Chair Hakeem Jeffries of New York: Congressman Hakeem Jeffries is the Chair of the House Democratic Caucus and is currently serving his 4th term in Congress. Mr. Jeffries is a Member of the House Judiciary Committee. Before Congress, Mr. Jeffries served in the New York State Assembly for 6 years. An accomplished litigator in private practice before running for elected office, Mr. Jeffries clerked for the Honorable Harold Baer Jr. of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Congresswoman Val Demings of Florida: Congresswoman Val Demings is a Member of both the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Judiciary Committee. Ms. Demings is serving her 2nd term in Congress. Before Congress, Ms. Demings served in the Orlando Police Department for 27 years, including serving successfully as Orlando’s first female Chief of Police.
Congressman Jason Crow of Colorado: Congressman Jason Crow is Member of the House Armed Services Committee. Mr. Crow served his country bravely as an Army Ranger in Iraq and Afghanistan. Before running for elected office, Mr. Crow was a respected litigator in private practice in Colorado.
Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia of Texas: Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia is a Member of the House Judiciary Committee. Before Congress, Ms. Garcia served in the Texas State Senate. Previously, Ms. Garcia was the Director and Presiding Judge of the Houston Municipal System and was elected City Controller. Ms. Garcia was later elected the first Hispanic and first woman to be elected in her own right to the Harris County Commissioner’s Court.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Bloomberg's Massive, Well-Paid Staff

In Defying the Oddswe discuss campaign 0rganization  The 2019 update-includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.  

Christopher Cadelago and Goldenberg at Politico:
Mike Bloomberg’s presidential campaign has brought on more than 700 staffers spread out across 33 states, with a growing number of organizers joining his ranks in states that vote on Super Tuesday, aides told POLITICO.
All told, the former New York mayor's operation totals more than 1,000 people, a figure that includes hundreds of staffers who work out of his Manhattan headquarters.
...
 To lure staffers, Bloomberg’s campaign is offering salaries that in some cases far exceed typical wages paid by his opponents. The campaign has also agreed to pay them well into the summer or through the November election, regardless of whether he's the nominee. Advisers said the move is designed to ensure new hires, like Bloomberg himself, are committed to eliminating Trump.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Rich People, Not Corporations, Fund Super PACs

In Defying the Odds, we discuss campaign finance and campaign technologyThe 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.

“The current system of campaign finance is one that is dramatically different from the one that jumps out from the pages of the statutes,” according to a report from the Bipartisan Policy Center prepared by, among others, scholars from the New York University and Stanford law schools. “The current system has been shaped by a combination of legislative, judicial, and administrative actions, and is not a system that, in its entirety, Congress ever established.”

But the notion that the Citizens United decision opened the donation floodgates to 21st century corporations is a myth.

The power of corporate contributions in modern times — $95 million in 2016 — is arguably about the same as it was in 1896, when businessman Mark Hanna was able to raise the 2019 equivalent of $90 million from banks and insurance companies on behalf of Republican presidential candidate William McKinley to battle the populist Democratic nominee William Jennings Bryan. McKinley won.

Not one major American corporation spent money independently in support of a candidate in 2014 and 2016. Only two smaller companies in 2014 and 10 two years later made independent expenditures, amounting to a total of $753,282.

“Even when the expenditures reported by trade associations or other business organizations are considered,” according to the Conference Board study, “the role of business spending is relatively insignificant.”

Students of campaign finance believe a major reason for the relatively small corporate contributions — money specifically directed to an individual campaign, as opposed to super PAC contributions — is a reluctance to alienate customers. “You want to sell soap to everybody, not just to Republicans or just to Democrats,” said Corrado, the Colby College political scientist.

Another surprise since 2010 has been the degree to which grass-roots fundraising has changed politics, arguably serving as an antidote to big-money contributions. Internet-based, small-dollar individual contributions have soared, largely funding candidacies such as those of Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, and changing the dynamics of many congressional campaigns, especially on the Democratic side.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

The California Primary

In Defying the Odds, we discuss California's place on the electoral landscape. The update looks at political and demographic trends through the 2018 midterm.

In the March 3 California presidential primary, no-party-preference voters (i.e., independents) may vote in the Democratic race but not the GOP side.  But the catch is that they must request a Democratic ballot. To vote in the Democratic primary by mail, they would have had to file the request in December.  But they can still make the request at any early voting station or a primary-day ballot station.  And they still have more than a month to change their registration to Democratic.

Kathleen Ronayne at AP:
So far, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and billionaire Michael Bloomberg have been most aggressive in pursuing independents. Sanders, the independent senator who has thrived on anti-establishment enthusiasm, is urging his California supporters to become Democrats, despite the fact that they can vote for him as independents. At a December rally, he walked the audience through changing their voter affiliation, telling them to use the secretary of state’s website.
His campaign argues that this approach ensures voters get the ballots they need, rather than having to take additional steps, as independents must. Californians can change their party registration until Feb. 18. The campaign is also adding a feature on its mobile app that will let supporters look up the party registrations of friends and family, so that they can send them instructions on how to vote for Sanders.

...
As of last week, just 8% of independents who vote by mail had asked for a ballot in the presidential primary, according to data collection by Paul Mitchell, who runs the nonpartisan Political Data Inc., which collects and sells voter data to campaigns. Not all counties had reported data.
Complicating matters is the fact that for most elections, Californians are accustomed to open primaries in which all the candidates appear on the same ballot, regardless of party. Many may not know that the presidential race runs differently. The state also moved up its primary from June to March, and the earlier voting could catch some people by surprise
...

Candidates must earn support from 15% of voters in a congressional district to gain the delegates that will determine who wins the nomination. And since California has more congressional districts than any other state, independents could make the difference between clinching much-needed delegates or leaving the state empty-handed.
“If they’re targeting certain congressional districts, they’re not having to beat their opponent by 100,000 votes,” Mitchell said. “Delegates are going to be won on the margins up and down the state.”

A larger-than-usual number of downballot races in the top-two primary could end up as Democratic-on-Democrat.  Joel Fox tells why:
Traditionally, Republican voters turn out in higher percentages relative to their registration numbers compared to Democrats in primary elections. That may not hold true when California voters go to the polls on March 3. 
With all the attention on the Democratic presidential nomination race in California and Republican voters prohibited from asking for a Democratic ballot, one wonders the effect on down ticket races if many Republicans choose to stay home.
Because of California’s unique election system, all candidates for an office other than president are listed on the same ballot and a voter can vote for any of the candidates regardless of party. Yet, party preferences of candidates are identified on the ballots. An occasional Democratic voter who is driven to vote this time because of the close presidential contest on the Democratic side will probably be looking for Democrats to vote for in other races.
Meanwhile, Republicans who see no major presidential challenger to President Trump just may sit this election out. That is the fear of state Republican officials.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Americans Think Obama Did Better on Iran

In Defying the Odds, we discuss foreign policy issues in the 2016 campaign. Our update takes the story through the 2018 election.

Andrew Romano reports on a Yahoo/YouGov poll:
Conducted from Jan. 8 to 10 — after Iranian ballistic missiles struck Iraqi bases in retaliation without causing American casualties and Trump declared that “Iran appears to be standing down” — the poll found that 42 percent of Americans opposed Trump’s approach to Iran (versus 36 percent who supported it). Forty percent said Trump was wrong to withdraw from the Obama administration’s nuclear treaty with Tehran (versus 35 percent who said he was right), while 41 percent said Trump has been less effective on Iran than Obama (versus 34 percent who said the current president has been more effective). On all three questions, about a quarter of respondents said they were either not sure or neutral.


Friday, January 10, 2020

Trump's Public Opinion Problems, at Home and Abroad

In Defying the Odds, we discuss foreign policy issues in the 2016 campaign. Our update takes the story through the 2018 election.

Susan Page at USA Today:
Americans by more than 2-1 said the killing of Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani has made the United States less safe, a nationwide USA TODAY/Ipsos Poll finds, amid broad concerns about the potential consequences ahead.
A majority of those surveyed, by 52%-34%, called President Donald Trump's behavior with Iran "reckless."
Americans were divided on the wisdom of the drone strike at the Baghdad airport last week that killed Soleimani and others: 42% supported it, 33% opposed it; 25% said they didn't know what to think. Republicans were much more supportive than Democrats; independents were almost evenly split.
But there was overwhelming agreement – in each case by more than 6-1 – that the attack made it more likely Iran would strike American interests in the Middle East (69%), that there would be terrorist attacks on the American homeland (63%), and that the United States and Iran would go to war (62%).
From Pew:
As has been the case throughout his presidency, U.S. President Donald Trump receives largely negative reviews from publics around the world. Across 32 countries surveyed by Pew Research Center, a median of 64% say they do not have confidence in Trump to do the right thing in world affairs, while just 29% express confidence in the American leader.
Anti-Trump sentiments are especially common in Western Europe: Roughly three-in-four or more lack confidence in Trump in Germany, Sweden, France, Spain and the Netherlands. He also gets especially poor reviews in Mexico, where 89% do not have confidence in him.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

College America, Warren, and Mayor Pete


Warren has always relied heavily on the Connected Class. That includes doctors and lawyers, but, in general, it's the larger class of college-educated white people. This may, in fact, have been the biggest chunk of her support.
At her Iowa peak, when Warren was leading the field in mid-October, she was getting about 33% of all college graduates according to an Iowa State University poll, while Buttigieg was pulling in about 19%.
Now, Buttigieg is winning the college-educated vote 26% to 24%, according to the Iowa State University poll in December. If you were to screen out those with graduate degrees, and look at those whose highest degree was a bachelor’s (which is about a quarter of the Democratic electorate), we’ve swung from a 14-point Warren lead in October to a 5-point Buttigieg lead at the New Year.

Warren is falling mostly because white, college-educated voters are leaving her for Buttigieg.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Left v. Biden

In Defying the Odds, we discuss primaries.

Marc Caputo at Politico:
The progressive movement is kicking off 2020 with a full-scale, whack-a-Joe mobilization against the former vice president, marked by intensified attacks and protests designed to bloody Biden in advance of the Iowa caucuses.
The grassroots assault hit from a variety of angles, starting Monday when the Progressive Change Campaign Committee demanded Biden retract statements about sexism in politics. Hours later, the group Indivisible criticized him over his immigration plan. Then, activists aligned with the Sunrise Movement recently picketed him at a New York City fundraiser hosted by a billionaire.

While Biden has taken flak from the Democratic Party’s left flank for the past year, the effort marks the first time he’s been the subject of a sustained barrage from the left, amplifying recent back-to-back broadsides from two of Biden’s top opponents, Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, over Social Security and bankruptcy legislation.

The shared offensive comes on the heels of Biden’s best fundraising quarter — he pulled in nearly $23 million — since entering the presidential race in April. And it follows recent polling that shows he remains the frontrunner in national primary polls and a top-tier contender in first-in-the-nation Iowa, which holds its caucus Feb. 3.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Dems Keep Lead in Party Identification

In Defying the Odds, we discuss demographic and partisan gaps in the 2016 election.

Jeffrey M. Jones at Gallup:
In 2019, on average, 47% of U.S. adults identified politically as Democrats or said they were independents who leaned toward the Democratic Party. Meanwhile, 42% identified as Republicans or were Republican-leaning independents.
Americans' political leanings have been quite stable since 2016, the year Donald Trump was elected president. The Democratic figure has not changed in the past four years, and the Republican figure has been 41% or 42% each year since 2012.

The latest results are based on aggregated data across all Gallup Poll surveys in 2019, which include interviews with more than 29,000 U.S. adults.

Monday, January 6, 2020

NH Independents Endorse Biden

In Defying the Odds, we discuss primaries.

John DiStaso at WMUR:
Former Republican U.S. Sen. Gordon Humphrey and former New Hampshire First Lady Dorothy Peterson are among 100 independent Granite State voters announcing their support for former Vice President Joe Biden on Monday.
The Biden campaign said 93 of the 100 “New Hampshire Independents for Biden” are making their support for the former vice president known for the first time. The other seven have been previously announced and are reaffirming their support as members of the grassroots coalition.
The campaign said it intends to make a broad, concerted effort to speak to independent voters over the next six weeks leading to the first-in-the-nation primary on Feb. 11.
View the full list of “New Hampshire Independents for Biden” here.
Independents, formally known as undeclared voters, make up the largest voting bloc in the state. As of Oct. 30, they comprised 42 percent of the registered voters in the state, while Republicans were 29.5 percent and Democrats were 28 percent of New Hampshire voters.
Independents can take either a Democratic or a Republican ballot in primary elections and then are able to return to undeclared status if they wish.
In 2016, Sanders got 70 percent of the independent vote in the New Hampshire primary. 

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Mainline Pete v. Trump and the Evangelical Right

 In Defying the Odds, we talk about the social and economic divides that enabled Trump to enter the White House.

Jack Jenkins at the Religion News Service:
Donald Trump insisted that he is favored by God during a speech to evangelicals on Friday evening (Jan 4), in which he also went through a roll call of evangelical rallying points and challenged the faith of his Democratic rivals as he kicked off a new campaign initiative aimed at conservative Christians.
I really do believe we have God on our side,” Trump told the crowd of roughly 5,000 gathered at El Rey Jesús Church in Miami, Florida.
...
The president repeatedly characterized religion itself as under attack or “under siege” in the United States, saying that people of faith have no greater champion than him. He noted a recent shooting at a church in Texas and the stabbing of Jews worshiping in New York, adding that he would strive to combat anti-Semitism.
He did not mention his controversial travel ban — which was originally proposed as a ban on Muslims entering the country — or attacks on Muslim Americans and their houses of worship that have occurred during his presidency.
However, Trump did take shots at the field of Democratic candidates vying to replace him.
“As we speak, every Democrat (sic) candidate is trying to punish religious believers, and silence our churches and our pastors,” Trump said. “Our opponents want to shut out God from the public square so they can impose their extreme anti-religious and socialist agenda on America.”
It is unclear what Trump meant by “punish religious believers,” although he made reference to a short-lived proposal by former candidate Beto O’Rourke of Texas, who once suggested faith-based institutions should lose their tax-exempt status if they don’t support same-sex marriage. O’Rourke later clarified that he was referring only to religious institutions that provide public services, not individual houses of worship.
Trump also mocked South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who has referenced faith repeatedly during his presidential campaign. The president joked that “nobody can pronounce (Buttigieg’s) name” before questioning the authenticity of the Democrat’s religious beliefs.
“All of a sudden he has become extremely religious,” Trump said. “This happened about two weeks ago."
At The Dispatch, David French explains that Pete Buttigieg's deep and sincere Christianity is not necessarily appealing to Evangelicals.
All of that may sound hair-splitting and esoteric to those who aren’t Christian, but these theological differences create profound cultural differences. For example, a Mainline Christian looks at an Evangelical and simply can’t understand how someone who calls themselves “loving” or “kind” or “compassionate” could possibly believe that the loving sexual union of two men or two women is in any way immoral. An Evangelical wonders how a person who calls themselves “loving” or “kind” or “compassionate” could excuse or rationalize conduct that God rejects. Does that not harm the souls of the very people they love? (To his credit, Buttigieg frequently acknowledges the good faith of competing Christian ideas.)
Or, to put it another way, at his or her best an Evangelical declares (to quote the esteemed theologian Kanye West), “Jesus is King,” and then seeks to follow what the King commands through the “God-breathed” scriptures that represent the final word and ultimate authority in any religious contest. They (we) are of course subject to comprehensive critique in the way in which we uphold our own professed principles, but those are the principles, that’s the language, and that’s one reason why not all “God talk” is created equal in the eyes of the faithful.

I appreciate Mayor Pete for putting his faith front and center in his campaign. Truly, I do. It’s a welcome act of transparency. After all, we all get our code of ethics from somewhere, and it’s worth knowing the source of Buttigieg’s forceful moral arguments. But if mainstream media figures believe that Mayor Pete speaks the same Christian language as Trump’s Evangelical base, they need to think again. He’s a sincere proponent of a faith that is very different from theirs.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Iran, the Next Day

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

Andrew Kaczynski at CNN:
In media appearances prior to the 2012 election, Donald Trump repeatedly predicted that then-President Barack Obama would start a war with Iran in order to win reelection.
A CNN KFile review found Trump made the claims throughout 2011 and 2012 in radio and television appearances as well as in a since-deleted YouTube blog and on Twitter.
Now president and facing his own reelection battle later this year, Trump ordered a drone strike on Thursday that killed Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force, in a major escalation between Iran and the US. Trump celebrated the news on Thursday night by tweeting a picture of an American flag, adding on Friday, "Iran never won a war, but never lost a negotiation!"

Friday, January 3, 2020

Iranamuck

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

Aaron Blake at WP:
The United States killed a top-level Iranian military leader in Iraq early Friday local time, and the questions on everyone’s mind are: Are we now at war? What happens next? And what is President Trump prepared to do?
The decision to take out the powerful military commander, Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, was a huge one. Reporting suggests he is indispensable to Iran-backed forces across the Middle East, and the move will be seen as a remarkable escalation of tensions between Iran and the United States — even after supporters of an Iranian-backed militia stormed the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad this week. Iran has responded to the Trump administration’s pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal and implementing heavy sanctions with increasing provocations, and Trump has now lodged a major response.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Biden Bucks

In Defying the Odds, we discuss campaign finance and campaign technologyThe 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. 

Former Vice President Joe Biden raised $22.7 million in the fourth fundraising quarter of 2019, his campaign announced Thursday, his best number yet of the 2020 cycle-- figures that come a week after his campaign disclosed the names of their "bundlers", individuals that helped raised more than $25,000 for the candidate.
Biden’s current fundraising numbers put him third so far compared to other 2020 campaigns who have already released their numbers for the fourth quarter of 2019. Sen. Bernie Sanders announced a staggering $34.5 million in Q4, and former Mayor of South Bend, Ind Pete Buttigeig, who raised $24.7 million."Biden for President doubled its online fundraising and increased its overall fundraising by 49% compared to last quarter, demonstrating financial momentum at the same time as Vice President Biden’s lead nationally has grown," a press release sent out by the Biden campaign Thursday afternoon said.
Throughout his campaign, Biden has not shied away from high-dollar fundraisers and held more than 100 fundraisers in 2019 alone.
Late last month, following the lead of fellow candidates N.J. Sen. Cory Booker and former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, the Biden campaign, released the names of more than 200 bundlers-- a group that spans well connected Hollywood figures such as movie executive Jeffrey Katzenberg and current or former elected officials that have endorsed Biden.
The bundlers include Delaware Senator Chris Coons, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and former Florida Rep. Patrick Murphy.
(MORE: Pete Buttigieg releases list of 113 bundlers for his campaign)
Former top Obama economic adviser Jeff Zients, International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) President Harold Schaitberger, and Amazon General Counsel David Zapolsky, are also on the list.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Russian Trolls Influenced the MSM, Too

In Defying the Odds, we discuss social media, fake news, and Russian involvement in the 2016 campaign.


The Russian-sponsored Internet Research Agency’s (IRA) use of social media to influence U.S. political discourse is undoubtedly troubling. However, scholarly attention has focused on social media, overlooking the role that news media within the country played in amplifying false, foreign messages. In this article, we examine articles in the U.S. news media system that quoted IRA tweets through the lens of changing journalism practices in the hybrid media system, focusing specifically on news gatekeepers’ use of tweets as vox populi. We find that a majority of the IRA tweets embedded in the news were vox populi. That is, IRA tweets were quoted (1) for their opinion, (2) as coming from everyday Twitter users, and (3) with a collection of other tweets holistically representing public sentiment. These findings raise concerns about how modern gatekeeping practices, transformed due to the hybrid media system, may also unintentionally let in unwanted disinformation from malicious actors.

From the article:

IRA “specialists” were instructed to intensify political disunity by supporting political extremist groups, social movements, and “users dissatisfied with [the] social and economic situation” (p. 14). Specialists were also told to “use any opportunity to criticize Hillary and the rest (except Sanders and Trump—we support them)” (p. 17).
...

In our corpus of 314 articles, 198 (63.1%) articles referenced an IRA account as an average American or social media user. In this category, journalists typically described IRA tweets as representative of “Twitter” opinion or backlash (using phrases like “Twitter trolls,” the “Twitterati” “The Internet,” or simply as “Twitter”)15 or representative of supporters for a politician or political issue (e.g., “Trump supporters,” “Leftists,” or “LGBT users”).