Friday, December 30, 2022

George Santos' Lies Were Spawned by the GOP Ignoring Donald Trump's Lies

Newly-elected New York Congressman George Santos claimed to have attended two institutions of higher learning, graduating from Baruch College in New York.  He claimed to have worked at Citicorp and Goldman Sachs, but neither company found any record of Santos' employment.

Running in a Long Island district with a large number of Jewish voters, Santos claimed to be Jewish.  When caught in that lie (Santos is Catholic), he tried to clarify saying he isn't Jewish but rather Jew-ish, a heritage he claimed because he had Ukrainian Jewish grandparents who escaped the holocaust by moving to Brazil.  Jewish Republicans were not amused.  But, of course, even that claim turned out to be a lie.  

Santos is the lying liar who lied.  Although he says he was simply "embellishing" his resume, Santos simply made up things out of whole cloth.  Not a shred of truth to many of his claims.  Trouble is Santos may have also told some lies that will get him in legal trouble.  He, allegedly, set up a fake charity to raise money.  He also somehow went from being so impoverished he lived with his parents to being able to loan his campaign $700,000,  No one quite understands where the money came from.

Santos' lies have outraged many of his fellow Republicans.  My question for them is...seriously?  

For seven plus years I have seen Donald Trump tell one lie after another, including about his own background, and watched my fellow Republicans giving him a pass.  Trump lied about his supposed wealth, which will be proved, once again, when his tax returns are released on Friday.  Trump set up a fake university and ran a scam charity that was about enriching himself.   There is no lie that Trump would not tell.  And yet everyone gave him a pass.

Santos has to be confused.  I would imagine him thinking, "So Donald Trump lies constantly and is elected President, and I lie and they don't want me to serve in Congress?" 

I am confused too.  So we Republicans care about GOP politicians who lie now? So character matters again?  

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Senator Todd Young is Censured by Local County GOP Organization for Casting Conservative Vote on Marriage

I'm old enough to remember when Republicans believed in federalism.  The Cass County (Logansport) Republican Party, which censured Indiana Senator Todd Young for casting a vote for federalist principles, apparently does not.  Let me explain.

An essential component of federalism is the Constitution's full faith and credit clause which says that the "full faith and credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records and judicial Proceedings of every other State."  The second part of that section says that "Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof."  In short, Congress gets to enforce the Full Faith and Credit Clause, i.e. to ensure that the states recognize those "Acts, Records and Proceedings."

In 1996, Congress used this Full Faith and Credit Clause enforcement power to pass the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which said that states could choose not to give full faith and credit to certain marriages, i.e. same sex marriages, solemnized in other states.  By passing such a law, Congress was using its enforcement power to undermine the federalist principles mandated by the FF&C Clause.

This month, DOMA was repealed when Congress passed the so-called Respect for Marriage Act, bipartisan legislation that requires states to recognize the validity of same-sex and interracial civil marriages.  While the validity of same sex and interracial marriage is recognized nationwide thanks to Supreme Court decisions, it is theoretically possible that the Court may, as it did on abortion rights, turn that decision back to the states.  If the Court did, RMA would then provide protection for the decision states make regarding which marriages to allow in their jurisdiction.

The RMA also has a provision ensuring that religious freedom currently protected by the Religious Freedom Restoration Acts passed by Congress and the majority of states would not be overridden by an application of the RMA.  That is a huge victory for conservatives because of the repeated efforts by Democrats in Congress to pass civil rights laws that explicitly exclude religious objections.  

While Indiana Senator Mike Braun voted against the very conservative principles of the RMA, the Hoosier state's other senator, Todd Young, was one of 12 Republicans who supported it  For this offense, Senator Young earned a censure from the Cass County (Indiana) Republican Party.  In a letter to Young, Cass County GOP Chairman David Richey wrote that the Senator's vote "elicited feelings of anger, disbelief and even a sense of betrayal."  Richey's letter went on to claim Young had reneged on his previous position that the same-sex marriage should be handled at the state level rather than by the federal government.

Actually, Young's vote for the RMA is very much consistent with federalist principles.  It was DOMA, which Richey apparently supports, that nationalized the issue by gutting the Full Faith and Credit Clause.  

Richey's letter also suggests he's unfamiliar with the important protections for religious liberties contained in the RMA.

Richey circulated his letter to other county GOP chairmen in Indiana hoping they will follow his lead.  So far it doesn't seem there are any takers.

I have argued previously that there is those supporting same sex marriage need to be more tolerant to those who have religious objections.  Someone performing marriage ceremonies should not be forced to officiate at a same sex marriage if it conflicts with his or her beliefs.  Same with a baker who specializes in making wedding cakes.  Many courts have made a logical distinction between those type of creative activities and the situation where a restaurant opens the doors of a business and invites customers in.  In the latter situation, the business owner cannot discriminate.  In the former, refusing to provide the service is within the bounds of the law.

It is encouraging that both sides were able to work together to fashion a reasonable compromise in enacting the RMA.  Senator Young has shown impressive leadership in being part of that effort.  He should not be dismayed by uninformed, narrow-minded critics such as Richey and, apparently, a majority of the Cass County GOP organization leadership. 

Thursday, December 8, 2022

Down Ballot Statewide Contests Show Georgia is Still a Solid Republican State

In analyzing the runoff win by Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock against Republican challenger Herschel Walker, many election analysts noted the retired football star ran far behind GOP Governor Brian Kemp.  In comparing the two, those analysts conclude that Kemp succeeded because he was popular with the voters.

A review of the election results though reveal that Kemp is not more popular than the other statewide GOP candidates, and actually ran behind, albeit slightlythe Republican baseline vote in Georgia.  In establishing the baseline vote, political scientists don't look at top line races where voters actually know the candidates.  Instead they look at down ballot races where the candidates are much more obscure.  In those contests, voters tend to default to their party preference to guide their choices.

Brian Kemp defeated Democrat Stacey Abrams by 7.53%.  Meanwhile the Republican Commissioner of Agriculture and the State School Superintendent won by 8.13% and 8.38%. Given there was nothing unusual about those races, and the candidates were known by only a tiny percentage of voters, the contests are ideal for establishing the baseline.  So let's say the GOP baseline in Georgia was the average of those races, or 8.25%.

Lt. Governor candidate Burt Jones, a close Trump ally who agreed to be a fake elector, performed the worst of any Republican statewide candidate not named Herschel Walker.  He won by 4.96% of the vote.  Meanwhile Attorney General Chris Carr, who did clash with Trump and won the primary against a Trump endorsed opponent, prevailed by 5.26% of the vote.

The Georgia statewide candidate who led the ticket wasn't Kemp.  It was actually Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger who Trump attacked even more than Kemp.  Raffensperger won his race by 9.24%.

It wasn't so much that the Kemp was popular in Georgia, but that he benefited from the fact that the Republican brand proved to be popular in 2022 in the Peach State.  That fact explains why a scandal-plagued candidate so thoroughly unqualified as Herschel Walker could still receive an astonishing 48.6% of the general election vote.  Walker had the "R" by his name in Georgia and that alone nearly lifted him to victory.

Another narrative out of Georgia is that the Senate election result establishes Georgia as a purplish swing state.  The view of analysts is that Georgia has become more Democratic.  I must say, I was ready to accept that as true...until I took a look at the 2018 numbers.

Let's go back to those two Georgia statewide races I used to come up with a Republican baseline.   In 2018, the Republican Commissioner of Agriculture and the State School Superintendent won by 6.16%, and 6.04%, an average of 6.1%.

Of course, 2018 was a bad Republican year and 2022 was better, although not great, for the GOP.  And it is true that what happens in the mid-terms might not carry over to a presidential election.  Nonetheless, I think analysts are wrong to assume Georgia will be a top tier swing state in the 2024 presidential election.  The statewide baseline races in Georgia show a fairly strong Republican leaning.  Contrast that to Arizona which is often talked about in the same breath as Georgia when it comes to identifying 2024 swing states.  The Democrat appears to have won the Arizona Attorney General's race by a total of 511 votes.  Meanwhile, the Republican won the Superintendent of Public Instruction race by just under 9,000 votes, or .4%.  Of the five statewide offices elected in Arizona in 2022, Democrats won three of the contests.

It is quite possible that Republican-leaning Georgians simply don't like Trump and Trump-endorsed candidates, but have no problem voting for other Republicans.   Democrats winning in Georgia statewide seems to be an aberration instead of a pattern.   I would still color Georgia red.

OOP's short takes:
  • Speaking of presidential election swing states, it is shocking that there may be even fewer competitive states in 2024 than in 2020.  Florida and Ohio seem to be long shots for the Democrats.  Unless Trump is nominated again, I'm not convinced Democrats can win Georgia in 2024.  Meanwhile, Michigan and Pennsylvania seem at best second tier competitive states for the Republicans while North Carolina seems perpetually out of reach for the Democrats.  The 2024 highly competitive swing states I see are Arizona, Wisconsin and Nevada.  Scratching my head trying to come up with others.  Possibly New Hampshire with its 4 electoral votes will be a battleground, but in recent elections Democrats have won that state fairly easily.

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Trump Set to Lose Another Election Tonight in Georgia

Today's election in Georgia may put the dagger in the myth that Donald Trump is a "winner."  As Georgia voters head to the polls in a run-off, they will decide whether to return Raphael Warnock to the Senate or to go with football star Herschel Walker.

Walker, handpicked by former President Trump, has turned out to have been even worse a candidate than everyone in the GOP feared.  And once again, thanks to Trump inspired and/or recruited candidate, the Republican Party is about to lose another winnable Senate seat.  A solidly conservative candidate, not spouting Trump's election denial nonsense, could have easily won in Arizona, Pennsylvania, Nevada and Georgia.  Democrats did return the favor in Wisconsin, nominating for the Senate the only Democrat in the state, Mandela Barnes who couldn't defeat the highly unpopular Ron Johnson.

Trump said that with him the Republican Party would grow tired of "winning."  But since Trump essentially drew to an inside straight in 2016, he's done nothing but cause the Republican Party elections.  Trump's brand is losing. 

The fact Trump is a loser has given his erstwhile supporters an excuse to take an off-ramp from the ex-President.  Those of us Never Trumpers should not allow those Trump supporters to escape without consequences.  I don't blame Trump for what he did to the Republican Party as much as I blame his enablers.  Those Trump supporters decided to throw away their conservative values to follow a failed businessman, reality show star who long had supported liberal Democrats such as Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton.  Even when it was clear that Trump was misogynist, racist, even anti-Semitic, they gave Trump a pass.  If that wasn't enough, as President and since, Trump openly expressed hostility to American democratic values and recently said the Constitution should be suspended to reinstall him as President.  None of those things though have stopped Trumpers from supporting the ex-President.  But losing...that's too great of a sin.

The irony is that, although we Never Trumpers are often marginalized as a tiny segment of the GOP electorate, we have been the difference maker in numerous races.  When one analyzes the swing states Trump lost in 2020, such as Arizona, Georgia and Wisconsin, it is clear that Biden won those states, and the election, because of Republican crossover vote.   In 2022, it happened again when in state after state Trump endorsed candidates who refused to accept the legitimacy of the 2020 election lost.

It appears that we may be witnessing the end of Trump as a political darling within the Republican Party.  But that's not enough.   We need to strike a stake through the heart of Trumpism.  Any elected official who continued to support Trump despite knowing his lack of character and his opposition to American democratic values, should not earn the support of Never Trumpers. Ever.