• NRCC Says it Was Hacked
• Trump: I Am the "Tariff Man"
• Trade War Has Cost Nebraska Farmers a Billion Dollars So Far
• GOP Senators Are Hopping Mad About Saudi Arabia
• Democrats Lost Florida Because They Took Latinos for Granted
• Democratic Governors: Opposing Trump Is Not Enough
• House Democrats May Not Seat Mark Harris in January
On Tuesday, Robert Mueller filed the first of three sentencing memos expected sometime in the next week or so. This one had to do with former Trump advisor and NSA Michael Flynn, and it was nothing but bad news for Team Trump.
There are two reasons that the memo is bad news. First, Mueller asked for a very lenient sentence for Flynn because he cooperated so fully. Actually, "substantial" was the exact word used to describe Flynn's assistance. Obviously, if there was smoke and no fire, it would not have been possible for Flynn to contribute substantially. So, it is not only clear that there is fire, but also that the former NSA dumped plenty of gasoline on it. In fact, he must have emptied the tank.
The second problem, from the perspective of Trump & Co., is that the memo was thin on details, with portions redacted. Pretty much the only reason for redactions like this is that Mueller has additional targets he wants to catch in his net, and he doesn't want to tip them off as to what he knows. This suggests, in turn, that the investigation is not as close to being over as has been speculated.
The next memo coming down the pipe, barring any changes, is one related to Paul Manafort. There is already much salivating over that one, and the useful clues or details in may contain. (Z)
Politico is reporting that officials with the National Republican Congressional Committee say they were hacked during the 2018 midterms. And it was no small intrusion, either. The breach lasted for multiple months, and gave the trespasser access to the e-mail accounts of at least four different high-ranking Republican officials.
Nobody is saying publicly who was responsible for the hacking. In fact, they're not even saying if the identity is known/suspected and is being kept a secret, or if investigators are entirely in the dark. However, this is not a good look for the GOP. First, because there was a substantial period of time when the Republican pooh-bahs knew they'd been compromised, and they kept it under their hats. Second, because the GOP made much hay of the Democrats' failings in 2016, and were pretty smug about the superiority of their security. That includes one Donald Trump, who opined that, "The DNC should be ashamed of themselves for allowing themselves to be hacked. They had bad defenses, and they were able to be hacked." This is probably different, though, like the difference between Hillary Clinton's use of a private e-mail account for government business and Ivanka Trump's use of a private e-mail account for government business. The key difference there, was...wait, what was the difference again? Other than the fact that Ivanka had Hillary's mistakes to learn from, and didn't, that is. Kind of like how the NRCC had the DNC's mistakes to learn from, and didn't. (Z)
The round of kumbayah that China's Xi Jinping and Donald Trump commenced this weekend appears to have already come to an end. The President was back in bluster mode Tuesday, and warned that if he doesn't get what he wants (not that anyone is clear as to exactly what that is), then more big tariffs are coming, because he is the "tariff man."
The stock market, which had a great day on Monday while Xi and Trump were making nice, responded badly to the news, with the Dow Jones dropping nearly 800 points, and the other indices tanking, too. This really raises two questions: (1) Does Trump not realize his words and actions have real-world consequences? Presidents before him were very careful to watch their words on trade and trade policy for this very reason, because it's never good for them when the market does poorly. Trump either doesn't understand how it works, or doesn't care. And (2) Why do the folks on Wall Street respond to him like this? Have they not figured out yet that whatever he says today is likely to change, perhaps as soon as tomorrow (or maybe even later today)? At this point, it should be clear that anything is possible, and that even Trump doesn't really know what he's going to do. (Z)
Donald Trump's tariffs and the resulting response have already cost Nebraska farmers over $1 billion, according to a report from the Nebraska Farm Bureau. The report did not take into account the payments the government sent farmers to make up for the loss, payments that are unlikely to continue now that the elections are over. The total loss to the state, including both lower sales of agricultural products, and labor losses from people whose work on farms is no longer needed due to the lower sales, falls in the range of $859 million to $1.2 billion. That represents a loss in the range of 11-16% of the export value of Nebraska's agricultural goods.
If Donald Trump carries through on his promise to hit China with even more tariffs (see above), the Chinese government is certain to hit the U.S. with more tariffs as well, further hurting Nebraska and other states where the export of farm products is a major part of the economy. Currently, additional tariffs are on hold until April 1, while the U.S. Trade Representative and his Chinese counterpart work on the issues. At least, maybe they are (again, see above). (V)
It was the case, even before Tuesday, that the members of the Senate—including the Republicans—were none too pleased about the administration's actions (or, really, lack of actions) on the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by thugs working for Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman. On Tuesday, however, the senators got a briefing on exactly what the CIA knows about the situation. And after that, they were really steaming. That includes, in particular, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who said, "There's not a smoking gun, there's a smoking saw." He really needs to get better writers.
In general, Graham has kowtowed to Donald Trump on nearly everything. But he doesn't appear to be ready to do so here. Nor do the other senators at the briefing, who clearly want the Saudis and their crown prince to pay for what has been done. That certainly increases the odds of Congress passing a resolution on the matter. And that, in turn, will put them at loggerheads with Trump, who wants to forget all of this and let bygones be bygones. So, a storm is definitely brewing. (Z)
Politico has an in-depth analysis of why Andrew Gillum and Sen. Bill Nelson (barely) lost their elections for governor and senator, respectively, in Florida last month and the implications for Florida 2020. The short answer is that they didn't bother courting Latinos.
The long answer is more complicated, but worth dissecting very carefully. First, Nelson. He mistakenly assumed that Florida Latinos are all old Cubans who still have a burning hatred for the long-dead Fidel Castro and there was nothing he could do about that, so why bother? Besides, he doesn't speak Spanish and doesn't know anybody who does.
In reality, Florida's Latinos, who now make up about one-sixth of the state's population, are extremely diverse. Only about one-third of them are of Cuban origin and many of those are younger voters who barely know who Castro was. Florida has many Puerto Ricans, as well as Latinos from all over Latin America (except not many from Mexico). This diversity and lack of Mexicans means that Latino politics in Florida is totally different from Latino politics in California, Arizona, and the West generally. Nelson figured that the Cubans were Republican and would never vote for him, and the other Latinos would automatically vote for him because Latinos in the West are overwhelmingly Democratic, so he put close to zero resources into Latino outreach.
In contrast, Sen.-elect Rick Scott (R-FL) understood the real situation in detail and has for years. During the campaign he spent so much time in Puerto Rico (on eight separate trips to the island) that some people were starting to think he was running for governor of the territory. When the new president of Colombia was inaugurated in August, sure enough Scott was there to wish him well. The Colombian-Americans in Florida all took notice. Nelson was nowhere to be found. As governor, Scott took Spanish lessons and has been all over Spanish-language television for years. He has had Spanish-speaking surrogates going into immigrant communities for years, talking to people in small groups. When there was a special event for Nicaraguans or Venezuelans, you could count on Scott or a serious surrogate showing up and giving a speech about how much respect he had for these decent, honest people who were asking for no more than a chance to work hard and achieve the American dream. Democrats were nowhere to be found. The message here to the Democrats is that motivating Latinos, most of whom are not dyed-in-the-wool Republicans, requires paying attention to them even when no election is going on.
Puerto Ricans are a special case. Most of them are Democrats and strongly support Democratic policies on health care. Unlike the situation in the West, immigration is not a big issue with them, as they are all American citizens and can legally move to Florida as easily as someone from New York. They just have to buy a plane ticket, and there are six nonstop flights a day between San Juan and Miami, and nine nonstops a day between San Juan and Orlando. The problem is that they didn't vote in large numbers. Barack Obama did well with them by showcasing his appointment of the first Puerto Rican to the Supreme Court (Sonia Sotomayor). Nelson could have showcased his Senate vote to confirm her, but he didn't bother. In short, he ran a lazy campaign against one of the most gung-ho campaigners in the country who not only spent $50 million of his own money, but more important, hustled. If there was an event anywhere in the state that Latinos cared about, Scott was there or at the very least, a close surrogate was there. Nelson, who lost the election by 0.12%, didn't seem to realize that if he had campaigned hard in the heavily Cuban areas of Miami and picked up an additional 3% by just showing up he would have won the election.
Andrew Gillum's problem was different. Due to his lack of funds and the late primary, he didn't start on Latino outreach until it was too late. Instead, he focused on outreach to black voters. That was probably a mistake. They were well aware that he would have been the first black governor of Florida and didn't need much prodding to get to the polls. Latinos don't automatically vote for black candidates just because they are both minorities. You have to show up and make it clear why you are the better candidate and why they should vote. Gillum actually won the Puerto Rican vote in Kissimmee over Sen.-elect Ron DeSantis (R-FL) by 53 points. His problem was the abysmal turnout. That is also true of the rest of the state.
The message for the Democrats is that the Latino vote is largely theirs but only if they start showing up right now, not in September 2020. It doesn't matter who the presidential candidate is. They should start hammering on the message that Democrats want to give them health care and Republicans want to take it away. They also have to put up a Spanish-language website for the Florida Democratic Party and assign one or more full-time employees the job of keeping it up to date with news of interest to the diverse Latino communities. Running TV ads in Miami and Orlando starting in Sept. 2020 doesn't cut it. The Republicans are fully aware of this and Democrats are not. (V)
Interviews with Democratic governors and governors-elect have given a clear picture: Just opposing Donald Trump is not the way to win their states in the 2020 presidential election. Democrats need to stand for something besides opposing Donald Trump. This is especially true in the Midwest, where many Democrats won statewide by running on a platform of health care, education, and fixing local infrastructure. Implicit in their comments is a criticism of Hillary Clinton, who ran in 2016 on a platform of "I am not Donald Trump." That didn't cut it then and won't cut it in 2020 according to the governors.
Once all the new governors are sworn in come January, 23 states will be led by a Democratic governor, and these states together will represent 283 electoral votes, 13 more than needed to win the White House. In other words, if every state that has or will soon have a Democratic governor goes blue in 2020, the Democratic presidential candidate will win. That is extremely unlikely, however, because in some gubernatorial elections, the Democrat won only because people were disgusted by the previous Republican governor (Hello Kansas, yes we are looking at you).
Gov.-elect Michelle Lujan-Grisham (D-NM) told the reporter very clearly: "You can't just run against Trump or anybody else. You have to be running for something." Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker (D-IL), a billionaire, put it this way: "We need to be laser-focused, in my view, on how we're going to improve the lives of the middle class and people who are working class and trying to get ahead, and giving them a view of a future that the Democratic Party is going to provide that the Republican Party really doesn't." Many of the governors-elect practiced during their campaigns what they are preaching. For example, Gov.-elect Gretchen Whitmer (D-MI) insisted she would "fix the damn roads."
Democrats get another test run next year when Louisiana, Kentucky, and Mississippi elect governors. While you might think these are all hopeless states for the blue team, that's not true. The current governor of Louisiana, John Bel Edwards, is a Democrat who has focused on expanding Medicaid in his poor state. (V)
Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), who will be the Democratic majority leader in the House come January (and thus second in command, outranked by only the Speaker), said yesterday that if the election in NC-09 is still under a cloud in January—as it is now—the House will not seat Mark Harris (R), who has a slim lead over Dan McCready (D). There are many red flags out there concerning the election, including one that the Republicans violated state law in collecting absentee ballots, but that is not the only problem. There are numerous additional allegations of irregularities and if they are not cleared up, or Harris is given credentials by the state Board of Elections along partisan lines, the House Democrats are prepared to reject Harris and declare the seat vacant. That would force a special election to fill it. (V)
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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Dec04 Nielsen Appears Safe for Now
Dec04 Trump Attacks Cohen, Praises Stone
Dec04 Bush Wanted Trump at His Funeral
Dec04 Republican Legislatures in Michigan and Wisconsin Try to Weaken Incoming Governor
Dec04 NC-09 Just Keeps Getting Shadier
Dec04 Iowa Democratic Leaders Want a Young 2020 Candidate
Dec03 The Real Reason the Government Shutdown Has Been Delayed
Dec03 Senate to Take up Saudi Arabia Punishment
Dec03 Trump Is Embedded in a Culture of Lying
Dec03 The New Senate Will Be Even Friendlier to Trump than the Old One
Dec03 No Autopsy This Time
Dec03 Comey and Goodlatte Reach a Deal
Dec03 Harris to Decide on a Run over the Holidays
Dec03 Monday Q&A
Dec02 Trump and Xi Make Nice
Dec02 Mattis: Russia Tried to Interfere in Midterms
Dec02 Bush Plans Come into Focus
Dec02 Replacing Nikki is Tricky
Dec02 Pelosi Promotes Barbara Lee
Dec02 Six White House Officials Violated the Hatch Act
Dec02 Democratic Presidential Candidate of the Week: Tulsi Gabbard
Dec01 George H.W. Bush Dead at 94
Dec01 Trump Nails Down NAFTA Replacement, But He's Not Out of the Woods Yet
Dec01 Senate Republicans Dump All over Flake
Dec01 Democrats Reveal Their First Bill
Dec01 Schiff Wants to Investigate Trump's Plan to Give Putin a Penthouse
Dec01 Shenanigans in NC-09?
Dec01 Espy Will Run for the Senate Again in 2020
Nov30 A Tale of Two Rats
Nov30 Trump in Meltdown Mode
Nov30 Deutsche Bank Headquarters Raided
Nov30 No Meeting with Putin
Nov30 House Democrats Elect Cheri Bustos to Head the DCCC
Nov30 Tim Scott Shoots Down Farr
Nov30 Comey Sues to Quash Subpoena
Nov29 Republicans Block Bill That Would Protect Mueller
Nov29 Trump Told Mueller That He Didn't Know about the Trump Tower Meeting in Advance
Nov29 Everyone is Denying That They Knew About Wikileaks
Nov29 Democrats Nominate Pelosi as Speaker
Nov29 Powell Defends the Fed against Trump
Nov29 House Rundown
Nov29 Thursday Q&A
Nov28 Hyde-Smith Beats Espy, as Expected
Nov28 McSally Is Not a Shoo-in for Kyl's Seat
Nov28 Flake May Be Able to Force Vote on Bill Protecting Mueller
Nov28 Trump Sits for an Interview
Nov28 Comey: Whitaker May Not Be the Sharpest Knife in the Drawer
Nov28 Manafort's Breaking His Deal Is a Setback for Mueller
Nov28 Mueller Looks to Ecuador