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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Trump Called the Coup Plotters

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.

 Hugo Lowell at The Guardian:

Hours before the deadly attack on the US Capitol this year, Donald Trump made several calls from the White House to top lieutenants at the Willard hotel in Washington and talked about ways to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s election win from taking place on 6 January.

The former president first told the lieutenants his vice-president, Mike Pence, was reluctant to go along with the plan to commandeer his largely ceremonial role at the joint session of Congress in a way that would allow Trump to retain the presidency for a second term.

But as Trump relayed to them the situation with Pence, he pressed his lieutenants about how to stop Biden’s certification from taking place on 6 January, and delay the certification process to get alternate slates of electors for Trump sent to Congress.

The former president’s remarks came as part of strategy discussions he had from the White House with the lieutenants at the Willard – a team led by Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, Boris Epshteyn and Trump strategist Steve Bannon – about delaying the certification.

Multiple sources, speaking to the Guardian on the condition of anonymity, described Trump’s involvement in the effort to subvert the results of the 2020 election.

Trump’s remarks reveal a direct line from the White House and the command center at the Willard. The conversations also show Trump’s thoughts appear to be in line with the motivations of the pro-Trump mob that carried out the Capitol attack and halted Biden’s certification, until it was later ratified by Congress.

The former president’s call to the Willard hotel about stopping Biden’s certification is increasingly a central focus of the House select committee’s investigation into the Capitol attack, as it raises the specter of a possible connection between Trump and the insurrection.

Monday, November 29, 2021

Russia and Texas Secession

 Our latest 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.  Russia helped Trump through 2020.

Kristofer Harrison at The Bulwark:
A couple weeks ago Senator Ted Cruz was speaking at Texas A&M University when someone asked him his thoughts on the Texas secessionist movement. He replied that he wasn’t “there, yet.” It is important to understand that the modern secession movement is not a product of Lone Star pride. It’s an idea that has been force fed into the American conservative movement by Russia.

Secession is one of the Kremlin’s “active measures” campaigns: Promote fringe wackos abroad and hope that, eventually, they break something. This may not sound like much of a plan, but it sometimes works. Putin has been openly building his portfolio of wackos for a while. And the wackos have begun breaking things.

The shiny ball that caught Cruz’s attention was The Texas Nationalist Movement (TNM). TNM is Texas’s most prominent secessionist organization. In 2015, TNM attended a St. Petersburg gathering of worldwide extremists organized by Rodina—that’s “Motherland” in Russian—the fascist-adjacent offshoot of Putin’s United Russia party.

That gathering was a safe space where the likes of German Neo-Nazis, the KKK, Greece’s Golden Dawn, and Roberto Fiore (the Italian terrorist responsible for a 1980 bombing in Bologna that killed 85), could gather and praise Putin’s defense of Western (read: “white”) culture. Here, featured on Rodina’s website, is Nate Smith, TNM’s executive director, in attendance. Howdy! Russia’s info warriors were very pleased with his comments at the event. This skulduggery got so bad and Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russians who were working with the Texas secessionist movement in 2016 to—please put down your coffee—spread misinformation about Ted Cruz during the presidential primary in order to help Donald Trump.

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Vaccine Update

Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses the politics of COVID.

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Political Violence: The Lights Are Blinking Red

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.  

Joan E. Greve at The Guardian:

The Gosar incident served as the latest data point in an alarming trend in American politics. In a year that began with a deadly insurrection at the US Capitol, lawmakers have seen a sharp rise in the number of threats against them. Republicans’ muted response to Gosar’s behavior has intensified fears about the possibility of more political violence in America in the months to come.

Jackie Speier, the Democratic congresswoman who spearheaded the effort to censure Gosar, warned that Republicans’ refusal to hold him accountable could have dangerous repercussions.

“If you are silent about a member of Congress wanting to murder another member of Congress, even in a ‘cartoon’, you are inciting violence,” Speier told the Guardian. “And if you incite violence, it begets violence.”

That cycle is already playing out in the halls of Congress. The US Capitol police reported earlier this year that the agency had seen a 107% increase in threats against members compared with 2020. The USCP chief, Tom Manger, has said he expects the total number of threats against members to surpass 9,000 this year, compared with 3,939 such threats in 2017.

Some of those threats have been on vivid display in the past month. In addition to Gosar’s violent video, the 13 House Republicans who voted in support of the bipartisan infrastructure bill earlier month have received threatening messages.

Representative Fred Upton of Michigan publicly shared one such message, in which a man called the Republican congressman a “fucking piece of shit traitor”. “I hope you die. I hope everybody in your fucking family dies,” the man said in the message.

And those kinds of threats are not reserved solely for members of Congress. Election workers and school board members also say they are receiving more violent messages. According to an April survey commissioned by the Brennan Center for Justice, nearly one in three election officials are concerned about their safety while on the job.


Friday, November 26, 2021

Trump, Rittenhouse, and Violence

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.  

Zach Beauchamp at Vox:

Immediately after Kyle Rittenhouse’s acquittal on Friday, the fringe right’s online forums lit up with celebration — and among some, a belief that they too can kill without legal consequence. On Telegram, a secure messaging app popular with extremists, the leader of a neo-Nazi group wrote that the verdict gives “good Americans legal precedent and license to kill violent commies without worrying about doing life in prison if we defend ourselves in a riot.”

There is every reason to take such rhetoric seriously. “It has never taken more than a whisper of approval to fan the flames of militant right action. The Kenosha acquittal is a shout,” writes Kathleen Belew, a historian of white power movements at the University of Chicago. Based on how it’s been cheered in some quarters, the verdict is potentially setting the stage for future violence.

Data from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project shows that, between January 2020 and June 2021, there were 560 protest events where either demonstrators or counter-demonstrators showed up with guns — about 2 percent of all protests in the United States during the studied time period. The data also shows that these demonstrations are more than five times more likely to involve violent or destructive behavior as compared to unarmed ones.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Trump-Russia: Indisputable Facts

Our latest book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses foreign influence and Trump's attack on democracyRussia helped Trump through 2020.

 Recent revelations about the Steele Dossier are irrelevant to the basic facts of the Trump-Russia connection. David Frum writes at The Atlantic:

The factual record on Trump-Russia has been set forth most authoritatively by the report of the Senate Intelligence Committee, then chaired by Richard Burr, a Republican from North Carolina. I’ll reduce the complex details to a very few agreed upon by virtually everybody outside the core Trump-propaganda group.
  1. Dating back to at least 2006, Trump and his companies did tens of millions of dollars of business with Russian individuals and other buyers whose profiles raised the possibility of money laundering. More than one-fifth of all the condominiums sold by Trump over his career were purchased in all-cash transactions by shell companies, a 2018 BuzzFeed News investigation found.
  2. In 2013, Trump’s pursuit of Russian business intensified. That year, he staged the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow. Around that time, Trump opened discussions on the construction of a Trump Tower in Moscow, from which he hoped to earn “hundreds of millions of dollars, if the project advanced to completion,” in the words of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
  3. Trump continued to pursue the Tower deal for a year after he declared himself a candidate for president. “By early November 2015, Trump and a Russia-based developer signed a Letter of Intent laying out the main terms of a licensing deal,” the Senate Intelligence Committee found. Trump’s representatives directly lobbied aides to Russian President Vladimir Putin in January 2016. Yet repeatedly during the 2016 campaign, Trump falsely stated that he had no business with Russia—perhaps most notably in his second presidential debate against Hillary Clinton, in October 2016.
  4. Early in 2016, President Putin ordered an influence operation to “harm the Clinton Campaign, tarnish an expected Clinton presidential administration, help the Trump Campaign after Trump became the presumptive Republican nominee, and undermine the U.S. democratic process.” Again, that’s from the Senate Intelligence Committee report.
  5. The Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos “likely learned about the Russian active measures campaign as early as April 2016,” the Senate Intelligence Committee wrote. In May 2016, Papadopoulos indiscreetly talked with Alexander Downer, then the Australian high commissioner to the United Kingdom, about Russia’s plot to intervene in the U.S. election to hurt Clinton and help Trump. Downer described the conversation in a report to his government. By long-standing agreement, Australia shares intelligence with the U.S. government. It was Papadopoulos’ blurt to Downer that set in motion the FBI investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election, a revelation authoritatively reported more than three years ago.
  6. In June 2016, the Trump campaign received a request for a meeting from a Russian lawyer offering harmful information on Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump Jr. and other senior Trump advisers accepted the meeting. The Trump team did not obtain the dirt they’d hoped for. But the very fact of the meeting confirmed to the Russian side the Trump campaign’s eagerness to accept Russian assistance. Shortly after, Trump delivered his “Russia, if you’re listening” invitation at his last press conference of the campaign.
  7. WikiLeaks released two big caches of hacked Democratic emails in July and October 2016. In the words of the Senate Intelligence Committee: “WikiLeaks actively sought, and played, a key role in the Russian intelligence campaign and very likely knew it was assisting a Russian intelligence influence effort.”
  8. Through its ally Roger Stone, the Trump campaign team assiduously tried to communicate with WikiLeaks. Before the second WikiLeaks release, “Trump and the Campaign believed that Stone had inside information and expressed satisfaction that Stone’s information suggested more releases would be forthcoming,” according to the Senate Intelligence Committee. In late summer and early fall 2016, Stone repeatedly predicted that WikiLeaks would publish an “October surprise” that would harm the Clinton campaign.
  9. At the same time as it welcomed Russian help, the Trump campaign denied and covered up Russian involvement: “The Trump Campaign publicly undermined the attribution of the hack-and-leak campaign to Russia and was indifferent to whether it and WikiLeaks were furthering a Russian election interference effort,” the Intelligence Committee found.
  10. In March 2016, the Trump campaign accepted the unpaid services of Paul Manafort, deeply beholden to deeply shady Russian business and political figures. “On numerous occasions, Manafort sought to secretly share internal Campaign information” with a man the Intelligence Committee identified as a Russian intelligence officer. “Taken as a whole, Manafort’s high-level access and willingness to share information with individuals closely affiliated with the Russian intelligence services … represented a grave counterintelligence threat,” the committee found. Through 2016, the Russian state launched a massive Facebook disinformation program that aligned with the Trump campaign strategy.
  11. At crucial moments in the 2016 election, Trump publicly took positions that broke with past Republican policy and served no apparent domestic political purpose, but that supported Putin’s foreign-policy goals: scoffing at NATO support for Estonia, denigrating allies such as Germany, and endorsing Britain’s exit from the European Union.
  12. Throughout the 2016 election and after, people close to Trump got themselves into serious legal and political trouble by lying to the public, to Congress, and even to the FBI about their Russian connections.

Wednesday, November 24, 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, 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.  

Hunter Walker at Rolling Stone:
Some of the organizers who planned the rally that took place on the White House Ellipse on Jan. 6 allegedly used difficult to trace burner phones for their most “high level” communications with former President Trump’s team.

Kylie Kremer, a top official in the “March for Trump” group that helped plan the Ellipse rally, directed an aide to pick up three burner phones days before Jan. 6, according to three sources who were involved in the event. One of the sources, a member of the “March for Trump” team, says Kremer insisted the phones be purchased using cash and described this as being “of the utmost importance.”

The three sources said Kylie Kremer took one of the phones and used it to communicate with top White House and Trump campaign officials, including Eric Trump, the president’s second-oldest son, who leads the family’s real-estate business; Lara Trump, Eric’s wife and a former senior Trump campaign consultant; Mark Meadows, the former White House chief of staff; and Katrina Pierson, a Trump surrogate and campaign consultant.
The member said a second phone was given to Amy Kremer, Kylie Kremer’s mother and another key rally organizer. The team member said they did not know who the third phone was purchased for.

“That was when the planning for the event on the Ellipse was happening, she needed burner phones in order to communicate with high level people is how she put it,” the March For Trump team member tells Rolling Stone, referencing Kylie Kremer.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Pernicious Polarization

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.  

Zack Beauchamp at Vox:
The new wave of threats is cresting on one side of the partisan divide. Generally, the individuals responsible seem to believe former President Donald Trump’s fraudulent claims about the 2020 election, oppose Covid-19 vaccines and masks, and claim schools are indoctrinating their kids with “critical race theory.”

This most likely reflects the way extreme polarization and Trumpian populism have convinced a segment of the population that their political opponents are not mere rivals but existential threats to American society. Political scientists, who have termed the spread of this us-versus-them mindset “pernicious polarization,” find that it has undermined the foundations of democracy in countries such as Hungary, Venezuela, and Turkey.


Start with election workers: For the past several months, Reuters reporters Linda So and Jason Szep have interviewed dozens of election administration officials across the country, compiled a database of more than 800 threats against them, and even unmasked some of the individuals responsible for the harassment. Their conclusion is unequivocal: The spate of threats is real, and a direct outgrowth of Trump’s campaign to undermine the 2020 election.
“The harassers expressed beliefs similar to those voiced by rioters who stormed the US Capitol on January 6, trying to block Democrat Joe Biden’s certification as president,” So and Szep write. “Nearly all of the threateners saw the country deteriorating into a war between good and evil — ‘patriots’ against ‘communists.’ They echoed extremist ideas popularized by QAnon, a collective of baseless conspiracy theories that often cast Trump as a savior figure and Democrats as villains. Some said they were preparing for civil war.”


Monday, November 22, 2021

Rittenhouse Aftermath

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.  

Adam Serwer at The Atlantic:
The fact that Rittenhouse has become a folk hero among Republicans points to darker currents within the GOP, where justifications for political violence against the opposition are becoming more common. The party finds the apocalyptic fear of impending leftist tyranny useful not only for turning out its supporters, but also for rationalizing legislative attempts to disenfranchise, gerrymander, and otherwise nullify the votes of Democratic constituencies. Engineering the American political system so that Republicans’ political rivals are unable to contest their power is a less forceful solution than killing people, but the political goal is similar: to never have to share power with those they disagree with.

For this reason, the party defends those who engage in rhetoric threatening violence against their political enemies and silences those who denounce it. Whether it’s Donald Trump justifying his attempts to overturn the 2020 election, Republican members of Congress threatening their colleagues, or Fox News hosts praising Rittenhouse for “doing what the government should have done,” the desire to kill your political opponents is a sentiment no longer confined to the dark corners of the internet. The principle that canonizes Rittenhouse as a saint for defending his city from rioters, and the mob that stormed the Capitol as martyrs, is the principle that the slaughter of the right’s enemies is no crime.


Sunday, November 21, 2021

Leftward Lurch

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.  

Lloyd Green at The Daily Beast:
Virginia voters’ rejection of Terry McAuliffe’s claim that parents should not “be telling schools what they should teach” is a reminder that taxpaying parents are not bystanders to their children’s education. Two plus two equals four is an objective fact—few outside of academe believe the equation to be a construct engineered by an oppressive patriarchy. At the end of the day, there is hell to pay if the family checkbook or Wall Street’s ledgers don’t add-up.

Right now, the Democrats are looking flat-footed and tone-deaf. Nationally, they have vowed to push back “aggressively” against Republican charges that progressive school systems have made critical race theory and white privilege cornerstones of the educational experience. Skepticism is warranted as the Democrats struggle with the competing demands of their upstairs-downstairs coalition, one that is also forced to worry about what AOC is thinking.

Despite rising crime, the Biden administration has attacked cash bail in the name of racial equity. Just remember, it was South Carolina’s James Clyburn, the No. 3 Democrat in the House, who lamented the left wing of his party making “defund the police” their battle-cry.

Meanwhile, Merrick Garland’s Department of Justice is expected to offer a full-throated defense of race-based affirmative action before the U.S. Supreme Court in the Harvard admissions case. In case anyone forgot, California’s voters resoundingly rejected that path at the same time they were saying “no” to a second Trump term.
As ever, culture counts. These days, just over half of Americans (52 percent) believe the Democratic Party has moved too far to the left, but only 35 percent say the Republican Party has moved too far to the right. Right now, the Democrats need to wake up and smell the coffee: It’s burning.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Selling the Infrastructure Bill

Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses the impact of economic issues.

Sam Stein, Tina Sfondeles and Alex Thompson at Politico:
Democrats are embarking on an aggressive comms operation in hopes of selling the president’s recent legislative achievements and reverse his plummeting approval ratings.

But what if their approach is calibrated wrong?

That question is top of mind for a slew of party operatives as they watch President JOE BIDEN and his team go out and pitch the infrastructure bill that he signed into law on Monday and the social spending package that passed the House today. In particular, there is concern that a comms strategy that relies on paid TV advertising, earned media from district visits, and local and cable interviews won’t move the dial; that the White House, and Democrats more broadly, need to find ways to penetrate media ecosystems where their critics are defining the debate for them.

“We should bring our message to audiences that don’t already agree with us. Roads and bridges are for everyone,” said Rep. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY (D-N.Y.), the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Maloney, more than any other Democrat, has been pleading with Biden to do more press. And while he acknowledged that attempts to engage conservative media could prove frustratingly fruitless — “you’re assuming Fox’s more caustic hosts would invite us on to have a respectful policy discussion” — he said it’s worth trying. “There are plenty of folks over there who I’d sit down with,” said Maloney.

The debate over how much Democrats should engage Fox News and like-minded conservative press is a perennial in the party. There is a camp, led by liberal media watchdogs, who insist it is folly; that Democrats get slandered and distorted when they go on those airwaves and that the only outcome is the legitimization of that outlet as a respectable news source.

On the other side are operatives who argue that added engagement doesn’t legitimize those outlets, but neutralizes them. They point to the successes of politicians like Sen. BERNIE SANDERS (he did a Fox News town hall in 2020) on these platforms and the losses Democrats have had with rural and white working class voters and ask: How can we win them back if we’re not talking to them? Fox News garners both the largest conservative audience and independent audience too, according to Nielsen/MRI Fusion data.

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Bad Omens for Democrats

Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses state elections.  The 2021 off-year races were a curtain-raiser for the midterms -- and the stage was full of bad mojo for Democrats.

Thomas Edsall at NYT:

The rise of inflation, supply chain shortages, a surge in illegal border crossings, the persistence of Covid, mayhem in Afghanistan and the uproar over “critical race theory” — all of these developments, individually and collectively, have taken their toll on President Biden and Democratic candidates, so much so that Democrats are now the underdogs going into 2022 and possibly 2024.

Gary Langer, director of polling at ABC News, put it this way in an essay published on the network’s website:

As things stand, if the midterm elections were today, 51 percent of registered voters say they’d support the Republican candidate in their congressional district, 41 percent say the Democrat. That’s the biggest lead for Republicans in the 110 ABC/Post polls that have asked this question since November 1981.
In terms of election outcomes, Republican are once again capitalizing on their domination of the congressional redistricting process to disenfranchise Democratic voters despite strong public support for reforms designed to eliminate or constrain partisan gerrymandering. On Monday, The Times reported that the Republican Party “has added enough safe House districts to capture control of the chamber based on its redistricting edge alone.” The current partisan split in the House is 221 Democratic seats and 213 Republican seats, with one vacancy.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Dealing with GOP Crazies

PARTY DISCIPLINE — If you want to know more about the state of the House GOP Conference — and, likely, your future House majority! — today should provide a pretty telling snapshot. Ten months after rioters stormed the Capitol hunting for lawmakers, most House Republicans are expected to vote against rebuking one of their colleagues, PAUL GOSAR (R-Ariz.), who posted an anime video of himself stabbing Rep. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-N.Y.) in the neck.

At the same time, the GOP rank and file is having a heated debate about punishing the 13 centrist Republicans who voted for the bipartisan infrastructure bill. Nevermind that DONALD TRUMP pined for a big bipartisan win like this when he was in office. Fringe members like Rep. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-Ga.) are pushing to strip the “traitors” of their committee assignments. She posted their phone numbers online, leading to harassing calls and at least one death threat.

The conversation that dominated Tuesday’s GOP Conference meeting wasn’t about Gosar’s video, but whether to boot moderate Rep. JOHN KATKO (R-N.Y.) from his position as House Homeland Security ranking member for backing BIF.

HOW THE VOTE WILL GO DOWN: A senior House GOP aide tells us leadership is confident that not many Republicans will side with Democrats in booting Gosar from his committee assignments — the exceptions being Reps. LIZ CHENEY (R-Wyo.) and ADAM KINZINGER (R-Ill.).

Here’s why:

1) An apology (to his colleagues, but not AOC): Leaders have told members that the video was posted by Gosar’s staff, not him, and that he deleted it when he found out. Publicly, Gosar has defended the video, saying it was “nothing hateful” and that the left “mischaracterized” his intentions. But at the Republican Conference meeting Tuesday, we’re told, Gosar expressed regret and said that he didn’t mean to promote violence. (This begs the question why Gosar hasn’t said this publicly or apologized directly to AOC, who regularly receives death threats.)

2) Accusations of Dems overstepping: GOP sources say Democrats might have gotten more support from Republicans had they moved to rebuke Gosar and stopped there. But even moderate Republicans think kicking him off the Oversight and Natural Resources committees is too much. There’s also a concern among moderate members about having to vote to rebuke every crazy thing their colleagues say, which these days, they argue, is a lot.

3) Help from Katko: We’re told that Katko stood up in conference Tuesday and said he didn’t plan to vote with Democrats on the punishment. After his support for BIF and, in January, his vote to impeach Trump, Katko’s announcement could (though probably won’t) help his fragile standing with the GOP’s right flank. But more importantly, it also might make other moderates think twice about punishing Gosar.

MCCARTHY’S BALANCING ACT — You can’t watch all this drama without also asking how this plays into House Minority Leader KEVIN MCCARTHY’s bid for speaker. On Tuesday night, MTG told reporters that if McCarthy doesn’t punish Republicans who voted for BIF, she might not back him for the top post if Republicans retake the House next year. On the other side, moderate members are frustrated that he hasn’t done more to rein in the far-right members coming after them.

Some House Republicans say privately that McCarthy is doing a poor job of balancing his speakership ambitions with his job as leader, and that it could come back to bite him. One noted that PAUL RYAN used to say that leadership is supposed to be “the heat shield” for members, but McCarthy is allowing moderates to get walloped by crazies. (Of course, we know how Ryan’s attempt to manage Trump’s rise within his conference turned out. No one’s saying this is easy stuff.)

“He is straddling the fence,” a House Republican member told us. “When you straddle the fence, you better hope it’s not a barbed wire fence.”

But another senior Republican aide argued that these parallel situations benefit McCarthy. By warning moderate members against censuring Gosar at the same time he’s telling Trump mini-mes that “now is not the time” to strip moderates of their committee assignments, this person said, McCarthy gets to position himself as a unifier.

Democrats, for their part, are disgusted with what they say is McCarthy’s lack of leadership and moral compass. “What Paul Gosar did is both despicable and beneath the office that he holds,” Oversight Chair CAROLYN MALONEY (D-N.Y.) told Playbook on Tuesday night. “Leader McCarthy won’t take responsibility for the actions of the actions of his caucus … This is a big deal. We saw that some of the Republican supporters will act on provocations of violence.” Our Congress team has more on the saga here

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Opinion on the 2020 Election and Insurrection

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.

 Monmouth University:

About one-third (32%) of the American public continues to believe that President Joe Biden won the 2020 election only due to voter fraud – a number that has not budged across five polls in which Monmouth asked this question during the past year. Nearly 3 in 4 Republicans (73%) cling to the idea that Biden won through fraud. Among all voters who believe fraud determined the 2020 outcome, nearly half (45%) also say that the American system is not at all sound. Among the 6 in 10 Americans who believe Biden won the election fair and square, far fewer (23%) feel that way.

The GOP-backed “audit” of the 2020 Arizona election results released in late September concluding that Biden won that state fairly has been rejected by most Republicans. Overall, a majority of Americans say the review did in fact show that Biden won Arizona fairly (36%) or say they are not sure about the report but guess it probably arrived at that conclusion (21%). On the other hand, 13% of the public claims the review turned up significant evidence of voter fraud while 16% say they are not sure but it probably found fraud. Among Republicans, 32% say the so-called audit found evidence of fraud and 30% say it probably did.

Looking back at the riot at the U.S Capitol on January 6th, about 1 in 4 Americans (27%) say that the anger that led to this incident was at least partially justified, including a majority of Republicans (54%). Just over half of the public has either a lot (26%) or a little (31%) trust that the House Select Committee set up to examine this incident will conduct a fair investigation. Most Republicans (75%) have no trust at all in the committee.

Most Americans approve of having the select committee look into whether members of Congress (73%) or former President Donald Trump (67%) played a role in the incident along with looking into possible fraud in the 2020 election (60%). Majorities of Republicans support having the committee investigate possible election fraud (70%) and the role members of Congress may have played (58%), but only 40% approve of the committee looking into anything that could implicate Trump. About 9 in 10 Democrats approve of an inquiry into the role played by Trump (91%) and members of Congress (89%), while nearly half say the same about looking into possible election fraud (47%).

“Democrats do not believe that Biden won through fraud, as the poll results clearly show. The fact that nearly half want to see an investigation into possible fraud likely stems from their hopes that it would put the false claims to rest. But as the experience from the so-called Arizona audit shows, that outcome is highly unlikely and America will remain divided on this,” said Murray

About half (49%) of all Americans feel the country has become more divided since Biden took office. Just 12% say we have become more united and 38% say nothing has really changed. While these results are largely negative, they are somewhat better than feelings about our political rift under Biden’s predecessor. At a similar point in Trump’s term, 63% said the country had become more divided. That sentiment topped out at 70% right after the 2020 election. Unsurprisingly, a larger number of Republicans say that the country has become more divided under Biden (78%) than did under Trump a year ago (49%). Far fewer Democrats say that the country has become more divided under the current president from their own party (22%) while more felt that way about the president from the opposite party last year (90%). However, only 25% of Democrats see the country as becoming more united since Biden took office; half (52%), in fact, say nothing has changed.

Monday, November 15, 2021

Trump History Updates

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.

 Jamie Gumbrecht and Jessica Small at CNN:
The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis released to CNN on Friday new evidence showing how US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials were pressured by Trump administration officials to alter scientific guidance and prevented from communicating directly with the public.

In new excerpts of transcribed interviews, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the former director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said she was made aware that then-President Donald Trump was angered by a February 25, 2020, briefing during which she warned the public about the dangers of the coronavirus. Messonnier says in the transcript she had calls with former CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield and former US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar after the briefing, and that she was "upset" after her conversation with Azar.

In the transcripts, other CDC officials described how requests to hold briefings about mask guidance and pediatric Covid-19 cases and deaths were denied. When asked about a CNN report that CDC officials felt "muzzled," Dr. Anne Schuchat, CDC's former principal deputy director, said, "That is the feeling that we had, many of us had."

CDC officials also appeared to take issue with invoking a public health authority to expel migrants.

Further, several interviews described efforts by the administration to alter or influence the agency's guidance and weekly scientific reports, the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, which typically are not shared outside the agency before they're published.

New evidence supports the hypothesis that the insurrection was the paramilitary wing of a plot to stage a coup. Libbey Cathey at  ABC:

In a memo not made public until now, then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows emailed to Vice President Mike Pence's top aide, on New Year's Eve, a detailed plan for undoing President Joe Biden's election victory, ABC News' Chief Washington Correspondent Jonathan Karl reports.

The memo, written by former President Donald Trump's campaign lawyer Jenna Ellis, is reported for the first time in Karl's upcoming book, "Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show" -- demonstrating how Pence was under even more pressure than previously known to overturn the results of the 2020 election. 
Ellis, in the memo, outlined a multi-step strategy: On Jan. 6, the day Congress was to certify the 2020 election results, Pence was to send back the electoral votes from six battleground states that Trump falsely claimed he had won.
The memo said that Pence would give the states a deadline of "7pm eastern standard time on January 15th" to send back a new set of votes, according to Karl. 
Then, Ellis wrote, if any state legislature missed that deadline, "no electoral votes can be opened and counted from that state."
Such a scenario would leave neither Biden nor Trump with a majority of votes, Ellis wrote, which would mean "Congress shall vote by state delegation" -- which, Ellis said, would in turn lead to Trump being declared the winner due to Republicans controlling the majority of state delegations with 26.

Axios reprints a Jonathan Karl interview in which Trump did not denounce calls to hang Mike Pence:

Jonathan Karl: "Were you worried about him during that siege? Were you worried about his safety?"

Trump: "No, I thought he was well-protected, and I had heard that he was in good shape. No. Because I had heard he was in very good shape. But, but, no, I think — "

Karl: "Because you heard those chants — that was terrible. I mean — "

Trump: "He could have — well, the people were very angry."

Karl: "They were saying 'hang Mike Pence.'"

Trump: "Because it's common sense, Jon. It's common sense that you're supposed to protect. How can you — if you know a vote is fraudulent, right? — how can you pass on a fraudulent vote to Congress? How can you do that? And I'm telling you: 50/50, it's right down the middle for the top constitutional scholars when I speak to them. Anybody I spoke to — almost all of them at least pretty much agree, and some very much agree with me — because he's passing on a vote that he knows is fraudulent. How can you pass a vote that you know is fraudulent? Now, when I spoke to him, I really talked about all of the fraudulent things that happened during the election. I didn't talk about the main point, which is the legislatures did not approve — five states. The legislatures did not approve all of those changes that made the difference between a very easy win for me in the states, or a loss that was very close, because the losses were all very close."



Sunday, November 14, 2021

Flynn Says US Should Have "One Religion"

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.  

Morgan Keither at Business Insider:

At a three-day conference in San Antonio, Texas, for the "ReAwaken America" tour, former national security adviser and keynote speaker Michael Flynn called for Christianity to become the singular religion of the United States.

"If we are going to have one nation under God, which we must, we have to have one religion. One nation under God, and one religion under God," said Flynn, who recently talked about his Christian faith in an effort to refute QAnon claims that he worships Satan.


James Madison,Virginia Ratifying Convention 12 June 1788:
 If there were a majority of one sect, a bill of rights would be a poor protection for liberty. Happily for the states, they enjoy the utmost freedom of religion. This freedom arises from that multiplicity of sects, which pervades America, and which is the best and only security for religious liberty in any society. For where there is such a variety of sects, there cannot be a majority of any one sect to oppress and persecute the rest. 

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Accepting Violence

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.  

 Lisa Lerer and Astead W. Herndon at NYT:
From his earliest campaigning to the final moments of his presidency, Mr. Trump’s political image has incorporated the possibility of violence. He encouraged attendees at his rallies to “knock the hell” out of protesters, praised a lawmaker who body-slammed a reporter, and in a recent interview defended rioters who clamored to “hang Mike Pence.”

Yet even with the former president largely out of the public eye and after a deadly attack on the Capitol where rioters tried to overturn the presidential election, the Republican acceptance of violence has only spread. Polling indicates that 30 percent of Republicans, and 40 percent of people who “most trust” far-right news sources, believe that “true patriots” may have to resort to violence to “save” the country — a statement that gets far less support among Democrats and independents.

Such views, routinely expressed in warlike or revolutionary terms, are often intertwined with white racial resentments and evangelical Christian religious fervor — two potent sources of fuel for the G.O.P. during the Trump era — as the most animated Republican voters increasingly see themselves as participants in a struggle, if not a kind of holy war, to preserve their idea of American culture and their place in society.

Notably few Republican leaders have spoken out against violent language or behavior since Jan. 6, suggesting with their silent acquiescence that doing so would put them at odds with a significant share of their party’s voters. When the Idaho man asked about “killing” political opponents at an event hosted by the conservative activist Charlie Kirk, Mr. Kirk said he must “denounce” the question but went on to discuss at what point political violence could be justified.

Michael A. Peters (2019) The return of fascism: Youth, violence and nationalism, Educational Philosophy and Theory, 51:7, 674-678, DOI: 10.1080/00131857.2018.1519772

The link between Italian Futurism and Fascism is well documented. Fascist ideology was prepared and well supported by Italian Futurism, emphasizing values of speed, technology, youth and violence. It also celebrated modernity aiming to lift Italian out of its past to create a new culture. Marinetti’s (1909) Manifesto of Futurism exalted violence:

  1. We intend to sing the love of danger, the habit of energy and fearlessness.
  2. Courage, audacity and revolt will be essential elements of our poetry.
  3. Up to now literature has exalted a pensive immobility, ecstasy and sleep. We intend to exalt aggressive action, a feverish insomnia, the racer’s stride, the mortal leap, the punch and the slap.
  4. We affirm that the world’s magnificence has been enriched by a new beauty: the beauty of speed. A racing car whose hood is adorned with great pipes, like serpents of explosive breath—a roaring car that seems to ride on grapeshot is more beautiful than the Victory of Samothrace.
  5. We want to hymn the man at the wheel, who hurls the lance of his spirit across the Earth, along the circle of its orbit.
  6. The poet must spend himself with ardor, splendor and generosity, to swell the enthusiastic fervor of the primordial elements.
  7. Except in struggle, there is no more beauty. No work without an aggressive character can be a masterpiece. Poetry must be conceived as a violent attack on unknown forces, to reduce and prostrate them before man.
  8. We stand on the last promontory of the centuries!… Why should we look back, when what we want is to break down the mysterious doors of the Impossible? Time and Space died yesterday. We already live in the absolute, because we have created eternal, omnipresent speed.
  9. We will glorify war—the world’s only hygiene—militarism, patriotism, the destructive gesture of freedom-bringers, beautiful ideas worth dying for, and scorn for woman.
  10. We will destroy the museums, libraries, academies of every kind, will fight moralism, feminism, every opportunistic or utilitarian cowardice.
  11. We will sing of great crowds excited by work, by pleasure, and by riot; we will sing of the multicolored, polyphonic tides of revolution in the modern capitals; we will sing of the vibrant nightly fervor of arsenals and shipyards blazing with violent electric moons; greedy railway stations that devour smoke-plumed serpents; factories hung on clouds by the crooked lines of their smoke; bridges that stride the rivers like giant gymnasts, flashing in the sun with a glitter of knives; adventurous steamers that sniff the horizon; deep-chested locomotives whose wheels paw the tracks like the hooves of enormous steel horses bridled by tubing; and the sleek flight of planes whose propellers chatter in the wind like banners and seem to cheer like an enthusiastic crowd.