Saturday, January 25, 2020

Rep. Adam Schiff Urges Senators, “Give America A Fair Trial”

Lead House impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) provides closing arguments in the fourth day of the Senate impeachment trial. He tells senators, "And this is why he needs to be removed. Donald Trump chose Rudy Giuliani over his own intelligence agencies." He goes on to say, "That makes him dangerous to us, to our country." Rep. Schiff concludes by saying, "It doesn't matter how good the Constitution is. It doesn't matter how brilliant the framers were … If right doesn't matter, we're lost. If truth doesn't matter, we're lost. The framers couldn't protect us from ourselves if right and truth don't matter."

Rep. Schiff urged senators to “give America a fair trial” in his final argument in the GOP-controlled Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump over his Ukraine misconduct on Friday.
All over the world, those living under oppressive regimes look to us. They look to us because we have a rule of law. Because in America, no one is above that law. To my Senate colleagues, I implore you: Give America a fair trial. She's worth it.

Schiff’s ‘Moving’ Closing Argument In Trump Trial

Thursday, January 23, 2020

12 GOP Senate Seats Democrats Could Flip

Republicans currently hold 53 of the Senate’s 100 seats; Democrats will need a minimum net gain of three seats with a new, Democratic vice president to flip partisan control of the body. Of the 23 Republican-controlled Senate seats up for election this year, there are currently 13 seats in 12 states that offer plausible prospects for Democrats to defeat their Republican opponent.

Three Republican held Senate seats up for reelection in 2020 are rated as toss-ups by the Cook Political Report. Those at risk Republican seats are held by Colorado’s Sen. Cory Gardner, Maine’s Sen. Susan Collins, and Arizona’s Martha McSally — and the list of “at risk” Republican Senators is growing as members of the Party of Trump.

The impeachment trial in the US Senate is clearly a constitutional and moral moment of truth. Lead House impeachment manager Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, not only made a compelling factual narrative case for convicting Trump in the Senate impeachment hearings, he presented a political narrative that the president’s party in the Senate is complicit in a cover-up. Schiff eloquently blasted McConnell’s obstruction of witnesses and evidence and urged the senators to stand up for democracy and America’s security. At Alternet, Cody Fenwick provides “5 of the strongest moments from Adam Schiff’s opening statement of Trump’s impeachment trial.” Here’s a video clip of Schiff’s presentation from Time:

Syndicated columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr. explains “Why Democrats owe a debt to Mitch McConnell” in The Washington Post:
“By working with Trump to rig the trial by admitting as little evidence as possible, McConnell robbed the proceeding of any legitimacy as a fair adjudication of Trump’s behavior. Instead of being able to claim that Trump was “cleared” by a searching and serious process, Republican senators will now be on the defensive for their complicity in the Trump coverup…It gets worse. Thanks to assertions by Trump’s lawyers that he did absolutely nothing wrong, an acquittal vote, as The Post editorialized, “would confirm to Mr. Trump that he is free to solicit foreign interference in the 2020 election and to withhold congressionally appropriated aid to induce such interference.” Is that the position that Republican Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Cory Gardner (Colo.), Thom Tillis (N.C.) and Martha McSally (Ariz.), among others, want to embrace as they run for reelection this fall? Good luck with that.”
It is not out of the question that Democrats could hold the House (or add a few seats), win the White House and win the Senate majority in 2020. It does not mean it’s very likely, but chances of a clean sweep improve every day as Republicans become increasingly chained to Donald Trump through Senate impeachment proceedings.

The impeachment trial may not result in President Trump’s removal, but it could well result in Republicans’ removal from the Senate majority. Many Republican incumbents were below 45 percent approval even before the trial began, including Susan Collins (Maine), Joni Ernst (Iowa), Thom Tillis (North Carolina), Martha McSally (Arizona), Cory Gardner (Colorado) and John Cornyn (Texas). In their refusal to allow new witnesses and documents, their determination to acquit even before the trial began and their conduct during the trial, provides rich source content for opponents’ media and YouTube Ad makers.

The anti-Trump Lincoln Project
has already launched one
against Collins:

In the coming months we will udoubtedly see video ads that highlight the lack of professionalism by senators who read books, doodle, wander off, fall asleep and sneer at the House managers.

The Senate certainly is in play. This year 23 GOP seats up to only 12 for Democrats, which is the opposite of 2018, when Democrats had 26 seats up to just nine for Republicans. It is true that while Democrats in 2018 had a lot of red-state seats to defend, Republicans this time, theoretically, do not have vulnerable senators in deep-blue states. However, they’ve got plenty to worry about.

Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Cory Gardner of Colorado run in states Trump lost in 2016. Both are vulnerable as their party moves far to the right and they choose to march in lockstep. Both face strong challengers, Maine’s Democratic state House Speaker Sara Gideon and former Democratic governor John Hickenlooper, respectively.

Democrats also have an increasingly good shot at flipping additional Republican Senate seats, with impeached Pres. Trump at the top of their party’s ticket.

Republicans in Georgia will have to defend one vacant seat, and the other just recently filled with a rich businesswoman, Kelly Loeffler, who President Trump did not favor. North Carolina’s incumbent Sen. Thom Tillis likely will face a strong challenger in Cal Cunningham, who led Tillis by 2 points in a Public Policy Polling poll last fall. Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), who lost her race in 2018 but was appointed to the seat once held by the late Sen. John McCain, is trailing a strong opponent in polling (former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’s husband and astronaut Mark Kelly) in an increasingly purple state.

If things really go Democrats’ way, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), who has been running from impeachment questions, could be vulnerable. As could Sen. John Cornyn in Texas (where a slew of Republican House members are retiring thanks to the state’s increasing Democratic tilt), where Cornyn’s approval was well below 50 percent. Indeed, not a single incumbent in these states had an approval rating in last year’s Morning Consult poll over 44 percent.

Even Kansas may be in play for Democrats. Yes, Kansas. Democrat Laura Kelly won the governor’s race in 2018 against a Stephen Miller-type anti-immigration firebrand, Kris Kobach. Kobach will be running for the open Senate seat, and Mike Pompeo will not be (for now). “National Republicans have outright said that the controversial Kobach can’t win a general election after losing the 2018 governor’s race by 5 points to Democrat Laura Kelly,” writes the Cook Report’s Jessica Taylor.
“In private polling, Republicans have Kobach losing to likely Democratic nominee Barbara Bollier, and Kobach leading every other Republican in a head-to-head except Pompeo. Add in the fact that Democrats have a strong recruit in Bollier ⁠— a former Republican state senator who cited Trump as one of the reasons she switched parties in Dec. 2018.”
Democrats certainly cannot bet on winning all of these, but if they win the White House, they only need a net pickup of three in the Senate (with the vice president breaking 50-50 tie votes). They have really only one vulnerable incumbent, Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.). They have an expanding playing field (with real shots in Lean Republican or toss-up seats at risk for Republicans in Maine, Colorado, Arizona, Kansas and North Carolina) that will force Republicans to defend lots of seats — cutting off the ones who are in the worst shape when money gets tough.

Today’s Pew Research poll confirms other recent polling in two key respects: President Trump remains deeply unpopular, and most voters think he did what he is accused of doing.
While the public’s preferences for the outcome of the Senate trial are closely divided, 63% of Americans say Trump has definitely (38%) or probably (25%) done things that are illegal, either during his time in office or while he was running for president. A larger majority (70%) say he has definitely (45%) or probably (26%) done unethical things …

Similarly, an Insider SurveyMonkey Audience poll this week found:
  • Among Americans aged 18-29, 63% said Trump should be removed from office, compared to 24% who think he shouldn't be, and 13% who didn't know.
  • For Americans aged 30-44, 56% said Trump should be removed from office in contrast with 28% who think he should not be removed, and 15.8% who don't know.
  • Among those aged 45-60, 47.6% think that Trump should be removed from office compared to 42% who think he should not be removed, and 10% who don't know.
  • For Americans aged 60 and older, a narrow majority of 51% believed Trump should be removed from office in contrast to 40% who think he should not be removed, and 8% who don't know.
Pew found a surprisingly significant percentage of Republicans think Trump has acted illegally or unethically. “More than nine-in-ten Democrats (91%) and about one-third (32%) of Republicans say he has definitely or probably done illegal things, while 90% of Democrats and 47% of Republicans say he has definitely or probably done things that are unethical.”

The above referenced polls were completed before the impeachment hearing began on Jan. 21. Opinion was mixed as to whether the Senate Republicans would conduct a fair trial. “About half of Americans (48%) are at least somewhat confident that Senate Democrats will be fair and reasonable, while slightly fewer (43%) say the same about the Senate GOP.” After watching Republicans’ antics and refusal (so far) to allow witnesses, voters may take a dim view of their handling of the trial. Over half (51 percent) want Trump removed, while 46 percent do not.

Trump’s approval/disapproval remains relatively steady at 40 percent approve, 59 percent disapprove, with 52% saying they trust what Trump says less than previous presidents, 26% saying they trust what Trump says more, and 22% saying they trust what he says about the same as they trusted previous presidents.

The numbers tell us that a significant percentage of Republicans approve of Trump’s performance (80 percent) for reelection even if they think he acted illegally (32 percent) or unethically (47 percent). That is what blind loyalty to a cultlike leader looks like.

Trump’s approval/disapproval remains badly underwater with women (37/62 percent), college grads (35/64 percent) and whites with college degrees (36/63 percent). Whites without college degrees, one of his strongest sources of support, are still in his corner (59/40), although white women, who supported him in 2016, have drifted away (48/51).

More alarmingly for Trump, he trails several Democratic contenders in head-to-head matchups. In a recent poll from CNN, he loses to former vice president Joe Biden by 9 points, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont by 7 points and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts by 5 points.

There are several takeaways from this batch of data. First, voters are more divided on whether to remove him than on whether he did something illegal. That may be because they think the illegal things are not impeachable or simply because they are queasy about removal. Second, the conduct of the impeachment trial, on top of other negative feelings about Trump, might move opinion about Trump more negatvely, and, more importantly for Senators up for reelection in 2020, impact voters’ feelings about the Senators.

Finally, hardcore Republican voters will not break with him even if they are compelled to admit he broke the law or acted unethically. He is their guy, crook or not. That does not mean, however, that there aren’t Republicans (and Democrats and Independents) who voted for him in 2016 who will stay home in 2020 rather than vote for Trump - and Republican Senators on the ballot.

The Nation Magazine factors in four key criteria — past electoral results, demographic developments, existing civic engagement infrastructure, and incumbent favorability ratings — rank 12 states with a Republican incumbent (and one state, Alabama, with a vulnerable Democrat) with scores that illustrates their respective winnability. Read, “12 States Where Democrats Could Flip the Senate,” at The Nation .

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Can Democrats Extend Their 2018 State Government Trifectas?

Nationally, Democrats lost a lot of ground in statehouses under Barack Obama’s presidency, with about 1,000 legislative seats across the nation flipping to Republican control from 2009 through the 2016 election.

After the 2016 election, Republicans controlled a record 67 (68%) of the 98 partisan state legislative chambers in the nation — 36 senate chambers and 31 house chambers — more than twice the number (31) in which Democrats had majority control, according to the bipartisan National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).

During 2017 and 2018, Republicans held more total state legislative seats in the nation, well over 4,100 of the 7,383, than they have since 1920. Democrats held total control of just 13 state legislatures. Republicans held state government trifectas — where one political party holds the governorship, a majority in the state senate, and a majority in the state house — in 26 states, and Democrats held trifectas in only 8 states, with divided partisan control in the remaining 16 states.

From 2009 through the 2016 election, Republicans had gained control of the gubernatorial office in 33 states, a record high last seen in 1922, and flipped 69 Democratic seats in the U.S. House seats to Republican control, and flipped 13 Democratic seats in the U.S. Senate to Republican control.

Analysis: How Bernie Could Win Texas

In Texas, a state still undergoing seismic demographic and political shifts of its own, the question for anxious Democratic voters in Texas seeking to make 2020 a decisive year is this: Could Sanders carry the state, and just as importantly, could his political revolution bring the down-ballot energy needed to oust Republicans?

“In Texas and across the country, we are building a multiracial, multifaith grassroots movement of working-class Americans to engage and turn out voters of all backgrounds, especially those who are most marginalized,” Chris Chu de LeĆ³n, the campaign’s Texas Field Director, told the Signal. Since the start of his campaign, Sanders has received 230,000 donations totaling nearly $4 million from Texas, the campaign said. More than one-third of those donations, 87,000, arrived only during the last quarter.

Read the full article at “The Texas Signal.”

Are Texas Republicans Running Out Of Voters?

Texas is on a record setting pace adding new voters to the state’s poll books for the 2020 election cycle. Adding new voters faster than its population is growing, the state has this month topped 16 million registered voters with the voter registration deadline for the March 3rd primaries, still two weeks away.

On this record pace of new voter registrations the state will have two million more registered voters for the primary than it did just four years ago when Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton by 807,179 votes. Most of those two million new voters are younger more left-leaning voters who, if they turn out to voter, will largely vote for the Democrats on their ballot.

Barack Obama lost to Mitt Romney by sixteen percentage points in 2012 and Clinton narrowed the gap to just a nine percentage point loss to Donald Trump in 2016.

Texas Democrats, fueled by the party’s nearly quarter-century search to find a way to win any elected office from Republican control, are executing the largest “left-leaning” voter registration operation in the state's history.

At the core of the registration operation, which is a cooperative effort between state and county level Party organizations, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the campaign arm for U.S. House Democrats, is an ambitious goal to register at least 2.5 million left-leaning Texans, using data-driven voter targeting tools, deploying more than 1,000 field organizers and canvassers on the ground, and mailing hundreds of thousands of voter registration applications to unregistered voters across the state.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

70% of Americans Say U.S. Economic System Rigged

The notion that the U.S. economy is “rigged” to benefit the wealthy and special interests was a major rallying cry in the 2016 presidential election and is already resurfacing in the 2020 race.

This message is likely to resonate with many Americans. Seven-in-ten U.S. adults say the economic system in their country unfairly favors powerful interests, compared with less than a third who say the system is generally fair to most Americans. Wide majorities of Americans also say politicians, large corporations and people who are wealthy have too much power and influence in today’s economy.

These findings are part of a larger Pew Research Center survey on economic inequality. The survey finds, among other things, that most Americans believe there is too much inequality in the United States, with a majority of those who hold this view saying that major changes to the economic system are needed in order to address inequality.

Monday, January 20, 2020

The Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a United States federal holiday marking the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around the time of King's birthday, January 15.

The campaign for a federal holiday in King's honor began soon after his assassination in 1968, and the idea was strongly supported by labor unions. After King's death, United States Representative John Conyers (a Democrat from Michigan) and United States Senator Edward Brooke (a Republican from Massachusetts) first introduced a bill in Congress to make King's birthday a national holiday. The bill first came to a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1979. However, it fell five votes short of the number needed for passage.

The bill was finally passed by Congress and Ronald Reagan signed the holiday into law in 1983, and it was first observed on January 20, 1986. At first, some states resisted observing the holiday as such, giving it alternative names or combining it with other holidays. It was officially observed in all 50 states for the first time in 2000.

Dr. King was the chief spokesman for nonviolent activism in the civil rights movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

What A Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders Presidency Would Look Like

What an Elizabeth Warren Presidency Would Look Like

Elizabeth Warren’s ambitions for the presidency are not small. Warren proposes to rewrite the rules of the economy by reining in capital, empowering labor and significantly expanding the welfare state.

To understand how Warren would create big structural changes as president, it’s helpful to look at how she has made change in the past.

THE STANDARD ADVICE TO FRESHMEN SENATORS IS THIS: Keep a low profile and suck up to your senior colleagues. As a newly elected senator in 2013, Elizabeth Warren did neither.

Instead, Warren used her perch on the Senate Banking Committee to excoriate ineffectual regulators, duplicitous CEOs, profiteering student lenders and other financial industry ne’er-dowells (interrogations made famous in videos that went viral). She publicly clashed with establishment Democrats such as Sens. Max Baucus (Mont.) and Joe Manchin (W.V.). She even took on President Barack Obama, leading the fight against several administration priorities, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and a pharmaceutical bill she described as “a bunch of special giveaways” to Big Pharma. Warren succeeded in getting under Obama’s skin to such an extent that he took the rare step of criticizing her repeatedly by name.

Progressive strategist and Warren supporter Murshed Zaheed says Warren was able to buck the Democratic establishment because she “came to the Senate with a movement behind her.”

Read the full article at “In These Times.”

What a Bernie Sanders Presidency Would Look Like

Sanders’ proposals go beyond piecemeal liberal solutions by targeting the unjust economic system that fuels climate change and pushing an agenda that simultaneously empowers workers and saves the planet. This agenda would help millions of workers join unions, give workers an ownership stake in major corporations, provide universal healthcare and tuition-free higher education, build millions of affordable homes and protect (rather than target) immigrants.

Though President Sanders could execute parts of this agenda on his own, much of it would require Congress. How could it pass, given Republican extremism and likely pushback from even a Democrat-controlled House and Senate? The question poses a serious problem for any program that meets our challenge. And it is one Sanders is uniquely positioned to solve.

Sanders understands that change at this scale will require mass movements to pressure Congress and every level of government—and to change their composition. Americans isolated and atomized by cutthroat capitalism must engage in massive collective action. His political program isn’t just about policy, then, but about the capacity of ordinary people to participate in democracy.

Read the full article at “In These Times.”