Saturday, October 31, 2020

How Is It Possible? 40% Want This Shit Stain On History To Get Another 4 Years In The White House



Sociopath by Chip Proser

The U.S. is finishing up it's worst week-- in terms of new cases-- since the pandemic began... while the Trumpist regime is screaming from the rooftops that it's over, over, over, cured by Señor T. On Wednesday the U.S. reported a total of 81,811 new cases. On Thursday there were 91,834 new cases reported. Yesterday it was another 101,461 new cases, bringing the total to 9,316,297 cases. This was accompanied by 1,030 new deaths on Wednesday, 1,041 new deaths on Thursday and 988 new deaths Friday, bringing the total of Americans killed by Trump and his enablers to 235,159.

Many Americans imagine that when Trump leaves the White House we'll rarely hear from him again or that he'll spend the rest of his life being tried and in prison. But no American president has ever gone to prison and it is a stretch to imagine someone as inherently conservative as Biden will allow anything like that. writing for Politico Magazine, Garrett Graff, an author and historian, put together a realistic look at what Trump night actually do after he's ousted. The definition of Trump Graff uses to help construct his case is simple and straightforward: "A restless figure with few interests outside his own business and political career, no hobbies besides playing golf at his own properties and few traditional friends, Trump thrives on public attention and disruption; this, after all, is a man who couldn’t even spend an entire weekend cooped up inside a hospital while ill with Covid-19 earlier this month and had to take a joyride around Walter Reed Medical Center to wave to supporters." He concludes that "the Trump Era is unlikely to end when the Trump presidency ends [but with a] post-presidency as disruptive and norm-busting as his presidency has been-- one that could make his successor’s job much harder." The historians, government legal experts, national security leaders and people close to the administration consulted by Graff for his piece "outline a picture of a man who might formally leave office only to establish himself as the president-for-life amid his own bubble of admirers-- controlling Republican politics and sowing chaos in the U.S. and around the world long after he’s officially left office."
“Can he continue to make people not trust our institutions? Can he throw monkey wrenches into delicate negotiations? Absolutely,” one former Trump administration official says. “He can be a tool. He’ll be somewhere between dangerous and devastating on that extent.”

A president unwilling to respect boundaries in office is almost certain to cross them out of office. Experts envision some likely scenarios-- a much-rumored TV show and plans to use his properties to profit off his lifetime Secret Service protection, perhaps even continuing to troll the Biden administration from his hotel down Pennsylvania Avenue-- and some troubling if less certain ones, like literally selling U.S. secrets or influence to foreign governments.

Trump has already mused that maybe he’ll leave the country if he loses, but few expect him to willingly depart the American public stage. He would leave the White House with one of the largest social media platforms in the world-- including 87 million Twitter followers-- and a large campaign email list with a demonstrated small-dollar fundraising capability that could be used to aid other MAGA-friendly politicians-- or, just as likely, to sell Trump’s own wares. And he’s presumably going to need every dollar he can squeeze from his businesses and the office he will have just left. As the New York Times has been documenting, Trump has $421 million in debt coming due in the years ahead. If he leaves office, he’ll have to be busy raising the cash to pay it off.

...“He’s still the leader of a movement,” says Nancy Gibbs, a journalist and historian who co-wrote The Presidents Club about the lives of former presidents. “I’m hard pressed to recall a past president who left office with a movement intact that wasn’t transferred to someone else. I don’t see him giving it up.”

Which means, from even those first minutes, Trump’s post-presidency would almost certainly be unlike anything America-- or the world-- has ever experienced. Assuming he’s able to settle any legal challenges arising from the presidency and doesn’t spend the rest of his days in tax court in New York state, Trump as a 74-year-old man has a normal life expectancy of around 11 years, and most former presidents actually far outlive the average American, so he might have a couple decades to disrupt the world’s most exclusive club of ex-presidents.

“It’s a safe bet that many of the rules and patterns of past presidents will not apply to him,” says Gibbs. “I long ago stopped putting limits on what he might do or sell. There are no boundaries.”

A career salesman will find himself with more connections around the world than he’s ever had before-- and also with more grievances against people he feels mistreated him and forced him from office prematurely. “I put two years as the over-under on groundbreaking for Trump Tower Moscow,” says one former national security official. “It’ll be a huge F.U. to all the Russia coup plotters.”

...As he leaves office, Trump would have the chance to decide how and where to set up his post-presidential life—and where to direct a spigot of taxpayer dollars that will continue to flow to him for the rest of his life. Former presidents are eligible for a range of taxpayer-paid benefits, including a roughly $200,000-a-year pension for life, about a million-dollars-a-year for travel and office expenses, and so-called “franking privileges,” the ability to send mail postage-free. The law does stipulate that such offices have to be inside the U.S., so that would prohibit Trump from using the funds to set up his office in, say, a non-extradition country.

Trump would even have the right to use a special government-owned townhouse on Lafayette Square, across from the White House, reserved exclusively for former presidents visiting Washington, although it seems hard to imagine Trump foregoing the chance to stay in his own hotel just down Pennsylvania Avenue.

...Where Trump will set up “home” is an open question: He moved his voting residence from New York to Florida last year-- so it seems unlikely he’ll return to set down roots in Manhattan-- but in converting the 17-acre Mar-a-Lago into a private club, he agreed years ago that he couldn’t live there year-round and the club closes for the unpleasant Florida summer, so he’ll have to find a second home elsewhere. If he declares that he’ll be living permanently at some combination of Mar-a-Lago, Bedminster, Trump Tower in New York, and the Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C., the Secret Service might well be paying millions of dollars to the Trump Organization for years to come.
Then there's the possibility of a Donald J. Trump Presidential Library (and garish theme park), which you'll need go to the link to read about.
It’s possible that, if he loses reelection, Trump may wake up January 21 in Mar-a-Lago and find himself exiled and forgotten by a Republican Party eager to move past him. It’s possible too that Trump will decide to forget about Twitter, bury @realDonaldTrump and live out his days quietly golfing with his friends and admirers and holding court at the Mar-a-Lago buffet in the evenings, before settling in to watch Sean Hannity’s show in peace and silence.

Possible, but unlikely. Trump, unloved by his father, has spent his entire life craving public adulation and attention and possesses a unique-- almost algorithmic-- understanding of how to maximize the spotlight shining on himself. Almost everyone agrees he seems likely to want to remain in the public eye-- setting up a novel circumstance where a new president might assume office while being critiqued publicly minute-by-minute or hour-by-hour by his predecessor.

Ex-presidents of both parties usually go out of their way to stay quiet, at least for some period of time after leaving office. In March 2009, in his first speech as a former president, George W. Bush said he wouldn’t critique Obama at all. “He deserves my silence,” Bush said. Eight years later, in their first meeting post-election, Obama told Trump, “We now are going to want to do everything we can to help you succeed because if you succeed, then the country succeeds.” Later, explaining why he’d stayed almost silent even as the Trump administration unraveled so much of his legacy, Obama said in 2018 as he eased back onto the public stage, “Truth was, I was also intent on following a wise American tradition of ex-presidents gracefully exiting the political stage and making room for new voices and new ideas. We have our first president, George Washington, to thank for setting that example.”

It’s nearly impossible to imagine Trump’s abiding by any of those sentiments—it’s hard to even imagine Trump’s Twitter fingers staying still all the way through a Joe Biden inaugural address.

Meanwhile, there’s reason to believe the Republican Party may not be quick to turn on Trump, even if he’s badly defeated on Tuesday.

In fact, ironically, the bigger the GOP wipeout that accompanies a Trump defeat, the more Trump would likely continue to control the remnants of the party. Trump’s ascendency since 2016 has dramatically rearranged the ranks of the Republican Party in Washington and nationally; roughly half of the 241 Republicans who were in office in January 2017 at the start of his term are already gone or retiring. Any sort of broad loss on Tuesday would further wash away the very swing districts and candidates most inclined to move beyond Trump, leaving just the most solidly Republican districts-- GOP areas where Trump’s approval ratings remain sky-high and whose representatives would conceivably be the last to risk abandoning him. Republican candidates even far down the ballot are competing over who loves Trump more, and Trump’s scattershot approach to policy-making and betrayal of long-held conservative beliefs means the only ideology that unifies his party today is adulation of him (and, perhaps, the QAnon conspiracy theory). The intellectual inconsistency of the current party was made all too clear by the summer decision at the Republican National Convention to forego a traditional party platform and simply offer a blanket endorsement of whatever Trump wanted to do in a second term.

Instead, Trump-- and his all-powerful Twitter feed and fundraising list-- might become the party’s most reliable megaphone and kingmaker, akin to the role Sarah Palin played in 2010 amid the rise of the Tea Party after her 2008 defeat as John McCain’s running mate. In that sense, it’s possible that the 2022 midterms and the 2024 presidential race would actually be the most MAGA-friendly GOP primaries yet, conducted almost entirely on a stage designed by Trump himself, with supplicants parading through Mar-a-Lago to kiss the ring and an entire generation of GOP stars molded in his image. And that’s even before considering the Trump family’s direct influence-- say a titanic Ivanka vs. AOC campaign in New York for Chuck Schumer’s Senate seat in 2022 or Donald Jr.’s campaign for Congress (or even the presidency) in 2024, as he becomes the next-generation MAGA standard-bearer.

This path of influence might prove one of the most stable visions ahead, assuming a relative level of normalcy from a man who has time and again demonstrated anything but. In fact, this entire piece and its imagined premise of a Trump post-presidency assumes that Trump and those around him at least superficially, if not graciously, accept a loss and that he is content to just grumble loudly from the political balcony à la Statler and Waldorf in The Muppets.

There are darker visions and scenarios in which Trump never does accept a 2020 defeat, is pushed reluctantly from the White House in January, and moves to assume some more explicit mantle of a wronged leader-in-exile. Al Gore, after his acrimonious defeat, traveled across Europe and grew a beard, rather than setting up an opposition government in the lobby of the Willard Hotel across from the White House. But imagine if he had wanted to contest the election long past inauguration day?

...Almost no matter his approach to his successor-- merely disgruntled or actively hostile-- Trump will surely want to be listened to, which is why he might look for a platform to keep himself in steady communication with the national movement of the disaffected he's fostered over the last two years as he seized and remade the Republican Party.

...Rumors have long circulated that the Trump family would try to build its own media empire. Some have speculated that in 2016 Trump had been planning to launch “Trump TV” if, as even he expected, he lost the presidency to Hillary Clinton; one reporter even swore to me he saw a sign on the camera riser at Trump’s election night victory celebration reserving a spot for “Trump TV.” Earlier this year, there was conjecture that the Trump family and its backers might be interested in boosting and formally partnering with One America News (OAN), the upstart Fox challenger that has become an all-but unofficial Trump TV.
The scenarios go on forever. Keep reading if you can stomach more of this. And if you can't... remember this: Trump is the Typhoid Mary of the Covid pandemic. A CNN investigation of 17 Trump campaign rallies between August 17 and September 26 found that 14 of the host counties had an increased rate of new Covid-19 cases one month after the rally.

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Can A Blue Dog Party Switcher's Pledge Of Undying Loyalty To Trump Help Him Win Re-Election... In Atlantic City, Where Trump Destroyed The Economy?



New Jersey's second district is the only real swing district in the state. Obama won it it a tad over 53% both times he ran and then Trump beat Hillary there 50.6% to 46.0%. The district takes up the entire southern part of the state, including Atlantic City, although most of it suburban and rural. There are 8 counties and parts of counties, but most of the people live in just 4: Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland and Gloucester counties.

Frank LoBiondo, a mainstream Republican, was elected to the congressional seat in 1994 and finally retired in 2018 granting the DCCC their long-in-the-tooth and disastrous wish-- a run by the most conservative member of the New Jersey state legislature, NRA darling Jefferson Van Drew. He won but not by a huge margin-- 52.9% to 45.2%-- while losing Salem, Ocean, Camden and Burlington counties. And he spent $1,877,531 while his Republican opponent only managed to spend $299,475. Outside group spent another million-plus on bolstering Van Drew, while his GOP opponent was without allies in that department.

Now, of course, Van Drew is the Republican candidate and the Democrats snagged a moderate Democrat, Amy Kennedy. So far she's outspent him by around a million dollars-- $4,085,926 to $3,028,402 with Pelosi's superPAC kicking in another $5,275,471 and the DCCC $1,165,084 more. In all over $7 million in outside money has been spent on Kennedy's behalf while "just" $5.3 million has been spent by the GOP to defend Van Drew.

CNN reported this week that Van Drew's very public pledge of his "undying support" for Trump has not done him any good with independent voters, who ultimately decide who wins and who loses elections in NJ-02. Rebecca Buck wrote that last December, Van Drew "shocked his colleagues in the Democratic Party when he announced he would become a Republican," blaming the impeachment for his decision. His shocked colleagues would only have to know a little something about Blue Dogs-- dozens of whom have stabbed the party in the back and joined the GOP-- and Van Drew's very Republican voting record to have not been shocked. Just as they shouldn't be if others just like him-- Anthony Brindisi (NY) and Kendra Horn (OK) being prime examples-- when they hop the fence in a couple of years. Buck continued that "Van Drew's detractors point to a more craven political calculation: that he might not have been able to survive his Democratic primary."
The decision culminated in an Oval Office photo-op, where Van Drew pledged his "undying support" to the President. Camera shutters clicked as the two men vigorously shook hands. Eleven months later, those images are at the center of one of the hottest congressional races in the country, with Van Drew seeking reelection for the first time-- and, also for the first time, running as a Republican.

His GOP debut happens to coincide with a daunting year for his new party. But he says his transition is "going fine."

"What's really good about it is, I sort of feel liberated, in that I don't have somebody telling me what you can and can't vote for," Van Drew said, "and that's what really started all of it."

Van Drew's Democratic challenger, Amy Kennedy, is a former schoolteacher born and raised in South Jersey; she is also the wife of former Rep. Patrick Kennedy, a son of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy.

The race is only nominally between Kennedy and Van Drew, however. As in down-ballot contests across the country this year, Trump looms large here-- perhaps even more so because of the public embrace between Van Drew and the President.

"What's happening at the top of the ticket is really defining the down-ballot races," said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, which recently surveyed the race for New Jersey's Second Congressional District. "It's much, much harder this time around than it has been in the past to establish yourself as an independent voice."

A year ago, a close association with Trump might not have sounded like such a bad thing in South Jersey. The President won this district in 2016 by 5 points; in January, when Trump traveled there for a victory-lap rally with Van Drew, thousands of supporters lined up in the frigid cold. Van Drew, reminiscing on that night, recalled an atmosphere of such exuberance that a match "just would have self-lit."

But that was before Trump stumbled responding to a global pandemic, before millions of Americans lost their jobs, and before 2020 and the election took a sharp turn in another direction.

Now, Trump's endorsement might not be enough, if it's a net positive at all-- and as the President lags in the polls with Election Day nearing, Van Drew, a former mayor and state lawmaker, is trying to remind voters of his own brand, cultivated over two decades in public service, of an independent-minded politician unconcerned with party labels.

"I don't always agree with what the Republican Party is doing or even the President is doing. And the President knew that when I got involved," Van Drew said. "I vote independently. I'm the same Jeff Van Drew I always was."

If some at-risk Republican candidates are hedging their support for Trump, however, Van Drew insists he isn't one of them.

Indeed, Van Drew's campaign website still features a large banner photo of his Oval Office handshake, swallowing up most of the screen. Van Drew was a featured speaker during the Republican National Convention over the summer. And his campaign office windows plainly bear the signs of Van Drew 2.0: not only Van Drew's logo, printed on yard signs this year in a new shade of bright GOP red, but also Trump's. The Van Drew campaign shares the office with Trump's New Jersey operation.

"I don't run away from people," Van Drew said. "...I don't think, whether you're a Republican or a Democrat, whether you always agree with the President or not, that you just betray him and walk away. I don't think that's the right thing to do."

Some Democratic voters who supported Van Drew two years ago believe that's exactly what he did to them, by switching parties just one year after they sent him to Washington.

"I felt betrayed actually, that he would do something like that," said David Burr, a Democratic voter who cast his ballot this year for Kennedy. "It just seemed like he wasn't thinking about me, he was thinking about remaining in office."

And it isn't just voters: party leaders, too, felt broadsided by Van Drew's decision. Just days before Van Drew's announcement, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer headlined a lunch reception for the congressman at a townhouse on Capitol Hill. There, according to Hoyer, he praised Van Drew for his party loyalty, despite hailing from a moderate district. Donors wrote checks for as much as $5,000 to Van Drew's reelection campaign; Hoyer, for his part, had already maxed out.
Many of the actual founders of the Blue Dog coalition found it expedient to quit the Democrats and become Republicans, like Nathan Deal (GA), Billy Tauzin (LA), Jimmy Hayes (LA), Michael Parker (MS), Gene Taylor (MS), Ralph Hall (TX), Pete Geren (TX), who came up with the term "Blue Dog," and Greg Laughlin (TX). In leaving the Democratic Party, Van Drew was staying true to what Blue Dogs generally do.

However, many of these Blue Dog party switchers lose subsequent elections (or even GOP primaries). Buck reported that "Van Drew claims to be 'the only person in all of American history who ever went from the majority party to the minority party,' and insists that others who have done it have been rewarded with chairmanships and greater political clout. But that's not true, even in recent political history." She cited Blue Dog scumbag Parker Griffith (AL) who became a Republican in 2009. Alabama Republicans weren't interested and defeated him in a primary.
For Van Drew, at least, a contested GOP primary wasn't an issue after Republicans rolled out the red carpet for him. Along with Trump's endorsement of Van Drew, the President's reelection committee immediately invested $250,000 in advertisements thanking the congressman for switching parties and supporting the President.

But if the GOP welcomed Van Drew with open arms, his district's voters might make another calculation.

"Van Drew has been successful his entire career setting himself up as not the typical politician, not somebody who's beholden to partisan interests," said Murray, of Monmouth. "Yet many voters view his party switch exactly in that vein, that it was an act of political self-preservation."

In a sense, it was. As Van Drew prepared to vote against impeaching the President last year, his campaign team shared with him an internal poll suggesting the stance would doom him in a Democratic primary. Switching to the GOP was hardly a guaranteed return ticket to Washington-- but at least it wouldn't be a certain political death sentence.

...The bigger issue for Van Drew, unquestionably, will be Trump-- and their alliance symbolized by the moment when Van Drew pledged his "undying support, always" to the President.

It was that moment, Kennedy says, that motivated her to run in the first place.

"I had no intention of running for office," Kennedy said. "But it was hearing those words, 'I pledge my undying support to you Mr. President, always,' that was when I felt like this is someone who is absolutely not there to look out for our best interests. And that compelled me to want to run."

Now that moment has become a symbol of the campaign-- and a headache for Van Drew, who like voters in his district has seen his sound bite played and replayed "over and over and over again," by his count, in attack ads this year.

During CNN's interview this week, we asked Van Drew if he regretted those words that have followed him around these months and might now cost him reelection.

"I think the words didn't explain as well what I exactly felt," Van Drew conceded. "It's not undying support that, whatever you say I'm going to do, or undying support, I agree with whatever you say. It was undying support for the presidency, for the idea of the greatness of America, for a friendship, but not necessarily that I'm going to agree with everything."

But it's unclear if will voters understand what he meant versus what he said.

"I think voters understand that when you're in the Oval Office and you're having a very exciting day and you're making a little piece of history," Van Drew said, "that sometimes we all say things."

A few minutes later, after our conversation had moved on, Van Drew stopped mid-sentence to rephrase something-- and then, recognizing the humor of it, he cut himself off again. Under his mask, he might have allowed a smile.

"See how your words can come out wrong?" he said, stabbing the air playfully, laying his Jersey accent on thick. "Well, I got a chance to fix it this time."
Kennedy isn't a Blue Dog, but has been endorsed by the New Dems, basically just as bad and more firmly tied to Wall Street. Progressives have no candidate to vote for Tuesday, though many are just going to hold their noses and vote for Kennedy to express their antipathy for Van Drew.

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Not Even Fox Cares If Trump Loses On Tuesday



Mike Venable has served as Betsy de Kos' chief of staff at the Department of Education, deputy finance director for the RNC, and chief of staff for the Michigan Republican Party. Yesterday he wrote an OpEd for the Detroit News urging fellow Republicans to vote against Trump on Tuesday, which he isn't doing either. "For the good of the party I have supported my entire life, but more importantly, for the sake of the country I love," he wrote, "I implore all patriotic Republicans to join me... Trump thrives on purposely sowing strife and discord. I have seen it up close and in person. He does so at the expense of the nation’s interests, the health and prosperity of our fellow citizens, alliances forged through generations of sacrifice, and the personal safety of public servants."
The Republican Party has allowed Trump to mortgage its soul, devolving into nothing more than a morally bankrupt conduit to propagate the president’s politics of division and destruction.

I ask my fellow Republicans: Is this honestly who we are? Are the Pyrrhic victories worth it?

...Trump lacks even a modicum of the character the Founders recognized as requisite for the proper functioning of our self-governing Republic.

So, yes, I am tired. But I am not “tired of winning,” as you claimed I would be, Mr. President. I am tired of the division, discord, chaos, vitriol and hate. I am tired of your failure and refusal to lead.

Our party can-- and must-- do better. America deserves nothing less from us.
How will Fox News handle a Trump defeat. Washington Post reporter Jeremy Barr wrote that most of them-- starting with Murdoch-- don't much care. "Behind-the-scenes staffers at the Fox News Media networks," he wrote, "say that most people who work on the news side of the company are not pulling for either Trump or Biden. Rather, they’re just exhausted from covering Trump’s frenetic first term... [Murdoch] fully expects that Biden will win-- and frankly isn’t too bothered by that... [H]e is resigned to a Trump loss in November. And he has complained that the president’s current low polling numbers are due to repeated 'unforced errors' that could have been avoided if he had followed Murdoch’s advice about how to weather the coronavirus pandemic, according to associates who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations.
The network’s current lineup is a reflection of the Trump presidency, with opinion hosts such as Hannity, Ingraham and Jeanine Pirro, who have leveraged their personal relationships with the president for ratings success; and a morning show, Fox & Friends, that has become Trump’s go-to venue. On shows such as The Five, Trump skeptics such as Dana Perino and Greg Gutfeld have quieted their reservations and embraced their roles as critics of Trump’s critics; while the network’s finance-focused cousin, Fox Business Network, has catapulted Trump allies Lou Dobbs and Maria Bartiromo to greater prominence through exclusive interviews with administration officials and Trump himself.

If Biden wins, that access disappears. Yet Murdoch has always considered Fox News’s original underdog status to be its strength. And while he valued the White House access, he is ready to welcome a new inhabitant-- partly because it may give Fox the central role in the Republican Party that it occupied before Trump co-opted the party.

“Fox thrives when it is in the opposition because they have a real-time bad guy to beat up on,” said Jonathan Klein, a former president of CNN. “A Biden win would be great for Fox’s business.”

One Murdoch executive envisions the Fox prime-time lineup emerging as “the standard-bearer of the resistance” under a Biden administration. And former Fox executives point to the network’s role in championing the tea party movement in the Obama years as a model for how the network could find a way forward should Trump lose in November.

“If anything, I think they will be more successful,” said Sean Graf, who worked at Fox for the news division’s well-regarded research staff before leaving in January 2020. “There’s going to be an audience for Biden controversy.” And few envision viewers abandoning Fox for lower-rated rivals such as the conservative upstarts One America News or Newsmax.

The greater risk for Fox News, as exists for all cable news outlets post-Trump, is that with the frenetic atmosphere of the Trump administration gone, viewers will be less likely to tune in altogether. Conservative media typically operates better when it is attacking rather than defending-- but Trump broke that model because of the media’s addiction to his every tweet and scandal. Biden may also be an exception.

“He’s so boring and engenders so little enthusiasm on both sides of the political spectrum that it’s going to be hard to find narratives to program against him,” said one veteran conservative media executive.

“It’s hard to imagine Joe Biden’s occasional gaffes and stammering to somehow be more evil than the idea that Trump has completely ripped off the American people with his tax fraud,” said Carl Cameron, who logged 22 years at the network before leaving to create his own progressive news aggregator.

Hannity, who has prospered from the president’s eagerness to appear on his show, may be the Fox pundit facing the most awkward pivot from a Trump presidency. He signed a new contract earlier this year but suggested in an August interview that he’s already thinking about when to leave the network. “I’ve kind of made a pledge to myself that I don’t want to push it to the very end,” he said.

But Fox veterans say that news-side stars, such as Bret Baier and Chris Wallace, would fare far better, having cultivated relationships with Democrats. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer just appeared on Wallace’s Fox News Sunday, where the Democrat blamed Trump for rhetoric that encouraged a failed attempt to kidnap her.

Lachlan Murdoch has expressed confidence that a Biden presidency would not hurt the company’s bottom line. “We’ve grown ratings in multiple administrations, from both political parties,” he said at a conference in September. Indeed, Fox News has been the No. 1 cable news network since 2002.

One of the biggest question marks hanging over Fox News if Trump leaves the White House is: Where will he go?

Before his 2016 win, Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, explored the possibility of launching a Trump-focused media enterprise. One way or another, Trump is almost certain to attempt to maintain some kind of a media presence when he leaves office, so Fox probably will have to contend with him-- whether it's as a contributor on its own airwaves or a competitor.

The elder Murdoch has stopped speaking as frequently as he once did with Trump, but his associates say that those conversations probably will pick up again after Nov. 3, when Trump will either be a second-term president or a free agent on the media circuit.

“Maybe Rupert can just back the truck up and pay Trump to appear on Fox’s air at will,” Klein said. “Trump might prefer that to the rigors of having to actually run an actual business.”

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Why Is The Texas Democratic Party So Much More Effective Than The Florida Democratic Party?



West Texas' 11th and 13th congressional districts are the reddest in the state and 2 of the reddest districts in America, respectively R+32 and R+33. Although Obama inched over 20% in each in 2008, he sunk down below 20% in 2012 and in 2016 TX-11 voters gave Hillary 19.1% and TX-13 voters gave her 16.9%, the lowest and second lowest in the state. In Florida, the worst Hillary did anywhere was in Matt Gaetz's panhandle district (basically Alabama) where FL-01 (R+22) voters gave Hillary 28.2%.

The Democratic Party in Texas has a plan and so does the Democratic Party of Florida. Florida's plan is to ignore even relatively easy Republican districts-- like FL-25, where Trump only won by less than 2 points: 49.7% to 47.9% (with a PVI of R+4). They-- and their brilliant compatriots at the DCCC-- didn't bother to recruit a candidate to run for Congress and the Florida party has gone on the biggest attack campaign against anyone in the state in a legislative district within FL-25-- but against a Democrat, Bob Lynch, who they are claiming is a racist-- he isn't but the Florida Democratic Party is so aggressively stupid that they can't figure out the difference between racist and anti-racist. They were angry because Lynch was calling them out for their systemic racism and because he was calling them out for financial fraud as well.

In contrast, the plan in Texas includes working for every vote in every district and trying to win the state for Biden. Statewide, Texas' PVI is R+8. Florida's is R+2. If the whole Florida Democratic Party went for a picnic in the Everglades and they were all devoured by alligators, the PVI would probably instantly turn into D+2.

Writing for Politico yesterday, Will Ford reported that "For years, Democratic orthodoxy has maintained that flipping Texas Democratic in statewide races... means increasing turnout in urban areas and swing suburbs. But that strategy alone hasn’t worked yet-- even as favorable demographic changes, especially in urban areas, suburbs, and now even exurbs, have put the state in play. Now [there is] an effort by Democrats to broaden their strategy by targeting the most Republican areas of the state as well. If they can boost Democratic support in places like Odessa just slightly, then, together with the unprecedented early vote surge in cities, Democrats think they might finally get enough votes to flip the state. It’s not about winning in these deep-red counties and districts-- it’s about cutting into Republican margins, no matter how large."

It isn't that tough of a concept to understand and this cycle, when they realized the Florida Democratic Party doesn't have the collective brain power to figure it out, Janelle Christensen from the state Environmental Caucus and Fergie Reid from 90For90, took it upon themselves to recruit candidates in every open legislative seat in the state. The state party was so grateful that they gave them medals. Just kidding. The state party was furious and hampered their efforts every step of the way, even threatening and intimidating Democratic candidates, insisting they drop out of the race.
“To win statewide in Texas, we believe Democrats must continue to win the large urban counties, run close or win the exurban counties and reduce the big Republican advantages in rural areas and in small towns, at least marginally,” said Matt Angle, a founder of The Lone Star Project, a PAC that consults on Democratic political work statewide. “In 2018 Beto O’Rourke met and slightly exceeded the votes we thought he needed in urban and suburban counties. However, Cruz was able to run up the score to such an extent in the small towns and rural markets that he saved his seat in the Senate.”

Before November 3rd, it’s impossible to know whether Republican margins will remain high enough in areas like Odessa to save Texas for Republicans. Early turnout has surged across the state to such historic levels that the country’s best forecasters aren’t entirely sure how to model these new voters, especially without party registration data. Cook recently moved the race to a tossup, however, and Republicans seemed be to sensing this danger as well. In Odessa, gazing at the city map from his desk in September, Logan observed that Republicans seemed to be working harder than usual in the deep red district. “The Republicans have bought $405,000 of ads in the district. Normally they don’t buy media here. They never had to—they just relied on the county party. That tells me they’re worried.”

...For decades, motivated Democrats in West Texas have wished for more attention, resources and public engagement from Democratic Party higher ups, at both the state and national levels, but those party leaders have often balked at pumping more dollars and energy into the region, especially when many Democrats there feel so outnumbered they don’t even bother to vote or organize. Higher powers tend to ask for proof of progress first. It’s hard to make progress, though, without resources and attention in the first place-- a Catch-22 that has long plagued Democratic organizers in the region.

This pattern was finally interrupted by Beto O’Rourke’s 2018 Senate campaign. As a Democrat running a statewide, he did something revolutionary: He campaigned in every county in the state, including West Texas, where his performance helped convince party leaders and activists that caring about those counties could actually make a difference. In Lubbock, the largest city in West Texas outside of El Paso, which is often spoken of as a separate entity, O’Rourke received 35 percent of the vote, compared to Clinton’s 28 percent just two years earlier. He also shaved margins in Ector County, earning just over 30 percent, compared to Clinton’s 28—marginal increases that were seen elsewhere in small towns. These numbers were also far better than the 2014 senate race, in which Democratic candidate David Alameel received just 15 percent of the vote in Ector and 19 percent in Lubbock.

...When asked about his decision to embrace the state’s reddest areas, O’Rourke frequently credits Stuart Williams, the state party’s lone field organizer in West Texas, based out of Lubbock. Williams, who has worked in Democratic politics in the area since he was a teenager, starting as a precinct chair, is revered by West Texas Democratic organizers... O’Rourke first met Williams in Lubbock in January 2017, on a tour through the state months before he declared his candidacy. When the congressman asked Williams what the campaign needed to do in West Texas, Williams had a simple reply: “Y’all got to show up!”

...But when I asked whether he received pushback against this strategy in Democratic circles, he almost laughed. “Tons. They all said ‘your vote’s in Houston and the cities.’” West Texan voters were equally surprised: O’Rourke said some voters in West Texas told him they hadn’t seen a statewide Democratic candidate visit since LBJ.

...In Lubbock, Williams saw that O’Rourke was able to capitalize on an increase in Democratic organizing energy following Trump’s election. Activists had started reaching out to him locally, to see how they could help, and Williams ran successfully for county chair. “I can tell you without equivocation, that when I saw people move toward getting more involved … who changed the game in rural areas was Donald Trump,” said Williams. “Rural people aren’t stupid. The president becomes more of a liability every day.”

...With O’Rourke’s performance in West Texas as proof of concept, higher powers in the Democratic Party have began to at least turn their heads towards the deepest red areas of Texas. “We have thousands of precinct captains in rural areas across the state, more state county chairs than ever before,” Abhi Rahman, the state party’s communications director, told me. “We’re putting a thousand field organizers and canvassers across the state, including in many rural areas, and we’ve invested significantly in our rural programs, where we aim to keep the margin down in rural areas so we can flip the state in November. We also set a goal of engaging 100,000 more rural voters, which would be a 5 percent rural turnout increase in 2020.” ... The TDP is doing tons more work in rural areas than it did in 2016. There really is no baseline to compare this effort to.
They could compare it to the FDP. If nothing else, it will make them feel great. Bob Lynch is running for the state House in a Miami-Dade swing district held by one of the GOP's most powerful members, Dan Perez. The Florida state party has not only done nothing to help Lynch, they have attacked him viciously and done everything they could to make sure their pal Perez keeps the seat. This morning, Lynch told me that "If there was ever a time to go on a full all out offensive, this was the year. We are the Covid Capital of the US, we have a historically unpopular Governor who has hitched his wagon to a historically unpopular president and we are going into redistricting as a result of the census."

Lynch further noted that "Democrats in Texas and Georgia have figured this out; why haven’t we in Florida? The answer is simple. The people in power, like Gary Farmer and Joe Geller, have cushy gigs in the minority and don’t want to upset their Republican bosses. It is despicable and people are dying as a result. The state of Florida is a business and everything is for sale. Politicians, the media, you name it. Florida and Miami-Dade Dems are more interested in making sure their consultants get paid than getting candidates elected. There needs to be a full audit of the Florida Dems once this election is over. Where did all of this money go?"

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Wave Or Tsunami Tuesday?



A loss of Florida's 29 electoral votes ends Trump's reelection effort on the spot. There's just no reasonable path to victory for him without it. The polling averages have favored Biden. At RealClearPolitics, Trump is down 1.2 points. The most recent poll, by Harris X for The Hill shows Trump losing 50% to 47% and the newest Marist poll for NBC News shows Trump losing 51-47%. But yesterday, according to Politico's Florida ace reporter, Marc Caputo, the entirely incompetent and degenerate Florida Democratic Party is "sounding the alarm about weak voter turnout rates in Florida’s biggest county, Miami-Dade, where a strong Republican showing is endangering Biden’s chances." Biden needs a massive win in Miami-Dade to "offset losses elsewhere in the state. But Democrats are turning out at lower rates than Republicans and at lower rates than at this point in 2016, when Hillary Clinton won by 29 percentage points here and still lost the state to Donald Trump."

A must-win state for Biden is Pennsylvania (20 electoral votes) and Trump's crooked post master general is doing what he was hired to do: wreck the postal system. Harrisburg's Patriot-News reported that "Timely mail delivery across Pennsylvania took a drastic turn for the worse in just the last two weeks amid a glut of voting by mail, according to U.S. Postal Service data filed Wednesday in federal court. In Philadelphia, 42% of all first-class mail is taking longer than five days to be delivered. For comparison, that figure was 33% two weeks ago and just 13% in January, before a series of changes handed down by the Trump administration led to a national slowdown... In central Pennsylvania, workers observed significant slowdowns due to short staffing and changes in USPS policy handed down by the Trump administration. Despite a battery of recent court rulings order a return to the old policies, they said not much seemed to change." Can Trump steal Pennsylvania? The RealClearPolitics polling average has him down 49.9% to 45.6% (4.3%) and the latest poll from Quinnipiac shows Trump losing Pennsylvania 51-44% (7 points).

Asterisked- Worst President in History by Nancy Ohanian

Charlie Cook, writing for the NationalJournal yesterday noted that the likelihood of a contested election is slim and that "Biden’s path to 270 electoral votes seems pretty straightforward: Hold all 20 states (plus the District of Columbia) that Hillary Clinton carried four years ago, which total 232 electoral votes, just 38 short of the majority threshold of 270. Then win each of the three states that Clinton lost by eight-tenths of a point or less: Michigan (0.2 percentage points) Pennsylvania (0.7), and Wisconsin (0.8). That gives him 278 electoral votes, eight more than needed. Biden will likely also carry two congressional districts that eluded Clinton in 2016, Nebraska’s 2nd District and Maine’s 2nd, giving him 280 electoral votes. That would represent a 'skinny' Biden win." Cook wrote that he believes Trump is losing nationally by between 9 and 10 points, "considerably higher than the 3.2-point national margin that Hillary Clinton had over Trump in the RCP average on Oct. 29, 2016. When all the votes were counted, the margin ended up being 2.1 percent."
A big Biden win would bring in Arizona, Florida, and North Carolina, and might also include one or two states from the next tier, mostly likely Georgia or Iowa, although don’t count out Ohio or Texas. Generally speaking, Trump is underperforming his 2016 pace by 3 to 8 points, depending upon the state or district.

...What I am wondering is if this will be one or the rarest species of national elections-- a wave election in a presidential year ending in a zero, meaning it will reverberate for a decade thanks to the coming redistricting. There are not a dozen Republican Senate seats that could fall, as Democrats suffered in 1980, but Joe Biden may well replicate Ronald Reagan’s 10-point victory over President Carter. The odds are it will be a bit less, perhaps in the 53 to 44 percent range, with 3 percent going to independents and write-ins, half of the number from four years ago.
He sees a Democratic takeover of the Senate with losses by Martha McSally (AZ), Cory Gardner (CO),) and Thom Tillis (NC) and possibly Joni Ernst (IA), Susan Collins (ME), and one or even both of the Georgia seats (Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue). He says that less likely but still possible are GOP losses in Montana (Steve Daines) and South Carolina (Lindsey Graham), as well as the open seat in Kansas. He forgot the Alaska race, where Dan Sullivan is in trouble.

Cook says he sees as many as 10 more GOP House seats going down. I think he's being very conservative there are I'm looking for Republican losses in the following districts (bolden districts almost certain; unbolded only if the wave turns into a tsunami):
AR-02 (Hill)
AZ-06 (Schweikert)
CA-01 (LaMalfa)
CA-25 (Garcia)
CA-42 (Calvert)
CO-03 (open- Tipton)
FL-03 (open- Yoho)
FL-16 (Buchanan)
GA-07 (open- Woodall)
IA-04 (open- King)
IL-13 (Davis)
IN-05 (open- Brooks)
MI-06 (Upton)
MN-01 (Hagedorn)
MO-02 (Wagner)
NC-02 (open- Holding)
NC-06 (open- Walker)
NC-08 (Hudson)
NC-11 (open- Meadows)
NE-02 (Bacon)
NJ-02 (Van Drew)
NY-01 (Zeldin)
NY-o2 (open- King)
NY-24 (Katko)
NY-27 (Jacobs)
OH-01 (Chabot)
PA-01 (Fitzpatrick)
TX-10 (McCaul)
TX-21 (Roy)
TX-22 (open- Olson)
TX-23 (open- Hurd)
TX-24 (open- Marchant)
TX-25 (Williams)
VA-05 (open- Riggleman)

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Midnight Meme Of The Day!



by Noah

Happy Halloween folks!

Halloween could be so much better if Trump, his grifter family, his staff and his henchmen such as Moscow Mitch and all of those treasonous anti-impeachment Hou$e Representative$, $enators, and media whores ended up receiving the punishments they deserve, but that would require a national policy of equal justice under the law instead of the you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours & best justice that money can buy system that we are plagued with. But, hey, I can indulge in fantasy as much as anyone. So, I'll just point out the simple fact that an orange jump suit would match President Pumpkin Face's complexion perfectly.

And while we're on the topic of ghouls, increased darkness is approaching

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Friday, October 30, 2020

Amy Barrett Lights Trump’s Election Theft Fire



-by Harvey Wasserman

Team Trump’s latest Court coup has lit the fire on his 2020 coup d’etat. With Amy Barrett joining her John Roberts and Brett Kavanaugh co-conspirators, The Donald is set to steal the election. They all did it before in Bush vs Gore.

With Barrett, three of the seated Supremes were direct conspirators in the 2000 Bush v. Gore decision that gave George W. Bush the White House despite his losing the popular vote.

As of right now, with the all-but-certain compliance of Supremes Neil Gorsuch and Samuel Alito, and with the agreement of enough Republican-held state legislatures, there is no legal barrier to Trump’s second term, no matter what the voters say.

In real terms, the only practical wall against such a coup might be a massive anti-Trump national vote-- but it would have to be overwhelming enough to make his would-be dictatorship politically unsustainable.

As for the Constitutional path, the road has been cleared. The calculation is simple.

Under the original Constitution, the power to choose electors to the Electoral College that chooses the President rests with the state legislatures. In fact, in diminishing numbers, they did that from the 1789 selection of George Washington to the popular election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860 (who won the presidency in a four-way race with less than 40% of the vote).

By then the rise of grassroots democratic sentiment had redefined the young nation. The choice of electors was transferred to popular state-by-state votes, to which the legislatures deferred. But they never formally surrendered.

A gumbo of customs and laws includes the 1887 Electoral Choice Act and the 12th, 14th, 20th and 25th Amendments. Armies of lawyers, scholars, high-paid advisors and dirty tricksters (hired to create chaos) have struggled to find consensus. Any number will give you a “definitive” answer.

But, as in Bush v. Gore, confusion and contention are Trump’s ultimate allies. He can win merely by denying clarity and thereby getting the final word to his Supreme Court.

It goes like this:

Biden is highly likely to win an overwhelming popular majority.

In anticipation, Trump has been screaming since 2016 that this election will be a fraud. His “trifecta” of stripped voter rolls, subverted early voting and vote by mail, and a flipped electronic vote count has been set to guarantee just that.

How deeply he can cut into the final tally of the massive public rejection coming at him remains to be seen. No matter how it goes, he will be kicking and screaming that it is fraudulent.

From there, his bar is very low. He only needs to throw enough swing states into chaos to deny Biden the needed 270 electoral votes. He does that through state legislatures ready to step in and trash the public will.

That stage was set in 2010, when a team of Koch Brother Tricksters used limitless dark money to take gerrymandered state legislatures deep into the Republican swamp. Majorities and super-majorities emerged in 29 states, including Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, the Carolinas, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Arizona, Kansas, Nebraska, Montana, Iowa, Kentucky and others.

With the least excuse, any or all could cite “fraud” and “irregularities” while trashing the popular vote and appointing Electoral College delegations for Trump.

There are many complications between that and the coronation. You can Google endless legal tracts on most of them. But for Trump, just getting it to the Supreme Court means game over.

Until the ram-rodded appointment of Barrett, there seemed a glimmer that John Roberts might jump ship, deadlocking the Court at 4-4.

But Roberts, Kavanaugh and Barrett all did legal work for Bush v. Gore in Florida 2000. Clarence Thomas actually voted for it. And extreme conservatives Samuel Alito and Trump appointee Neil Gorsuch are unlikely to flinch.

So where does that leave the popular will?

If a Biden landslide is big enough, Trump could run short of states to steal. Claiming overridable chaos in tight races may be do-able in Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin.

But as Barak Obama showed in 2008 and 2012, there are limits. Even in an absurd, obsolete, thoroughly corrupted electoral system like America 2020, there are numbers beyond which Trump (who went bankrupt four times) may be unable to tread.

And thus the outcome of this election can be simply summarized: If Trump loses by big enough margins in more states than he can get his vassal legislatures to steal short of 270, his clear path to dictatorship becomes impassible.

If such an election can be fairly tabulated while denying the Supreme Court the final word, he loses.

But to do that, millions of citizens must be reinstated to the voter rolls; their ballots must be protected one-by-one at thousands of tables within the local election boards; the electronic scanning machines that will tally the votes must be saved from hacking.

None of this is rocket science. We have (hopefully) learned some hard lessons since Florida 2000.

But this coming week demands the absolute focus of everyone and anyone who cares about living in a democracy, or on a sustainable planet.

History Professor and author Harvey Wasserman co-convenes the Grassroots Emergency Election Protection Coalition. His People’s Spiral of US History awaits Trump’s departure at Solartopia.

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Trump-- Bad For America... Including The Jews



As I mentioned the other day, the Jewish Daily Forward (now just The Forward), used to be a mainstay of the Eugene Debs-era Socialist movement. It was gratitude and devotion to FDR and the New Deal that made them into Democrats and now, well they're more, umm... more "fair and balanced"... basically to accommodate the far right, primitive Hasidics and the pro-fascist Russian immigrants in Brooklyn and Philly. I might have been a fan in the 30's and 40's, less so now but that doesn't mean their editorial back and forth isn't sometimes interesting. Yesterday they sponsored a debate between Joel Swanson, a normal person, and an always deceitful Trumpist freak, Eli Steinberg: Is Trump Good For The Jews? It's a pun on the idea of how certain Jews measure everything by how it impacts Jews (or even Israel) over and above all other things. Most Jews laugh at the concept these days-- but not all of them.

Keep in mind that Hillary won the Jewish vote in a landslide-- albeit not the Hasidic or Russian immigrant vote-- but that polls show that on Tuesday more Jews will vote against Trump than they did in 2016-- probably over 75%. Jews who feel most comfortable distancing themselves from anyone not in their own sect-- building their own ghettos-- but not practicing social distancing and prohibiting internet usage will vote for Trump. The Forward values them as part of the community. That's nuts.
Joel Swanson: This week, the American Jewish Committee released a groundbreaking survey about antisemitism in America. The results were sobering: 82% of Jews think antisemitism has increased in the past five years. Nearly half of us feel less secure than we did a year ago. And seven out of 10 U.S. Jews think the Republican Party has a serious antisemitism problem, compared to only four out of ten who think that about the Democratic Party. And fully three-quarters of American Jews think the far-right poses a “very serious” or “moderately serious” threat to Jewish safety in the United States today, compared to only one-third who feel that way about the far-left.

So the facts are these: We’re living at a time when we have a United States president who dog whistles to white supremacist groups during nationally televised debates, energizing these groups through remarks that the Anti-Defamation League says “provide rhetorical aid and comfort to these groups.”

So my first point is this: If Trump is really good for the Jews, why is he opposed by the vast majority of American Jews, who also think that he and his party bear personal responsibility for dramatically rising antisemitism in the country?

Eli Steinberg: The question which lies before us is whether re-electing Donald Trump is good for Jews, not whether most Jews will be supporting him in the upcoming election. We can agree that they will not be voting Trump. The question is why, and the answer is that for most Jews, the issues most important to them have nothing to do with Judaism at all, as a 2012 Public Religion Research Institute found. 66% of Jews said the economy and income inequality were their top priorities. What’s more, 46% of Jews defined their actual Jewish identity as a commitment to social justice and equality, double those who defined their Jewishness in terms of religious observance (17%), cultural heritage and tradition (6%), or a general set of values (3%) combined.

So there needs to be a clear distinction here: Are we discussing whether Trump is good for progressives who happen to be ethnically Jewish? Or are we going to take a hard look at which one of the two tickets before us is better for Jews qua Jews? That is the question we are debating.

And on that, there is no question.

President Trump has made religious liberty a consistent priority, whereas his challenger, Joe Biden, has taken the opposite path, promising to go back to court with the nuns of the Little Sisters of the Poor to force them to do something they say will violate their sincerely held beliefs. And his VP pick, Kamala Harris, sponsored a law to water down the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, essentially putting the government in charge of determining what legitimate exercise of religion is.

So which one of the two is good for the Jews?

Joel Swanson: It seems the heart of our disagreement here lies in two questions: What are Jewish values, and should we evaluate “Jewish values” in a normative, prescriptive sense, based on what they should be, or should we just look at what Jewish values among the overwhelming majority of American Jews actually are?

Because the fact is, data consistently shows that the overwhelming majority of American Jews do not define “Jewish values” in terms of halakhah or adherence to Jewish law. A major Pew poll found that only 19% of American Jews think that “observing Jewish law” is essential to being Jewish. But those values of “leading an ethical and moral life” and “working for justice and equality” that you so dismiss are essential to the way a lot more American Jews define our Jewishness. And here is where most of us disagree with President Trump so strongly.

I’m sure you would respond that those aren’t really “Jewish values” per se; that they’re just a way for ethnic Jews who no longer follow Jewish law to smuggle their own left-leaning politics into an ostensibly Jewish cultural framework. But here is where we fundamentally disagree: There’s a lot more to Jewish history and culture than just Jewish law and Jewish Orthopraxy.

In fact, most American Jews see Jewishness as an expression of a people’s culture and history as much as a “religion,” which is why fully two-thirds of us believe you can be Jewish without believing in God, and why growing numbers of millennial Jews describe ourselves as culturally but not religiously Jewish.

But, for those many American Jews who might identify with Jewish culture and history but not necessarily formal religious practice, I would argue that our overwhelming rejection of President Trump is no less rooted in an understanding of Jewish culture, history, and identity than is the Orthodox Jewish embrace of President Trump, even if it is a very different understanding of what “Jewishness” means. The single value that the largest number of American Jews cite as essential to being Jewish is “remembering the Holocaust.”

And there’s a reason why so many young Jews cite our collective memory of the trauma of persecution and the Holocaust as motivation to fight against the Trump administration’s cruel family separation and immigration policies. (And, by the way, polls show that the single issue that unites the largest number of American Jews politically, 78% of us, is opposition to the Trump administration’s family separation policies.)

Are those not “Jewish values” also?

So I think the question before us is this: What does it mean for a value to be “Jewish,” and might the overwhelming majority of American Jews who reject President Trump, also be voting based on the fact that, when the President of the United States shows support for violent far-right movements, it reminds us of lessons we take from Jewish history?

Eli Steinberg: I think what we are doing here is conflating the why with the what. You seem to be focused on the former instead of the latter.

There is undoubtedly a long list of justifications people might invoke as they oppose Trump, many of which you cite above. Many of these are justifications which, as you point out, are shared by many progressive Jews.

But a fundamental Jewish value-- in fact, the most fundamental-- is that might does not make right. Truth is not the province of, nor is it determined by, the majority alone. If it were, there would not be a Jewish nation to speak of at all. And do we think that stereotypes of Jews become real in the Middle East because 74% of people there believe them to be?

As a Haredi Jew, I am quite used to the minority within a minority status I’ve been assigned. I embrace it. Because I believe that truth, informed by 3,000 years of tradition in the Torah as transmitted from Sinai, is on my side. But that is not what we are debating here. I ask you, is it good for the Jews when a President-- any President-- sees government as the ultimate decider on what we, as Jews, are or are not allowed to do? Is it good for Jews when a President is determined to put religious institutions on unequal-- and even weaker-- footing than those which are not?

Joel Swanson: I think our fundamental disagreement here is about whether there is some sort of “objective” standpoint from which to judge what is best for “the Jews” as a community that goes beyond the facts of what the majority of us actually believe. You seem to think there is. But I would argue that ignoring the viewpoint of the vast, overwhelming majority of American Jews is actually less Jewish than listening to that majority voice and heeding it. I would point out that there is a long tradition of truth being determined by the majority in Jewish tradition, so much so that there’s the famous story in the Talmud of a majority of rabbis overruling God on a matter of rabbinic law.

But that principle aside, I would argue that the ultimate danger is dismissing the concerns of the majority of American Jews about President Trump in the name of some abstract principle that most of us do not believe in. Because the simple facts are these: Eight out of 10 American Jews think antisemitism in the United States has increased in the past five years, which is exactly the time frame during which Trump has been a major figure on the political scene. And more than half of American Jews think Trump and his party bear responsibility for that well-documented rise.

President Trump has openly signaled his support for the baseless QAnon conspiracy theory, which polls shows fully half of his supporters now believe in, and which experts on far-right extremism say is becoming increasingly antisemitic.

Is it any wonder that that 60% of American Jews believe Trump “bears at least some responsibility” for rising antisemitic violence, and that survivors of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting feel that “Trump is definitely courting right-wing militias?”

Doesn’t the greatest danger lie in dismissing our community’s concrete concerns for our immediate safety in the name of some supposed higher abstract principle of “truth”?

Eli Steinberg: We seem to agree about what we disagree, if about nothing else: I believe Judaism inherently means something, while you contend being Jewish means nothing beyond what people want it to mean.

I certainly don’t dismiss the concerns they have for American Jewry’s safety, or for the safety of any Jew. That safety has been a real concern for visibly Orthodox Jews like myself living in so-called “blue states” of New York and New Jersey, where we’ve been experiencing violence and other sorts of bigotry and discrimination most overtly and consistently. We know all too well that antisemitism transcends political ideology, finding ways to manifest on both the right and the left.

So the question remains what it was when we began this exercise: Is Donald Trump good for Jews? If one assigns meaning to Judaism beyond progressive dogma, the answer is clearly yes.

He has indisputably made Jews around the world more safe physically through his work on the Abraham Accords, the normalization agreements which Israel has signed with an ever-growing number of Arab states. He has made it much safer for Jews to, in the words of George Washington to the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, “continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other Inhabitants; while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and figtree, and there shall be none to make him afraid.” He’s done this by positioning himself as a champion of those of us who have had our rights trampled on, and who are the ones actively being discriminated against.

It’s from this vantage point of someone who has an acute feeling of what it means to be stigmatized and attacked for being Jewish that I can say that Donald Trump is undoubtedly good for the Jews.

Joel Swanson: I find it interesting that you begin your description of how President Trump has supposedly made American Jews safer with the Abraham Accords, which by definition concern Israeli and not American Jews. There’s a reason why President Trump believes American Jews are basically displaced Israelis and should be loyal to Israel first and foremost. There’s also a reason why the overwhelming majority of American Jews do not prioritize Israel, a country where we intentionally choose not to live, when we cast our votes.

But that leads me to my final point, with which I’ll close. You seem to think, implicitly, that Orthodox Jewish opinions on President Trump should count for more than the American Jewish majority, because of adherence to Jewish law. I just fundamentally reject that premise, but I do not believe that means that Jewish identity means nothing for non-Orthodox Jews at all. After all, the deadliest antisemitic attack in U.S. history was not against Orthodox Jews, but against a Conservative synagogue, and it was motivated by the shooter’s fears that Jews are secretly pulling the strings behind immigration to the U.S., a conspiracy theory which, by the way, President Trump has repeated.

But for many Jews, support for immigrant rights and for organizations like HIAS are not ways of ignoring Jewish values, but of expressing our understanding of Jewish history and persecution through our politics today. The synagogue shooter hated Jews because we overwhelmingly support immigrant rights, and we do that because we know what happens when persecuted refugees are kept out of the US.

There are so many ways of being Jewish, and we can’t dismiss the majority of American Jews, whose politics are deeply informed by our history and culture, just because we don’t necessarily strictly follow Jewish law. And I’m making that argument, after all, in a publication that is historically culturally Jewish socialist.

Eli Steinberg: If you’ll notice, nowhere in making my point about the Abraham Accords or anywhere in this exchange did I say anything about the interests of the state of Israel. What I said was that Jews worldwide would be safer because of Trump. If the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Arab world makes Jews less safe, normalization makes us safer.

I’ll close this with: To me, to define what is good for Jews by looking at what a majority of ethnically Jewish Americans thinks is good for them strips the beauty and meaning of Judaism from itself, replacing it with a dark historical prism informed by “our understanding of Jewish history and persecution.” That idea makes me incredibly sad. Being a Jew is about so much more than that.

But if you define what is “good for Jews” as good for the physical safety of our Jewish brethren around the world, whether in this great country we are privileged to call home or abroad, if you define it as a leader who will stand up and make sure Jews can exercise the First Amendment without fear of reprisal, if you define it as someone who isn’t looking to disadvantage Jews because they adhere to their traditional values, then Donald Trump certainly is good for the Jews.
Who remembers Rabbi Lionel Bengelsdorf from the HBO adaptation of Philip Roth's brilliant book, The Plot Against America? Who needs a Bengelsdorf when you have an Eli Steinberg? Hasidism wasn't a thing in the U.S. back then, nor was pro-fascism, but they still had Jews from a pro-slavery, pro-Confederate background like the accursed Rabbi Bengelsdorf:

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Max Boot-- A Conservative Republican-- Explains Why He's Voting The Straight Party Line... For Democrats Up And Down The Ballot



Celebrated artist Nancy Ohanian portrays the worst president in history

From what I can recall from a high school course in European history, the terms "right" and "left" were first applied to politics in the early stages of the French Revolution when the representatives of the parties that represented the noble families and Church hierarchy (less than 5% of the population but a majority of the representatives) were seated on the right of the National Assembly (formerly the Estates-General), while the Third Estate, the representatives of about 95% of the population, sat on the left. Those on the left represented the legitimate interests of the working class. Those on the right... eventually got what was coming to them. Reactionary political parties never needed to be "saved," which has what conservative Republican Max Boot was advocating in his Washington Post column yesterday; they always needed and need to be destroyed. "We have to destroy the party in order to save it," he wrote. He admits his party had always had "long-standing problems-- conspiracy-mongering, racism, hostility toward science," but it apparently didn't really matter much to him until Trump was able to "exploit [and] exacerbate all of those maladies, just as he made the coronavirus outbreak much worse than it needed to be." He wrote that he "watched with incredulity the GOP’s descent into collective madness." The madness, though, just exposed what was almost motivation for Republicanism and its the heart of the nature of American conservatism.
Many Republicans I know began by holding their noses and voting for Trump because of judges and taxes and their hatred of Hillary Clinton. Now the whole Republican Party seems to inhabit the Fox News Cinematic Universe, an alternative reality where President Barack Obama spied on Trump and Joe Biden is a socialist who will let “anarchists” and “arsonists” run riot.

The party has even become infected by the lunatic QAnon cult, whose followers believe Trump’s opponents are blood-drinking, Satan-worshipping pedophiles. In one recent poll, half of Trump supporters said top Democrats are involved in child sex trafficking. Georgia’s Senate primary offers a disturbing snapshot of the state of the party: Rep. Douglas A. Collins promotes his endorsement from two convicted felons (former Trump advisers Michael Flynn and George Papadopoulos) while Sen. Kelly Loeffler touts her support from Marjorie Taylor Greene, a soon-to-be House member who questioned whether the Pentagon was really attacked on 9/11.

The same trickle-down craziness is evident in Republican mishandling of the coronavirus. Trump has given up trying to control the pandemic, mocks masks and promotes conspiracy theories such as his claim that death counts are inflated because “doctors get more money and hospitals get more money” if they say people died of covid-19. This specious allegation is faithfully echoed by Republicans such as Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa. Red states are paying a devastating price for pandemic denialism: North Dakota has the lowest rate of mask-wearing in the country and the highest covid-19 death rate per capita in the world. [As of yesterday North Dakota had 52,367 cases per million residents, the worst rate of COVID in the entire world outside of Andorra, a tiny principality in the Pyrenees ruled by France and Spain and subsisiting entirely on tourism and smuggling.]

Trump has given permission for Republican bigots to come out into the open-- to replace dog whistles with wolf whistles. Sen. David Perdue (R.-GA) mocked Sen. Kamala Harris’s Indian first name. Madison Cawthorn, a House nominee in North Carolina, proudly visited Hitler’s lair and created a website attacking a journalist for having worked “for non-white males, like Cory Booker, who aims to ruin white males running for office.” Laura Loomer, a Republican candidate for a House seat from Florida, calls herself “a proud Islamophobe” and cheered the deaths of 2,000 refugees crossing the Mediterranean (“Good. 👏 Here’s to 2,000 more”).

The longer Trump stays in office, the more damage he does-- and the more loyal Republicans become. “Axios on HBO” found that, among 178 congressional Republicans who have been in office since Trump began his run for president, 42 percent criticized him after the Access Hollywood tape was released in 2016. Only 12 percent criticized him for the attack on peaceful demonstrators and Bible photo-op this year.

Republicans flatter Trump the way Trump flatters Kim Jong Un. Ken Cuccinelli, acting deputy secretary of homeland security, just tweeted that Trump is the “greatest SCOTUS [Supreme Court] President since the founding era (at least), and possibly of all time,” and that his “Nobel Peace Prize for Mideast peace” is a “sure thing.” Internet memes depict the portly president as a superhero.

Trump has no second-term agenda, and the party has no platform other than supporting him. Even the editor of National Review-- supposedly the intellectual leader of conservatism-- suggests that the primary reason to vote for Trump is to extend a middle finger to his critics. This is sheer nihilism-- and it will get worse if Trump wins reelection. By next year, fewer than 1 in 6 House Republicans will have been in office during George W. Bush’s presidency. Trumpism is their reality now.

The V-Dem Institute at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden just released a study showing that in four years the GOP has been transformed into an autocratic party that has much in common with the Fidesz Party in Hungary, the Law and Justice party in Poland and the Justice and Development Party in Turkey.

America needs a sane center-right party. It doesn’t need an extremist party that undermines democracy, caters to White grievances, and rejects science and reason. The only way Republicans will come to their senses is if they see that the path they are on leads to electoral oblivion. That’s why, even though I’m not a Democrat, I’m voting straight-ticket Democratic on Nov. 3-- and for as long as necessary to make Republicans come to their senses. The GOP needs to be detoxified and de-Trumpified.

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It Takes Guts To Run As An Unapologetic Progressive In A District As Red As NY-27



There are 8 counties (and parts of counties) that make up NY-27. The DCCC aggressively wrote it off as a target because the PVI is R+11 and because in 2018 and again this cycle, the Democratic candidate is way too independent-minded and way too progressive for them to stomach. That would be Nate McMurray. But last cycle he came closer to winning than any of the DCCC candidates who lost and who they spent millions of dollars on. Had they invested just a fraction of that in Nate's campaign, he would have won. How do I know? Look?

He out-performed Gov. Cuomo, who was also on the ballot. Example, Nate won Ontario County comfortably; Cuomo lost it by a lot. You'd think Cheri Bustos would have jumped right into this one, right? Wrong. She wants a Blue Dog like herself for the seat, not someone who has pictures of himself hanging around with AOC. When asked why he did so well in such a deep red district, he said, "Many are tired of being asked to vote blindly for their party. They are tired of nothing ever improving, nothing ever changing. And they are tired of the politics of hate and corruption... In 2020, we will go to Washington to fight for healthcare for every American (now!), infrastructure (now!), for common sense gun control (and now!), for immigration reform to help our farmers (now!), and for technologies and policies that will confront the reality of climate change."

Goal ThermometerA few weeks ago he told me that he's "way more progressive than Joe Biden. I support him as the Democratic nominee but there are issues we really differ on. It's about the average Americans who need access to good quality, affordable healthcare, safety and secured rights for minorities and LGBTQ Americans. It's about being able to say and mean that Black Lives Matter and not having a President who just tells white supremacy groups to 'stand by' and refuses to renounce white supremacy outright. The American people and our democracy cannot take another four years of Trump. Will I fight for more progressive policies in Washington than Biden stands for? You bet I will. But we need him in office right now to restore our faith in humanity, and repair all the damage done to the country. A Trump win will tear the country apart."

Obama lost NY-27 both times he ran and Trump won the district in 2016-- 59.7% to 35.2%. Nate did much better than Obama or Hillary. If you click on that thermometer above it will take you to an ActBlue page for progressive candidates running strongly in congressional districts that Trump won. Nate has a good shot of pulling it off this cycle-- and can definitely use some help with his GOTV efforts.

Other than the NY metro counties, Erie has the most COVID cases in New York State. There were 140 new cases reported yesterday, bringing the county total to 13,161-- as well as 717 deaths. There were 22 new cases in Niagara County yesterday-- and a new total of 2,108 along with 102 deaths. Are the rural parts of the district blaming Trump? We'll see on Tuesday.

A couple of days ago, the Buffalo News' top politics reporter, Jerry Zremski, noted that McMurray is a "proud progressive... He’s an advocate of Medicare for All running to represent the state’s most conservative district. He’s a gun control supporter who has challenged, rather than placated, the gun owners of rural Western New York. And just as conservatives there and elsewhere celebrate their new majority on the U.S. Supreme Court, McMurray says Democrats should think about packing the court with progressives."
That’s the Twitter McMurray. But there’s also another McMurray, one who says his top congressional priorities would be helping the troubled farms and communities of New York’s 27th District, one who has traveled its country roads and stumped in its small towns for nearly three years, happily meeting with-- and listening to-- friend and foe.

In such places, McMurray delivers a message aimed at easing the minds of anyone who thinks he’s too liberal to represent the flatlands, hills and valleys between Buffalo and Rochester.

“I am NY-27,” said McMurray, a Democrat and former Grand Island town supervisor who doesn't live in the district, but who says he's developed an abiding passion for it. “My family is farmers and factory workers and tradespeople. And so, in a lot of ways, I am very similar to the people of the region.”

But McMurray's Republican opponent-- Rep. Chris Jacobs of Orchard Park-- sees things very differently.

“I think he's a very liberal guy,” Jacobs said. “I think he's much more in line with the New York City Democrat, more so than even some of the Western New York conservative Democrats.”

Hearing that, McMurray said there's much more to serving in Congress than adopting cookie-cutter campaign stands that match what voters presumably want. There is working hard to really represent the district. There is listening.

McMurray vows to do both.

"I really believe if people get a chance to visit with me and talk to me, you can get beyond the labels," he said.

McMurray doesn't run from the progressive label or fudge his positions so that voters won't notice them.

Instead, he explains.

He said he's for Medicare for all-- a single-payer health care system-- by noting that he's heard plenty from people in the district who ask him for help getting cheaper insulin from Canada, as well as people afraid of losing their health care.

"I think the argument for single-payer is that it will be more efficient," thereby controlling spiraling health care costs, McMurray said. "We are the only advanced country in the world that does not have some form of universal care. And I'm also open to getting there in a gradual way."

Similarly, McMurray explained that while he's been engaged in an ongoing Twitter battle with gun rights supporters, he's been around guns his whole life and knows a lot about them.

Knowing what he knows, McMurray said the sale of new assault weapons should be banned; he says they are dangerous and unnecessary. He said background checks should be expanded to cover gun shows, and Congress should strip gun manufacturers of their liability immunity.

"I think if you ask my policy overall it is let good people have guns," McMurray said. "I don't want guns in the hands of criminals and people that are unfit or unstable."

Similarly, McMurray said he doesn't want the Supreme Court in the hands of Trump appointees who joined the court only because the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, gamed the system. McConnell in 2016 blocked a Democratic nominee (Merrick Garland) and this week rushed the confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett to replace the late liberal icon Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

McMurray sees the new conservative Supreme Court as a threat to the Affordable Care Act, legalized abortion and gay marriage.

"There's no constitutional limit (on the number of justices), and if adding one or two members of the court is going to preserve those rights, yes, I'd do it," he said.

To hear McMurray tell it, though, national issues would not be his top priority in Congress. Instead, he would focus on aiding his district's struggling farmers and shrinking small towns.

He'd like to join two House committees, Agriculture and Foreign Affairs, seeing an important synergy between the two.

"If you look at these trade deals, there are massive protections for former foreign farmers," said McMurray, a lawyer who worked in Asia for years and who more recently had an acrimonious split with Delaware North Cos. "So yes, that's the reason why I want to be on both committees"-- to press for trade agreements that would benefit local farmers.

McMurray said he would also work for immigration reform, hoping it would modernize the visa program for farm laborers so that it would allow them to stay in the U.S. year-round. He said that's just what many dairy farmers want, given that while crops only need to be tended to from spring to fall, cows need to be milked all year.

Expanding rural broadband access would be another of McMurray's top priorities. Noting that he had better internet service when he lived in South Korea than he does on Grand Island, McMurray said the government should wire the entire nation with fiber optic cable.

"With COVID, there's been a surge of people wanting to leave the cities, right?" he asked. "And who wouldn't want to live in a beautiful downtown like Albion or Warsaw if you had the availability to engage in modern commerce there, using the internet?"

McMurray has been stumping across NY-27 for nearly three years now, preaching his can-do gospel about how Washington can help revive the district while fending off naysayers.

One person who's seen McMurray in action who has come away respecting him is his ideological opposite: Duane Whitmer, the Libertarian candidate in the congressional race. He saw McMurray at a 2018 event sponsored by a gun rights group, explaining his support for gun control.

"I was surprised because he went to these people and at least talked to them," Whitmer said.

At the time, Whitmer noted, McMurray was running against then-Rep. Chris Collins, who was under indictment on insider trading charges and who never was known for meeting with groups that disagreed with him.

McMurray lost that race by 1,087 votes, and when Collins pleaded guilty and resigned from Congress 11 months later, McMurray entered the special election contest to replace him. In June, he lost that race to Jacobs by 5.3 points-- in a district that President Trump won by 24 points four years earlier.

To McMurray, both those losses signal that he's exceeding expectations-- and that maybe he'll do even better this November. He said the nation and the district are souring on President Trump amid the Covid-19 epidemic. Moreover, McMurray said he's withstood an onslaught of negative ads from Collins and Jacobs and virtual campaign appearances by Trump and his son Donald Trump Jr. only to remain a contender in New York's most Republican district.

"I think that the fact that all those powers have been aligned against us and we still maintained not only a good campaign, but a campaign that is competitive and that might win, is kind of a miracle," he said.

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