• Economic Forecasts Suggest Democrats Will Win the House
• Who Will Be Number Four?
• Investigation Shows How Trump Laundered Money for Kazakhstan Oligarch
• Mueller Asks For Flynn Sentencing to Be Delayed
• Another Ambassador Throws in the Towel
• AMLO Expected to Win Landslide Victory in Mexico
• Michigan Conservatives Oppose "Core Democratic Values"
States are wasting no time in passing laws that ban or strictly limit abortion. All that will be necessary for them to take effect is for the Supreme Court to throw out the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized the procedure nationwide. The states that already have laws banning abortion are Louisiana, Mississippi, and both Dakotas. Seven others have laws that express an intent to restrict abortion as much as the Supreme Court allows. Others are working on it.
What is interesting here is that banning abortion is not popular. A new Kaiser Family Foundation survey showed that 67% of voters don't want to ban it. If the Supreme Court turns matters over to the states, politicians who support new bans are going to run into some headwinds when voters—by a two-to-one majority—don't want to make abortions illegal. Furthermore, it is unlikely that a ban in a patchwork of states will actually have much effect. Few, if any, states on the East and West Coasts will enact bans. In Florida, it may hinge on who is elected governor in November. Women in the Midwest who want an abortion may have to travel to Illinois, Minnesota, or Colorado to get one, but they are likely to be sufficiently motivated to do that. In the West, it is doubtful that Nevada or New Mexico will pass a ban. So in short, women who really want one are likely to be within a few hours' drive or bus trip to a state where abortions are legal.
With this said, it is not quite a done deal that Roe is headed the way of the dodo. As we and others have pointed out, Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) could very well decide to withhold support from any nominee who says he or she will vote to overturn the decision. An even more likely "defender," however, is Chief Justice John Roberts. In his confirmation hearings, he described that decision as "settled as a precedent of the court." Maybe that reflects his real feelings, and maybe he was just saying what he needed to say in order to be confirmed. Either way, however, it shows that he's well aware of what a big deal it would be to overturn the decision. And as we noted earlier this week, he has to be mindful of the Court's reputation. Roberts surely recognizes that a 5-4 decision overturning Roe would be a Dred Scott sort of moment, branding the Court as an arm of the Republican Party, and undermining its reputation and its claims to impartiality for years or decades. So, even if he would personally prefer to overturn Roe, he is likely to think very long and very hard about being the fifth vote in a 5-4 decision that does so. (V & Z)
There are basically two kinds of models for predicting which party will control the House after an election. One kind using polling data, such as generic polls, the enthusiasm gap, presidential approval, and other factors closely related to the election itself. The other kind uses economic data. In a word, when the economy is humming along just nicely, incumbents do well but when it is not, the mantra is "throw the bums out."
Although the economy is doing quite nicely now, some of the economic models using data going back to the 1940s, show that it may not be doing well enough to keep the Republicans in power. For example, a model from the University of Iowa and New York University uses after-tax personal income growth as a key parameter. This model shows that a growth of 3.4% this year would be needed for the GOP to keep control of the House. Currently it is 1.5%. The model projects a Republican loss of 32 seats based on the actual growth. In 2014, the team predicted that the Democrats would lose 15 seats. They lost 13.
Another model is from Yale. This one uses inflation and economic growth as the key inputs. It predicts that the Democrats will get 52% of the House vote. However, due to gerrymandering, the model can't predict the actual number of seats that will flip. Still, the model's designer said that the Democrats have a good chance to capture the 23 seats they need.
On August 30, a conference will take place in Boston at which model makers, both polling and economic, will release their predictions. (V)
With the defeat of Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY), the #4 slot in the Democratic House leadership will be up for grabs in January. Whoever wins could become speaker some day, given that numbers 2 (Steny Hoyer, MD) and 3 (Jim Clyburn, SC) are likely to be on the wrong side of 80 when Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA) finally steps down. CNN's Chris Cillizza has talked to close observers of House politics and came up with a list of potential candidates, given below (sorted on age):
- Joe Kennedy III (MA, 37): Bobby Kennedy's grandson has a magic name and his grandfather's charismatic touch
- Ruben Gallego (AZ, 38): Gallego has a compelling story: son of Latino immigrants, Harvard, Marine Corps
- Seth Moulton (MA, 39): Also a Harvard alum, plus four tours in Iraq as a Marine Corps captain
- Joaquin Castro (TX, 43): He is close to Nancy Pelosi; if the Dems want an establishment Latino, it's him
- Derek Kilmer (WA, 44): He is normally low profile and is close to Pelosi, but has argued for change in the House
- Ben Ray Lujan (NM, 46): He is chair of the DCCC, so if the Democrats do well, he gets a lot of the credit
- Hakeem Jeffries (NY, 47): The Brooklyn Democrat is on TV all the time as a voice against police brutality
- Pramila Jayapal (WA, 52): She is one of the most fiery liberals in the House; picking her would energize the left
- Cheri Bustos (IL, 56): She is a moderate from a Trump district and could help if Dems want to move to the right
- Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE, 56): If the Democrats want a black woman, the charismatic Rochester could win
So far, this is all speculation, but the Democrats do have to fill the leadership slot and it is likely that it will not go to another septugenarian. (V)
Investigative reporting by McClatchy and a Dutch television program, Zembla, have uncovered the details of how Donald Trump helped an oligarch from Kazakhstan launder money in the U.S. The route is very complicated, so it can only be sketched here.
The oligarch in question, Mukhtar Ablyazov, stole billions of dollars from Bank TuranAlem, which he used to run. He was convicted for this last year. Ablyazov's son-in-law, Ilyas Khrapunov, ran a network of shell companies that were part of the operation for hiding money. Khrapunov used a now-shuttered bank in Tanzania, named FBME, to move the money around. Part of the money was used by Khrapunov's relatives to purchase condos in Donald Trump's Trump SoHo project for millions of dollars. There is much more to the story, but the main point is that there is now a detailed trail of stolen money in Kazakhstan that ended up in Trump SoHo in New York.
It is not clear at this point that Donald Trump knew about the scheme. He certainly might have, particularly since his close friend and adviser, Felix Sater, helped facilitate the arrangement. If Trump was ignorant, it is because he chose to look the other way. When a wealthy Russian or Kazakh invests millions in cash in condos that go unoccupied, it should raise all kinds of red flags. Naturally, if a group of (foreign) reporters with no subpoena powers and no singing canaries can figure all of this out, Special Counsel Robert Mueller certainly can as well, particularly since he's got several money laundering experts on his team. So, if the President does have any culpability here, he should be getting nervous right about now. (V & Z)
Former NSA Michael Flynn was supposed to be sentenced on Friday. However, Robert Mueller filed paperwork requesting (and receiving) a two-month extension on that. This is the third such postponement.
The only plausible way to interpret this is that Flynn is fully cooperating with Mueller, and that the Special Counsel needs more time to collect information from the one-time Trump insider. And the more information Flynn gives, the shorter his sentence, presumably, so he's likely just fine with the delay. Meanwhile, this would seem to suggest that the end of the Russiagate investigation will not be upon us before September. And given how close to the election that would be, it thus also suggests that Mueller isn't likely to reveal anything until after November 8. (Z)
Jim Melville has worked for the U.S. State Department for 33 years, rising to become the nation's ambassador to Estonia. Not anymore, though, as he resigned in frustration on Friday. In his statement announcing his decision, Melville said:
A Foreign Service Officer's DNA is programmed to support policy and we're schooled right from the start, that if there ever comes a point where one can no longer do so, particularly if one is in a position of leadership, the honorable course is to resign. Having served under six presidents and 11 secretaries of state, I never really thought it would reach that point for me [but] for the President to say the EU was 'set up to take advantage of the United States, to attack our piggy bank,' or that 'NATO is as bad as NAFTA' is not only factually wrong, but proves to me that it's time to go.
The Ambassador had used his Facebook page previously to express unhappiness with the direction of the country, so it's not a big surprise that it reached this point.
Melville wasn't the only prominent State Dept. departure on Friday. Susan Thornton, who was awaiting confirmation as assistant secretary for East Asian affairs, decided that while she was willing to work for Rex Tillerson, she doesn't want to work for Mike Pompeo. So, she withdrew her name from consideration and retired. Melville also isn't the only ambassador to resign in protest this year. John Feeley (Panama) and Roberta Jacobson (Mexico) also stepped down, for reasons similar to Melville's. Neither of those posts have been filled, and a total of almost three dozen ambassadorships are currently vacant. So, the two jobs that opened up on Friday don't figure to be filled anytime soon. (Z)
Mexico will elect a new president tomorrow. All the polls show that Andrés Manuel López Obrador, better known as AMLO, is poised to win a massive victory. His win would end decades of Mexican presidents who were wealthy, U.S.-trained technocrats. AMLO is a fiery leftist who promises to put the poor first and who hates Donald Trump. He even wrote a book entitled Oye, Trump (Listen, Trump).
If he wins, and especially if he wins by 20 points, as the polls are predicting, Trump is going to have problems with him, of which paying for the Wall is only the smallest. Getting him to stop the flow of immigrants into the U.S. is not likely to be on his agenda, nor is renegotiating NAFTA. Of course, election talk is one thing, while the realities of governing are something quite different. AMLO was mayor of Mexico City and governed as a pragmatist, not as a socialist. Still, he is going to be a real thorn in Donald Trump's side if he wins tomorrow. (V)
The state of Michigan has a PVI of D+1, which should mean that it is purple or light blue. However, the GOP has "somehow" managed to secure the trifecta in the state, and they are not happy with the existing standards for teaching social studies in schools. So, they are trying to re-write them to be more conservative.
Some of the changes are fairly predictable. For example, any mention of Roe v. Wade or climate change is to be jettisoned. Other changes are a bit more...unexpected. For example, the GOP wants "core democratic values" to be changed to "core values" because they don't like the word "democratic." Similarly, they want it noted that the expansion of civil rights in the 1960s came at the expense of "an infringement of rights and freedoms" for others.
The new standards aren't a done deal yet, but they are getting close, and are more likely than not to be adopted. It's a reminder that Trumpism is seeping into all areas of American life, and not just in ruby red states. (Z)Email a link to a friend or share:
---The Votemaster and Zenger
Jun29 Rosenstein Clashes with Jim Jordan in House Hearing
Jun29 Putin-Trump Summit is Set
Jun29 Mueller Subpoenas Another Ally of Roger Stone
Jun29 Kelly Expected to Leave the White House this Summer
Jun29 This Week in Questionable Appointments
Jun29 A Bad Poll for Feinstein
Jun28 Anthony Kennedy Is Retiring
Jun28 Is the Supreme Court Really Lost for the Democrats?
Jun28 Supreme Court: Nonmembers Don't Have to Pay Union Dues
Jun28 Immigration Bill Fails in the House
Jun28 Takeways from Tuesday Elections
Jun28 Democrat Mikie Sherrill Leading in NJ-11
Jun27 Joe Crowley Gets Cantored
Jun27 Supreme Court Upholds Muslim Travel Ban v3.0
Jun27 Judge Decides Not to Dismiss Case against Manafort
Jun27 Tax Bill Will Hit Churches
Jun27 Vulnerable Voting Machines Will Not be Replaced in 2018
Jun27 Members of Congress Are Much Richer than Ordinary Americans
Jun27 Restaurant Kerfuffle May Have Saved Sanders' Job
Jun26 Harley-Davidson Will Move Jobs Out of the U.S. in Response to Tariffs
Jun26 Democratic Turnout in the Primaries Is Way Up Compared to 2014
Jun26 SCOTUS Upholds Gerrymanders in Two States (Sort Of)
Jun26 First Cakes, Now Flowers
Jun26 Trump Slams the Red Hen
Jun26 Democrats Will Go after Mark Sanford's Seat
Jun26 Democrats Also Think They Have a Shot at John Carter's Seat
Jun25 Trump Blows His Top on Immigration
Jun25 Seven States Vote Tomorrow
Jun25 Republicans Have Three Worries for the Midterms
Jun25 Iowa Could Be the Testing Ground Even This Year
Jun25 Could the Magnitsky Act Be Used--against Trump?
Jun25 More Trouble for Pruitt
Jun25 Portrait of Dorian Trump
Jun25 Texas Senate Race May Be Tightening Up
Jun24 Trump Rallies in Nevada
Jun24 Today's Position on Immigration Reform: Democratic Votes Are Needed
Jun24 North Korea Is a Threat Again
Jun24 Chinese Are Confused about What Trump Wants
Jun24 This Week's Swamp News: Zinke Is in Trouble
Jun24 Huckabee Sanders Steps in it on Twitter
Jun24 So Does Huckabee
Jun23 Trump Tells Congress Not to Bother Passing an Immigration Law
Jun23 Trump Endorses Roby
Jun23 Manafort's Judge Refuses to Throw Out the Money Laundering Charge
Jun23 Mueller Wants to Bar Manafort from Claiming Political Persecution
Jun23 Dow Bounces Back, Despite Trump's Best Efforts
Jun23 U.N.: Poverty Is Getting Worse in America
Jun23 George Will: Don't Vote for Republicans
Jun23 Steve Schmidt Jumps Ship, Too