Monday, August 31, 2020

Trump's "Law and Order" Message Does Not Seem to Be Working

For a few weeks now, President Donald Trump has been promoting "law and order" as his new campaign theme.  The working theory goes something like this:
1.  Urban unrest and crime has been increasing of late.
2.  Presidents of the United States can control urban unrest and crime.
3.  Elect Joe Biden President and we will have more urban unrest and crime.
Okay, I would challenge the validity of #2, but for the sake of argument let's assume it is true.  There is an obvious flaw with the Trump argument.   Trump, not Biden, is the President and the increased urban unrest and crime has occurred under his watch.

When Republican Nixon campaigned on law and order in 1968, he was not the incumbent President.  Lyndon Johnson, a Democrat, was President.  Even then it is questionable as to how much the "law and

order" message actually resonated with voters.  Nixon narrowly won the popular vote in 1968, although the electoral vote margin was much greater.

Today, former Vice President Joe Biden is set to speak about urban unrest in Portland, Kenosha and other communities.    Previews indicate Biden will lay much of the blame for the increased crime and rioting at the feet of President Trump.  Biden will apparently claim that Trump's actions and words have fomented a climate in the cities that has contributed to urban unrest.

Then you have the events of last week when two groups of Trump supporters decided to confront BLM demonstrators in Portland and Kenosha.  As a result, three people were killed.  Certainly Trump might have some control control over his supporters and could tell them to stay home and not get involved.  Not holding my breath on that happening.

Another problem with Trump advancing the law and order message is that Trump has a long history of not following the law.  You only have to look at the Hatch Act violations during the Republican Convention last week to see it reaffirmed time and time again that Trump considers himself, his campaign, and his administration, above the law that others have to follow.

Nonetheless, there is little evidence in the polling that Trump's law and order message is working, while Biden's lead has shrank a few points before Trump began that new strategy, it has stabilized since then.  A HarrisX national poll, released today, shows Biden's lead at 9 points, unchanged from before the Republican Convention and up a point since a HarrisX poll concluded on August 18th.  The last three Pennsylvania polls have Biden up 7, 8 and 9 points.  Other state battleground polls show Biden with a comfortable, albeit not insurmountable, lead.

While Biden has a shot at several states Trump won in 2016, keep an eye on Minnesota, a state Hillary Clinton narrowly won in 2020.  Some polling there shows the state to be a dead heat and the Trump campaign is starting to put resources into the state in hoping to pull of an upset.  In response, the Biden campaign for the first time is having to play defense.  The Biden campaign is planning to send the candidate to Minnesota (and Wisconsin) after Labor Day.  I have long said Minnesota is Trump's best chance to win a state he won in 2016.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Will Private Militia Members Provide "Security" at Urban Polling Places?

Imagine showing up at your polling place on November 3rd to vote and having to walk by several men wearing army fatigues and armed with semi-automatic rifles, to cast a ballot.  How many people, feeling intimidated, would turn away and not vote?  Quite a few, no doubt.

More and more we are seeing "citizen militia" types show up to "police" demonstrations against racial injustice.  After two nights of protests, that often devolved into rioting, following the shooting of Jacob

New Virginia Militia (Facebook photo)

Blake in the back by a Kenosha Police Department, a Facebook invite went out asking that militia members go to the Wisconsin city to protect it from the "evil thugs." Over 1,000 people responded that they would go to Kenosha.  Another 4,000 expressed interest in going.  One of those who did go was 17-year0old Kyle Rittenhouse, who arrived wearing fatigues and sporting a semi-automatic weapon. Rittenhouse proceeded to shoot three people, killing two of them.  Now on social media and among certain conservative media outlets, Rittenhouse is being hailed as a hero.

Back to voting.  President Donald Trump has already talked about sending armed law enforcement officials at the polls for "security," i.e. intimidation.  At the time, he seemed to be oblivious that he has no control over county sheriff departments and that the federal law enforcement officials he does have control over, have no authority to enter polling places which, by law, are run by state and local governments.  It seems the federal nature of of American government, a concept we conservatives used to support pre-Trump, keeps getting in the way of the President's most dictatorial impulses.

So Trump sending law enforcement officials to the polls fell flat.  But what if leading up to the election it announced that private militia groups plan to have their members, armed with guns, provide security at certain urban polling places, ostensibly to prevent rioting?  They don't even have to enter the polling place, just stand outside of wearing fatigues, visibly displaying arms.  

I know the idea of armed militia types appearing outside urban areas to intimidate from voting is a far-fetched idea...except that is exactly what they planned to do in 2016.  Politico reported in early November of that year, just before the election:

Neo-Nazi leader Andrew Anglin plans to muster thousands of poll watchers across all 50 states. His partners at the alt-right website “the Right Stuff” are touting plans to set up hidden cameras at polling places in Philadelphia and hand out liquor and marijuana in the city’s “ghetto” on Election Day to induce residents to stay home. The National Socialist Movement, various factions of the Ku Klux Klan and the white nationalist American Freedom Party all are deploying members to watch polls, either “informally” or, they say, through the Trump campaign.

The Oath Keepers, a group of former law enforcement and military members that often shows up in public heavily armed, is advising members to go undercover and conduct “intelligence-gathering” at polling places, and Donald Trump ally Roger Stone is organizing his own exit polling, aiming to monitor thousands of precincts across the country.

Energized by Trump’s candidacy and alarmed by his warnings of a “rigged election,” white nationalist, alt-right and militia movement groups are planning to come out in full force on Tuesday, creating the potential for conflict at the close of an already turbulent campaign season.

“The possibility of violence on or around Election Day is very real,” said Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center. “Donald Trump has been telling his supporters for weeks and weeks and weeks now that they are about to have the election stolen from them by evil forces on behalf of the elite.


The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

Again, that was 2016.  If President Trump were asked about such a plan for 2020, would Trump condemn it?  Not a chance.  He may even endorse it.  Nonetheless, unless Trump openly condemns it, the idea armed private militia types at the certain key urban polling places could easily become a reality.  Expect confrontation and violence on Election Day.


OOP's short takes:

  • Let me get this straight regarding the Trump "law and order" campaign.  It is based on the notion that 1) acts of violence and crime in the nation's cities are rising; and 2) the President of the United States has the ability to control crime in the nation's cities; 3) If elected president, Democrat Joe Biden wouldn't use his position to stop crime in the cities.  See the flaw in that argument?  According to the theory, Donald Trump is the one responsible for the increased crime rate.  It happened under his watch.
  • The RNC convention made one thing perfectly clear: Trump and his minions do not care one whit about violating the Hatch Act.  On a related note, I am not sure I've seen a more disgusting sight than looking at our White House, "the People's House," lit up at night with two Trump/Pence signs in front of the majestic building.  How horribly tacky and improper. 
  • Jacob Blake, shot in his back seven times is in the hospital unable to move, fighting for his life.  Yet he is shackled to his hospital bed?   Are you freaking kidding me?  What the hell is wrong with the Kenosha Police Department?

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Trump Campaign Goes Off the Air During Critical Part of Campaign

What is going on?  Trailing badly in the polls with early voting in many states only days away, the re-election campaign of Donald Trump has decided to stop advertising in several battleground states.  Politico reports:

Donald Trump is getting pummeled on the TV airwaves, alarming Republicans and prompting the president’s allies to plead for outside help.  

August has been a blowout: Trump has been outspent on TV more than 2-to-1 over the past month, according to the media tracking firm Advertising Analytics. And in the past two weeks, Joe Biden is outpacing the president more than 5-to-1.

The shortfall comes at a pivotal moment in the campaign, with Biden essentially monopolizing TV advertising in key battlegrounds before the start of early voting. Trump

Jared Kushner

has ceded the airwaves in Michigan and Pennsylvania, where he’s gone dark in August. In Wisconsin, Trump has been outgunned more than 8-to-1.  

The president is not slated to be on the airwaves anywhere during the final week of the month, as Republicans hold their convention.

It’s a jarring turn of events for a reelection effort that has long promoted itself as a financial powerhouse and until recently had a heavy TV presence. And it’s exceedingly rare to see a sitting president go dark so close to an election. But the Trump campaign has seen its long-standing cash advantage over Biden dwindle to just about $20 million, according to the most recent financial disclosures, even as Biden pours money into commercials.

Politico proceeds to report on the Trump campaign's explanation for its strategy:

Trump aides say they have decided to focus their spending on the post-Labor Day final stretch of the campaign and say they see little reason to advertise during the national conventions, which are receiving widespread coverage. Biden’s campaign spent $16 million on TV during his convention week, and is on track to spend more than $14 million during this week’s Republican confab.  

It "makes little sense to blow donor money on ads during convention weeks, when all of the national media is focused on the candidates anyway," said Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh, who argued that Biden's advertising barrage was to designed to compensate for his relatively light public schedule.   

The Trump campaign's explanation for going dark just days away from the beginning of voting in many states makes no sense.   Getting free news coverage is not a reason to stop running campaign commercials.  Just the opposite is true.  Campaign commercials can be used to highlight and emphasize the news coverage people are seeing about the campaign.  Paid and earned media work together by reinforcing the message the campaign wants to get out.

I can only think of two reasons for the Trump campaign going dark during this critical portion of the campaign - it is having money problems (perhaps too many campaign dollrs being redirected to Trump companies?) or the person in charge of Trump's campaign, Jared "The Secretary of Failure" Kushner, has no idea what he is doing.  Probably a combination of both.


OOP's short takes:

  • Will someone explain to me how removing high-speed sorting machines in favor of postal employees doing hand-sorts helps makes the Postal Service more efficient?  I'm not one of those who blindly worship the Postal Service and think it shouldn't be reformed.  I also think bringing in an outsider to enact reforms is a good idea. But Postmaster General's Louis DeJoy's defense of removing the sorting machines makes no sense.  In fact, he did not have an explanation. 
  • With all due respect to Congresswoman Katie Porter, I don't care that DeJoy doesn't know the cost of mailing a postcard.  We ought to care that significant changes were made to postal services operation and even DeJoy doesn't know who ordered them.  Shouldn't we be investigating that?
  • I think with a different candidate, a "law and order" message might have resonance.  The trouble is Trump, as a man who has open contempt for both the law and order, is the worst possible messenger.
  • Is it too late to cancel the MLB season?  I had such high hopes with the changes to the roster my Reds made this year.  Turns out they still stink.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

History Reveals the Significance of 2020 GOP Ditching the Adoption of a Party Platform

Instead of adopting a detailed political party platform setting forth its views on the issues of the day, Republicans delegates to this year's quadrennial national convention chose to adopt a statement that they "enthusiastically" support President Trump.

So if Trump comes out in favor of abortion, higher taxes, increased welfare, reparations, and immigration amnesty, Republicans support those policies?    Absolutely!  If Dear Leader supports something, that makes it by definition the right policy.

Yeah, that is a personality cult, not a political party.  

But wait...I'm sure there have been other occasions when the Republican Party chose against adopting a

party platform.  

Well, maybe not.  Using the Google machine, I found that in 1856, the year the Republican Party was founded, it adopted a party platform in conjunction with its first nominee, John C. Freemont. Then the GOP adopted a platform in 1860, 1864, 1868, 1872, 1876, 1880, 1884, 1888, 1892, 1896, 1900, 1904, 1908, 1912, 1916, 1920, 1924, 1928, 1932, 1936, 1940, 1944, 1948, 1952, 1956, 1960, 1964, 1968, 1972, 1976, 1980, 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016.

Yep, every single presidential election since it was founded featured the GOP adopting a party platform.  Not once did the Republican Party choose not to adopt a platform enunciating what the party stood for, even when the ticket was lead by statesmen such as Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan.  

For the record, I also researched the history of Democratic Party platforms.  Founded in 1828, the Democratic Party started adopting platforms in 1840 when it nominated Martin Van Buren for President.  Van Buren went on to lose the general election to Whig candidate William Henry Harrison.  The Democrats have adopted a party platform for every presidential election since 1840, not missing a single election.  FYI, the aforementioned Whig Party was the very first American political party to adopt a platform, which it did in 1832 in support of its nominee Henry Clay.

So, the GOP choosing to adopt a statement in support of Donald Trump instead of a platform enunciating the party's principles is a very big deal indeed.


OOP's short takes:

  • Watching the Republican Party make a mockery of the Hatch Act's restrictions on political activity by government officials makes it even more clear that we need to take a good look at ethics laws and how they are enforced.  We cannot depend on people complying with the law simply because it is the law.  The Trump folks have made perfectly clear they think they are above the law.
  • Since the last time I've written about the state of the race several national and state battleground polls suggest the race is tightening.  Slightly.  The status of the political contest remains about the same.  The political model at Five Thirty Eight, gives Trump a 30% chance of winning the Electoral College.  I think that's about right.
  • But while Trump's chances have improved a bit, Republican Senate incumbents continue to struggle.  It is now better than 50-50 odds that the Democrats take back the Senate in 2020.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Turns Out Jerry Falwell, Jr. Was Not Living the Christian Life He Insisted Students at Liberty University Live

Shocker!  Turns out that Jerry Falwell's Jr.'s was not living a Christian life.  Rueters Investigates reports:

In a claim likely to intensify the controversy surrounding one of the most influential figures in the American Christian conservative movement, a business partner of Jerry Falwell Jr has come forward to say he had a years-long sexual relationship involving Falwell’s wife and the evangelical leader.

Giancarlo Granda says he was 20 when he met Jerry and Becki Falwell while working as a

pool attendant at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach hotel in March 2012. Starting that month and continuing into 2018, Granda told Reuters that the relationship involved him having sex with Becki Falwell while Jerry Falwell looked on.

Granda showed Reuters emails, text messages and other evidence that he says demonstrate the sexual nature of his relationship with the couple, who have been married since 1987. “Becki and I developed an intimate relationship and Jerry enjoyed watching from the corner of the room,” Granda said in an interview. Now 29, he described the liaisons as frequent – “multiple times per year” – and said the encounters took place at hotels in Miami and New York, and at the Falwells’ home in Virginia.

His friendship with the Falwells eventually soured, Granda told Reuters, in part because he wanted to dissolve his ties with the couple and fell into a business dispute with them.


Several hours after the Reuters article appeared, the Washington Post and other U.S. media reported that Falwell had stepped down as head of Liberty University, the Christian school he has run since 2007. But later Monday, Falwell disputed those accounts. “I have not resigned,” he told Politico. “I will be on indefinite leave.”


Falwell, 58, had taken an indefinite leave of absence earlier this month from Liberty. That step, announced in a terse statement from the school’s board of trustees, came days after Falwell posted, then deleted, an Instagram photo of himself with his pants unzipped, standing with his arm around a young woman whose pants were also partly undone. Falwell later told a local radio station that the picture was meant as a good-natured joke.

(Editor's Note:  I listened to a recording of that radio interview during which Falwell's speech was slurred as if intoxicated.)

If Falwell does step down, his departure from that high-profile perch would represent a remarkable fall from grace for a man who has been a potent force in American conservative politics. His surprise 2016 endorsement of Donald Trump helped the twice-divorced New Yorker win the Republican nomination for president.

Becki Falwell, 53, is a political figure in her own right. She served on the advisory board of the group Women for Trump, which advocates for the president’s reelection campaign. She also spoke as part of a panel with her husband and Donald Trump Jr at last year’s Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, the signature annual gathering of conservatives. Jerry Falwell and others refer to her as “the first lady of Liberty University.”

This is not the first media report that Jerry Falwell, Jr. might not be living the Christian life he insists students at Liberty University follow.  In May 2019, former Trump attorney fixer Michael Cohen said he had helped Falwell deal with racy photos which might surface during the 2016 campaign in which Falwell fully endorsed Donald Trump.  

In September of 2019, Brandon Abrosino, a graduate of Liberty University penned a lengthy story published by Politico, on the climate at the school and Falwell, Jr.'s not so Christian behavior:

Over the past year, Falwell, a prominent evangelical leader and supporter of President Donald Trump, has come under increasing scrutiny. News outlets have reported on business deals by Liberty University benefiting Falwell’s friends. Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen claimed that he had helped Falwell clean up racy “personal” photographs.

Based on scores of new interviews and documents obtained for this article, concerns about Falwell’s behavior go well beyond that—and it’s causing longtime, loyal Liberty University officials to rapidly lose faith in him.

More than two dozen current and former high-ranking Liberty University officials and close associates of Falwell spoke to me or provided documents for this article, opening up—for the first time at an institution so intimately associated with the Falwell family—about what they’ve experienced and why they don’t think he’s the right man to lead Liberty University or serve as a figurehead in the Christian conservative movement.

In interviews over the past eight months, they depicted how Falwell and his wife, Becki, consolidated power at Liberty University and how Falwell presides over a culture of self-dealing, directing university resources into projects and real estate deals in which his friends and family have stood to make personal financial gains. Among the previously unreported revelations are Falwell’s decision to hire his son Trey’s company to manage a shopping center owned by the university, Falwell’s advocacy for loans given by the university to his friends, and Falwell’s awarding university contracts to businesses owned by his friends.

“We’re not a school; we’re a real estate hedge fund,” said a senior university official with inside knowledge of Liberty’s finances. “We’re not educating; we’re buying real estate every year and taking students’ money to do it.”

Liberty employees detailed other instances of Falwell’s behavior that they see as falling short of the standard of conduct they expect from conservative Christian leaders, from partying at nightclubs, to graphically discussing his sex life with employees, to electioneering that makes uneasy even those who fondly remember the heyday of the late Rev. Jerry Falwell Sr., the school’s founder and Falwell Jr.’s father, and his Moral Majority.

In January, the Wall Street Journal reported that in the run-up to Trump’s presidential campaign, Cohen hired John Gauger, a Liberty University employee who runs a private consulting firm, to manipulate online polls in Trump’s favor. Not previously reported is the fact that, according to a half-dozen high-level Liberty University sources, when Gauger traveled to New York to collect payment from Cohen, he was joined by Trey Falwell, a vice president at Liberty. During that trip, Trey posted a now-deleted photo to Instagram of around $12,000 in cash spread on a hotel bed, raising questions about his knowledge of Gauger’s poll-rigging work. Trey did not respond to requests for comment.

OOP's short takes:

  • Sorry to say (okay that's a lie) that I missed watching the GOP convention last night.  I heard Donald, Jr. and his girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, were awful.  Senator Tim Scott and Nicky Haley got high marks for their speech.  Haley is fascinating to me.  She is one of the few Trump high-level appointees who managed to escape the Trump orbit with reputation intact.  Then after she leaves the administration, Haley writes a book and goes out on interviews in which she flushes her dignity and integrity down the toilet to go Full Trump.  So stupid. Yeah, not a chance in hell I will support that sell-out for President.
  • Melania Trump is speaking today.  She is no doubt changing a few words in Michele Obama's speech to make it her own. Seriously, I do not care one bit for Melania.  I don't have lot of sympathy for sell-outs and she is the ultimate sell-out.
  • What I find most interesting about the list of RNC speakers is those not on the list.  Where is Lindsey Graham?  Thom Tillis?  Cory Gardner?  Martha McSally?  Susan Collins?  All are Senators up for re-election and face tough challengers.  I guess they have all figured out by now that associating oneself with Trump is not a good formula for winning general elections.  Sorry, too late for that.
  • Speaking of missing speakers, where is Texas Senator Ted Cruz who is not up for re-election.  Also missing from the speaker list is Trump's female African-American supporters (possibly his only ones) Candace Owens and Silk & Lace.
  • Yesterday, Indiana reported a record 1,660 new Covid-19 cases.
  • An update on the Fallwell, Jr. article:  As I was hitting the button to publish, it was announced that Falwell, Jr. will resign as Liberty University President.  

Monday, August 24, 2020

Over Half Million Mail-In Ballots Rejected in 2020 Primary; GOP Foregoes Platform in Favor of Statement Supporting Trump

 NPR reports:

An extraordinarily high number of ballots — more than 550,000 — have been rejected in this year's presidential primaries, according to a new analysis by NPR.

That's far more than the 318,728 ballots rejected in the 2016 general election and has raised alarms about what might happen in November when tens of millions of more voters are expected to cast their ballots by mail, many for the first time.


Even with limited data, the implications are considerable. NPR found that tens of thousands of ballots have been rejected in key battleground states, where the outcome in November — for the presidency, Congress and other elected positions — could be determined by a relatively small number of votes.

For example, President Trump won Wisconsin in 2016 by almost 23,000 votes. More than 23,000 absentee ballots were rejected in the state's presidential primary in April. More than 37,000 primary ballots were also rejected in June in Pennsylvania, a state Trump won by just over 44,000 votes.

The numbers are also significant because of large partisan differences in how Americans plan to vote this fall. Democrats have expressed more interest than Republicans in voting by mail — 47% to 28% in the Democracy Fund/UCLA survey. Forty-eight percent of those who intend to vote for Joe Biden say they will use mail-in ballots, compared with 23% of Trump supporters.

Over half a million mail-in votes were rejected during the primaries, i.e. before the two major parties start competing against each other.  Given the contentious nature of November's election, how President Trump has demonized mail-in voting, and the much larger volume of mail-in votes, I think you could see as many as 5 million mail-in votes rejected in the general election.  

OOP's short takes:

  • If you need more evidence that Republicans have abandoned their principles in favor of a personality cult, consider that instead of adopting a party platform, the delegates will be asked to announce it "enthusiastically support[s] Trump's agenda.  Although the Republican National Committee claims that the platform couldn't be adopted due to Covid-19 restrictions, the Democrats managed to adopt a 91 page platform. 
  • News this morning is that Kellyanne Conway is leaving the Trump administration and her husband, George Conway, is leaving the anti-Trump Lincoln Project.  They both are saying they wish to devote more time to their family.  This comes on the heels of their 15 year old daughter announcing that she is seeking to be emancipated from her parents.  I never really understood how that marriage was making it.  It's one thing to have political differences in a family.  It's quite another when the father and mother do not have the same set of ethics and morals.  Clearly Kellyanne has a broken moral compass considering all the lying she has done to promote and protect Trump.  George refused to go down that road, even though doing so cost him a lucrative appointment.
  • The first Indy 500 without fans was held yesterday.  Just not a huge fan of auto racing.  Recorded the race, but haven't bothered to watch it yet.  I'm a baseball fan, but that's not working out well with my Reds underperforming expectations, with little time to recover with the 60 game season.  2020 has been an awful year for sports.
  • Point of personal privilege...not happy that they have removed all the recycling bins on the northwest side of Indianapolis.  But I understand why.  Property owners who provided the space constantly had to deal with people placing next to the dumpster, non-recyclable items, such as large TVs, beds, etc.  I briefly paid for curbside recycling, but the company nearly tripled the price so that it wasn't worth it anymore.  I hate to throw recyclables in the trash, but I may not be left with any choice.

Friday, August 21, 2020

Joe Biden's Convention Speech Kills Off "Dementia Joe" Trump Attack

Donald Trump and his ilk have spent weeks trying to sell the public that presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden has cognitive problems that made him unfit to be President.  They desperately have tried to get the moniker "Dementia Joe" to stick.

It was a stupid strategy on so many levels.  The so-called evidence of the former Vice President's mental

difficulties, the awkward pauses, gaffes, memory lapses and sometimes rambling train of thought expressed out loud, are traits Donald Trump shares with Biden.  "Dementia Donald" is actually more believable.  Trump even has dementia in his family.  His father died of Alzheimer's. 

Then you have the No. 1 rule of politics, do not lower expectations for your opponent.  After all the effort to cast aspersions on his mental acuity, pretty much all Biden had to do was show up and not slobber during his convention acceptance speech and he would clear the bar Trump had set.

Last night, the old man did a lot more than that during his speech.  He turned on a 95 mile per hour fastball and drilled it into the upper deck.    Even Biden's most ardent supporters were stunned.  They didn't believe he had it in him.  

In a pitch perfect speech, Biden outlined that the election is about the soul of a nation, what type of country people want to live in.   This is how Biden began his speech:

Good evening.

Ella Baker, a giant of the civil rights movement, left us with this wisdom: Give people light and they will find a way.

Give people light.

Those are words for our time.  

The current president has cloaked America in darkness for much too long. Too much anger. Too much fear. Too much division.

Here and now, I give you my word: If you entrust me with the presidency, I will draw on the best of us not the worst. I will be an ally of the light not of the darkness.

It's time for us, for We the People, to come together.

For make no mistake. United we can, and will, overcome this season of darkness in America. We will choose hope over fear, facts over fiction, fairness over privilege.

I am a proud Democrat and I will be proud to carry the banner of our party into the general election. So, it is with great honor and humility that I accept this nomination for President of the United States of America.

But while I will be a Democratic candidate, I will be an American president. I will work as hard for those who didn't support me as I will for those who did.

That's the job of a president. To represent all of us, not just our base or our party. This is not a partisan moment. This must be an American moment.

It's a moment that calls for hope and light and love. Hope for our futures, light to see our way forward, and love for one another.

America isn't just a collection of clashing interests of Red States or Blue States.

We're so much bigger than that.

We're so much better than that.'

Later, Biden turned to Trump's failure to be a leader as this country faces a public health crisis.

Our current president has failed in his most basic duty to this nation.

He failed to protect us.

He failed to protect America.

And, my fellow Americans, that is unforgivable.

As president, I will make you this promise: I will protect America. I will defend us from every attack. Seen. And unseen. Always. Without exception. Every time.

Near the end, Biden's speech turned to Trump's America-Last foreign policy:

I will be a president who will stand with our allies and friends. I will make it clear to our adversaries the days of cozying up to dictators are over.

Under President Biden, America will not turn a blind eye to Russian bounties on the heads of American soldiers. Nor will I put up with foreign interference in our most sacred democratic exercise -- voting.

I will stand always for our values of human rights and dignity. And I will work in common purpose for a more secure, peaceful, and prosperous world.

Biden brilliantly wove his life experiences into speech.  He came across as real human being who could empathize with the problems of everyday Americans.  That's what Americans want from their President. 

Biden's speech and the other speakers at the DNC convention could have dwelled on the typical liberal Democratic wish list that many Americans do not support.   Instead they went for the middle, reaching out to suburbanites, moderates and disaffected Republicans.  They are trying to grow, not narrow the coalition that appears poised to win the White House and Senate for Democrats.

In other words, what the Democrats did this week was smart politics.  I have never seen the Democratic Party so united and so reasonable.

OOP's short takes:

  • It appears Qanon is becoming a bigger and bigger headache for the Republican Party.  The crazy conspiracy theory claims is a cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles in the government and media that can only be stopped by President Trump.  Given a chance to denounce the conspiracy theory, Trump praised Qanon supporters for loving their country and supporting him.  (In Trump's mind that is probably a redundancy.)  What is perhaps more troubling is that, given the chance to denounce Qanon, most Republican officeholders chose not to do so.  Meanwhile, Qanon candidates are starting to win more and more GOP primaries.
  • Postmaster General Louis DeJoy appears to be backing off changes that could have delayed the  delivery of mail-in ballots.  Not sure whether the change in tone is due to the public backlash or GOP officeholders begging President Trump to stop denouncing the use of mail-in ballots, which voting option has for decades favored the Republican Party. 

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee Finds Trump Campaign Worked With Russia to Win 2016 Election

It was a bombshell that got overshadowed this week.  The Wall Street Journal reports:

Members of the 2016 Trump campaign represented a major counterintelligence risk to the U.S. due to their frequent contacts with individuals with close ties to the Russian government, a bipartisan Senate investigation has concluded.

The Senate Intelligence Committee released the fifth and final volume of its Russia investigation report Tuesday. The partially redacted document is nearly 1,000 pages

Sen. Richard Burr, Former Chmn
and largely supports the key findings on Russian election interference made by former special counsel Robert Mueller, whose probe confirmed that Moscow meddled in the 2016 election but didn’t establish conspiracy or coordination between Moscow and members of President Trump’s campaign.

A substantial portion of the report focuses on the connections of onetime Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort with Konstantin Kilimnik, who is officially described for the first time as a Russian intelligence officer, and Russia-aligned oligarchs in Ukraine. Mr. Manafort’s high-level campaign access and willingness to share information with Mr. Kilimnik and others “represented a grave counterintelligence threat,” the report concluded.

The report also states that Mr. Manafort might have been connected to the Russian intelligence operation to hack and leak Democratic emails as part of its broader effort to denigrate Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and support Mr. Trump’s campaign. It cites “two pieces of information” that raise such a possibility, but the details are redacted. There is also some evidence to suggest that Mr. Kilimnik was tied to the hack-and-leak operation, although that assessment is based on what the report calls “a body of fragmentary information.”

In addition, the Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2019 made criminal referrals of Donald Trump, Jr., Jared Kushner, Steve Bannon, Erik Prince and Sam Clovis for lying to the Committee.  The referrals were sent to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Washington, DC.  It is not clear who in the Justice Department, led by Attorney General Bill Barr, made the decision to not prosecute.

The Senate Intelligence Committee report, which provides even more detail about how Trump campaign officials openly accepted the help of the Russian government, and even coordinated their efforts, shows how utterly dishonest Attorney General Barr was being when he falsely claimed the Mueller Report found there was no collusion and exonerated Trump.  The Mueller Report did neither of those things.

No, the Russian interference into our 2016 election was not only real, it was an effort that was welcomed by the Trump campaign.   Not only that, a new intelligence assessment indicates that Russia is at it again, working to denigrate Joe Biden while promoting Donald Trump.


OOP's short takes:

  • Former Trump advisor and strategist, Steve Bannon, this morning was charged with fraud for a private fundraising effort to support Trump's desire to build a wall along the southern border.  The effort had raised $18.5 million by November of 2019.
  • A federal district court judge ruled today that federal prosecutors could have access to Trump's accounting records as part of a criminal investigation.  This followed a United States Supreme Court ruling that the records could be accessed.  Trump has already appealed today's ruling to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals for an emergency stay pending a full hearing on the matter before the appellate court.
  • A brief commentary.  Federal court judges are getting played by the Trump administration, which is using the court's deliberative processes to delay, delay, delay.  Federal judges need to do a lot better of of prioritizing their calendars and acting much more quickly on these matters.  There is no reason why it should take months for courts to schedule hearings and issue rulings.  So many of these matters are not complex.  Finally, when parties and their attorneys are making meritless arguments and pursuing meritless appeals for the purpose of scoring delays, SANCTION them.  It's not rocket science.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Michelle Obama's (Accurate) Criticism Gets Under President Trump's Skin

Yesterday, at the Democratic National Convention, Michelle Obama delivered a speech in which the former First Lady outlined what the 2020 presidential election is really about:

Empathy: that's something I've been thinking a lot about lately. The ability to walk in someone else's shoes; the recognition that someone else's experience has value, too. Most of

us practice this without a second thought. If we see someone suffering or struggling, we don't stand in judgment. We reach out because, "There, but for the grace of God, go I." It is not a hard concept to grasp. It's what we teach our children.

And like so many of you, Barack and I have tried our best to instill in our girls a strong moral foundation to carry forward the values that our parents and grandparents poured into us. But right now, kids in this country are seeing what happens when we stop requiring empathy of one another. They're looking around wondering if we've been lying to them this whole time about who we are and what we truly value.

They see people shouting in grocery stores, unwilling to wear a mask to keep us all safe. They see people calling the police on folks minding their own business just because of the color of their skin. They see an entitlement that says only certain people belong here, that greed is good, and winning is everything because as long as you come out on top, it doesn't matter what happens to everyone else. And they see what happens when that lack of empathy is ginned up into outright disdain.

They see our leaders labeling fellow citizens enemies of the state while emboldening torch-bearing white supremacists. They watch in horror as children are torn from their families and thrown into cages, and pepper spray and rubber bullets are used on peaceful protestors for a photo-op.

Sadly, this is the America that is on display for the next generation. A nation that's underperforming not simply on matters of policy but on matters of character. And that's not just disappointing; it's downright infuriating, because I know the goodness and the grace that is out there in households and neighborhoods all across this nation.

And I know that regardless of our race, age, religion, or politics, when we close out the noise and the fear and truly open our hearts, we know that what's going on in this country is just not right. This is not who we want to be.

Michelle Obama is right.  This election is not about issues.  It is about the character of our nation.  It is about who we, as a people, want to be.

Only then did the former First Lady turn to the current occupant of the White House:

So let me be as honest and clear as I possibly can. Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country. He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head. He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us. It is what it is.

I never jumped on the Trump train because I had long followed Trump's career and knew him quite well.  Trump has always been a joke, a huckster pretending to be a successful businessman kept afloat by his father's money and loans he would never repay.  The only thing Trump has ever succeeded in was becoming a reality show star.  I knew Trump lacked the temperament, the intelligence, the life experiences needed to be President of the United States.  My only mistake was underestimating the depth of Trump's psychological problems, which further compounded his other limitations.  I had no idea how spectacularly bad a President he would turn out to be.

"He is clearly over his head."  

What I find so utterly frustrating is that many, perhaps most, of my fellow Republicans would admit Trump is over his head, that he lacks the basic competence to be President.  Yet they continue to support Trump anyway.  Why? Because Trump makes the liberals mad!  That and the Democrats are bad on the issues. 

Not that Trump is right on the issues.  So many positions he takes are antithetical to traditional GOP conservativism.   Trump has expressed hostility to the idea of federalism, limited government, and restrained executive power.  At every turn, he has refused to be constrained by constitutional limits.  Trump ran up huge budget deficits, even before the pandemic, and saddled American consumers with higher prices due to tariffs.  He conveys disdain for America's traditional support for human rights, and expresses a fondness for dictators (even when they're paying bounties for terrorists to kill American soldiers), while undermining our allies at every turn.  

But even if Trump were right on the issues, the fact remains he is spectacularly incompetent.  Trump's failure to deal with Covid-19, a failure that has resulted in 170,000 dead Americans, starkly highlights that fact.

"He is clearly over his head."


OOP'S short takes:

  • President Trump decided to use an event honoring the 100th anniversary of women receiving the right to vote to attack Michelle Obama for her criticism of him during his speech.  Trump's clever response?  "Well, she's in over her head..."  It doesn't take much to get under Trump's skin and to throw him off his game, which is something the Lincoln Project regularly exploits.
  • The Senate Intelligence Committee today released a report detailing more contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.  The report goes beyond even the Mueller Report. Kudos to the bipartisanship leadership of that committee to put aside partisanship to get to the truth.  

Monday, August 17, 2020

Supposed Postal Reforms Are About Stopping Mail-In Voting

I have long advocated reform at the United States Postal Service.  (I have to fight the temptation to call it the Post Office, a name discarded some time ago.)  In 2019, the Postal Service lost $4 billion  Thus far, it was on track to lose $7 billion.  This is despite ever increasing postal rates.  

Average postal service salaries run between $39,689 to $89,115.  The overall average is $61,000.  So employee pay is more than reasonable, but not outlandish.  But what really gets the Postal Service in trouble is that employees, who want it, can regularly work overtime at rates 1 1/2 times, sometimes even double, their regular salaries.  When a company is experiencing an ordinary work load, but is paying employees overtime, that's a sign it is not a well-run company.  

Of course, the Postal Service is not a business.  It has certain legal obligations, such as delivering to every address in the country, six days a week. that no business wanting to be profitable, would ever voluntarily take on.  But just because the Postal Service is not a business doesn't mean no business principles whatsoever apply  The example, mentioned above, is one of them that should be applied.   The Postal Service needs to better utilize its labor resources so as to avoid paying overtime on a regular basis.  

A no brainier way of fixing this problem is to stop delivering mail six days a week.  In the age of electronic mail and bills paid via electronic transfers of money, there is no need for six day a week mail delivery.  It should be cut back to five, possibly even four.

I don't disagree with the Trump's administration stated intention to reform the Postal Service.  I likewise don't disagree that bringing in an outsider, a successful businessman, to implement reform efforts is a bad idea.  Sometimes, outsiders see problems differently and are more innovative than those embedded in the corporate bureaucracy, which the Postal Service most certainly has.

Having said all that, I have my doubts that the reforms thus far are about making the Postal Service more efficient.  Most likely they are about delaying mail-in ballots from reaching their destination, which might mean they won't be counted.  Eliminating sorting machines, which means more hand sortation by postal workers, hardly seems like a "reform" that's going to make the Postal Service more efficient.  Likewise, it is not clear how removing postal mailboxes significantly reduces labor.  It does, however, make it harder for the public to mail their ballots.  

Then you have the President Donald Trump saying the quiet part out loud when he said he opposed an additional appropriation to the Postal Service because the money would be used to process the millions of mail-in ballots.  He then went on to say that, without the extra money, the states would not be to have universal mail-in voting. 

Now Trump and his defenders are trying to walk back that admission, instead making it sound like the changes are about improving the efficiency of the Postal Service.  No, the changes are about Trump trying to suppress the mail-in vote.  One poll I saw said people who plan to vote in-person favor Trump by about a 2-1 margin, while people who plan on mailing their ballots favor Biden by about a 4-1 margin.  It doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure out why the Trump administration is so desperately trying to slow and even stop the mail.


OOP's Short Takes:

  • Qanon conspiracist Marjorie Taylor Greene won the GOP primary in Georgia in what is a very safe Republican district.  No doubt she will be heading to Congress.  In addition to supporting the Qanon conspiracy, which believes President Trump is fighting a secret war against elite Satan-worshipping pedophiles in government, business and the media.  Green also is a 9/11 Truther and a racist, xenophobe and a religious bigot.  Yet, House minority leader Kevin McCarthy has indicated that Greene will be warmly welcomed into the GOP caucus and given committee assignments.  
  • As I recall, Iowa Rep. Steve King was condemned by McCarthy and stripped of his committee assignments because of racially-tinged statements.  But Greene, whose transgressions appear to be as bad as King's if not worse, is warmly welcomed by House Republicans.  Please someone explain that to me.
  • Candidates who support Qanon have won several Republican primary nominations.  The phenomenon seems to be spreading.  It is the natural outgrowth of the Trump personality cult.  Qanon takes their worship of Trump to a new level.  Supporting Qanon might become the new litmus test for Republicans, especially in safe GOP districts like Greene's.
  • Keeping my eye on the polls.  A CNN poll just released shows Biden leading Trump by only four points nationally.  Ten weeks ago, CNN's poll showed Biden leading by 14 points.  That would be a dramatic development.  Other polls though only show a slight movement in Trump's direction.  For example, Fox polls during the same time frame, show Biden's lead dropping from 12 points to 7.  Other polls show even loss of a softening of Biden support. Still at the end of the day, the only thing that matters are the state polls.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Republican Party Will Pay a Price for Trump Turning GOP into Party of Voter Suppression

As a Republican, I have long had to deal with the negative stereotypes Democrats have peddled about members of my party.  We in the GOP are racist, sexist and xenophobic.  We don't care about the poor and the disadvantaged.  We only care about the wealthy and making rich people richer.  Republicans aren't truly worried about election security, they just want to suppress the vote.

Those allegations against my Republican Party are were absolute crap.  Then Donald Trump came along

and made them all true.  And 90% of Republicans went along.   The damage Trump has done to the reputation and legacy of the Republican Party cannot be overestimated.

Let's double back to "voter suppression."  Democrats have long claimed that requiring a photo ID to vote suppresses the vote.  I've looked extensively at the issue after Indiana adopted which is called one of the most strict ID laws in the country, and there just is no evidence that turnout in Indiana fell as a result of the requirement.  

There needs to be much more focus on Democrats' position that voters should be able to cast a ballot by just announcing their name to election officials and signing beneath the signature of that declared voter in the poll book.   Combined with the problem of voter rolls inflated with voters who are dead and have moved, that creates an opportunity for people to cast ballots for others simply by signing a name.  Detecting fraud of this sort is very difficult and usually relies on the poll worker knowing the person is not who he or she claims to be.   While widespread fraud in such circumstances is highly unlikely, we should, nonetheless, be worried about isolated cases of fraud too.  There are down ballot races that might be decided by a handful of votes, after all.

Likewise, it is ridiculous how Democrats always fight the periodic purging of inactive voters, who most certainly have ceased voting because they are dead or have moved.  These purges are required by the National Voter Registration Act ("Motor Voter Bill") passed in 1993 by a Democratic-majority Congress and signed into law by Democratic President Bill Clinton Clinton.    The purges only happen after several elections are missed and postcards to their residences have not been returned.  The notion that there are tens if not hundreds of thousands of these purged voters getting turned away on Election Day is utter nonsense.  Democrats like failed Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams are allowed to constantly peddle this ridiculous claim without ever being fact-checked by the media.

Contrary to claims of Democrats, getting registered and voting is much easier than it has ever been in this country's history.  That is until Donald J. Trump became President.  As the 2020 election approaches, Trump has demonized mail-in voting (while requesting a mail-in ballot himself), instead suggesting people risk getting exposed to a deadly virus by going in-person to the polls.  Yesterday, Trump said he is against an additional appropriation going to the Postal Service because the money would be used to process process and deliver mail-in ballots.  There are also stories of mail sorting machines being removed from post offices.   The U.S. mail service delivery has slowed down significantly under the leadership of recently appointed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, 

Make not mistake about it, Donald Trump is trying to suppress the vote.  Big time.

Trump has turned the Republican Party into the Party of Voter Suppression.  We Republicans don't just want honest elections, we want to make it difficult for people to vote.  I'm sure the Republican Party won't be a price to pay for that down the road ... I say with utter sarcasm.


  • I ran across a video from 2019 when Senator Kamala Harris is attacking a judicial nominee for joining the Catholic auxiliary organization, Knights of Columbus, because the Knights are against abortion.  Of course, so too is the Catholic Church.  Harris' approach would mean that no Catholics are acceptable for public office, including her running mate Joe Biden.  I'd like to address Harris' views about Catholicism (as well as her support for unbridled executive power when she was running for President) but when the Republican nominee is someone who is so spectacularly unqualified for office, someone who advocates for unbridled executive power and is utterly hostile to American democratic values, someone whose re-election might well end the Republic as we know it, those otherwise major concerns about Kamala Harris no longer seem very important.
  • A new forecast says the hotel business won't recover until 2023.  According to the study, revenue per available room has dropped from $86.64 in 2019 to $41.31 this year.  Which makes it more absurd that city officials think this is the perfect time to build two more large downtown hotels and expand the convention center.  Of course, Indianapolis taxpayers assume the risk and the private companies get the profits.  That, after all, is how Indianapolis public-private partnerships work.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

The Real Problem With Vote by Mail: The Counting of the Ballots

With a pandemic still raging, many states have expanded mail-in voting so people do not have to risk their lives going to the poll.  While it is an option I support for this election, let's not fool ourselves.  Mail-in voting is not without problems.  You have the loss of the guarantee that you will be able to cast your vote in secret.  And there is an increased probability of fraud with mail-in ballot, though claims that

voting in that manner lead to widespread fraud are not credible.

Unfortunately about 90% of the attention has been on the CASTING of mail-in ballots.  A lot more attention needs to be on the COUNTING of ballots.  Elliott S. Berke, an attorney who has worked on election issues pens an excellent article discussing the problems with the counting of mail-in ballots.

Berke notes that nearly 150,000 mail-in ballots were rejected in just three states' primary elections this year:  18,500 (1.3% of total) in Florida, 102,000 (1.5%) in California and 23,000 (1.8%) in Wisconsin.  Rejected ballots could be for a number of reasons: arriving late, not being postmarked, missing signature, or signature which doesn't match what voter registration has on file.  It should be emphasized that these rejection rates are during primaries, when the parties are just fighting internally over who their nominee will be.  Mail-in ballots are three times more likely to be rejected than ballots cast in person.  It is going to get much worse with expanded mail-in voting for a highly-contentious general election.

People want to make sure their franchise is protected by having a mail-in option. But what they don't realize is that they can lose their franchise on the back-end, when votes are counted.  I am most concerned about the issue of supposed mismatched signatures.

For years, I have witnessed the Marion County Board of Voter Registration throw out hundreds of supposedly mismatched signatures on petitions to routinely disqualify independent and maverick party candidates from appearing on the ballot.  Thus, I am not confident the signature match requirement won't also be used to throw out scores of mail-in ballots.  This is particularly true as people's signatures evolve over time and Indiana Boards of Voter Registration does not regularly update the voter signatures on file.  Plus, you're going to have lay people, not professionals, comparing signatures in order to determine whether voters are who they claim to be.

Where Berke's article goes off the rails is in his proposed solution.  Although he is, rightfully, concerned about election security, the only solution he gives us is that we need more voter education.  No amount of education is going to matter if election workers are intent on disqualifying votes and can do so simply based on mismatched signatures.  We need other options to validate mail-in ballots besides signatures.


OOP's short takes:

  • Still waiting for those Congressional Republicans to stand up to President Trump for taking a dump on the Constitution by issuing those executive orders on the economy.  I am old enough to remember when we Republicans complained about President Obama issuing executive orders when Congress did not do what he wanted.  Now Trump has taken Obama's approach and put it on steroids. 
  • Have the Republicans not figured out that these executive orders creates a horrible precedent that will be used against them when a Democrat is elected President?  That will happen one day, in fact probably in November of this year.
  • Kudos to Republican Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse for calling out Trump's executive orders for being "unconstitutional slop" and telling Trump that America does not have kings.  Of course, Trump attacked Sasse on Twitter.  I have mixed views of Sasse. There was a point, apparently fearful of a primary challenger, that Sasse changed from being a principled conservative to going all in on Donald Trump.  I am pretty sure the devil does not have a return policy on political souls.

Monday, August 10, 2020

Is the Indiana Department of Revenue Misleading Hoosiers Into Paying More Taxes?

I prepare taxes for my elderly mother as well as an older brother, who unfortunately passed away early in 2019.   For both of them, the majority of their income is from pensions.  That income, and any withholding, is reported on 1099-R forms.

In 2019, my mother received a notice from the Indiana Department of Revenue that she had vastly

underpaid her 2018 state income taxes and owed a few thousand dollars.  When I looked at the side-by-side comparison of what I had reported when doing her taxes versus IDOR's calculation, I noticed the Department credited her with $0 withholding for 2018.  I pulled out her one of her 2018 1099-Rs, and there, plain as day, was the line showing my mother had had a couple thousand dollars in state taxes withheld from her pension income in 2018.

I spent considerable time drafting a letter to IDOR explaining that the Department had made a mistake and included the a highlighted 1099-R form showing the taxes withheld.  That apparently satisfied the IDOR.  Although I was curious as to how the Department could have missed the withholding, I quickly forgot about it.

In April of this this year, I filed my mother's taxes.  A couple months later, I filed my brother's taxes.  Guess what?  On both filings, I got a letter form IDOR saying taxes were owed.  When I looked closely at the side-by-side comparison, I saw the Department had, once again, not provided a credit for pension withholding, which appeared prominently on their 1099-R forms.

The exact same mistake made three times in a row cannot be a mistake. Clearly, the IDOR has no system in place for tracking 1099-R withholding paid by Hoosiers.  

How many Indiana residents are getting deficiency notices from the IDOR and then simply paying the amount the Department claim is owed, rather than looking more closely at the numbers and their 1099-R forms?  

The Indiana Department of Revenue needs to get its act together.

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Indiana "Young Conservatives" Protest Against Mask Laws While Ignoring Loss of Freedoms from Expanded Executive Power

Today, a group called the "Young Conservatives of Southern Indiana" held a rally at the Indiana Statehouse to protest state and local mandates that Hoosiers wear masks to prevent spread of the the Covid-19 virus which has killed 160,000 Americans.  Many of the protesters wore "Trump" hats and

shirts promoting the President's re-election. This includes Republican State Senator Jim Tomes.

Meanwhile, President Trump was in Washington signing four executive orders on taxing and spending policy, bypassing a Congress that not yet acted.  As I recall, one of the complaints we Republicans had about President Obama was that he believed he could do executive orders whenever Congress failed to act.  

Maybe the "Young Conservatives of Southern Indiana" might take two seconds to consider the potential impact on our freedoms of the precedent of President simply being to adopt whatever policy he prefers by signing an executive order instead a bill passed by Congress.   Maybe members of that organization might consider what this precedent will mean when a Democrat is elected President.

Young Conservatives of Southern Indiana might be "young," but they are certainly not "conservative."

To quote comedian Ron White, "you can't fix stupid." 

Friday, August 7, 2020

Update on Senate Races - Kansas, South Carolina and Texas; Biden's "Diversity" Gaffe

I wanted to update readers on the status of Senate races:

Kansas:  The Republican Party believes it dodged a bullet when the unpopular former Kansas Secretary
of State lost the Senate GOP primary to Congressman Roger Marshall.  Democrats believed they could beat Kobach, but doing so against any other Republican be difficult.  After Marshall's victory, Democrats seemed willing to write off the state and focus on other states.   Kansas though may still be in play.  A post-primary poll released by Public Policy Polling today shows Democratic challenger Barbara Bollier, a state senator and former Republican, only trailing by 1 point.  A PPP poll in March showed Marshall beating Bollier by 10 points.  While Bollier may win, it is more li.kely to be a result of a Democratic "rising tide raises all boats" victory rather than Democrats pouring in resources to try to win the State.  

South Carolina:  The good news for those of us who want to see Trump enablers voted out of office is that Senator Lindsey Graham appears to be in real trouble.  A highly-regarded Quinnipiac poll today has Democrat Jaimie Harrison tied with Graham, and Trump leading by only 5.  That poll is not an aberration.  On Wednesday, a Morning Consult poll had Graham up by 1 point and Trump leading by 5.  Two polls in late July had Graham up 4 and 2 points.  With President Trump in office, Graham abandoned his principles and traditional independence to engage in unending presidential bootlicking.  Turns out South Carolina voters are not enamored with Lindsey Graham 2.0.

Iowa:  Speaking of Trump bootlickers, Iowa Senator Joni Ernst also appears to fighting for her political survival.  Two polls released yesterday, show Ernst trailing her Democratic opponent Theresa Greenfield by 2 and 4 points.  A more highly respected pollster, Monmouth University, published a poll early in the week showing Ernst leading by 3 points.  That poll also had Trump only with a 3 point lead in Iowa.  In many ways, the situation in Iowa is like South Carolina in that you have two incumbent Republican Senators who went all in on Trumpism only to find out that Trump has lost considerable support in the state since he won it handily in 2016.  (Trump won South Carolina by 14.2 points and Iowa by 9.4. in 2016.)

Kentucky:  For those of you who desperately want Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell defeated, don't get your hopes up.  While Quinnipiac shows his opponent Amy McGrath within 5 points of the Senate Majority Leader, most other polls show McConnell with a much larger lead.  Perhaps more importantly, unlike South Carolina and Iowa, Trump remains very popular in Kentucky.  

OOP's short takes:
  • So Joe Biden put his foot in his mouth yesterday.  The Democratic gaffe-machine said that unlike Latinos, African-Americans are not diverse.  Biden since has had to clarify that comment.   Biden no doubt was talking about political diversity among the two groups.  In the United States, when one discusses Latino voters, you're talking about Cuban-Americans, Mexican-Americans and Puerto Ricans.   The first group votes Republican, particularly in Southern Florida.  While Mexican-Americans vote Democratic, some Republican candidates have been able to get nearly 50% of the Mexican-American vote.  Puerto Rican voters, on the other hand, vote heavily Democrat.  So to do African-Americans.  That no doubt is the "diversity" Biden was referring to.  But a political speech is not the forum to make casual observations about voting patterns.  Not surprisingly, Biden's words were mischaracterized as a slam on African-Americans.
  • Trump supporters no doubt believe they can take advantage of Biden's gaffe to entice more African-Americans to vote for the President.  Yeah, good luck with that.  On Election Day, Trump's support among African-Americans will not reach double figures. However, there is a danger to Biden is that if he continues such slip-ups he will be seen as taking African-American voters for granted causing a significant percentage to stay home on Election Day Week Month.  I highly doubt it will happen, but Biden's gaffe certainly increases the possibility that he chooses an African-American running mate
  • Turns out Republican operatives are helping rapper Kanye West get on the ballot.  I know how many of my Republican colleagues think. They have the simple-minded view that if you offer African-Americans the opportunity to vote for a black candidate, they will vote for that candidate instead of a white Democrat.  In my entire time in politics, I've never seen that strategy work.  What is really sad is that Republicans are so eager to exploit a man who is well-known to have serious psychological problems.  Have they no sense of decency?
  • Indiana reported the most ever new Covid-19 cases yesterday.   That record of 1,040 lasted one day. Today, Indiana reported 1,239.   I knew a virus surge would eventually make its way to Hoosierland.  It may now be our time in the barrel.  Stay safe.