• Both Parties Stunned by Trump's Move to Rescue ZTE
• Trump's Immigration Policies Are Hurting Some of His Supporters
• Trump Calls Leakers "Traitors and Cowards"
• How Trump Got Hooked on Fox
• Net Neutrality Vote Scheduled for Wednesday
• Paging Jimmy Carter...
Idaho, Nebraska, Oregon, and Pennsylvania are holding primary elections today. Of these, Pennsylvania's are getting the most attention. They are even more important than usual because (1) the Pennsylvania Supreme Court drew new districts starting with the November election, and (2) there are a number of open seats. The new map is shown below. A rundown of the races is given here. The more noteworthy races are summarized below. Remember that James Carville once described Pennsylvania as Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with Alabama in between.,
- PA-01: Hillary Clinton squeaked past Donald Trump in the new district, so Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R) is in the fight of his
life. The Democrats have a nasty three-way primary, though. Scott Wallace is a wealthy lawyer who has already put $2.5 million
of his own money into the race. Rachel Reddick is a former Navy prosecutor but also a former Republican.
Steve Bacher is a progressive activist.
- PA-05: This was the seat of Pat Meehan (R), who resigned in a sex scandal. The old district was about even. The new one is
a certain Democratic pickup as Hillary Clinton won it by 28 points.
There are 10 Democrats running. Lawyer Mary Gay Scanlon and former prosecutor Ashley Lunkenheimer have raised the most money,
but money isn't everything. The Republicans already have a candidate, Pearl Kim, but her chances are slim to nonexistent.
Currently there are no women in the Pennsylvania congressional delegation, but a win by Scanlon or Lunkenheimer today would
- PA-06: Big problems here for the Republicans. This was Ryan Costello's old district, but the new map made it very Democratic.
Rather than go down to defeat, Costello is retiring. Unfortunately, he announced this after the filing deadline had passed,
so the GOP will be stuck with an unknown lawyer, Greg McCauley, who filed before the deadline. The Democrats don't have a primary, as
Chrissy Houlahan is running unopposed. She is an Air Force veteran and a strong fundraiser and will be a member of the House in January.
- PA-07: This is Charlie Dent's old district. Even though he was in the majority, he couldn't stomach being in the House any more.
He was a moderate Republican, and nobody listens to them any more. The new map makes the district slightly Democratic, so it
is a prime pickup opportunity for the blue team. There are three leading Democrats, all with very different profiles.
John Morganelli is a local DA, but he is anti-abortion, pro-gun, and anti-immigrant—call him Republican lite. Greg Edwards is
a black pastor supported by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Susan Wild is backed by Emily's List and NARAL.
Marty Nothstein, a former Olympic cyclist, is facing businessman Dean Browning for the Republican nomination.
- PA-08: Rep. Matt Cartwright (D) is in trouble here. Trump won the district by 10 points, making it a major Republican
target. Rich businessman John Chrin has funded his own campaign, but he doesn't live in the district, which his opponents
tried to make sure everyone knew. Former prison guard Robert Kuniegel and former policeman Joe Peters are running against
- PA-10: Rep. Scott Perry (R) is trying to hang on in a district Trump won by 9 points. The top Democrats are
Eric Ding, a public health scientist, and Shavonnia Corbin-Johnson, a former Capitol and Obama staffer.
- PA-11: This is a deeply conservative district that Trump swept by 26 points. Rep. Lloyd Smucker (R) is facing a primary
challenge from the right by Chet Beiler, who has said that he will join the Freedom Caucus if he wins. The Democratic nominee
is Jess King.
- PA-12: Rep. Tom Marino (R) ought to have it easy since Trump won his district by 36 points. He was nominated to be
Trump's drug czar, but withdrew after it came out that he had worked to hinder the government's response to the opioid crisis.
A county commissioner is challenging him on precisely this issue, so his nomination is not a sure thing.
Despite the lean of the district, two Democrats—drug and alcohol counselor Judy Herschel and Penn State professor Marc
Friedenberg—are fighting for the Democratic nomination, although it probably isn't worth much.
- PA-14: Conor Lamb's old district was split between the new PA-14 and the new PA-17, and the 14th is more conservative.
Trump won it by 29 points, so it is almost certain to flip back to the Republicans. Rick Saccone, who lost to Lamb, is
running here, but so is state Sen. Guy Reschenthaler (R). The GOP is backing Reschenthaler because losing a district that
Trump won by 20 points doesn't make you a GOP hero. Four Democrats are running, but it is unlikely that the primary winner
will have much of a chance in the general election.
- PA-16: This is a Republican district that Trump won by 20 points, but which Mitt Romney won by only 5 points in 2012.
It is likely Republican, but after the PA-18 race earlier this year, it is not a sure thing. The leading fundraiser on the
Democratic side is lawyer Ron DiNicola.
- PA-17: Rep. Conor Lamb (D), who pulled off a near-miraculous victory in PA-18 (on the old map) has decided to run in the new PA-17. He will face Rep. Keith Rothfus (R), so this race will have a Democratic congressman running against a Republican congressman. Lamb chose this district to run in because it is far less Republican than the one he won in March.
One other race is of interest, but it is in Idaho—the fastest-growing state in the country. It is the race to succeed Gov. Butch Otter (R), who decided not to run for a fourth term. The race has three candidates, who span the whole range of the Republican Party. Rep. Raul Labrador is a founding member of the Freedom Caucus. Lt. Gov. Brad Little is an establishment Republican. Tommy Ahlquist is a mini-Trump outsider businessman. (V)
The Chinese telecommunications company ZTE sold critical chips to Iran and North Korea and put spying software in the equipment it sold in the U.S. For these acts, it was sanctioned. On Sunday, Donald Trump tried to make nice to the company. On Monday, lawmakers in both parties said they were floored by his statement. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), tweeted: "Problem with ZTE isn't jobs & trade, it's national security & espionage. We are crazy to allow them to operate in the U.S. without tighter restrictions." Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said: "One of the few areas where the president and I agreed, and I was vocally supportive, was his approach towards China. But even here he is backing off, and his policy is now designed to achieve one goal: make China great again." Derek Scissors, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a Republican think tank, put it this way: "That's the most insane political thing I have ever seen."
The best Trump's defenders could muster is the hope that he would use ZTE as a bargaining chip to gain concessions from China in other areas—for example, removing the tariffs it imposed in response to Trump's tariffs or maybe even pressuring North Korea. (V)
As part of his plan to keep immigrants out of the U.S., Donald Trump has cut the number of H-2B visas. These visas are needed by small businesses that import foreign workers for low-paying jobs involving hard manual labor that Americans don't want to do. Many small businesses need these workers to stay afloat, and the reduction may ruin them. Small business owners who voted for Trump and who depend on the visas are furious. These include landscaping businesses in Kentucky, crab processors in Maryland, shrimp fisherman in Texas, as well as construction companies and farms everywhere.
For example, Eddie Devine, who owns a landscaping company and who voted for Trump said: "I feel like I've been tricked by the devil. I feel so stupid." Of course, he is stupid. Trump promised during his campaign to cut off the flow of foreigners into the country, and sure enough, he kept his promise. Only now does Devine realize that his business—and many like it—depend on those foreigners. Devine is even more angry at Trump now because Trump got 144 H-2B workers for his properties since 2016, but Devine can't get any now. (V)
Donald Trump continues to care very little that one of his staffers made light of a war hero's grim prognosis, and to care a great deal that the general public found out about it. On Tuesday, he tweeted this:
The so-called leaks coming out of the White House are a massive over exaggeration put out by the Fake News Media in order to make us look as bad as possible. With that being said, leakers are traitors and cowards, and we will find out who they are!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 14, 2018
This means the staffers in question, whoever they might be, have now joined an exclusive club. Here are all the other folks Donald Trump has slammed as "traitors" on Twitter: Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, Bowe Bergdahl, the people who run Univision, the people who run Macy's, and Charles Krauthammer. It almost reads like the beginning to a really bad joke: "Edward Snowden, Charles Krauthammer, and the president of Univision walk into a bar..."
Given that Trump has threatened to expose and expunge leakers previously, and has clearly failed to do so, it's a bark with no bite. Still, it never ceases to amaze that the President not only chooses not to apologize for the "joke" about John McCain, but that he continues to give the story oxygen by grousing about it. Nor does he seem to appreciate whose fault it ultimately is if the White House staff is disloyal and untrustworthy.
Failure to apologize to McCain is not just a matter of Trump not liking people who were captured. He never admits wrongdoing or mistakes and never apologizes to anyone. Trump sees that as a sign of weakness, and according to the law of the jungle, which is how Trump views the world, the weak get eaten. So don't expect apologies from Trump on anything, ever. (Z)
Pop Quiz! According to reporting from the Washington Post, what subject does Donald Trump bring up with his staffers as often as "20 times a day," invariably so he can vent about it?
- Hillary Clinton/Barack Obama
- White House leaks
- The Mueller investigation
- "Fake news"
- The performance of his cabinet
- How the White House isn't as nice as Mar-a-Lago
The answer is "c." And a big part of the reason that Trump is obsessed with Mueller is because Fox News in general, and multiple-times-daily Trump phone confidant Sean Hannity in particular, are obsessed with Mueller. Keeping in mind that the President has spent decades convincing himself and others of things that are not actually true, he is more than willing to be persuaded that the whole investigation really is a phony witch hunt cooked up by his enemies. Evidence that there's actual substance here (i.e., indictments and guilty pleas), as well as incriminating things that Trump might know, have no particular relevance.
And how exactly did the President, who once consumed a broader variety of television news fare, get sucked into the Fox News feedback loop? Well, that is among the subjects addressed in a fascinating new piece by New York magazine's Olivia Nuzzi. Essentially, the blame lies with everyone's favorite 2017 scapegoats: Reince Priebus and Sean Spicer. Back in the days when Trump would actually watch CNN and MSNBC, those channels' morning coverage would trigger the Donald's tendency toward fits of rage and Twitter tantrums, and often the whole day would go off the rails. Trump's warning that he just might have recorded his conversations with James Comey and his attacks on Mika Brzezinski, whom he accused of bleeding due to a facelift, were among the mini-scandals that followed this basic pattern.
In view of this challenge, the former Chief of Staff and the former Press Secretary cooked up a plan, feeding Trump all sorts of not-so-subtle signals about how great Fox's coverage is, and how high their ratings are, and how much his base loves the channel, and so forth. The goal was to get him to jump ship on the non-right wing channels, and it worked—in part, because Priebus' and Spicer's subtlety allowed Trump to believe that the idea was all his.
In the end, however, this "solution" is reminiscent of the late-nineteenth century Civil War soldiers whose addiction to morphine was treated...with copious amounts of cocaine. Turns out, those things are both addictive. And it turns out that while MSNBC and CNN tend to trigger Trump's tendency toward defensive rage and indignant fury, Fox tends to feed in to his tendency toward self-righteous rage and paranoia. Not much of a tradeoff, and now that Trump and Hannity are bosom buddies—they are almost always each other's last phone calls of the night—it can't be undone. And thus we have a situation where Fox News is the closest thing to a bureau of propaganda that the U.S. has had since the Office of War Information during World War II. (Z)
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) isn't the only expert in parliamentary procedure to be found in the upper chamber of Congress. Some of his Democratic colleagues know a few things, too. To that end, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) & Co. are going to use a fairly rare maneuver called a discharge petition to force a vote on Wednesday on their plan to preserve net neutrality.
There is every reason to think that the measure will pass the Senate, as the Democrats have themselves plus Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME). With Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) absent, that's a 50-49 majority. Slim, but still enough. Then it will go to the House, where it will almost certainly be voted down (or not voted on at all). If it somehow makes it through the house, it will go to Donald Trump, who would surely veto the measure.
Why are the Democrats ramming through a bill that has almost no chance of becoming law? The answer is that they are casting about for issues to run on in November, and they think net neutrality is a winner. Given the polls on the subject, it's hard to find fault with that analysis. For example, one of the more meticulous surveys of the matter found that 83 percent of voters favored neutrality, including 75 percent of Republicans, 89 percent of Democrats and 86 percent of independents. So, this is an issue that appeals to nearly all Democrats and independents. It also matters to younger voters, who might not drag themselves to the polls to express their views on NAFTA or rescission, but who generally care an awful lot about technology issues (well, that and legal pot). Any Democratic leader who does not try to ride this for all it's worth is guilty of political malpractice, and should be immediately stripped of his or her donkey pin. (Z)
One of the main reasons that Jimmy Carter won the Nobel Peace prize was his efforts to ensure democracy around the world by safeguarding the integrity of elections. The United States could probably use his services, as the country continues to have issues with the voting process more worthy of a banana republic than the world's mightiest democracy.
For example, there is Virginia, where a tie vote in HD-94 several months back forced the two candidates to draw lots. The Republican, David Yancey, won that contest, and thusly preserved the GOP's tenuous majority in the Virginia House of Delegates. Now, the Washington Post has discovered that 26 voters that should have been assigned to HD-94 cast their ballots in HD-93 instead. It appears to be an honest mistake by the registrar, but those 26 voters happen to come from a predominantly black community, and black voters tend to vote overwhelmingly for Democrats. So, the mistake appears to have handed the GOP an unexpected—and undeserved—win.
Then there is California, generally known for its efforts to preserve voter rights, but in the midst of a mini-scandal over that same issue. The problem is the state law governing vote-by-mail ballots. It says that the signature on an absentee ballot must match the signature on that voter's registration form. That's all good and well—it's an attempt to stop the selling of mail-in ballots—but the judgment is made by poll workers who have no training in handwriting analysis, don't have enough specimens to work with (it takes 10, according to experts, to make an accurate determination), and who don't necessarily advise a person if their ballot has been rejected. As many as 46,000 ballots were tossed in 2016 (disproportionately belonging the Asian voters). The ACLU has sued, and won, only to have Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D) and Secretary of State Alex Padilla (D) appeal the ruling and ask the judge to put his decision on hold for the upcoming primaries. These are the same folks who have (rightly) accused Donald Trump and the GOP of disenfranchising voters. Apparently, what's good for the goose is not what's good for the gander. (Z)Email a link to a friend or share:
---The Votemaster and Zenger
May14 Giuliani Backtracks, Again
May14 Some Republican Senate Targets Are Fading Fast
May14 How to Be the Next Trump
May14 Trump Administration, "Saturday Night Live" Have Something in Common
May14 Key Supreme Court Rulings Expected Soon
May14 Chafee May Rise from the Ashes
May13 Has the Democratic Wave Crested?
May13 McCain "Joke" Keeps Reverberating
May13 Donnelly Comes Out for Haspel
May13 Trump Brags About Saving $999,800,000 on New Embassy in Israel
May13 O'Rourke to PACs: I Don't Want Your Money; PACs: Too Bad
May13 Few Cities Want 2020 GOP Convention
May12 AT&T and Novartis Admit Paying Michael Cohen Was a Big Mistake
May12 Trump Announces "Plan" to Lower Drug Prices
May12 So Much for that Trump-Schumer Bromance
May12 The Battle to Replace Schneiderman Is Complicated
May12 Nielsen May Go Even if She Wants to Stay
May12 Ohio Just Got Harder to Gerrymander
May12 National Democratic Party at Odds with the California Democratic Party
May12 Blankenship Plans to Sabotage Morrisey
May11 Cohen Plot Just Keeps Thickening
May11 McCain Ignored, Insulted
May11 Nielsen Almost Resigned
May11 Trump's Tweets Return to Haunt Him...Again
May11 Trump's Preparations for Mueller Interview Going Poorly
May11 Time Running Short for NAFTA Changes
May11 Grassley Pushes Supreme Court Justices to Retire
May10 Top Takeaways from Tuesday's Primaries
May10 This Looks Like It Will Be the Year Women Break Through
May10 Trump Welcomes American Detainees Home
May10 Haspel Gets Grilled by the Senate Intelligence Committee
May10 McConnell Misses McCain
May10 AT&T May Have Paid Cohen More than $200,000
May10 Neither Schneiderman nor Trump Is in the Clear in New York
May10 And So It Begins in Syria
May09 GOP Trumped in Three of Four States
May09 Trump Withdraws from the Iran Deal
May09 Cohen's Financial Dealings Raise Serious Questions
May09 Trump Is Frustrated with Giuliani
May09 Trump Has Asked Congress to Rescind $15 Billion in Approved Funds
May09 Blue-slip Rule Is Dead
May08 Four States Are Holding Their Primaries Today
May08 Ohio Is Also Holding a Special Election Primary Today
May08 Trump Will Announce His Decision on the Iran Deal Today at 2 p.m.
May08 Schneiderman Resigns
May08 Haspel Tried to Withdraw from Consideration as CIA Director
May08 Melania Trump Announces Platform
May08 Poll: Trump Is Doing Better on the Issues
May07 Conway: Trump Didn't Know about Payment to Daniels