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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

The Political Geography of COVID-19

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the 2016 campaign. The 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. The 2020 race, the subject of our next book, is well underway.  

Coronavirus presents unprecedented challenges to public policy and the electoral process.

Bradley Jones at Pew:
A new Pew Research Center analysis of data on official reports of COVID-19 deaths, collected by the John Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering, finds that, as of last week, nearly a quarter of all the deaths in the United States attributed to the coronavirus have been in just 12 congressional districts – all located in New York City and represented by Democrats in Congress. Of the more than 92,000 Americans who had died of COVID-19 as of May 20 (the date that the data in this analysis was collected), nearly 75,000 were in Democratic congressional districts.
BUT the pattern may change over time.

William Frey at Brookings:
In our weekly tracking, it became clear that the period after April 20 marked a change in the political orientation of new high COVID-19 prevalence counties. In each week prior to April 20, high-prevalence counties were home to populations that gave more votes to Hillary Clinton than Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election. However, for each week since April 20, Trump won more voters in new high-prevalence counties.
This is summarized in Figure 1, which shows Clinton besting Trump by a margin of 62 to 34 in high-prevalence counties as of March 29, and by a margin of 54 to 40 for new counties between March 30 and April 19. But in the 984 counties reaching high COVID-19 prevalence between April 20 and May 24, Trump bested Clinton by a margin of 49 to 45.

 Fig1

Presidential Address

In Un-American: The Fake Patriotism of Donald J. Trump, I discuss the president's character.

George H.W. Bush addressed the nation in the wake of the 1992 Los Angeles riot.  It did not help his public standing.  His Gallup approval rating ticked down from 42 percent to 40 percent.

Jack Nelson in The Baltimore Sun, May 5, 1992:
The Los Angeles riots have sharply reduced support for President Bush, according to a new nationwide poll that shows him drawing only 33 percent of the vote in a three-man trial run, locked in a virtual dead heat with Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton and Texas billionaire Ross Perot.
Mr. Clinton and Mr. Perot each drew 30 percent of the vote in the Times Mirror poll, which was released yesterday. The survey of 1,301 respondents, conducted Wednesday -- the day the riots erupted -- through Sunday, has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.
Only two weeks ago a U.S. News & World Report poll gave Mr. Bush significant leads over both Mr. Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee, and Mr. Perot, who now is widely expected to run as an independent candidate. That poll gave Mr. Bush 40 percent, Mr. Clinton, 29 percent, and Mr. Perot, 24 percent.
The Times Mirror poll also showed a statistical dead heat in a two-man race with Mr. Bush drawing 46 percent to Mr. Clinton's 43 percent.
Robin Toner in The New York Times, May 11, 1992:

President Bush, who pledged his commitment to the stricken neighborhoods of Los Angeles last week, was given poor marks by both blacks and whites for his response to the riots. Moreover, 53 percent of all the whites who took part in the survey and 76 percent of all the blacks said they disapproved of the way Mr. Bush was handling race relations in general.

Reuters report in The Los Angeles Times, May 12, 1992:
President Bush’s public approval ratings and his standing with voters have slumped since the Los Angeles riots, a CNN-Gallup poll said Monday.
The new telephone poll of more than 1,000 people showed Bush with 35% of the vote to 30% for Ross Perot and 29% for Bill Clinton, if the vote were held today. That Bush lead is far narrower than in previous polls, CNN said.

Since early April, Bush has lost nine percentage points while Perot and Clinton have climbed in voters’ eyes, according to the poll, which had a margin of error of three percentage points. The President’s favorability rating declined to 50% while his unfavorable rating hit 46%, CNN said.

Trump and Riots

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's dishonesty and his record of disregarding the rule of law




Saturday, May 30, 2020

Tweets and Violence

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's dishonesty and his record of disregarding the rule of law

Friday, May 29, 2020

Trump and Riots

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.  


Thursday, May 28, 2020

Dark Money Update

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

Toby Eckert at Politico:
The Treasury Department and IRS on Tuesday finalized regulations that will excuse some politically active tax-exempt groups from having to disclose their high-dollar donors to the IRS.
The rules, which have been in the works for several years, will affect groups organized under 501(c)(4) of the tax code, which include political heavy-hitters like the National Rifle Association and AARP; labor unions; and “dark money” groups that fly under the radar.
Those organizations have no legal obligation to publicly disclose their donors' identities, but they previously had to give the IRS the names and addresses of donors who gave them more than $5,000. Under the new regulations, the groups won’t have to provide the information to the IRS at all.

Supporters of the move say the IRS doesn’t need the information and that requiring it posed privacy risks, even though the agency kept the information confidential. But opponents say it will make political activity by tax-exempt groups even more opaque and open the door to donations from foreigners.
 Anna Massoglia and Sam Levine at Open Secrets:
A powerful new conservative organization fighting to restrict voting in the 2020 presidential election is really just a rebranded group that is part of a dark money network already helping President Donald Trump’s unprecedented effort to remake the federal judiciary, the Guardian and OpenSecrets reveal.
The organization, which calls itself the Honest Elections Project, seemed to emerge out of nowhere a few months ago and started stoking fears about voter fraud. Backed by a dark money group funded by right-wing stalwarts like the Koch brothers and Betsy DeVos’ family, the Honest Elections Project is part of the network that pushed Supreme Court picks Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsurch, and is quickly becoming a juggernaut in the escalating fight over voting rights.

The project announced it was spending $250,000 on advertisements in April, warning against voting by mail and accusing Democrats of cheating. It facilitated letters to election officials in Colorado, Florida, and Michigan, using misleading data to accuse jurisdictions of having bloated voter rolls and threatening legal action.

Calling voter suppression a “myth,” it has also been extremely active in the courts, filing briefs in favor of voting restrictions in Nevada, Virginia, Texas, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, among other places, at times represented by lawyers from the same firm that represents Trump. By having a hand in both voting litigation and the judges on the federal bench, this network could create a system where conservative donors have an avenue to both oppose voting rights and appoint judges to back that effort.
Despite appearing to be a free-standing new operation, the Honest Elections Project is just a legal alias for the Judicial Education Project, a well-financed nonprofit connected to a powerful network of dark money conservative groups, according to business records reviewed by the Guardian and OpenSecrets.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Montana Spoiler Alert

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

Major parties sometimes help third-party spoilers.  Governor Steve Bullock leads in the Montana Senate race, and Republicans are trying to use the Greens to siphon votes from him.

Mike Dennison reports at MTN News:
A recently formed political action committee that’s campaigning for a Green Party candidate in Montana’s high-profile U.S. Senate race is using a communications firm with ties to Montana Republicans, records show.
The Go Green Montana PAC paid $27,000 this month to Arena, a Salt Lake City firm, for digital ads, mailings and a website to support Green Party candidate Wendie Fredrickson.
Campaign-finance records also show that the Montana Republican Party and Republican candidates in Montana, including U.S. Sen. Steve Daines, have paid Arena $1.7 million for its services over the last decade.Sandi Luckey, the executive director of the Montana Democratic Party, said the Go Green Montana PAC is “just the latest escalation in the ongoing Republican effort to mislead Montanans and meddle in our elections.”
On March 25, Mike Dennison reported at MTN News:
The Montana Republican Party helped finance the effort to qualify the Green Party for the state’s 2020 elections, paying $100,000 to groups that hired or financed mostly out-of-state signature-gathers, MTN News has learned.
The party confirmed Tuesday that it was behind the effort, but had reported late last month, on documents filed with the Federal Election Commission, that it made an initial $50,000 payment in January to the Texas company that hired signature-gatherers.
Montana Republican Party Executive Director Spenser Merwin told MTN News in a statement that the GOP wanted to “provide more choice for Montanans this November,” and noted that state Democrats have worked to “limit ballot access” to minor political parties.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Trump Albatross

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

A.B. Stoddard at RCP:
If there is one thing Senate Republicans trying hard to get reelected in November can count on, it’s that President Trump will make it even harder for them. From his gross mismanagement of a deadly pandemic to the nonstop, self-absorbed grievance parade he wants Senate Republicans to indulge during a deadly pandemic, Trump seems intent on making sure the out of control virus, the powerful issue of health care, and a tanking economy aren’t their only campaign headaches.

In just this past week Trump has threatened two states with extortion of federal funds, accused them of fictional crimes, continued firing inspectors general and publicly taunted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell -- himself a candidate who was outraised last quarter by his challenger -- to “get tough” on former President Obama. He descended on the Senate GOP lunch Tuesday on short notice to lecture them on party unity and earth-scorching.
Andrew O. Ballard  Hans J. G. Hassell  Michael Heseltine, "Be Careful What You Wish For: The Impacts of President Trump’s Midterm Endorsements," Legislative Studies Quarterly
First published:19 May 2020 https://doi.org/10.1111/lsq.12284. Abstract:
We analyze the effects of President Trump’s endorsements on House and Senate elections in 2018. Previous work has argued that presidential endorsements are usually positive or, at worst, neutral for the recipient candidates. We find that President Trump was more likely to endorse candidates with a higher pre‐endorsement likelihood of winning and to endorse candidates in more competitive races, suggesting the president used endorsements strategically both to try and help Republican candidates win and to boost his reputation for helping candidates win. However, while President Trump’s public endorsements provided a financial boost to endorsed candidates, they also increased donor support of opposing candidates and were ultimately detrimental to candidates’ vote shares and likelihood of winning. This work provides evidence for potential backlash effects among opposition voters in response to presidential endorsement in a nationalized political environment and expands our understanding of the impact of presidential campaigning in congressional midterm elections.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Tax Cut Politics

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

Don Lee at LAT:
The lower corporate tax rate, plus the elimination of taxes on most foreign business income, would make the U.S. more competitive globally, it was argued. With the tax savings, companies would ramp up domestic investments. U.S. multinational firms would repatriate cash stashed overseas and invest domestically, and it would discourage a flight of capital to offshore destinations, ultimately benefiting workers in America.
But economists widely agree that the tax cuts, while providing a small stimulus to growth particularly in 2018, failed on its core objectives.
Instead of ramping up capital spending and investments or turning away from offshoring, many U.S. companies focused on hiking dividends and buying back their own stock, which chiefly benefited high-income investors. Buybacks hit record levels in 2018 and remained strong in 2019.
...
As for dampening offshore investments, research has shown evidence the opposite happened. The tax overhaul included several new provisions that actually made it more desirable for U.S. multinational firms to invest in tangible assets overseas because that would give them a bigger tax break.
Nicholas Kristof at NYT:
While President Trump and his allies in Congress seek to tighten access to food stamps, they are showing compassion for one group: zillionaires. Their economic rescue package quietly allocated $135 billion — yes, that’s “billion” with a “b” — for the likes of wealthy real estate developers.

My Times colleague Jesse Drucker notes that Trump himself, along with his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, may benefit financially from this provision. The fine print was mysteriously slipped into the March economic relief package, even though it has nothing to do with the coronavirus and offers retroactive tax breaks for periods long before Covid-19 arrived.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Representative Lloyd Doggett of Texas, both Democrats, have asked the Trump administration for any communications that illuminate how this provision sneaked into the 880-page bill. (Officially, the provision is called “Modification of Limitation on Losses for Taxpayers Other Than Corporations,” but that’s camouflage; I prefer to call it the “Zillionaire Giveaway.”)

About 82 percent of the Zillionaire Giveaway goes to those earning more than $1 million a year, according to Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation. Of those beneficiaries earning more than $1 million annually, the average benefit is $1.6 million.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Culture of Corruption, 2020

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

The American Prospect has a feature titled Mapping Corruption: The Interactive Exhibit
Yeganeh Torbati and Derek Willis at Pro Publica:
A former White House aide won a $3 million federal contract to supply respirator masks to Navajo Nation hospitals in New Mexico and Arizona 11 days after he created a company to sell personal protective equipment in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Zach Fuentes, President Donald Trump’s former deputy chief of staff, secured the deal with the Indian Health Service with limited competitive bidding and no prior federal contracting experience.
The IHS told ProPublica it has found that 247,000 of the masks delivered by Fuentes’ company — at a cost of roughly $800,000 — may be unsuitable for medical use. An additional 130,400, worth about $422,000, are not the type specified in the procurement data, the agency said.
Lindsay Wise and  Courtney McBride at WSJ:
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hosted a dinner at the State Department for guests with ties to Kansas—the state where he had been urged to run for Senate—one of a series of private events that Democrats in Congress are now scrutinizing as Mr. Pompeo comes under fire for recommending the removal of his agency’s watchdog.
Democrats are examining whether Mr. Pompeo used taxpayer resources for personal purposes, and are partly focused on a series of private events, known as “Madison dinners,” sponsored by Mr. Pompeo and involving political, diplomatic and media figures.

That scrutiny has intensified in the days since Mr. Pompeo advised President Trump to fire Steve Linick, the State Department’s inspector general, while under investigation for allegedly using government staff for personal errands and for his emergency declaration to sell arms to Middle East allies, sidestepping Congress. Mr. Pompeo on Wednesday denied that Mr. Linick’s firing was retaliation for those investigations.

Friday, May 22, 2020

CA GOP Un-Endorses Racist Nut

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

Carla Marinucci and Jeremy B. White at Politico:
Controversy has beset CA-10 candidate Ted Howze after POLITICO reported on bigoted, conspiratorial and inflammatory social media posts from his accounts. While Howze issued another denial yesterday, comparing his treatment to that of Brett Kavanaugh, Republican Party figures have publicly reproached the posts and begun backing away from a candidate who’s suddenly smelling toxic.

Last night the big blow fell: the California Republican Party unanimously yanked its endorsement, with Chair Jessica Millan Patterson underscoring a zero-tolerance policy for posts that she called "disgraceful, disgusting" and contradictory to "the values we hold or the Party we are building." Tasked with rebuilding a party that has struggled to expand beyond its base, Patterson could ill-afford to back a candidate with this kind of baggage, denials or no.
The escalating exodus further scrambles a November political map in which control of the House hinges partly on seven red-to-blue California seats. Democratic CA-10 Rep. Josh Harder had been seen as one of the more vulnerable first-term California Dems after his come-from-behind win against former Rep. Jeff Denham in 2018. But Howze's woes redound to Harder's advantage: even before the CAGOP disavowal, Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball yesterday moved the district to "safe Democratic."
Before the excrement hit the vent, California Republicans were celebrating: new Rep. Mike Garcia had just wrested back CA-25, giving the party its first reclaimed seat in decades and strengthening its hand going into November. Where once the party was preparing to challenge Rep. Katie Hill, a popular rising star, now it had a Republican incumbent on the ballot whose comfortable win energized the base.
But now the picture is murkier. And that’s without getting into the pandemic X-factor. Assumptions of surging liberal turnout have given way to the utter uncertainty of constrained campaigning with all-mail balloting — not to mention how a devastated economy affects voter perceptions.
Both CA-25 and CA-10 are filtering into other California races: Yesterday we saw one Democrat raising funds off of the need to defeat the “extreme, far-right, xenophobic” Howze; vulnerable Democratic freshman Rep. Gil Cisneros exhorted supporters that the CA-25 defeat “reminded us just how competitive Gil’s reelection is going to be in November.”

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Nut Wins GOP Senate Nomination in Oregon

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

Tess Riski at Willamette Week:
Hours before Jo Rae Perkins won 49.7 percent of Republican votes and the party's nod to face U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) in November, she posted on social media a now-deleted video of herself espousing support for the baseless right-wing conspiracy theory QAnon.

"Hi, my name is Jo Rae Perkins, candidate for the U.S. Senate in Oregon," Perkins says in the May 19 video, while seated in front of a bookcase. She then recites the QAnon slogan—"where we go one, we go all"—while holding up a sticker of an acronym of said slogan.
"I stand with President Trump," Perkins continues in the video, which was first reported by The Washington Post. "I stand with Q and the team. Thank you, anons, thank you, patriots. Together, we can save our republic."
Reached by phone Wednesday, Perkins said she did not have time to discuss the video, and instead referred WW to her communications team. Her campaign then sent out a prepared statement from Perkins, in which she partly disavowed the conspiracy theory.





Caroline Mimbs Nyce at The Atlantic:

To believe in QAnon is to believe, among other things, that a cabal of global elites are secretly harming children (think: 2016’s Pizzagate), that their behavior is propped up by members of the deep state, and that President Donald Trump is working to bring their crimes to an end. Adherents learned all this from Q, an anonymous figure who they believe has high-level military ties, who periodically leaves clues on the internet. He is their prophet.
Q-Anon is a pro-Trump conspiracy theory, yes, but it’s also more important than you might think. Adrienne LaFrance, our executive editor, spent more than a year trying to make sense of the movement and its followers. Her full, enthralling report is our latest magazine cover story.
Here are three ways to understand QAnon, as explained by Adrienne:
1. It’s a real-time participatory conspiracy theory.

The eventual destruction of the global cabal is imminent, Q prophesies, but can be accomplished only with the support of patriots who search for meaning in Q’s clues. … Surely there are people who know that Q is a fantasy but participate because there’s an element of QAnon that converges with a live-action role-playing game.
2. It’s a mass rejection of reason and Enlightenment values.

In the face of inconvenient facts, it has the ambiguity and adaptability to sustain a movement of this kind over time. For QAnon, every contradiction can be explained away; no form of argument can prevail against it.
3. It’s not going anywhere. In QAnon, we are witnessing the birth of a new religion.

Among the people of QAnon, faith remains absolute. True believers describe a feeling of rebirth, an irreversible arousal to existential knowledge. They are certain that a Great Awakening is coming. They’ll wait as long as they must for deliverance.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Libertarians

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the 2016 campaign. The 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. The 2020 race, the subject of our next book, is well under  way.  

Jim Galloway at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Over the weekend, U.S. Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan decided that he wouldn’t make a run for president under the Libertarian Party banner after all.

Last July, Amash abandoned the Republican party over its uncritical support for Donald Trump, later joining with Democrats and casting a vote to impeach the president. He proclaimed himself a Libertarian in April, even as he announced the formation of a committee to explore his presidential possibilities.
But on Saturday, via Twitter, Amash decided against a third-party run. “Polarization is near an all-time high. Electoral success requires an audience willing to consider alternatives,” he wrote.
Amash was the party’s best bet to make a loud noise in November. There is still a reason to keep an eye on Libertarians as they pick their presidential nominee this weekend. But many will consider the “how” to be more important than the “who.”
The pandemic has forced the Libertarian nominating convention into cyberspace — something that Republicans and Democrats alike might find themselves mimicking if the coronavirus doesn’t abate by mid-August. That’s when Democrats are scheduled to gather in Milwaukee, followed by Republicans in Charlotte.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Trump Tax Cut Still Yields Benefits ... For Democrats

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

Thanks in part to the Reagan and Bush 43 tax laws, about 44 percent of Americans have no income-tax liability, though they do pay other taxes.  By definition, a cut in income taxes brought them no direct benefit at all.  Many others pay relatively little in income tax.  Most of the benefit of the tax cut went to the well-off.  Voters understood, which is why they disapproved of the tax cut by a significant margin.

Greg Sargent at The Washington Post:
In a sign that President Trump’s monumental failures on the novel coronavirus are helping to put the GOP’s Senate majority at risk, Republicans are planning to spend a startling $10 million on ads defending a GOP-held Senate seat in Montana, a state Trump carried by 20 points.

The Washington Examiner reports that the huge expenditure reflects how worried Republicans are about the seat held by GOP incumbent Steve Daines, who is facing a stiff challenge from Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock.

What’s interesting here is how Democrats are attacking Daines, and what that says about Trump and GOP vulnerability on the economy, now that we’re sliding into a depression partly created by Trump’s disastrous mismanagement of the federal response to the pandemic.

The Dem-aligned Senate Majority PAC is up with its own ad attacking Daines that’s backed by a $700,000 buy, according to the group:

Note the centrality of the 2017 Trump/GOP corporate tax cut, which lavished enormous benefits on the wealthiest earners while producing few of its promised effects on wages or growth. That was true even before the coronavirus depression, and this ad is all about the economic terrors of ordinary Americans right now amid the current crash, depicting soaring jobless claims and evaporating retirement holdings.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Frustration on the Left

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the 2016 campaign. The 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. The 2020 race, the subject of our next book, is well under  way.  

Natalie Andrews and Eliza Collins at WSJ:
Progressive Democrats’ disappointment with House coronavirus legislation this week caps a frustrating start to 2020 for the left flank of the party, which has seen its favored presidential candidates exit the race, down-ballot hopefuls meet mixed results and some priorities stall in Congress.

House Democratic leaders left a plan pushed by the Congressional Progressive Caucus to guarantee Americans’ paychecks up to $100,000 out of their latest package aimed at combating the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
That comes as the group has been unable to get the support of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) on some priorities, such as expanding Medicare and the Green New Deal. And the presidential candidates backed by most progressives, Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, lost to former Vice President Joe Biden, a relative moderate.
Despite polls showing popularity for much of their platform, interviews with more than 20 politicians, activists and aides showed the party’s left flank has grown frustrated that it hasn’t made more progress since Democrats took control of the House a year and a half ago.

“Congress is infamous for having to try to catch up to where people are, and they’re doing a pretty crappy job of catching up in this moment,” said Paco Fabian, the director of campaigns at Our Revolution, the progressive electoral group started by Mr. Sanders after his 2016 run for president.

Mr. Sanders, however, said those feeling demoralized need to “take a deep breath.” He said polls that show progressive ideas growing more popular are a sign of success.
A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll in March found that 67% of Democratic primary voters supported a Medicare for All system, while a Pew Research survey in January found that 63% of U.S. adults supported making public college free, both priorities of Mr. Sanders’s during his 2020 presidential run.
Still, exit polls in many states found the share of Democratic primary voters who identified as moderate grew this cycle, while fewer Democrats called themselves liberal.
Alex Thompson at Politico:
Three highly-touted liberal House candidates — Jessica Cisneros in Texas, Robert Emmons in Illinois, and Morgan Harper in Ohio — lost their primary races against more moderate members of Congress. They are now playing defense as Rep. Rashida Tlaib, one of the four members of the “squad,” faces a stiff primary challenge in Michigan. And Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass), who’s managed a late-career makeover into a left-wing darling, with endorsements from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and other progressive groups, is consistently outpolled by primary challenger, Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.).
The movement has also had limited influence on the proposals House Democrats have put forward to address the coronavirus, with leadership rejecting its most ambitious ideas.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Trump Fires Another Inspector General

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

Trump has fired four inspectors general in recent weeks.

A release from the House Foreign Affairs Committee:
Representative Eliot L. Engel, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Senator Bob Menendez, Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, today launched an investigation into President Trump’s firing of State Department Inspector General Steve Linick. Writing to the White House, the Department of State, and the State Department Office of Inspector General, the lawmakers requested that administration officials preserve all records related to the firing and turn information over to the committees by Friday, May 22.
“President Trump’s unprecedented removal of Inspector General Linick is only his latest sacking of an inspector general, our government’s key independent watchdogs, from a federal agency. We unalterably oppose the politically-motivated firing of inspectors general and the President’s gutting of these critical positions,” wrote Engel and Menendez. “Reports indicate that Secretary Pompeo personally made the recommendation to fire Mr. Linick, and it is our understanding that he did so because the Inspector General had opened an investigation into wrongdoing by Secretary Pompeo himself. Such an action, transparently designed to protect Secretary Pompeo from personal accountability, would undermine the foundation of our democratic institutions and may be an illegal act of retaliation. This concern is amplified by the fact that it came only hours after the House of Representatives passed the Heroes Act, which contains additional legal protections for inspectors general.”
Chairman Engel and Ranking Member Menendez requested that the administration turn over records and information related to the firing of Mr. Linick, information about Stephen J. Akard, whom the State Department has announced will lead the OIG, and records of all IG investigations involving the Office of the Secretary that were open, pending, or incomplete at the time of Mr. Linick’s firing.
The letter to the White House can be found here.
The letter to the Department of State can be found here.
The letter to the State Department Office of Inspector General can be found here.




Saturday, May 16, 2020

COVID Invades Red America

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the 2016 campaign. The 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. The 2020 race, the subject of our next book, is well underway.  

Coronavirus presents unprecedented challenges to public policy and the electoral process.

William Frey at Brookings:
As governors, mayors, and other local officials debate the merits of President Donald Trump’s stance that the nation’s economy should reopen as quickly as possible, COVID-19 cases continue to expand outward, and increasingly to areas that voted for the president. This is confirmed in the latest installment of our regular coronavirus tracking, which shows that—for the third straight week—counties newly designated with a high COVID-19 prevalence were home to more Trump voters than Clinton voters during the 2016 election. The newly designated counties are concentrated in smaller and nonmetropolitan areas in the South and Midwest, and contained a larger share of white residents than in any previous week. In addition, there was a continued spread toward and within less urban states that voted for Trump in 2016.