• New Travel Ban is Coming
• Milo Yiannopoulos Disinvited from CPAC Conference
• More on the Election Results
• Republicans Lose Some Top-Tier Senate Candidates
• Kansas State Legislature Rolls Back Income Tax Cuts
• Britons Don't Want Trump
• Trump Golfs, Tries to Hide It
President Donald Trump named Lt. Gen. Herbert McMaster as the replacement for Michael Flynn, whom Trump fired last week. McMaster is apparently the third-best person in the country for the job, after Trump's first choice (Flynn) and second choice (Robert Harward, who turned him down). According to White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who is the daughter of former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, Trump has given McMaster the authority to hire his own staff, Most likely, without that promise, nobody would have been willing to take the job. (V)
Very soon, likely sometime this week, the Trump Administration will issue a new travel ban that endeavors to fix the flaws of the old one. The White House is being a bit tight-lipped, though Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said that, "the President is contemplating releasing a tighter, more streamlined version of the first executive order." It is widely presumed that the new version will exempt green card holders, and will likely implement various prohibitions in phases, rather than all at once. Beyond that, it is unclear.
Whatever Trump & Co. does, they still face the same basic problem that they did the first time. The original order, it should be remembered, was not intended to combat terrorism. If it had been, it would have included countries that have actually produced terrorists who attacked the United States (e. g., Saudi Arabia). Its purpose was to serve as a dog whistle for Trump's base, assuring them that something was being done about those pesky Muslims. The challenge, then, is to send the signal the base wants to hear, while not raising the hackles of judges who are very, very smart and very, very mindful of verbal gymnastics. This would be a tall order for a gifted author/lawyer, like Thomas Jefferson or Abraham Lincoln. For Steve Bannon, who is not exactly Poet Laureate of the United States, it may be nigh on impossible. (Z)
Many eyebrows were raised when the conservative CPAC conference invited white nationalist and anti-Semite Milo Yiannopoulos to be keynote speaker at the upcoming conference. Yesterday, Matt Schlapp, who chairs the group that runs the conference, changed his mind and said on second thought, forget it. It wasn't that he was afraid of protests or that he changed his opinion of Yiannopoulos' incendiary views, but rather a video has surfaced in which Yiannopoulos condones pedophilia. Yiannopoulos defended himself by saying: "I am certainly guilty of imprecise language, which I regret." Charlie Sykes, a conservative former radio talk-show host put it this way: "Anti-Semitism? Ok. Racism? Ok. Alt right? Ok. Advocacy of pedophilia? Is THAT the bridge too far?"
Meanwhile, Politico's Nicole Hemmer has an interesting piece about the larger meaning of all this. She argues that, for all their success, the Republican Party is in the midst of an identity crisis. There are numerous fissures within the party (fiscal vs. social conservative, inclusive vs. xenophobic), but the biggest one, in her view—and the one that Yiannopoulos represents—is principles vs. power. In other words, the style of The Milo (and of The Donald, for that matter), wins elections, but at the expense of a coherent vision or set of values. Hemmer's conclusion:
With Trump in the White House and Republicans in control of Congress, conservatives have more political power today than they have had in a decade. Still, conservatism as a political movement is disintegrating, held together not by a shared commitment to ideas like democratic governance, stability or a distinct moral vision, but rather a desire for power. That makes for a movement whose boundaries are blurred beyond recognition and whose standards are impossible to detect. And that is a problem that no disinvitation can fix.
It's a fairly compelling argument, though pundits have been predicting doom and gloom for the GOP coalition for two decades, and the fall has not yet taken place. (V & Z)
Cornell Belcher, one of Barack Obama's pollsters in 2008 and 2012, gave an interview to Salon in which he confirmed some things about the election that have been said before, and also added some new material.
He started out by saying that race was a key factor, and a lot of Trump's support was a backlash to having a black man in the White House. "Make America Great Again" was shorthand for "Make America White Again," but more polite. He also explained the majority of white women voting for Trump, saying that "race trumps gender in this country." He also pointed out, as others have, that Trump didn't win millions of blue-collar whites who previously had voted for Obama or hadn't voted. Hillary Clinton simply underperformed Obama. Here are the final data for Obama vs. Romney in 2012, and Clinton vs. Trump in 2016 for the five Midwestern states Obama won but Clinton lost:
In the Upper Midwest, it is clear that Clinton did far worse than Obama, underperforming him by double digits in four of the five states she lost that Obama won in 2012. Clinton did over 20% worse than Obama in Iowa, a huge drop. About 15% worse in Ohio and Wisconsin isn't peanuts, either. Belcher makes the point that 8-9% of young blacks voted for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson and 6-7% of young Latinos did the same thing. That alone is probably enough to have swung the election.
Belcher also makes the point that going forward, Democrats have no chance of getting more of the blue-collar vote in the Midwest as long as those people feel country is slipping away from them and the Republicans are the only ones trying to hold back the tide. Offering them a higher minimum wage just isn't going to cut it. In Belcher's view, even trying is a waste of time and resources. Instead, the Democrats should be focusing very hard on the Obama coalition of minorities, young people, and college-educated whites, especially those who proudly didn't vote for the "lesser of two evils" and may be having some second thoughts about that now. (V)
Democrats face a dreadful Senate map in 2018, with ten incumbent Democratic senators up for reelection in states Donald Trump won. But it is a truism that you can't beat somebody with nobody. Generally, beating an incumbent senator is tough, no matter the lean of the state, and in four of the states in question, Trump won by 1.2% or less. The best chance of knocking off an incumbent is to have a strong candidate, and in several key states, the Republicans' top candidate has decided not to run. Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) has said he will stay in the House and not challenge Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI). Rep. Pat Meehan (R-PA) will likewise forego a race against Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA). Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN) won't run against Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN), and Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT) won't run against Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) because Zinke will almost certainly be confirmed as secretary of the interior.
Every morning, 435 representatives look in the bathroom mirror and see a future senator, so what gives? Two things: First they all know that knocking off an incumbent senator looks easy on paper, but in recent years, the reelection rate for senators has hovered around 90%, so the statistical odds of winning are about 9 to 1 against. Second, they all know (or should know), that in the past 20 midterm elections, the president's party has lost seats 17 times, averaging about 5 or 6 seats. Only in 1962, 1970, and 2002 did the president's party pick up seats (either one or two). So other than 2002, which was the first election after the Sept. 11 attacks, the president's party has consistently lost Senate seats in the midterms for almost 50 years. Maybe staying in a safe House seat isn't such a bad idea after all. (V)
It is often said that the states are the labratories for democracy. If so, the Kansas experiment didn't go so well. When Gov. Sam Brownback (R-KS) was elected governor in 2010, one of his top priorities was slashing the state income tax. He said it would lead to unparalleled growth and the growth would more than make up for the lost revenue due to lower rates. The Republican-controlled state legislature went along and gave him what he asked for. The result was not only no growth, but a massive tax shortfall totaling over $1 billion through 2019. Last Friday, the state legislature, still controlled by the Republicans, admitted defeat and passed a huge tax increase intended to raise a billion dollars in the next 2 years. In particular, it raised the top state income tax rate by 18% as well as ending various exemptions Brownback championed. The governor has not said whether he will sign or veto the bill.
Is there a lesson here? Possibly. If there is one, it is that cutting taxes greatly reduces the amount of revenue the government gets. It does not magically increase it. This does not surprise economists, but it did surprise a fair number of Republican state legislators in Kansas. (V)
Whenever Donald Trump goes out in public in the United States, he's greeted with hordes of protesters. Soon, he will visit Great Britain, where he might be hoping for a respite from angry crowds. According to The Guardian, he's not going to get it.
Many MPs, first of all, are giving Prime Minister Theresa May endless grief for presuming to invite The Donald in the first place, slamming him as a racist, a sexist, and a "petulant child." They also accused her of "fawning subservience" for playing ball with the President. And while the parliamentarians had this discussion, thousands of Britons protested Trump outside of Westminster Hall, and in other parts of the United Kingdom. If merely talking about Trump brings thousands of people out of the woodwork, we can only imagine how many will show up once he is there in the flesh. (Z)
As we noted recently, Republicans were obsessed with Barack Obama's golfing habit. Actually, they still are—Rick Santorum gave an interview on Monday in which he tore into the 44th president, declaring that he "wasn't engaged" while golfing. Maybe Santorum is unaware that Obama is no longer in office.
During the campaign, Donald Trump also got in on the golf-bashing. This is hardly surprising, since golf is something of a rich man's sport, and "Obama golfs a lot" jives well with the GOP narrative that he's an elitist, out-of-touch snob. But now the shoe is on the other foot. Golfing also happens to be Donald Trump's hobby. He doesn't want to give it up, but he also doesn't want to look like an obvious hypocrite or to look like an elitist snob himself. So, he and his staff are in the unusual position of pretending his golf outings never happened. This is not easy to do. In fact, it's impossible. A golf course is a pretty wide open space, and Trump does not golf alone—he plays with other politicians, like Shinzo Abe, and with pro golfers like Ernie Els and Rory McIlroy, all of whom posted the news to Twitter.
We suggested that holding presidents' hobbies against them is kind of silly, since everyone is entitled to some time off. However, when those hobbies involve overt hypocrisy and/or duplicity, well, then they are fair game for criticism. (Z)Email a link to a friend or share:
---The Votemaster and Zenger
Feb20 Another Day, Another Non-Existent Terrorist Attack
Feb20 Trump Searching for New National Security Advisor
Feb20 Trump about to Discover that Dealing with China Isn't So Easy
Feb20 Could Trump Jail Reporters Who Publish Leaks?
Feb20 Why Should America Trust You?
Feb20 Impeach President Bannon Signs Appear around the Country
Feb19 Trump Continues to Ignore the Grown-Ups in His Cabinet
Feb19 Priebus Is All In on Trump
Feb19 Keep an Eye on Mike Pence
Feb19 Trump Retreats from Governing, Goes Back to Campaigning
Feb19 Trump Travel Costs Skyrocketing
Feb19 Trump's Pick for Navy Secretary Reportedly About to Withdraw
Feb19 Milo Yiannopoulos Will Be Keynote Speaker at CPAC Conference
Feb18 Senate Confirms Pruitt
Feb18 Business and Politics Keep Colliding
Feb18 Ryan's Tax Plan Is Running into Trouble
Feb18 Veteran John McCain is Back at War--with Donald Trump
Feb18 Russian Headache Getting Worse for Trump
Feb18 Could Mark Sanford Tell Trump to Take a Hike?
Feb18 Score Settling Continues as Trump Administration Staffs Up
Feb17 Trump Holds a Chaotic News Conference
Feb17 Harward Says, No Thanks
Feb17 Trump Names Alexander Acosta to be Secretary of Labor
Feb17 Mike Dubke Chosen as Communications Director
Feb17 Publications Are Offering Ways to Provide Tips Anonymously
Feb17 Chaffetz Gets to Work
Feb17 Current Wall is Full of Holes
Feb16 Puzder Withdraws Nomination
Feb16 Trump Picks Harward for NSA
Feb16 Who Told Flynn to Talk to the Russians?
Feb16 What Is Pence's Role Now and Going Forward?
Feb16 Trump Says Palestinian State Not Needed
Feb16 Trump Rambles in Press Conference
Feb16 Bannon v. Breitbart
Feb16 Anyone's a Candidate for Office These Days. Anyone.
Feb15 What Did the President Know and When Did He Know It?
Feb15 More Russian Headaches for Trump
Feb15 Perez Claims to Have 180 of the 224 Votes Needed to Be Elected DNC Chairman
Feb15 Hillary 2020?
Feb15 House Freedom Caucus Throws Up a Roadblock to Repealing the ACA
Feb15 Puzder Told Ex-Wife: I Will See You in the Gutter
Feb15 More Protests Are Coming
Feb15 Trump Will Have Huge Power to Reshape the Courts
Feb15 Ethics Office Recommends Punishing Conway
Feb14 Out Like Flynn
Feb14 Mnuchin, Shulkin Confirmed by Senate
Feb14 Four GOP Senators Undecided about Puzder
Feb14 What Does Trump Really Believe?
Feb14 Trump's Approval Rating Hits New Low in Gallup Poll