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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

BountyGate Gets Worse

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.  

The story about Russian murder bounties is not going away.

American officials provided a written briefing in late February to President Trump laying out their conclusion that a Russian military intelligence unit offered and paid bounties to Taliban-linked militants to kill U.S. and coalition troops in Afghanistan, two officials familiar with the matter said.
The investigation into the suspected Russian covert operation to incentivize such killings has focused in part on an April 2019 car bombing that killed three Marines as one such potential attack, according to multiple officials familiar with the matter.
The new information emerged as the White House tried on Monday to play down the intelligence assessment that Russia sought to encourage and reward killings — including reiterating a claim that Mr. Trump was never briefed about the matter and portraying the conclusion as disputed and dubious.
But that stance clashed with the disclosure by two officials that the intelligence was included months ago in Mr. Trump’s President’s Daily Brief document — a compilation of the government’s latest secrets and best insights about foreign policy and national security that is prepared for him to read. One of the officials said the item appeared in Mr. Trump’s brief in late February; the other cited Feb. 27, specifically.
James LaPorta at AP:
 Top officials in the White House were aware in early 2019 of classified intelligence indicating Russia was secretly offering bounties to the Taliban for the deaths of Americans, a full year earlier than has been previously reported, according to U.S. officials with direct knowledge of the intelligence.
The assessment was included in at least one of President Donald Trump’s written daily intelligence briefings at the time, according to the officials. Then-national security adviser John Bolton also told colleagues he briefed Trump on the intelligence assessment in March 2019.
The White House did not respond to questions about Trump or other officials’ awareness of Russia’s provocations in 2019. The White House has said Trump was not — and still has not been — briefed on the intelligence assessments because they have not been fully verified. However, it is rare for intelligence to be confirmed without a shadow of a doubt before it is presented to top officials.

Trump on 1/2/19:   But Russia should be fighting. The reason Russia was in Afghanistan was because terrorists were going into Russia. They were right to be there.

Monday, June 29, 2020

The Very Silly Party

At The Daily Beast, Molly Jong-Fast writes about some GOP House candidates who do not help the party brand.
Congressional candidate and former air force pilot Buzz Patterson is running for California’s 7th district in the area that makes up the southern suburbs of Sacramento, he’s running against Ami Bera who's held the seat since 2013. Buzz was more than happy to support Trump’s Kung flu racism tweeting, “So, if ‘Kung flu’ is racist, does that make Bruce Lee and ‘Kung fu’ movies racist? And that song back in the 70s?” And Buzz is a Qanon supporter and a big fan of Mike Fynn. Of course there are 57 former or active republican congressional candidates who support Qanon so he's not alone.

In St. Louis, Winnie Heartstrong is a George Floyd truther who released “a 23-page document laying out a series of incoherent conspiracy theories about Floyd’s death at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer.” Heartstrong, who is Black, postulates that Floyd died years ago. She writes in her manifesto: “We conclude that no one in the video is really one person but rather they are all digital composites of two or more real people to form completely new digital persons using deepfake technology”—and that the video was meant to stoke racial tensions.

Luckily, this district is a D +29, according to the Cook Political Report, so my guess is we aren’t likely to see a Rep. Heartstrong—or Rep. Obike, which was the name she used when she ran for office in Maryland in 2018—anytime soon. She is, however, likely to win the Republican primary on Aug. 4.
And then there’s “former reality show star and convicted felon Angela Stanton-King,” who is running against John Lewis in Georgia. She's hot off a stint in jail—and a Trump pardon. Stanton-King, like so many honorable members of Congress, was jailed for “federal conspiracy charges for her role in a car theft ring.”
Angela is the goddaughter of Martin Luther King Jr.’s niece, who is an anti-abortion activist and one of the few African-Americans in the world who supports Trump. The district is a D +34, so it seems Stanton-King’s penance for her time as lawbreaker will never include a stint as lawmaker.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Brutal Ads

Bad Weekend for Trump

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.  

Jacob Knutson at Axios:
President Trump tweeted Sunday that neither he, Vice President Mike Pence nor chief of staff Mark Meadows were briefed on alleged intelligence that a Russian military spy unit secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
\Why it matters: Kremlin involvement with the Taliban that resulted in the death of American troops would mark a massive escalation in the U.S.-Russian relationship. Trump has already faced intense criticism over reports that he knew about the intelligence and took no action.
  • White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany issued a statement on Saturday denying the Times report that Trump and Pence had been briefed, but noted that her statement "does not speak to the merit of the alleged intelligence."
  • Trump tweeted on Sunday that "everybody is denying it" and that "there have not been many attacks on us."
  • 22 U.S. service members were killed in Afghanistan in 2019, according to Stars and Stripes.
The backdrop: The New York Times reported Friday that Trump was briefed on the finding and that the White House’s National Security Council discussed the problem at an interagency meeting in late March. The report was confirmed by the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and CNN.
  • The Times reported that despite knowing about the bounties, Trump floated expanding the upcoming G7 summit meeting in Washington, D.C., in September to include Russia.
  • Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke in May about his plans to expand the G7 meeting to include Russia. The U.K. and Canada vehemently opposed the move.
  • Russia was disinvited from attending the annual meeting of the eight largest advanced economies in the world in 2014 for illegally annexing Crimea from Ukraine.
The Lincoln Project reacted with impressive speed and force:

Derek Hawkins and colleagues at WP:
Global cases of covid-19 exceeded 10 million on Sunday, according to a count maintained by Johns Hopkins University, a measure of the power and spread of a pandemic that has caused vast human suffering, devastated the world’s economy and still threatens vulnerable populations in rich and poor nations alike.
In America, states around the country continued to report new daily highs in confirmed cases with 44,792 announced Saturday, as the total number of infections in the United States approached 2.5 million.
Here are some significant developments:
  • A record surge in new cases is the clearest sign yet of the historic failure in the U.S. to control the virus — exposing a crisis in governance extending from the Oval Office to state capitals to city councils.
  • Hospitals in Texas and Arizona are admitting coronavirus patients in record numbers as new infections continue to climb across southern and western states.
  • Vice President Pence has postponed planned campaign events in Arizona and Florida next week “out of an abundance of caution” amid major increases in coronavirus cases in those states, a Trump-Pence reelection campaign official said Saturday.
  • The faltering response in the U.S. remains a subject of global shock and fascination, with one prominent French virologist saying Sunday that the situation was “explosive.”
  • President Trump’s campaign directed the removal of thousands of social distancing stickers from seats before his rally in Tulsa

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Trump v. Obamacare, Continued

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the health care issue in the 2016 campaign.  the 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.

James Hohmann at WP:
President Trump insists on the campaign trail that he wants to protect insurance coverage for people with preexisting conditions. His legal team just told the Supreme Court otherwise. 82-page brief submitted late Thursday night by Trump’s representatives states crisply that the president wants to get rid of every provision of the Affordable Care Act.
Solicitor General Noel Francisco packs in a string of rhetorical flourishes that may draw cheers at a Federalist Society legal conference but will inevitably appear as factual citations to back up attack ads that Democrats plan to run this fall against vulnerable Senate Republicans, in a redux of the messaging that proved so potent in the 2018 midterms.

The Trump team’s core argument is that every Republican who voted for the tax cuts three years ago knowingly voted to destroy the 2010 law in its entirely, not just to get rid of the mandate that individuals buy health insurance. And, because the Supreme Court previously upheld the constitutionality of the law on the grounds that the individual mandate is a tax, Trump’s lawyers say that the whole system became invalid once Congress got rid of the penalty for not carrying health insurance.

“Nothing the 2017 Congress did demonstrates it would have intended the rest of the ACA to continue to operate in the absence of these ... integral provisions,” Francisco writes in his brief, which is co-signed by four other Trump appointees at the Justice Department. “The entire ACA thus must fall with the individual mandate.”
The brief is full of little gifts like this to Joe Biden and Democrats who hope to ride his coattails down the ballot. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) voted against repealing Obamacare in 2017, which she touts as evidence of her independence, but then she voted for the tax legislation. This brief can also be used as a cudgel to attack GOP Sens. Thom Tillis (N.C.), Joni Ernst (Iowa) and David Perdue (Ga.), who separately each voted to repeal the underlying law. Recent polls show those three senators are locked in tight races as they seek second terms. Appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), who trails Democratic challenger Mark Kelly in multiple polls, also voted for the tax bill as a member of the House.
The tax bill, which Republicans saw as a genius move, has turned out to be a political disaster in several ways.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Trump v. Obamacare

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the health care issue in the 2016 campaign.  the 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.

 Sheryl Gay Stolberg at NYT:
The Trump administration asked the Supreme Court late Thursday to overturn the Affordable Care Act — a move that, if successful, would bring a permanent end to the health insurance program popularly known as Obamacare and wipe out coverage for as many as 23 million Americans.

In an 82-page brief submitted an hour before a midnight deadline, the administration joined Republican officials in Texas and 17 other states in arguing that in 2017, Congress, then controlled by Republicans, had rendered the law unconstitutional when it zeroed out the tax penalty for not buying insurance — the so-called individual mandate.

The administration’s argument, coming in the thick of an election season — as well as a pandemic that has devastated the economy and left millions of unemployed Americans without health coverage — is sure to reignite Washington’s bitter political debate over health care.
Politically, the move is barking mad.

For several years, Americans tended to oppose the ACA, but the trendlines flipped decisively when Trump came in,

The key is loss aversion. People opposed Obamacare at first because they (reasonably) suspected that it could take away what they already had.

But a decade later, Obamacare is not a threat to the status quo.  It is the status quo.  People don't want to lose it, especially since the GOP lacks a plausible plan for replacing it.

And what would be the worst possible time to press the point? During a pandemic when people are losing employer-provided insurance and facing the danger of acquiring preexisting conditions.

From CMS: "The number of consumers gaining coverage in states with Exchanges using the platform through the loss of MEC [minimum essential coverage] SEP [special enrollment period] is higher for the 2020 coverage year than for any of the prior coverage years in this report with approximately 487,000 consumers gaining coverage through the loss of MEC SEP, an increase of 46 percent from the same time period last year."

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Chinese Money

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

Brian Spegele at WSJ:
Soon after Donald Trump took office, people with ties to the Chinese state poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into his re-election bid to get close to and potentially influence the new president.
The effort had early success in gaining access for those involved, helping them meet the president or top Republicans at fundraisers or at an internal GOP leadership meeting. It reveals how China seeks to build inroads into U.S. politics, gather information on U.S. leaders and if possible affect policy-making.
Several of those involved worked closely with China’s national-security apparatus, including organizations linked to its military, and briefed prominent Chinese political figures about their efforts.

As guests of a Republican official named Shawn Steel, Chinese nationals, including a man working for China’s central government, attended an invitation-only gathering in May 2017 where GOP leaders discussed campaign strategies and other issues.
In response to inquiries, the Republican National Committee said it had instructed Mr. Steel to break ties with several people identified in Wall Street Journal reporting.
“It’s important to do all we can to safeguard our politics from illegal foreign meddling,” the RNC said in response to questions. It said it wouldn’t return donations identified by the Journal that facilitated access to the president and other officials because it didn’t believe campaign-finance laws were broken.
Separately, Mr. Steel, a Republican national committeeman from California, said it would be “false, defamatory, and offensive” to say he aided any Chinese efforts. He didn’t respond to specific questions.
Michell Steel, Shawn Steel's wife, is running against Harley Rouda for Congress.  DCCC took note

International Views of the US

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

To understand how this moment in U.S. history is being seen in the rest of the world, I spoke to more than a dozen senior diplomats, government officials, politicians, and academics from five major European countries, including advisers to two of its most powerful leaders, as well as to the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. From these conversations, most of which took place on the condition of anonymity to speak freely, a picture emerged in which America’s closest allies are looking on with a kind of stunned incomprehension, unsure of what will happen, what it means, and what they should do, largely bound together with angst and a shared sense, as one influential adviser told me, that America and the West are approaching something of a fin de si├Ęcle. “The moment is pregnant,” this adviser said. “We just don’t know what with.”
As my colleague Anne Applebaum has shown, the Soviet Union oversaw famine, terror, and the mass murder of millions. Whatever America’s recent flaws, they have been practically and morally incomparable to those horrors. Today, with Beijing overseeing the mass surveillance of its citizens and incarcerating one ethnic-minority group almost en masse, the same can be said of China. And yet this claim of moral equivalence is no longer the smear of a foreign cynic but the view of the president of the United States himself. In an interview with Bill O’Reilly on Fox News in 2017, Trump was asked to explain his respect for Putin, and he replied with the usual generalities about the Russian president leading his country and its fight against Islamist terrorism, prompting O’Reilly to interject: “Putin’s a killer.” Trump then responded: “There are a lot of killers. We’ve got a lot of killers. What, do you think our country is so innocent?” (Before he became president, Trump also praised China’s apparent strength in violently suppressing the pro-democracy Tiananmen Square protests.)
Those that I spoke to divided their concerns, implicitly or explicitly, into those caused by Trump and those exacerbated by him—between the specific problems of his presidency that, in their view, can be rectified, and those that are structural and much more difficult to solve. Almost everyone I spoke to agreed that the Trump presidency has been a watershed not just for the U.S. but for the world itself: It is something that cannot be undone. Words once said cannot be unsaid; images that are seen are unable to be unseen.
Shay Khatiri at The Bulwark:
The United States has a long record of criticizing its adversaries’ records on human rights—not just because a concern for liberty, justice, and democracy is baked into the nation’s DNA, but also because such criticism can be a valuable tool of foreign policy. The encouragement of senior American officials can inspire courage for rebellions and can guilt passive Europeans into taking actions against human-rights abusers.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been relying on this tactic a lot. But he is constantly being undermined by his boss’s conduct.
For instance, in April, the secretary tweeted to condemn the Hong Kong government’s violation of its citizens’ right to “peaceful assembly.” Six weeks later, the world watched as the Trump administration violently dispersed peaceful protesters near the White House.
And another example, the most damning of all: John Bolton says that President Trump gave a nod to the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, to continue building concentration camps for Uighur Muslims. Assuming Bolton’s account is accurate, Trump’s actions represent an epic bankrupting of U.S. moral authority.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Obama, Biden, and Fundraising

In Defying the Odds, we discuss campaign finance and campaign technologyThe 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.
Joe Biden appears to have pulled a fast one on the Trump reelection campaign with his fundraising event Tuesday evening with former President Barack Obama.

The Trump team quickly took to mocking Biden after the vice president said he raised a "remarkable" $7.6 million in the virtual fundraiser, noting that the Republican cause hauled in $10 million over the weekend of President Trump's rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
"The fact that he touted this fundraising event so grandly, and then hid it from view, is just more proof that Joe Biden can’t withstand the scrutiny of the American people as he runs for president," Tim Murtaugh, Trump 2020 communications director, said in a triumphant press release, referring to reports of limited press access.
But Biden's campaign later revised that figure, saying the fundraiser pulled in $11 million in total

Sanders, the Left, and African Americans

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.  

At NYT, Sydney Ember notes that there has been a surge in progressive activism,  but it is not the kind that Bernie Sanders promoted.
Mr. Sanders, whose slogan on his campaign was “Not me, us,” described the protests as a validation of his theory of social change: “What I have said for a very long time is that real change is never going to come from the top on down, it’s always from the bottom on up.”

But during his presidential bid, Mr. Sanders at times seemed uncomfortable speaking overtly about race. At a presidential forum in April 2019 for women of color, he offered few specific policy details, and drew some groans from the audience when he referred to marching with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in response to a question about how he would handle current challenges.

And more recently, during an event in Flint, Mich., in March that campaign aides had billed as an opportunity for him to speak directly to black voters, he decided not to deliver a planned speech and instead largely ceded the stage to panelists including the academic Cornel West.

When Mr. Sanders spoke about racial equality, it was often in the context of economic equality, championing proposals and prescriptions that he believed would improve the lives of all working Americans. He said that policies like single-payer health care would address higher maternal and infant mortality rates in black communities. And he wanted to legalize marijuana and end cash bail, policies he said were aimed in particular at helping black Americans and other people of color.

These proposals, however, also amounted to an implicit expectation that voters trust the government — an especially difficult sell for those including older black voters who feel they have been historically let down by the government.

They were shortcomings that help explain why Mr. Sanders lost to former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. in the Democratic primary race: Unable to win over older black voters, he came in a distant second to Mr. Biden in South Carolina, then went on to lose to Mr. Biden in every Southern state on Super Tuesday. Those defeats, Mr. Sanders’s allies say, contributed to the perception that Mr. Biden was more electable and would fare better against President Trump in the general election in November — a notion that helped propel Mr. Biden to victory in the primary.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Obamacare and the Senate

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the health care issue in the 2016 campaign.  the 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.

At NYT, Sheryl Gay Stolberg reports on the political consequences of the GOP effort to scrap Obamacare.
“Politically, it’s pretty dumb to be talking about how we need to repeal Obamacare in the middle of a pandemic,” said Joel White, a Republican strategist who specializes in health policy and has presented legislative proposals to House and Senate Republicans and the White House. “We need quick solutions here; we need stuff that we can do tomorrow, because our countrymen are hurting.”

Health care is consistently near the top of the list of issues voters care about. While Republicans and President Trump tend to have an edge on the economy, Democrats won the House in 2018 in large part by emphasizing health care — a playbook they intend to revive in 2020. The pandemic has also put Republicans at risk of losing the Senate, said Jessica Taylor, who analyzes Senate races for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report.
“There are a lot of factors that have put the Senate into play, but the pandemic and how it has affected health care and the economy is a major one that have made these races competitive,” Ms. Taylor said.
Democrats need to win three Senate seats to take the majority if they also win the White House, four if they do not. Although Cook Political deems one Democratic incumbent, Senator Doug Jones of Alabama, an underdog in his race, it also rates Senate races in five states — North Carolina, Maine, Colorado, Arizona and Montana — as tossups. All have Republican incumbents.
In Montana, Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat, jumped into the race to defeat the Republican incumbent, Senator Steve Daines, in March, just as the pandemic was exploding. Three days later, a liberal group, Protect Our Care, announced a $250,000 ad campaign attacking Mr. Daines as “dead set on taking on away Montanans’ health care” after voting five times to repeal the health law. Cook Political moved the race to its tossup column last week.

Biden Fundraising

President Donald Trump still has a cash advantage over Democratic challenger Joe Biden, but his lead is far smaller than it was just a few months ago.
Biden raised $36 million in May compared to Trump’s $25 million. That’s the first time Biden outraised Trump in a single month this year. And Biden’s low-key, mostly virtual campaign spent just over $11 million while Trump blew through almost all of his monthly fundraising haul.

Including political parties and joint fundraising committees affiliated with the presidential candidates, Biden’s camp said it raised nearly $81 million in May to Trump’s $74 million.

Trump’s once dominant fundraising advantage shrank last month even before protests erupted around the country over policing practices. The president’s unpopular response to those protests, and his handling of the COVID-19 epidemic, further boosted Biden’s bottom line. And Biden leaped ahead of Trump in swing states where Trump ran multi-million dollar ad campaigns.

Monday, June 22, 2020

A Bad Weekend for POTUS

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.  

Chris Cillizza at CNN:
There are times when the political malpractice of President Trump -- and those close to him -- hits you smack in the face. The removal of Manhattan US Attorney Geoffrey Berman is one of those moments.
The timeline of events is a testament to how not to handle a high-profile firing.
On Friday night, Attorney General Bill Barr announced that Berman was leaving his post, from which he was overseeing several high profile investigations -- including one looking into Trump confidante Rudy Giuliani.
Berman released his own statement around 11 p.m. Eastern making clear he was not, in fact, resigning. And he showed up to work Saturday morning.
By Saturday afternoon, Barr had sent Berman a letter firing him; "Because you have declared that you have no intention of resigning, I have asked the President to remove you as of today, and he has done so," Barr wrote.
Asked about the move shortly after, Trump said this of Barr: "That's his department, not my department. I'm not involved."
... ['H]ow the hell does the US Attorney General announce that the head lawyer of the Southern District of New York is resigning if said guy hasn't made a specific pledge to do so? And how the hell does the AG say the President told him to fire Berman only to have the President say he wasn't involved?
The message being sent here is that no one knows what is going on. Which isn't a good message five months before an election.
 Maggie Haberman and Annie Karni:at NYT:
President Trump and several staff members stood backstage and gazed at the empty Bank of Oklahoma Center in horror.
Mr. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence had canceled plans at the last minute to speak at an outdoor overflow rally that was almost entirely empty, despite claims of nearly one million people registering for tickets to attend the event in Tulsa, Okla., and the president’s false boast of never having an empty seat at one of his events.
The president, who had been warned aboard Air Force One that the crowds at the arena were smaller than expected, was stunned, and he yelled at aides backstage while looking at the endless rows of empty blue seats in the upper bowl of the stadium, according to four people familiar with what took place. Brad Parscale, the campaign manager who had put the event together, was not present.
 Mr. Trump eventually entered the arena for a meandering performance in which he excoriated the “fake news” for reporting on health concerns before his event, used racist language to describe the coronavirus as the “Kung Flu” and spent more than 15 minutes explaining away an unflattering video clip of him gingerly descending a ramp after his commencement speech at West Point.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Tulsa: Testing, Testing

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.

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.

Interview in Wall Street Journal:
Mr. Bender: The Wuhan question I wanted to ask about the spike there, which resulted in them testing almost all 11 million people in 9 days. If there was a second spike in New York or Michigan, would you push to test everyone in New York, everyone in Michigan?
Mr. Trump: No, I wouldn’t. I personally think testing is overrated, even though I created the greatest testing machine in history. I’ve created the greatest testing machine in history. And I think testing is overrated.
Mr. Bender: Why is that?
Mr. Trump: Because I think you’ll have it and you’ll test. I’m not saying testing is bad. And certainly you test people and you want to see whether or not they have it. But the testing can lead to a lot of mistakes also. Look, if we didn’t test all the cases that we’re reporting, you wouldn’t know about any of those cases. In many ways, it makes us look bad. The fact that we’re so good at something makes us look bad. But having the ability to test is…has helped us a lot. But don’t forget we report every single death.…We report every case. So, if we test 20 times more than some other country, we’re going to find cases. They call them cases. And that’s only because our testing is much better.
Mr. Bender: You think testing is overrated because it adds to the caseload?
Mr. Trump: No, not for that reason. I just think that what you have to do is be careful, regardless. You have to be careful. You have a certain population... we now know that elderly people, especially elderly people that have a problem such as heart disease, or various…they’re literally listed, okay? They’re literally listed. Diabetes, heart disease, I think would be number one and two. But they’re listed. If they’re elderly, and they have those diseases, it’s not easy. It’s not gonna be pleasant. OK? So we know where we should protect. We had a number of governors that did a very, very poor job with respect to nursing homes, a very, very poor job. And they should have known better.
Mr. Bender: You also don’t seem to like masks very much. Do you think people are protesting you when they wear them?
Mr. Trump: Masks are a double-edge sword. People touch them. And they grab them and I see it all the time. They come in, they take the mask. Now they’re holding it now in their fingers. And they drop it on the desk and then they touch their eye and they touch their nose. No, I think a mask is a…it’s a double-edged sword. It’s a double-edged sword. I see Biden. It’s like his whole face is covered. It’s like he put a knapsack over his face. He probably likes it that way. He feels good that way because he does. He seems to feel good in a mask, you know, feels better than he does without the mask, which is a strange situation.
Mr. Bender: You’ve commented on Biden’s mask a few times, and a couple of reporters who wear masks. Do you view that as a protest of you? Do you feel like people wear masks to show their disapproval of you?
Mr. Trump: It could be, yeah. It could be. But it could also be they feel better about it. I mean, I’m okay with it. Look, I’m okay with it. But the mask is a double-edged sword and I see it. People come in, they’re talking through the mask for hours. They probably don’t clean them after, you know, they get a little cocky, right? Then they take the mask, they put their finger on the mask, and they take them off, and then they start touching their eyes and touching their nose and their mouth. And then they don’t know how they caught it.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Trump Knew

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Russian involvement in the 2016 campaign  The update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.  Russia is likely to make a similar effort this year.
Donald Trump was told in advance that Wikileaks would be releasing documents embarrassing to the Clinton campaign and subsequently informed advisors that he expected more releases would be coming, according to newly unredacted portions of special counsel Robert Mueller's report into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
In July 2016, political consultant Roger Stone told Trump as well as several campaign advisors that he had spoken with Julian Assange and that WikiLeaks would be publishing the documents in a matter of days. Stone told the then-candidate via speakerphone that he "did not know what the content of the materials was," according to the newly unveiled portions of the report, and Trump responded "oh good, alright" upon hearing the news. WikiLeaks published a trove of some 20,000 emails Russians hacked from the Democratic National Committee on July 22 of that year.

Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen told federal investigators that he overheard the phone call between Stone and Trump. Agents were also told by former campaign officials Paul Manafort and Rick Gates that Stone had spoken several times in early June of something “big” coming from WikiLeaks. Assange first mentioned having emails related to Clinton on June 12.
The new revelations are the strongest indication to date that Trump and his closest advisors were aware of outside efforts to hurt Clinton’s electoral chances, and that Stone played a direct role in communicating that situation to the Trump campaign. Trump has publicly denied being aware of any information being relayed between WikiLeaks and his advisors.

Friday, June 19, 2020

The GOP Future

The Challenge

Through 2018 in California

As of February of this year:

And November is not looking so hot.

Issues that would move younger voters

Chart showing top issues that would boost support for 2020 candidates

Focus on the environment:  younger Republicans get it.

Jack Kemp, accepting the 1996 vice presidential nomination

You see, our goal is not just a more prosperous America, but a better America. An America that recognizes the infinite worthwhile of every individual and, like the Good Shepherd, leaves the 99 to find the one stray lamb 
An America that honors all its institutions -- the values that moms and dads want to pass on to their children 
An America that makes the ideal of equality a daily reality -- equality of opportunity, equality in human dignity, equality before the laws of mankind as well as in the eyes of God 
An America that transcends the boundaries between the races with the revolutionary power of the simple, yet profound idea to love our neighbors as ourselves 
We must remember all that is at stake in America's cultural renewal -- not just the wealth of our nation but the meaning as well 
Today, more than ever before, America's ideals and ideas grip the imaginations of women and men in every corner of the globe. And isn't it exciting -- isn't it exciting to think, that it's 1776 -- only this time all over the world?

More on Jack Kemp here.