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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

The "Debate"

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

At LAT, Doyle McManus on the worst debate ever:
They interrupted each other. They insulted each other. They talked over each other.

“Will you shut up, man?” Biden said at one point, as Trump interrupted him for the umpteenth time. “This is so unpresidential.”

“There’s nothing smart about you, Joe,” the president said. “He graduated the lowest or almost the lowest in your class. Don’t ever use the word ‘smart’ with me.”

“You should get out of your bunker and get out of the sand trap and get [off] your golf course,” Biden said.

“You probably play more golf than I do,” the president said (falsely).

If Trump’s goal for the evening was to show voters that Biden, at 77, can no longer hold his own in a 90-minute debate, much less as president, he failed.

The former vice president turned Trump’s customary weapons of bluster and insult against the incumbent, who hasn’t been challenged so directly in public since his 2016 debates with Hillary Clinton.

It was Trump, not Biden, who looked off-balance and out of practice for much of the debate. He grew red in the face. He demanded extra time to answer, drawing sardonic rebuffs from the moderator, Chris Wallace of Fox News.

Biden was the competitor who appeared to have a strategy. He worked his way methodically through his campaign’s substantive talking points — principally, that Trump failed to meet the challenge of a pandemic that has killed more than 200,000 Americans and still has no coherent strategy to quell the public health crisis or improve America’s healthcare.

“He doesn’t have a plan,” Biden said. “The fact is, this man doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”

Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns at NYT:

And even as he went on the offensive against Mr. Biden on matters of law and order, Mr. Trump declined to condemn white supremacy and right-wing extremist groups when prompted by Mr. Wallace and Mr. Biden. When Mr. Wallace asked him whether he would be willing to do so, Mr. Trump replied, “Sure,” and asked the two men to name a group they would like him to denounce.

But when Mr. Biden named the Proud Boys, a far-right group, Mr. Trump did not do so and even suggested they be at the ready.

“Proud Boys? Stand back and stand by,” the president said, before pivoting to say, “Somebody’s got to do something about antifa and the left.”


Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Never Trump, Late September

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


They keep coming, along with former military.

\Chris Cillizza at CNN:

The latest sign came Sunday, when former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge penned an op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer making clear his intent to vote for former Vice President Joe Biden over President Donald Trump in November.

 ...

Ridge joins fellow Bush Cabinet secretaries Christine Todd Whitman (EPA), Ann Veneman (Agriculture), Carlos Gutierrez (Commerce) and Colin Powell (State) as Biden endorsers. Ray LaHood, a former Republican congressman from Illinois, and Chuck Hagel, the former Nebraska Republican senator, both of whom served in the Obama Cabinet, have also backed Biden.

And that's just Republicans who served in a presidential Cabinet! There are a slew of other prominent GOP elected officials -- from former Ohio Gov. John Kasich to former California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman to 2016 presidential candidate Carly Fiorina to former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder -- who are on record as either planning to vote for Biden or leaning in that direction.
Then there are the staffers. That group includes the former chiefs of staff at the Department of Education and Department of Homeland Security in the Trump administration! More than 70 national security officials from various Republican administrations are backing Biden. As are more than 150 alums of the George W. Bush White House.

Karen DeYoung at WP:

Nearly 500 retired senior military officers, as well as former Cabinet secretaries, service chiefs and other officials, have signed an open letter in support of former vice president Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, saying that he has “the character, principles, wisdom and leadership necessary to address a world on fire.”

The letter, published Thursday morning by National Security Leaders for Biden, is the latest in a series of calls for President Trump’s defeat in the November election.

 

Monday, September 28, 2020

Trump's Taxes

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's character and record of dishonestyThe update  -- just published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.  New revelations about his taxes may play a role in the 2020 race.

 David Leonhardt at NYT:

The New York Times has obtained tax-return data for President Trump and his companies that covers more than two decades. Mr. Trump has long refused to release this information, making him the first president in decades to hide basic details about his finances. His refusal has made his tax returns among the most sought-after documents in recent memory.

Among the key findings of The Times’s investigation:
  • Mr. Trump paid no federal income taxes in 11 of 18 years that The Times examined. In 2017, after he became president, his tax bill was only $750.
  • He has reduced his tax bill with questionable measures, including a $72.9 million tax refund that is the subject of an audit by the Internal Revenue Service.
  • Many of his signature businesses, including his golf courses, report losing large amounts of money — losses that have helped him to lower his taxes.
  • The financial pressure on him is increasing as hundreds of millions of dollars in loans he personally guaranteed are soon coming due.
  • Even while declaring losses, he has managed to enjoy a lavish lifestyle by taking tax deductions on what most people would consider personal expenses, including residences, aircraft and $70,000 in hairstyling for television.
  • Ivanka Trump, while working as an employee of the Trump Organization, appears to have received “consulting fees” that also helped reduce the family’s tax bill.
  • As president, he has received more money from foreign sources and U.S. interest groups than previously known. The records do not reveal any previously unreported connections to Russia.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

ACB and ACA

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the health care issue in the 2016 campaign.  the 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.  As we explain, loss aversion made Obamacare a liability for Democrats at the time of its passage: voters worried about losing health benefits that they already had.  But by 2018, the roles had reversed.  Obamacare was now the status quo, and the GOP was threatening to take it awayThe issue now strongly favors the Democrats.

Gregory Krieg at CNN:

Democrats on Saturday night launched their case against federal Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, saying support for her confirmation was equivalent to a vote to end the Affordable Care Act.
In a rush of statements following Barrett's Rose Garden introduction, top Democrats put the fate of the law -- and its popular protections for patients with pre-existing conditions -- front and center. They also made frequent reference to the coronavirus pandemic, and the chaos that could arise from stripping health insurance options from millions of Americans in its midst.
From the Democratic presidential ticket on down, criticism of Barrett repeatedly circled back to what has been a political winner for the party: health care -- and the backlash to Republican efforts to dismantle the ACA, former President Barack Obama's signature policy achievement.

And Trump walked right into it:

So did Senator Mike Lee:

Friday, September 25, 2020

Drug Gift Cards

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.  Trump is weaponizing the federal government for his political benefit. He is lagging badly with seniors, so he is trying to buy their votes.

Lev Facher and Nicholas Florko at STAT:

President Trump on Thursday pledged to send $200 prescription drug coupons to 33 million Medicare beneficiaries “in the coming weeks,” a political ploy to curry favor with seniors who view drug prices as a priority.

Trump’s promise comes less than six weeks before Election Day, and represents the latest step in his administration’s (and his campaign’s) efforts to amass health care talking points, even if their actions do little to save Americans money.

The administration is getting its authority to ship the coupons from a Medicare demonstration program, a White House spokesman told STAT in a statement. The nearly $7 billion required to send the coupons, he said, would come from savings from Trump’s “most favored nations” drug pricing proposal. That regulation has also not yet been implemented — meaning the Trump administration is effectively pledging to spend $6.6 billion in savings that do not currently exist. The cards, he said, would be “actual discount cards for prescription drug copays.”

Thursday, September 24, 2020

"Get Rid of the Ballots ..There Won't be a Transfer"

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


Donald Trump White House Press Briefing Transcript September 23:
Q: Right here, Mr. President, real quickly. Win, loser, draw in this election. Will you commit here today for a peaceful transfer of power after the election, either- Transferal of power after the election. And there has been rioting [inaudible 00:00:07], there’s been rioting in many cities across this country, your so-called red and blue states. Will you commit to making sure that there is a peaceful transferal of power after the election?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, we’re going to have to see what happens. You know that I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots. And the ballots are a disaster. I understand that but people are rioting. Do you commit to making sure that there’s a peaceful transferal of power?  We want to have… Get rid of the ballots and we’ll have a very peaceful… There won’t be a transfer frankly, there’ll be a continuation. The ballots are out of control. You know it, and you know who knows it better than anybody else? The Democrats know it better than anybody else.


 

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Russian Interference, September

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Russian involvement in the 2016 campaign  The update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.  Russia is making a similar effort this year.

"I like Putin, he likes me. We get along."  -- Donald J. Trump, Vandalia, Ohio, September 21, 2020

 Josh Rogin at WP:

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his top aides are “probably directing” a Russian foreign influence operation to interfere in the 2020 presidential election against former vice president Joe Biden, which involves a prominent Ukrainian lawmaker connected to President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, a top-secret CIA assessment concluded, according to two sources who reviewed it.

On Aug. 31, the CIA published an assessment of Russian efforts to interfere in the November election in an internal, highly classified report called the CIA Worldwide Intelligence Review, the sources said. CIA analysts compiled the assessment with input from the National Security Agency and the FBI, based on several dozen pieces of information gleaned from public, unclassified and classified intelligence sources. The assessment includes details of the CIA’s analysis of the activities of Ukrainian lawmaker Andriy Derkach to disseminate disparaging information about Biden inside the United States through lobbyists, Congress, the media and contacts with figures close to the president.

“We assess that President Vladimir Putin and the senior most Russian officials are aware of and probably directing Russia’s influence operations aimed at denigrating the former U.S. Vice President, supporting the U.S. president and fueling public discord ahead of the U.S. election in November,” the first line of the document says, according to the sources.

David E. Sanger and Zolan Kanno-Youngs  at NYT:

Four years ago, when Russian intelligence agencies engaged in a systematic attempt to influence the American presidential election, the disinformation they fed American voters required some real imagination at the troll farms producing the ads.

There was the exaggerated Texas secession movement, a famous ad in which Satan arm-wrestles Jesus while declaring, “If I win, Clinton wins,” and an effort to recruit protesters and counterprotesters to the same, invented rally over the rapid spread of Islamic influence in the United States.

This year, their task is much easier. They are largely amplifying misleading statements from President Trump, mostly about the dangers of mail-in ballots.

In interviews, a range of officials and private analysts said that Mr. Trump was feeding many of the disinformation campaigns they were struggling to halt. And rather than travel the back roads of America searching for divisive issues — as three Russians from the Internet Research Agency did in 2016 — they are staying home, grabbing screenshots of Mr. Trump’s Twitter posts, or quoting his misleading statements and then amplifying those messages.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Attila the Georgian


Melanie Zanona at Politico:

YOUNG HUNS -- GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who is on the ballot in Georgia this fall, is out with a wild new campaign ad that paints her as “more conservative than Attila the Hun.” And then it depicts Hun grunting to a translator that he wants to “eliminate the liberal scribes.” Remember: Loeffler and Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) are running in a special election, so it's been a race to the right. Watch the ad here.

Team Collins responds: “Kelly thinks conservatives are grunting, filthy, mass-murdering open borders atheist polygamists. She lives in a seriously warped palace with an odd view of the peasants.”

Monday, September 21, 2020

Biden Has More Cash on Hand than Trump

 In Defying the Odds, we discuss campaign finance and campaign technology.



Shane Goldmacher at NYT:

Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s campaign said on Sunday that it entered September with $466 million in the bank together with the Democratic Party, providing Mr. Biden a vast financial advantage of about $141 million over President Trump heading into the intense final stretch of the campaign.

The money edge is a complete reversal from this spring, when Mr. Biden emerged as the Democratic nominee and was $187 million behind Mr. Trump, who began raising money for his re-election shortly after he was inaugurated in 2017. But the combination of slower spending by Mr. Biden’s campaign in the spring, his record-setting fund-raising over the summer — especially after he named Senator Kamala Harris of California as his running mate — and heavy early spending by Mr. Trump has erased the president’s once-formidable financial lead.

Mr. Trump and his joint operations with the Republican National Committee entered September with $325 million, according to Mr. Trump’s communications director, Tim Murtaugh.

The Trump campaign pulled back on its television spending in August to conserve money, as some campaign insiders fretted about a cash crunch in the closing stretch of the campaign. But other officials argued that the Trump campaign would continue to raise heavily from small donors and that the cutbacks over the summer were shortsighted.

Suburban Blues

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

At CalMatters, Ben Christopher writes of the suburban collapse of the California GOP.

Your average suburban voter has clearly soured on President Trump. But the definition of “average suburban voter” has changed over the last two decades, as the suburbs swelled. Much of that population growth has been driven by immigrants and lower-income migrants from nearby cities.

The electoral flipping of the suburbs has been particularly dramatic in Southern California’s inland regions.

The most dramatic example: California’s 60th Assembly district, centered around the City of Corona in the western Inland Empire. When Republican Eric Linder won the seat six years ago by 23 percentage points, Republicans outnumbered Democrats by 5 points.

But in 2016, the district swung. Democrats now topped Republicans — and voters replaced Linder with the current Democratic Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes. At last count, district Democrats hold at 11 percentage point lead over Republicans.

The trend away from the GOP may have been supercharged by the state’s housing crunch as younger people, renters, Black and brown Californians — in other words, the Democratic Party’s base — have fled inland seeking cheaper shelter.

Thomas Beaumont and Julia Carr Smyth at AP:

Republican lawmakers and strategists in Ohio say they are seeing research that shows a near-uniform drop in support from his 2016 totals across every suburban region of the state.

They say that Trump, who won Ohio by 8 percentage points in 2016, maintains a yawning advantage in more rural areas and small towns. Still, Republicans are concerned that if he is losing badly in suburban areas in Ohio, it is a signal that Trump’s hold on other states in the industrial heartland that delivered him the presidency may be in peril.

“The million-dollar question becomes, how does that translate in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania?” said Corry Bliss, a Republican strategist who managed Ohio Sen. Rob Portman’s 2016 reelection campaign. “It translates into probably not a very good night.”

Ohio has long been a bellwether. No Republican has won the White House without carrying the state since the advent of the modern two-party system, and no Democrat has since 1960.

Trump is faring worse than four years ago in communities in essentially all suburban areas around Ohio, from its major cities to its several mid-size metro areas, more than a half-dozen Republican operatives tracking races across Ohio say.

Trump has slipped in suburbs to the east and west of Cleveland, where he narrowly edged Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016, they say. In the blue-collar suburbs of Youngstown, where Trump won by double digits, the same appears to be true.

In affluent suburbs, such as Dublin northwest of Columbus, 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney won by almost 20 percentage points. Four years later, Trump narrowly lost to Clinton. Less than two months before the 2020 election, Republicans were concerned about signs the trend in Dublin has continued, according to several GOP operatives following legislative and congressional races.

 

 

Sunday, September 20, 2020

SCOTUS Politics

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.  

 In the past, Republican voters care more about the Supreme Court than Democrats.  The death of Justice Ginsburg may change the equation.

First, she had a unique status.  No death of a Supreme Court Justice has triggered such an outpouring of emotion.

Second, many believe that Roe v. Wade is at stake.As with Obamacareloss aversion is at work.

Even before Ginsburg’s death, there were signs that Democratic voters cared more about the courts this election. Four years ago, 70% of Trump supporters said Supreme Court appointments were a “very important” issue, compared with 62% of Hillary Clinton backers. This time, Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s supporters are 5 percentage points more likely than Trump supporters to rank court appointments as a top concern, according to polling done by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center.

That shift stems, in part, from the GOP’s recent successes in installing conservative judges at all levels of the judiciary. During Trump’s tenure, more than 200 federal judges have been confirmed and two justices have been appointed to the high court. The raft of new, younger judges will influence the judiciary for decades to come.

Until 2016, the threat of a conservative Supreme Court was never fully realized. The foundation of Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion, has been repeatedly upheld, albeit steadily chipped away. And there were other wins, notably the legalization of same-sex marriage.

...

“I’ve talked to dozens and dozens of women in the last 24 hours, many of whom are not at all interested in politics, who are ready to leave the sidelines and start phone banking, door knocking and doing whatever it takes,” said Rebecca Katz, a New York-based progressive strategist.

The reason, she said, was simple: “The threat of overturning Roe is no longer hypothetical. That’s it in a nutshell.”

Privately, one Biden campaign advisor agreed, noting that the fear of abortion being outlawed is an unparalleled motivator for younger voters — especially women — who may not be enthused about the Democratic nominee “and need a reason to get fired up.”

For many younger women, the strategist said, “RBG was iconic and adored … and abortion is the one issue that people connect with the Supreme Court most of all.”

Update on fundraising from Reid Wilson at The Hill:

The most prolific online fundraising platform for Democratic candidates and causes said Sunday morning that donors had contributed more than $91 million in the 28 hours after the Supreme Court announced Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had died.

ActBlue said Ginsburg’s death had led to an unprecedented surge of donations to progressive groups. Donors gave $6.3 million in just one hour late Friday, and $70.6 million on Saturday, the platform said, both records for their respective time periods.

The previous daily record was nearly $42 million. The previous hourly record was just over $4 million.



Saturday, September 19, 2020

Bailing Out of Trumpworld

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


James Hohmann at WP:

Former national security adviser H.R. McMaster called President Trump’s withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan a big mistake that will make America less safe. “He, in effect, is partnering with the Taliban against, in many ways, the Afghan government,” the retired three-star general told CBS in an interview that will air Sunday on “60 Minutes” ahead of the publication of his new book, “Battlegrounds,” on Tuesday. “Terrorist organizations who pose a threat to us are stronger now than they were on September 10, 2001.”


Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s former chief of staff, Josh Venable, joined a group of 25 other Trump alumni on Thursday who want to see the president defeated. Former Department of Homeland Security chief of staff Miles Taylor formed the Republican Political Alliance for Integrity & Reform, which will be known as REPAIR. Taylor told Politico that a current senior administration official is also part of the group, but he declined to name that person.

The biggest splash of the day came from Olivia Troye, who worked as Vice President Pence’s homeland security, counterterrorism and coronavirus adviser until she left the White House last month. The lifelong Republican endorsed Joe Biden, citing Trump’s lack of seriousness behind closed doors when she was a senior adviser on the coronavirus task force. “There were a lot of closed-door conversations I have had with a lot of senior people across the administration where they agree with me wholeheartedly,” Troye told The Washington Post.

She recorded this blistering video for Republican Voters Against Trump: 

Latest from the Lincoln Project:


Friday, September 18, 2020

Trump and Puerto Rico

After a hurricane struck Puerto Rico in 2017, Trump made the obligatory trip to the disaster area. “I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you’ve thrown our budget a little out of whack because we’ve spent a lot of money on Puerto Rico,” he said before adding for cover, “and that’s fine.” In a bizarre scene, he tossed rolls of paper towels to survivors as if they were wedding bouquets. 

Trump opposes statehood for Puerto Rico.

By taking that position, he reneges on the platform on which he won the White House.

He also renounces more than half a century of Republican history. 

The GOP officially supported Puerto Rican statehood in every platform from 1968 to 2016.

  • 2016: We support the right of the United States citizens of Puerto Rico to be admitted to the Union as a fully sovereign state. We further recognize the historic significance of the 2012 local referendum in which a 54 percent majority voted to end Puerto Rico's current status as a U.S. territory, and 61 percent chose statehood over options for sovereign nationhood. We support the federally sponsored political status referendum authorized and funded by an Act of Congress in 2014 to ascertain the aspirations of the people of Puerto Rico. Once the 2012 local vote for statehood is ratified, Congress should approve an enabling act with terms for Puerto Rico's future admission as the 51st state of the Union.
  • 2012: We support the right of the United States citizens of Puerto Rico to be admitted to the Union as a fully sovereign state if they freely so determine. We recognize that Congress has the final authority to define the constitutionally valid options for Puerto Rico to achieve a permanent non-territorial status with government by consent and full enfranchisement. As long as Puerto Rico is not a State, however, the will of its people regarding their political status should be ascertained by means of a general right of referendum or specific referenda sponsored by the U.S. government.
  • 2008: We support the right of the United States citizens of Puerto Rico to be admitted to the Union as a fully sovereign state after they freely so determine. We recognize that Congress has the final authority to define the constitutionally valid options for Puerto Rico to achieve a permanent non-territorial status with government by consent and full enfranchisement. As long as Puerto Rico is not a state, however, the will of its people regarding their political status should be ascertained by means of a general right of referendum or specific referenda sponsored by the U.S. government.
  • 2004: We support the right of the United States citizens of Puerto Rico to be admitted to the Union as a fully sovereign state after they freely so determine. We recognize that Congress has the final authority to define the Constitutionally valid options for Puerto Rico to achieve a permanent non-territorial status with government by consent and full enfranchisement. As long as Puerto Rico is not a state, however, the will of its people regarding their political status should be ascertained by means of a general right of referendum or specific referenda sponsored by the United States government.
  • 2000: We support the right of the United States citizens of Puerto Rico to be admitted to the Union as a fully sovereign state after they freely so determine. We recognize that Congress has the final authority to define the constitutionally valid options for Puerto Rico to achieve a permanent status with government by consent and full enfranchisement. As long as Puerto Rico is not a State, however, the will of its people regarding their political status should be ascertained by means of a general right of referendum or specific referenda sponsored by the United States government.
  • 1996: We support the right of the United States citizens of Puerto Rico to be admitted to the Union as a fully sovereign state after they freely so determine. We endorse initiatives of the congressional Republican leadership to provide for Puerto Rico's smooth transition to statehood if its citizens choose to alter their current status, or to set them on their own path to become an independent nation.
  • 1992: The Republican Party supports the right of the United States citizens of Puerto Rico to be admitted to the Union as a fully sovereign State after they freely so determine.
  • 1988: Puerto Rico has been a territory of the United States since 1898. The Republican Party vigorously supports the right of the United States citizens of Puerto Rico to be admitted into the Union as a fully sovereign State after they freely so determine. Therefore, we support the establishment of a presidential task force to prepare the necessary legislation to ensure that the people of Puerto Rico have the opportunity to exercise at the earliest possible date their right to apply for admission into the Union. We also pledge that a decision of the people of Puerto Rico in favor of statehood will be implemented through an admission bill that would provide for a smooth fiscal transition, recognize the concept of a multi-cultural society for its citizens, and ensure the right to retain their Spanish language and traditions.
  • 1984: The Republican Party reaffirms its support of the right of Puerto Rico to be admitted into the Union after it freely so determines, through the passage of an admission bill which will provide for a smooth fiscal transition, recognize the concept of a multicultural society for its citizens, and secure the opportunity to retain their Spanish language and traditions.
  • 1980: Puerto Rico has been a territory of the United States since 1898. The Republican Party vigorously supports the right of the United States citizens of Puerto Rico to be admitted into the Union as a fully sovereign state after they freely so determine. We believe that the statehood alternative is the only logical solution to the problem of inequality of the United States citizens of Puerto Rico within the framework of the federal Constitution, with full recognition within the concept of a multicultural society of the citizens' right to retain their Spanish language and traditions. Therefore we pledge to support the enactment of the necessary legislation to allow the people of Puerto Rico to exercise their right to apply for admission into the Union at the earliest possible date after the presidential election of 1980. We also pledge that such decision of the people of Puerto Rico will be implemented through the approval of an admission bill. This bill will provide for the Island's smooth transition from its territorial fiscal system to that of a member of the Union. This enactment will enable the new state of Puerto Rico to stand economically on an equal footing with the rest of the states and to assume gradually its fiscal responsibilities as a state.
  • 1976: The principle of self-determination also governs our positions on Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia as it has in past platforms. We again support statehood for Puerto Rico, if that is the people's choice in a referendum, with full recognition within the concept of a multicultural society of the citizens' right to retain their Spanish language and traditions; and support giving the District of Columbia voting representation in the United States Senate and House of Representatives and full home rule over those matters that are purely local.
  • 1972: The Republican Party adheres to the principle of self-determination for Puerto Rico. We will welcome and support statehood for Puerto Rico if that status should be the free choice of its people in a referendum vote.
  • 1968: We will support the efforts of the Puerto Rican people to achieve statehood when they freely request such status by a general election, and we share the hopes and aspirations of the people of the Virgin Islands who will be closely consulted on proposed gubernatorial appointments.


Wray on Russia

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Russian involvement in the 2016 campaign  The update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.  Russia is making a similar effort this year.

House Homeland Security Hearing Chris Wray Testimony Transcript September 17: FBI Director Testifies:
Chairman Thompson: (28:33)

Thank you. Can you tell me if, as of this date, you have information that Russia is trying to influence the election for 2020?

Director Christopher Wray: (28:49)
Yes. I think the intelligence community’s consensus is that Russia continues to try to influence our elections primarily through what we would call malign foreign influence, as opposed to what we saw in 2016, where there was also an effort to target election infrastructure, cyber targeting. We have not seen that second part yet this year, or this cycle, but we certainly have seen very active, very active efforts by the Russians to influence our election in 2020 through what I would call more the malign foreign influence side of things. Social media, use of proxies, state media, online journals, et cetera. An effort to both sow divisiveness and discord and, and I think the intelligence community has assessed this publicly, primarily to denigrate vice President Biden in what the Russians see as kind of an anti-Russian establishment. That’s essentially what we’re seeing in 2020.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Happy Constitution Day

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

Even if Reinoehl’s killing was justified, in a country where the rule of law held, the government would have treated it as regrettable. For Donald Trump’s administration, Reinoehl’s death was cause for celebration.

Calling Reinoehl a “dangerous fugitive, admitted antifa member, and suspected murderer,” Attorney General William P. Barr said in a statement, “The streets of our cities are safer with this violent agitator removed.” Trump, in a Fox News interview on Saturday, said of the killing, “That’s the way it has to be. There has to be retribution when you have crime like this.” (Perhaps needless to say, law enforcement is not permitted to kill suspects in “retribution.”) Trump continued the theme at his Nevada rally Sunday night, saying to cheers, “We sent in the U.S. marshals, it was taken care of in 15 minutes.”

Trump, of course, defended Kyle Rittenhouse, a supporter of his charged with killing two people at a protest last month, and who, like Reinoehl, claimed self-defense. For the president, it’s not Reinoehl’s alleged actions that justify extrajudicial killing. It’s his politics, and those of his victim. Trump and Barr are all but declaring certain Americans beyond the law’s protections.
Hours before law enforcement forcibly cleared protesters from Lafayette Square in early June amid protests over the police killing of George Floyd, federal officials began to stockpile ammunition and seek devices that could emit deafening sounds and make anyone within range feel like their skin is on fire, according to an Army National Guard major who was there.

D.C. National Guard Maj. Adam D. DeMarco told lawmakers that defense officials were searching for crowd control technology deemed too unpredictable to use in war zones and had authorized the transfer of about 7,000 rounds of ammunition to the D.C. Armory as protests against police use of force and racial injustice roiled Washington.

In sworn testimony, shared this week with The Washington Post, DeMarco provided his account as part of an ongoing investigation into law enforcement and military officers’ use of force against D.C. protesters.
Katie Benner at NYT:
Attorney General William P. Barr told federal prosecutors in a call last week that they should consider charging rioters and others who had committed violent crimes at protests in recent months with sedition, according to two people familiar with the call.

The highly unusual suggestion to charge people with insurrection against lawful authority alarmed some on the call, which included U.S. attorneys around the country, said the people, who described Mr. Barr’s comments on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution.

The attorney general has also asked prosecutors in the Justice Department’s civil rights division to explore whether they could bring criminal charges against Mayor Jenny Durkan of Seattle for allowing some residents to establish a police-free protest zone near the city’s downtown for weeks this summer, according to two people briefed on those discussions. Late Wednesday, a department spokesman said that Mr. Barr did not direct the civil rights division to explore this idea.

The directives are in keeping with Mr. Barr’s approach to prosecute crimes as aggressively as possible in cities where protests have given way to violence. But in suggesting possible prosecution of Ms. Durkan, a Democrat, Mr. Barr also took aim at an elected official whom President Trump has repeatedly attacked.
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The most extreme form of the federal sedition law, which is rarely invoked, criminalizes conspiracies to overthrow the government of the United States — an extraordinary situation that does not seem to fit the circumstances of the protests and unrest in places like Portland, Ore., and elsewhere in response to police killings of Black men.

The wording of the federal sedition statute goes beyond actual revolutions. It says the crime can also occur anytime two or more people have conspired to use force to oppose federal authority, hinder the government’s ability to enforce any federal law or unlawfully seize any federal property — elements that might conceivably fit a plot to, say, break into and set fire to a federal courthouse.

Congress has stipulated that a conviction on a charge of seditious conspiracy can carry up to 20 years in prison.