India Denies Asking Trump to Mediate Kashmir Conflict
Flashback Quote of the Day
Trump Talked Intel Chief Replacements With Nunes
Trump Seeks to Dismiss Mueller Hearings
45% of Fortune 500 Companies Founded by Immigrants
• Nadler Goes After Trump
• And So Does Iran
• You Might Not Want to Work for the Progressive Presidential Candidates
• Trump Could Win!
• An Unusual Number of House Seats Should Be Competitive in 2020
• Russian Meddling, Yesterday and Today
Donald Trump has lots of downtime on weekends to think, and fume, and tweet. The odds that he would make it through this weekend without tweeting a single word about "The Squad"—Reps. Ilhan Omar (DFL-MN), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA)—were roughly equal to the odds that Tyler Perry's A Madea Family Funeral wins Best Picture at this year's Academy Awards. And, as it turns out, the all-but-inevitable came as part of the first wave of tweets on Sunday morning:
I don’t believe the four Congresswomen are capable of loving our Country. They should apologize to America (and Israel) for the horrible (hateful) things they have said. They are destroying the Democrat Party, but are weak & insecure people who can never destroy our great Nation!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 21, 2019
That "weak and insecure" bit is certainly an interesting bit of projection...er, an interesting characterization.
In any event, the tweet is a clear sign that: (1) Trump is planning to stick with this line of attack, which he thinks is a winner for him, and that (2) his claim that he was upset at the "send her back" chants during last week's rally in North Carolina was not truthful. In case there was any doubt on either of those points, several Trump surrogates were dispatched to the Sunday morning talk shows to argue that there's no racism here, and that the "send her back!" chants are not problematic or offensive. Normally, Kellyanne Conway would take the lead in such matters, but this weekend, the task fell primarily to Stephen Miller, presumably because defending racist words and actions is kinda his bailiwick.
Although Trump and Miller think the president has a winner here, most of the rest of the administration is not so sure. The Washington Post spoke to more than two dozen White House insiders, who said that the President decided to send the initial round of racist tweets all by himself, without consulting anyone, and that his advisers were horrified when they found out. The President was apparently caught by surprise by the size of the backlash, both within his party and without, and it fell to Conway to explain to him why the tweets were perceived as racist. If that is true—and the Post surely wouldn't have run with it if they did not have multiple sources confirming it—then it means she was lying through her teeth when she publicly defended the tweets this week (while also going off on a strange tangent about a reporter's ethnic background). It may also explain why she was scarce for the Sunday morning news programs.
There is already one poll about all of this, from Ipsos/USA Today, and it suggests that this line of attack is not helping Trump. Naturally, Democrats overwhelmingly think the tweets were racist, offensive, problematic, etc. and Republicans overwhelmingly think they were not. What should worry Team Trump, however, is that independent voters are much more likely to side with Democrats on this one, by a margin of about five to one. Specifically, 66% of them found the tweets racist, while only 12% did not.
The President, for his part, said he does not care if all of this hurts him in the polls. His exact words:
When they call our country garbage, I don't care about politics. I don't care if it's good or bad about politics. Many people say it's good. I don't know if it's good or bad. I can tell you this: You can't talk that way about our country, not when I'm the president.
It's a little hard to believe that he's as impervious to public opinion as he says. What is believable, however, is that he's going to harp on this, no matter what happens. If it seems to be helping him in the polls, he will take that as validation. And if he seems to be sinking in the polls, he will take that as a sign that he needs to hit The Squad even harder. After all, he needs someone he can run against, and the four of them aggravate his base as much as anyone not named Clinton.
Indeed, as CNN's Brian Stelter observes, there is a clear feedback loop going on here. Right-wing media are absolutely obsessed with the members of The Squad, but especially Ocasio-Cortez. So, they give her vast amounts of (negative) coverage, which Trump sees. That then causes him to sound off about her (or one of the other members), which leads to another round of coverage, which aggravates him again, and so forth.
In his analysis, Stelter points out that Fox has mentioned Ocasio-Cortez a staggering 1,325 times this year, while MSNBC and CNN have about 500 mentions each. Stelter doesn't delve into it, but the same imbalance exists on right-wing websites, and is often even more pronounced. Consider, to take one example that is particularly easy to track, the Daily Wire. What Republican member of Congress might be particularly worthy of attention or criticism in the past year or two? How about Rep. Steve King (R-IA)? The site has done seven pieces on him since their first, in March 2017. Or how about House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)? He's appeared in 11 items since his first mention on the site in November 2016. Former speaker Paul Ryan? He's gotten a little bit more attention; since first appearing on the site in October of 2015, he's been mentioned in 224 stories. But they are all pikers compared to Ocasio-Cortez. Since she first got on the Daily Wire's radar in July of last year, she's been the subject of 571 different items. That's nearly 1.5 items per day.
Anyhow, the point is: Trump & Co. have their bugaboos for 2020. Unlike the primary 2016 bugaboo, these four women are people of color, are not running for president, and have not been the subject of three decades of accusations and investigations impugning their honesty and integrity. Time will tell how well this works out for the President, but from a tactical standpoint, that would seem to be three strikes against using them as political props in 2020. (Z)
No, not about the tweets. House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) is prepping for the biggest moment of his career this week, as he will "welcome" former special counsel Robert Mueller on Wednesday for a three-hour grilling before the committee. In anticipation of that, and to prime the pump, the Congressman appeared on Fox News Sunday and opined that there is "very substantial evidence" that Donald Trump is "guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors."
It is pretty clear, at this point, that while Nadler is being a good soldier and obeying Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-CA) marching orders, he would very much like to impeach. And his best, and probably last, chance to make that happen is to get the reluctant Mueller to say some very damning things during his appearance. Priming Americans, and in particular the viewers of Fox News, to be ready to hear substantial evidence of Trump's guilt, is just good politics (and good lawyering, for that matter).
Needless to say, a lot of this depends on Mueller's attitude about the hearings. If he is a little bit eager to hit Trump and/or AG William Barr, or if he is merely concerned with doing his duty to the best of his ability, then he will probably give the blue team some pretty juicy sound bites to work with. On the other hand, if Mueller is aggravated that he's been forced to appear, he could clam up, and just tell the committee to refer to his report a hundred times. Nadler himself doesn't know what to expect, and admitted frankly that he hopes the appearance isn't "a dud." At the moment, Mueller Time is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. ET, and will be televised on all the major cable news networks. (Z)
No, they're not upset about the tweets, either. Over the weekend, the Iranians responded to the Trump administration's claim to have downed one of their drones, and said it didn't happen and the drone is still flying. The Iranians also released some very grainy footage (available at the link) to bolster their claim.
So, whom to believe here: Donald Trump or the Iranian government? One is reminded of the famous quote from former Yankees manager Billy Martin: "One's a born liar and the other's convicted." He was talking about Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and then-star right fielder Reggie Jackson, but the line also works for the Iranian government and Trump. Both have a long history of being, shall we say, truth-challenged. The Brits, who are much more trustworthy, have looked carefully at the footage and say they just can't tell, one way or the other. So, who knows? Undoubtedly, there will be another dustup between the U.S. and Iran soon, and this one will be forgotten. (Z)
In theory, the progressives who are running for president are pro-labor, want a $15/hour minimum wage, and are generally friendly to the working man and woman. In practice, that may not always be the case.
First up is Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who was the subject of some unflattering reporting from the Washington Post this weekend. The good news, from the viewpoint of his campaign workers, is that they were the first 2020 staff to unionize. The bad news is that they are having trouble reaching terms on a contract with campaign management, and that the salaries they are paid often work out to considerably less than $15/hour, given that workweeks often far exceed 40 hours. That is not a good look for Sanders, who is considerably less credible in his criticisms of other employers if he himself is not living up to his own standards. His response to the Post's reporting was also sub-optimal; he complained bitterly that his staff had taken their grievances to the media, instead of keeping them in-house. Eventually, he said he would make sure that nobody is earning less than $15/hour by seeing to it that workweeks are limited to no more than 42 or 43 hours.
And then, there is Tom Steyer. His campaign started so recently that there hasn't been time for him to develop problems with his staff. However, he's been in the activism business for nearly a decade, and that's plenty of time for him to develop issues with the folks who work for his nonprofit, NextGen. According to former employees, it is "hellish" to work there. They complained about extremely long working hours (sometimes 90+ hours/week), pushback about things like medical appointments, unrealistic goals, and poor leadership. While it could be that these folks are malcontents with axes to grind, the numbers tend to bear their complaints out, as NextGen has unusually high turnover. Oh, and NextGen's workers, like Sanders' workers, have unionized, but are struggling to reach terms on a contract with management. In fact, Steyer has pulled some legal stunts designed to cut the union off at the knees. And so, in contrast to Sanders, he could be described as actively hostile to his workers. Definitely not a good look for a progressive candidate.
And in case you were wondering, the campaign staff of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is also unionized and is also working on a contract with their candidate. There have been no public complaints about the process, thus far, and no indication that the Senator is pushing back against her staff. And now, the staffers just got some extra leverage, as Warren would very much like to say she's the only major progressive candidate who has achieved total labor harmony. (Z)
That is the point of at least half a dozen pieces from various major outlets in the last couple of weeks. This weekend saw at least two more; this piece from CNN's Harry Enten focusing on the President's strength in the key swing state of Wisconsin, and this one from NBC that points out that the Democrats have millions of "dead" votes in California and Texas, such that Donald Trump could lose by 5 million votes and still win the election.
Take these pieces with many grains of salt. Yes, Trump absolutely could win. He won once before and he's the incumbent. Beyond that, however, nobody really knows much of anything. As we have pointed out many times, a week is a lifetime in politics, which means that we are currently 67 lifetimes from Election Day. Further, we don't even know the Democratic nominee yet. Even when it comes to hypothetical matchups, there has been very little polling outside of a few key states. There is virtually no data on how North Carolina is looking, or Florida, or Pennsylvania.
Further, one has to wonder about the motivations behind these pieces. Are they really trying to communicate something instructive about the 2020 election? Maybe. But another possibility is that everyone was embarrassed by their confidence in a Clinton victory in 2016, and now they are trying to cover all of their bases for 2020. Yet another possibility is that they would like to run "positive" Trump items in an attempt to project fairness and a lack of bias, and that in the absence of him actually doing good things, these pieces fill that need.
If you must have a sense of Trump's chances of winning, probably the best place to look is the British books. There, at least, people are backing their hunches with real money. At the moment, the books have him at 11/10, which implies about a 45% chance of victory. (Z)
If the GOP hopes to recapture the House, there is some good news for them: an unusually high number of seats should be in play in 2020. There are two primary reasons for this. The first is that we are at the end of a census cycle. Because of population growth, a fair number of districts that were gerrymandered to be strongly Republican or strongly Democratic 10 years ago are now uncertain. The second is that there are a fair number of representatives in moderate districts who rode the blue wave to victory last year. If they can hold their seats for another cycle or two, they'll be much more solid, but for now their grip on power is uncertain.
Anyhow, the psephologists at The Hill think that at least 75 seats will be in play in 2020, and that the number could grow to as much as 90. The Cook Political Report, which is the gold standard, has it a little higher, with 91 seats currently in play (18 likely Democratic, 18 lean Democratic, 17 Democratic toss-up, 4 Republican toss-up, 15 lean Republican, and 19 likely Republican). (Z)
Everyone (well, almost everyone) recognizes that the Russians meddled in the 2016 elections. Yahoo! News has just taken a look at a particular aspect of that, and has discovered that the Seth Rich conspiracy theory—that Rich (who was actually killed in a botched robbery) was gunned down by Hillary Clinton/the DNC—was the handiwork of Team Putin. The Russkies planted the false story on July 13, 2016, and within the week folks like Sean Hannity, Jerome Corsi, and Rush Limbaugh were running with it. That officially makes those people—say it with us—useful idiots.
What might the Russians be up to today? We give you FaceApp. The newly introduced app has gone viral on social media in the past few weeks, due to its ability to credibly age photos, and to give people a preview of what might be ahead, looks-wise. For example:
The FaceApp filter adds about 40 years, so you are theoretically looking at 113-year-old Donald Trump there.
Programming Note: Monday Q&A is going to run on Tuesday, instead.
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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Jul19 U.S. Downs Iranian Drone
Jul19 Daniels Payment Was All Cohen and Trump...and Hope Hicks
Jul19 Trump Nominates Scalia to Lead Labor Department
Jul19 House Votes to Raise the Minimum Wage
Jul19 Lineups Set for Next Round of Democratic Debates
Jul19 Democratic Presidential Candidate Update: Sen. Amy Klobuchar (DFL-MN)
Jul18 House Has a Busy Day...
Jul18 Trump Rallies in North Carolina
Jul18 Feds Conclude Investigation into Trump Organization's Role in Hush Money Payments
Jul18 Second Round of Democratic Debates Comes into Focus
Jul18 Harris Tops Quinnipiac Poll of California
Jul18 More on Q2 Fundraising
Jul18 Thursday Q&A
Jul17 Racist Tweet Drama Turns into Soap Opera
Jul17 Like Clockwork, ACLU Files Lawsuit
Jul17 What's Taking So Long?
Jul17 The Q2 Fundraising Numbers Are In
Jul17 Trump May Soon Have Another Challenger
Jul17 John Paul Stevens Dies at 99
Jul16 Racist Tweets Remain at the Forefront
Jul16 Trump Announces ICE Raids Were a Success, Announces New Asylum Policy
Jul16 Conway Officially Defies Subpoena
Jul16 Pence Emergency Probably Won't Be Explained
Jul16 Biden Shifts Gears...
Jul16 ...And So Does Buttigieg
Jul16 Presidential Year Turnout May Not Favor Democrats in 2020
Jul15 Trump Goes on Racist Twitter Rant
Jul15 GOP Happy to Run on "We Killed Obamacare" in 2020
Jul15 Daily Mail Releases More Darroch Dirt
Jul15 Democrats to Argue Florida Ballots in Court Today
Jul15 Vulnerable Election Software Will be Used in 2020
Jul15 Sanders, Warren Voters Aren't All That Similar
Jul15 Monday Q&A
Jul13 Secretary of Labor Strikes Out
Jul13 Another Budget Mess Is Looming
Jul13 Mueller Testimony Delayed, Expanded
Jul13 Today's Legal Blotter
Jul13 Pennsylvania GOP Gets Its Act Together
Jul13 Democratic Presidential Candidate of the Week: Tom Steyer
Jul12 Trump Caves on Citizenship Census Question
Jul12 House Judiciary Committee Approves Long List of Subpoenas
Jul12 ICE Raids Are Set to Commence this Weekend
Jul12 Trump Holds "Social Media Summit"
Jul12 Warren Is Catching Up to Biden
Jul12 The Big Five Are Pulling Away
Jul12 CNN Announces the Rules for the Second Democratic Debate
Jul12 Trump Doesn't Want Sessions to Run for the Senate
Jul12 McGrath Fumbles on Kavanaugh
Jul12 Lummis Is Running for Enzi's Senate Seat