• Florida Governor's Race Has Already Turned Ugly
• McGahn Will Soon Be McGone
• Sessions May Well Be Next
• Puerto Rico Death Toll Soars; Trump Remains Impressed with His Administration's Response
• Trump Administration Denies or Revokes Thousands of Passports for Mexican-Americans Living on the Border
• Trump Resumes War on Google
The last really big primaries of 2018 were held on Tuesday, and there's now been lots of time for takeaways. Here is a selection:The Hill
- Florida gives progressives shot in the arm
- But can Gillum win in November?
- McSally and the art of pivoting to the center
- Dems looking to make more history--again
- Trump remains the Republican kingmaker
- Florida Establishment Fail
- McSally's Challenge
- Missing: Blue Wave In Florida
- Florida Money Pit
- Diversity Wave Grows
- Good night for moderates in Arizona
- Bad night for moderates in Florida
- Big wins for minority candidates
- Year of the woman, continued
- Florida Democrats and Republicans picked governor nominees who play to the base rather than the middle
- McSally easily beat Ward and Arpaio in Arizona
- Turnout was essentially even in Florida
- Two past DC politicos beat newcomers
- In AZ-GOV, it will be Ducey vs. Garcia
- Oklahoma--yes, Oklahoma--is going to have a competitive gubernatorial race
- Florida, Florida, Florida--the governor's race just became the hottest race to watch this fall
- Money isn't everything
- Republican turnout is a warning sign for Democrats
- Get ready for an ugly Fall
- Democratic women keep piling up the wins
- It's a breakthrough year for black candidates
- A Sun Belt test for Trumpism
- Gender beats ideology (in federal races)
- Shunning the center in governors' races
- Florida's governor's race says everything about Trump-era politics
- McSally wins, but at what cost?
- Can a blue wave crash tornado alley?
- The battle of the war chests is set
- Key Florida House races take shape
- Polls are lame
- Republicans are happy
- Gillum delivered, but should also thank Jeff Greene
- All you need is Fox
- Blue wave?
- It's the year of the woman
- Women ruled...but not if they had baggage
- Turnout was high, especially for Democrats
- New technology doesn't debut well
- Early voting marches ever upward
The main story lines, then, are the wild governor's race that is now underway in Florida (more below), the low Democratic turnout in the Sunshine State, and the successes of women and minority candidates. Not getting nearly as much attention as expected: The wonky polls in Florida. Maybe later this week. (Z)
The ink isn't even dry on Florida's election results, and yet both major parties' gubernatorial candidates have begun firing slings and arrows at each other, aided by the fellow in the White House. Newly-minted Democratic nominee Andrew Gillum, giving an early-morning interview to CNN, got the ball rolling with his responses to questions about Donald Trump:
Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis are both scraping from the bottom of the barrel. I actually believe that Florida and its rich diversity are going to be looking for a governor that's going to bring us together, not divide us, not misogynist, not racists, not bigots.
They're going to be looking for a governor who is going to appeal to our higher aspirations as a state, who's going to talk about what it means to build a Florida that makes room for all of us and not just some of us. DeSantis can do the bidding of big business and big lobbyists and Donald Trump and his divisive rhetoric. I'm going to be here to do the business of the people of the state of Florida.
Gillum also opined that he would like to see the President impeached.
Trump, of course, rarely lets a critical remark go unchallenged. The only question is whether he (or someone with his phone number) happened to be watching CNN. Apparently, the answer is "yes," because The Donald uncorked this just minutes after the interview aired:
Not only did Congressman Ron DeSantis easily win the Republican Primary, but his opponent in November is his biggest dream....a failed Socialist Mayor named Andrew Gillum who has allowed crime & many other problems to flourish in his city. This is not what Florida wants or needs!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 29, 2018
As we have pointed out before, Trump and the GOP are in the habit of using "socialist" to describe people who aren't really socialist (like Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT), in that they don't favor government ownership of major segments of the economy. And Gillum, while a proponent of Medicare-for-all, is even less a socialist than Sanders is.
Of course, newly-minted GOP gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis could not watch all this mud fly without hurling a few fistfuls himself. So, he decided to insert a racial slur into the proceedings, opining that while Gillum is "articulate," it is nonetheless the case that "The last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases and bankrupting the state."
The "monkey" bit is getting all the attention, though the "articulate" remark is nearly as bad, since that too has been used for a very long time to denigrate black folks as inferior. It's not unlike what happened last week, when Trump marveled that a Latino border patrol agent could speak English so well. DeSantis, of course, quickly denied that there were any racial overtones to his remarks, but there's really no viable excuse here. If he's managed to make it to the age of 39 without learning that you never, ever use words like "monkey" or "ape" or "chimpanzee" when discussing a black person, then he really has no business being governor of the nation's third-largest state. And if DeSantis knew exactly what he was doing, and he was getting a start on riling up the racist elements of the GOP base (which is the likelier explanation), then it is even worse.
Gillum, for his part, favors the second explanation. He was back on TV Wednesday afternoon to share his opinion that, "Mr. DeSantis is taking a page directly from the campaign manual of Donald Trump...in the handbook of Donald Trump they no longer do dog whistles, they're now using full bullhorns." At the moment, at least, public sentiment is largely on Gillum's side, and DeSantis appears to have made a pretty serious unforced error. Given how badly this exact sort of thing backfired on, for example, George "Macaca" Allen, the GOP nominee should be at least a little bit nervous.
In any event, expect this to head further downhill. Among other things, Gillum's mayoral administration is currently being targeted by a fairly mysterious FBI Investigation, in which he has been neither implicated nor cleared of wrongdoing. Nobody knows what his exposure is—at least, nobody who is talking—but if we get to the weekend without either Trump or DeSantis making mention of it, it will be a miracle on the order of the parting of the Red Sea, the virgin birth of Jesus, and the Cubs finally winning a World Series. (Z)
When the news broke last week that White House counsel Don McGahn had, to a greater or lesser extent, spilled his guts to special counsel Robert Mueller, it appeared inevitable that McGahn was a short-timer. And on Wednesday morning, that shoe finally fell, with Trump tweeting that McGahn would be out the door sometime early this fall, as soon as Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed for the Supreme Court.
The President did not warn anyone that the Tweet was coming, nor did the two ever discuss McGahn's job status. McGahn, for his part, says that he was planning to resign anyway, and so it doesn't really matter. Perhaps that's true, although it could also be that he's taking one last bullet for the team. After all, if he leaves willingly (or mostly willingly), then it's just your average, everyday White House staff turnover. On the other hand, anything that makes it look like Trump is terminating McGahn for cooperating with the Special Counsel adds just a bit more fuel to the obstruction of justice fire.
It will be interesting to see how long it takes to replace McGahn. It certainly seems like every high-profile lawyer in America has already told Trump "Thanks, but no thanks." White House counsel Jeanine Pirro? Or maybe Jared Kushner? He does have a law degree, after all, and he does not appear to be spending too much time bringing peace to the Middle East, solving the opioid crisis, or reorganizing the whole federal government. It's too bad that Perry Mason is both dead and fictional, he might be the only lawyer in America who could help a client that seems this guilty. The buzz in D.C. is that Trump's lawyer, Emmet Flood, who has worked for both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush might be willing to take the job. (Z)
Now that Trump has effectively excised one of the lawyers who was vexing him, there is much speculation that the other lawyer whom Trump has soured on could go next. That would be AG Jeff Sessions, who wants to keep his job in the worst way, but might not have the chance. Reportedly, Donald Trump is personally lobbying individual Senators, asking them to commit to approving a replacement AG.
Meanwhile, in a development that is surely not a coincidence, evangelical leader Jerry Falwell Jr., announced that Sessions has lost evangelicals' support. "He really is not on the president's team, never was," said Falwell. Thus we have evangelical Christians turning on, and denouncing, an actual evangelical Christian in favor of a man who does not appear to embrace a single tenet of Christianity. Never doubt that the leaders of evangelical Christianity are basically Republican political lobbyists who cloak themselves in a thin veneer of religiosity. Similarly, don't doubt that the GOP is now 100% the party of Trump.
If Sessions can't count on his fellow evangelicals, at least he can count on his fellow Alabamians, right? Maybe not so much. The members of the state's congressional delegation, with the exception of Rep. Gary Palmer (R), have noticeably turned their backs on him. Perhaps not a surprise from Rep. Terri Sewell (D) and Sen. Doug Jones (D), but it would seem that the other six Alabama Republicans have decided what side their bread is buttered on, and that side doesn't have Sessions' name on it.
Don McGahn and Sessions are, in essence, the two firewalls that are protecting Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein. And Rosenstein, in turn, is the firewall that is protecting special counsel Robert Mueller. So, if Sessions really does get the can, there's every reason to think that Trump is going to launch his own Saturday Night Massacre and ax the whole lot. That would be very dangerous politically, but given how badly the President appears to be exposed, we may be reaching a point where it's actually less harmful than allowing the investigation to run its course. (Z)
This has been hinted at, rumored, estimated, presumed, etc., for months, but now it is official: The death toll in Puerto Rico is far worse than originally reported. Specifically, the tally jumped on Wednesday from 64 to...2,975. By way of comparison, the number of non-hijackers killed on 9/11 was...2,977. Our guess is that the unfortunate folks in Puerto Rico won't be getting a memorial.
Donald Trump was asked about the matter on Wednesday afternoon. He does not do contrition, of course, nor moderation, nor anything other than braggadocio. And so, his response was entirely predictable, as it was the only one he is capable of delivering. He gave his administration's response to the devastation a thumbs up, and said, "I think we did a fantastic job in Puerto Rico." If "loss of human life comparable to 9/11" is fantastic, one wonders what a terrible job would have looked like.
George W. Bush's tin-eared mishandling of Katrina, which wrought a fair bit less devastation than Puerto Rico has experienced, absolutely killed his presidency. Nothing like that appears to be happening this time. We still have that unexpected result in Florida on Tuesday; maybe it will turn out that Andrew Gillum's surprise victory was driven by Puerto Ricans turning out to vote in droves. But if that is not the case, then it certainly looks like Trump will pay no political price for turning his back on 3.3 million Americans, nearly 3,000 of whom paid with their lives. (Z)
Trump Administration Denies or Revokes Thousands of Passports for Mexican-Americans Living on the Border
In our second item speaking to the low regard the Trump administration seemingly has for American citizens with brown skins, it was reported on Wednesday that there have been harsh crackdowns on passport-holding and/or passport-wanting Americans of Mexican descent. Some have been arrested and scheduled for deportation after applying for a passport (or an extension), others have had their passports revoked while abroad, leaving them unable to return to the United States.
At issue are birth certificates for folks born near the Mexican border from the 1950s through the early 1990s. It was common then (and remains fairly common now) for Mexican mothers to prefer the assistance of a midwife to that of a physician or a hospital (because they were cheaper). These midwives, who practiced their trade on both sides of the border, also did a thriving trade in phony birth certificates (particularly from the state of Texas). Since the certificates of that era were easy to fake, it is now impossible (in most cases) to tell the real ones from the fakes.
The problem is real enough that the Bush and Obama administrations both grappled with it. However, because the individuals in question have lived in America since they were children (not unlike the Dreamers), and given that separating citizens from non-citizens is basically guesswork, enforcement was fairly limited. That was particularly true after the ACLU won a 2009 lawsuit filed on behalf of the affected individuals. But now, the matter has returned with a vengeance, with many of the affected being people who were citizen enough to, for example, serve in the military, or as police officers, or as firefighters.
There is little information about exactly what the administration's motivations are, especially since—despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary—they are denying that anything has changed. Maybe this is Jeff Sessions trying to eject as many people as he can before he himself is ejected from the White House (see above). Or maybe this is yet another attempt to pander to the base. If so, one wonders if Team Trump has considered the possibility that a story which combines "unjust treatment of Mexicans in the name of border security" and "questioning people's birth certificates" will serve to remind Democrats and independents of two of the things they dislike most about Trump, and will do more to motivate them than the base. (Z)
Donald Trump, who might very well have the largest and least-justified persecution complex in recorded history, remains persuaded that Google is out to censor him. Late Wednesday, he posted a video purporting to prove that the search engine made a point of promoting Barack Obama's State of the Union addresses when they were happening, but that they ceased to do so once Trump became president:
It is not known who pieced the video together, which means that Trump appears to have developed a certain tolerance for anonymous sources.
It hardly even needs to be said, but of course the claim is not true. The creator of the clip, along with Trump himself, seems to be unaware that the first presidential address to Congress is not properly a State of the Union address. And so, Google does not link to them, a policy it adhered to for both Obama and Trump. Thereafter, Obama's six SOTUs and Trump's first (and, so far, only) SOTU got the exact same link treatment, as this easily-found screen capture shows:
It is also worth noting that, as a private business, Google has no responsibility whatsoever to be evenhanded if they do not prefer to be. The President seems to conveniently forget that for any news outlet or website whose name does not rhyme with Nox Fews or Tritebart. (Z)Email a link to a friend or share:
---The Votemaster and Zenger
Aug29 Trump Warns of "Violence" if Democrats Win Midterms
Aug29 Appeals Court Rules that North Carolina's Congressional Map Is Unconstitutional
Aug29 More Details Emerge Regarding North Korea
Aug29 Trump Has a New Conspiracy Theory
Aug29 Ellison Could Cost Democrats Four House Seats
Aug29 Poll: Americans Believe Michael Cohen but Don't Want Trump Impeached
Aug28 Doug Ducey Has a Tough Call to Make about McCain's Replacement
Aug28 White House Flag Does Gymnastics: Up, Down, Up, Down
Aug28 U.S. Strikes Deal on Tentative NAFTA Replacement with Mexico
Aug28 WSJ: Manafort Tried to Negotiate Plea Deal
Aug28 Is Giuliani a Plus or a Minus for Trump?
Aug28 Bill Nelson Is an Old-Style Senator in a New-Style World
Aug28 Cruz's Lead over O'Rourke Keeps Dwindling
Aug27 Republicans Are Preparing for Tough Times if Democrats Capture the House
Aug27 Dershowitz: New York Probe Is More Dangerous to Trump than Mueller's
Aug27 Two Big Primaries This Week
Aug27 Kelli Ward Thinks McCain Conspired Against Her
Aug27 Trump Personally Spiked White House Statement on McCain
Aug27 Trade War with China Is about to Heat Up
Aug27 The Problem with the Emperor's Clothes
Aug26 John McCain, 1936-2018
Aug26 DNC Changes Superdelegate Rules
Aug26 Federal Labor Unions 1, Trump 0
Aug26 What Happens After Trump?
Aug26 This Week's Senate News
Aug26 Democratic Presidential Candidate of the Week: William S. McRaven
Aug25 Weisselberg Gets Immunized
Aug25 Could Trump Be Al Caponed?
Aug25 Aides Expect a Manafort Pardon
Aug25 Dino Sajudin Is Going to Tell His Trump Story
Aug25 Pompeo Cancels North Korea Trump
Aug25 Democratic Donors Are Fed Up with the DNC
Aug25 The End Is Near for Senator John McCain
Aug24 Trump Can No Longer Control Pecker
Aug24 Weeks Ago, Trump Asked Lawyers about Pardoning Manafort
Aug24 Sessions Pushes Back
Aug24 Trump Wants to Criminalize "Flipping"
Aug24 Collins Says Kavanaugh Described Roe as "Settled Law"
Aug24 Casey Has a 15-Point Lead in Pennsylvania Senate Race
Aug24 The Duncan Hunter Story Just Keeps Chugging Along
Aug23 Takeaways about Cohen and Manafort
Aug23 Manafort Juror Dishes on Deliberations
Aug23 Cohen Will Refuse a Pardon
Aug23 Trump Loves Manafort, Dings Cohen
Aug23 Pardons are No Panacea
Aug23 Trump's Next Problem: Michael Avenatti
Aug23 Maybe Trump Should Resign
Aug23 Untrained Teenager Shows How to Wipe Out a Voting Machine in 5 Minutes
Aug23 New Tariffs Kick in Today