When it was Cheney’s turn to speak, the 54-year-old Wyoming congresswoman began by describing her lifelong reverence for the House, where her father, Dick Cheney, was minority whip more than 30 years ago before serving as George H.W. Bush’s secretary of defense and George W. Bush’s vice president. But, Cheney went on, she was “deeply, deeply concerned about where our party is headed.” Its core principles — limited government, low taxes, a strong national defense — were being overshadowed by darker forces. “We cannot become the party of QAnon,” she said. “We cannot become the party of Holocaust denial. We cannot become the party of white supremacy. We all watched in horror what happened on Jan. 6.”
Cheney, alone among House Republicans, had been mentioned by Trump in his speech that day. “The Liz Cheneys of the world, we got to get rid of them,” he told his supporters at the Ellipse shortly before they overran the Capitol. The president had been infuriated by Cheney’s public insistence that Trump’s court challenges to state election results were unpersuasive and that he needed to respect “the sanctity of our electoral process.” At the time of Trump’s speech, Cheney was in the House cloakroom awaiting the ritual state-by-state tabulation of electoral votes. Her father called her to inform her of Trump’s remark. Less than an hour later, a mob was banging against the doors of the House chamber.
In the conference meeting, Cheney said that she stood by her vote to impeach Trump. Several members had asked her to apologize, but, she said, “I cannot do that.”
The line to the microphone was extraordinarily long. At least half of the speakers indicated that they would vote to remove Cheney. Ralph Norman of South Carolina expressed disappointment in her vote. “But the other thing that bothers me, Liz,” he went on, “is your attitude. You’ve got a defiant attitude.” John Rutherford of Florida, a former sheriff, accused the chairwoman of not being a “team player.”
Others argued that her announcement a day before the impeachment vote had given the Democrats a talking point to use against the rest of the Republican conference. (“Good for her for honoring her oath of office,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi pointedly remarked when told of Cheney’s intentions.) Likening the situation to a football game, Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania lamented, “You look up into the stands and see your girlfriend on the opposition’s side — that’s one hell of a tough thing to swallow.”
“She’s not your girlfriend!” a female colleague yelled out. Kelly’s remark was immediately disseminated among Republican women in professional Washington, according to Barbara Comstock, who served as a Republican congresswoman from Virginia until 2019. “We emailed that around, just horrified, commenting in real time,” she told me.
Throughout it all, Cheney sat implacably — “as emotional as algebra,” as one attendee later told me. She spoke only when asked a direct question. But when McCarthy concluded by suggesting that they put this matter behind them and adjourn, Cheney insisted that the conference vote on her status right then and there. The members cast their secret ballots, and Cheney prevailed, 145 to 61.
The lopsided margin was almost identical to Cheney’s own whip count going into the conference. Individual colleagues had confided in her that most of the conference was only too happy to move on from Trump — but saying so in public was another matter. To do so meant risking defeat at the hands of a Trump-adoring Republican primary electorate or even, many of them feared, the well-being of their families. In sum, it risked getting the Liz Cheney treatment. That Cheney was willing to face Trump’s wrath called attention to the fact that most of them were not — a factor in the aggrievement directed at Cheney in the meeting. Lloyd Smucker of Pennsylvania said that Cheney had “a low E.Q.,” or emotional quotient. On his way out the door, one congressman remarked, “I just got to spend four hours listening to a bunch of men complain to a woman that she doesn’t take their emotions into account.”
Thursday, April 22, 2021
Monday, April 19, 2021
Months after the inauguration of President Biden, One America News Network, a right-wing cable news channel available in some 35 million households, has continued to broadcast segments questioning the validity of the 2020 presidential election.
“There’s still serious doubts about who’s actually president,” the OAN correspondent Pearson Sharp said in a March 28 report.
That segment was one in a spate of similar reports from a channel that has become a kind of Trump TV for the post-Trump age, an outlet whose reporting has aligned with the former president’s grievances at a time when he is barred from major social media platforms.
Some of OAN’s coverage has not had the full support of the staff. In interviews with 18 current and former OAN newsroom employees, 16 said the channel had broadcast reports that they considered misleading, inaccurate or untrue.
To go by much of OAN’s reporting, it is almost as if a transfer of power had never taken place. The channel did not broadcast live coverage of Mr. Biden’s swearing-in ceremony and Inaugural Address. Into April, news articles on the OAN website consistently referred to Donald J. Trump as “President Trump” and to President Biden as just “Joe Biden” or “Biden.” That practice is not followed by other news organizations, including the OAN competitor Newsmax, a conservative cable channel and news site.
OAN has also promoted the debunked theory that the rioters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 were left-wing agitators. Toward the end of a March 4 news segment that described the attack as the work of “antifa” and “anti-Trump extremists” — and referred to the president as “Beijing Biden” — Mr. Sharp said, “History will show it was the Democrats, and not the Republicans, who called for this violence.” Investigations have found no evidence that people who identify with antifa, a loose collective of antifascist activists, were involved in the Capitol riot.
...Marty Golingan, who joined the channel as a producer in 2016, said OAN had changed in recent years. At the start of his employment, he said, it concentrated more on neutral coverage based on reports from The Associated Press or Reuters. He saw it as a scrappy upstart where he could produce cheeky feature stories, he said.
During the Trump presidency, it moved right, Mr. Golingan said. And when he was watching coverage of the pro-Trump mob breaking into the Capitol, he said, he worried that his work might have helped inspire the attack.
He added that he and others at OAN disagreed with much of the channel’s coverage. “The majority of people did not believe the voter fraud claims being run on the air,” Mr. Golingan said in an interview, referring to his colleagues.
He recalled seeing a photo of someone in the Capitol mob holding a flag emblazoned with the OAN logo. “I was like, OK, that’s not good,” Mr. Golingan said. “That’s what happens when people listen to us.” (Mr. Golingan said he was fired on Monday, the day after this article was published online.)
Sunday, April 18, 2021
In the Senate, lawmakers who built reputations as leaders on foreign policy — like Mr. McCain and Senators Richard Lugar and John Warner — are long gone. Mr. Trump defenestrated much of the party’s policymaking establishment by alienating dozens of foreign policy experts, who refused to support his campaign, let alone enter his administration.
And for ambitious Republican officials, the political calculation remains stark: To the extent that Republican voters care at all about foreign policy issues, many have come to embrace Mr. Trump’s nationalistic views on issues like trade, overseas military ventures and even Russia.
Yet chances that Republicans will achieve a complete restoration of the traditional party platform seem low, particularly if Mr. Trump continues to flex his political power among his base. The former president captured the hearts and minds of his followers, shifting opinions on issues of globalism. During his administration, polling showed Republican voters adopted a more positive view of Russia and became more skeptical of trade agreements and international alliances.
A survey conducted by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs last year found that Republican voters preferred a more nationalist approach, valuing economic self-sufficiency, and taking a unilateral approach to diplomacy and global engagement
When asked about the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, 58 percent of Republicans surveyed said the outbreak showed the United States should be less reliant on other countries, compared with just 18 percent of Democrats who said the same. Close to half of Republicans agreed that “the United States is rich and powerful enough to go it alone, without getting involved in the problems of the rest of the world,” and two-thirds said they preferred that the country produce its own goods, as opposed to buying or selling overseas.Another survey by Tony Fabrizio, one of Mr. Trump’s pollsters, found that only 7 percent of Republicans prioritize national security and foreign policy issues, compared with nearly a quarter who care about economic issues.
Saturday, April 17, 2021
Danielle Ivory, Lauren Leatherby and Robert Gebeloff at NYT:
About 31 percent of adults in the United States have now been fully vaccinated. Scientists have estimated that 70 to 90 percent of the total population must acquire resistance to the virus to reach herd immunity. But in hundreds of counties around the country, vaccination rates are low, with some even languishing in the teens.
The disparity in vaccination rates has so far mainly broken down along political lines. The New York Times examined survey and vaccine administration data for nearly every U.S. county and found that both willingness to receive a vaccine and actual vaccination rates to date were lower, on average, in counties where a majority of residents voted to re-elect former President Donald J. Trump in 2020. The phenomenon has left some places with a shortage of supply and others with a glut.
The relationship between vaccination and politics reflects demographics. Vaccine hesitancy is highest in counties that are rural and have lower income levels and college graduation rates — the same characteristics found in counties that were more likely to have supported Mr. Trump. In wealthier Trump-supporting counties with higher college graduation rates, the vaccination gap is smaller, the analysis found, but the partisan gap holds even after accounting for income, race and age demographics, population density and a county’s infection and death rate.
Friday, April 16, 2021
In 2020, Joe Biden became the first Democrat to carry a majority of congressional districts since Barack Obama in 2008. Biden carried 224 of 435 districts, up from Hillary Clinton's 205 districts in 2016 and Obama's 209 in 2012. A small factor in Biden's edge: between 2016 and 2020, courts in North Carolina and Pennsylvania ordered new maps that were less favorable to Republicans.
2020's results also lay bare the decline in split-ticket voting. The House is extremely well sorted out: just 16 of 435 districts "crossed over" to vote for presidential and House candidates of opposite parties, down from 35 in 2016 and 108 in 1996. Today, there are nine Republicans sitting in districts Biden carried, and seven Democrats in districts Trump carried. This beats 2012's record low of 26 districts.
In this new era of parliamentary voting patterns, House elections have increasingly become censuses counting blue and red voters in a given area rather than contests between two candidates of differing qualifications and backgrounds. And, the occupants of the few remaining "crossover" districts are at the top of each party's target lists in 2022, threatening to winnow their ranks further.
Thursday, April 15, 2021
Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics. Among other things, it discusses foreign influence and Trump's attack on democracy.
For the first time EVER, the US government said Russian agent Konstantin Kilimnik provided Russian intelligence agencies with the internal Trump campaign polling/strategy data he received from Manafort and Gates in 2016. Even Mueller didn't go that far. https://t.co/wGNnHdFxRU pic.twitter.com/O9GEjpJ0CG— Marshall Cohen (@MarshallCohen) April 15, 2021
Wednesday, April 14, 2021
In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's dishonesty and his record of disregarding the rule of law. Our next book, Divided We Stand, explains that "defunding the police" nearly cost the Democrats their majority in the House.
Squad member Rashida Tlaib unequivocally called for the gutting of the police on Monday. The Detroit congresswoman tweeted: “No more policing, incarceration, and militarization. It can’t be reformed.”
If the Democrats don’t quickly disavow Tlaib’s tantrum, they had best be prepared for Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Majority Leader McConnell come January 2023. For more than a half-century, crime has retained its potency as a campaign issue. That reality is not about to change.
Republicans rode crime to the White House in 1968, 1988, and 2016. Mean streets and homicides helped propel Richard Nixon, George HW Bush and Donald Trump to the Oval Office. “Mostly peaceful” is oxymoronic. It also scares most people.
As Rep. James Clyburn, the No. 3 House Democrat and a key backer of Joe Biden, conceded after the Democrats lost 13 House seats in November’s election: “‘Defund the police’ is killing our party, and we’ve got to stop it.” Apparently, Tlaib couldn’t be bothered with Clyburn’s memo.
It wasn't an accident. Policing in our country is inherently & intentionally racist.— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) April 12, 2021
Daunte Wright was met with aggression & violence. I am done with those who condone government funded murder.
No more policing, incarceration, and militarization. It can't be reformed.
Tuesday, April 13, 2021
As The Washington Post’s Josh Dawsey reported Sunday, Trump’s speech reserved the heaviest and newest criticisms for the man who is currently the most powerful Republican in Washington, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.). Trump hit McConnell for not helping overturn the 2020 election and called him a “dumb son of a b----,” while accusing him of being ungrateful for Trump’s appointment of McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao, to his Cabinet.
Audio of the speech reviewed by The Post reveals that Trump at times went even further in going after his foes and revising electoral history, even lodging a suggestive attack involving former first lady Michelle Obama’s appearance.
Below are some key quotes from the speech.
McConnell wasn’t the only one Trump called an ingrate. That was also the verdict for another Republican who declined to toe Trump’s line on the legitimacy of the 2020 election and whom Trump has gone after before: Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp.
But in prosecuting that grievance, Trump made a somewhat uncharacteristic comment about Michelle Obama — of whom he has often steered clear — while also using her husband’s middle name in a suggestive way.
“Oprah Winfrey camped out in Atlanta” in support of Kemp’s 2018 opponent Stacey Abrams, Trump claimed, wrongly saying that Winfrey was there for “months.”
Trump added: “Barack Hussein Obama and the very beautiful Michelle Obama were there for … ”
At this point, the audience laughed uproariously. Michelle Obama’s appearance has often served as a punchline in some portions of the conservative Internet.
“ … they were there for — forever,” Trump concluded.
Trump has a history of disparaging the appearances of women he doesn’t like. It was also an odd attack for another reason: Michelle Obama didn’t actually campaign for Abrams.
Trump will often oversell his crowds — his presidency began on that note — but even by those standards, his comments Saturday were amazing.
Trump claimed that the rally he addressed on Jan. 6 before the storming of the Capitol was the largest he had ever spoken to, despite estimates putting the crowd in the thousands.
“There was a rally for — however you want to define it — at the Capitol,” Trump said. “It was the largest crowd that I’d ever spoken to before. Some people say it was over a million people. It was tremendous.”
Speaking of ways in which Trump echoed the launch of his political career: He began his 2016 campaign by stating that rapists and murderers were coming across the southern border. And Saturday, with a border crisis emerging early on his successor’s watch, he rekindled that language.
“They’re not sending their best people,” Trump said. “You have murderers. You have rapists. You have drug dealers. You have people that they don’t want because that’s common sense, but that’s the way it is. Many of the people that are coming up are people that those countries don’t want.”
It was remarkably similar to the language Trump used in 2015.
Monday, April 12, 2021
Sunday, April 11, 2021
Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics. Among other things, it discusses the state of the parties.
The first spring donor retreat after a defeat for a political party is typically a moment of reflection and renewal as officials chart a new direction forward.
But with former President Donald J. Trump determined to keep his grip on the Republican Party and the party’s base as adhered to him as ever, the coming together of the Republican National Committee’s top donors in South Florida this weekend is less a moment of reset and more a reminder of the continuing tensions and schisms roiling the G.O.P.
The same former president who last month sent the R.N.C. a cease-and-desist letter demanding they stop using his likeness to raise money on Saturday evening served as the party’s fund-raising headliner.
“A tremendous complication” was how Fred Zeidman, a veteran Republican fund-raiser in Texas, described Mr. Trump’s lingering presence on the political scene.
“He’s already proven that he wants to have a major say or keep control of the party, and he’s already shown every sign that he’s going to primary everybody that has not been supportive of him,” Mr. Zeidman said. “He complicates everything so much.”
As donors and G.O.P. leaders looked on Saturday night, Mr. Trump quickly cast aside his prepared remarks and returned to his false claims that the election was stolen from him. He referenced “Zuckerberg” and $500 million spent on a “lockbox” from which, he said, every vote was marked, according to remarks described by an attendee. “Biden. Saintly Joe Biden,” he said.
Mr. Trump praised loyalists like Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio and Mark Meadows, his former chief of staff, while lashing his enemies — among them Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker; former President Barack Obama, whom he called “Barack Hussein Obama”; Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical adviser; and Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia, whom he berated anew for not helping overturn Mr. Biden’s win in the state.
He saved much of his vitriol for Senator Mitch McConnell, the minority leader, calling him a “dumb son of a bitch” and a “stone cold loser,’’ according to the attendee. A “real leader,” he said, would never have accepted the results of that election.
Late in his remarks, Mr. Trump praised the crowd that attended his rally on Jan. 6, admiring how large it was, the attendee said. Mr. Trump added that he wasn’t “talking about the people that went to the Capitol,” though hundreds of the rally attendees left the rally at the Ellipse to go to the Capitol.
Saturday, April 10, 2021
Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics. Among other things, it discusses the state of the parties.
Tucker Carlson, the top-rated host on Fox “News” Channel, has been attracting attention for a while with his vile rhetoric against immigrants. Yet now he’s reached a new low.
On Thursday night, Carlson moved even closer to white supremacist ideology by explicitly endorsing the Great Replacement theory, which holds that shadowy elites are orchestrating a plot to replace native-born White people with immigrants of color. The New Zealand shooter’s manifesto was literally headlined “The Great Replacement,” and the neo-Nazis who marched in Charlottesville chanted “Jews will not replace us.”
Carlson knows exactly how toxic the word “replacement” is when used in the context of immigration, but he nevertheless put his imprimatur on it: “Now, I know that the left and all the little gatekeepers on Twitter become literally hysterical if you use the term ‘replacement,’ if you suggest that the Democratic Party is trying to replace the current electorate, the voters now casting ballots, with new people, more obedient voters from the Third World. But they become hysterical because that’s what’s happening actually. Let’s just say it: That’s true.”
Texas Republican Party chairman Allen West falsely suggested that Texas could secede from the United States and become an independent country, a CNN KFile review of his comments in recent months shows.In radio interviews after the 2020 presidential election, West suggested Texas could vote to again become a republic, as it was before joining the United States in 1845.
"This is something that was written into the Texas Constitution," the former congressman said in one late December radio broadcast. "Or it was promised to Texas when we became part of the United States of America-- that if we voted and decided, we could go back to being our own republic."
Experts, however, say that Texas cannot legally secede and leave the United States to become its own republic. The annexation resolution West is referring to stipulates that Texas could, in the future, choose to divide itself into five new states, not divide itself from the US and declare independence. West mistook the congressional annexation resolution that made Texas a state for the Texas constitution.
Speaking on the Truth and Liberty broadcast on January 4 --two days before the Capitol insurrection which would leave five people dead--West said the US was already engaged in an "ideological civil war."
"I heard one person say, 'but man, this can cause us a civil war,'" the host, Andrew Wommack, argued. "And the other person says, 'well, we've already fought one. Was it worth it? Was it worth it to free the slaves? "Is it worth it to save our Constitution?' You can't judge what's right. Based on how other people are going to respond. You just have to do what's right. And face the consequences."
In other interviews, West contended that states could choose not to follow executive orders or even federal laws they deem unconstitutional.
"I think it was North or South Dakota, this constitutional nullification," West said in February 2021. "Because we have to have state legislatures that say, look, if you are signing executive orders that are not constitutionally sound, we're not obligated. We're not going to follow these things. So we want you to go through the right process."
Friday, April 9, 2021
Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics. Among other things, it discusses campaign finance.
In 2020, Trump scammed contributors by tricking them into multiple donations that they never intended. At The Bulwark, Tim Miller dissects a sleazy NRCC fundraising email:
Here, the NRCC now claims that it will match the contribution “5x.” Think about that for a moment: The NRCC says that if you give them $1, they’ll add another $5. But if you don’t give them a dollar, what are they going to with their $5? So this is a lie, too (a common one in political fundraising.)
But let’s keep going.
Next up we’re presented with two boxes that are pre-checked. The first makes the donation monthly recurring—the same gimmick that the Times exposed the Trump campaign for running to disastrous results. The second pre-checked box doubles your donation in order to grant you “Trump Patriot Status.”
And if you can believe it, there’s an even worse version of this running on the NRCC’s fundraising page, where they threaten to tell Trump that the reader is a “DEFECTOR” if they uncheck the box for recurring donations:
Thursday, April 8, 2021
Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics. Among other things, it discusses the state of the parties.
In theory, political parties are principally focused on winning elections, since that is how they gain power to implement their agendas. So why aren’t these activists and elected officials changing gears out of sheer self-preservation? One reason is that they are doing pretty well electorally without such changes. (More on that in a bit.)
But just as importantly, many of the key people and institutions in the Republican Party might prefer a risky and often-losing strategy to one that would really increase their chances of electoral victories. The path to Republicans becoming a majority party in America probably involves the GOP embracing cultural and demographic changes and pushing a more populist economic agenda that is less focused on tax cuts for the wealthy. But some of the most powerful blocs in the GOP are big donors who favor tax cuts, conservative Christian activists who are wary of expanding LGBTQ rights and an “own the libs” bloc exemplified by many Fox News personalities and elected officials such as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who are very critical of immigration and the Black Lives Matter movement. The big donors and conservative Christian activists have policy goals that are fairly unpopular but that they are deeply committed to (such as overturning Roe v. Wade) — so they aren’t going to bend for electoral reasons. For the “own the libs” bloc, winning elections isn’t that important anyway — they aren’t really invested in policy or governing and will be fine if Republicans remain out of the White House and in the minority on Capitol Hill.
In short, the Republican Party has an activist base whose interests aren’t that compatible with pursuing a strategy that maximizes winning national elections.
This isn’t a new problem for Republicans. After their losses in both 2008 and 2012, Republicans talked a lot about changing the party, particularly doing more outreach to voters of color, in a way that the GOP has not in the wake of 2020. But that was mostly talk. Republicans didn’t make any real changes after either of those elections either, in part because the party’s base was very resistant.
“I don’t think the Republicans have any desire to assess their favored policies,” said Lawrence Glickman, a historian at Cornell University who studies the conservative movement in the United States.
In a recent column, former Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele and ex-Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo wrote, “This crusade against voting rights lays bare the GOP’s greatest political liability: The party remains frozen in time, even as new demographic blocs have begun to gain power.”
Wednesday, April 7, 2021
The Chicago Project on Security and Threats (CPOST), working with court records, has analyzed the demographics and home county characteristics of the 377 Americans, from 250 counties in 44 states, arrested or charged in the Capitol attack.
When compared with almost 2,900 other counties in the United States, our analysis of the 250 counties where those charged or arrested live reveals that the counties that had the greatest decline in White population had an 18 percent chance of sending an insurrectionist to D.C., while the counties that saw the least decline in the White population had only a 3 percent chance. This finding holds even when controlling for population size, distance to D.C., unemployment rate and urban/rural location. It also would occur by chance less than once in 1,000 times.
Put another way, the people alleged by authorities to have taken the law into their hands on Jan. 6 typically hail from places where non-White populations are growing fastest.
CPOST also conducted two independent surveys in February and March, including a National Opinion Research Council survey, to help understand the roots of this rage. One driver overwhelmingly stood out: fear of the “Great Replacement.” Great Replacement theory has achieved iconic status with white nationalists and holds that minorities are progressively replacing White populations due to mass immigration policies and low birthrates. Extensive social media exposure is the second-biggest driver of this view, our surveys found. Replacement theory might help explain why such a high percentage of the rioters hail from counties with fast-rising, non-White populations.
Tuesday, April 6, 2021
The state of the GOP is not good. Consistency is not its strong suit.
Trump spotted with apparent Coke bottle on desk despite calling for boycott of the drink https://t.co/t7nYW4VrUV— Fred Wellman (@FPWellman) April 6, 2021
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is second to none in protecting First Amendment rights of corporations — at least when the subject is money. McConnell, a longtime opponent of limits on campaign donations as a form of speech, has often defended unlimited dark money in lofty terms.
In 2012, The Post reported on a speech he gave to the American Enterprise Institute:“It is critically important for all conservatives — and indeed all Americans — to stand up and unite in defense of the freedom to organize around the causes we believe in, and against any effort that would constrain our ability to do so,” McConnell said in the speech at AEI, a Washington group that says it supports free enterprise.McConnell, long an opponent of restrictions on political contributions, cited a Democratic proposal to require corporations and unions to disclose their spending on political advertising.
He said it would require “government-compelled disclosure of contributions to all grass-roots groups, which is far more dangerous than its proponents are willing to admit.”
“This is nothing less than an effort by the government itself to expose its critics to harassment and intimidation, either by government authorities or through third-party allies,” McConnell said.
McConnell has even filed multiple amicus curiae briefs in campaign cases insisting the rights of free speech and association implicit in corporate campaign donations are “fundamental” and “of central importance.”
But when it comes to actual speech from corporations — specifically, speech denouncing Republicans’ voter suppression efforts — McConnell becomes irate.
McConnell, in a written statement on Monday, deemed the exercise of such First Amendment rights as “bullying.” “It’s jaw-dropping to see powerful American institutions not just permit themselves to be bullied, but join in the bullying themselves. … Our private sector must stop taking cues from the Outrage-Industrial Complex. Americans do not need or want big business to amplify disinformation or react to every manufactured controversy with frantic left-wing signaling.” He is dismayed by consistent advocacy plainly protected by the First Amendment: “From election law to environmentalism to radical social agendas to the Second Amendment, parts of the private sector keep dabbling in behaving like a woke parallel government.” Worse, he threatens retribution: “Corporations will invite serious consequences if they become a vehicle for far-left mobs to hijack our country from outside the constitutional order.”
Monday, April 5, 2021
Three months after a mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol to try to overturn his November election loss, about half of Republicans believe the siege was largely a non-violent protest or was the handiwork of left-wing activists “trying to make Trump look bad,” a new Reuters/Ipsos poll has found.
Six in 10 Republicans also believe the false claim put out by Trump that November’s presidential election “was stolen” from him due to widespread voter fraud, and the same proportion of Republicans think he should run again in 2024, the March 30-31 poll showed.
Since the Capitol attack, Trump, many of his allies within the Republican Party and right-wing media personalities have publicly painted a picture of the day’s events jarringly at odds with reality.
Hundreds of Trump’s supporters, mobilized by the former president’s false claims of a stolen election, climbed walls of the Capitol building and smashed windows to gain entry while lawmakers were inside voting to certify President Joe Biden’s election victory. The rioters - many of them sporting Trump campaign gear and waving flags - also included known white supremacist groups such as the Proud Boys.
In a recent interview with Fox News, Trump said the rioters posed “zero threat.” Other prominent Republicans, such as Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, have publicly doubted whether Trump supporters were behind the riot.
Last month, 12 Republicans in the House of Representatives voted against a resolution honoring Capitol Police officers who defended the grounds during the rampage, with one lawmaker saying that he objected using the word “insurrection” to describe the incident.
Sunday, April 4, 2021
Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics. Among other things, it discusses campaign finance.
Facing a cash crunch and getting badly outspent by the Democrats, the campaign had begun last September to set up recurring donations by default for online donors, for every week until the election.
Contributors had to wade through a fine-print disclaimer and manually uncheck a box to opt out.
As the election neared, the Trump team made that disclaimer increasingly opaque, an investigation by The New York Times showed. It introduced a second prechecked box, known internally as a “money bomb,” that doubled a person’s contribution. Eventually its solicitations featured lines of text in bold and capital letters that overwhelmed the opt-out language.
The tactic ensnared scores of unsuspecting Trump loyalists — retirees, military veterans, nurses and even experienced political operatives. Soon, banks and credit card companies were inundated with fraud complaints from the president’s own supporters about donations they had not intended to make, sometimes for thousands of dollars.
“Bandits!” said Victor Amelino, a 78-year-old Californian, who made a $990 online donation to Mr. Trump in early September via WinRed. It recurred seven more times — adding up to almost $8,000. “I’m retired. I can’t afford to pay all that damn money.”
The sheer magnitude of the money involved is staggering for politics. In the final two and a half months of 2020, the Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee and their shared accounts issued more than 530,000 refunds worth $64.3 million to online donors. All campaigns make refunds for various reasons, including to people who give more than the legal limit. But the sum the Trump operation refunded dwarfed that of Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s campaign and his equivalent Democratic committees, which made 37,000 online refunds totaling $5.6 million in that time.
The recurring donations swelled Mr. Trump’s treasury in September and October, just as his finances were deteriorating. He was then able to use tens of millions of dollars he raised after the election, under the guise of fighting his unfounded fraud claims, to help cover the refunds he owed.
In effect, the money that Mr. Trump eventually had to refund amounted to an interest-free loan from unwitting supporters at the most important juncture of the 2020 race.
Saturday, April 3, 2021
Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics. Among other things, it discusses voting procedures:
NYT sums up major features of Georgia's new voting law:
- Voters will now have less time to request absentee ballots.
- There are strict new ID requirements for absentee ballots.
- It’s now illegal for election officials to mail out absentee ballot applications to all voters.
- Drop boxes still exist … but barely.
- Mobile voting centers (think an R.V. where you can vote) are essentially banned.
- Early voting is expanded in a lot of small counties, but probably not in more populous ones.
- Offering food or water to voters waiting in line now risks misdemeanor charges.
- If you go to the wrong polling place, it will be (even) harder to vote.
- If election problems arise, a common occurrence, it is now more difficult to extend voting hours.
- With a mix of changes to vote-counting, high-turnout elections will probably mean a long wait for results.
- Election officials can no longer accept third-party funding (a measure that nods to right-wing conspiracy theories).
- With an eye toward voter fraud, the state attorney general will manage an election hotline.
- The Republican-controlled legislature has more control over the State Election Board.
- The secretary of state is removed as a voting member of the State Election Board.
- The G.O.P.-led legislature is empowered to suspend county election officials.
- Runoff elections will happen faster — and could become harder to manage.
Friday, April 2, 2021
Rep. Matt Gaetz, the Florida Republican being investigated by the Justice Department over sex trafficking allegations, made a name for himself when he arrived on Capitol Hill as a conservative firebrand on TV and staunch defender of then-President Donald Trump. Behind the scenes, Gaetz gained a reputation in Congress over his relationships with women and bragging about his sexual escapades to his colleagues, multiple sources told CNN.
Gaetz allegedly showed off to other lawmakers photos and videos of nude women he said he had slept with, the sources told CNN, including while on the House floor. The sources, including two people directly shown the material, said Gaetz displayed the images of women on his phone and talked about having sex with them. One of the videos showed a naked woman with a hula hoop, according to one source.
"It was a point of pride," one of the sources said of Gaetz.
After Rep. Matt Gaetz accused a Florida lawyer of a $25 million extortion scheme to make sex trafficking allegations disappear, Republicans on and off Capitol Hill on Wednesday largely kept their mouths shut.
Gaetz—the Trump-loving, Fox News-grinning, 38-year-old Florida Republican—has a less-than-sterling reputation among his congressional colleagues. More than a half-dozen lawmakers have spoken to these reporters about his love of alcohol and illegal drugs, as well as his proclivity for younger women. It’s well-known among Republican lawmakers that Gaetz was dating a college student—one over the age of consent—in 2018. She came to Washington as an intern.
In response to these allegations and a question about whether he had ever had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old while in Congress, Gaetz told The Daily Beast late Wednesday night:
“The last time I had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old, I was 17. As for the Hill, I know I have many enemies and few friends. My support generally lies outside of Washington, D.C., and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
As for his few friends in Washington, The Daily Beast found that to be true. One former GOP staffer said Wednesday that their office had an informal rule to not allow their member to appear next to Gaetz during TV hits, fearful of the inevitable scandal that would come out one day.
Prior to joining Congress, Gaetz was a member of the Florida House of Representatives when his father was also a member of the Florida Senate. Sources told ABC News the two were often referred to as "Daddy Gaetz and Baby Gaetz." Sources said some women referred to him as "Creepy Gaetz" because they allegedly found themselves made uncomfortable by the junior lawmaker.Sources said Gaetz was part of a group of young male lawmakers who created a "game" to score their female sexual conquests, which granted "points" for various targets such as interns, staffers or other female colleagues in the state House. One of the targets of the scoring system was a group the lawmakers had heard were "virgins," according to a source. The scoring system by male Florida lawmakers was previously reported by the Miami Herald.
One source said Gaetz was often spotted trying to pick up young women at 101 Restaurant, a once-popular watering hole in Tallahassee for some lawmakers and students from nearby Florida State University.
Thursday, April 1, 2021
Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics. Among other things, it discusses state elections.
The successful recall of the governor in 2003 occurred in a very different political context. Governor Gray Davis had been reelected by a 5-point margin in November 2002 (47% to 42%). Newsom was elected by a 24-point margin in November 2018 (62% to 38%). Democrats had a 9-point edge over Republicans in voter registration (44% to 35%) in 2003; today, they have a 22-point edge (46% to 24%). Moreover, seven in ten California likely voters disapproved of Gray Davis during the year of the recall (72% February 2003; 75% June 2003; 72% July 2003; 72% August 2003; 71% September 2003). And leading up to the recall election, at least half of California likely voters said they would vote to remove Davis as governor (51% June 2003, 50% July 2003; 58% August 2003, 53% September 2003). Ultimately, 55% voted to remove him in October 2003. By contrast, fewer than half have said they disapprove of Newsom in the 13 surveys we have conducted since he took office, and today four in ten want to remove him.
The political wildcard in the 2021 governor’s recall is the replacement candidates. In 2003, 135 candidates ran to replace Davis and four of them received at least 1% of the vote. But it was the surprise entry of action movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger that changed the election’s dynamics. Currently, a few candidates have indicated their desire to run in 2021 but none have the qualities of Arnold Schwarzenegger or the statewide electoral track record of Gavin Newsom. Will a charismatic leader appear who has the name recognition and sufficient resources to mount a successful statewide campaign?
Wednesday, March 31, 2021
Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics. Among other things, it discusses state and congressional elections.
The story twisted facts and omitted context to fit a partisan narrative. It implied then-California Rep. Gil Cisneros engaged in criminal insider trading and knowingly profited from confidential congressional coronavirus briefings in the early days of the pandemic.
Cisneros’ opponent, now-Rep. Young Kim, issued a press release featuring the story that was published Sept. 17 by the California Globe, a partisan news site. Kim also tweeted a link later that day that was retweeted 32 times and posted the story on Facebook, where it was shared 52 times and generated 40 comments attacking Cisneros. She never retracted the press release or the social media posts — not even when the Globe removed the story from its website in response to a letter from Cisneros’ attorneys. Not when Cisneros publicly called on her to do so. Nor would her spokesperson answer repeated CalMatters’ questions about it.
The damage was apparent once the votes were counted.
It happened in other CA races, too.
The misinformation in turn was amplified not only on social media but by a handful of upstart conservative partisan news outlets such as The San Joaquin Valley Sun. As politically independent newspapers have closed or slashed reporting staff, these sites have rushed in to fill the void. The Columbia Journalism Review last August reported California has at least 74 partisan sites — the most in the country, and listed those it found. The sites became friendly landing spots for political smears like the Globe story, allowing widespread distribution of misinformation or innuendo at no cost to the campaigns.
And nobody expects that to change anytime soon. There’s a likely campaign to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom on the horizon, and the NRCC recently released another four targets, for 2022: Reps. John Garamendi in the Sacramento Valley, Josh Harder in the northern San Joaquin Valley, Katie Porter in Orange County, and Mike Levin in San Diego County.
Dossiers posted on democratfacts.org, an NRCC-funded website, featured information labeled as “Hits,” as well as video footage available for political advertisements. The website recently deleted the 2020 dossiers on Democrat candidates across the country, but CalMatters archived the portion of the site devoted to California congressional candidates on archive.org.