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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Slugfest in Asian American District

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

Seema Mehta and Anh Do at LAT:
A new Southern California congressional district was created expressly to empower Asian Americans — binding together residents of Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean and Indian descent to give those voters a stronger voice in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The race to represent the district, which includes portions of Los Angeles and Orange counties, has turned into a mud-slinging battle rife with accusations of racism, sexism and red-baiting between two Asian American candidates.

Incumbent Rep. Michelle Steel, a Korean American immigrant, has accused her Democratic rival, Jay Chen, of mocking her accent. Chen, the son of Taiwanese immigrants, responded with an op-ed titled “I didn’t mock Michelle Steel’s accent.” Steel has also tried to paint Chen, a Navy Reserve intelligence officer, as sympathetic to China’s authoritarian regime; Chen says she’s red-baiting.

“This district was drawn with the aspirational hope that it would uplift Asians,” said Democratic redistricting expert Paul Mitchell. “There’s nothing to suggest a district that’s heavily Asian like this could have the consequence of a slugfest or a mud fight between different Asian elected officials. That’s clearly unfortunate.”

The new 45th congressional district was created last year by an independent redistricting panel in the once-per-decade, post-census redrawing of political maps. It is more competitive than Steel’s current district and includes the Asian American hubs of Westminster, Cerritos and Artesia.

Friday, April 29, 2022

Bad Economic Mojo

Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses state and congressional elections  The economy ain't looking good for Dems in the midtterm. 

 Chris Cillizza at CNN:

The news that the US economy unexpectedly shrank over the first quarter of the year is an absolute body blow to Democrats already reeling amid growing economic concerns ahead of the 2022 midterm election.

The country’s gross domestic product fell at an annualized rate of 1.4% between January and March – a stunning reversal from the 6.9% GDP growth that the US recorded in the final quarter of 2021. (The GDP is seen as a broad guide to the overall health of a nation’s economy.)

And in a decidedly ill omen, the GDP shrinkage was the worst performance of the measure since the economy went into recession amid the shutting down of the country in the spring of 2020.

Megan Brenan at Gallup:

In the latest Gallup poll, conducted April 1-19, four in five U.S. adults rate current economic conditions in the country as only fair (38%) or poor (42%), with few describing conditions as excellent (2%) or good (18%). Furthermore, 76% of Americans say the economy is getting worse, 20% say it is improving, and 3% think it is staying the same.


Thursday, April 28, 2022

Youth Opinion 2022

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

From the Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics:
A national poll released today by the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School indicates that while 18-to-29-year-olds are on track to match 2018’s record-breaking youth turnout in a midterm election this November and prefer Democratic control 55%-34%, there was a sharp increase in youth believing that “political involvement rarely has tangible results” (36%), their vote “doesn’t make a difference” (42%) and agreement that “politics today are no longer able to meet the challenges our country is facing” (56%). President Biden’s job approval has dropped to 41% among young Americans, down from 46% in the IOP Fall 2021 poll and down 18% overall in the past year.

The Spring 2022 Harvard Youth Poll finds that 59% of young Black Americans, 43% of young Asian Americans, and 37% of young Hispanic Americans feel “under attack” “a lot” in America. Nearly half of LGBTQ youth feel under attack “a lot.”

When it comes to student loans, 85% of young Americans favor some form of government action on student loan debt, but only 38% favor total debt cancellation. And the poll also finds that at two-to-one margins, young Americans are supportive of greater parental control over K-12 education and supportive of candidates that support teaching K-12 students that racism – intentional or not – is a fixture of American laws and institutions.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Kevin McCarthyism

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.  

Kevin McCarthy lied about what he said privately about the insurrection.  For the time being, House Republicans profess indifference to his lies.

At The Dispatch, Declan Garvey and Esther Eaton report on the unfolding Kevin McCarthy story.
But there were some defectors on Tuesday. Far-right Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona told OANN yesterday the saga was “incredibly undermining” for McCarthy, and that it resulted in him having a “huge trust issue” with the potential leader. Rep. Matt Gaetz—who’s long harbored disdain for McCarthy—said Tuesday the recordings show the minority leader (and Scalise) to be “weak men.”

Biggs and Gaetz could soon have company, as Martin and Burns dropped another tranche of McCarthy leaks last night, in which the Californian and his fellow leadership members criticized a number of Republicans for their extreme—and inflammatory—rhetoric around January 6. “Our members have got to start paying attention to what they say,” McCarthy warned on a call days after the Capitol attack. “The country is too crazy. … I do not want to look back and think we caused something or we missed something and someone got hurt. I don’t want to play politics with any of that.”

How many defectors McCarthy will be able to afford depends on how big a majority Republicans win in November. If the margin is similar to what Democrats have in the House now, just a handful of GOP lawmakers could block McCarthy from the speakership—or vote him in, and demand constant concessions in exchange for their continued support. Acting as a bloc in the 115th Congress, the House Freedom Caucus was often able to give then-Speaker Paul Ryan headaches even with a 40-plus member majority.

Jordan—one of the Freedom Caucus’ most vocal members—still backs McCarthy. But others sounded more on the fence. “Everybody is accountable for what they say and do,” Rep. Scott Perry said, offering only that the House Freedom Caucus discussed the border in its meeting last night. The criticism could grow louder—and more explicit—if Carlson keeps up the pressure on his TV show.

“Unless conservatives get their act together right away, Kevin McCarthy, or one of his highly liberal allies like Elise Stefanik, is very likely to be Speaker of the House in January,” he told his millions of viewers. “That will mean we will have a Republican Congress, led by a puppet of the Democratic Party.”

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Sometimes Politics Still Is Local

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

In Tennessee:

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Utah Dems Endorse McMullin

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

Katie McKellar at The Deseret News:

The Utah Democratic Party made an extraordinary decision on Saturday.

A majority of delegates decided to not put forth a Democratic candidate to face off with Republican Sen. Mike Lee and to instead back independent candidate Evan McMullin.

The decision has big implications for Utah’s U.S. Senate race. It injects significant momentum into a more moderate, independent movement in Utah politics — and signals Utah Democrats are so eager to up the chances of beating Lee they’re willing to ditch their own candidate. At least for now.

During Saturday’s at times chaotic convention at Cottonwood High School in the Salt Lake County suburb of Murray, a faction of delegates put forth a motion to opt against choosing Kael Weston as the party’s Democratic U.S. Senate nominee and instead join McMullin’s coalition.

McMullin, a former Republican, ran an unsuccessful independent campaign for president against former President Donald Trump in 2016. Now he’s got Lee in his crosshairs.

“We know that Sen. Mike Lee was quite involved in the effort to overturn our democracy,” McMullin told reporters shortly after his victory was reflected in vote tallies, seizing another opportunity to blast Lee over his text messages to then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows as he explored ideas on how to overturn the 2020 presidential election before ultimately deciding to vote to certify the electoral results on Jan. 6.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Mark Meadows Update

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.  

Mark Meadows, the final chief of staff for President Donald J. Trump, was told that plans to try to overturn the 2020 election using so-called alternate electors were not “legally sound” and that the events of Jan. 6 could turn violent, but he pushed forward with a rally anyway, the House committee investigating the Capitol attack alleged in a Friday night court filing.

In the 248-page filing, lawyers for the committee highlighted the testimony of Cassidy Hutchinson, a White House aide in Mr. Meadows’s office, who revealed new details about the events that led to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on Congress by a pro-Trump mob.

“I know that there were concerns brought forward to Mr. Meadows,” Ms. Hutchinson told investigators at a deposition on March 7, adding: “I know that people had brought information forward to him that had indicated that there could be violence on the 6th. But, again, I’m not sure if he — what he did with that information.”

Glenn Kessler at WP:

I don’t want my vote or anyone else’s to be disenfranchised. … Do you realize how inaccurate the voter rolls are, with people just moving around? … Anytime you move, you’ll change your driver’s license, but you don’t call up and say, ‘Hey, by the way, I’m re-registering.

Mark Meadows, then White House chief of staff, in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Aug. 16, 2020

After Donald Trump lost the presidential election, falsely claiming election fraud, Meadows became senior partner at the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI), which promotes “election integrity” efforts. The organization’s “citizen’s guide” urges activists to determine that the registrations of their neighbors are legal by checking on “whether voters have moved, or if the registrations are PO Boxes, commercial addresses or vacant lots” and then “obtaining evidence: photos of commercial buildings? Vacant lots?” and “securing affidavits from current residents that a registered voter has moved.”

Voter-list maintenance is one of the dividing lines in American politics. Republicans argue that if voter-registration records are not regularly purged and updated, election fraud can take place. Democrats push back that too many voter-list purges are conducted haphazardly, removing eligible voters who don’t learn they are no longer listed until they show up to vote.

Now it turns out that until last week, Meadows was simultaneously registered to vote in three different states — North Carolina, Virginia and South Carolina — according to state records obtained by The Fact Checker.

The overlap lasted about three weeks, and it might have continued if revelations about Meadows’s voting record had not attracted scrutiny in North Carolina. Meadows is still registered in Virginia and South Carolina.


Friday, April 22, 2022

Kevin McCarthy Lied

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.  

Rachel Bade and Eli Okun at Politico:
REPRIEVE FOR ‘MY KEVIN’? — At a moment when House Minority Leader KEVIN MCCARTHY’s shot at the speakership looked more in danger than ever, he may have saved himself Thursday night — at least for now.

WaPo’s Jacqueline Alemany and Marianna Sotomayor, citing two sources, report that McCarthy talked with DONALD TRUMP on Thursday night and Trump “was not upset” about new audio that revealed McCarthy said Trump should resign after Jan. 6.

Instead, the former president was pleased that McCarthy reneged and started backing him again, “which Trump saw as a sign of his continued grip on the Republican Party,” they report.

Axios’ Jonathan Swan confirmed the WaPo take, tweeting: “Yep. Trump liked the original JMart/Burns story bc he felt like it made him look strong bc McCarthy and McConnell said all these terrible things about him around Jan 6 and now he sees McCarthy as a supplicant and McConnell said he’ll back him in 2024 if he’s the nominee.”

Still, a lot of House Republicans know Trump can go hot and cold on people fast, forgiving one minute and furious the next. They’re still awaiting an official public response from Trump before figuring out how to proceed.

The Trump-McCarthy call followed the explosive revelation from Jonathan Martin and Alex Burns’ new book, “This Will Not Pass,” that McCarthy and Senate GOP Leader MITCH MCCONNELL had privately called for Trump to go following the Capitol insurrection — which McCarthy denied, only for the reporters to offer audio proof.

But not everyone in Trump world is mollified:
  • On his show this morning, STEVE BANNON called it a “cardinal sin” for McCarthy to deny comments that were caught on tape.
  • And BORIS EPSHTEYN warned that “Kevin McCarthy’s got a big problem” in his speakership bid now, per Nick Wu.
They won’t be the last. There are a lot of Trump allies who are not fans of McCarthy, so expect these types to try to stir the pot against him. But then again, McCarthy has also strategically — and smartly — hired a bunch of former Trump staffers, who could theoretically play peacemakers on his behalf.

MEANWHILE … This morning, Martin and Burns presented more snippets of leaked audio of McCarthy in the days after Jan. 6, though some of its contents were previously reported, albeit without audio. Appearing on CNN, they had the tapes:

McCarthy talking to House GOP leadership on Jan. 10, 2021: “I know this is not fun. I know this is not great. I know this is very tough. But what I want to do, especially through here, is I don’t want to rush things. I want everybody to have all the information needed. I’ve had it with this guy. What he did is unacceptable. Nobody can defend that, and nobody should defend it.”
Here’s McCarthy the next day, sounding much more conciliatory while talking to the full House GOP Conference: “Let me be very clear to all of you, and I am very clear to the president: He bears responsibilities for his words and actions, no [ifs], ands or buts. I asked him personally today: Does he hold responsibility for what happened? Does he feel bad about what happened? He told me he does have some responsibility for what happened. And he [needed] to acknowledge that.” CNN’s Melanie Zanona breaks it down … (But we already knew the gist of this one)

WHO’S THE LEAKER?: Per the WaPo story, Rep. LIZ CHENEY’s (R-Wyo.) spokesman said she didn’t leak the audio. House Minority Whip STEVE SCALISE’s (R-La.) spokesman said he didn’t leak it, nor did anyone on his team. Notably, our understanding is that staff for a lot of these top members were also on this call. So it could have been an aide.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

They Knew

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.  

Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin at NYT:
In the days after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol building, the two top Republicans in Congress, Representative Kevin McCarthy and Senator Mitch McConnell, told associates they believed President Trump was responsible for inciting the deadly riot and vowed to drive him from politics. Mr. McCarthy went so far as to say he would push Mr. Trump to resign immediately: “I’ve had it with this guy,” he told a group of Republican leaders.

But within weeks both men backed off an all-out fight with Mr. Trump because they feared retribution from him and his political movement. Their drive to act faded fast as it became clear it would mean difficult votes that would put them at odds with most of their colleagues.

“I didn’t get to be leader by voting with five people in the conference,” Mr. McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, told a friend.

The confidential expressions of outrage from Mr. McCarthy and Mr. McConnell, which have not been previously reported, illustrate the immense gulf between what Republican leaders say privately about Mr. Trump and their public deference to a man whose hold on the party has gone virtually unchallenged for half a decade.
On Monday, Jan. 11, Mr. McConnell met over lunch in Kentucky


with two longtime advisers, Terry Carmack and Scott Jennings. Feasting on Chick-fil-A in Mr. Jennings’s Louisville office, the Senate Republican leader predicted Mr. Trump’s imminent political demise.

“The Democrats are going to take care of the son of a bitch for us,” Mr. McConnell said, referring to the imminent impeachment vote in the House.

Once the House impeached Mr. Trump, it would take a two-thirds vote of the Senate to convict him. That would require the votes of all 50 Democrats and at least 17 Republicans in the Senate — a tall order, given that Mr. Trump’s first impeachment trial in 2020 had ended with just one Republican senator, Mitt Romney of Utah, voting in favor of conviction.

 But Mr. McConnell knew the Senate math as well as anyone and he told his advisers he expected a robust bipartisan vote for conviction. After that, Congress could then bar Mr. Trump from ever holding public office again.

The president’s behavior on Jan. 6 had been utterly beyond the pale, Mr. McConnell said. “If this isn’t impeachable, I don’t know what is,” he said.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

How Do Republicans Plan to Govern?

Republicans are likely to win the House. What then?  Megan McArdle at WP:
How do Republicans plan to govern? The GOP needs a positive program for reducing inflation, fighting crime, reforming health care, keeping entitlements solvent and boosting employment. The party also desperately needs the administrative capacity to get a recalcitrant civil service to carry out its plans. Without those things, the GOP will fail voters and quickly lose power again.

Republicans might retort that they’re winning, aren’t they? Why not ride cultural antitrust to power, then worry about the rest when they get there?

Donald Trump’s whole presidency testifies to the dangers of running hard on emotional issues, without policy substance behind it: He left having accomplished almost nothing that could not be undone by an unfriendly judge or the stroke of a Democratic successor’s pen. The notable exception was the conservative judges he appointed — notable because it involved a concrete political goal (appoint these judges!), enabled by decades of work by conservative legal scholars who built up a law-school-to-judiciary pipeline.
That’s exactly the kind of patient work Republicans are not doing, on cultural issues or anything else. If Republicans want to change things, or even to hold office for more than a few years, they need to prepare to run the federal government, not just yell about the things they’d do if only they’d been elected governor, or king.

Monday, April 18, 2022

Rick Scott: Gift to Democrats

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.

Michael Scherer and Josh Dawsey at WP:

Florida Sen. Rick Scott has been publicly dressed down by Republican leader Mitch McConnell, privately rebuked by his colleagues and repeatedly accused of running the National Republican Senatorial Committee in a way that benefits his own future over the candidates he was hired to get elected.

He has directed a sizable share of his fundraising as NRSC chair to his own accounts, while shifting digital revenue away from Senate campaigns and buying ads promoting himself that look all but identical to spots he does for the national committee.

But during the seven weeks of turmoil since Scott dropped a provocative conservative policy bomb on an unsuspecting party — a plan that called for tax increases and expiration dates for all federal laws, including those establishing Social Security and Medicare — he has not once expressed regret. Instead, the former hospital chain CEO and two-term governor, the richest man in the Senate, argues that he owes his detractors nothing.
“We’ve got three words for him: Keep it up,” said David Bergstein, the communications director at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which has been championing the Scott plan as a way to scare voters. “No NRSC chair has done more for Senate Democrats than Rick Scott.”

Julia Manchester at The Hill:

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) marked Tax Day on Monday by rolling out billboards in Florida and Wisconsin, hitting Republicans over Sen. Rick Scott’s (R-Fla.) proposed plan to require all Americans to pay at least some income tax.

The billboards, which read “Senate Republicans’ Plan: Raise Your Taxes,” will be deployed in Orlando, Miami, and Oshkosh, Wis., near the offices of Sens. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.). Scott is the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee and Rubio and Johnson are facing closely watched reelection bids.

Tom Howell Jr. at Washington Times:

President Biden used Monday’s tax-filing deadline to promote his social welfare agenda while lobbing attacks at Senate Republicans, saying his tax plan would look out for the little guy while Senate Republicans promote a plan that would impose income taxes on those who currently pay none.

Mr. Biden is making hay with an “11-point” plan released by Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, who leads the Senate campaign arm. The plan said all persons should pay some income tax to “have skin in the game” and that all legislation should sunset after five years, an idea that would ostensibly apply to Medicare and Social Security.

“The president is fighting for tax cuts for the middle class and to ensure that the super wealthy and large corporations pay their fair share, while congressional Republicans, led by Senator Scott, are proposing big tax increases on middle-class families,” the White House said in a fact sheet.

Sunday, April 17, 2022

The Ides of Inflation

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

Joan Greve at The Guardian:
In the days leading up to the release of the US labor department’s latest inflation report, the White House tried to deflate expectations. White House officials said they expected the March inflation rate to be “extraordinarily elevated” because of rising gas prices, driven largely by war in Ukraine.

Unfortunately for Joe Biden and his fellow Democrats, they were proven right. The inflation report, released on Tuesday, showed US prices increased by 8.5% between March 2021 and March 2022 – the highest level of US inflation since 1981.

The White House tried to downplay concerns last year by arguing price increases were caused by the coronavirus pandemic and would prove “transitory”. Now, more than a year after vaccines became widely available, Democrats are grappling with how to help families struggling under the weight of inflation. Centrists and progressives alike warn that unless Democrats come up with an effective plan, Republicans could be on the way to a historic victory this November.

Democrats’ prospects in the midterm elections were already considered lackluster at best. The president’s party usually loses seats, particularly the House, in midterm years. Democrats have very little margin for error, given slim majorities. Biden’s approval rating, in the low 40s for months, is not helping matters.

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Trump for Vance

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

Friday, April 15, 2022

Insurrection Update: April 15

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.  

Ryan Nobles, Annie Grayer, Zachary Cohen and Jamie Gangel at CNN:

In the weeks between the 2020 election and the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, almost 100 text messages from two staunch GOP allies of then-President Donald Trump reveal an aggressive attempt to lobby, encourage and eventually warn the White House over its efforts to overturn the election, according to messages obtained by the House select committee and reviewed by CNN.
The texts, which have not been previously reported, were sent by Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah and GOP Rep. Chip Roy of Texas to then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. The text exchanges show that both members of Congress initially supported legal challenges to the election but ultimately came to sour on the effort and the tactics deployed by Trump and his team.
"We're driving a stake in the heart of the federal republic," Roy texted Meadows on January 1. That text was first released in December by the House select committee and described as being written by a House Freedom Caucus member. Roy's authorship has not been previously reported.

Also on November 7, Roy wrote to Meadows, "We need ammo. We need fraud examples. We need it this weekend."

While Lee and Roy both voted to certify the electoral results in favor of Biden, more than 100 of their GOP colleagues in both the House and Senate did not. Chief among them were Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Josh Hawley of Missouri, both of whom Lee called out in his texts to Meadows.
"I have grave concerns with the way my friend Ted is going about this effort," Lee wrote to Meadows. "This will not inure to the benefit of the president."
Lee added that unless new, competing slates of electors were put forward in accordance with state law, the net effect "could help people like Ted and Josh to the detriment of DJT."
When January 6 finally came, neither Lee nor Roy joined their colleagues in objecting to the 2020 presidential election results.
After the violence unfolded and Congress returned to session, Roy said on the House floor, "The President should never have spun up certain Americans to believe something that simply cannot be."
He also texted Meadows, "This is a sh*tshow.
"Fix this now."

Alan Feuer at NYT:

One week before an angry mob stormed the Capitol, a communications expert named Jason Sullivan, a onetime aide to Roger J. Stone Jr., joined a conference call with a group of President Donald J. Trump’s supporters and made an urgent plea.

After assuring his listeners that the 2020 election had been stolen, Mr. Sullivan told them that they had to go to Washington on Jan. 6, 2021 — the day that Congress was to meet to finalize the electoral count — and “descend on the Capitol,” according to a recording of the call obtained by The New York Times.

While Mr. Sullivan claimed that he was “not inciting violence or any kind of riots,” he urged those on the call to make their presence felt at the Capitol in a way that would intimidate members of Congress, telling the group that they had to ensure that lawmakers inside the building “understand that people are breathing down their necks.”

He also pledged that Mr. Trump was going to take action on his own; the president, he said, was going to impose a form of martial law on Jan. 6 and would not be leaving office.

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Feinstein in Decline

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

Tal Kopan and Joe Garofoli at SF Chronicle:

When a California Democrat in Congress recently engaged in an extended conversation with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, they prepared for a rigorous policy discussion like those they’d had with her many times over the last 15 years.

Instead, the lawmaker said, they had to reintroduce themselves to Feinstein multiple times during an interaction that lasted several hours.

Rather than delve into policy, Feinstein, 88, repeated the same small-talk questions, like asking the lawmaker what mattered to voters in their district, the member of Congress said, with no apparent recognition the two had already had a similar conversation.

The episode was so unnerving that the lawmaker — who spoke to The Chronicle on condition they not be identified because of the sensitivity of the topic — began raising concerns with colleagues to see if some kind of intervention to persuade Feinstein to retire was possible. Feinstein’s term runs through the end of 2024. The conversation occurred several weeks before the death of her husband in February.

“I have worked with her for a long time and long enough to know what she was like just a few years ago: always in command, always in charge, on top of the details, basically couldn’t resist a conversation where she was driving some bill or some idea. All of that is gone,” the lawmaker said. “She was an intellectual and political force not that long ago, and that’s why my encounter with her was so jarring. Because there was just no trace of that.”

Four U.S. senators, including three Democrats, as well as three former Feinstein staffers and the California Democratic member of Congress told The Chronicle in recent interviews that her memory is rapidly deteriorating. They said it appears she can no longer fulfill her job duties without her staff doing much of the work required to represent the nearly 40 million people of California.

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Inflation, April 2022

 Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses state and congressional elections Inflation ain't looking good for Dems. 

Chris Cillizza, CNN:
The Consumer Price Index -- a measure of inflation in the economy -- hit a four-decade high in March, a brutal reminder for Democrats of the political headwinds facing them as they seek to keep their majorities in the House and Senate this fall.

Prices rose 8.5% from March 2021 to March 2022, while they increased 1.2% from February to March. Half of the increase in the CPI was due to rising gas prices in March.

The Biden administration had been expecting a bad CPI number. "We expect March CPI headline inflation to be extraordinarily due to (Russian President Vladimir) Putin's price hike," said White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Monday.

(It's worth noting here that inflation had been surging prior to Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the United States' decision to stop importing all Russian oil.)

The problem for Biden (and his party) is that it's not at all clear that people care why everything they are trying to buy costs more. All they know is that gas prices are through the roof -- although they are lower this week than last -- and everything they want or need to buy costs more (a lot more) than it did a year ago.

Inflation is such a powerful issue in politics because, unlike, say, foreign policy, it touches every person on a daily basis. You notice when it costs more to fill up your car. Or shop for groceries. Or buy just about anything.

Consider this from Matt Zeitlin, an economics reporter at Grid News, about the details of the CPI report: "The food at home index rose 10.0 percent over the last 12 months, the largest 12-month increase since the period ending March 1981. The index for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs increased 13.7 percent over the last year as the index for beef rose 16.0 percent."

When that happens, you look for someone to blame. And, if past is prologue, you blame the party in charge.

Monday, April 11, 2022

Trump for Oz

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

Zachary Petrizzo at The Daily Beast:

Late Saturday evening, former President Donald Trump officially endorsed his old TV pal Dr. Mehmet Oz in the raucous Republican U.S. Senate primary race in Pennsylvania.

In doing so, Trump, while speaking at a rally in North Carolina, ignited fury and ridicule among some of the loudest voices in Trumpworld.

At issue among Trump’s most fervent supporters is the belief that Oz, a Turkish-American TV physician who has hobnobbed with Hollywood’s elite and has flip-flopped on the issue of abortion, isn’t a trustworthy “America First” Republican candidate, compared to fellow candidate Dave McCormick, who has ex-Trump administration official Hope Hicks by his side. (Another Trumpworld stalwart, Stephen Miller, stopped all involvement and employment with the McCormick campaign after Trump’s Oz endorsement, a source with direct knowledge of the matter told The Daily Beast after this story was published.)

“I have enormous respect for President Trump. I was honored to have his endorsement in PA. Twice,” Sean Parnell, the former Trump-backed candidate, who dropped out of the race after an abuse allegation surfaced from his estranged ex-wife, wrote on Twitter. “But I’m disappointed by this. Oz is the antithesis of everything that made Trump the best president of my lifetime.”

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Insurrection Update, April 10

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.  

Ryan Nobles, Zachary Cohen and Annie Grayer at CNN:

Two days after the 2020 presidential election, as votes were still being tallied, Donald Trump's eldest son texted then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows that "we have operational control" to ensure his father would get a second term, with Republican majorities in the US Senate and swing state legislatures, CNN has learned.

 In the text, which has not been previously reported, Donald Trump Jr. lays out ideas for keeping his father in power by subverting the Electoral College process, according to the message reviewed by CNN. The text is among records obtained by the House select committee investigating January 6, 2021.

 "It's very simple," Trump Jr. texted to Meadows on November 5, adding later in the same missive: "We have multiple paths We control them all."

Trump Jr. also texts Meadows that Congress could intervene on January 6 and overturn the will of voters if, for some reason, they were unable to secure enough electoral votes to tip the outcome in Trump's favor using the state-based strategy.

That option, according to Trump Jr.'s text, involves a scenario where neither Biden nor Trump have enough electoral votes to be declared a winner, prompting the House of Representatives to vote by state party delegation, with each state getting one vote.
"Republicans control 28 states Democrats 22 states," Trump Jr. texts. "Once again Trump wins."
"We either have a vote WE control and WE win OR it gets kicked to Congress 6 January 2021," he texts Meadows.In a series of memos in early January, conservative lawyer John Eastman proposed a variation of that idea.


Saturday, April 9, 2022

Trump and the Foreign Emoluments Clause

In Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics, we look at Trump's dishonesty and disregard for the rule of law.

US Constitution, Art I, Sec 9: "And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State."

 Michael Schmidt at NYT:

Departing White Houses typically provide the State Department with a list of the gifts officials receive before, or shortly after, they leave office to ensure they have followed the law.

But in the list of gifts for 2020 that the State Department released on Friday, there are no gifts for any White House officials. Although the pandemic curtailed some of Mr. Trump’s travel, Mr. Trump went to Switzerland and India — where he received gifts, including a bust of Gandhi, a sculpture of Gandhi’s famous “three monkeys” metaphor and a spinning wheel. Top foreign leaders for at least a dozen countries visited the White House.
In a highly unusual disclosure, the department said that its Office of the Chief of Protocol, which was run by a Trump appointee until Jan. 20, 2021, had failed before Mr. Trump left office to ask the White House for a list of the gifts it received, and that Mr. Trump’s White House left office without providing one.

The department said it had tried to collect the information about the gifts Trump White House officials had received but had failed to come up with an accounting.

“As a result, the data required to fully compile a complete listing for 2020 is unavailable,” the State Department said in a footnote to its list of gifts government officials received that year.

Thursday, April 7, 2022

Conservative Dark Money Redux

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 moneyLiberal groups copied their example, and conservatives are copying them back.

Kenneth P. Vogel, Shane Goldmacher and Ryan Mac at NYT:
A new coalition of wealthy conservative benefactors that says it aims to “disrupt but advance the Republican agenda” gathered this week for a private summit in South Florida that included closed-door addresses from former President Donald J. Trump and an allied Senate candidate at Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club, according to documents and interviews.

The coalition, called the Rockbridge Network, includes some of Mr. Trump’s biggest donors, such as Peter Thiel and Rebekah Mercer, and has laid out an ambitious goal — to reshape the American right by spending more than $30 million on conservative media, legal, policy and voter registration projects, among other initiatives.

The emergence of Rockbridge, the existence of which has not previously been reported, comes amid escalating jockeying among conservative megadonors to shape the 2022 midterms and the future of the Republican Party from outside the formal party machinery, and often with little disclosure.

In February, another previously unreported coalition of donors, the Chestnut Street Council, organized by the Trump-allied lobbyist Matt Schlapp, held a meeting to hear a pitch for new models for funding the conservative movement.

The iron law of emulation:

An analysis by The New York Times found that 15 of the most politically active nonprofit organizations that generally align with the Democratic Party spent more than $1.5 billion in 2020 in funds for which the donors’ identities are not disclosed. That compared to roughly $900 million in so-called dark money spent by a comparable sample of 15 groups aligned with Republicans.

The effort to close that gap — and to make gains in political consulting and technology that undergirds the right’s political infrastructure — has been a major subject of discussion among these coalitions.


Rockbridge was founded by Christopher Buskirk, who is the editor and publisher of the pro-Trump journal American Greatness and has advised a super PAC supporting Mr. Masters.