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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Thursday, December 30, 2021

"Slow Motion Insurrection"

Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses the state of the partiesThe state of the GOP is not good. Trump and his minions falsely claimed that he won the election, and have kept repeating the Big Lie

 At AP, Nicholas Riccardi reports on GOP efforts to control election administration:

In battleground states and beyond, Republicans are taking hold of the once-overlooked machinery of elections. While the effort is incomplete and uneven, outside experts on democracy and Democrats are sounding alarms, warning that the United States is witnessing a “slow-motion insurrection” with a better chance of success than Trump’s failed power grab last year.

They point to a mounting list of evidence: Several candidates who deny Trump’s loss are running for offices that could have a key role in the election of the next president in 2024. In Michigan, the Republican Party is restocking members of obscure local boards that could block approval of an election. In Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, the GOP-controlled legislatures are backing open-ended “reviews” of the 2020 election, modeled on a deeply flawed look-back in Arizona. The efforts are poised to fuel disinformation and anger about the 2020 results for years to come.
In Pennsylvania, the GOP-controlled legislature is undertaking a review of the presidential election, subpoenaing voter information that Democrats contend is an unprecedented intrusion into voter privacy. Meanwhile, Trump supporters are signing up for local election jobs in droves. One pastor who attended the Jan. 6 rally in the nation’s capital recently won a race to become an election judge overseeing voting in a rural part of Lancaster County.

In Michigan, the GOP has focused on the state’s county boards of canvassers. The little-known committees’ power was briefly in the spotlight in November of 2020, when Trump urged the two Republican members of the board overseeing Wayne County, home to Democratic-bastion Detroit, to vote to block certification of the election.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

UMass Poll: Only One-Fifth of Republicans View Biden's Victory as Legitimate

Our book, Divided We Stand, looks at the 2020 election and the January 6 insurrection.  Some Republican leaders -- and a measurable number of rank-and-file voters -- are open to violent rebellioncoups, and secession.  

From the University of Massachusetts Amherst:
One year after thousands of supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to protest and disrupt the certification of Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election, the results of a new national University of Massachusetts Amherst Poll released today show 71% of Republicans – and one-third of the nation – continue to believe that Biden’s victory was illegitimate, and that Republicans continue to blame Democrats, Antifa and the Capitol Police for the events of Jan. 6. They also oppose both the continuation of law enforcement efforts to prosecute the rioters and attempts to learn more about what happened that day.

The poll of 1,000 respondents found that only 58% of Americans believe that Biden’s electoral victory was legitimate, with more than a fifth (22%) saying that it was “definitely not legitimate,” numbers nearly identical to an April 2021 UMass Amherst Poll (59% / 24%). Only one-fifth of Republicans (21%) view Biden’s victory as legitimate.

Republicans continue to defend the events of Jan. 6 and those who perpetrated the attacks on the capitol, with 80% describing the events as a “protest,” while the majority (55%) of all respondents of the poll use the term “riot.” While 62% of Republicans said the perpetrators were “protestors,” more than a quarter (26%) deemed the pro-Trump horde “patriots,” while similar numbers (27%) also said they were “Antifa.” Democrats, meanwhile, nearly equally described them as “insurrectionists,” “white nationalists” and “rioters” (68% each), a “mob” (67%) and “terrorists” (64%).
Regarding who should be held responsible for the day’s events, a broad majority of Democrats blame Trump, while Republicans continue to blame the Democratic Party (30%), the Capitol Police (24%) and Antifa (20%), all of which show little movement from April’s polling results.

While 86% of Democrats support continuing law enforcement efforts to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of the Capitol attack, only 29% of Republicans support them, and 52% replied that they oppose the efforts. Three-quarters of Republicans also said the nation should “move on” from investigating the events, while 84% of Democrats say we need to learn more about what happened on Jan. 6. Overall, women are more supportive of both law enforcement efforts (61-53) and congressional investigations (62-50) than men.

Sixty-two percent of Republicans – and 37% of the poll’s respondents overall – said that former Vice President Mike Pence should have used his role in certifying the electoral vote to challenge Biden’s victory as the protestors chanted for his execution that day.

Republicans also downplay the potential severity of the day’s violence, with 72% saying they believe Pence and members of Congress were not in danger of harm by the Capitol’s invaders, while 84% of Democrats say that the lawmakers faced physical threat.
Looking ahead to the 2022 midterm elections, 55% of Republicans say that a candidate questioning the legitimacy of Biden’s victory would be more likely to receive their vote. Such claims would entice only 23% of independents, however, while 38% of independents said it would make the candidate less likely to garner their support. More than a third of Republicans (36%) said that a candidate refusing to say that Biden was legitimately elected president would make them more likely to vote for the candidate, while half (49%) of independents say it would make the candidate less likely to receive their vote.
This University of Massachusetts Amherst Poll of 1,000 respondents nationwide was conducted by YouGov Dec. 14-20. YouGov interviewed 1036 total respondents who were then matched down to a sample of 1,000 to produce the final dataset. The respondents were matched to a sampling frame on gender, age, race and education. The frame was constructed by stratified sampling from the full 2019 American Community Survey (ACS) one-year sample with selection within strata by weighted sampling with replacements, using the person weights on the public use file.

The matched cases were weighted to the sampling frame using propensity scores. The matched cases and the frame were combined and a logistic regression was estimated for inclusion in the frame. The propensity score function included age, gender, race/ethnicity and years of education. The propensity scores were grouped into deciles of the estimated propensity score in the frame and post-stratified according to these deciles.

The weights were then post-stratified on 2016 and 2020 Presidential vote choice, and a four-way stratification of gender, age (4-categories), race (4-categories) and education (4-categories) to produce the final weight.

The margin of error within this poll is 3.1%.

Topline results and crosstabs for the poll can be found at

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Guns in the Insurrection

Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses the January 6 insurrection Some of the insurrectionists brought firerarms.

Michael Kunzelman at AP:
A North Carolina man awaiting trial on charges he assaulted two police officers during the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol had an assault rifle and ammunition in his vehicle when he was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving earlier this month, according to prosecutors.

Justice Department prosecutors have asked a federal judge in Washington, D.C., to revoke 29-year-old James Tate Grant’s pretrial release and order him detained after his recent arrest. One of the conditions of Grant’s pretrial release in the Jan. 6 riot case was that he not possess a firearm or any other weapon.

The judge didn’t immediately rule on Thursday’s request by prosecutors.

Monday, December 27, 2021

Big Lie Update

Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses the state of the partiesThe state of the GOP is not good. Trump and his minions falsely claimed that he won the election, and have kept repeating the Big Lie.  And we now know how close he came to subverting the Constitution.

 Mark Niesse at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

False claims that there were thousands of ballots cast in the names of dead Georgia voters can now rest in peace.

Election investigators found just four absentee ballots in the 2020 presidential election from voters who had died, all of them returned by relatives.

The State Election Board referred the cases to the attorney general’s office this month after investigators reviewed dozens of allegations. Almost all voters were found to be alive.

The tiny number of ballots actually cast on behalf of deceased voters contrasts with Republican Donald Trump’s false accusation that there were 5,000 dead voters in Georgia’s election.

It’s the latest in a series of unsubstantiated claims of fraud that have since been debunked, including allegations of counterfeit ballots, ballot stuffing and forged absentee ballot signatures. Three vote counts showed that Trump lost by about 12,000 votes in Georgia.

Kelly Weill at The Daily Beast:

A well-funded far-right group—that made inroads with Stop The Steal organizations, paid a former police captain more than $200,000 to hunt ballots, and became entangled in a roadside stickup—was making war plans for Election Day 2020 months ahead of time, documents reveal.

The fringe group, the Liberty Center for God and Country (LCGC), led a lucrative fundraising blitz in the run-up to the election and quietly networked with now-notorious election denialists. Their work came to light in October of that year when former Houston Police captain Mark Aguirre allegedly rammed his SUV into a man’s truck, forced the man onto the ground at gunpoint, and accused him of transporting 750,000 fraudulent ballots. Aguirre’s claims were baseless—his victim was an innocent air conditioner technician—and no widespread voter fraud has been found in the 2020 election. Aguirre was indicted this week for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

 Eric Lipton and Ian Urbina, NYT,  April 12, 2007:

 Five years after the Bush administration began a crackdown on voter fraud, the Justice Department has turned up virtually no evidence of any organized effort to skew federal elections, according to court records and interviews.

Although Republican activists have repeatedly said fraud is so widespread that it has corrupted the political process and, possibly, cost the party election victories, about 120 people have been charged and 86 convicted as of last year.

Most of those charged have been Democrats, voting records show. Many of those charged by the Justice Department appear to have mistakenly filled out registration forms or misunderstood eligibility rules, a review of court records and interviews with prosecutors and defense lawyers show.

In Miami, an assistant United States attorney said many cases there involved what were apparently mistakes by immigrants, not fraud.

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Democrats and State Legislative Races

Blake Hounshell at NYT:
Fund-raising appeals on behalf of Democratic legislative candidates note the fact that at least six Republican state lawmakers were in Washington on Jan. 6, and that Republican-led states from Arizona to Georgia have passed laws tightening the rules around voting. And revelations about Mr. Trump’s ad hoc efforts to overturn the previous presidential election are fueling fears that in a rematch of 2020, Mr. Trump might conspire with G.O.P. state lawmakers to alter the outcome illegitimately.

“We believe the right wing is signaling a strategy to steal the election through state legislatures in 2024,” said Daniel Squadron, a former New York state senator whose group, the States Project, has announced plans to raise $30 million to support Democratic candidates in state legislative races in 2022.


In 2022, Democrats are focused on flipping several of the state legislatures that remained tantalizingly out of reach after 2020 — chiefly Arizona, Michigan and Pennsylvania. In North Carolina and Wisconsin, they are simply trying to stave off Republican supermajorities. They also must defend narrow majorities in Colorado, Maine, Minnesota and Nevada, and could be dogged by economic worries and President Biden’s dismal approval ratings.

Jessica Post, president of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, acknowledged the rocky terrain ahead, but said new maps in Arizona, Michigan and Pennsylvania could present opportunities.

“We’re very cleareyed about what may happen out in the electorate,” she said, but she insisted that “if we run good races, we can win in tough territory.”

The explosion of gerrymandering after the Republicans’ 2010 romp, however, has meant that few seats are truly competitive. Charles Nuttycombe, an analyst of state legislative elections, has calculated that between 2018 and 2021, only 15 percent of statehouse contests were decided by 10 percentage points or less.

“The bigger story here is that the Democrats are kind of in a rut, and I don’t know how they’re going to overcome the structural disadvantages they face,” said Michael J. Behm, a lobbyist who tracks legislative elections.

Saturday, December 25, 2021

"Let's Go, Brandon"

Our 2020 book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics. Among other things, it discusses how polarization has affected Americna life.

Ben Gittleson and Matt Seyler at ABC:
A man used a vulgar insult for the president when calling into a Christmas event on Friday and speaking with President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden.

The Bidens had been speaking with children and their parents who had dialed into a phone line run by the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, which tracks Santa Claus' path across the globe. The president and first lady surprised callers, asking the children what they wanted for Christmas and wishing them a happy holiday.

A father who identified himself as "Jared" spoke with the Bidens about his children, then, as the call ended, said, "Let's go, Brandon."

The phrase is a vulgar insult that has become code for the phrase, "F--- Joe Biden." It stems from a reporter misinterpreting a chant after a NASCAR race and is popular among conservatives opposed to the president.

Biden responded by repeating the phrase. "Let's go, Brandon," he said. "I agree."

The first couple then moved on to the next callers.

Friday, December 24, 2021

Redistricting Turnaround?

Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses state and congressional elections  

Paul Waldman at WP:
Just in the past few days, the conventional wisdom on redistricting has undergone a dramatic shift. The most informed redistricting experts now say it appears that this process will look more like a wash, or even that Democrats might gain a few seats.

How did this happen? Here are the key factors:
  • Republicans had already gerrymandered so aggressively in the post-2010 redistricting that they had limited room to add to their advantage.
  • In the relatively small number of states where they had the opportunity, Democrats are gerrymandering with equal vigor.
  • In some places, Republicans opted to consolidate their current position rather than take a riskier path that might expand their seats.
  • Independent redistricting commissions wound up not hurting Democrats in the way some feared they would.
Look at the two largest states. If all you knew was that the GOP legislature controls redistricting in red Texas while in blue California the process is run by an independent commission, you might expect a huge net gain for Republicans. But that’s not how it worked out.

In Texas, Republicans chose to lock in their current advantage rather than expand it, a decision driven by the way the state is trending in a more Democratic direction. Currently there are 23 Republicans and 13 Democrats in Texas’s U.S. House delegation. Above all, the legislature made sure there would be almost no competitive districts in the future. So the new map will have 24 safe Republican seats, 13 safe Democratic ones and one competitive district (which Republicans might win).

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Biden-Youngkin Voters

Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses state elections.  The 2021 Virginia governor's race was a  curtain-raiser for the midterms.

Greg Sargent at WP reports on a Democratic Governors Association study of the 2021 Virginia governor race, which finds a bloc of "Biden-Youngkin voters."
The analysis’s central finding — one that will worry Democrats — is that a sizable bloc of Biden voters in Virginia cannot be thought of as reliable Democratic voters in any long-term sense. The study, which polled more than 2,400 Virginia voters, found that 9 percent of Biden voters who participated in both the 2020 and 2021 elections switched to Youngkin.
Who are these Biden-Youngkin voters? More than half — 52 percent — were independents, according to the analysis, which was conducted by Democratic pollster Geoff Garin for help in understanding 2022 gubernatorial and congressional races.

Large majorities of these Biden-Youngkin voters were male, were White or had four-year college diplomas. In a worrisome finding for Democrats, around 15 percent were Black and 8 percent were Latino.

“We need to address the long-term problems that exist for Democrats with Latinos and black men,” the analysis concludes.
Indeed, the analysis suggests many moderate, White, educated and/or independent voters were alienated enough by Trump to support Biden, but only temporarily: They can be recaptured by a positive-sounding Republican who keeps Trump at a distance (while surreptitiously communicating in a Trumpist idiom to the base).

Losing Democrat Terry McAuliffe worked hard to tie Youngkin to Trump, which failed. But this wasn’t a uniform failure: The analysis finds that highlighting Trump did help drive Democratic base turnout, which was unexpectedly decent.

So one takeaway is that Democratic campaigns must improve their target messaging to the Democratic base about Trump and his radicalization of the GOP — especially because the former president still looms over our politics — while developing a better appeal to voters who aren’t decisively alienated by him.

Which brings us to education. In another warning, the analysis concludes:

The issue of education stands out as the number one issue motivating Biden/Youngkin voters to switch their votes.

The analysis advises: “We need to retake education as a winning issue for Democrats.”

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Dark Money, Aliases, and the Iron Law of Emulation

Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses campaign finance.

The iron law of emulation is at work. Conservative groups have made extensive use of dark money.  lLiberal groups copied their example, and conservatives are copying them back.

Anna Massoglia at Open Secrets:

A “dark money” group at the center of a secretive network that helped former President Donald Trump remake the federal judiciary brought in at least $50 million in revenue after it rebranded at the start of 2020 and created an alias focused on elections, an OpenSecrets’ review of tax records found.

The Judicial Education Project legally changed its name to the 85 Fund at the start of 2020. As part of the redesign, the 85 Fund took on “fictitious names” — or legal aliases — allowing it to operate under multiple different identities. The 85 Fund is part of a shape-shifting network of secretly-funded conservative nonprofits that includes the Concord Fund, which is better known as the Judicial Crisis Network.

One of the most prominent identities adopted by the 85 Fund is the Honest Elections Project, which pushed for voting restrictions ahead of the 2020 election. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, the 85 Fund is not allowed to spend on political activity in support of candidates but spending on voter engagement and other election issues is generally not considered to be political activity so long as it is done in a nonpartisan way.

The network is closely linked to Leonard Leo, a powerful leader in the conservative legal movement who helped shape Trump’s unprecedented effort to stack the federal judiciary with conservative judges. Leo told Axios the nonprofits were rebranded to funnel tens of millions of dollars into conservative causes around the country in a move “inspired” by the growth of an opaque liberal dark money network. Sixteen Thirty Fund, the 501(c)(4) at the center of this liberal dark money network, has sponsored projects that rivalled the conservative network’s spending on judicial nominations and Supreme Court confirmation processes.

The 85 Fund’s tax returns have not been made public as of the date of publication, but the haul of at least $50 million in 2020 marks a new record for the group’s annual revenue, raising nearly as much in 2020 as it did in the entire decade prior. In 2019, the 85 Fund raised about $13 million and in 2018 it raised less than $8 million.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Race, Ethnicity, and Redistricting

Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses state and congressional elections  

Nick Corasaniti and Reid J. Epstein at NYT write about racial redistricting, using the example of SC county commissioner Robert Reives Sr.
Mr. Reives is one of a growing number of Black elected officials across the country — ranging from members of Congress to county commissioners — who have been drawn out of their districts, placed in newly competitive districts or bundled into new districts where they must vie against incumbents from their own party.

Almost all of the affected lawmakers are Democrats, and most of the mapmakers are white Republicans. The G.O.P. is currently seeking to widen its advantage in states including North Carolina, Ohio, Georgia and Texas, and because partisan gerrymandering has long been difficult to disentangle from racial gerrymandering, proving the motive can be troublesome.

But the effect remains the same: less political power for communities of color.

The pattern has grown more pronounced during this year’s redistricting cycle, the first since the Supreme Court struck down the heart of the Voting Rights Act in 2013 and allowed jurisdictions with a history of voting discrimination to pass election laws and draw political maps without approval from the Justice Department.

Seema Mehta, Melanie Mason and John Myers at LAT:

Latino voters would see a major boost in political clout under new congressional and legislative districts approved unanimously Monday by the independent citizen panel charged with redrawing the state’s political map.

Although the panel, created by voter initiative in 2008, does not take partisan balance into account in drawing district lines, the maps it produced all but guarantee that Democrats will retain super majorities in the Legislature and their current lopsided majority in California’s congressional delegation.

Nearly one-third of the state’s 52 new congressional districts would have a majority of Latino citizens of voting age under the new maps. That’s an increase of three districts even as California lost a seat for the first time in its history because its population did not grow as fast as other states’.

Latino civil rights advocates said the increase in political power — which probably will lead to an increase in the number of Latino representatives — was fitting since much of the state’s population growth over the past decade has taken place in their communities.

At CalMatters, Sameea Kamal reports on CA:

Political dominos quickly started toppling immediately after the maps were approved.

Rep. Doris Matsui of Sacramento declared that she will run next year in the new 7th Congressional District. It also includes fellow Democratic Rep. Ami Bera of Elk Grove, who might follow most of his current constituents into the 6th District. Meanwhile, Democratic Rep. John Garamendi of Walnut Grove said he will seek re-election in the new 8th District, which includes Contra Costa and Solano counties. Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, a Concord Democrat, will run in the neighboring 10th.

In Southern California, Republican Rep. Mike Garcia of Santa Clarita, who now represents the 25th District, said he’ll run in the new 27th, while Democratic Rep. Katie Porter said she’ll run in a bluer district that includes her hometown of Irvine.

Porter’s current district is one of two Democratic seats that became more competitive, alongside that of Joshua Harder, whose district currently stretches from the Central Valley to the Sacramento area. The current district of Republican Rep. Devin Nunes of Tulare, who announced he would not be running for re-election, was flipped to be largely Democratic.

On Dec. 16, Democratic Rep. Alan Lowenthal announced he would not seek re-election. The next day, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia declared for the seat and quickly rounded up support. And on Monday Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard of Downey, who in 1992 became the first Mexican-American woman elected to Congress, announced that she is retiring after her current term after she was redrawn into the same district with Garcia.

The growing power of Latino voters — and recognizing that in the new maps — has been a constant theme of the redistricting process. A projected 16 of the 52 House districts have a Latino voting-age population of at least 50%.


Monday, December 20, 2021

Complaints about DCCC

Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses state and congressional elections  

 Rachael Bade at Politico:

1) BOTCHED MESSAGING — Universally, we heard that there’s been too much Trump talk, not enough focus on pocketbook issues. TERRY MCAULIFFE banged the anti-Trump drum constantly on his way to losing the race for Virginia governor. But at-risk members we spoke with worry that Maloney is still embracing the Trump-as-boogeyman strategy, blasting Republicans as extreme for seeking his blessing or otherwise supporting him.

“This is crazy to me that the DCCC is rolling out a playbook that they know doesn’t work and that they encouraged people in 2018 not to use,” said the member who dropped the f-bomb to describe the situation. The person argued that in 2018, the committee gave the opposite advice — focus relentlessly on pocketbook issues and let Trump’s antics speak for themselves — and Democrats flipped more than 40 seats to take the chamber.

The messaging issues extend beyond Trump. As cases challenging Roe v. Wade have reached the Supreme Court, the DCCC has sent dozens of press releases attacking Republican candidates and lawmakers for opposing abortion rights. But one front-liner called abortion “a lightning rod” in their district — and said the DCCC should steer clear of it as a campaign issue.

“We should leave it up to Planned Parenthood and all the reproductive organizations to get in there and support candidates that are pro-choice and leave it at that,” the member, who like other vulnerable Democrats supports abortion rights, told us. “I’m not going to go out there and start bashing people for being pro-life. It would be a big mistake in my district.”

2) JAMMING THEM ON POLICY — Previous DCCC Chair CHERI BUSTOS (Ill.), who represented a Trump district, was known for pushing back on leadership in private in order to protect vulnerable members from tough votes. But Maloney has taken the opposite tack: In August, as Speaker NANCY PELOSI was trying to corral moderates to vote for a $3.5 trillion budget, the DCCC infuriated members by threatening to withhold campaign money from them if they opposed the resolution. (The DCCC denied this.)

Then this fall, Maloney routinely sided with leadership over at-risk members who wanted Pelosi to allow a stand-alone vote on the infrastructure bill. He attacked one of the members, JOSH GOTTHEIMER, on Twitter after the New Jersey Democrat criticized Pelosi for “breach[ing] her firm, public commitment” to do so.

One member relayed another anecdote to Playbook: During the fall, liberal outside groups spent millions on TV ads pressuring vulnerable House Democrats to back Build Back Better. The members pleaded with the DCCC to get the groups to back off, but committee officials refused. (The DCCC says it’s illegal for the committee to tell an outside group how to spend money.)

Sunday, December 19, 2021

The Military, Insurrection, and Civil War

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's dishonesty and his record of disregarding the rule of law.  Our next book, Divided We Stand, looks at the 2020 election and the January 6 insurrection.  Some Republican leaders -- and a measurable number of rank-and-file voters -- are open to violent rebellioncoups, and secession.  

"I can tell you I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump – I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough — until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad." -- Donald J. Trump, March 13, 2019

Paul D. Eaton, Antonio M. Taguba, and Steven M. Anderson  -- all retired generals -- at WP:
The signs of potential turmoil in our armed forces are there. On Jan. 6, a disturbing number of veterans and active-duty members of the military took part in the attack on the Capitol. More than 1 in 10 of those charged in the attacks had a service record. A group of 124 retired military officials, under the name “Flag Officers 4 America,” released a letter echoing Donald Trump’s false attacks on the legitimacy of our elections.

Recently, and perhaps more worrying, Brig. Gen. Thomas Mancino, the commanding general of the Oklahoma National Guard, refused an order from President Biden mandating that all National Guard members be vaccinated against the coronavirus. Mancino claimed that while the Oklahoma Guard is not federally mobilized, his commander in chief is the Republican governor of the state, not the president.

The potential for a total breakdown of the chain of command along partisan lines — from the top of the chain to squad level — is significant should another insurrection occur. The idea of rogue units organizing among themselves to support the “rightful” commander in chief cannot be dismissed.

Aram Roston and colleagues at Reuters:

During the Afghan and Iraq wars, the careers of two military officers often intersected. Army General Michael Flynn and an Army Reserve colonel named Phil Waldron worked together on secret projects in both countries, Waldron said. When Flynn was appointed to run the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency in 2012, Waldron said he worked at the DIA’s clandestine service.

Flynn was an intel expert. Waldron’s specialty was psychological operations, or PSYOPs – targeting foreign adversaries, as an Army field manual describes, “to influence their emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately, the behavior of foreign governments, organizations, groups, and individuals.”

Now the two military veterans, along with at least two other retired and reserve officers, are engaged in a new mission, this time with a domestic target: They are central to the far-right effort to persuade Americans that the 2020 election was stolen from then-President Donald Trump.

For the past year, Flynn, Waldron and other intelligence veterans have helped propagate some of the outlandish theories undercutting Americans’ faith in democracy. They pitched false accusations to lawmakers and the public about how the election had been compromised, pushed spurious lawsuits to challenge its outcome, and bankrolled efforts to conduct partisan audits of the results. They provided briefings to members of Congress on methods for overturning the election, and worked aside some of the leading actors in Trump’s “Stop the Steal” movement.


Saturday, December 18, 2021

Trump v. McConnell, continued

Our recent book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses the state of the parties.

The GOP has a unity problem.

Though voting against conviction, McConnell denounced Trump for the insurrection.

Natalie Allison and Burgess Everett at Politico:

Former President Donald Trump has hit a wall in his efforts to oust Mitch McConnell as GOP leader.

Despite months of attacks, the Trump-led campaign to depose the Senate minority leader has resulted in firm pledges from just two Republican candidates and no senators, and it has failed to turn up a formidable challenger to run against McConnell.


To date, just two prominent GOP Senate candidates have called for McConnell’s ouster — Kelly Tshibaka, an Alaska Republican who is challenging incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski, and Eric Greitens, the former governor of Missouri who is running for a seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Roy Blunt.

Julia Benbrook at Spectrum News:

Though many Congressional Republicans are dismissing the House special committee's investigation into the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is looking forward to its results.

“I think the fact-finding is interesting. We’re all going to be watching it,” the Kentucky lawmaker told Spectrum News. “It was a horrendous event, and I think what they’re seeking to find out is something the public needs to know.”

McConnell made headlines earlier this week when he offered comments about the committee, which seeks to provide the most comprehensive report yet on the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection, which saw supporters of then-President Donald Trump storm the Capitol in an attempt to disrupt the certification of Joe Biden's electoral victory.

Earlier this week, at a press conference, McConnell made waves when he said that “we’re all watching, as you are, what is unfolding on the House side, and it will be interesting to reveal all the participants involved.”

McConnell’s comments to Spectrum News came in a sit-down interview one day before his tour of tornado-ravaged areas of Kentucky.

Though McConnell acknowledged that he has faced some criticism from Trump in the last year year, he largely brushed them away.

“We’re dealing with the present and the future. We have a new administration: How are they doing? What is our reaction to it?” McConnell said. “I spend my time dealing with the present and the future, and not the past.”

Friday, December 17, 2021

The Big Lie Was Indeed a Big Lie

Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses the state of the partiesThe state of the GOP is not good. Trump and his minions falsely claimed that he won the election, and have kept repeating the Big Lie.  And we now know how close he came to subverting the Constitution.

Christina Cassidy at AP:
An Associated Press review of every potential case of voter fraud in the six battleground states disputed by former President Donald Trump has found fewer than 475 — a number that would have made no difference in the 2020 presidential election.

Democrat Joe Biden won Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin and their 79 Electoral College votes by a combined 311,257 votes out of 25.5 million ballots cast for president. The disputed ballots represent just 0.15% of his victory margin in those states.

The cases could not throw the outcome into question even if all the potentially fraudulent votes were for Biden, which they were not, and even if those ballots were actually counted, which in most cases they were not.

The review also showed no collusion intended to rig the voting. Virtually every case was based on an individual acting alone to cast additional ballots.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Theology, Culture, and Evangelicals

 In Defying the Odds, we talk about the social and economic divides that enabled Trump to enter the White House. In Divided We Stand, we discuss how these divides played out in 2020.  

David French:

I’ve always recognized the flaws in the movement, and my response to the question of whether theology and doctrine were of primary importance to the movement was always the same—for all its flaws, Republican Christian conservatism is mainly driven by deeply rooted, theologically coherent faith convictions and not by the perhaps more deeply rooted “folkways” or customs of a disproportionately white, disproportionately rural, and disproportionately Southern American subculture.

I no longer believe this to be true. I now see that when theology and culture collide—or when theology and partisanship collide—a disturbing number of white Evangelicals will choose culture. But they’ll still believe they’re choosing faith, and that profound misunderstanding is contributing to a dynamic that is tearing this nation apart.

Why have I changed my mind? The answer is quite simple—the theological convictions of Christian conservatism were put to a profound stress test, and the convictions failed. Partisanship prevailed. Populism prevailed. In some ways, the South prevailed.

Let me put it another way. I’m old enough to remember the words and expressed beliefs of even some of the most enthusiastic Trumpist Evangelicals before they supported Trump, and this much I know: If I’d told them in December 2014 that white Evangelicals would shortly vote in overwhelming numbers for a thrice-married man who bragged about grabbing women by their genitals, appeared in a Playboy movie, paid hush money to cover up an affair with a porn star, and was facing multiple corroborated claims of sexual harassment and sexual assault, they’d say that only Democrats were that hypocritical.

Amir Tibon at Haaretz:

Prominent Evangelical leaders and organizations in the United States have been silent since Friday on the biggest news story in Israel: an interview with former U.S. President Donald Trump in which he strongly attacked former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Take for example Christians United for Israel, the largest pro-Israeli Evangelical organization, representing millions of Israel-loving Christians. Besides producing an annual conference that attracts thousands of supporters and holding nights in honor of Israel at megachurches, CUFI also brings important news updates from Israel to its millions of members and supporters across the U.S., trying to reflect to them the conversation in the country they pray for on a daily basis.

Since Friday morning, when the news of Trump's incredible attack on Netanyhau was first published, and until Sunday morning, when this article went to print, CUFI had posted more than a dozen updates on its social media accounts – Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram – which together have more than 2 million followers. There was a post about the United Nations denying Jewish and Christian history; a quote by Senator Ted Cruz on fighting antisemitism; a request for donations before the end of 2021; and a news update on Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s visit to Washington.

One thing was entirely missing from the organization’s messaging this weekend: what everyone in Israel has been talking about, an event that has also made major headlines in the United States. That is Barak Ravid’s interview with Trump published on Friday, in which the hero of millions of Israel-loving evangelicals expressed his rage and disappointment at their other hero, Netanyahu. “Fuck him,” Trump said, accusing Netanyahu of “betrayal” for recognizing President Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election, and further stating that Netanyahu was an obstacle to reaching peace with the Palestinians. The interview was conducted for Ravid's new book on the Abraham Accords, published in Hebrew under the title 'Trump's Peace'.


Wednesday, December 15, 2021

"Corruptly Obstructs"

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's dishonesty and his record of disregarding the rule of law.  Our next book, Divided We Stand, looks at the 2020 election and the January 6 insurrection.

Aaron Blake at WP:
  Rep. Liz Cheney’s disclosures of intriguing Jan. 6 text messages between Mark Meadows and both Donald Trump Jr. and Fox News personalities are the big news in the committee’s investigation right now. But don’t lose sight of what Cheney said immediately after she read those texts aloud.

In summing up the texts, Cheney (R-Wyo.) said, “Mr. Meadows’s testimony will bear on another key question before this committee: Did Donald Trump, through action or inaction, corruptly seek to obstruct or impede Congress’s official proceeding to count electoral votes?”

A casual observer might have missed it, but what Cheney was doing here was pointing to a specific criminal statute — a felony, 18 U.S. Code § 1512 — that she suggests President Donald Trump might have violated. And both its inclusion in her comments and the timing of it shouldn’t be lost on anyone. This was a Republican member of the committee floating a specific potential Trump crime that the committee apparently wants to drill down on; it also came shortly after a federal judge upheld the use of the statute in a key Jan. 6 case.

Cheney, on Tuesday morning at another hearing, cited the statute again — pretty much erasing any doubt about how deliberate this was.

Cheney’s comment matches the language of the statute. It states, “Whoever corruptly … obstructs, influences, or impedes any official proceeding, or attempts to do so, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.” That law defines an “official proceeding” as including “a proceeding before the Congress.”

It also comes after a notable development last week: A federal judge ruled that the law could be used to charge a Jan. 6 case — involving Capitol rioters, at least. The ruling was a win for the Justice Department, which has used the statute in more than 200 Jan. 6 cases, although defendants have been fighting it.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Fox Hosts on January 6

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's dishonesty and his record of disregarding the rule of law.  Our next book, Divided We Stand, looks at the 2020 election and the January 6 insurrection.  Some Republican leaders -- and a measurable number of rank-and-file voters -- are open to violent rebellioncoups, and secession.  

 Jeremy Barr at WP:

Three Fox News hosts who have been among Donald Trump’s most ardent media boosters were so horrified by the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol that they begged the then-president’s chief of staff to convince him to intercede, according to newly aired messages from that day.

“Mark, the president needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home,” Fox News prime-time star Laura Ingraham texted Mark Meadows. “This is hurting all of us. He is destroying his legacy.”

The text messages were read aloud by Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) during a Monday night hearing of the House select committee investigating the events of Jan. 6, which voted to hold Meadows in criminal contempt for defying a subpoena to appear before the committee.

“According to the records, multiple Fox News hosts knew the president needed to act immediately,” Cheney said. “They texted Mark Meadows, and he has turned over those texts.”

Cheney opening statement here. 

Monday, December 13, 2021

HIspanics Are Not Woke

 In Defying the Odds, we talk about the social and economic divides that enabled Trump to enter the White House. In Divided We Stand, we discuss how these divides played out in 2020.

Ruy Teixeira:

It is hard to avoid the conclusion that Democrats have seriously erred by lumping Hispanics in with “people of color” and assuming they embraced the activism around racial issues that dominated so much of the political scene in 2020, particularly in the summer. This was a flawed assumption. The reality of the Hispanic population is that they are, broadly speaking, an overwhelmingly working class, economically progressive, socially moderate constituency that cares above all, about jobs, the economy and health care.

For example, in the post-election wave of the Democracy Fund Voter Study Group (VSG) panel survey, well over 70 percent of Hispanic voters rated jobs, the economy, health care and the coronavirus as issues that were “very important” to them. No other issues even came close to this level. Crime as an issue rated higher with these voters than immigration or racial equality, two issues that Democrats assumed would clear the path to big gains among Hispanic voters.

Consistent with this, Latino voters evinced little sympathy with the more radical demands that came to be associated with the Black Lives Matter movement. In VSG data, despite showing support for some specific policing reforms, Hispanics opposed defunding the police, decreasing the size of police forces and the scope of their work and reparations for the descendants of slaves by 2:1 or more. The findings about relatively positive Hispanic attitudes toward police have been confirmed by poll after poll, as concern about crime in their communities has spiked.

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Coup Documents

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's dishonesty and his record of disregarding the rule of law.  Our next book, Divided We Stand, looks at the 2020 election and the January 6 insurrection.  Some Republican leaders -- and a measurable number of rank-and-file voters -- are open to violent rebellioncoups, and secession.  

Emma Brown, Jon Swaine, Jacqueline Alemany, Josh Dawsey, and Tom Hamburger at WP:
A retired U.S. Army colonel who circulated a proposal to challenge the 2020 election, including by declaring a national security emergency and seizing paper ballots, said that he visited the White House on multiple occasions after the election, spoke with President Donald Trump’s chief of staff “maybe eight to 10 times” and briefed several members of Congress on the eve of the Jan. 6 riot.

Phil Waldron, the retired colonel, was working with Trump’s outside lawyers and was part of a team that briefed the lawmakers on a PowerPoint presentation detailing “Options for 6 JAN,” Waldron told The Washington Post. He said his contribution to the presentation focused on his claims of foreign interference in the vote, as did his discussions with the White House.

A version of the presentation made its way to the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, on Jan. 5. That information surfaced publicly this week after the congressional committee investigating the insurrection released a letter that said Meadows had turned the document over to the committee.
Although Trump at the time was pressuring Pence to delay certifying Biden’s victory, it is not clear how widely the PowerPoint was circulated or how seriously the ideas in it were considered. A lawyer for Meadows, George J. Terwilliger III, said on Friday that there was no indication that Meadows did anything with the document after receiving it by email. “We produced it [to the committee] because it was not privileged,” Terwilliger said. A Meadows spokesman, Ben Williamson, declined to comment. Waldron said he was not the person who sent the PowerPoint to Meadows.

Still, Waldron’s account of his interactions with the White House, together with a 36-page version of the presentation that surfaced online this week and was reviewed by The Post, shed new light on the wild theories and proposals that circulated among the people advising Trump as they worked to overturn his election defeat, causing a crisis at the heart of government. They suggest that Meadows, who also pressed senior Justice Department leaders to investigate baseless conspiracy theories about election fraud, was more directly in contact with proponents of such theories than was previously known. 

The 36-page PowerPoint

 Betsy Woodruff Swan and Kyle Cheney at Politico:

A Donald Trump campaign lawyer wrote two legal memos in the week before the Jan. 6 Capitol attack that claimed then-Vice President Mike Pence had the authority to refuse to count presidential electors from states that delivered Joe Biden the White House.

The memos from then-Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis, which contain widely disputed legal theories about Pence’s ability to stop a Biden presidency, underscore Ellis’ promotion of extreme arguments that she promulgated amid Trump's effort to reverse the election results. Her actions have remained largely below the radar as House investigators probe Trump’s inner circle.

A Dec. 31 Ellis memo delivered to Trump’s office suggested that Pence — who was constitutionally responsible for presiding over Congress’ counting of electoral votes on Jan. 6 — should simply refuse to open envelopes from states whose election results Trump considered to be fraudulent. That memo was described by ABC reporter Jonathan Karl in his recent book “Betrayal.” POLITICO is publishing it in full for the first time.

In a second, previously unreported memo dated Jan. 5, Ellis made a more technical legal argument that she delivered to Jay Sekulow, one of Trump's outside lawyers. Sekulow represented Trump during his first impeachment and in a series of legal battles during his administration, but he had minimal involvement in Trump’s election litigation. The exception was an early November Supreme Court case regarding Pennsylvania’s mail-in ballots.