Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Trump May Well Be Telling the Truth About Not Knowing About Russian Bounties on American Soldiers...and That is Exactly the Problem

President Trump's defense to not acting on intelligence that Russia's President Putin paid a bounty for each American soldier killed by the Taliban is that he was not briefed on that matter.  Although the intelligence finding was in his written briefing materials, because no one orally told him of the Russian bounty program he can't be held responsible.

For once, Trump may not be lying.  I find it entirely plausible that Trump did not read the briefing materials.  Everyone who has worked with the President over the course of his business and political career has consistently said Trump does not read.  If you are lucky, you might get him to look at a
single piece of paper with bullet points.  Maybe.
So I don't find it far-fetched that Trump did not read about the bounty program in the informatin he was given.

Likewise, I find it entirely plausible that no one around Trump verbally told him about the bounty program.  Trump is very, very fond of Russian President Vladimar Putin.  Trump constantly fawns over Putin, groveling for his approval. Trump is also notoriously adverse to bad news.  Does not want to hear it.  He only wants to hear the good news.  Early in his administration, it was reported that Trump had an aide twice a day bring him a folder full of positive stories about him.  No negative stories allowed.

So could it be that national security officials were concerned about giving Trump the bad news that his buddy Vlad was rewarding terrorists with bounties for killing American soldiers?  That those administration officials knew the intelligence would make Trump angry and cause him to attack the very people who developed the intelligence and tried to convey it to him?  es, that is entirely plausible because it's happened before.

But what does it say that we have a President who does not read and cannot bear to hear bad decisions?  Nothing good.

Then you have the new story on CNN from legendary Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein about Trump's phone calls with world leaders:
In hundreds of highly classified phone calls with foreign heads of state, President Donald Trump was so consistently unprepared for discussion of serious issues, so often outplayed in his conversations with powerful leaders like Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Erdogan, and so abusive to leaders of America's principal allies, that the calls helped convince some senior US officials -- including his former secretaries of state and defense, two national security advisers and his longest-serving chief of staff -- that the President himself posed a danger to the national security of the United States, according to White House and intelligence officials intimately familiar with the contents of the conversations.
The calls caused former top Trump deputies -- including national security advisers H.R. McMaster and John Bolton, Defense Secretary James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and White House chief of staff John Kelly, as well as intelligence officials -- to conclude that the President was often "delusional," as two sources put it, in his dealings with foreign leaders. The sources said there was little evidence that the President became more skillful or competent in his telephone conversations with most heads of state over time. Rather, he continued to believe that he could either charm, jawbone or bully almost any foreign leader into capitulating to his will, and often pursued goals more attuned to his own agenda than what many of his senior advisers considered the national interest.
By far the greatest number of Trump's telephone discussions with an individual head of state were with Erdogan, who sometimes phoned the White House at least twice a week and was put through directly to the President on standing orders from Trump, according to the sources. Meanwhile, the President regularly bullied and demeaned the leaders of America's principal allies, especially two women: telling Prime Minister Theresa May of the United Kingdom she was weak and lacked courage; and telling German Chancellor Angela Merkel that she was "stupid."
The insidious effect of the conversations comes from Trump's tone, his raging outbursts at allies while fawning over authoritarian strongmen, his ignorance of history and lack of preparation as much as it does from the troubling substance, according to the sources. While in office, then- Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats expressed worry to subordinates that Trump's telephone discussions were undermining the coherent conduct of foreign relations and American objectives around the globe, one of CNN's sources said. And in recent weeks, former chief of staff Kelly has mentioned the damaging impact of the President's calls on US national security to several individuals in private.
None of this should be surprising. Trump is a man with tremendous character and personality problems that go far beyond an inability to tell the truth, and a mind-boggling ignorance about history and world affairs.  Trump is deathly insecure about his intelligence and his abilities.  He is enamored with dictators who do not have to succeed on their merits, and is resentful toward leaders from democratic countries who have become successful leaders on the merits instead of wielding autocratic power.

In short, Donald Trump has proven beyond any doubt that he is spectacularly unfit to be President of the United States.   That was not a surprise to most of us who followed his career as a failed businessman/con man/reality show star before he got into politics.  But now Trump's enormous character flaws, lack of intellect and management abilities, should be apparent to everyone.  Even if Trump were right on all the issues (he most certainly is not) voting for his re-election should not be an option for anyone who cares about this country.

Now some OOP's short takes:

  • Two more days passed and two more Trump campaign commercials appeared on my Indianapolis TV.
  • Other people are starting to take seriously my theory (yes, I'm claiming that it originated with me) that Trump may drop out this Fall rather than face an electoral landslide.
  • The once proud National Review continues its downward slide by today publishing a piece by Victor Davis Hanson (he wrote the book, The Case for Trump), titled "The Strategies of Dementia Politics."  In the piece, Hanson, who has a B.A. and Ph.D. in the "classics," makes the medical diagnosis that Biden has "dementia" and states as fact that because of his dementia the Democrats are desperately trying to keep him in the basement until Election Day.  (I will ignore the irony of someone who supports mentally-addled Trump questioning the mental acuity of a candidate who, even at his worst, is a 100 times sharper than Trump.)  That the editors of National Review would publish an entire article premised on the the medical diagnosis of a candidate rendered by a lay person, speaks volumes about the decline of the National Review as a serious conservative publication.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Would Trump Drop Out to Avoid Electoral Landslide?; Is Indiana in Play?; Dropped from Trump Email List

Politico yesterday published an article titled "Trump admits it: He's Losing."  Here is a snippet from the lengthy article:
Donald Trump knows he's losing. 
The president has privately come to that grim realization in recent days, multiple people
close to him told POLITICO, amid a mountain of bad polling and warnings from some of his staunchest allies that he's on course to be a one-term president. 
Trump has endured what aides describe as the worst stretch of his presidency, marred by widespread criticism over his response to the coronavirus pandemic and nationwide racial unrest. His rally in Oklahoma last weekend, his first since March, turned out to be an embarrassment when he failed to fill the arena. 
What should have been an easy interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity on Thursday horrified advisers when Trump offered a rambling, non-responsive answer to a simple question about his goals for a second term. In the same appearance, the normally self-assured president offered a tacit acknowledgment that he might lose when he said that Joe Biden is “gonna be your president because some people don't love me, maybe." 
“Under the current trajectory, President Trump is on the precipice of one of the worst electoral defeats in modern presidential elections and the worst historically for an incumbent president,” said former Trump political adviser Sam Nunberg, who remains a supporter....Nunberg pointed to national polls released by CNBC and New York Times/Siena over the past week showing Trump receiving below 40 percent against Biden. 
If Trump's numbers erode to 35 percentage points over the next two weeks, Nunberg added, “He’s going to be facing realistically a 400-plus electoral vote loss and the president would need to strongly reconsider whether he wants to continue to run as the Republican presidential nominee.”   
Nunberg suggests something I have said on these pages before.  There is a possibility that come August or September, Trump sees a crushing defeat as likely and drops out of the race rather than face a humiliating loss that damages the Trump brand.  (Turns out former Trump press secretary Anthony Scaramucci said the same thing last year.)   Prior to making that move, Trump would start selling his supporters on the claim the Democrats were going to rig the election against him.   With the groundwork laid, Trump fans might well support his leaving the race.  Trump could then move on to establish Trump TV, make money, and remain a significant player in Republican politics.  A landslide Biden victory would make any of that difficult. 

I believe, and still believe, the biggest obstacle to that possibility is that Trump views politics through rose-colored glasses.  He refuses to believe independent pollsters and he has surrounded himself with yes men and women who do not dare tell him the truth, such as how badly he might be beaten.  That makes the Politico article and Trump's comments to Sean Hannity so surprising. C ould it be I was wrong - that Trump would get the message about his uphill climb to re-election and respond in a rational manner?  

The argument I've heard against Trump dropping out is that his ego would notallow it.  To that I respond, would his "ego" be better served by staying in the race to possibly suffer a humiliating electoral loss?   While I think Trump dropping out is very unlikely, I do think it is a lot more of a possibility than people realize. 

Does the Trump campaign have polling that Indiana may be in play in the Presidential election?  I say that because yesterday I saw a commercial on CNN, paid for by the Trump campaign, attacking Biden for his supposed weakness towards China.  (I won't get into the hypocrisy of Trump campaign running such an ad.)  With the Electoral College, it would make no sense for a presidential campaign to run a national ad.  So that ad had to have been intentionally dropped into the Indianapolis market.  

While it makes some sense to run ads in the Ft. Wayne and South Bend/Elkhart media markets, which ads reach voters in a couple counties in the swing states of Ohio and Michigan, running ads in the Indianapolis media market just hits Hoosiers in Central Indiana.  While that is undoubtedly Trump's weakest part of the state, surely there is no doubt that Trump will carry Indiana in November.  If there is, Trump has a lot bigger problems than Indiana.

My guess is the Indianapolis Trump ad just reflects the incompetence of the Trump campaign.  Maybe someone like Jared Kushner saw the Indianapolis media market and just assumed, because of its geographic location in the center of the state, that an Indianapolis Trump ad would reach Ohio and Michigan residents.  Well, it does not.

I am pleased to report that following my blog article mocking Trump's clownish campaign emails I used to get six times a day, the emails have stopped.  Kudos to someone in the Trump campaign reading my article and connecting the dots to my name on the email list.   The campaign saved me the effort of unsubscribing.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Russia Paid Taliban Bounty for Each American Soldier Killed in Afghanistan; White House Claims President Trump Not Told of Intelligence

Late yesterday, The New York Times published this bombshell story in its online edition:
American intelligence officials have concluded that a Russian military intelligence unit secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing coalition forces in Afghanistan — including targeting American troops — amid the peace talks to end the long-running war there, according to officials briefed on the matter.
The United States concluded months ago that the Russian unit, which has been linked to assassination attempts and other covert operations in Europe intended to destabilize the West or take revenge on turncoats, had covertly offered rewards for successful attacks last
Islamist militants, or armed criminal elements closely associated with them, are believed to have collected some bounty money, the officials said. Twenty Americans were killed in combat in Afghanistan in 2019, but it was not clear which killings were under suspicion.
The intelligence finding was briefed to President Trump, and the White House’s National Security Council discussed the problem at an interagency meeting in late March, the officials said. Officials developed a menu of potential options — starting with making a diplomatic complaint to Moscow and a demand that it stop, along with an escalating series of sanctions and other possible responses, but the White House has yet to authorize any step, the officials said.

When questioned today, White House officials denied President Trump had been briefed on the intelligence.  The USA Today reports:
The White House denied Saturday that President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence had been briefed on an intelligence finding that a Russian military intelligence unit secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants to kill American troops and other coalition forces in Afghanistan. 
“The United States receives thousands of intelligence reports a day, and they are subject to strict scrutiny,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement. 
While the White House does not routinely comment on intelligence or internal deliberations, “the CIA Director, National Security Advisor, and the Chief of Staff can all confirm that neither the President nor the Vice President were briefed on the alleged Russian bounty intelligence,” McEnany said. 
McEnany said her statement “does not speak to the merit of the alleged intelligence but to the inaccuracy of the New York Times story erroneously suggesting that President Trump was briefed on this matter.”

In short, the Trump administration does not deny that there is intelligence that Russia offered to pay the Taliban a bounty for killing American soldiers, it just says that information was not passed along to President Trump or Vice President Pence. 

That offers only two possibilities.  The first is that President Trump was informed of the bounty and refused to act on the information while at the same time demanding that his buddy Russian President Vladimar Putin be invited to the next G7 Summit.  The second is that Trump's national security team chose not to pass along the intelligence to Trump because they did not want to upset the President by telling him what Putin had done.  The former is downright treasonous.  The second, while not treasonous, is still alarming because it means that Trump's national security team does not believe the President can handle information he does not want to hear, even when that information might be critical for making foreign policy decisions.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Biden Takes Polling Lead in Key States Trump Won in 2016

Turns out the election everyone said will be close, may not be after all.   In a flurry of swing state polls released yesterday, Democratic challenger Joe Biden has taken the lead in several states Donald Trump won in 2016, many of them by double figures.  

To assist the reader, I am also including the final Real Clear Politics polling average in that state before the 2016 election as well as the final result in 2016.  That will show that Biden is polling significantly ahead of Hillary Clinton's poll numbers going into the 2016 election.

Michigan (16 electoral votes)
---Hodas & Associates (600 likely voters):  Biden +18
---Siena College/New York Times (653 registered voters):  Biden +11

2016 RCP Average:  Clinton  +3.6
2016 Result: Trump +0.3

Wisconsin (10 electoral votes)
---Redfield  & Wilton Strategies (846 LV):  Biden +9
---Hodas & Associates (600 LV): Biden +17
---Siena College/New York Times (655 RV): +11

2016 RCP Average: Clinton +6.5
2016 Result:  Trump +0.7

Pennsylviania (20 electoral votes)
---Redfield & Wilton Strategies (1,125 LV):  Biden +10
---Siena College/New York Times (651 RV): Biden +10
---Hodas & Associates (600 LV):   Biden +12

2016 RCP Average: Clinton +2.1
2016 Result: Trump +0.7

Florida (29 electoral votes)
---Fox News (1,1010 RV): Biden +9
---Siena College/New York Times (651 RV): Biden +6
---Redfield & Wilton Strategies (1,079 LV): Biden +4

2016 RCP Average: Trump +0.4
2016 Result:  Trump +1.2

North Carolina (15 electoral votes)
---Fox News (1,012 RV):  Biden +2
---Siena College/New York Times (653 RV):  Biden +9
---Redfield & Wilton Strategies (902 LV): Biden +6

2016 RCP Average:  Trump +0.8
2016 Result: Trump +3.6

Arizona (11 electoral votes)
---Redfield & Wilton Strategies (865 LV): Biden +4
---Siena College/The New York Times (650 RV): Biden +7

2016 RCP Average:  Trump +4.0
2016 Result: Trump +3.5

Georgia (16 electoral votes)
---Fox News (1,013 RV): Biden +2

2016 RCP Average: Trump +4.9
2016 Result: Trump +5.1

Texas (38 electoral votes)
---Fox News (1,001 RV): Biden +1

2016 RCP Average:  Trump +11.7
2016 Result:  Trump +9.0


Of course the race is fluid and could change dramatically before Election Day which is a long way off.  I lie.  The election is not that far off.  Further, in my decades of studying election races, I have never seen less fluidity in polling than I have when it comes to Donald Trump, especially now, after 3 1/2 years.  While voters may drift a bit from one camp to another, do not expect dramatic changes in the numbers.  A tightening of the numbers probably, but I doubt, come Election Day, we will see Trump regain the lead in most of the key swing states cited above. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Matt Schlapp Sells Out Conservative Movement for Cold Hard Cash

If you need a poster child for the death of conservative intellectualism, you could do no better than Matt Schlapp.  Formerly George Bush's political director, Schlapp has headed the American Conservative Union since 2014.  The ACU, which was founded in the aftermath of Goldwater's unsuccessful 1964 campaign, puts on the Conservative Political Action Conference, an annual meeting of mostly young conservatives that was intended to marry future leaders with the ideals of the movement.

Under his watch, Schlapp has gutted the conservative principles that long guided the ACU, in favor of
ACU Chairman Matt Schlapp
full blown Trumpism.  Meanwhile he has turned CPAC into a freak show of political misfits espousing crazy conspiracy theories and naked tribalism.  I am not saying Schlapp by himself killed conservative intellectualism, but he has certainly been at the front of the line plunging a knife into the legacy of Barry Goldwater, William Buckley, and Ronald Reagan.

If Schlapp's damage to conservativism is not bad enough, he has worked to associate conservative thought with white politics and bigotry. On the website, Popular Information, writer Judd Legum details "Schlapp's Ugly Racial History" in a length piece titled "A Schlapp in the Face."
As president of the ACU, Schlapp was responsible for the annual Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) conference. In 2017, Schlapp invited Milo Yiannopoulos to speak at CPAC, despite Yiannopoulos' association with the racist "alt-right" movement. Yiannopoulos regularly collaborated with white nationalists for pieces published on Breitbart.
Matt Schlapp 
We think free speech includes hearing Milo’s important perspective. #CPAC2017
February 18th 2017 
(Schlapp later rescinded the invitation, not because of Yiannopoulos' racism, but because Yiannopoulos was caught defending pedophilia.)  
The same year at CPAC, Schlapp personally interviewed former Breitbart editor Steve Bannon, who used the site to "openly embrace[] the white supremacist Alt-Right." Schlapp also invited Clare Lopez, who advanced racist conspiracy theories about former President Obama, to participate in a panel. 
In 2016, Schlapp had a dispute with Bakari Sellers, who is Black, on Don Lemon's CNN program. During the commercial break, Schlapp allegedly yelled, "Come at me, boy!" to Sellers — a taunt that has historically been used to denigrate Black men. Schlapp later apologized but was never invited back on Lemon's show. "I don’t have any need to be on air with someone like Matt," Sellers said. 
During the confirmation hearing of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Schlapp tweeted an image of "the three Democratic senators on the Judiciary Committee who are people of color." He encouraged conservative voters in swing states to "look at this photo." It was widely denounced as a "racist dog-whistle."  
Matt Schlapp @mschlapp
Look at this photo conservative voters in WV, ND, IN, FL, MO, MT, MI, TN, AZ, NV MarjorieDannenfelser @marjoriesbahttps://t.co/OvF1JlfdzqSeptember 27th 2018 
Conservative columnist Bill Kristol, who supported Kavanaugh's nomination, called Schlapp's tweet a "straight-up appeal to bigotry."  
That by the way is just the short list of racially-tinged comments by Schlapp, who is a regular commentator on Fox News.

While I knew Schlapp had sold out the conservative movement to climb on the Trump Train, I had no idea how literally that was true.  By combing through public records, Legum in "A Schlapp in the Face" details how much he has received as a "lobbyist" from big name public corporations.  In just the first three months of 2020, Verizon paid Schlapp $40,000 to lobby Congress on "general telecom and tax issues."   Abbot Labs, a large medical device company, pays Schlapp $200,000, a year to lobby, Comcast $120,000 and Walmart $200,000.

In light of his comments attacking the George Floyd protesters, Verizon claims it ended its contract with Schlapp in June of 2020.  As far as Legum could ascertain, the other annual payments to Schlapp continue.  This is despite corporate positions taken by Abbott Labs, Comcast and Walmart which seems completely at odds with Schlapp's racial rhetoric.

Schlapp, who is constantly sucking up to President Donald Trump with blind, unwavering support,, does this "lobbying work" through the guise of a firm called Cove Strategies, which Schlapp and his wife, Mercedes, founded in 2009   Mercedes Schlapp was a director of strategic communications for the Trump administration, leaving in July of 2019 to take a role with the President's re-election campaign.

As Legum points out, the publicly reported payments to Matt Schlapp may only be the tip of the iceberg.   Cove strategies offers other services besides lobbying, such as coalition building and communications strategy.  Payments for those services would not require public disclosure.

Matt Schlapp has made it clear that he is more than willing to sell out the ideals of the conservative movement for cold harsh cash.  He most certainly should not have a role in GOP in the post-Trump era, which likely begins on November 4th.

Monday, June 22, 2020

How Does Trump Campaign Manager Brad Parscale Still Have a Job?

In February of 2018, President Trump named Brad Parscale the campaign manager of his 2020 re-election effort.  Parscale, who had previously worked with the Trump Organization, had led the digital communications efforts during Trump's 2016 election victory.  Parscale's efforts were applauded as playing a key role in Trump's narrow electoral college victory that year.

While the media dutifully reported Parscale's appointment without editorial comment, political pros had to be scratching their heads.  While Parscale's father ran for Congress - as a Democrat - Parscale's resume shows no political activity whatsoever until his work with the Trump campaign.  And that role - as digital communications director - was narrowly focused.  Even though having a key role in the 2016couldn't manage the intricacies of obtaining an absentee voter ballot from Texas while working in New York.  As a result, he did not vote in the 2016 election.
campaign, Parscale apparently

So you've never ran a political campaign in your life and your first campaign manager job will running a President's re-election effort?

Parscale reminds me of the statistical consultants, the math whizzes, that every major league baseball team now employs to evaluate players and strategy.  The information they provide general managers and managers on the field has proven invaluable.  But the consultants' talents are narrow ones focused on a particular, albeit important, facet of the game.  They can advise that the batter's "launch angle" is off or a pitcher's "spin rate" is too low to be effective, but being on the field working with the players every day to improve their performance, well it is just not what an Ivy League math Ph.D. working for a baseball team does.

In short, Parscale's experience in digital communication has made him a specialist in the field, someone who has a narrow focus.  But the manager of a political campaign is a generalist, someone who, by the nature of the job, needs to see the big picture.  It is unusual when there is a specialist who can easily switch roles and become a generalist.  This is especially so in the world of politics where there is no substitute for campaign experience.

It appears Parscale knows he will not make it to Election Day as Trump's campaign manager and has since been using his position to enrich himself as much as he can in the meantime.  A Daily Mail headline says it all:  EXCLUSIVE: How Donald Trump's campaign manager Brad Parscale went from family bankruptcy to splashing out millions on mansions, condos and luxury cars through his companies that get a hefty cut of the president's $57M campaign contributions

Parscale's political inexperience was highlighted by Saturday's Trump rally in Tulsa.  Campaigns 101 teaches you on day one that you always LOWER expectations when it comes to turnout for events.  In politics, success is always measured by exceeding the expectations you mostly set.  Instead Parscale and the Trump Campaign bragged about 1 million requests for tickets, that there would be a full arena (seating 19,000) and a overflow crowd outside of maybe 50,000.    Turns out that there was no overflow crowd and only about 6,200 (the estimate of the Tulsa Fire Department) in the arena.  And those 1 million tickets ordered? Well Parscale, the communications digital "expert," may have been trolled by a bunch of fake ticket requests from teenage girls using something called TicTok.

The second thing you learn in Campaign 101 is that you should always make sure the venue is smaller than the crowd that shows up.  The media will always notice the empty seats and turn it in to a failure of the campaign.  It does not matter if the rally is in a stadium that seats 90,000 and "only" 70,000 people come to the rally.  Those 20,000 seats represent failure to the media.

That Parscale still has his job as of today is surprising.  Trump's poll numbers have gradually slid from toilet seat into the toilet.  Not only is Biden's lead double digits in many national polls, he leads in virtually every swing states and is competitive or leading in states like Iowa, Texas, Georgia, and Ohio - previously considered solidly in Trump's camp.

Still, Trump has one remaining ace card - $$$$$$.  Well, not anymore.  In April, Biden and the Democratic National Committee raised $60 million. Trump and the Republican National Committee during the same month brought in $61.7 million.  In May, Biden and the DNC raised $80.8 million while Trump and the RNC raked in $74 million.  While the Trump campaign has significantly more money on hand, the "bleed rate" of Trump's campaign spending may prove to problematic.  Much of that spending seems directed to an assortment of  companies that, not coincidentally, has "Trump" in their name.  Then, according to media reports, Parscale gets his cut as well.  In short, I am confident that much of the Trump/RNC money will go to line people's pockets rather than advance the political football.

If Parscale makes it to the end of Summer I would be shocked.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Keeping an Eye on Alaska; Update on Today's State Polls

As of writing this, the website FiveThirtyEight has posted 18 polls for today.  Sixteen of them focus on contests within the state, either for President or U.S. Senate.  When the best polling news for Republicans is a poll out of Arizona showing the President losing Arizona (a state he won in 2016 by 3.5 points), it is a terrible polling day for the GOP.  Let's take a look at the states poll:

Alaska:  This is a state to keep an eye on.  I know it has voted for a Democrat presidential candidate
Rep. Don Young (R-AK)
since 1964, but this could be the year it swings to the Democrats.   A poll shows the sole Alaskan member of Congress Republican Don Young, who has represented Alaska since 1973 (not a typo) trailing a Democratic challenger by a point.    Alaskans like Republicans, but they prefer Republicans who have an independent streak.  The 86-year-old Rep. Young, a strong supporter of Trump, does not fit that bill.  Neither does Alaskan Senator Dan Sullivan who also has been a close ally of the President.  Keep an eye on Sullivan's re-election bid in that state.  It could get close.

Arizona:  I've already mentioned the presidential contest, but the Senate race there was polled as well.   Democrat Mark Kelly is ahead of  incumbent Republican Senator Martha McSally by 9 points.  Well, at least it isn't double figures like most recent polls.

Florida:  Shocker.   A poll of likely voters has Trump losing Florida by 11 points.  Trump won by the state by 1.2% in 2016.

Georgia:  Trump is running behind in Georgia by 2 points.  He won Georgia in five points in 2016.  Also, it looks like Trump ally David Perdue is in trouble in the Peach State.  He trails newly annoited Democratic nominee John Ossoff by a point in today's poll.  Of the two Georgia Senate seats up in 2020, Perdue's was considered the safest. 

Michigan:  Two polls of likely voters in Michigan were released today.  One has Trump losing the state by 13 points, the other by 16.  Trump squeaked out a win in Michigan in 2016, one of the key Midwestern states (Pennsylvania and Wisconsin being the other two) that he flipped to win the election.  As I've been saying, Michigan is a lost cause.  Trump needs to replace it with another state, possibly Minnesota. 

Two polls has incumbent Senator Gary Peters winning re-election by 6 and 12 points.  Republican challenger John James was considered the best bet for a Republican pick-up in the Senate outside of Alabama.  James though has the unfortunate luck of running in the two bad election cycles for Michigan Republicans, 2018 and 2020.

Finally, two Michigan polls show the Democratic challenger Hillary Scholten in a statistical dead heat (even and +1) against two possible Republican nominees in  Michigan District 3.  That is Republican turned independent Justin Amash's district.  Amash who voted for Trump's impeachment in the House, was going to be targeted in the GOP primary for not being worshipful enough of Trump.  But Amash might well end up being replaced by a Democrat who certainly won't be conservative or pro-Trump.

New Mexico:  Early on, New Mexico was cited as a top pickup opportunity for the Trump campaign.  Of course, the suggestion that Trump  had a chance to win New Mexico is insane.   A poll today shows Biden with a 14 point lead and Democratic Congressman Ben Ray Lujan winning the open Senate seat in the state by 12 points.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Another Day, Another Bad Joni Ernst Poll

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa)
Until a few weeks ago, the Republican Party did not anticipate having to spend money in Iowa to ensure the re-election of incumbent Senator Joni Ernst.  It was assumed Ernst was safe in Iowa.  To make sure of that, Ernst thought it best to lash herself to President Donald Trump.  Turns out that was a bad move.  It seems, Iowans do not appreciate their senators giving up their political independence to be a rubber stamp for the President.

Trump seems to do best in states which are overwhelmingly rural and white.  So it is shocking that Trump is not more popular in the Hawkeye State which is overwhelmingly rural and white..  The most recent poll only shows Trump up 2 points in Iowa.

Saturday evening, the Des Moines Register released a poll (conducted by the A+ rated pollster Selzer & Company), showing Democrat challenger Theresa Greenfield leading Ernst 46-43.  This is consistent with two other June Iowa polls which has Greenfield leading 2 to 3 points.   While the poll makes the race look like a toss-up, it may not be the toss-up the numbers seem to suggest.  When you have an incumbent, the undecided vote 80% of the time breaks for the challenger, by margins that average about 2-1.  If that happens here, Greenfield wins the November contest 53-47.

The Democrats have a lot of targets to win a majority in the Senate.  Don't bet against them.

About that CNN Poll...

This week, the Trump campaign sent a cease and desist letter to CNN claiming its June poll which showed the President running 14 points behind Biden nationally was defamatory and was aimed at suppressing the Trump vote.  The letter, which demanded CNN stop using it, was based on a critique of that poll (allegedly) written by the Republican polling outfit McLaughlin & Associates. 

I use the word "allegedly" because if you read the McLaughlin critique, much of it has the tone not of a professional pollster criticizing a colleague's methodology, but instead a Trump Twitter rant.  McLaughlin & Associates, I should point out, is ranked as a C/D pollster by FiveThirtyEight, one of the
worst pollster ratings handed out by the website.

That the Trump campaign could find an attorney, Jenna Ellis, willing to sign such a ridiculous letter speaks poorly of my profession.

Media outlets employ independent pollsters, usually from outfits that have bipartisan ownership.  The notion that these pollsters put their finger on the scale to make a particular candidate look good or bad is absurd.  There are pollsters out there who do that, but they work for candidates, not the media, and they keep their methodology a closely guarded secret lest the polling flaws undercut the poll numbers they obtained for their clients. 

I would add the notion that the CNN poll, which was conducted by the independent research group SSRS, is aimed at suppressing the Trump vote in the fall is ludicrous.  A poll showing Biden with a commanding 14 points ahead, is just as likely, if not more likely, to cause Biden voters to stay home as Trump voters.   Arguably, one of the reasons Hillary Clinton probably lost in 2016, were her voters, convinced she would win comfortable because of polls that showed her ahead, stayed home. Nonetheless, it is June.  How is a poll in June going to cause suppression of the vote in an election five months away?

The McLaughlin critique focuses on the fact that the CNN poll sample only had 25% self-identified Republicans (compared to 32% self-identified as Democrats in the sample) and this smaller group of Republicans led to the President under-performing in the poll.    McLaughlin says the sample should have been 33% Republican which would have reflected the 2016 exit polls.

Exit polls always show higher levels of partisanship than in-person phone poll interviews, which is considered the most accurate way to poll.  Nonetheless, a pollster does not set out to pick a certain amount of Republicans and Democrats to sample.  (It should be noted that the 25% Republican sample in the CNN poll was in line with numerous other telephone polls)  But the methodology pollsters uses does cause a variation in the sample obtained.  That is why when looking at polls, it is best to compare the poll result to a previous result reached by the same pollster. (Pollsters do not switch out the methodology they use from one poll to another.)  In short, the number one thing you are looking for when analyzing polls is MOVEMENT.

In a CNN poll released in mid-May, Joe Biden had a 5 point nationally over Donald Trump.  Three weeks later, the same pollster using the same methodology found the margin was 14 points.  Even if every criticism McLaughlin said has merit, it does not undercut the the importance of that 9 point swing in Biden's favor in just three weeks. 

But polling aberrations happen, so one should look at other polls to see if they record similar movement in Biden's favor during the same period.  The Hill/Harris X poll tends to render better results for Trump than other polls.  In mid-May, that poll had Biden ahead by only 1 point.  In early June, less than three weeks later, another Hill/HarrisX poll showed Biden up 10 points.  A weekly Economist/You Gov poll released at the end of May showed Biden ahead by 3 points.  A week later, the lead was 7 points, and another week later, it was 8 points.

In short, the CNN polls might have been on the high end in terms of showing the size of the Biden national lead.  But that does not make the poll illegitimate or biased.  The most important result is the CNN poll showing substantial movement in Biden's favor, which movement is confirmed by other polls.   That doesn't mean Biden's undeniable national lead is insurmountable or the national race won't tighten down the road.  It almost certainly will. 

Of course, with the Electoral College, national polls mean little anyway.  The result of polls in swing states are much more important.  That is a topic I will return to on several occasions before November's election.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Tuesday's Polls: Michigan, Iowa, Kentucky, and Tennessee

Some new polls today came out that may portend bad news for Republicans in November.

Michigan - President:  Poll by Kiaer Research has Trump down 15 points in a swing state.  This could be considered an outlier but a poll by Epic-MRA  released at teh end of last week had Trump down 12 points in Michigan. May's polls had Biden with leads ranging from 2 to 9 points.  I think Michigan is
going to lose its "battleground status" this election.  It does not appear to be in play.

Michigan - Senate:  The Republicans best hope to pick up a non-Alabama Senate seat was Michigan.  I used the past tense deliberately.   The two most recent polls have Republican challenger John James losing to incumbent Democrat Senator Gary Peters by 16 and 15 points.  The other June poll had him 9 points behind.  The Republicans will certainly pull the funding from that race and choose instead to play defense.

Iowa - President:  Today's poll in the Hawkeye state has Biden running even with Trump.  That comes on the heels of another June poll showing Trump only ahead by one point in Iowa.  Trump won Iowa by nearly 10 points in 2016.

Iowa  - Senate:  According to a poll release today, Republican Senator Joni Ernst is running three points behind her Democratic challenger Theresa Greenfield.  This comes on the heels of another early June poll that shows Ernst trailing by 2 points.  Before 2020, Joni Ernst was considered a fairly safe bet to win re-election.  No more.

Kentucky - Senate:  Democrats shouldn't get too excited, but a poll out of Kentucky shows Amy McGrath one point up on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.  Since it was a poll commissioned by an interest group with an agenda (pro term limits; McGrath supports them, McConnell opposes), I am skeptical of it.  The poll also shows Trump up 17 points in the Bluegrass State.  Now that sounds more realistic.

Tennessee President: According to a poll today, Trump leads by 9 points in Tennessee.  That is a bit lower than I expected.   I figured the spread in the Presidential contest would be more like Kentucky.

Indianapolis Council Needs to Look at Jail Commissary Fund and Address Civil Forfeiture Reform

I hate the phrase "defunding the police."  That slogan sounds like an effort to completely eliminate law enforcement.   While I doubt more than a handful of advocates of "defunding the police" actually want police departments eliminated and replaced by anarchy, words in political discourse have consequences.  Using the phrase "defunding the police" plays into the hands of those who oppose law enforcement reform.  And we need law enforcement reform.

During a recent interview with Channel 13, Indianapolis City-County Councilor Zach Adamson discussed what "defunding the police" might mean locally.  Adamson said there would be a thorough review of the law enforcement resources in August during the annual budget process.  Adamson says
Indianapolis City-County Council
Vice President Zach Adamson
there might be better to allocate some law enforcement resources to addiction services, mental health issues and youth programs. 

Zach, I think I know where you can get that money.

Years ago, I wrote several pieces on my blog about local law enforcement abuses, programs that took advantage of citizens and provided perverse incentives for law enforcement.  Unfortunately, I could not get the Indianapolis Council, outside of one council member, to take an interest.  Republicans maybe did not care because they were pro-law enforcement and Democrats probably were not interested because it meant taking on a Democratic sheriff and prosecutor.  So, in light of the new push for reform, let me refresh readers about the issues I addressed years ago.

One area the council needs to take a look at is the jail commissary fund, i.e. the money the Sheriff's Department receives from selling stuff to inmates.  Although Indiana law limited what commissary money could be spent for, those limitations were repeatedly ignored by then Marion County Sheriff Frank Anderson who spent it on items not allowed under the statute, e.g. legal fees, public relations fees, employee awards, law books for the prosecutors, and, my favorite, "ammunition."  While I believe subsequent Sheriffs have probably done a better job of complying with the law, without meaningful oversight of this fund there is a tendency of the Sheriff's Department to treat it as a slush fund.  Here are some of the things I at the time wrote about the commissary fund.

Friday, September 14, 2012, Commissary Payments to Former Sheriffs and Sheriff's Law Firm Violate Indiana Law

Thursday, October 22, 2009,The Jail Commissary Fund, Part I: Marion County Sheriff Frank Anderson Violates Indiana Law to Pay Private Law Firm

Monday, October 26, 2009, The Jail Commissary Fund, Part II: Marion County Sheriff Frank Anderson Violates Indiana Law to Pay Accounting and PR Firm Out of Jail Commissary Fund

Wednesday, October 28, 2009, The Jail Commissary Fund, Part III: Need Money to Buy Plaques or Attend a Fundraiser? Just Dip Into the Jail Commissary Fund

Then you have the issue of money from the telephone contract.  Inmates incarcerated in the Marion County jails who want to contact their loved ones, have to pay a hefty per minute phone rate.  I wrote about it in 2012:
During his tenure, I heard a lot of complaints with how Marion County Sheriff Frank Anderson provided oversight (or failed to do so) over Jail #2, the facility on Washington Street run by Corrections Corporation of America.  One of those complaints involved his signing a contract with a private company to provide high-priced phone service for inmates detained at that facility.  In exchange for a huge payment into the commissary fund, money that Sheriff Anderson then used for any purpose he wanted often in direct violation of an Indiana statute limiting a sheriff's use of commissary money (see four stories [above]), a private company received a lucrative contract worth millions to charge inmates for overpriced local phone calls. Of course, that money didn't appear out of thin air.  It represents money that jail inmates, who often couldn't even afford bail pending trial, had to pay to keep in touch with loved ones or to contact legal counsel.
Due to changes made by the Federal Communications Commission detailed in the article I linked, these private telephone contracts making money for the Sheriff's Department commissary fund may be a thing of the past.  The Council though should at the very least make inquiries about where the money made off of inmates' phone calls in 2020 is going to.  Someone is making money.

Finally, you have the issue of civil forfeiture.  In Indiana, law enforcement officials can can seize your private property (bank accounts, computers, vehicles, phones, etc.) by simply alleging that property was used or received in conjunction with a crime. Criminal charges need not be actually filed, and quite often are not. While your property is out of your possession, the prosecutor's office files a civil action to cause permanent forfeiture of your property.  Because it is a civil action and not criminal, the legal protections afforded to criminal defendants are not present.  A person who loses his or her property is forced to spend money on a private attorney to try to get the property back.  Further, the standard of proof for the civil forfeiture lawsuit is only a preponderance of the evidence, not the beyond a reasonable doubt standard required for criminal conviction..  

While Republican Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi was aggressive in using civil forfeiture, under his tenure the program was mostly limited to drug offense allegations.  But under Democratic Prosecutor Terry Curry, the civil forfeiture program was vastly expanded to all crimes for which civil forfeiture is allowed.  To emphasize again, those do not have to be charged criminal offenses.  The criminal offenses only have to be alleged as part of the civil forfeiture lawsuit.  Most people facing civil forfeiture choose to simply walk away from their property.  Needless to say, this program hits poor people and minorities particularly hard.

Indiana law says law enforcement is only entitled to receive those civil forfeiture funds which cover the cost of the particular enforcement action that resulted in the civil forfeiture lawsuit.  The excess is to go to the Common School Fund.  The obvious reason is that the legislature wanted to make sure that law enforcement officials were not incentivized to go after alleged lawbreakers to simply make money for the department. 

Here is the kicker though...Marion County/Indianapolis law enforcement agencies have been keeping 100% of the civil forfeiture proceeds for years.  They are so brazen about it, they even have a formula for how the money is to be divvied up between the various agencies.   That formula, by the way, involves 0% going to the Common School Fund.  Law enforcement gets 100%.

I'm not sure whether the Indianapolis City-County Council can put a stop to civil forfeiture by passing an ordinance.  If so, that should be done.  If not, the Council needs to at least take control of civil forfeiture funds and decide how that money is to be spent instead of leaving the expenditure of those funds to the various law enforcement agencies.  

As a caveat, some of my knowledge in this post may be a bit dated.  It's been a few years since I have been beating the law enforcement reform drum.  To be frank, elected officials did not seem to care what happens to people accused of crimes.  Hopefully that has changed.

Monday, June 8, 2020

Exploring the "What Ifs" What If Fearing an Embarrassing Electoral Loss, Trump Drops Out ?

It is September 2020 and shocking news has just come out of the White House.  Just 50 days before the election, President Donald Trump has announced he will bot to stand for re-election on November 3rd.  The weeks leading up to the announcement, Trump has been laying the groundwork by talking about how his campaign advisors have warned him the election is going to be "rigged" against him.  In particular, the claims are that Biden and Democrats have been out registering "illegals" and plans to have them and other Democratic-leaning voters send in multiple write in ballots.  But up until now most people thought Trump's talk was just talks.  But they were wrong.

I know some will say this scenario will never happen.  They will point to Trump's ego and say that will prevent him from walking away from the possibility of a second term.  But what would even more crush Trump's ego is to lose in an electoral landslide to Joe Biden.  When it comes to litigation, Trump always knew when to fold his cards and avoid an embarrassing defeat in court.  Not sure he would not take the same approach to politics.

The election that most analysts used to say will be close, might not be close at all.   A CNN poll this morning showed Biden ahead by 14 points nationally. Trump is trailing significantly in almost every swing state and Biden is well positioned to compete for several second tier states that Trump won fairly easily in 2016.    Of course it is still early, but  unlike most elections, poll numbers going into the 2020 election seem remarkably stable.  They slide a few points one way or another, but there is hardly any change.

Picking a new nominee would be the least of the Republicans' problem.  They could rush to hold another convention so the delegates could pick a new nominee. But the problem would be getting that nominee actually on the various state ballots.  States have laws, including strict deadlines, governing the replacement of candidates on ballots.  If you go past the deadline, the original nominee's name stays on the ballot.  Those laws, many of which date from an age when the Clerk needed several weeks to have paper ballots physically printed, would certainly be challenged.

Then you have the issue of early voting.  A few states begin their early voting 45 days before the election.  Several other states, including Indiana, begin about 30 days or four weeks out.  Litigation would have to be filed in the states not only to get the new presidential nominee on the ballot but to stay early voting until this can be done.  There is certainly no guarantee that the courts in every state would rule to allow the new nominee on the ballot.  Most likely you'd end up with Trump's name on several state ballots while the new nominee on others.  It is doubtful that the U.S. Supreme Court would have time to intervene to impose a uniform, even if the Court could find federal jurisdiction over what is traditionally a state function.

This is the first in a series in which I explore the "What Ifs" relating to the 2020 election.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Four Days of Trump Campaign Emails

My Outlook inbox is regularly inundated with Trump emails.   They range from heaping praise on me for supporting Trump and criticism for not adequately supporting Trump.  I get a lot of exclusive offers and apparently President Trump knows me personally!

Trump Campaign Manager Brad Parscale
It is a wonder I get Trump emails at all. Lord knows, I have never given the Trump campaign a dime because, well, I am not stupid.  At this point, most of the money people contribute to the Trump campaign ends up in Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale's pocket or are filtered as "campaign expenditures" to Trump's many companies.  Donations to the Trump campaign and the RNC at this point are not about Trump's re-election. They are about making Trump a wealthy person, and I mean really wealthy, not pretend wealthy like when Trump's resume consisted of only being a failed businessman.

So let's dig in and take a look at the 24 emails I received from the Trump campaign over a four day period.  Sender name first, followed by date and time of the email, then title of the email.  In parenthesis is my commentary on the substance of the email.

Lara Trump 
Friday, May 29th, 10:05 am:
Where is YOUR name, Paul?  Did we miss it?
(Apparently my name is missing from the May End-of-Month" donor list.  I am in big trouble with the Trump folks  Remind me again who "Lara Trump" is?  Is she Don, Jr.'s ex-wife or Eric's current wife?  I'm guessing Lara is blonde.)

Trump Deadline Alert
Friday, May 29th, 12:35 pm
You need to read this.  Important information inside.
(And I did.   Apparently someone from Team Trump 2020 "just got off the phone with President Trump" and found out my name was missing from the May End-of-Month" donor list.  Wow, now I am on Trump's radar!)

Newt Gingrich
Friday, May 29th, 3:33 pm
The Big Government Socialist Party.  We can't let them win.
(Newt is writing me personally to let me know "The Democratic Party doesn't exist anymore."  So, I guess they're letting me know they do not need my money after all.  No, the email still asks for money.  I guess the Libertarian Party is still a threat.)

Friday, May 29th, 6:00 pm
Help us CRUSH our May End-of-Month Goal.  Have your contribution 500%-MATCHED.
(Apparently I'm back in Trump's good graces.  The email informs me I "have been selected" and that I have been "identified as one of President Trump's TOP supporters."  I'm being rewarded with an "EXCLUSIVE offer" to give a donation.)

Donald J. Trump
Friday, May 29th, 8:35 am
Let's DOUBLE it
(Email informs me that since "Sleepy" Joe Biden's campaign goal is to raise $6 million in May.  So Trump wants to double that number.  So any donation I make will be matched "500%-MATCHED."  Will someone explain to me where the money used to "match" political contributions is actually coming from?  Are you matching campaign contributions with other campaign contributions and, if so, isn't that a little dishonest?  I would alert the Federal Election Commission but Trump has made sure the FEC won't be enforcing campaign finance laws anytime soon.)

Donald J. Trump
Saturday, May 30th, 10:57 AM
Let's Make a statement.  Will you help?
(Trump personally reviewed his May fundraising list and noticed my name is missing.)

Saturday, May 30th, 1:35 pm
This is your chance.  Make 5X the impact.
(Email informs me again that I've been "selected" and I'm one of Trump's "TOP" supporters.  My donation will be matched times five.)

Brad Parscale (Trump's Campaign Mangager)
Saturday, May 30th, 4:19 pm
I just spoke with the president
(Apparently Brad "recently stepped out of a meeting with President Trump to update him on [the] May fundraising numbers."  Okay, if he stepped "out of a meeting" with Trump how did he then inform Trump of the fundraising numbers?   Was he meeting in close proximity with the President and then think he needed to socially distance himself from the President?  Well, no matter. Turns out Trump himself asked Brad "why Paul from Indiana is MISSING."  Again, it would appear that I am on Trump's radar for not opening my wallet.)

Trump Finance
Saturday, May 30th, 6:07 pm
We think there was a mistake.  We wanted to make sure.
(Still not on the May donor list. Trump people are mad.)

Donald J. Trump
Saturday May 30th, 9:23 pm
Joe Biden who?  He's becoming irrelevant.)
(If Trump has forgotten who Joe Biden is, should we not worry about Trump becoming senile?  And if Trump knows who Biden is and claims he is "irrelevant," then Trump shouldn't need my money to beat him.  Nonetheless, the email again tells me Biden's fundraising goal and reminds me of the 500% match.

Saturday, May 30th 10:34 pm
Special offer for Paul only.  Don't share this with anyone.
(Well, I had a lot of friends who wanted to donate to your campaign, Donald, but I will do what you want and not share with them this email.  And thanks for selecting me...again...to donate to the Trump campaign.  I am truly special.)

Donald J. Trump
Sunday, May 31st, 9:41 am.
FINAL DAY.  I am counting on you, Paul
(President Trump has taken time out from tweeting to write me personally.   In the email, the President chews me out. The President says that Lara, Don, Jr., Eric, Brad Parscale, Newt Gingrich and the Trump Finance Team has emailed me, but my name is STILL MISSING from the May fundraising list.  Trump is royally pissed at me.)

Sunday, May 31st, 12:29 pm
PATRIOT ALERT.  We need your help.
(New format for the email. Graphics show my contribution growing 5 times  But I only have 12 more hours to give.)

Donald J. Trump
Sunday, May 31st, 3:05 pm
I didn't see your name on the list
(Again, President Trump is writing me personally to let me know how upset he is with me that I did not make a donation to his "campaign" in May.)

Sunday, May 31st, 6:05 pm
Only 6 hours left.  Tick tock.
(Time is running out to get on the list.)

Sunday, May 31st, 7:35 pm
We NEVER do this. And we won't do it again.)
(Yeah, pretty sure you will.  So I am told, once again I have an EXCLUSIVE opportunity to donate to the Trump campaign and my contribution will be matched 500%.  The Trump campaign is trying to CRUSH its $8 million goal for May.)

Trump Deadline Alert
Sunday, May 31st, 9:05 PM
We're running out of time.  3 hours to make history.
(You mean, if I give Trump a donation I can make history happen?  Alert Ken Burns!)

Trump Deadline Alert
Sunday, May 31st, 10:05 PM
LAST CHANCE.  Let's CRUSH the left.
(Good.  Glad to be done with these May fundraising emails.)

Sunday, May 31st, 11:05 PM
You need to act fast.  1 HOUR LEFT
(Okay, now I'm glad to be done with these May fundraising emails.)

Trump Finance
Monday, June 1st, 10:09 AM
Offer expires in 60 MINUTES. Then it's gone FOREVER.
(So I have more time to make a contribution in May even though it is now June. Wait...what?  Brad is so busy with his million dollar Florida homes and yacht, he didn't bother to update these automatically generated emails.)

Donald J. Trump
Monday, June 1st, 12:34 pm
Let's WIN AGAIN.  Will you join me?
(You mean like we won in 2018?  Email wants me to become an Official 2020 Trump Life Member.  Now, if I do this will I be a member for my entire life or Trump's life?  Regardless, the email has a scroll of of all the people - first names and initials of last names - of all those donors who who have become "Trump Life Members."   This has to a be a real thing considering the cool graphic.  There are only 600 more slots left though so I need to move fast.  Another deadline....I have to do this by 11:59 tonight.  Must rush!)

Official Trump Polling
Monday, June 1st, 3:04 pm
Tell us the truth.  President Trump is asking.
(This is great.  I get to do a poll.  I feel so Gallopish.  Okay, the question is "How would you rate President Trump's recent job performance."  My choices are "Great," "Good," "Okay," or "Other."  No "Bad" or "Terrible" choices?  I'm beginning to think this is not a real poll.  Now, I find a link to the full poll.  Filling it out.  Sorry, Donald, but I'm giving you really bad marks and ending the poll by saying I'm voting for Biden.   As soon as I hit "Record My Responses," the Trump people will realize I'm not going to give them money and will take me off the email list.  Done. Wait...they are asking me for money again even though I'm a Biden supporter?)

Trump Finance
Monday, June 1st, 5:39 pm
For 1 hour ONLY
(Still time to give money in May...even though it is now June!  500% match of my contribution!  Exclusive offer!  Someone should wake up Sleepy Brad Parscale and get him to fix these automated emails.)

Trump 2020 App
Monday, June 1st, 8:04 pm
One-on-one with the President
(Because I am one of Trump's TOP supporters, I am being offered a "guaranteed opportunity to meet [my] favorite President at a future event" if I download the Official Trump 2020 App.  Not sure how the Trump campaign has created the technology to do this, but somehow the app will transport me back in time to meet Ronald Reagan! I'm also cool with meeting Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt.  They are favorites too.)

Friday, June 5, 2020

Trump's Support for Violent End to 1989 Chinese Freedom Movement Presaged His View That Peaceful Protests Must Be Quickly Stopped

About 7000 students of Beijing Normal University
marching to Tiananmen Square on May 4, 1989
(picture from Tam Photo Series)
In the Spring of 1989, a democracy movement was emerging in China.  Beginning on April 15th of that year, protests by dissidents pushed for Communist government to provide constitutional due process, and end corruption, and to allow democracy, freedom of press, and freedom of speech.

In May, a student-led hunger strike further galvanized support for the movement.  Hundreds of thousands of people in 400 cities to took the the streets and public squares to protest, peacefully, against the repression they had long endured under the Chinese Communist dictators and to plead that
they be given American-style freedom.  

An effigy of the Statue of Liberty stands in front of the
Shanghai city government offices, May 20, 1989

(picture from Tam Photo Series)
Chinese leaders saw the freedom movement as endangering their power.  They declared martial law and mobilized the military.  Reporters were kicked out of the country.  Chinese officials did not want any outside, first-hand reporting of what they planned to do.   On June 4th, the military started shooting the protesters.  In what became known as the Tiananmen Square Massacre, thousands of peaceful demonstrators and bystanders were killed.

The Chinese government's slaughter of its freedom-seeking citizens was roundly condemned by the President Bush, members of Congress, the international community and human rights organizations.  The American public was united in supporting the protesters and  and horrified that the Chinese government would slaughter its own citizens for merely demonstrating for freedom.

That last statement is inaccurate if the term "united" used in that context indicates unanimity of thought.  There was a certain prominent 43 year old New York real estate developer who opposed the demonstrators and supported the Chinese government's action in violently putting down the movement.

In a March of 1990 Playboy interview, then private citizen Donald J. Trump complained about the the burgeoning freedom movement taking place in the then Soviet Union and faulted Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev for "extraordinary weakness" and not having a "firm hand."  Trump said the failure to crush the movement would "end up costing him

Tear Gas Used on Lafayette Square Protesters on June 1, 2020
(picture appears in multiple publications, including the Wall Street Journal)
In the same interview, Trump praised Chinese leaders for acting with "strength" by slaughtering the Chinese protesters and putting a stop to the freedom movement.  Lest anyone think, time and reflection saying the Chinese government was right to act because the peaceful protesters were engaged in a "riot."
would soften Trump's views toward the Chinese protesters, during a 2016 Republican primary debate defended his 1990 comments

During Monday's phone conversation with the nation's governors, Trump chided the states' leaders for not forcefully putting down the demonstrations.  He called on the governors to "dominate" the protesters, to start arresting them and handing out lengthy jail sentences.  Later that same day, Trump gave an address from the Rose Garden in which he said many of the protesters were involved in "domestic terror."  He called himself the "law and order" President and indicated he was dispatching thousands of military personnel and law enforcement to Washington, D.C. to stop rioting and violence.  He called on the country's governors to mobilize the state militias to stop violent riots taking place in their cities.  Trump said if the governors failed to take action, he would use the Insurrection Act to send active duty military personnel to the states to crush the riots and stop the violence.

At the same time that Trump was giving that Rose Garden speech, federal law enforcement officials, on the order of Attorney General Bill Barr, began to violently disperse a peaceful group of protesters who had assembled at Lafayette Square Park across from the White House. Protesters were hit with tear gas (and yes, the pepperballs used are "tear gas" which is a general classification of chemical irritants according to the CDC), exploding rubber shrapnel bombs, and smoke bombs.  Once the crowd was dispersed, Trump engaged in a planned a "show of strength" by walking across the street to the St. John's Episcopal Church for a photo op involving Trump standing before the closed church awkwardly holding a bible.  Trump never opened the bible, did not offer a prayer and did not call for unity and peace in these troubled times.  The church and bible were just props to him.

As evidenced in the 1990 Playboy interview on through his presidency, President Donald Trump has long held nothing but disdain for people exercising their right to assemble and protest against the government.  He sees them all as "rioters" and believes it is the job of government to quickly crush any public opposition to those in power.

Trump supporters like to claim they are "patriots."  But the President they slavishly worship is anything but a patriot.  Donald J. Trump holds values about the exercise of autocratic power that is antithetical to the democratic values and freedom that has long made America great.