• Flynn Is National Security Advisor, Haley and Perry Reportedly Under Consideration
• Some Members of Team Trump Are Pushing Hard for Muslim Registry
• "Draining the Swamp" Isn't Easy
• Trump and De Blasio Are Fighting Already
• Sanders Named to Senate Leadership Team
• Once Again, O'Malley Drops Out Quickly
• Could Trump End the Culture Wars?
• Net Neutrality Is Probably Dead
2016 may go down in history as the last stand of the white working class. Donald Trump won a huge 39-point margin among white non-college voters, allowing him to win five critical Rust Belt states at the same time he lost the popular vote by over 1 million votes. But as early as 2020, demographic changes will make this year's scenario unlikely. The problem for Trump's coalition is that it is heavily skewed toward older voters, who are dying off, and being replaced by younger voters with much more progressive views. Assuming that each demographic group votes as it did this year, as early as 2020, the Democrats will win the popular vote by about 3 points, which will flip Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Florida back to the Democrats. Arizona, Georgia, and North Carolina will become even more competitive.
If Trump fails to make America great again by 2020, some of his supporters are bound to be disappointed. If the Democrats come up with a plausible candidate who can address their concerns, Trump will lose some of his 2016 votes, in addition to the ones he loses due to demographic changes. In the long run, Trump's populism is not likely to have more staying power than the agrarian populism of the 1880s and 1890s, which was also defeated in the end by changing demographics as people moved to cities. (V)
Donald Trump is trying to put his executive team together, and as things come into focus, well...it's the stuff that Democratic nightmares are made of. A fair bit of new information came to light on Wednesday, and all of it is sure to raise eyebrows in Washington.
To start, it appears that Trump has settled on Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn (ret.) as his national security advisor. This is not too much of a surprise, since Flynn has been one of Trump's most loyal advocates, and The Donald loves loyalty above all else. However, Flynn comes to the job with some rather serious baggage. To start, he has stepped on more than a few toes at the Dept. of Defense in his time, both with his actions and his words. The scuttlebutt is that many of the best and brightest minds in national security want nothing to do with him. On top of that, he's got some troubling ethical questions that he may need to answer for, including ties to Russia, and (possibly illegal) lobbying on behalf of the Turkish government.
Meanwhile, Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC) is reportedly under serious consideration for the State Department. On one hand, she's almost certainly less hawkish than her competition—Rudy Giuliani and John Bolton—which is probably a good thing. On the other hand, as someone who has spent her whole career in state government, she has zero experience in either foreign policy or diplomacy. Haley has presidential aspirations; one wonders if she will take note of the recently reinforced lesson that Secretaries of State rarely become president any more (the last one was James Buchanan, 162 years ago).
And in the true head scratcher of the day, former Texas governor Rick Perry is apparently in the running for the Education Department. The first question this raises is, "Will he remember that he once wanted to eliminate that department?" Sometimes he forgets those sorts of trivial details, like when he's in the middle of a debate. The second is, "Should someone who believes "in intelligent design" be overseeing the nation's schools?"
Thus far, quite a number of names have been floated that seem designed to make Democrats' heads explode: Perry, Flynn, Giuliani, Bolton, Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, and Ben Carson. If Trump & Co. are just amusing themselves, they're running out of names to use. Maybe Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Rush Limbaugh, or Secretary of Labor Charles Koch are up next. (Z)
It is hard to know if Donald Trump is still serious about creating a national Muslim Registry, but some of his surrogates are sure pushing hard for it. To start, there's Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who is reportedly under consideration for the Attorney Generalship (or another Trump cabinet position). He has been making the rounds on the talk shows, pitching the idea that such a registry would be easy, valuable, and completely legal. Kobach helped develop a similar program under President George W. Bush, though that one only applied to immigrants and visitors from two dozen countries designated as havens for extremist activity. This new project would, of course, be much more expansive.
Meanwhile, former Navy SEAL Carl Higbie—another Trump surrogate—went on Fox News to advocate the plan. During that interview, Higbie cited historical precedent in support of his argument:
We've done it based on race, we've done it based on religion, we've done it based on region. We've done it with Iran back—back a while ago. We did it during World War II with [the] Japanese."
Hard to know what the Iran reference is to; the U.S. has not singled out Iranians in this way. As to the Japanese, host Megyn Kelly could hardly believe what she was hearing, telling Higbie that, "You can't be citing Japanese internment camps as precedent for anything the president-elect is gonna do." It would seem that one person in the room has studied their history and one has not. In 1983, the federal courts declared internment to be unconstitutional (vacating the 1943 decision in Korematsu v. United States, by means of a writ of coram nobis). Five years later, the U.S. Congress passed the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which granted payments to Japanese-American survivors, and likewise declared internment to be unconstitutional. That act was signed into law by Ronald Reagan, which means all three branches of government have weighed in on this specific question, and all were in agreement. Higbie might as well cite Plessy v. Ferguson while he's at it.
With the caveat that anything seems possible this year, it is very hard to believe that this plan would go forward, regardless of how much Kobach, et al., like it. Beyond the legal, ethical and moral concerns that opponents might raise, there is an enormous flaw that would be impossible to overcome. Country of origin, citizenship status, income, criminal history, age, etc. are all questions that have exact, and provable answers. Adherence to Islam does not. There is no particularly good way to prove if someone who did not register actually is a Muslim. After all, what would that proof look like? Would the government follow people around and count how many times they went to a mosque each week? If they own a copy of the Quran? If they have at least two prayer rugs at home? On the flip side, there is also no good way to prove if someone who did register actually is a Muslim. Were the database plan to be put in place, activists across the nation would certainly register falsely, so as to compromise the overall integrity of the database. This would be fraud, but how could it possibly be proven? Presumably, Trump has someone on his team who will point these things out. (Z)
Having famously promised to "drain the swamp" in Washington, Donald Trump announced a major new policy on Wednesday: Members of his administration would be barred from lobbying activity for five years after leaving their posts.
Sounds like a step in the correct direction, right? Maybe...or maybe not. The problem is that it's not terribly easy to define exactly who is and who is not a lobbyist. Practicing lobbyists don't even have prayer rugs at home that could be inspected for wear. President Obama has a similar rule on the books (although his moratorium period is two years rather than five). And what happens is that former government officials just take the title "adviser" or "associate" and then lobby away. Certainly, a person who takes things to extremes might be punished. But what happens if, say, Joe Biden is of counsel next year for the firm of Dewey, Cheatem, and Howe, and he talks politics with his old friend Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) while playing a round of golf. Is that two longtime colleagues renewing their friendship, or is it lobbying?
House Republicans have also run into their own swamp-draining problems. Two weeks ago, the GOP members banned earmarks (a.k.a. as "pork"), as a means of combating runaway spending and corruption. The problem is that the members quickly realized that they only hate earmarks for 49 of the states. Further, the maneuver does not tend to cut spending as much as it just lets bureaucrats decide where to invest, as opposed to members of Congress. So now, many members of the House Republican Caucus have decided they would like their earmarks back. Only an impassioned plea from Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) persuaded them to wait until 2017 to bring them back, as opposed to overturning the ban today.
The lesson, then: When you try to drain the swamp, be ready to take on some really big alligators who are not with the program. (Z)
President-elect Donald Trump and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio don't like each other much. Trump has said that de Blasio is the worst mayor in New York history. De Blasio has said that Trump is unfit to be president. So what? Many Democrats dislike Trump. De Blasio is in a different position than other Democrats, however, because Trump lives in New York City, on Fifth Avenue between 56th St. and 57th St. and Trump loves to be home. On the campaign trail, he flew home almost every night and is likely to spend a lot of time home as president. Trump may control the nuclear football but de Blasio controls New York City traffic patterns.
The problem can be seen in this map:
Fifth Avenue is one of New York City's main arteries. Trump and the secret service would like to close it from 56th St. to 57th St. when Trump is home. De Blasio doesn't want to because it would make New York's impossible traffic already worse, with downtown traffic on Fifth Avenue at 57th St. having to either turn right onto 57th St. and go down Seventh Avenue—right into the massive traffic of Times Square—or turn left and go down always congested Park Avenue. Uptown traffic has a similar problem at 56th St. There is no helicopter pad on Trump Tower, so when Trump flies home from D.C., he will have to fly to LaGuardia Airport, which he has called a Third World airport, and then deal with the traffic himself. Since de Blasio is not likely to want to do things to make life easier for Trump, the great negotiator may have to negotiate a great deal with the mayor just to get home.
Other presidents have often gone home or to vacation spots frequently during their terms of office, but nearly all of the others went to out-of-the-way places where traffic wasn't an issue. Barack Obama liked to go to Martha's Vineyard, a difficult-to-get-to island off Cape Cod in Massachusetts. George W. Bush went to his "ranch" in Crawford, TX., but that is in the middle of nowhere, 100 miles south of Dallas. Like Obama, Bill Clinton loved Martha's Vineyard. George H.W. Bush had his home in peaceful Kennebunkport, ME, which he frequently visited. Ronald Reagan had his ranch in Santa Barbara, CA. Richard Nixon went to Key Biscayne, FL, an island location in Florida over 50 times when he was president. It was so isolated that the Dept. of Defense spent $400,000 to construct a helicopter landing pad there. John Kennedy loved the family compound in peaceful Hyannis Port, on Cape Cod, MA. Ike had a place in Gettysburg. This is the first time a president's preferred "retreat" is in the very center of a huge and traffic-congested city, and one in which the mayor and president despise one another. (V)
Yesterday morning, the Senate Democrats elected Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) as the minority leader and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) as the whip. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) won the #3 spot. What is new, however, is that Schumer announced an expanded leadership team that includes Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), even though he isn't actually a Democrat.
Other changes occurred at the committee level. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) is moving over to the Appropriations Committee, where he will be ranking member, leaving his position as ranking member of the Judiciary Committee open. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) will take that job, which involves examining judicial candidates, including Supreme Court nominees. The change could matter, as Feinstein is much more conservative than Leahy, and is less likely to put up a fight against Trump's nominees than Leahy would. (V)
Former Maryland governor Martin O'Malley seems to have acquired the habit of entering political races and then dropping out long before they are finished. In the primaries, he dropped out before New Hampshire voted and now he did it again. Less than a week ago he announced his intention to run for DNC chairman, and yesterday he dropped out of that race. The remaining candidates are Rep. Keith Elllison (DFL-MN), former DNC chairman Howard Dean, and South Carolina party chairman Jaime Harrison. Interestingly enough, Dean was the Bernie Sanders of his day, storming the establishment in his 2004 presidential run. Now he is the establishment, as Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and other progressive Democrats are supporting Ellison.
Dean said yesterday that he doesn't want to turn the race for DNC chairman into a rerun of the primaries, with Clinton backers for him and Sanders' backers for Ellison. (V)
Traditionally, matters such as marriage and abortion were regulated by the states. In 1973, the Supreme Court handed down the Roe v. Wade decision, creating a national right to abortion. Evangelical political leaders responded by trying to pass a constitutional amendment to reverse that decision. This was the starting gun of the culture wars. The Supreme Court decision Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015, which legalized same-sex marriage in the entire country, added more fuel to the fire. Donald Trump has promised to appoint only conservative justices to the Supreme Court. If Justice Ruth Ginsberg retires or dies and Trump gets to appoint not just the successor to the late Justice Antonin Scalia, but two justices, it is a fairly likely that either or both of these decisions be reversed, although courts are hesitant to upset settled law.
If both decisions are reversed, will that make abortion and same-sex marriage illegal nationwide? Not at all. It will just return the situation to the way it was before 1973, with each state making its own laws. The almost certain result is that blue states will make abortion and same-sex marriage legal and red states won't. The consequence is that any woman in a blue state will be able to get an abortion and any woman in a red state with enough money to travel to a blue state will also be able to get one. The burden will primarily fall on women in red states who cannot afford traveling to a blue state to get a legal abortion. However, that may not stop desperate women from consulting a doctor over the Internet and ordering RU 486 from an online drugstore located a blue state. A side effect will be basically to end the culture wars and their political fall-out. Each state will do whatever it wants it and we will reach a new equilibrium.
This is precisely the situation Donald Trump wants. There will be no national morality, but each state will be free to make its own decisions, and it is likely that California will make different decisions than Alabama. (V)
During the Obama administration, "net neutrality" rules were passed, making it illegal for Verizon, Comcast, AT&T, and other Internet providers to give some content preferential treatment. The carriers all strongly opposed these rules. They would like to go to content providers, such as Disney, Netflix, and CNN, and say to them: "If you want your content delivered quickly, you are going to have to pay us a lot of money." The head of Donald Trump's technology transition team, Jeffrey Eisenach, opposes net neutrality and wants to let the carriers strike any deals they want to with content providers. If net neutrality is eliminated, it will work to the benefit of large corporations that can afford to pay high fees to carriers for speedy delivery, and against the millions of Websites that cannot afford such fees. This change could radically alter the open nature of the Internet, and turn it into something more like cable television, in which channels owned by large corporations dominate. Instead of the current Internet, in which startups, individuals, universities, and anyone else can set up a website and hope it catches on, we would have one which consisted of not much more than a few thousand big corporations having Websites to sell their products and services.
"Net neutrality" also applies to the post office. Imagine that it were repealed. Then big corporations could strike deals with the post office so that their bills and other material were delivered the next day but all other mail would be delivered whenever the post office had a bit of spare capacity, and if it took 2 weeks for letters from grandma to reach her grandchildren, so be it. (V)Email a link to a friend or share:
---The Votemaster and Zenger
Nov16 More Information Leaks about Trump's Cabinet
Nov16 Clinton's Lead in the Popular Vote Has Passed 1 Million
Nov16 Republicans Who Opposed Trump May Be Primaried in 2018
Nov16 Ryan Appears Safe, Pelosi Not So Much
Nov16 Bannon May Have His First Scandal
Nov16 Glenn Beck Slams Bannon, Alt-right
Nov16 Senators Speak Out
Nov16 Hearing on Trump University Case Set for Friday
Nov16 Chelsea Clinton Might Run for Congress
Nov15 Trump Criticized for Having Bannon in the White House
Nov15 Differences between Trump and the Republican Establishment Are Already Clear
Nov15 Takeaways from the First Five Days
Nov15 Trump Expected He Would Drop Out and Endorse Christie
Nov15 Democrats Warming to Comey, Fast
Nov15 Facebook Faces More Scrutiny
Nov15 Ryan Wants to Kill Medicare
Nov15 Head of the SEC Steps Down
Nov15 Fight Brewing for DNC Chairman
Nov15 Do Celebrity Endorsements Help?
Nov14 Trump Names Priebus as Chief of Staff
Nov14 Trump Is Disgusted with Christie
Nov14 Trump the President-Elect Versus Trump the Candidate
Nov14 What Does History Tell us About Trump? (Part II)
Nov14 2016 Was Not the Year of the Split Ticket
Nov14 Class Trumps Gender
Nov14 Is Trump Sui Generis?
Nov14 It's Not Over 'til It's Over
Nov14 Trump's Lawyers Ask for Trial Delay
Nov14 What About the Freedom Caucus?
Nov13 What Clinton Did Wrong
Nov13 Clinton Blames Defeat on Comey
Nov13 Infighting within Trump's Inner Circle is Back
Nov13 Roger Stone Warns Trump Not to Pick Reince Priebus as Chief of Staff
Nov13 Trump Will Lay Off Twitter
Nov13 Trump to Work with Granddaughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen
Nov13 What Does History Tell us About Trump? (Part I)
Nov13 Five Reasons Hillary Clinton Will Not Be Prosecuted
Nov13 Trump Might Be Impeached
Nov12 Another Take on Why Trump Won
Nov12 Trump Won White Women
Nov12 Breaking Out of the Bubble
Nov12 Whither the Electoral College?
Nov12 Christie Out, Pence In as Transition Chief
Nov12 The Map that Should Have the GOP Nervous
Nov12 Trump Open to Keeping Parts of the Affordable Care Act
Nov12 Facebook Under Scrutiny
Nov11 Democrats Lost Because Democrats Didn't Vote
Nov11 Was the Trump Voter Motivated by Economics or by Racism
Nov11 Other Key Findings from the Exit Polls