• Warships Headed to North Korea Are in...Australia
• China Hands Out Trump Trademarks Like Candy
• Hypocrisy, Thy Name Is Trump
• O'Reilly May Be Done at Fox
• Trump Signs "Buy American, Hire American" Executive Order
• Scientists to March on Washington
• UK Will Hold Elections
Ossoff Comes Up Short
The returns are counted in GA-06, and Jon Ossoff collected 48.1% of the vote. For most of the day, he hovered just above the 50% cutoff necessary to avoid a runoff, but late returns from Fulton County dragged him down. He will face the #2 finisher, Republican Karen Handel, on June 20.
Donald Trump made this contest personal in recent days, as well he should have. Tuesday morning, he was back at it, slamming Ossoff yet again on Twitter. There is no question that Tuesday's result is a repudiation of the President, as GA-06 really has no business being competitive. Of course, it's not quite the repudiation that an Ossoff victory would have been.
So, what is going to happen on June 20? Well, that largely depends on two questions that we cannot answer with any certainty. The first is: Will Democrats retain their anti-Trump enthusiasm, and continue to shower Ossoff with money and volunteers? The second is: Will Republicans rally, particularly now that they have time to raise money and organize? Having acknowledged those unknowns, Ossoff is probably the early favorite to capture the seat. Odds are that the enthusiasm gap continues to favor him, especially since GA-06 is pretty lukewarm on Trump. Even in an 18-person race, he managed to outperform Hillary Clinton by about 2 points. Further, even if the money dries up, he will still begin with $2.1 million in the bank to Handel's $184,000. Plus, he's a fairly moderate Democrat, and so can reasonably hope for some independent and crossover votes. His Achilles heel is that he doesn't actually live in GA-06; he says he will move back once his girlfriend finishes medical school at Emory. This issue flared up in the past week, and could become something that Republicans rally around.
As to Handel, the best news for her is that the 11 Republicans, as a group, collected 51% of the vote on Tuesday, compared to 49% for the five Democrats. So, if the electorate is the same and everyone votes the party line on June 20, Handel will win. Those are pretty big ifs, though. As a former Secretary of State of Georgia (2007-10), and a perennial candidate for office (governor, U.S. Senate, etc.), she appears to have attracted a lot of "name recognition" votes. She's very conservative, and opposes gay marriage, abortion, Obamacare, and immigration; she also garnered headlines when she quit her job at the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation after they decided to keep sending money to Planned Parenthood. There are a lot of moderate, suburban women voters in GA-06, and they may not like what they see. Handel has also run afoul of various conservative groups; the Club for Growth, for example, has railed against her as a "career politician." Point is, the GOP certainly can't feel like they've got a top-flight candidate. We'll learn in two months if someone who's second-tier can still get it done. (Z)
Warships Headed to North Korea Are in...Australia
Last week, the Trump administration said they were going to stage a show of strength for North Korea's benefit, announcing that the U.S.S. Carl Vinson attack group was being deployed for that purpose. As far as anyone knew, the fleet was en route, presumably to arrive sometime this week. But then, this weekend, the U.S. Navy posted a photo showing the ship in the Sunda Strait, near Indonesia. That's about 3,000 miles from North Korea, and led to the revelation that the Carl Vinson is actually en route to Australia, but will be heading to Korea once its business down under is finished.
This situation raises quite a few questions, which the White House is thus far declining to answer. Among them:
- Is the Carl Vinson really headed to North Korea?
- If so, was the plan always Australia, then Korea?
- If so, why imply that the ship was headed directly to Korea?
- Was the administration ever planning to tell the truth, or were they outed by the photo?
- Who posted the photo, and was it posted to embarrass the administration?
The whole situation is a bit of a head-scratcher, and the odds are pretty good that we're not going to get many answers. (Z)
China Hands Out Trump Trademarks Like Candy
On April 6, Ivanka Trump joined her father and other members of the administration for dinner with Chinese president Xi Jinping. The same day, we now learn, China granted her company at least two trademarks. Compared to the President, however, that's small potatoes. He's been granted 35 Chinese trademarks since taking office.
Needless to say, the Trumps insist that nothing improper went on here, and there was no quid pro quo. And it's possible that they are telling the truth here, though they don't exactly have the best track record in this regard. But even if they are being truthful, that does not mean that the Chinese aren't trying to curry favor, even if that understanding goes unspoken. Further, the Trumps cannot change the fact that, even if everything is on the level, the appearances here are very, very bad. This is the problem with the decision the family made not to divest themselves of their businesses, and there's every reason to believe the issue is going to linger throughout The Donald's time in office. (Z)
Hypocrisy, Thy Name Is Trump
President Donald Trump has, of course, jumped ship on a number of his campaign promises. Dismantling NATO, draining the swamp, labeling the Chinese as currency manipulators, quickly repealing the ACA, getting Mexico to pay for a wall—the list goes on. These things aren't necessarily hypocritical, though—sometimes the realities of politics don't mesh with the rhetoric of the campaign trail.
What is hypocritical is holding others to a standard that one does not maintain for oneself. And this week, a pair of stories remind us of the extent to which Donald Trump and his team hold Democrats—particularly Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama—to standards they themselves do not uphold. The first of these involves every Republican's favorite scandal, Benghazi. Whether Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama actually deserves the blame for the four American deaths there is up for debate, and reasonable people can disagree. Trump, however, blamed Clinton early and often, loudly criticizing her judgment and her total lack of concern for America's diplomatic corps. Now we learn that the Trump administration official who is responsible for overseeing the security and safety of America's diplomats is...nobody. The post is vacant, and there is no indication that a nomination will be made anytime soon.
The second story involves Barack Obama, and his administration's policy of releasing the names of White House visitors. There were two exceptions to this policy: (1) personal guests of the president and his family, and (2) visitors whose visit needed to be kept secret for national security reasons. These exceptions seem reasonable; Sasha Obama's classmates or a deep-cover CIA operative like Valerie Plame surely do not need to be a matter of public record. When the Trump administration came under fire this week for announcing their intention to keep all visitors' names secret, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer engaged in some remarkable mental gymnastics, arguing that Barack Obama was the secretive and dishonest one, since some names were redacted from the record. The more honest position, said the Secretary, is to keep all names hidden. He even managed to conclude that this represents true transparency. Needless to say, nobody outside of Trump's inner circle is buying it. "This is not a transparent White House," said Richard Painter, who served as chief ethics lawyer for George W. Bush. "He's nowhere near as transparent as Obama because you don't have the visitor log, you don't have the president's tax return—you don't have a lot of information." Maybe the White House should send Kellyanne Conway, who doesn't seem to be too busy these days, to explain the concept of "alternative facts" to Painter. (Z)
O'Reilly May Be Done at Fox
Right now, Bill O'Reilly is on a vacation—one that was supposedly planned before he got into hot water over his numerous sexual harassment lawsuits. Now, the word is that the vacation may become permanent, as the sons of Rupert Murdoch are leaning toward yanking him off the air. The odds of this happening are high enough that Matt Drudge, who tends to be pretty dialed in to what's happening with right-wing media, is already referring to O'Reilly's show in the past tense.
Really, the only surprise here is that it's taken this long for the Murdochs to pull the trigger. O'Reilly is expensive, at $13 million a year. That may have been worth it at some point, but the math isn't so great anymore. O'Reilly attracts one of the oldest viewerships of any show on television, and his ratings have been in decline for the last year or two. At least 90 advertisers have jumped ship on "The O'Reilly Factor." And that's before we talk about the cost of any other lawsuits, or the damage to Fox News' brand, particularly among younger and/or female viewers. O'Reilly is scheduled to return to the airwaves on Monday, so we should know his fate for certain in the next day or two. (Z)
Trump Signs "Buy American, Hire American" Executive Order
Donald Trump appeared in Kenosha, Wis., on Wednesday. He gave a speech in which he praised American "grit" and "craftsmanship," and then signed an executive order, telling the crowd, "The buy and hire American order I'm about to sign will protect workers and students like you."
The reason that this is not a bigger story is that it was nothing more than a photo-op. Trump's order does not, in and of itself, change anything. All it did was call for executive agencies to look into their purchasing practices, and to review the H-1B visa program for skilled workers. A future executive order may actually effect a policy change, but this one is just a lot of smoke without any fire. Indeed, something of a pattern has developed: When Trump signs a bill or an order that actually does something, he does it in private. Presumably, he or his staff realizes that "buy American" and "keep Muslims out of the country" may be empty but get people excited. On the other hand, "feel free to dump coal in streams" or "let's deny workers overtime pay," or "let's make it easier for mentally unstable people to buy guns," not so much. (Z)
Scientists to March on Washington
It seems like hardly a weekend goes by that someone isn't marching on Washington to express their displeasure with Donald Trump. This weekend, it will be scientists of all stripes, who are protesting the administration's anti-science posture. This includes, in particular, the gutting of the EPA, climate-change denial, and slashing the budget of science agencies like NASA.
It's unclear exactly how many people are expected to march, though over 500 events are planned worldwide, in addition to the one in Washington. Over 100 scientific organizations have lent their support, including the single-largest scientific union in the world, the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The event is chaired by Bill Nye, the Science Guy, so you know it's serious. Event organizers do not fool themselves that this will change the President's policies, but they hope that members of Congress and state governments will take notice. (Z)
UK Will Hold Elections
The biggest surprise in politics on Tuesday came not from the United States, but from across the pond in the United Kingdom. After promising that she would not call for elections before their regularly-scheduled date in 2020, Prime Minister Theresa May called for elections. This will have to be approved by Parliament, but the members have already made clear that they will give their assent. So, Britons will head to the polls on June 8.
What is going on here? Well, as May tries to navigate the Brexit, she's working with only a slim majority in Parliament. Her goal—and polls suggest this goal is likely to be met—is to get a few more Conservatives elected at the expense of the Labour and Liberal Democratic parties. Labour has assented to the Brexit, but they have threatened to derail the final agreement if they are not happy, while the Lib Dems are opposed to the Brexit entirely, and want to try to shut the British government down to stop it from happening. If May can send some of her opponents packing, she will have a stronger mandate, and an easier time dealing with the EU. The only risk for her, and it appears to be small, is that the British people punish her for violating her promise and give their votes to the Lib Dems.
What impact will this have on those of us who live on the western side of the Atlantic? Not too much, it would seem. Regardless of what happens in the election, the Brexit is all but certain to move forward. Legal experts largely agree that now that the process has begun, it cannot be stopped. And since the result seems likely to simply affirm the status quo, it's hard to imagine that it will change the relationship between the US and UK all that much. (Z)Email a link to a friend or share:
---The Votemaster and Zenger
Apr18 Nothing Has Changed with Trump's Tax Returns
Apr18 Gorsuch Hits the Ground Running
Apr18 New Polls Are Mostly Bad News for Trump
Apr18 Democrat Wants to Amend Presidential Removal Procedure
Apr18 Chris Christie: He's Baaaaaack
Apr18 How Does Spicer Feel About McCarthy's Impersonation?
Apr17 Everyone's Watching GA-06 Today
Apr17 Nothing Has Changed with Trump's Tax Returns
Apr17 Gorsuch Hits the Ground Running
Apr17 New Polls Are Mostly Bad News for Trump
Apr17 Democrat Wants to Amend Presidential Removal Procedure
Apr17 Chris Christie: He's Baaaaaack
Apr17 How Does Spicer Feel About McCarthy's Impersonation?
Apr16 Protesters Around the Country Demand to See Trump's Tax Returns
Apr16 White House Sweeping Conflicts of Interest Under the Rug
Apr16 Trump Actually Has Delivered on Some of His Promises
Apr16 The Kushner-Bannon Civil War Is Still Raging
Apr16 Tillerson on the Rise
Apr16 Bipartisan Group of Senators Pushing to Revive Glass-Steagall
Apr16 Nearly $500,000 of Trump's Campaign Funds Have Gone to His Companies
Apr16 North Korean Bomb Bombs
Apr15 Russia Intrigue Just Keeps Mounting
Apr15 North Korea Situation Seems To Be Deteriorating
Apr15 U.S. Will Not Name China as a Currency Manipulator
Apr15 Trump Keeps Badmouthing the Dollar
Apr15 White House Will Not Make Visitor Logs Public
Apr15 Re-election Bids Are Attracting Lots of Money
Apr15 Trump Says He Can't Be Sued
Apr15 Trump Gets Burned by Regulations
Apr14 U.S. Drops MOAB on Afghanistan
Apr14 Suburban Voters Have Had It with Trump
Apr14 Trump's Base Has Had it With Trump
Apr14 Virginia Governor's Race Turns Into a Referendum on Trump
Apr14 Business Leaders Trying to de-Bannonize Trump
Apr14 Maybe Rumors of Bannon's Death Are Greatly Exaggerated
Apr14 Tax Reform May Not Follow the Ryan Blueprint
Apr14 Sanders: Trump Will Be a One-term President
Apr14 Prof. Who Called the Last Eight Presidential Elections Says Trump Will Be Impeached
Apr13 Tillerson Receives a Chilly Reception in Moscow
Apr13 Trump Now Wants to Do Healthcare Before Tax Reform
Apr13 Trump May Be Sick of Bannon
Apr13 Trump Now Likes NATO
Apr13 Trump Plays into Kim Jong-Un's Hands
Apr13 United Airlines, Wells Fargo, and the Democratic Party
Apr13 Coffman: Spicer "Needs To Go"
Apr12 Republican Estes Wins Special Election in Kansas
Apr12 Spicer Goose Steps in It
Apr12 Nunes Was Apparently Making Things Up
Apr12 The Infrastructure Bill Could Fail Just Like the Healthcare Bill