Monday, October 15, 2018

With DNA evidence against him, welsher-in-chief reneges on million dollar bet on Elizabeth Warren's ancestry

Trump attacked Sen. Elizabeth Warren in a July 5, 2018 rally in Great Falls, Montana. (Why pick on Warren? She’s a presumed potential rival for the 2020 presidential election. ) As usual, Trump focussed on Warren’s claimed Native American ancestry, calling her repeatedly “Pocahontas”. He walked the audience through an imagined debate in which (1) he presents Warren with a DNA testing kit, and (2) offers to give her a million dollars for her favorite charity. Trump said: “I will give you a million dollars to your favorite charity, paid for by Trump, if you take the test and it shows you’re an Indian,” he said. “I have a feeling she will say no.”

The offer was widely quoted at the time. For example, NBC News reported that Trump challenges ‘Pocahontas’ Warren to DNA test to prove she’s Native American, and RealClearPolitics reported that Trump Offers $1 Million For “Pocahontas” Elizabeth Warren To Take DNA Test To Prove Indian Ancestry.

The Daily Beast reports that, now fighting back, Elizabeth Warren Fights Trump’s ‘Pocahontas’ Taunt With DNA Test Proving Native American Roots. The senator sought to negate the frequent attacks on her claimed heritage. But for Trump and his allies, it seems, no evidence will ever prove sufficient.

It was President Trump, however, who said at a rally in Montana this summer that he would give $1 million to charity should Warren take a DNA test proving her heritage claims.

“And we will say, ‘I will give you a million dollars, paid for by Trump, to your favorite charity, if you take the test and it shows you’re an Indian,’” Trump said. “And we’ll see what she does. I have a feeling she will say no, but we will hold it for the debates.”

On Monday, however, the president denied that he ever said such a thing.

“I didn’t say that. You better read it again,” he told reporters.

Warren, eager to remind him of the pledge, defiantly tweeted Monday that Trump should send a check to the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center.

The Hill, cited in the Washington Post coverage, quickly posted a fact-check result: “Trump denies offering $1 million for Warren DNA test, even though he did.” The Post has a comprehensive time-line with the evidence in Trump promised $1 million to charity if Warren proved her Native American DNA. Now he denies it..

Moreover, his mouthpieces are attacking the DNA report as “junk science.” The Post reports:

Earlier Monday, Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, dismissed Warren’s DNA test as “junk science,” an early indication that Trump is not likely to follow through on the donation promise he now denies having made.

"I haven’t looked at the test. I know that everybody likes to pick their junk science or sound science depending on the conclusion, it seems some days,” Conway told reporters. “But I haven’t looked at the DNA test and it really doesn’t interest me… ”

It gets worse.

On Monday afternoon, Trump was again asked by a reporter about the promised donation, and this time he said he would “only do it if I can test her personally.”

Oh, good grief.

Remember that:

Trump has had a long history of making bold pledges to donate large sums of money to charity, without actually delivering on those promises, as The Washington Post’s David A. Fahrenthold uncovered in a series of articles that won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting.

I’ve got a few things to say about all that. First off, Trump can deny all he wants. Fox News, his own propaganda outlet, posted the evidence to YouTube. Click on the link to view the 2:35 video with the million-dollar promise at about 2:05.

Second, the report of the DNA analysis conducted by independent scientists supports Warren’s claim about her ancestry. “While the vast majority of the individual’s ancestry is European, the results strongly support the existence of an unadmixed Native American ancestor in the individual’s pedigree, likely in the range of 6–10 generations ago.” This is not “junk science.” I’d venture a guess that Conway does not know anything about genetics or quantitative analyses.

Third, now confronted with the evidence against his claims, Trump says he won’t pay up because he never said that he would. Liar. As Post reporter David Fahrenthold learned, Trump has a history of welshing on payments to contractors, a history I reviewed back in June 2016, here and here. Coupled with the Fox News video, it appears he has welshed again, trying to get himself off the hook by denying what has already been proven.

Finally , Warren has opened a new web site show-casing her background. It does look like the kind of slide show that would appear on the large screens of a Democratic National Convention. Be worried, Donald. Go get’m Elizabeth!

Robert Reich contrasts Trump's economy with the living standards of most Americans. 'You get a very different picture.'

This last Sunday I covered a New Yorker piece on why a narcissist like Trump should not be in charge of our economy. Robert Reich has many more specifics on how Trumponomics is not helping the non-rich but is actually hurting them. He exposes The Truth About the Trump Economy
(Monday, Oct 15, 2018).

I keep hearing that although Trump is a scoundrel or worse, at least he’s presiding over a great economy.

As White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow recently put it, “The single biggest story this year is an economic boom that is durable and lasting.”

Really? Look closely at the living standards of most Americans, and you get a very different picture.

Yes, the stock market has boomed since Trump became president. But it’s looking increasingly wobbly as Trump’s trade wars take a toll.

Over 80 percent of the stock market is owned by the richest 10 percent of Americans anyway, so most Americans never got much out of Trump’s market boom to begin with.

The trade wars are about to take a toll on ordinary workers. Trump’s steel tariffs have cost Ford $1 billion so far, for example, forcing the automaker to plan mass layoffs.

Reich lists many more negative aspects of Trump’s economy after the break. He concludes:

Too often, discussions about “the economy” focus on overall statistics about growth, the stock market, and unemployment.

But most Americans don’t live in that economy. They live in a personal economy that has more to do with wages, job security, commutes to and from work, and the costs of housing, healthcare, drugs, education, and home insurance.

These are the things that hit closest home. They comprise the typical American’s standard of living.

Instead of an “economic boom,” most Americans are experiencing declines in all these dimensions of their lives.

Trump isn’t solely responsible. Some of these trends predated his presidency. But he hasn’t done anything to reverse them.

If anything, he’s made them far worse.

White House screens 'Attack of the Ignoramous'. That and other Mournday Mourning Illustrated Gnus.

Here are the schemes, themes, memes, and falemes from the Blue Meanie at Blog for Arizona.

Trump policies
  • There are no more moderate Republicans. If you think otherwise, put your trust in Susan Collins and see what that gets you.
  • Trump’s rallying cry is still “Lock her up!” This time it’s Ford, not Clinton.
  • The new Devil’s Triangle: White House, Senate, Supreme Court.
  • Rumored: Nikki Haley’s resignation letter said “Will the last sane woman to leave please turn out the lights- and leave the toilet seat up.”
How to elect morons
Tuned in, turned on, dropped out
  • Trump repeats 125 false or misleading claims in Lesley Stahl’s 60-minutes interview. (I didn’t count, but given the fact-checking record, it’s a good guess.)
  • Mexico Beach is the new normal.
  • More from Stahl interview: When it comes to climate change disasters, Trump knows something is happening but he doesn’t know what.
  • Trump loves Kim. Is this Love for Sale?
  • Speaking of love for dictators, how about Prince bin Salman? Do his reforms include bumping off journalists?

Sunday, October 14, 2018

The hydraulic model of Trumponomics - a short introduction to why a narcissist should not be F'ing with our economy.

The mattress-as-bank is the butt of numerous jokes and cartoons. But come on. You don’t hide your life savings under your bed, do you? (The dog ate my money?) So let me come at this from a different but parallel direction - my hydraulic theory of the economy in which the commode is a receptacle for your money. Suppose that President Chaos perceives (quite accurately) that a big tax cut would help his bottom line and also the bottom lines of the party of his Chaotic Chronies. So we pour all our money into the economy aka the commode. We are now at the mercy of whoever controls the flush button. That would be President Chaos.

When President Chaos goes to war against the Fed, he is fucking with your money.

When he runs a tax break scam that benefits billionaires, he is fucking with your money.

And when he launches a unilateral trade war, he is fucking with YOUR MONEY.


Adam Davidson of the New Yorker tells us How Trump’s Impulsiveness, Vanity, and Cronyism Could Tank the Economy. I’ll pick up on Davidson’s post about half way.

[Trump’s comments on the Federal Reserve] came as confirmation of warnings that the International Monetary Fund issued last weekend. The I.M.F.’s World Economic Outlook provides the benchmark forecast for the global economy. It is a bureaucratic document, using careful, bloodless words to convey even the most hysterical of warnings. But readers familiar with the language of international finance can’t help but see the fear and contempt in the most recent reports. The executive summary warns, “The trade measures implemented since April will weigh on activity in 2019 and beyond; US fiscal policy will subtract momentum starting in 2020.” In regular English, this means: Trump has unilaterally launched a series of trade wars that will damage the global economy next year. Also, the tax cuts that were sold as growth-inspiring will so dramatically increase the U.S. government’s deficit that its economy will begin to slow.

In the rest of his column, Davidson explains why the current state of the economy is an unsustainable bubble, and the hope that Trump knows something, knows any thing, is a hopeless dream. To believe that is to confuse economics (the science) with Trumponomics (a religion).

It can be tempting to mock President Trump because his craven rhetoric makes him sound ignorant of basic economic principles. To be fair to him, all Presidents pursue policies that international-finance experts see as contrary to long-term growth. All Presidents boast when the economy is doing well and blame others when it fails. And all Presidents get angry at the Fed when it raises rates. They just don’t speak publicly about it and try so nakedly to manipulate the process. (President Richard Nixon pressured his Fed Chair, Arthur Burns, into keeping rates low in order to artificially boost economic growth before the 1972 election. Nixon, though, implicitly recognized the importance of Fed independence by keeping his intervention secret.)

Trump, though, stands alone among post-Second World War Presidents in describing himself not just as a steward of the economy but as a visionary tactician, a person who has unique ideas about how best to promote economic growth. And his ideas are radically different from those of recent Presidents of both parties. This is a good week in which to explore what those ideas look like in practice and to begin to describe a unified Trumpian theory of the economy.

To understand just how radical a departure Trump’s views are, it’s helpful to remember that Presidential economic thinking for the past seventy or so years has existed in a remarkably narrow band. From the late nineteen-thirties until 1980, all Presidents were, essentially, Keynesian. To absurdly oversimplify complex policies that played out over decades, this means they all believed that most decisions about how money is spent and invested should be made by the private sector, by people and companies, and that the government’s primary role was to provide clear, thoughtful rules and apply them fairly. Keynesians, such as John F. Kennedy, typically believe in government intervention as a break-this-glass-in-case-of-emergency exception. When an economy is temporarily underperforming, the government can step in, spend money, and jolt the free market back up to a healthier level. In 1981, President Ronald Reagan famously dismissed Keynesians and embraced what is known as the Chicago School of almost religious devotion to the free market, shunning interventions. Since then, Presidents have seesawed between Keynes and Chicago. Partisans seek to heighten the distinction between these economic schools, which do have major differences in policy advice and methodology. But, in contrast to Trumponomics, they appear as near twins.

Trumponomics is something else entirely. For Trump, an economy, apparently, is best run when some person with power and good sense continuously weighs in on key economic questions. It could be called an anti-theory theory. For Trump, theoretical models—no matter how well grounded in data and experience—are binding constraints that limit the President’s ability to respond however he thinks appropriate and, worse, they telegraph which policies the President will likely pursue. This is an essential difference. For past Presidents, stability and predictability were crucial. These qualities allow companies to make long-term investments, feeling confident they will pay off decades later. Stability also encourages other countries to orient their economies around the United States, knowing that its economic policies are unlikely to change dramatically, no matter who is in power.

In many ways, Trump’s views on economics are off base. Decades of research show that economies run best when there are clear and neutral rules, fairly applied. But understanding Trump’s view is important to having a sense of what our next two to six years might look like.

Some Republican leaders, I imagine, comfort themselves by picturing Trump’s erraticism as a bit of showmanship that masks an embrace of standard Republican orthodoxy. He yells at China or Canada, he insults the Fed, he doesn’t understand how our economy functions. But that’s noise. They believe that, at base, Trump is a Mitt Romney Republican: he wants low taxes and less regulation and thinks that the only way for poor and middle-class people to thrive is to ensure that the rich do so first.

This is, clearly now, a misreading. The chaos is not the aberration. It is the point. It is Trumponomics.

Consider something else we learned this week. ProPublica reported that last year Trump asked Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzō Abe to help out his donor, Sheldon Adelson, in his bid to enter the new Japanese casino market. On one hand, political leaders have always carried water for their rich donors. This is the swamp. But, with Trump, it is something more (or, possibly, something less). It is a model of governance and economics based, it seems, on impulse. Trump puts pressure on one of our closest allies so that a crony can make some money; Trump strong-arms Carrier so that a few hundred people can stay employed for a few weeks longer; Trump decides which industries and which countries should thrive and which should fail. The salient point is not consistency or theoretical rigor. It is that the world economy is governed by Trump’s whims. Trumponomics is not a steady state. It is, by its nature, constant turmoil.

This is, of course, deeply self-serving. Trump gets to enrich his cronies and, one supposes, himself. He gets to distract the media and the public when there is unfavorable news about him. But I believe it is not right to assume that Trump—in his own experience—is solely cynical. His mentality, apparently, allows him to pay little heed to the forces leading him to prefer one action over another. Is he pitching Adelson and attacking the Fed because he wants to help himself or because it’s good for America? Who cares? They’re the same. If he wants to do it, it’s good for America, then it’s good for Trump, and vice versa.

Trump is no longer a mystery. He is among the most transparent of public figures. The mystery is that it all works. The stock market, even with this week’s drop, has been at record highs. Unemployment is at record lows. Consumer and business confidence is robust. How can this be? According to basic economic theory, businesspeople should look at this chaos and realize it is unsustainable.

G.O.P. politicians and some sympathetic economists argue that the tax cuts and deregulation are spurring business. But there is one idea that Keynesians and Chicago School thinkers have long agreed upon: It is always possible to give an economy a sugar rush, a short-term boost, by flushing huge amounts of government money through the system. One can do this through tax cuts or government spending. Or, in a sense, by weakening regulation. (When the government removes consumer protections, it makes it cheaper for banks to do business and operates like a tax cut or a subsidy.) This creates a promise of near-term profits for companies, which leads to higher stock prices, which can lead to business expansion and new hiring. The newly employed buy more things, increasing the rate of expansion. It can be exciting and self-reinforcing.

An important lesson of the financial crisis of ten years ago is that markets are very bad at figuring out how to respond to warning signs. Many people on Wall Street knew that the housing market might be a bubble, that there was something of a frenzy. But they didn’t know when it would all fall apart, so they just traded as if everything would keep going up. Many on Wall Street today know that the likelihood of the President making a series of decisions—from launching a trade war to influencing fed policy—that sends our economy downward is unusually high. But, on any given day, the businessperson looks at the numbers that provide clarity (unemployment, wages, G.D.P. growth, the stock market) and sees no reason for today to be the day for despair. Yes, of course, they are all looking, anxiously, at the President, always unsure of what he will do next but knowing something, someday, might be cataclysmic. But before then, perhaps, he’ll do something else, something that helps their business and makes them richer. They don’t know, because there is nothing to base their forecast on other than Trump’s own gut. And that is precisely how he wants it.

Remember: Susan Glasser, also at the New Yorker, reminds us that “the chaos in the White House cannot be overstated.” It starts with President Chaos, it infects his staff, and will ultimately trickle down to our economy. The thing is, we common folk don’t want to be in the way of what this president tinkles down on us.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

How the media is complicit in Trump’s campaign to ‘flood the zone with shit’

Judd Legum ( introduces the theme of today’s post in Trump’s accomplice.

Spreading the media thin is part of the plan. “The Democrats don’t matter. The real opposition is the media. And the way to deal with them is to flood the zone with shit,” Trump’s former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, said.

This strategy paid off last week when the New York Times published a devastating piece, based on 100,000 documents, exposing how Trump and his father engaged in tax fraud to build their fortunes. The article, however, received only a modest amount of attention because, well, there was a lot of other stuff going on. Trump makes sure of it.

He makes sure of it by an increasing rate of lies. Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post fact-checker, documents the acceleration of Trump falsehoods: President Trump has made more than 5,000 false or misleading claims.

On Sept. 7, President Trump woke up in Billings, Mont., flew to Fargo, N.D., visited Sioux Falls, S.D., and eventually returned to Washington. He spoke to reporters on Air Force One, held a pair of fundraisers and was interviewed by three local reporters.

In that single day, he publicly made 125 false or misleading statements — in a period of time that totaled only about 120 minutes. It was a new single-day high.

The day before, the president made 74 false or misleading claims, many at a campaign rally in Montana. An anonymous op-ed article by a senior administration official had just been published in the New York Times, and news circulated about journalist Bob Woodward’s insider account of Trump’s presidency.

Trump’s tsunami of untruths helped push the count in The Fact Checker’s database past 5,000 on the 601st day of his presidency. That’s an average of 8.3 Trumpian claims a day, but in the past nine days — since our last update — the president has averaged 32 claims a day.

Trump’s op-ed in the USA Today is the high profile example of how the media gives Trump a pass on his distorted view of the world - a view that generates self-made fake news that then permeates the media.

In another report, as a specific example, Glenn Kessler does Fact-checking President Trump’s USA Today op-ed on ‘Medicare-for-All’.

President Trump wrote an opinion article for USA Today on Oct. 10 regarding proposals to expand Medicare to all Americans — known as Medicare-for-All — in which almost every sentence contained a misleading statement or a falsehood.

… this is not a serious effort to debate the issue. So as a reader service, we offer a guide through Trump’s rhetoric.

Kessler lists and rebuts many of Trump’s numerous false claims about Medicare. For examples, I return to the report for a selection of “five whoppers.”

Weaponizing USA Today

There is a history of presidents publishing op-eds in USA Today, one of America’s largest papers with a daily print readership of 2.6 million people. Obama published an op-ed in the paper commemorating the 10 year anniversary of 9/11. Bush wrote one on the day of his reelection entitled, “Why you should vote for me today.” Bill Clinton’s commemorated the 50th anniversary of John Kennedy’s assassination.

But no president has ever published a column in USA Today like the one published on Wednesday by Trump.

Trump’s op-ed is a diatribe against the Democrats’ health care agenda, particularly Medicare for All. That’s no accident. Healthcare has emerged consistently as a top issue for voters heading into the midterm elections.

The piece is also full of demonstrable lies.

Trump v. the truth

This entire newsletter could be devoted to fact-checking Trump’s op-ed. Virtually every sentence is false or misleading. But to give you a taste, here are five whoppers.

Trump writes: “As a candidate, I promised that we would protect coverage for patients with pre-existing conditions… I have kept that promise.”

The Trump administration has refused to defend the Affordable Care Act, which established protections for people with pre-existing conditions, against a lawsuit filed by Republican Attorneys General. In a brief filed with the court, the Trump administration argued that protecting people with pre-existing conditions is unconstitutional. If the Trump administration gets its way, the provision will be struck down.

Trump writes: “We are now seeing health insurance premiums coming down.”

Insurance premiums, on average, are still going up. Insurance premiums would be lower in many states if Trump had not taken steps to sabotage the Obamacare exchange.

Trump writes: “Democrats have already harmed seniors by slashing Medicare by more than $800 billion over 10 years to pay for Obamacare.”

Obamacare extended the life of Medicare by adding a payroll tax for wealthy Americans. The $800 billion in savings came largely from trimming back reimbursements from health care providers, not reducing care for seniors.

Trump writes: “I am fighting so hard against the Democrats’ plan that would eviscerate Medicare.”

Trump’s op-ed targets Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All legislation. That bill would expand Medicare to cover all Americans and create additional benefits like dental and eye care.

Trump writes: “Republicans believe that a Medicare program that was created for seniors and paid for by seniors their entire lives should always be protected and preserved.”

For many years, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) has proposed ending Medicare as we know it and replacing it with “premium support.” In other words, replacing Medicare with a subsidy for private insurance. Democrats successfully fought against the plan.

USA Today’s epic failure

Surprisingly, USA Today claims that it fact-checked Trump’s op-ed. A statement from USA Today’s editorial page editor Bill Sternberg:

We see ourselves as America’s conversation center, presenting our readers with voices from the right, left and middle. President Trump’s op-ed was treated like other column submissions; we check factual assertions while allowing authors wide leeway to express their opinions. Readers are invited to submit opposing viewpoints and provide additional context, some of which will be published in the days ahead.

It’s unclear what kind of fact check was undertaken since the errors were obvious. Many of Trump’s lies are exposed by the very sources he links to in the article.

For Trump’s claim that he has kept his promise to protect people with pre-existing conditions, for example, the article links to a Washington Post fact check explaining that he broke his pledge.

What good is a fact check if it allows authors to publish things that are not true?

USA Today even featured one of the most obvious falsehoods on its Twitter account, which has 3.6 million followers.

To survive in Trump’s world, the media must change

There are many media fact checkers. But their work hasn’t changed Trump’s behavior because he knows that more people will hear what he says, without context, than slog through a lengthy fact check of his claims.

To fulfill its mission of providing accurate information to the public, the media must change their tactics.

For example, instead of producing fact checks after Trump’s appearances, cable networks could have a rapid response team on hand any time they decide to air a Trump speech, equipped with the facts needed to correct Trump’s most repeated lies.

If every time Trump said something false, networks displayed the facts on half of the screen, it may or may not change Trump’s behavior. But it would certainly change the experience for viewers.

In other words, we need to flood Trump’s zone with facts. For every Trump lie, the media should publish - in real time - 10 truths.

To combat Trump’s torrent of misinformation, the media needs to think outside the box. If outlets continue to treat Trump as if he was the same as other presidents, they will continue to be complicit in his efforts to warp reality for the American public.

Greg Sargent (Washington Post/Plum Line) pens a Memo to the media: Stop spreading Trump’s fake news.

It is a great irony of the current political moment: By broadcasting forth Trump’s lies in tweets and headlines — while declining to inform readers that they are just that, and while burying the truth deep within accompanying articles — the organizations that Trump regularly derides as “fake news” are themselves spreading a species of fake news.

… the problem remains one that plenty of traditional journalists and news organizations still refuse to take seriously enough. You constantly see headlines on news organizations’ websites that blare forth a politician’s false, dubious or unsupported claims without informing readers that those claims are, well, false or dubious or unsupported. Often it requires reading deep into a story to discover a corrective, if there is a corrective at all.

This is part and parcel of a broader problem, in which too many newspaper editors and television producers still continue to fear that if they forcefully — and prominently, right in tweets and headlines — call out Trump’s lies for what they are, they will somehow come across as biased or lacking in objectivity. Indeed, some editors have offered the tortured argument that they should refrain from using the word “lie” because it suggests knowledge of Trump’s intent to mislead, which cannot be conclusively established.

But this rigs the game in Trump’s favor: One cannot ever conclusively prove whether Trump is intentionally lying, as opposed to just delusional or hopelessly uninformed. Yet if Trump repeats a falsehood over and over after it has been debunked, it is obviously deliberate deception; if news organizations refrain from calling this out as such, they are failing to accurately describe what is right there in plain sight.

This misleads readers and viewers not just in each particular case. Importantly, it also misleads them more broadly about the truly sinister and deliberate nature of Trump’s ongoing campaign to obliterate the possibility of shared agreement on facts and on the news media’s legitimate institutional role in keeping voters informed. The resulting standard does not reckon seriously with the scale of the challenge to the truth he poses. It ends up portraying his ongoing campaign of flood-the-zone lying as conventional dishonesty or mere incompetence, which in turn paints a profoundly misleading picture of the realities of the current moment.

To be fair, there have been many signs that leading journalists grasp the urgent need for their profession to rise to all these current challenges. CNN media reporter Brian Stelter’s newsletter recently reported that within newsrooms, there is “more and more introspection” about the media’s response to Trumpian deception tactics, and about whether the press is compounding the “damage” by airing and repeating falsehoods without any adequate institutional response to it.

So we may be in the midst of another transition, similar to the one that unfolded a generation ago. The news media seems to be retaining its core institutional independence and appears to be finding new ways to adapt. But as Hannah Arendt put it in a famous 1967 meditation on “Truth and Politics,” back during that previous period of serious institutional adaptation by the press, those two things — politics and factual truth — are perpetually “on rather bad terms with each other.”

Thanks to the rise of Trump, those terms are particularly bad right now. Perhaps we will get through this. But we are learning all over again, as Arendt put it, that “factual truth is fragile in politics, and its survival is never guaranteed.”

Friday, October 12, 2018

Scriber endorses Sinema for Senate and Kirkpatrick for House

The ballots for the 2018 election are in the mail, so we are down to the wire. I know that in the primary season many of you (and that includes me) preferred candidates who did not prevail. But we are beyond that now.

I am endorsing Kyrsten Sinema for U. S. Senate and Ann Kirkpatrick for AZ CD2 House.

The alliance4action has published 2018 fact sheets that include tables comparing and contrasting candidates and their positions on issues. The evidence in that publication supports my decision. In addition, following are excerpts from (and updates to) my previous posts that inform my endorsements.


Larry Bodine (Blog for Arizona) covers The Kirkpatrick v. Marquez-Peterson CD2 Congressional Debate at a Glance with an excellent table contrasting the positions of the candidates. Carolyn Classen responds with a link to the Video of this debate online at AZPM. These two items make it clear why 538 said “maybe they should” in evaluating the Republicans withdrawing from districts that are likely losers for GOP apparently now including AZ CD2.

538 gives Kirkpatrick a 95% chance of taking back the CD2 seat.

UPDATE: As I was writing this post this morning, I found this report by Joe Ferguson in the Daily Star, NRCC pulls funding for Marquez Peterson in CD2.

The National Republican Congressional Committee is pulling the plug on a planned six-figure ad buy in Congressional District 2 weeks before the general election.

The move has some wondering whether one of largest national groups singularly dedicated to electing Republicans to the House of Representatives has lost faith in its candidate, Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Lea Marquez Peterson.

A spokesperson for the NRCC confirmed that the group would stop spending money on ads next week, but declined to discuss the reasons why it would shift an estimated $400,000 to races in other districts or states.

To update what I said earlier, “Republicans withdrawing from districts that are likely losers for GOP apparently now including AZ CD2.”


[I identified] votes on legislation that matter to progressives, for example, denying funding for Planned Parenthood, punishing sanctuary cities, increasing the availability of guns, repeal of Dodd-Frank, and repeal of regulations that provide for clean air and water. I pulled the records for 33 such bills from January 1, 2017 to present. I counted the number of instances in which Sinema voted against legislation supported by Trump. Her score was 85% opposed to Trump’s position.

You might ask how good is that score. To establish bounds on that measure I used the same method to compute the progressive scores for Raul Grijalva (AZ CD 3) and Martha McSally (AZ CD2). Grijalva scored a perfect 100% opposed to Trump’s positions and McSally, voting almost entirely with Trump on everything, scored 3%. (By the way, Trump’s score on the same measure was a perfect 0%.)

… When it comes to deciding on how to vote, if you want ideological purity, you could point to the difference between Sinema and Grijalva (100% - 85% = 15%) and stay home. But if you want to flip that seat held by Republican Jeff Flake to a Democrat, you should focus on the difference between Sinema’s progressive score vs. that of McSally (85% - 3% = 82%) and Get Out to Vote.

UPDATE: Joe Ferguson adds:

Attempts to get Rep. Martha McSally to debate her Democratic rival Kyrsten Sinema in her hometown have failed.

While Sinema first floated the idea for a debate hosted by AZPM several weeks ago, the proposal eventually fell apart as the two sides couldn’t agree.

Instead McSally and Sinema will take part in a debate in Phoenix on Monday, Oct. 15, hosted by Arizona PBS, in partnership with The Arizona Republic and

The Republican Party has been transforming itself and America for decades. It's all about white male power.

The Republican party has now institutionalized psychological projection. For example, the AZ Blue Meanie reports that The Sausage Party declares women are an ‘angry mob’ that threatens the privileged white male patriarchy

The transformation of the GOP over the past two weeks has moved at remarkable speed.

President Trump went from declaring Christine Blasey Ford a “very fine woman” and “certainly a very credible witness” after she testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee about her allegation of sexual assault, to just days later using her as a prop at one of his Nuremberg campaign rallies, lying about her testimony and playing the privileged white male as victim card, to chants of “lock her up” from his personality cult of Trump.

Trump and his enablers in the GOP then moved on to saying those who made ‘false statements’ about Kavanaugh ‘should be held liable’ and Saying Brett Kavanaugh Was ‘Caught Up In A Hoax’ And ‘Did Nothing Wrong’, to falsely saying Kavanaugh was ‘proven innocent’ at his swearing-in ceremony. The coup de grâce came when Trump apologized ‘on behalf of the nation’ to Kavanaugh “for the terrible pain and suffering” that he and his family endured during his confirmation process

In just two weeks, Brett Kavanaugh went from being credibly accused of sexual assault to the privileged white male victim of a hoax who should be able to exact retribution against his female accusers, according to the pussy-grabber-in-chief.

But, according to conservative columnists, the transformation of the GOP has been underway for decades. It abandoned conservative principles long ago.

Max Boot explains how The dark side of American conservatism has taken over

… It would be nice to think that Donald Trump is an anomaly who came out of nowhere to take over an otherwise sane and sober movement. But it just isn’t so.

… the history of modern conservative is permeated with racism, extremism, conspiracy-mongering, isolationism and know-nothingism … conservatives have also espoused high-minded principles that I still believe in, … But there has always been a dark underside to conservatism that I chose for most of my life to ignore. It’s amazing how little you can see when your eyes are closed!

… The Republican Party will now be defined by Trump’s dark, divisive vision, with his depiction of Democrats as America-hating, criminal-coddling traitors, his vilification of the press as the “enemy of the people,” and his ugly invective against Mexicans and Muslims. The extremism that many Republicans of goodwill had been trying to push to the fringe of their party is now its governing ideology.

That’s why I can no longer be a Republican, and in fact wish ill fortune on my former party. I am now convinced that the Republican Party must suffer repeated and devastating defeats beginning in November. It must pay a heavy price for its embrace of white nationalism and know-nothingism. Only if the GOP as it is currently constituted is burned to the ground will there be any chance to build a reasonable center-right party out of the ashes. But that will require undoing the work of decades, not just of the past two years.

Another conservative columnist, Jennifer Rubin, considers alternatives to burn it down She admits The corruption of the GOP is complete and asks So what’s Plan B?

Perhaps a potential ticket independent is waiting to be constructed from among the few Republicans who have refused to join the Trump cult. There are center/right governors — John Kasich (Ohio), Charlie Baker (Mass.), Brian Sandoval (Nev.) and former Indiana governor Mitch Daniels. Democrats such as Gov. Steve Bullock (Mont.), Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), and Gov. John Hickenlooper (Colo.) would be solid additions on a ticket if you wanted to go the bipartisan route — perhaps with the promise of a one-term “reset” to rinse out the toxic remnants of the Trump era. Alternatively, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) — a true independent voice — would be on any short list for vice president.

Rubin thinks that the “reset” should include a return to the 3 Rs. “What would the Plan B ticket offer? It should start with what is plainly missing in politics — restraint, respect and reform.” But, unfortunately, “Respectful and clean government, values-based leadership of the free world, responsible stewardship of the environment and a commitment to reform are no longer on the GOP agenda.”

Finally, Charles Blow forces on us a larger vision of the struggle between left and right in America, writing Liberals, This Is War What’s at stake is much more than a single Supreme Court seat. (h/t Sherry Moreau)

Yes, Brett Kavanaugh is on the Supreme Court. Rue the day. Rend your garments.

Then, step back, view the entirety of the battle in which you are engaged, and understand that Kavanaugh is just one part of a much larger plan by conservatives to fundamentally change the American political structure so that it enshrines and protects white male power even after America’s changing demographics and mores move away from that power.

This, for them, is not simply a game about political passion and political principles. This is a game of power, pure and simple, and it’s about whether the people who have long held that power will be able to retain it.

For them, Trump is just a useful idiot, a temporary anomaly.

They are thinking generationally, not in terms of the next election cycle but in terms of the next epoch.

Liberals can get so high-minded that they lose sight of the ground war. Yes, next month it is important to prove to the rest of Americans, and indeed the world, that Trump and the Republicans who promote and protect him are at odds with American values and with the American majority.

On one level this would provide relief and release for a pent-up demand by most Americans to be heard and to calm some of the chaos. But, catharsis is an emotional response and an emotional remedy.

Liberals have to look beyond emotions, beyond reactionary electoral enthusiasm, beyond needing to fall in love with candidates in order to vote for them, beyond the coming election and toward the coming showdown.

For instance, the constant pining about justices who will interpret the “original intent” of the Constitution feels far bigger than single issues like gun control.

In July, Leonard Leo, executive vice president of the “constitutional originalist Federalist Society,” as RealClearPolitics phrased it, told Fox News:

“Any Supreme Court confirmation is transformative. This is a court that is often equally divided. At the end of the day, I think what’s really important to remember is that there’s been a movement on the court toward being more originalist and textualist. In other words, the idea that law means something, it has determinate meaning. And that’s the trend that I think this president wants to continue.”

But, when I think of originalism, I think this: Many of the founders owned slaves; in the Constitution they viewed black people as less than fully human; they didn’t want women or poor white men to vote. The founders, a bunch of rich, powerful white men, didn’t want true democracy in this country, and in fact were dreadfully afraid of it.

Now, a bunch of rich, powerful white men want to return us to this sensibility, wrapped in a populist “follow the Constitution” rallying cry and disguised as the ultimate form of patriotism.

We have to learn to see everything around us, all that is happening on the political front, through that lens. This is what the extreme measures on illegal immigration and even the efforts to dramatically slash legal immigration are all about.

This is also what the demonizing of the visa lottery program is all about. As the Pew Research Center pointed out in August: “In fiscal 2017, which ended Sept. 30, the largest number of visas went to citizens of African countries” while applicants from European countries and from Asia received fewer visas than before.

The effort to demonize the lottery program is an effort to preserve America’s white majority, against the statistical eventuality, for as long as possible.

And that is also what voter disenfranchisement and Citizens United are about. That is why conservatives cheer the moves by young liberals to densely populated cities. The move weakens conservative votes in the places they move to and strengthens it in places they move from.

As The Washington Post pointed out in 2016, “In the Electoral College, each individual Wyoming vote weighs 3.6 times more than an individual Californian’s vote.” The Post continued, “That’s the most extreme example, but if you average the 10 most populous states and compare the power of their residents’ votes to those of the 10 least populous states, you get a ratio of 1 to 2.5.”

But probably the biggest, gutsiest move is the call for a constitutional convention.

There are two ways that amendments to the Constitution can be proposed: One is by a two-thirds majority in both the House and Senate, and the other is by a constitutional convention called for by two-thirds of the states. The second method has never been used, but is now gathering steam among Republicans.

As Charles Pierce wrote in January in Esquire, the people pushing for a convention “have commitments from 28 state legislatures. They need 34 to trigger the Constitution’s provision for a ‘convention of the states.’”

Pierce continued: “If the convention is called, the disunion that has become a faith in some conservative quarters will run amok. Economic oligarchy will be established in law, and any political check on the powers of business likely will be eviscerated.”

Folks, Kavanaugh is only one soldier, albeit an important one, in a larger battle. Stop thinking you’re in a skirmish, when you’re at war.