• Trump Tried to Bury Global Warming Report, Got Burned
• Mitt Gets to Work
• Espy Within Striking Distance
• Congress Is Going to Have a Busy Month
• Democratic Presidential Candidate of the Week: Eric Swalwell
Hyde-Smith Has GOP Holding Their Breath
Quote of the Day
Trump Eyes Iraqi Oil
Trump Thought General Made $5 Million a Year
Another Rebel Democrat Softens on Opposing Pelosi
Tear Gas Fired at Migrants at the Border
According to reporting from the Washington Post and others, the Trump administration has reached tentative agreement with the incoming presidential administration of Andrés Manuel López Obrador (aka AMLO) that people seeking asylum in the United States will be detained in Mexico rather than the United States while their cases are resolved. The name of the plan is..."Remain in Mexico." Clearly, the creative juices were flowing on the day they came up with that.
The Trump administration's motives here are very clear. This will allow them to get around rules that place limits on the domestic detention of asylum-seekers, particularly children. At the moment, the U.S. government has 14,000 minors in its charge, a record number. Requiring asylum seekers to remain in Mexico will also reduce the number of people who attempt to make the move (since Mexico is more dangerous than the U.S.), and will allow Donald Trump to proclaim a victory. Of course, it will also make it much harder for him to use immigrant caravans to whip voters into a frenzy in 2020. Not that he won't try, of course.
The motives of Team AMLO are a little less clear, particularly given that AMLO ran an anti-Trump campaign, calling him a "neo-fascist." The folks negotiating on AMLO's behalf say that the new agreement simply formalizes the existing status quo, since many asylum seekers end up hanging out in Mexico, anyhow. That doesn't exactly pass the smell test, though. After all, if that was true, why would 14,000 children be in U.S. custody right now? Presumably there is some other motivation. And since neither side seems to be sharing what that motivation is, it's likely something that would not look good from a PR standpoint. For example, one wonders if there won't be some sort of cash payment made from the U.S. to Mexico, a detail that Trump would prefer not become public? Or some sort of trade concessions, which would be similarly bad for the "America First" Trump to admit to?
What we do know, however, is that voters in Mexico are none too happy. Given AMLO's frequent criticism of Trump, and specifically his criticism of Trump's border policy, the Mexican people are not pleased that the first thing he (allegedly) plans to do on taking office is help out Donald Trump. Given the backlash, which emerged rapidly and with much volume on Saturday, Team AMLO is already backtracking, saying that they have not agreed to anything, and that they don't support the plan. So maybe nothing comes of this, after all. (Z)
As we noted yesterday, the Trump administration was required to release an extensive report on global warming. The report was full of doom and gloom, and ran 100% contrary to the President's "What, me worry?" position on the issue. So, Team Trump tried to sneak it in under the radar, releasing it on Black Friday, while hundreds of millions of Americans were recovering from Thanksgiving, shopping, and/or watching college football.
Of course, it didn't work. The attempt to bury the report was so hamfisted and obvious that the administration's maneuvering became a story unto itself. Democratic (and independent) politicians certainly weren't too busy with their post-Thanksgiving activities to comment on it. For example, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT):
The Trump administration tried to bury a new report about the devastating consequences of climate change.— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) November 23, 2018
Why? Because Trump's actions are actively making it worse.
Our task is clear. We must immediately and dramatically reduce carbon pollution emissions. https://t.co/4dhk4qUdzn
Environmentalists also piped up. For example, climate scientist Philip Duffy, who said, "Obviously, they timed the release to get the minimum visibility."
The report itself has given the Democrats plenty of ammunition to work with. And given that the members of the blue team know for certain that Trump is embarrassed by the contents, it makes them all the more certain that they've got a winner. "Rather than hiding the facts, President Trump should heed the message of our nation's preeminent climate scientists and experts," said Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), who will chair the House Energy and Commerce Committee. "The days of denial and inaction in the House are over as House Democrats plan to aggressively address climate change and hold the Administration accountable for its backward policies that only make it worse." Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), who is expected to chair House Science Committee, issued a statement in which she said the time has come to look seriously at the wildfires, devastating storms, coastal flooding and toxic algae blooms that hit much of the U.S. this year. "That is why I have made climate change one of my top priorities for the Committee going in to the next Congress," she noted.
In short, not only is the 2020 campaign already underway, but the main issues of the campaign are already taking shape. (Z)
It's still something of a mystery as to why Mitt Romney ran for the Senate. At 71 years of age (and 72 in March of next year), he's getting a little long in the tooth for a body where it takes 15-20 years to gain any real power. Unless he plans to serve into his late eighties or his nineties, then it's an unusual way to spend what are supposed to be his golden years.
The new Congress hasn't even met, however, and Romney has already hit the ground running in a manner that certainly hints at what his plans are. He's not working on legislation, or securing plum committee assignments, or constituent services, though. Nope, he's doing what Mitt does best: raising money. On Tuesday, in fact, he'll be hosting a swanky $5,000-a-plate fundraiser meant to stock the bank account of Believe in America PAC, his newly-formed political action committee. He's also formed a joint fundraising committee called Team Mitt. Given that Romney has six years before he has to think about getting re-elected (if he's actually running again), and given that he can self-fund if he really wants to, it is clear that the Utah Senator-elect is planning to assist favored candidates with their campaigns in 2020.
Exactly what the broader plan is remains unclear, but there are really only two possibilities. The first option is that Romney is trying to reclaim the GOP from Donald Trump, one candidate at a time, by supporting more "traditional" Republican officeholders. The second is that he's planning another presidential run, either in 2020 (at age 73), or in 2024 (at age 77). Either seems like something of a fool's errand, but "out of touch" is sort of Mitt's calling card, so this is not entirely out of character. (Z)
In about 48 hours, Mississippians will head to the polls to resolve the last remaining U.S. Senate race. This is a byproduct of the fact that the seat came open due to Thad Cochran's resignation, which means that what happened on Nov. 6 was, in effect, a primary, due to The Magnolia State's unusual procedures for filling a vacant U.S. Senate seat.
The current (appointed) occupant of the seat is Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R), who should have no trouble winning the seat outright, given that Mississippi went for Donald Trump by 18 points, and that the state hasn't elected a Democrat to the Senate since 1982, in a time when "Southern Democrat" really meant "Republican." However, Hyde-Smith's jokes about "public hangings" and her other gaffes have invigorated the state's black voters and made a contest out of it. There hasn't been much in the way of public polling, but internal GOP polls have Hyde-Smith up over Mike Espy (D) by as few as five points. Given that internal polls almost always skew in the direction of the party that conducted them, that means that Hyde-Smith's actual lead is probably more like 2-3 points—aka, within the margin of error.
Of course, those polls cannot account for last minute developments that could push the contest in one direction or the other. For example, Donald Trump is scheduled to hold a couple of rallies on the Senator's behalf. Presumably that will help her a bit, but who really knows for sure? Maybe it will serve to gin up the opposition instead. What certainly won't help Hyde-Smith is further digging into her past, such as Saturday's revelation that she attended a private school hastily set up by white parents so as to avoid integration. She is still the favorite, if only because the fundamentals of the race favor her so heavily. But she's not a slam dunk anymore, and even if she wins, she's going to have to spend Tuesday sweating. (Z)
Sometimes a lame duck Congress takes the hint, and starts its Christmas vacation early. That will not be the case this year, however, for at least a couple of reasons. The first is that this is the last month that the GOP will be in control of the House for at least two years, and very possibly more than that. The second is that, in failing to get things done prior to the election, the members now have a backlog. Here's a rundown of the major things they have to grapple with:
- Financing/The Border Wall: On December 7, much of the government's
funding will run out. If a short-term or long-term funding bill is not passed, then there will be a
shutdown. Two things are going to serve to complicate those discussions. The first is that the GOP
will want to set a long-term budget that reflects their priorities while they are still in charge of
both chambers. The Democrats are not excited about that plan, to put it mildly. The second is that Donald Trump
wants funding for his border wall, and the Democrats (and many Republicans) don't want to give it to
him. The President has, on many occasions, said he will shut the government down if he doesn't get
what he wants. Maybe this time he means it.
- Foreign Aid: On a related note, Donald Trump wants to cut off aid to
several countries, particularly those that are origin points for members of the "caravan." Lawmakers
largely do not agree with him. Trump is not known for sticking to his guns when it comes to these
wild threats, but if he decides to go all in on border wall funding, consequences be damned, he
might also hold the line on the foreign aid.
- Disaster Funding: On another related note, California is just now
getting the last remnants of its wildfires under control, and would like some federal money to help
rebuild. Will the Golden State get it, particularly given that Donald Trump hates the state, and
that they just booted a bunch of GOP members out of office?
- Robert Mueller: The Democrats would like to make sure special counsel
Robert Mueller is protected, and some Republicans are in agreement with that sentiment. Will there
be enough Republicans to get Sen. Jeff Flake's (R-AZ) bill passed, however? We shall soon know, but
once Congress adjourns for the term, we will enter into a multi-week period with lots of
distractions (holidays, football, etc.). That would be prime time for a Christmas Eve massacre (or
maybe a Kwanzaa massacre, or a Festivus massacre).
- Sexual Harassment: Both the House and Senate have passed bills that would overhaul how Congress would deal with sexual harassment claims against members, but they are pretty different. Some energy will be spent on trying to reconcile the two, and there's a good chance that this will be among the things that gets attached to the new spending bill, so as to make sure that it gets passed into law.
In theory, Congress has only 12 more days in session this term, though they can extend that if Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) decide to do so. Whatever happens, it should be a month of high drama for the legislature. (Z)
Few 2020 candidates have formally declared, as yet, but this week's selection has his hat more fully in the ring than just about anyone.
- Full Name: Eric Michael Swalwell Jr.
- Age on January 20, 2021: 40
- Background: Swalwell has hopped around the country a fair bit in his
life. He was born in Iowa to blue-collar parents, grew up in California, started college in North
Carolina on a soccer scholarship, and then transferred to the University of Maryland, College Park,
where he received both his bachelor's and law degrees. Thereafter, he returned home to Northern
California, where he worked as a DA in Alameda County and became active in civic affairs, serving at
various times on the Dublin Heritage & Cultural Arts Commission and the Dublin Planning
- Political Experience: Swalwell was elected to the Dublin City Council
in 2010, and served there for a little over a year before deciding to try his hand at a
congressional run. Thanks to California's jungle primary system, his competition in both the primary
and the general election was Democrat Pete Stark, a 20-term incumbent. Aided a bit by post-census
redistricting, as well as the fact that Stark had fallen a bit out of step with his very liberal
district, Swalwell knocked him off. He's been in Congress ever since, which means he's about to
start his fourth term.
- Signature Issue(s): Bipartisanship. Although Swalwell is
unquestionably a liberal, he has made reaching across the aisle a focal point. To that end, he
helped found the United Solutions Caucus, a bipartisan group of representatives that meets regularly
to discuss areas of agreement.
- Instructive Quote: "My back's not big enough for the number of targets
- Completely Trivial Fact: If elected, Swalwell would easily beat
Theodore Roosevelt's record for youngest-serving president ever (42), and John F. Kennedy's record
for youngest person to be elected president (43). However, he's already missed out on his chance to
beat William Jennings Bryan as the youngest major-party presidential nominee (36).
- Recent News: Swalwell's outspokenness on the need for (some) gun
control has ruffled feathers in the past, and this week he had the right-leaning media in an absolute
tizzy when he
that guns are no longer a hedge against government tyranny, since the government has nukes. Virtually every
prominent right-wing outlet, including
The Daily Caller, the
Conservative Review, the
Washington Examiner, and the
managed to (disingenuously) spin that into stories about how the Congressman wants to take away everyone's guns
and to nuke anyone who doesn't agree.
- Three Biggest Pros: (1) Younger voters will like someone closer to
their own age as opposed to their grandparentes' ages; (2) Swalwell is a wizard of social media, and
has gotten into hot water a couple of times for using his phone to document the goings-on in
Congress for his constituents (The Hill calls him the "Snapchat king of Congress"); and (3)
The Congressman has a record of actually getting things done; for example, he was the only freshman
member in the 113th Congress to see multiple bills that he sponsored become law.
- Three Biggest Cons: (1) Eric who?; (2) Swalwell's tendency to shoot
from the hip tends to do him more harm than good; and (3) Seriously, Eric who?
- Is He Actually Running?: Yes. Though he has not filed any paperwork,
his people are
anyone who will listen that he's in, and Swalwell has been doing the usual things that would-be
presidential candidates do. In fact, he was the first 2020 hopeful to visit Iowa once the midterms
were over, having arranged to be there the Friday after the election.
- Betting Odds: No odds, yet, which is not a good sign for Swalwell
given that the books are more than happy to offer odds on ultra-longshots like Al Gore, Oprah Winfrey, Lady
GaGa, and Jim Webb.
- The Bottom Line: In a world where Donald Trump can become president, anything is possible. However, any lane Swalwell might occupy in 2020 is already filled by someone more prominent. California liberal? Rep. Adam Schiff or Sen. Kamala Harris (both D-CA). Charismatic and young? Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX). Speaks his mind, consequences be damned? Sen. Bernie Sanders. Able to reach across the aisle? Joe Biden. Presumably, Swalwell does not think the big prize is actually in reach this time around, and is merely trying to heighten his profile in anticipation of a future presidential run, or a run at Dianne Feinstein's Senate seat when it's up again in 2024.
You can access the list of candidate profiles by clicking on the 2020 Dem candidates link in the menu to the left of the map. (Z)https://www.politico.com/story/2018/11/24/congress-freshmen-house-democrats-to-watch-1012444
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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Nov24 Judge Says Trial about Trump's Charity Can Proceed
Nov24 Trump Wants Supreme Court to Uphold Transgender Ban
Nov24 New White House Staffers Likely Coming Soon
Nov24 Warning Lights Are Flashing for Trump's Reelection
Nov24 Sherrod Brown Looked in the Mirror and Saw a Future President
Nov24 Global Warming Is Bad News (so Bury It)
Nov23 Trump Threatens to Close the Whole Border with Mexico
Nov23 Schiff Will Follow the Money
Nov23 Goodlatte Subpoenas Comey, Lynch
Nov23 "President" Bolton Better Watch His Back
Nov23 Billion-dollar Politics
Nov23 Trump Calls Troops, Visits Coast Guard
Nov23 Crooked Politicians Are Thankful for Partisanship
Nov23 Soybeans Are Fungible
Nov22 Chief Justice John Roberts Hits Trump and Trump Hits Right Back
Nov22 Trump Defends Ivanka, Wanted to Prosecute Hillary
Nov22 Trump Twitter Feed Is a Pre-Thanksgiving Cornucopia
Nov22 Opposition to Pelosi as Speaker Collapses
Nov22 Four Democrats Want to Chair the DCCC
Nov22 Bourdeaux Concedes
Nov22 Democrats Made Gains in Rural Areas
Nov22 Thursday Q&A
Nov21 Trump Won't Punish Saudis for Murdering Journalist
Nov21 Bye Bye Love
Nov21 Fudge Is Out
Nov21 More Trouble for Hyde-Smith
Nov21 The Blue Wave Was Black
Nov21 Latinos Showed Up, Too
Nov21 Trump Submits Answers to Mueller
Nov21 Poll: Trump Beats All Rivals in 2020 Republican Primary
Nov21 Whitaker Was Paid over $1 Million by Conservative "Charity"
Nov20 Hypocrisy, Thy Name Is Trump
Nov20 Troops at Border Are Headed Home
Nov20 Acosta Wins
Nov20 Trump Causes General Irritation
Nov20 Pelosi Opposition Comes into Focus
Nov20 Another Whitaker Lawsuit
Nov20 Everybody Is Waiting to See What Beto Will Do
Nov19 Nelson Concedes
Nov19 Republicans Are Concerned about the Mississippi Runoff
Nov19 Trump Slams McRaven
Nov19 It Wasn't All about College-Educated Suburban Women
Nov19 Texas May Be in Play Sooner than Expected
Nov19 Ohio and Colorado May Not Be Swing States Anymore
Nov19 A Battle Looms among Aspiring Ranking Members of the House Judiciary Committee
Nov19 An Early Look at the 2020 Senate Races
Nov19 Monday Q&A
Nov18 Election Updates: Gillum Concedes, Cisneros Wins
Nov18 Progressives Back Pelosi