Robert Morrow is gone, but peace has not returned to the Travis County GOP

Good day Austin:

(Rodolfo Gonzalez)

One might have thought that with the closing of the elevator door on the chairmanship of Robert Morrow, the Travis County Republican Party would have returned to an Edenic state of bliss.

One would be wrong.

Instead, the party is facing what right now looks like a three-person race for chairman pitting James Dickey, who preceded Morrow and was defeated by him in the March primary, David Duncan, executive vice chairman of the party and acting chairman with Morrow’s departure, and Brendan Steinhauser, an Austin political consultant, who is offering “a fresh start” for the party.

By way of background as to how we got to this point, here is my story Saturday.

Robert Morrow’s short, weird and nationally famous tenure as Travis County Republican Party chairman is over.

Unsurprisingly, the end was accompanied by a farcical moment as Morrow tried to crash Friday morning’s press conference by party officials who were eager to announce that he was out as chairman, only to be thrown out of the room.

As he was being escorted away, Morrow said he agreed that his recently launched write-in candidacy for president had, under state election law, disqualified him from continuing to serve as county party chairman.

“Their interpretation of election law is correct,” Morrow, in the colorful jester cap he’s often worn since becoming chairman at the end of June, called out in answer to a reporter’s question.

Morrow was elected chairman during the March 1 state primary, generating national headlines because of his unorthodox views on almost everything, which he tweeted with unabashed enthusiasm. It lasted scarcely two months, but Morrow’s leadership seemed an eternity for party officials who found him a perpetual embarrassment and who had been looking for some way, any way, to remove him from office.

Morrow handed officials what they wanted when he filed paperwork with the secretary of state’s office a week ago to be certified as a write-in candidate for president.

Under state election law, a party chairman cannot run for public office unless it’s for another party position, and so, as soon as Morrow filed his declaration of candidacy, he was out.

David Duncan, executive vice chairman of the Travis County Republican Party, will serve as acting chairman until the county party’s executive committee, made up of precinct chairmen, meet to elect a permanent successor, probably on Sept. 20.

David Duncan and Robert Morrow. Photo by Rodolfo Gonzalez.

(David Duncan and Robert Morrow. Photo by Rodolfo Gonzalez.)

Hand to mouth

At the press conference, Duncan said he hasn’t yet decided whether to seek election as the chairman, but he had by then already cast aspersions on a potential rival for that position — James Dickey, the man Morrow unseated as chairman in the primary election.

“Our previous chairman left us with no money, no ability to pay staff, and we had no planned fundraiser,” Duncan said. “There are still unanswered questions about where the money was spent, but having no money, we were left with no money for a proper audit.”

Dickey, who wasn’t present, was caught off guard by Duncan’s statements.

The Travis County GOP has always been a hand-to-mouth operation, and, Dickey said, Morrow’s election had made fundraising nearly impossible. Of the meager resources at its disposal, Dickey said, “the executive committee publicly voted to donate the majority of party funds to local candidates in May.”

“David has not raised any concerns about this to me, either privately in those meetings, or in the eight weeks since he’s taken office,” said Dickey, who added that if he were persuaded that he could best do the job of chairman, “I would be willing to put my hat in the ring.”

The tent closes

If the immediate future for Travis County Republicans is a contest to replace Morrow, it promises to be less flamboyantly newsworthy than what preceded it.

Morrow offered an unusual combination of attributes. He is smart, independently wealthy, imposing in stature and willing and able to stand his ground.

He also is well-known to political reporters across the country for his steady stream of negative research on and assertions about Lyndon B. Johnson, Rick Perry, the Bush family, Bill and Hillary Clinton and, most recently, Donald Trump.

He is the co-author, with longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone, of the 2015 book, “The Clintons’ War on Women,” about Bill and Hillary Clinton’s alleged treatment of the women in Bill’s life. Morrow made news by protesting Trump’s recent Austin visit with a large red sign proclaiming, “Trump is a child rapist,” referring to an anonymous lawsuit filed in New York.

Asked about his legacy as chairman, Morrow said it would be that he was a truth teller, whether the truth was about Hillary Clinton or Trump.

Asked about his presidential platform, Morrow said what he always says.

“Well, I want to promote boobyliciousness every day,” Morrow said. “I want to start having bikini contests on the South Lawn of the White House. On the Fourth of July, I want to have a wet T-shirt contest. I think this is a way to bring America together and de-escalate political tensions.”

At the close of the party’s press ;conference,spokesman Andy Hogue noted that the party had struggled mightily to keep its “tent” big enough to function as a respectable party even as Morrow did “his thing.”

“Now we are glad that he is stepping outside of our big tent,” Hogue said.

Travis County GOP members, including Chair James Dickey, right, stand and recite the pledge of allegiance Tuesday night June 7, 2016. The local party is set to officially approve a plan they have been designing to limit the fallout from Robert Morrow's election as party chairman, including numerous bylaw changes and a new entity to hold the cash and social media accounts during Morrow's rule. RALPH BARRERA

(Travis County GOP members, including Chair James Dickey, right, stand and recite the pledge of allegiance Tuesday night June 7, 2016. The local party is set to officially approve a plan they have been designing to limit the fallout from Robert Morrow’s election as party chairman, including numerous bylaw changes and a new entity to hold the cash and social media accounts during Morrow’s rule.
photo by RALPH BARRERA)

Duncan’s comments at the Friday press conference were only the opening salvo between Dickey and Duncan.

I was provided with a copy of an email that Dickey sent to Duncan – and copied to 16 other leaders of the county party –  Monday morning. (I did not receive it from Dickey, Duncan or Steinhauser.)

When I called Dickey, he said did not intend for the email to be public because it would hurt the party in much the same way that he thought Duncan’s public comments hurt the party.

“I chose to address it privately for exactly that reason,” Dickey said.

Oh well. Here is Dickey’s message to Duncan

I have always kept the interest of the Party at the forefront. For that reason alone I have refrained from responding to your slander of Friday morning in the same national news forum you chose to use to deliver it.

Instead I am addressing it directly to you, with only a copy to those most directly affected:

– the officers and staff who served so faithfully before, during and after my tenure,

 – the members of the steering committee, and

– the SREC members in whose territory Travis county plays the most significant role.

Your choice to make unfounded slanderous statements publicly:

  1. Utterly wasted the largest PR gift the TCRP has ever been given. Your actions literally changed the headlines from “Celebration for all Republicans” to “Drama at the TCRP”.
  1. Revealed your dereliction of your duty. If you had concerns about an expenditure, then as EVC you had a duty to get the details as soon as you became aware of it. Yet, as recent as Thursday evening you asked me nothing about any transaction. 

 TJ did ask me for only a general description on exactly one expense item. The one which, according to people present, you have publicly, fraudulently described as “James spending almost $600 on a Corpus hotel for Spring Break.”

 When he asked me in June “about a Corpus hotel bill” I gladly provided verification that the Party covered the cost of a night’s hotel for one of the several quarterly TRCCA meetings I attended. I added that Rosemary could verify my presence at the meeting since she was also there. TJ replied that over $500 for that seemed extravagant, and I agreed. That was the end of the conversation.

With far less energy than you apparently devoted to spreading false information about the party’s expenses, and with zero negative fallout to the party, you could have obtained the facts.

Since you chose not to do so for whatever reason, I did it for you today. It was so easy to do that it’s tragic you’ve never bothered. Here are the steps required:

  1. Call the hotel and ask for a receipt for James Dickey for any stay at the hotel in the past few months. 

In less than a minute the hotel desk found that I had not stayed there since the TRCCA meeting in August of 2015 and emailed me the detailed receipt, attached below, for a total of $210.95

  1. Ask the Party Treasurer to confirm the payee name on the March expense showing from the Holiday Inn. Within minutes he was able to confirm that the payee was the Holiday Inn Austin and NOT the Holiday Inn Bayside.
  1. Search email for reference to the name “Holiday Inn Austin”. Within seconds find the email (on which many of you were copied) planning the SD14 Convention Committee meetings. The first two nights of those committee meetings were indeed held at the Holiday Inn Austin, and the bill was for the cost for the meeting space.

There is zero reason that you could not have taken those steps at any time in the 8 weeks since you were elected.

There was zero need for an expensive audit – or the funding for the same – to address this “concern”.

 There is zero justification for the way you handled your “concern” about this.

 Yet, the party faces real fallout as a result of your choice.

As for the specific comments that distracted so much from what would have been the celebration of Robert’s departure: “…left the party with no office, almost no money… and we had no planned fundraiser…”

     1. No office.

First, that was no surprise, as the minutes reflect that the Executive Committee had months of advance warning about that. Everyone knew that the Texas Federation of Republican Women terminated our lease so they would not have to be in close proximity to Robert. Implying that was in some way my fault was disingenuous at best.  

 Second, those paying attention during 2015 know that when the party faced a lease increase to $3k/month at our prior location, we saved over $20,000 by going without an office for 7 months. During those same 7 months, we planned and executed the highest grossing fundraiser in 15 years. So no office is no problem – unless you let it be.

  1. “Almost no funds”.

 Less than $3,000, but with no long-term liabilities and less than $200/month in monthly recurring expenses that are cancellable at any time, resulting from public discussions and votes by the EC, and reflected in the minutes of the meetings in April, May and June.

 Presenting it now as part of “problems over the last two years” indicates that you either were being disingenuous or had not paid attention during the meetings prior to running for EVC in June.

  1. “No planned fundraiser”.

In 2014 my team put on a fundraiser in less than 6 weeks that grossed over $65,000. You knew the party needed funds and have been in office for 8 weeks. How many meetings have you held with donors? How many meetings have you held with precinct chairs to plan a fundraiser? How many donors have you called for donations? How many times have you reached out to me to ask for help fundraising?

Our past several fundraisers have all been in August/September. Yet you have done nothing during your time. Instead, you present it to the press as a nefarious action on my part that I did not plan this August’s fundraiser between March 2 and the end of my term in early June, even though I would not be in office when it would be held. Plus, at the same time I was required to:

– manage the SD conventions,

– manage the runoff election,

– manage the press fallout from the election, and

– ensure the bylaws and party structure were modified so the damage Morrow could do was minimized.

Most troubling to me is that you did not bring up any of this in the many conversations we had while:

– I endorsed you and spoke on your behalf at the state convention,

– I endorsed you for your run for Executive Vice Chair,

– We were together in Cleveland for several days for the national convention, or even when

– We spoke on the phone Thursday evening less than 15 hours before the press conference.

For the party’s sake I will do as I did post the election and minimize harmful drama in the press.

You chose to make this a national public issue, though, and you need to figure out how to fix it on an equal level. Even though you have not at all responded to either of my emails from Friday I hope to hear your thoughts today on the above and your plan to fix the damage you did to the party and to correct your slander of me.

James Dickey

 Dickey said that if this is the kind of abuse he is going to be subjected to for offering his leadership, “I’d have to have a hole in my head” to seek to reclaim the chairmanship.

That said, he may have that hole in his head because he’s still thinking about it.

I called Duncan Monday night to ask if he had a response to Dickey’s email, and he sent me the email he had sent to Dickey, and the other interested parties,  in reply

(Jay Janner)

(photo by Jay Janner)

Here is Duncan’s email to Dickey:

James,

  1. Nothing I said at the press conference was untrue. I was not the first to raise concerns. Since the presser, others have said that they too had concerns.
  2. You and you alone are responsible for the condition of the party at the end of your tenure. You cannot blame it on unkind fate as if your failure to defeat someone as nutty as Morrow was an unavoidable act of nature.
  3. I’m sorry that you had problems after your defeat. But I have had my own difficulties picking up the pieces of the mess you left, without the actual position of “Chairman” or having a “team” already in place when I took office. Not to mention the fact that no one wanted to give money to the party as long as Morrow was the chairman.
  4. The night before the presser, when you called me already looking for support to run for Chairman, I advised you not to run. But you were so hungry to regain your old office you ignored my advice – and my warning that some people had concerns. I felt then that I could no longer continue sweeping the matter under the rug.
  5. If you are in an embarrassing position, it is of your own making. If you continue to press the matter I have no doubt that more criticism will come out. Not from me, but from others. If you want to have a future, drop this, and work on whatever your next goals may be.
  6. Before I am accused of personal motive, my hope was that several qualified candidates would come forward. I did not decide to run until yesterday – mostly after seeing your continued intransigence.
  7. Thursday night I tried to be gentle. Now I am being blunt. Drop out now before you, yes you, damage the party further.

David T Duncan Jr
Executive Vice Chairman
and Acting Chairman
Travis County Republican Party

Duncan said he didn’t want to elaborate beyond his email, except to say, “I hope I don’t hear anything further from him on this.”

And the vote for chairman will be Sept. 20 at the Crown Plaza Austin.

Enter Brendan Steinhauser, who after his own few days of deliberation about whether to seek the chairmanship, on Wednesday morning sent out an email declaring that, yes, indeed, that is what he is going to do.

Here it is:

Dear fellow Republican,

I am running for Chairman of the Travis County Republican Party. Due to the recent vacancy, there will be an election held on Tuesday, September 20. As a member of the Travis County Executive Committee, you will have the opportunity to vote in this election. I humbly ask for your support.

I am seeking this position because I know that I can bring stability, financial support, and a strategic vision to the Travis County Republican Party. We’ve recently undergone a turbulent time and now we need steady and thoughtful leadership to repair the damage.

I have been a conservative Republican activist and professional since 2000, getting my start in politics at the University of Texas in College Republicans and Young Conservatives of Texas. After graduation, I spent seven years as the Director of Federal and State Campaigns for FreedomWorks, led by former U.S. House Majority Leader Dick Armey.

During those seven years I worked with thousands of Republican grassroots activists to help elect conservative candidates such as senators Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Mike Lee. I trained local leaders in more than 40 states on grassroots activism and campaign tactics. And, in 2009 I was the lead organizer of the September 12th Taxpayer March on Washington, bringing half a million people to D.C. to rally for limited government. I have made the fight for conservatism the foundation of my career.

In 2012 my wife Randan and I moved home to Texas and started a small business focused on helping candidates and non-profits with marketing and communications. I served as Senator John Cornyn’s Campaign Manager in 2014 and made it a priority to support county parties and help elect down ballot Republicans. I now serve as Congressman Michael McCaul’s political ad

I have experience managing millions of dollars in political budgets, developing strategic campaign plans, and raising money. I also currently serve as a Republican media commentator, both locally and nationally. And I have a passion for recruiting new people into the party – especially young people, Hispanics, and other nontraditional Republicans.

My goals for this position include raising significant funds for the party, increasing public awareness of the party through positive earned media, building the party through precinct chair recruitment, working to elect Republican candidates in Travis County, and providing a fresh start for the Travis County GOP.

I hope that you will attend the September 20th meeting and consider voting for me as your next chairman. I am available to talk more with you in person or on the phone in the days ahead. Please call me if you have questions or ideas about how we can move forward together.

Sincerely,

Brendan Steinhauser
Precinct 316 Chairman

Meanwhile …

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Forget the Trump cabinet, Rick Perry’s Dancing with the Stars!

perrydwts

Good morning Austin:

I guess we’ll all remember where we were when we found out that Rick Perry would be appearing on the upcoming season of Dancing with the Stars.

I had just gone for a free swim at Barton Springs Pool and was at Radio Coffee and Beer working on this  First Reading about the suddenly contentious race to replace Robert Morrow as the Travis County Republican Party chairman.

https://twitter.com/SopanDeb/status/770441190047121412

https://twitter.com/cd_hooks/status/770443536051294208

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Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot?

OK. Let’s back up here.

From Entertainment Tonight:

ET can exclusively confirm that Jana Kramer, Marilu Henner, former Texas Governor Rick Perry and Vanilla Ice are the latest celebrities headed to DWTS. Retired football star Calvin Johnson and Indy race car driver James Hinchcliffe are also on tap for the fall season, ET has learned.

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They join a celebrity cast that includes Olympians Laurie Hernandez and Ryan Lochte, Brady Bunch star Maureen McCormick, Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, Amber Rose, Jake T. Austin and Little Woman: LA star Terra Jole.

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The full cast and pairings will be revealed on Good Morning America on Tuesday. ABC does not comment on casting.

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Dancing With the Stars premieres Monday, Sept. 12 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.

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From Ben Jacobs at The Guardian:

Although the show has been televised for 23 seasons, Perry will be only the second former elected official to take his turn twirling on stage.

However he won’t be the first competitor with close ties to the GOP. Past seasons have featured the former House majority leader Tom DeLay, who resigned in 2006 after being charged with campaign finance violations, as well as Sarah Palin’s daughter Bristol, and Antonio Sabato Jr, a former soap opera actor who spoke in support of Donald Trump in Cleveland in July.

In the show’s most recent season Marla Maples, Trump’s ex-wife, finished tenth behind former NFL player Doug Flutie and ahead of actor Mischa Barton.

Although several have launched their political careers on reality television, including Wisconsin congressman Sean Duffy who appeared on the sixth season of MTV’s Real World and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump who hosted NBC’s The Apprentice before running for president, Perry will break new ground using elected office as a springboard for reality television.

There is one precedent for a former governor going on reality television. In 2010 the former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich appeared with Trump on Celebrity Apprentice after being impeached and removed from office for corruption.

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The show was his second choice after the judge overseeing his corruption trial refused to let him travel to Costa Rica to appear on tried to appear on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here.

Frankly, the news left me reeling.

Yes, sure, Ryan Lochte.

 

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But, I thought, for a politician going on Dancing with the Stars suggested they were coming off — or maybe in the thick of — a rough patch.

I mean, how could hey overlook Anthony Weiner?

https://twitter.com/bodysculptorokc/status/770458432633581569

But Rick Perry has been on a roll of late.

A Public Policy Polling poll a few weeks ago found that Perry could beat U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz in a Senate primary.

Then Trump came to Austin last week, praised Perry at a Headliners Club fundraiser and at a taping of Hannity, even suggesting he would put him in charge of border security if he were elected president.

So why this? Why now?

“Rick Perry has 2020 vision,” my wife told me last night.

He sees the Trump campaign imploding, reducing the possibility that he will be serving in a Trump administration — but he has learned the lesson of Trump’s success. Perry tried the route of study, contemplation, briefing books and new glasses to prepare for a second run for the White House in 2016. Didn’t work.

This time, he’s going to do it right to prepare for a 2020 run. Reality TV. Becoming a beloved member of the family for America’s viewing audience.

But can he dance? What about his back?

We know he can do the hora.

Here he is dancing with Elliott Naishtat and a few other Jews.

And, I assume he sought counsel from Tom “Jazz Hands” DeLay.

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Beyond DeLay, Perry might also want to look to Trump friend and admirer Vladimir Putin.

I don’t how or when he did this, but it’s pretty fabulous. Maybe it’s Dancing with the Tsars.

 

TRAVIS COUNTY REPUBLICANS TAKE THE MORROW OUT OF TOMORROW

(Rodolfo Gonzalez)
(Rodolfo Gonzalez)

One might have thought that with the closing of the elevator door on the chairmanship of Robert Morrow, the Travis County Republican Party would have returned to an Edenic state of bliss.

One would be wrong.

From my story Saturday.

Robert Morrow’s short, weird and nationally famous tenure as Travis County Republican Party chairman is over.

Unsurprisingly, the end was accompanied by a farcical moment as Morrow tried to crash Friday morning’s press conference by party officials who were eager to announce that he was out as chairman, only to be thrown out of the room.

As he was being escorted away, Morrow said he agreed that his recently launched write-in candidacy for president had, under state election law, disqualified him from continuing to serve as county party chairman.

“Their interpretation of election law is correct,” Morrow, in the colorful jester cap he’s often worn since becoming chairman at the end of June, called out in answer to a reporter’s question.

Morrow was elected chairman during the March 1 state primary, generating national headlines because of his unorthodox views on almost everything, which he tweeted with unabashed enthusiasm. It lasted scarcely two months, but Morrow’s leadership seemed an eternity for party officials who found him a perpetual embarrassment and who had been looking for some way, any way, to remove him from office.

Morrow handed officials what they wanted when he filed paperwork with the secretary of state’s office a week ago to be certified as a write-in candidate for president.

Under state election law, a party chairman cannot run for public office unless it’s for another party position, and so, as soon as Morrow filed his declaration of candidacy, he was out.

David Duncan, executive vice chairman of the Travis County Republican Party, will serve as acting chairman until the county party’s executive committee, made up of precinct chairmen, meet to elect a permanent successor, probably on Sept. 20.

David Duncan and Robert Morrow. Photo by Rodolfo Gonzalez.
David Duncan and Robert Morrow. Photo by Rodolfo Gonzalez.

Hand to mouth

At the press conference, Duncan said he hasn’t yet decided whether to seek election as the chairman, but he had by then already cast aspersions on a potential rival for that position — James Dickey, the man Morrow unseated as chairman in the primary election.

“Our previous chairman left us with no money, no ability to pay staff, and we had no planned fundraiser,” Duncan said. “There are still unanswered questions about where the money was spent, but having no money, we were left with no money for a proper audit.”

Dickey, who wasn’t present, was caught off guard by Duncan’s statements.

The Travis County GOP has always been a hand-to-mouth operation, and, Dickey said, Morrow’s election had made fundraising nearly impossible. Of the meager resources at its disposal, Dickey said, “the executive committee publicly voted to donate the majority of party funds to local candidates in May.”

“David has not raised any concerns about this to me, either privately in those meetings, or in the eight weeks since he’s taken office,” said Dickey, who added that if he were persuaded that he could best do the job of chairman, “I would be willing to put my hat in the ring.”

The tent closes

If the immediate future for Travis County Republicans is a contest to replace Morrow, it promises to be less flamboyantly newsworthy than what preceded it.

Morrow offered an unusual combination of attributes. He is smart, independently wealthy, imposing in stature and willing and able to stand his ground.

He also is well-known to political reporters across the country for his steady stream of negative research on and assertions about Lyndon B. Johnson, Rick Perry, the Bush family, Bill and Hillary Clinton and, most recently, Donald Trump.

He is the co-author, with longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone, of the 2015 book, “The Clintons’ War on Women,” about Bill and Hillary Clinton’s alleged treatment of the women in Bill’s life. Morrow made news by protesting Trump’s recent Austin visit with a large red sign proclaiming, “Trump is a child rapist,” referring to an anonymous lawsuit filed in New York.

Asked about his legacy as chairman, Morrow said it would be that he was a truth teller, whether the truth was about Hillary Clinton or Trump.

Asked about his presidential platform, Morrow said what he always says.

“Well, I want to promote boobyliciousness every day,” Morrow said. “I want to start having bikini contests on the South Lawn of the White House. On the Fourth of July, I want to have a wet T-shirt contest. I think this is a way to bring America together and de-escalate political tensions.”

At the close of the party’s pressconference,spokesman Andy Hogue noted that the party had struggled mightily to keep its “tent” big enough to function as a respectable party even as Morrow did “his thing.”

“Now we are glad that he is stepping outside of our big tent,” Hogue said.

 

Travis County GOP members, including Chair James Dickey, right, stand and recite the pledge of allegiance Tuesday night June 7, 2016. The local party is set to officially approve a plan they have been designing to limit the fallout from Robert Morrow's election as party chairman, including numerous bylaw changes and a new entity to hold the cash and social media accounts during Morrow's rule. RALPH BARRERA
Travis County GOP members, including Chair James Dickey, right, stand and recite the pledge of allegiance Tuesday night June 7, 2016. The local party is set to officially approve a plan they have been designing to limit the fallout from Robert Morrow’s election as party chairman, including numerous bylaw changes and a new entity to hold the cash and social media accounts during Morrow’s rule.
RALPH BARRERA

Well, the exchange was only the opening salvo between Dickey.

I was provided with a copy of an email that Dickey sent to Duncan – and copied to 16 other leaders of the county party –  yesterday morning.

When I called Dickey, he said did not intend for the email to be public because it would hurt the party in much the same way that he thought Duncan’s public comments hurt the party.

“I chose to address it privately for exactly that reason,” Dickey said.

Oh well. Here is Dickey’s message to Duncan

I have always kept the interest of the Party at the forefront. For that reason alone I have refrained from responding to your slander of Friday morning in the same national news forum you chose to use to deliver it.

Instead I am addressing it directly to you, with only a copy to those most directly affected:

– the officers and staff who served so faithfully before, during and after my tenure,

 – the members of the steering committee, and

– the SREC members in whose territory Travis county plays the most significant role.

Your choice to make unfounded slanderous statements publicly:

  1. Utterly wasted the largest PR gift the TCRP has ever been given. Your actions literally changed the headlines from “Celebration for all Republicans” to “Drama at the TCRP”.
  1. Revealed your dereliction of your duty. If you had concerns about an expenditure, then as EVC you had a duty to get the details as soon as you became aware of it. Yet, as recent as Thursday evening you asked me nothing about any transaction. 

 TJ did ask me for only a general description on exactly one expense item. The one which, according to people present, you have publicly, fraudulently described as “James spending almost $600 on a Corpus hotel for Spring Break.”

 When he asked me in June “about a Corpus hotel bill” I gladly provided verification that the Party covered the cost of a night’s hotel for one of the several quarterly TRCCA meetings I attended. I added that Rosemary could verify my presence at the meeting since she was also there. TJ replied that over $500 for that seemed extravagant, and I agreed. That was the end of the conversation.

With far less energy than you apparently devoted to spreading false information about the party’s expenses, and with zero negative fallout to the party, you could have obtained the facts.

Since you chose not to do so for whatever reason, I did it for you today. It was so easy to do that it’s tragic you’ve never bothered. Here are the steps required:

  1. Call the hotel and ask for a receipt for James Dickey for any stay at the hotel in the past few months. 

In less than a minute the hotel desk found that I had not stayed there since the TRCCA meeting in August of 2015 and emailed me the detailed receipt, attached below, for a total of $210.95

  1. Ask the Party Treasurer to confirm the payee name on the March expense showing from the Holiday Inn. Within minutes he was able to confirm that the payee was the Holiday Inn Austin and NOT the Holiday Inn Bayside.
  1. Search email for reference to the name “Holiday Inn Austin”. Within seconds find the email (on which many of you were copied) planning the SD14 Convention Committee meetings. The first two nights of those committee meetings were indeed held at the Holiday Inn Austin, and the bill was for the cost for the meeting space.

There is zero reason that you could not have taken those steps at any time in the 8 weeks since you were elected.

There was zero need for an expensive audit – or the funding for the same – to address this “concern”.

 There is zero justification for the way you handled your “concern” about this.

 Yet, the party faces real fallout as a result of your choice.

As for the specific comments that distracted so much from what would have been the celebration of Robert’s departure: “…left the party with no office, almost no money… and we had no planned fundraiser…”

     1. No office.

First, that was no surprise, as the minutes reflect that the Executive Committee had months of advance warning about that. Everyone knew that the Texas Federation of Republican Women terminated our lease so they would not have to be in close proximity to Robert. Implying that was in some way my fault was disingenuous at best.  

 Second, those paying attention during 2015 know that when the party faced a lease increase to $3k/month at our prior location, we saved over $20,000 by going without an office for 7 months. During those same 7 months, we planned and executed the highest grossing fundraiser in 15 years. So no office is no problem – unless you let it be.

  1. “Almost no funds”.

 Less than $3,000, but with no long-term liabilities and less than $200/month in monthly recurring expenses that are cancellable at any time, resulting from public discussions and votes by the EC, and reflected in the minutes of the meetings in April, May and June.

 Presenting it now as part of “problems over the last two years” indicates that you either were being disingenuous or had not paid attention during the meetings prior to running for EVC in June.

  1. “No planned fundraiser”.

In 2014 my team put on a fundraiser in less than 6 weeks that grossed over $65,000. You knew the party needed funds and have been in office for 8 weeks. How many meetings have you held with donors? How many meetings have you held with precinct chairs to plan a fundraiser? How many donors have you called for donations? How many times have you reached out to me to ask for help fundraising?

Our past several fundraisers have all been in August/September. Yet you have done nothing during your time. Instead, you present it to the press as a nefarious action on my part that I did not plan this August’s fundraiser between March 2 and the end of my term in early June, even though I would not be in office when it would be held. Plus, at the same time I was required to:

– manage the SD conventions,

– manage the runoff election,

– manage the press fallout from the election, and

– ensure the bylaws and party structure were modified so the damage Morrow could do was minimized.

Most troubling to me is that you did not bring up any of this in the many conversations we had while:

– I endorsed you and spoke on your behalf at the state convention,

– I endorsed you for your run for Executive Vice Chair,

– We were together in Cleveland for several days for the national convention, or even when

– We spoke on the phone Thursday evening less than 15 hours before the press conference.

For the party’s sake I will do as I did post the election and minimize harmful drama in the press.

You chose to make this a national public issue, though, and you need to figure out how to fix it on an equal level. Even though you have not at all responded to either of my emails from Friday I hope to hear your thoughts today on the above and your plan to fix the damage you did to the party and to correct your slander of me.

James Dickey

 Dickey said that if this is the kind of abuse he is going to be subjected to for offering his leadership, “I’d have to have a hole in my head” to seek to reclaim the chairmanship.

That said, he may have that hole in his head because he’s still thinking about it.

I called Duncan last night to ask if he had a response to Dickey’s email, and he sent me the email he had sent to Dickey, and the other interested parties,  in reply

(Jay Janner)
(Jay Janner)

Here is Duncan’s email to Dickey:

James,

  1. Nothing I said at the press conference was untrue. I was not the first to raise concerns. Since the presser, others have said that they too had concerns.
  2. You and you alone are responsible for the condition of the party at the end of your tenure. You cannot blame it on unkind fate as if your failure to defeat someone as nutty as Morrow was an unavoidable act of nature.
  3. I’m sorry that you had problems after your defeat. But I have had my own difficulties picking up the pieces of the mess you left, without the actual position of “Chairman” or having a “team” already in place when I took office. Not to mention the fact that no one wanted to give money to the party as long as Morrow was the chairman.
  4. The night before the presser, when you called me already looking for support to run for Chairman, I advised you not to run. But you were so hungry to regain your old office you ignored my advice – and my warning that some people had concerns. I felt then that I could no longer continue sweeping the matter under the rug.
  5. If you are in an embarrassing position, it is of your own making. If you continue to press the matter I have no doubt that more criticism will come out. Not from me, but from others. If you want to have a future, drop this, and work on whatever your next goals may be.
  6. Before I am accused of personal motive, my hope was that several qualified candidates would come forward. I did not decide to run until yesterday – mostly after seeing your continued intransigence.
  7. Thursday night I tried to be gentle. Now I am being blunt. Drop out now before you, yes you, damage the party further.

David T Duncan Jr
Executive Vice Chairman
and Acting Chairman
Travis County Republican Party

Duncan said he didn’t want to elaborate beyond his email, except to say, “I hope I don’t hear anything further from him on this.”

And the vote for chairman will be Sept. 20 at the Crown Plaza Austin.

I also have it on good authority that Austin political consultant Brendan Steinhauser is considering running for the post, though he did not have any comment last night.

Meanwhile …

https://twitter.com/RobMorroLiberty/status/769593870891880448

 

In memory of the wonderful Gene Wilder, here are dance numbers from Young Frankenstein and The Producers, which some observers have suggested provided the working model for the Trump campaign.

 

 

Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 11.42.53 PM

 

 

 

 

[

 

 

`You looked really shook up when you talked about yours truly.’ On Hillary Clinton and Alex Jones.

Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 5.58.14 AM

 

Good morning Austin:

Hillary Clinton went there yesterday.

In her speech attacking Donald Trump for mainstreaming America’s racist right, Clinton named names, including that of an Austin icon, or at any rate, an alt-Austin icon – Alex Jones – a local broadcaster and polemicist with enormous national reach and consequence.

You underestimate Alex Jones at your peril.

After all, were it not for Jones, Texas might have slept through Jade Helm.

Yesterday, Jones was given his due by the Democratic nominee for president, and he couldn’t be happier.

Here is what Clinton said about Jones in her speech in Reno, Nevada, yesterday.

This is someone who retweets white supremacists online, like the user who goes by the name ‘white-genocide-TM.’  Trump took this fringe bigot with a few dozen followers and spread his message to 11 million people.

His campaign famously posted an anti-Semitic image – a Star of David imposed over a sea of dollar bills – that first appeared on white supremacist websites.


The Trump campaign has also selected a prominent white nationalist leader as a delegate in California.  And they only dropped him under pressure.


When asked in a nationally televised interview whether he would disavow the support of David Duke, a former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, Trump wouldn’t do it.  Only later, again under mounting pressure, did he backtrack.


And when Trump was asked about anti-Semitic slurs and death threats coming from his supporters, he refused to condemn them.


Through it all, he has continued pushing discredited conspiracy theories with racist undertones.


You remember, he said that thousands of American Muslims in New Jersey cheered the 9/11 attacks.  They didn’t.


He suggested that Senator Ted Cruz’s father was involved in the Kennedy assassination.  Perhaps in Trump’s mind, because Mr. Cruz was a Cuban immigrant, he must have had something to do with it.  And there is absolutely, of course, no evidence of that.


Just recently, Trump claimed that President Obama founded ISIS.  And then he repeated that over and over again.

His latest paranoid fever dream is about my health.  All I can say is, Donald, dream on.

But, but my friends– but my friends, this is what happens when you treat the National Enquirer like Gospel. They said in October I’d be dead in six months.


It’s also what happens when you listen to the radio host Alex Jones, who claims that 9/11 and the Oklahoma City bombings were inside jobs.  He even said, and this really is just so disgusting, he even said that the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre were child actors and no one was actually killed there. I don’t know what actually happens in somebody’s mind or how dark their heart must be, to say something like that.


But Trump didn’t challenge those lies.  He went on Jones’ show and said, ‘Your reputation is amazing.  I will not let you down.’


This from the man who wants to be President of the United States.

https://twitter.com/moneyries/status/768893501714989057

 

https://twitter.com/MarkDice/status/768892144803164161

Here is Jones’ reply.

Some excerpts:

Earlier today, Hillary Clinton, the individual who openly stole the Democratic nomination from Bernie Sanders, gave a press conference in Reno, Nevada, where she attacked the resistance to her takeover of this country by foreign banks, the Saudi Arabian government, the communist Chinese and others – make no mistake, that’s who this lady is, that’s what her foundation is. She’s in deep trouble.

xxxxxxx

It was crazy. It was total lies. It was a thousand times more ridiculous than Bill Clinton saying, `I did not have sex with that woman, Monica Lewinsky.

And then she did it.

She came out and misrepresented and basically twisted what I’ve said. She lied to the people, not just of the U.S., but of the world, and said that when I talk about 9/11 being an inside job, that the whole government did it, and that I say no children died at Sandy Hook, and they were all actors. I’ve never said any of those things.

Sure they’ve edited videos together to misrepresent, but it’s just as big a lie as saying Donald Trump likes David Duke. It’s a fraud.

Look at her when she holds her hand over her heart and talks about how I have this dark heart. How I’m the evil person.

Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 8.31.36 AM

 

For you to see I’ve got a black heart when you are a known war criminal, and a war mongerer …  is the height of hypocrisy.

xxxxxxx

Hillary, I am really proud that during the of your lengthy press conference, you look really shook up when you talked about yours truly. And I hope you’re really shook up because you know you’re dealing with somebody who’s committed and will never stop what I’m doing, and you know that I see you and I know what you’ve done.

Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 8.39.58 AM

 

As an American and as a patriot, I’m not scared of you bully because I know that no matter what you do, you’re never going to kill these ideas, because  to quote V for Vendetta, ideas are bullet-proof.

Jones has forged a relationship with Trump.

From Paul Joseph Watson, the editor at large of Infowars.com.

Paranoid Hillary Smears Alex Jones During Conspiracy-Obsessed Rant

Claims Vladimir Putin is “Godfather” of the ‘Alt-Right’

The speech in Reno was billed as Hillary’s moment to demonize Trump by equating him with racist, white supremacist conspiracy theorists, but she ended up weaving a giant fairytale of her own, reinvoking the vast “right wing conspiracy” that she has been ridiculed for hammering on in the past.

Except this time it’s former KGB agent and Russian President Vladimir Putin who is somehow the evil genius secretly controlling Infowars, Breitbart, Nigel Farage and the entire Alt-Right. Hillary said Putin is, “The godfather of this global brand of extreme nationalism.”

But Trump is the conspiracy theorist.

Yeah, OK Hillary.

Hillary also accused Trump of “taking hate groups mainstream,” the very thing that her and Barack Obama have done by supporting ‘Black Lives Matter’ – a group that has inspired the murder of police officers and whose ideological inspiration is a convicted cop killer on the FBI’s Most Wanted Domestic Terrorists list.

Clinton attacked Trump for appearing on the Alex Jones Show, claiming that Jones “said the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre were child actors and no one was actually killed there.”

In reality, Jones has never claimed that nobody died at Sandy Hook. As Infowars Editor-at-Large, I’ve been attacked repeatedly for saying the very opposite.

Hillary also savaged Trump for becoming embroiled in 9/11 conspiracy theories for saying that Muslims celebrated on 9/11. As we have documented, reports from the day itself clearly suggest that yes Muslims in New Jersey did indeed celebrate the 9/11 attacks.

Clinton is nervous about 9/11 because of her connections with the Saudi government, which as the leaked 28 pages prove, was directly involved with the hijackers who carried out the attacks.

Clinton was also forced to address concerns about her health during the bizarre speech, another nod to the fact that her campaign is rocked about an issue that has gone viral since our video re-ignited the controversy earlier this month.

The fact that Hillary is being forced to resort to the tired old mantra of demonizing her political opposition as “racists” – the same tactic that spectacularly failed during the Brexit campaign in the United Kingdom, proves that she has run out of ideas.

In the days to follow, the Clinton mouthpiece media will dutifully regurgitate Hillary’s race-baiting talking points, absent the fact that she praised Ku Klux Klan leader Robert Byrd as her “friend and mentor,” a man who called black people “mongrels” and fought against the Civil Rights Act.

Hillary’s rampant paranoia about Infowars, Breitbart and the ‘Alt-Right’ illustrates how panicked her campaign is about this movement.

The fact that she committed the ridiculous mistake of driving hundreds of thousands and potentially millions of new people our way by directly attacking us proves that her campaign has absolutely no idea about how the Internet works or how the ‘Alt-Right’ actually operates.

Hillary’s attacks will only succeed in amplifying the message of Infowars, Breitbart and the ‘Alt-Right’ – which is that Hillary is a hideously corrupt career politician who represents the interests of the globalists and the Washington elite and is not fit to serve as President of the United States.

 

Makes a fair point.

Watson:

Who inside Hillary’s campaign thought it was a bright idea to do the one thing you’re not supposed to do with trolls, which is feed the trolls. The alt right only succeeds if you respond. You just walked into a trap. The people running your campaign are complete f’en idiots who do not understand how the internet works. This has backfired more than any of us could ever dream of. Hundreds of thousands of people are now coming to our web sites where we will continue to educate them about your failing health, rampant corruption, and sneering, arrogant elitism. Thanks Hillary.

Watson makes a fair point.

Clinton’s speech yesterday, and the ad that preceded it, may prove effective against Donald Trump. but, inevitably, they almost certainly benefit otherwise fringe players on the right.

 

 

Visitors to the American Renaissance website yesterday were greeted with this.

 

Screen Shot 2016-08-25 at 5.39.35 PM

 

 

“Yes, thanks to Mrs. Clinton, we have had more media inquires than we have seen in a long time. I appreciate it. She’s a sweet girl,” AR’s Jared Taylor emailed me yesterday.
I asked if he was concerned that Trump was “softening” on deportation – though he now seems to be backtracking on his backtracking.

“I don’t know if Mr. Trump is backtracking or fine tuning. I don’t think we will know until he gives the speech on immigration that has been postponed. Maybe this is the “pivot to the general election” that everyone has been urging him to make, but his job now is to be elected. In any case, he has staked his candidacy so firmly on immigration control that, surely, he cannot retreat `very’ far. These are exciting times.”

Of her speech, Taylor said, “Mrs. Clinton seems to think she’s running against Nigel Farage and Alex Jones for president. Or maybe Steve Bannon.”

The Clinton campaign released a background report yesterday on Alex Jones, Breitbart’s Bannon, who was recently named CEO of the Trump campaign, and Roger Stone, the man who made the love connection between Alex Jones and Donald Trump.

ALEX JONES AND INFOWARS

Alex Jones, whose show Trump has appeared on, and who Trump has praised publicly, is a prominent conspiracy theorist.

Jones pushed several conspiracy theories around national tragedies: “Jones’s amazing reputation arises mainly from his high-volume insistence that national tragedies such as the September 11th terror attacks, the Oklahoma City bombing, the Sandy Hook elementary-school shooting, and the Boston Marathon bombing were all inside jobs, ‘false flag’ ops secretly perpetrated by the government to increase its tyrannical power (and, in some cases, seize guns). Jones believes that no one was actually hurt at Sandy Hook—those were actors—and that the Apollo 11 moon-landing footage was faked.” [New Yorker, 6/23/16]

Jones on the Gabby Giffords shooting: “My gut tells me this was a staged mind-control operation. The government employs geometric psychological-warfare experts that know exactly how to indirectly manipulate unstable people through the media.” [Rolling Stone, 3/2/11]

Jones on the Orlando nightclub shooting: “In a YouTube video posted Sunday evening, the Infowars.com founder called Mateen’s shooting rampage ‘a false-flag terror attack.’” [Daily Beast, 6/12/16]

Apart from conspiracy theories, Jones has a history of offensive comments.

“Real women don’t need #feminism! It destroys society! It promotes division & hate against men! http://bit.ly/1EyNooc #tcot” [@RealAlexJones, Twitter, 3/7/15]

“Sheriff Clarke: Black Lives Matter Is A ‘Vulgar, Vile, Vicious, Slimy Movement’ http://www.infowars.com/sheriff-clarke-black-lives-matter-is-a-vulgar-vile-vicious-slimy-movement/ …” [@RealAlexJones, Twitter, 9/1/15]

“Unedited Video Shows Bundy Making Pro-Black, Pro-Mexican Comments – http://www.infowars.com/unedited-video-shows-bundy-making-pro-black-pro-mexican-comments/ … #BundyRanch” [@RealAlexJones,4/25/14]

The list of disturbing and bizarre headlines on Jones’ site, Infowars, is unending. Visit http://www.infowars.com/ for a view into the mind of a man Trump has said he “greatly admires.”

STONE’S RECENT HITS

Roger Stone, another Trump associate, has a record of offensive and racist comments that resulted in recent bans from major media outlets.

Both CNN and MSNBC banned Stone over offensive comments. “As Media Matters notes, Stone’s Twitter history got him banned from both CNN and MSNBC, and yet he was still on the Trump campaign team, is still on Fox News regularly, and is still quoted as a Trump surrogate without much mention of how his Twitter feed reads like the bathroom wall at a white supremacist rally.” [Salon, 4/6/16]

Stone repeatedly targeted minorities with offensive tweets and called them “quota hires.” “Stone sent out tweets over the past few days calling Navarro, who was a Jeb Bush supporter, ‘Entitled Diva Bitch,’ ‘Borderline retarded’ and ‘’dumber than dog s—.’ He also tweeted about Navarro in December, saying she reminded him of a ‘rabid pekinese.’ He previously called Navarro and former contributor Roland Martin ‘quota hires’ for the network.” [Politico, 2/23/16]

Roger Stone Called CNN Analyst Roland Martin A “Fat Negro.” [WBUR, 6/6/16]

Roger Stone Called Roland Martin A “Stupid Negro.” “Stone called Navarro a ‘diva bitch,’ and ‘borderline retarded.’ He said Martin was a ‘stupid negro,’ and called both of them ‘quota hires.’” [Daily Caller, 2/24/16]

Roger Stone: “Would @BenCarson2016 HQ Be Called Uncle Tom’s Cabin ? Just Asking……” [@RogerJStoneJr, Twitter, 11/15/15]

Roger Stone: “Herman Cain – 999 Or 69 ? #Swordsman #Hung #mandingo @magerhabepolitico.” [@RogerJStoneJr, Twitter,11/28/11]

And for good measure, Stone recently attacked the Khan family:

Roger Stone: Mr. Khan More Then An Aggrieved Father Of A Muslim Son – He’s Muslim Brotherhood Agent Helping Hillary Clinton. “Roger Stone ‏@RogerJStoneJr: Mr. Khan more than an aggrieved father of a Muslim son- he’s Muslim Brotherhood agent helping Hillary http://linkis.com/shoebat.com/2016/07/amTCP” [Twitter, Roger Stone, 7/31/2016]

Mother Jones: Roger Stone said that Khizr Khan, The Father Of A Slain Soldier Was “Working For The Muslim Brotherhood.” “Roger Stone, an informal adviser to Donald Trump, took to Twitter on Sunday to claim that Khizr Khan, the father of a slain war hero who spoke at last week’s Democratic National Convention, is working for the Muslim Brotherhood.” [Mother Jones, 8/1/16]

For years, Trump has maintained relationships with all three of these–all of whom have promoted and contributed to the dialogue among extremist groups on the far right.

A WEB OF RELATIONSHIPS AMONG TRUMP, BANNON, JONES, AND STONE:

2015: Trump Allegedly Called Bannon And Asked For Breitbart To Write Positive Stories About Him. “But my sources at Breitbart said the billionaire has regularly taken advantage of his relationship with the site by placing calls to Bannon and asking for stories to be written about himself. They said his typical requests for coverage in the past tended to center on his serial flirtations with running for office, but they added that his constant presence on the homepage — and his general knack for pandering to the conservative fever swamps — had won him a true following among their readership.” [BuzzFeed, 8/9/15]

2015: Bloomberg: Breitbart News “Has Championed Trump’s Presidential Candidacy.” [Bloomberg, 10/8/15]

2016: Bannon Had Been Advising Trump For Months Prior To Being Formally Hired: “Bannon, in phone calls and meetings, has been urging Trump for months to not mount a fall campaign that makes Republican donors and officials comfortable, the aides said. Instead, Bannon has been telling Trump to run more fully as an outsider and an unabashed nationalist.” [Washington Post, 8/17/16]

2016: A Breitbart Source Said Bannon Was Required To Sign Off On “Everything That Is Written About Trump.” “At Breitbart, pro-Trump coverage is rigidly enforced from the top down, according to two people with knowledge of the site’s editorial process. ‘Everything that is written about Trump must be approved by Bannon,’ said a source who did not wish to be named for fear of retribution. [Vanity Fair, 3/14/16]

After Trump chose extremist Bannon to lead his campaign, reporters took note of its implications.

Mic: “Republicans who fear the alt-right will cannibalize the GOP, were dealt a blow last week when Trump brought on Steve Bannon to serve as the CEO of his campaign.” [Mic, 8/23/16]

“Bannon was the chairman of Breitbart, a breeding ground for the alt-right that helped push Trump’s candidacy during the crowded Republican primary.” [Mic, 8/23/16]

Washington Post: “[Trump’s] decision to elevate Breitbart’s Steve Bannon to run his campaign only reinforced the alt-right’s appreciation.” [Washington Post, 8/23/16]

Mother Jones: “‘We’re the platform for the alt-right,’ Bannon told me proudly when I interviewed him at the Republican National Convention (RNC) in July.” [Mother Jones, 8/22/16]

Roger Stone and Donald Trump have been close for decades.

National Review: “Hard To Overstate” How Close Trump And Stone Have Been—Comparative To Bush And Rove Or Obama And Axelrod. [National Review, 8/10/15]

1979: Roger Stone First Met Donald Trump, When Stone Was Working For Ronald Reagan’s Presidential Campaign New York. “Trump and Stone first met in 1979, when Stone was working for Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaign in New York state.” [National Review, 8/10/2015]

1988: Paul Manafort Said He Was Introduced To Donald Trump By Roger Stone At The 1988 Republican National Convention. “Mr. Stone introduced Mr. Manafort to Mr. Trump at the 1988 Republican National Convention, as Mr. Stone was squiring the New Yorker around, though the two had known each other since the early 1980s, Mr. Manafort said.” [New York Times, 4/8/16]

1993: Roger Stone Accompanied Trump To A Congressional Hearing Where Trump Gave Controversial Testimony Opposing Tribal Gaming. “Stone, who has had a long, sometimes controversial Washington career – he was once an assistant to Bart Porter, who helped manage the Watergate era dirty-tricks operation – accompanied Trump last week to the House hearing…Trump complained about ‘Indians who don’t look like Indians’ running casinos and about organized crime running ‘rampant.’” [Hartford Courant, 10/10/93]

2000: Stone Helped Trump Explore Run For President On The Reform Party. “Stone was there to help his friend and longtime client Donald Trump explore a Reform party presidential candidacy in 2000.” [Weekly Standard, 11/5/07]

2015: Before Donald Trump Hired Corey Lewandowski, His Entire Political Staff Consisted Of Michael Cohen, Roger Stone, And Sam Nunberg. [New York Magazine, 8/6/15]

And although Trump has said that Stone is no longer a part of the campaign, Stone would beg to differ.

MARCH: Stone Said That He Talks To Donald Trump From Time To Time – We Just Have A Rhythm, More Than Weekly But Not Every Day, Not Every Other Day. [GQ, 3/30/16]

MAY: “[Roger Stone] left in August amid staff infighting (he butted heads, in particular, with campaign manager Corey Lewandowski), but he returned to the inner circle when Trump hired Paul Manafort, who’d been his partner at Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly, a lobbying firm in D.C. that they started in the early 1980s.” [Daily Beast, 5/13/16]

JULY: Stone On His Role In The Trump Campaign: “Have Access To All The Right People… He Returns My Calls.” ROGER STONE: “He returns my calls and I have enormous respect for Donald Trump.” CHARLIE ROSE: What do you talk about most? Politics or the campaign? Does he call you out and say what do you think I should do? ROGER STONE: Sometimes I call him. I’m a prolific writer of memos and I know his style so I know how to put together a brief piece of paper that will inform him without being overpowering.” [Charlie Rose, PBS, 7/21/16]

JULY: Stone Said He Talked To Donald Trump When He Rolled Out Mike Pence As His Running Mate. MICHAEL ISIKOFF: “When was the last time you talked to him?” ROGER STONE: “Saturday, at the time he rolled Mike Pence out as his running mate.” [Yahoo News, 7/20/16]

Donald Trump also shares a mutual admiration with conspiracy theorist and radio show host, Alex Jones.

2015: Donald Trump to Alex Jones: “I just wanted to finish by saying that your reputation is amazing. I will not let you down. You’ll be very, very impressed, I hope, and I think we’ll be speaking a lot, but you’ll be looking at me in a year, or two years—give me a little bit of time to run things—but a year into office, you’ll be saying, ‘Wow, I remember that interview, he said he was gonna do it, and he did a great job.” [Vanity Fair, 12/2/15]

2015: “Alex Jones Is A Big Fan Of Donald Trump, And The Feeling’s Mutual.” “Republican front-runner Donald Trump appeared on conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ show on Wednesday in a lengthy display of mutual appreciation. Appearing on a blurry video connection, Trump talked to Jones about Trump’s false claims about Muslims in New Jersey cheering 9/11, Hillary Clinton, and Trump’s book, among other topics. Jones told Trump he had been ‘vindicated’ in his claims. I know it happened and I held my line and people wanted me to apologize and I can’t do that,’ Trump told Jones. ‘People like you and I, we can’t do that so easily.’“[BuzzFeed, 12/2/15]

2016: “Alex Jones Celebrates Trump’s Takeover Of The GOP.” Jones took in Trump’s Republican Convention and “spent Monday mobbed by reporters, sharing a podium with Trump adviser Roger Stone and welcoming several far-right candidates onstage as part of an ‘America First Project’ unity effort.” [Washington Post, 7/18/16]

2016: Trump’s Senior Policy Advisor Stephen Miller Talked To Infowars And Praised Alex Jones For Being On Top Of The Issues Close To The Trump Campaign. “In a February 8 interview with Infowars.com, Trump senior policy adviser Stephen Miller praised Jones and Infowars for having ‘been on top of … the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and on the immigration issue.’ Miller then repeatedly pitched Trump to Jones’ audience, telling them that ‘if you want to stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership, if you want to close the border, if you want to protect American jobs and wages, then you have to support Donald J. Trump.’” [Media Matters, 2/10/16; Infowars, 2/8/16]

And Jones, Stone, and Bannon appear to enjoy one another’s company as well

Alex Jones And Roger Stone Crashed The Set Of A Progressive Livestream Together During The Republican Convention. “A tense encounter between several hosts of The Young Turks and conservative stalwarts Roger Stone and Alex Jones almost came to fisticuffs on Thursday. Cenk Uygur, a co-founder of the progressive internet show, was hosting a segment live from the Republican National Convention on Thursday, speaking about GOP nominee Donald Trump’s overwhelming support among white men in America. Jones, a conservative radio talk show host and noted conspiracy theorist, aggressively interrupted Uygur.” [Huffington Post, 7/21/16]

HEADLINE: “Alex Jones, Roger Stone Hijack Liberal Livestream At RNC — And Things Get Very Real, Very Fast.”[Huffington Post, 7/21/16]

HEADLINE: “Alex Jones, Roger Stone Bring The Crazy To RNC 2016.” [Daily Beast, 7/18/16]

Stephen Bannon Interviewed Roger Stone On His Breitbart Radio Show. [Breitbart News Daily, Sirius XM, 7/5/16; 6/15/16; 6/8/16;

https://twitter.com/RogerJStoneJr/status/769047284847939585?lang=en

From a Nightline report on Alex Jones in January 2013.

DAN HARRIS (ABC NEWS) (CONTINUED)

(Voiceover) Out of his studios near Austin, Texas, his radio show and webcast reach an estimated one million people a day.

ALEX JONES (RADIO HOST)

This federal intrusion is out of control.

DAN HARRIS (ABC NEWS)

(Voiceover) And on YouTube and elsewhere, Jones estimates 200 million people have seen his various documentaries.

ALEX JONES (RADIO HOST)

We’re taking our destiny back. You’re not our gods or our masters.

DAN HARRIS (ABC NEWS)

(Voiceover) With titles like “The Fall Of The Republic,” “Endgame Blueprint For Global Enslavement”, and “The Obama Deception.”

DAN HARRIS (ABC NEWS)

(Off-camera) Do you actually believe everything you say?

ALEX JONES (RADIO HOST)

I believe all of it, absolutely. What I’m telling is the truth.

DAN HARRIS (ABC NEWS)

(Off-camera) None of it is, you know, a shtick, a show at all?

ALEX JONES (RADIO HOST)

No, it’s all true.

DAN HARRIS (ABC NEWS)

(Off-camera) You think Obama is a criminal?

ALEX JONES (RADIO HOST)

Barack Obama is definitely an unconstitutional criminal.

DAN HARRIS (ABC NEWS)

(Voiceover) Jones espouses a litany of conspiracy theories, although he thinks that term belittles his reporting.

DAN HARRIS (ABC NEWS)

(Off-camera) FEMA is running concentration camps?

ALEX JONES (RADIO HOST)

Yes. They have designated sports stadiums. They have designated fields for the American people during a civil uprising.

DAN HARRIS (ABC NEWS)

(Off-camera) The government is poisoning the water?

ALEX JONES (RADIO HOST)

Absolutely. I have all these other government documents where the government proposes and government think tanks propose poisoning the water to dumb down the population and make them more easily manageable.

DAN HARRIS (ABC NEWS)

(Off-camera) 9/11 was an inside job?

ALEX JONES (RADIO HOST)

Yes, 9/11 was an inside job. It was a staged event to launch the Iraq war and to set up a domestic police state here in the United States.

ALEX JONES (RADIO HOST)

All I’m calling for is a real investigation and the people of Oklahoma City have been calling for an investigation.

DAN HARRIS (ABC NEWS)

(Voiceover) Jones, who’s 38, got his start with a local cable access show in the 1990s. He now has a huge fan base, which at various times has included celebrities like Willie Nelson, Jesse Ventura, Charlie Sheen.

CHARLIE SHEEN (ACTOR)

We want our country back, Mr President, and we’re calling on each and every American citizen to wake up, stand up and demand the truth.

DAN HARRIS (ABC NEWS)

(Voiceover) And reality stars Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag.

ALEX JONES (RADIO HOST)

Spencer Pratt, good to have you on with us today.

SPENCER PRATT (TELEVISION PERSONALITY)

Thank you so much. I’m so honored to be on with you. You are a true legend, a true American patriot.

ALEX JONES (RADIO HOST)

Look in the mirror.

DAN HARRIS (ABC NEWS)

(Voiceover) He does have vociferous critics, including experts who monitor hate groups, who worry about Jones’ influence during this tense time in America.

ALEX JONES (RADIO HOST)

There’s a scientific dictatorship controlling the planet.

 

From Jesse Walker at the libertarian magazine, Reason.

“From the start,” Hillary Clinton declared today in Reno, “Donald Trump has built his campaign on prejudice and paranoia. He has taken hate groups mainstream, and [is] helping a radical fringe take over the Republican Party.” The speech that followed those words was an extended argument that her opponent is a racist, a conspiracy theorist, and a man temperamentally unfit to be president.

Clinton’s campaign had promoted this in advance as an address about “Donald Trump and his advisors’ embrace of the disturbing ‘alt-right’ political philosophy”—the alt-right being an umbrella term for an assortment of racist micro-movements and online subcultures. Yesterday I suggested that making the alt-right the stars of such a speech could only give a signal boost to what is, after all, a rather obscure political faction. But Clinton’s comments about that faction took up only about a minute of her remarks. And while that minute was pretty juicy, the alt-right wasn’t really the rally’s star villain after all.

The star villain was Donald Trump. Everyone else that Clinton brought into the address—the alt-right, Breitbart, Alex Jones, David Duke, Nigel Farage, Vladimir Putin—was there in a supporting role.

Running through all her claims, both the weak ones and the strong ones, was one basic theme: Donald Trump is a bigot and a nut. And while that’s an idea you’ve been hearing ever since the mogul turned reality TV star entered the race, this was as forceful and concentrated an expression of it as I’ve ever heard emerge from Hillary Clinton’s mouth. It’s bound to fire up her supporters, and I expect it will help her get out the vote. Whether it also leads a bunch of curious conservatives to Google “alt-right” depends, I suppose, on how much coverage that minute of the speech gets in the next few days.

But the guy who must be really delighted right now is Alex Jones. Hillary Clinton just attacked him by name! His listeners will be hearing clips from this speech til Ragnarok.

Meanwhile …

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But that’s another story.

Or, to quote Shakespeare: “Parting is such sweet sorrow that I shall say goodnight till it be Morrow.”

`I don’t know. You tell me.’ How Trump stage-managed softening his immigration stance at the Moody Theater

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Zachary Zenteno of Lockhart in line to see Trump at his rally in Austin Tuesday.

Good day Austin:

You gotta be flattered.

Ostensibly, Donald Trump came to Austin Tuesday to raise money and hold a rally.

But, it turns out, he really came to Austin to figure out what he really thinks about the thing we thought  he cared most deeply about – the deportation of some 11 or 12 million immigrants without legal status.

“I mean, I don’t know. You tell me,” Trump told a packed house of rabid supporters – and a few ringers – at the Moody Theater for a taping of Sean Hannity’s show on Fox Tuesday afternoon.

“It’s like a poll. There’s thousands of people in this room.”

(And of course, the obligatory self-congratulation: “This place is packed. Does everybody get this kind of a crowd?”)

And so, Trump asked the Moody audience to determine what his policy on deportation should be and, lo and behold, they seemed to agree that their hero should adopt the position previously articulated by the likes of Jeb Bush and John Kasich.

 

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Except, of course, Trump, reality TV star that he is, knew how to manipulate his audience to get the results he wanted.

Watching last night’s broadcast (the second of two hours produced by Trump’s two-hour interview with Hannity, an avid Trump supporter), one can see that Trump’s use of the applause-meter lacks Queen for a Day rigor.

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When he first asks whether they support his old position – that all 11 or 12 million should be deported – or his evolving position – that only criminals and gang members should be deported, but we should work something out with hard-working good illegal immigrants – it’s hard to know which position is generating the loudest hoots and applause.

But by the time he’s done repeating and reframing the question in increasingly leading ways, he get the result he wants.

Yes, Mr. Trump, we want you to moderate your position on deportation. We demand that you moderate your position on immigration.

From Mediaite:

Speaking to Sean Hannity during the Fox anchor’s second consecutive Trump town hall, which airs at 10 p.m. Wednesday, Trump wondered aloud if “someone who is terrific” who had been in the country for 20 years illegally could be given a reprieve. “Can we go through a process or do you think they have to get out?” he asked Hannity. “Tell me?  I mean, I don’t know, You tell me.

The GOP presidential candidate said that people in the country illegally could be divided into two groups.

The first group were “the bad ones, the gang bangers,” of which he said:

I mean we will get them out so fast.  You know the police know who they are.  This is no like great secret like I wonder who they are.  These police know and the people know who they are. They know who they are and they’re going to be gone like so fast your head will spin.  OK.  So that’s easy, right?

The second could be described as a “person 20 years been an upstanding person, the family is great, everyone is great.” He then took an informal voice vote of the crowd asking them to respond to one of two options:

TRUMP:  Ready?
(CROSSTALK)
TRUMP:  Number one, we’ll say throw out.  Number two, we work with them, ready?  Number one.
(CROWD NOISE)
TRUMP:  Number two.
(APPLAUSE)

Trump said his proposal to allow some “good people” to stay after “we work with them” was not “amnesty.” He also said that there would be “no citizenship,” but they would have to pay back taxes.

But we work with them.  Now, OK, but when I look at the rooms and I have this all over, now everybody agrees we get the bad ones out.  But when I go through and I meet thousands and thousands of people on this subject, and I’ve had very strong people come up to me, really great, great people come up to me. And they’ve said, Mr. Trump, I love you, but to take a person that has been here for 15 or 20 years and throw them and the family out, it’s so tough, Mr. Trump.  I mean, I have it all the time. It’s a very, very hard thing.

And he conducted another voice poll. “Look, this is like a poll, there’s thousands of people in this room,” he said. “Who wants those people thrown out?”

“I do!” someone shouted.

Reaction was predictably harsh in some quarters.

 

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No, Trump told Hannity. The wall, or at least 1,000 miles of wall, will happen. And quickly. And it will be 35 to 40 feet high. And yes, Mexico is still going to pay for it. The Trump faithful chanted as much at the rally at the Travis County Expo Center a few hours later.

But, deportation? Not so much.

From John Podhoretz at Commentary:

Donald Trump is shifting to an illegal immigration policy that is a complete echo of the proposals by Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio he condemned as “amnesty” during the primaries—which by definition means he won’t be forcibly deporting 11 million people if he becomes president. Those forcible deportations were one of the few clear policy positions he’s taken, and he was screaming about them at his rallies as late as last week.

This gobsmacking flip-flop means two things. First, Trump’s brazen contempt for his own supporters is so  thoroughgoing he thinks he can say anything without risking their votes. (It will be up to them to prove him wrong by reacting with anger. If they don’t, his contempt is deserved.) Second, he has finally come to understand he is heading for a defeat so unimaginably humiliating he’s willing to do just about anything to forestall it

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But don’t worry. Trump remains a border bad ass, and told the Moody audience he’s got just the type of tough hombre – who just happened to have joined him for the Hannity taping – to entrust the task to,

Just as his position is evolving, Trump’s view of Perry has evolved.

 

I met Zachary Zenteno, in the photo at the top, while he was waiting on the enormous line to get into the rally at the Expo Center on Tuesday. I was drawn to talk to him by his outstanding Trump shirt, which I hadn’t seen before.

 

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The day was hot and extraordinarily bright, and I was having a hard time taking photos, seeing what I was photographing and figuring out if I was even in the right setting when I snapped the photos. If you look closely at the image at the top of First Reading you may notice at the extreme left and right of the frame, there are two women, the top of whose bodies have become disconnected from the lower half of their bodies.

I cannot explain why that is or how that happened.

Meanwhile, Zenteno, 19, from Lockhart, cast his first vote ever for Trump in the March primary and would cast his second vote ever for Trump in November

“It’s cool to have a lot of people behind you, to be part of a group who support what you support,” Zenteno said.

Zenteno said he was drawn by Trump’s personality.

“He stands for what he believes in and won’t take no crap,” Zenteno said.

Zenteno graduated from Lockhart High School in the spring of 2015. He is looking for work.

“If he makes more jobs, that’ll help me,” Zenteno said of Trump.

This was, I think, my sixth Trump rally – having previously attended two in Dallas, two in Iowa and one in South Carolina.

I have written before about the buoyant spirit at the rallies, and the likability of the people I have met at all of them.

From a First Reading after attending a Trump rally  Myrtle Beach, S.C., ahead of the South Carolina primary.

Cruz may prevail.

But in the meantime, it’s time to get used to the idea of Trump Nation.

The good new is that Trump Nation is already readily accessible because they gather with one another in the thousands with great regularity.

The further good news is that, for all the anger and frustration that undergirds his populist nationalism, Trump Nation – at least when it gets together to hear from the man – seems like a pretty happy, even rollicking place.

A Donald Trump rally is an “immersive experience.”

That was how Grant Pezikian, 18, a senior at Socastee High School in Myrtle Beach, S.C., put it to me Friday  after a massive Trump rally in his hometown on the last day of campaigning before the South Carolina primary.

xxxxxxx

Pezikian appreciates how “bold and outright” Trump is in the way he expresses himself. At his high school, he said, a lot of classmates think Trump is “too extreme.”

Moreso than for other politicians, folks tend to dress up for Trump rallies, or at any way dress in a manner that makes clear they are at a Trump rally.

And from a First Reading after a Trump rally at Gilley’s in Dallas this spring.

Since Trump became the presumptive nominee with his crushing victory over Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in the May 3 Indiana primary, Trump has worked overtime to see if he could put that nomination at risk, or at any rate, make it virtually worthless once he claimed it.

But, of course, Trump, like no presidential candidate in American history, has managed to perpetually succeed by doing one thing after another, after another, after another, that seemed dead certain to destroy him but somehow, some way, only made him stronger, or at least, strong enough.

But, that said, the last few weeks have been so bad for him that I thought he was well on his way to well and truly blowing it.

But then I went to Trump rally at Gilley’s, and he had packed house in his thrall, and he was ebullient – which, for a candidate, goes a long way to selling yourself – on what was the first anniversary of his improbable, only-in-a-really-strange-America, run for the White House.

Also, as in my previous experiences at Trump rallies, Trump crowds are more interesting – and, in that, more invigorating – than you might imagine..

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While Trump is being widely mocked and derided for running for president on the fly and by the seat of his pants, with virtually no staff or infrastructure, when it comes to the rallies, there is not much to improve upon. Play the same three-song set by the Rolling Stones, Neil Young and Elton John, get some local schmoes to make some opening remarks, and then hand it over to Trump and let him do what he wants to do until he is done.

He had the 3,800 folks at Gilley’s in the palm of his hands, and even from the road reporter next to me, who probably has heard him a hundred times, he still drew intermittent, heartfelt chuckles.

In other words, he put on a good show.

The same applied to Trump’s Austin rally and the folks I met there.

 

 

 

OUR REVOLUTION

Meanwhile, in an alternate political universe 2000 miles away in Burlington, Vermont, Sen. Bernie Sanders launched his new political organization – Our Revolution – with an hour-long speech that was live-streamed to supporters all across America, including here in Austin.

Among the things Our Revolution will do is back candidates.

Our Revolution will empower the next generation of progressive leaders by inspiring and recruiting progressive candidates to run for offices across the entire spectrum of government. From school boards to congressional seats, a new generation of political leaders, dedicated to transforming America’s corrupt campaign finance system and rigged economy, will become involved. Our Revolution will provide candidates inspired by the “political revolution,” with the unparalleled digital tools, organizing knowledge and grassroots support, which may include fundraising, successfully utilized throughout Senator Sanders’ campaign.

Yesterday, Our Revolution endorsed 62 candidates across the country, including two in Texas.

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And …

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Yes, that’s right, Julie Ann Nitsch, a field organizer for the Sanders campaign in Austin, and a Sanders delegate to the Democratic National Convention, where I wrote about her at First Reading.

After returning from the convention, Nitsch decided she would run for office as a trustee of Austin Community College, where she has studied and worked.

I asked Nitsch, who was hosting an Austin Bernie-watch event last night, how the endorsement by her hero came to pass.

“I don’t know, but I’m over the moon,” she replied.

 

 

Trump comes to Austin amidst long odds but `a premonition of greater uncertainty’

Donald Trump’s surprising candidacy can instill a premonition of greater uncertainty—and a larger error term—in 2016 than normal.

 

Donald Trump takes the stage in Akron, Ohio, Monday night.
Donald Trump takes the stage in Akron, Ohio, Monday night.

Good morning Austin:

Pinch yourself, Texas.

Donald Trump, the Republican candidate for president of the United States, the only Donald Trump ever to run for president and the least couth major party nominee since Andrew Jackson, is devoting a precious day of general election campaigning to our less than humble state, and, best of all, treating Austin, Texas, which, when it comes to Donald Trump, has done nothing to earn it, with the special favor of a genuine, bona fide Donald Trump mass rally at the Expo Center – the best political entertainment value to hit Texas since Pass the Biscuits Pappy O’Daniel.

Yee-hah!

Here, if you want to prep for the rally, is last night’s rally in Akron.]

 

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Right now, that view would make Trump an outlier – the general view being that the Trump campaign is headed to a bad end – but who knows. I call your attention to the quote atop today’s First Reading – that Donald Trump’s surprising candidacy can instill a premonition of greater uncertainty -—and a larger error term—in 2016 than normal – and no, that premonition of greater uncertainty, is not, so far as I know, a borrow from Tennessee Williams, but rather an original coinage by two academics –  the larger error term is the giveaway – namely Columbia University political scientist Robert Erikson, and University of Texas government professor Chistopher Wlezien.

Erkson and Wlezien are two of the most prominent and most accurate election forecasters, and while their forecast is that Clinton is most likely to be our next president, they are not alone in believing that Trump is not a forecaster’s friend.

 University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato has been compiling and publishing forecasts on his Crystal Ball site.

Here is the Crystal Ball Electoral College projection as of late last week.

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And here is the qualifier from the write-up by  Sabato, Kyle Kondik and Geoffrey Skelley,

Let’s suppose Trump gains steam in the fall, maybe after some entertaining or overpowering debate performances. (This is a hypothetical, not a prediction.) Where could he grab states currently in our Democratic column? Three big states that are perfectly capable of voting Republican stand out: Florida, North Carolina, and Ohio. To this let’s add Iowa. So far Trump is faring better in the Hawkeye State than in other competitive swing states. It’s not difficult to see why. Almost half of Iowa’s electorate will likely consist of non-college whites, while minority voters will probably comprise less than 10%. Clinton has never been a favorite at Iowa’s caucus time, though she secured a paper-thin victory in February 2016 after a third-place finish in 2008. Democrats will have to work hard to gain these six EVs in November.

Returning to ground level, however, suppose Trump wins all the Romney states (206 EVs, which includes North Carolina and NE-2) and he adds Florida, Ohio, and Iowa. Trump will be at 259, still short 11 EVs. It isn’t at all obvious where the extra 11 would come from, though the easiest path might be Nevada (six EVs) and New Hampshire (four) to produce a 269-269 tie. Presumably, the House of Representatives will remain Republican and at least 26 states will have a unit vote in favor of the GOP and Trump. Presumably. Or will there be defections in a few strategically placed states?

And wait — didn’t we just change New Hampshire to Likely Democratic? Daydreams and nightmares don’t last long in the August hothouse of 2016.

And here are the forecasts Sabato has published so far.

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On the face of it, two models predict a Democratic victory, and two predict a Republican victory.

Last night, Chris Wlezien provided me with the updated, and final version of their projection, which relies on both Leading Economic Indicators and trial-heat polls and comes, with a slightly higher level of confidence, to the same projection.

From Erikson and Wlezien’s final projection:

The value of the model is early prediction. For the past five presidential elections, we have used our model (as updated at that time) to predict the November vote using only Quarter 13 cumulative LEI growth and either presidential approval or trial-heat polls from Quarter 15. Our public forecasts have been close, picking the correct popular vote winner each time with an average absolute error of 1.6 percentage points of the two-party vote.[i]

[i] Our one major prediction error was 2000, an election that foiled all forecasters. We overestimated the Gore vote by 5.2 points. (In that year, we used presidential approval as our indicator of public opinion; using trial-heat polls, as we have since, the forecast would have been a smaller, but still sizable 3.7 points.) Our other forecasts using LEI were much better, producing an absolute error of under 1.0 in three years – in 1996, 200 and 2012 – and a middling error of 1.5 points in 2008.

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PREDICTING 2016 USING LEADING INDICATORS AND QUARTER 14 POLLS

What does our model suggest for 2016? For 2016, cumulative LEI growth is 0.22, just slightly below the average of 0.23 over the sixteen elections between 1952 and 2012. Using RealClearPolitics.com, Quarter 14 Clinton-vs.-Trump trial-heat polls average 54.2 percent for Clinton. Plugging in our model from Table 1 with trial-heat polls measured for Quarter 14 yields 52.2 percent as Hillary Clinton’s predicted share of the two-party vote in 2016, which is only a little more than we predict (51.8 percent) with LEI growth alone. Based on the standard forecast error, the estimate implies a 76 percent chance of a Clinton popular vote victory.[i]

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In recent election years, the national party conventions were held in August or even into September. In 2016 they occurred in July, the earliest in the calendar since 1960. Historically, the conventions have considerable impact, with the leader in the polls afterward almost always winning the election (Erikson and Wlezien, 2012b). This can be seen in Table 2, which displays poll shares for the incumbent party candidate from one week before the first convention and then two weeks after the second convention, along with the final vote. [i] There we can see that the leader in the polls before the conventions ultimately won the popular vote in 11 of the 16 elections; after the conventions, the leader won the popular vote in every year, bearing in mind that the polls were tied in 1980.

[i] The pre-convention measure is for the week ending the Monday before the start of the first convention. The post-convention measure is for the week starting the second Tuesday after the second convention. Only live-interviewer polls are included. Where data are missing for some years (no polling in the designated week), we substitute the most recent poll (pre-conventions) or the next poll (post-convention). The data of the poll is always the midpoint of the reported polling period.

 

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So, what did our model say about 2016 before the conventions began? Our 2016 pre-conventions trial-heat reading, from RealClearPolitics.com is 51.5 percent of the two-party vote for Clinton. Plugging into our pre-conventions equation in Table 3 predicts 51.8 percent for Clinton, with a probability of winning of .72. This is only slightly less than what we forecasted in early-June, as discussed above.

What about after the conventions?   For the dates August 9-16, fully two weeks after the Democratic convention ended, the one available poll (from PEW) indicates 52.6 percent for Clinton.[i] Inserting the number into our post-conventions equation in Table 3 predicts 52.0 percent for Clinton, with a probability of victory of .82. Once again, this is little changed from what we predicted prior to the conventions and also earlier, in June. Our electoral expectations have remained quite stable.

[i] Per our past practice, we only consider live-interview polls, which rules out internet polls and others, which are slightly more favorable for Clinton, e.g., the RealClearPolitics average on August 22, 2016, implies a 53.1% share.

And then, the Trump caveat and the premonition of greater uncertainty.

We close with an obvious caveat about forecasting the presidential vote in the unique election of 2016. The theoretical underpinning of forecasting models is bolstered by arguments that each party runs a typical campaign that is supported by party elites. Donald Trump’s surprising candidacy can instill a premonition of greater uncertainty—and a larger error term—in 2016 than normal. Our model partially captures a Trump effect by the incorporation of trial-heat polls, which reflect Trump’s support at the moment. With trial-heat polls in the equation, the error term represents the effects of cumulative campaign shocks from the date of the poll to Election Day. The possibility of greater campaign effects than we typically observe should constrain our confidence in the early predictions presented here.  

For Emory University political scientist Alan Abramowitz, the premonition is so strong as to lead him to rethink the usefulness of his forecast.

Here is Abramowitz’s explanation of his model.

The Time for Change forecasting model has correctly predicted the winner of the national popular vote in every presidential election since 1988. This model is based on three predictors — the incumbent president’s approval rating at midyear (late June or early July) in the Gallup Poll, the growth rate of real GDP in the second quarter of the election year, and whether the incumbent president’s party has held the White House for one term or more than one term. Using these three predictors, it is possible to forecast the incumbent party’s share of the major party vote with a high degree of accuracy around three months before Election Day.

And here is what his model would forecast.

 Based on a net approval rating for Barack Obama of +6 in the Gallup weekly tracking poll for the week of June 27-July 4, an estimated second quarter change in real GDP of 1.2% according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, and the fact that Hillary Clinton is seeking a third consecutive Democratic term in the White House, the Time for Change Model predicts a narrow victory for Donald Trump — 51.4% of the major party vote to 48.6%.

And here is his giant Trump caveat, which essentially leads Abramowitz to declare his forecast null and void thanks to Trump.

Time for Change vs. Time for Trump

Despite the excellent track record of the Time for Change model, there are good reasons to be skeptical about the 2016 forecast. For one thing, the overwhelming majority of national polls during the spring and summer of 2016 have shown Clinton leading Trump. National polls completed shortly before and after the national party conventions gave Clinton an average lead of about five percentage points, and Clinton is up by about eight points now. Beyond the poll results, the Time for Change forecasting model is based on two crucial assumptions — first, that both major parties will nominate mainstream candidates capable of unifying their parties and, second, that the candidates will conduct equally effective campaigns so that the overall outcome will closely reflect the “fundamentals” incorporated in the model.

While the assumptions of the Time for Change model are generally realistic, they will clearly hold to varying degrees in different elections. An examination of the error terms in Table 2 suggests that candidates and campaigns do sometimes have noticeable effects on the outcomes of presidential elections beyond what would be predicted based on the fundamentals. In 1988 and 2000, for example, poor campaigns very likely contributed to smaller than expected vote shares for Democratic candidates Michael Dukakis and Al Gore. And in 2008, the somewhat smaller than expected vote share for Democrat Barack Obama may have reflected the reluctance of some white voters to support the first African-American nominee of a major political party.

The nomination of Trump by the Republican Party in 2016 appears to violate both of the Time for Change model’s key assumptions. Trump is clearly not a mainstream Republican and he does not appear to be running a competent campaign — he has lagged far behind Clinton in both fundraising and grassroots organizing in the swing states, and his rhetoric on the campaign trail has frequently brought sharp criticism from prominent Republicans as well as Democrats. In fact, there has never been a major party nominee like Trump — a reality TV star and wealthy businessman with no longstanding ties to the Republican Party, no political experience, and a penchant for insulting major voting groups. As a result, many prominent Republican leaders, including the last two Republican presidents, and the party’s 2012 nominee have refused to endorse Trump.

In recent months, Trump has received the highest unfavorability ratings of any major party nominee in the history of the Gallup Poll. Clinton also receives high unfavorability ratings from voters; however, Trump’s ratings have generally been far worse than Clinton’s. According to the most recent Gallup data (Aug. 3-9), Trump had a net favorability rating of -31, while Clinton had a net favorability rating of -17.

The question is how much the Republican Party’s nomination of Trump will move the needle away from its slight tilt toward the GOP based on the fundamentals in 2016. There is no way to answer this question until after the election. Based on the results of other recent presidential elections, however, as well as Trump’s extraordinary unpopularity, it appears very likely that the Republican vote share will fall several points below what would be expected if the GOP had nominated a mainstream candidate and that candidate had run a reasonably competent campaign. Therefore, despite the prediction of the Time for Change model, Clinton should probably be considered a strong favorite to win the 2016 presidential election as suggested by the results of recent national and state polls.

We’ll finish up with Nate Silver’s latest election forecast at FiveThirtyEight, from Sunday, with its own big, fat Trump caveat.

Hillary Clinton moved into a clear polling lead over Donald Trump just after the Democratic convention, which ended on July 28. Pretty much ever since, the reporters and poll watchers that I follow have seemed eager to tell the next twist in the story. Would Trump’s numbers get even worse, possibly leading to the first double-digit victory for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1964? Or would Trump mount a comeback? As of last Tuesday, there wasn’t much evidence of an overall shift in the race. Trump was gaining ground in some polls but losing ground in a roughly equal number of them.

Since then, Trump has gotten some slightly better results, with national polls suggesting a race more in line with a 5- or 6-percentage-point lead for Clinton instead of the 7- or 8-point lead she had earlier in August. But state polls haven’t really followed suit and continue to show Clinton with some of her largest leads of the campaign. Trump received some decent numbers in Iowa and Nevada, but his polls in other swing states have been bad.

Overall, Trump has gained slightly in our forecasts: He’s up to a 15 percent chance of winning the Electoral College in our polls-only model, up from a low of 11 percent a week ago. And he’s at 25 percent in polls-plus, up from a low of 21 percent. But the evidence is conflicting enough that I don’t think we can rule out a larger swing toward Trump or, alternatively, that his position hasn’t improved at all.

Let’s start with those national polls. In the table below, I’ve listed every national poll that we’ve added to our database since Tuesday and how it compared to the previous poll from the same pollster, if there was one.1

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And here is Lady Bird’s wonderful home movie of the 1941 Senate race LBJ lost to Pappy O’Daniel, who, as Lady Bird puts it, “flashed like a comet across the Texas political scene.”

 

Donald Trump is holding a rally in Austin! Says who?

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Good morning Austin:

When the surprising news broke Friday morning that Donald J. Trump was going to be holding a rally at the Travis County Expo Center right here in Austin, I sent an email to a Texas Republican political operative asking for his reaction.

His reply: “He’s coming to Texas? Says who?”

Good one.

From Adam Epstein at Quartz:

On Wednesday, Aug. 17, something great happened.

Michael Cohen is an attorney and executive vice president for the Trump Organization. Sometimes, he appears on television to speak for Donald Trump, the Republican candidate for president of the United States. Wednesday was one such day: Cohen appeared on CNN to answer questions from anchor Brianna Keilar about the Trump campaign’s latest shakeup. What followed was the genesis of the year’s best political meme to date.

“You guys are down.”

“Says who?”

 

“Polls. Most of them. All of them?”

 

[long pause]

 

“Says who?”

 

“Polls. I just told you, I answered your question.”

 

“Okay. Which polls?”

 

“All of them.”

 

“Okay.”

From Quartz:

Had Keilar played this differently, this exchange probably never even see the light of day. The way she says “polls” and then “all of them” so flatly, as if she can’t believe she even has to say the words, is ultimately what gives the clip its comedic value.

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“Says who” encapsulates the entire dynamic of Trump’s campaign.

It’s easy to look at “Says who?” as a lens onto how the Trump campaign views polls. Dating back to the beginning of the Republican primaries, Trump has boasted of polls that show him in the lead, even while he ignored polls that show he’s losing.

Trump’s current numbers are so bad that many of his supporters have created new, “unskewed” polls to give their candidate a more favorable outcome. Cohen’s childish repetition of “says who?” when confronted with actual evidence that Trump is down might seem funny to us, but it’s exactly how the campaign has approached the race since the very beginning.

The entire exchange played out like an alternate universe “Who’s on first?” routine, or a scene from Waiting for Godot, if it were staged by Saturday Night Live writers. Unsurprisingly, it immediately took off on social media.

Make America Great Again is good but at four words, 21 letters, it’s simply too long, too cumbersome.

Says who? is better, punchier – two words, seven letters.

F You! would be even punchier, but maybe too punchy, not classy.

Says who? carries just the right touch of lead-with-your-chin belligerence without being offensive. And, to be fair, when Keilar said who says, Cohen was OK with that.

I told the Republican operative in Austin that he should move quickly to create T-shirts to sell at Tuesday’s rally with SAYS WHO? and Cohen’s image on the front, and an image of Trump, and maybe TRUMP ’16, on the back.

I’d buy one. Who wouldn’t?

So why is Trump at this stage holding a rally in Texas, let alone in Austin.

Well, he was coming to Texas for the usual reason presidential candidates of both parties come to Texas – to raise money – in this case at fundraisers in Fort Worth and Austin. And, as is his wont, Trump decided to throw in a rally.

“It probably doesn’t do any harm, but if you’re even moderately concerned about winning Texas, then you’ve already lost the presidential election,” said Rice University political scientist Mark Jones.

But, as Jim Henson, who directs the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas notes, “until Cable TV stops covering those rallies, he’s going to keep having them everywhere. Nobody in Austin should be under the impression that the rally is for them.”

(From Henson this morning, Donald Trump Visits a Lukewarm Texas.)

That’s a good point. Each rally is an opportunity for more free media, and holding it in Austin, the liberal bastion in the home state of Ted Cruz – who Trump has vowed to defeat for re-election in 2018 –  has some added elements to make it newsworthy and potentially interesting.

(The rally will take place in the Luedecke Arena, 7311 Decker Lane, at 7:30 p.m. Doors open at 4:30 p.m., and tickets are available online through the Trump campaign.)

My guess is that the crowd at the arena will have more than a few non-Trumpers, probably including perhaps a bunch of Bernie Sanders folks who have experience at having their protests drowned out by chants of USA, USA, USA by the Clinton folks at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

https://twitter.com/Forrest4Trees/status/767583948993994752?lang=en

 

Meanwhile, Friday night at a rally in Dimondale, Michigan, Trump tried out another new slogan to rival, Says Who, as part of its outreach to the black community –  What the hell do you have to lose?

From Geoff Earl at the Daily Mail:

Speaking to a mostly white audience in Michigan, the Republican nominee said: ‘You’re living in poverty. Your schools are no good. You have no jobs. Fifty-eight per cent of your youth is unemployed. What the hell do you have to lose?’

The businessman then made the astonishing claim that he will win 95 per cent of the African American vote at the end of his first term if elected President, despite currently polling at around 1 per cent with that voting bloc.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Let’s talk about those comments that Mr. Trump made about the African American community. Here’s part of them this week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What do you have to lose?

Look, what do you have to lose?

You’re living in poverty. Your schools are no good. You have no jobs; 58 percent of your youth is unemployed.

What the hell do you have to lose?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: As you know — you were just talking about that. But many in the African American community saw that as insulting because they say most African Americans don’t live in poverty and that Mr. Trump was making those comments in communities that are more than 90 percent white.

CONWAY: Those comments are for all Americans. And I live in a white community. I’m white. I was very moved by his comment. In other words, he is trying to tell Americans that we can do better. And the thing that he said that I think got a great deal of resonance is that maybe Hillary Clinton looks at you as voters as your — takes you for granted. I look at you as people.

And you — again, George, if you think 58 percent of unemployment in the African American youth community is a good idea, then absolutely please go vote for Hillary Clinton, everyone.

But he’s saying, you can’t do any worse. We’re the party, he’s the candidate that believes in school choice vouchers and charter schools for African American and Hispanic students and everybody really. But these benefit — I’ve done a lot of work in that space here in New York City. And it’s just remarkable to see the quality education that these students who are fully capable and very intelligent receive through school choice and charters. Hillary Clinton’s against those.

Well, I suppose if insults are a sign of Trumpian affection, then, yes, this amounts to outreach.

But the question, “What the hell do you have to lose?” has an answer, has plenty of answers, as the black community contemplates the sheer possibility that the first black president could be followed by Donald Trump.

Make America Great Again is a fraught slogan for many African Americans who do not share a gauzy nostalgia for the way America used to be.

From a very good piece by David Weigel in the Washington Post this weekend.

Jared Taylor hits play, and the first Donald Trump ad of the general election unfolds across his breakfast table. Syrian refugees streaming across a border. Hordes of immigrants, crowded onto trains.

“Donald Trump’s America is secure,” rumbles a narrator. “Terrorists and dangerous criminals kept out. The border, secure; our families, safe.”

Taylor, one of America’s foremost “racialists,” is impressed and relieved. “That’s a powerful appeal,” he said. “If he can just stick to that, he is in very good shape.”

From his Fairfax County home, Taylor has edited the white nationalist magazine American Renaissance and organized racialist conferences under the “AmRen” banner. He said that Trump should “concentrate on his natural constituency, which is white people,” suggesting that winning 65 percent of the white vote would overwhelm any Democratic gains with minorities.

The rise of the alt-right — named for the Alternative Right website that the “identitarian” nationalist Richard Spencer set up in 2010 and adopted by those opposed to multiculturalism and mass immigration — has come to define how many of its adherents see Trump. There’s less talk now about a “pivot,” or a moment when Trump will adopt the ideas of people that he conquered. His strategy now resembles the alt-right dream of maximizing the white vote — even as polling shows his standing with white voters falls short of Mitt Romney’s in 2012.

Trump’s newest speeches, read from a teleprompter, hit all of their favorite notes. “I don’t think Trump had mentioned ‘sanctuary cities’ previously,” Spencer said in an interview. “There’s reason to believe that Bannon is returning him to his powerful, populist message — indeed, honing it. [Former campaign chairman Paul] Manafort was turning Trump into a standard Republican, with the [Mike] Pence [vice-presidential] choice, the economic policy, talk of how ‘Hillary is the real racist,’ if not quite in those words. Bannon is making me hope again, making Trump Trump again.”

Although there is no data gauging the size of the alt-right, its adherents point to Trump’s primary victories as proof that their ideas have been winning. They are so active on social media, from Twitter to Reddit, that critics are beginning to feel overwhelmed.

Breitbart, not founded as part of their movement, became a welcoming place for it. The site found millions of new readers clicking on stories about “black crime” and the threat of Syrian refugees. At Breitbart, undocumented immigrants are “illegals,” Black Lives Matter activists venerate “cop-
killer heroes,” and Gold Star father Khizr Khan is a busy promoter of sharia law. Michael Brown, the man whose death kicked off the protests in Ferguson, Mo., was unfairly mythologized by the media.

From Lee Stranahan  at Breitbart.

Breitbart News has given #BlackLivesMatter more detailed, deep, and honest coverage than any other media outlet on the planet in 2015, and for good reason. From covering every major protest they did to exposing the cop killer that the group worships to revealing the secret funder behind the movement to Milo Yiannopoulos’s complete shredding of activist Shaun King, Breitbart News has been the go-to source for original reporting on Black Lives Matter.

Why is Breitbart News so on top of the Black Lives Matter movement?

Easy. We saw it coming.

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In the face of all this feckless kowtowing, no wonder the blunt and in-your-face style of billionaire Donald Trump has hit home for so many Americans. Trump – like Ronald Reagan in the 1960s – seems to be one of the few people in public life willing to tell Black Lives Matter protesters to sit down, shut up, and stop taking the loser road of self-victimization.

This is one of the reasons that Donald Trump, more than any other political candidate on the scene right now, has incurred so much of the wrath and anger of Black Lives Matter. They are keenly aware that he simply will not play their game. The other current frontrunner for the Republican nomination is Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who has already demonstrated that he is no cupcake either. Should either Cruz or Trump be the nominee, expect Black Lives Matter’s army to take to the streets and try to shut them down at every opportunity.

For that reason, the current political season is set to be even more divisive than either of the last two election cycles, which had already set a very high bar for vitriol.

As the newest incarnation of the activist Left, Black Lives Matter will not back down or rest until it is either stopped by someone gutsy enough to call them out or until it gets what it wants: a bloody revolution leading to a socialist/anarchist America.

Meanwhile, Trump delivers his plea to black voters in front of an almost entirely white crowd in a an overwhelmingly white suburb of Lansing, Michigan.

 

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Will Trump reprise his black outreach in Austin Tuesday?

Who knows. This being Texas – future site of The Wall – one might suppose he might address his serious problem with Hispanic voters.

Maybe he will invite Austin City Council Member Don Zimmerman to open for him by inviting any young Hispanics in the crowd to come to the front to be lectured and insulted.

From the Statesman’s  Nolan Hicks last week:

A group of kids were at the City Council meeting Thursday night during the debate over Austin’s proposed budget for next year.

Their parents — many of whom are Hispanic and addressed the City Council in Spanish — came to City Hall to campaign for continued funding for after-school programs at Austin’s public schools.

At the conclusion of the debate, Council Member Sheri Gallo asked all the children to promise that when they turn 18, they would register to vote. Then Council Member Don Zimmerman spoke up and it went downhill from there.

I’d ask for everyone here, including the children, when you grow up, I want to ask you to pledge to finish school, learn a trade, a skilled trade, get a college education, start a business, do something useful and produce something in your society so you don’t have to live off others,” he said, adding: “Thank you” as boos erupted in the chamber. 

And from Nolan’s follow:

“To hear him just say those words, it was very offensive, especially because the kids were there. We’re taxpayers,” said Montserrat Garibay, vice president of Education Austin, the teacher’s union for Austin’s public school teachers. “I felt very disrespected.”

Garibay, who previously taught for eight years, added: “I was listening and I was like, ‘This is the Trump of Austin.’”

In addition to the fundraisers and the rally, Trump will also be interviewed by Fox’s Sean Hannity while in Austin.

Sean Hannity and 2016 Republican Presidential Nominee Donald Trump will be in Austin for an exclusive two hour event and you can be a part of it!

TAPING STARTS AT 4P CDT – PLEASE ARRIVE EARLY – DOORS OPEN AT 1P CDT.

Seating will be based on a first come, first served basis.

NOTE: This is a private event hosted by Fox News and therefore is closed to the press.

SPREAD THE WORD & INVITE YOUR FRIENDS BY SHARING THIS EVENT ON FACEBOOK AND TWITTER!

When Tuesday, August 23, 2016 from 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM (CDT) – Add to Calendar Where ACL Live at The Moody Theater – 2nd Street District, 310 W Willie Nelson Blvd, AUSTIN, TEXAS 78701 – Vie

From Jim Rutenberg this weekend at the New York Times:

During major inflection points in Donald J. Trump’s campaign, the advisers, family members and friends who make up his kitchen cabinet burn up their email accounts and phone lines gaming out how to get his candidacy on track (and what counsel he might go along with).

But one person in the mix brings more than just his political advice. He also happens to control an hour of prime time on the Fox News Channel.

That person is Sean Hannity.

Mr. Hannity uses his show on the nation’s most-watched cable news network to blare Mr. Trump’s message relentlessly — giving Mr. Trump the kind of promotional television exposure even a billionaire can’t afford for long.

But Mr. Hannity is not only Mr. Trump’s biggest media booster; he also veers into the role of adviser. Several people I’ve spoken with over the last couple of weeks said Mr. Hannity had for months peppered Mr. Trump, his family members and advisers with suggestions on strategy and messaging.

So involved is Mr. Hannity that three separate denizens of the hall of mirrors that is Trump World told me they believed Mr. Hannity was behaving as if he wanted a role in a possible Trump administration — something he denied to me as laughable and contractually prohibitive in an interview on Friday.

But he did not dispute that he lends his thoughts to Mr. Trump and others in his close orbit whom Mr. Hannity has known for years.

“Do I talk to my friend who I’ve known for years and speak my mind? I can’t not speak my mind,’’ he said.

But, Mr. Hannity said, “I don’t say anything privately that I don’t say publicly.’’ And, he acknowledged, it’s unclear how far his advice goes with Mr. Trump, given that “nobody controls him.”

Mr. Hannity is unapologetic about his aim. “I’m not hiding the fact that I want Donald Trump to be the next president of the United States.” After all, he says, “I never claimed to be a journalist.”

That makes Mr. Hannity the ultimate product of the Fox News Channel that Roger Ailes envisioned when he founded it with Rupert Murdoch 20 years ago, as a defiant answer to what they described as an overwhelmingly liberal mainstream news media that was biased against Republicans. Mr. Hannity was there from the beginning with Mr. Ailes, who was forced out over sexual harassment allegations last month.

I remember way back when Hannity was fair and balanced, at least as between Trump and Ted Cruz.

CruzHannity-10
Ted Cruz appears on Hannity from a remote location in Iowa.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s not too late! Trump-Perry 2016.

Good morning Austin:

I begin today’s First Reading with a fantasy sequence.

It’s Tuesday. The day before yesterday. We are at Rick and Anita Perry’s home in beautiful Round Top, Texas. It’s a rainy early morning. Anita Perry is in the spacious  country kitchen preparing a breakfast scramble. The coffee is perking on the stove. Marcus Lutrell, who has been up since before dawn, is fussing with a window seal through which water is leaking.

The governor is not evident. He’s been sleeping in the guest room the last couple of nights because the miscues of the Trump campaign have left him too restless to sleep well and he hasn’t wanted to keep Anita up.

Anita calls upstairs. “Ricky. Your coffee’s ready. It’s that dark roast you like from Espressions.”

Nothing.

“Ricky. Coffee. I’ll bring you up a cup.”

Anita goes upstairs. The bed is empty. The sheets have been stripped, ripped, braided, one end secured to the bed post and the other end thrown out the open window.

“Marcus,” Anita shouts out. “He’s done it again. He’s gone. And he left the window open. The floor is soaked.”

“The Chevelle’s still here,” Lutrelle replies.

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“Check the barn,” says Anita.

She’s right. Paint Creek, Perry’s trusty steed, is gone. Ricky had saddled up and rode before dawn.

 

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“All right. Let’s turn on the TV,” says Marcus.

“Fox?” asks Anita.

“Try CNN,” says Marcus. “I don’t know why, but my gut says CNN. He must have ridden to Houston.”

 

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Anita flips on he cable. She and Marcus sit themselves on the love seat, coffee in hand.

And, sure enough, there he is.

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Marcus was right. CNN.

He’s talking up Trump.

And talking down the Gold Star Khan family.

Anita and Marcus slump in their seats.

 

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“Ricky, Ricky, Ricky,” says Anita.

“He looks good though,” says Marcus. “Really good. That’s a long hard ride. Sounds good too.”

“He does look good,” says Anita. “I hope Mr. Trump realizes what he’s got in Ricky.  Oh Ricky.”

From Perry:

Mr. Khan is the one that went out and struck the first blow. And in a campaign, if you’re going to go out and think that you can take a shot at somebody and not have incoming coming back at you, shame on you.

And:

I think the Democrats used him in a way that quite frankly I’m not sure that I approve of. We love our veterans, we love our Gold Star families, but the fact of the matter is Mr. Khan politically used his time on that stage to go after Donald Trump. Why in the world he thought that he was going to get a free ride with that is beyond me. He shouldn’t get a free ride when he’s going to inject himself in the political arena.

Oh my.

History may remember Khizr Khan as the Trump slayer, the man whose convention appearance crystallized the outrage at Trump, and, who, by drawing Trump to respond, ad infinitum, attacking a Gold Star family, undid his already shaky campaign at a crucial juncture.

And, yet, just as the Khan controversy had subsided, here was Rick Perry bringing it up again.

On the face of it, it appeared nonsensical.

https://twitter.com/VoteHillary2016/status/765658044361342976?lang=en

https://twitter.com/imillhiser/status/765646527335436288?lang=en

 

 

 

Whoa Wu, whoa.

That’s the longest-serving governor in Texas history you’re talking about – the guy whose portrait you’ll walk past every day you’re in the Capitol.

 

Photo by Rodolfo Gonzalez.
Photo by Rodolfo Gonzalez.

 

And then yesterday, there was this from the latest Public Policy Polling poll of Texas.

PPP’s new Texas poll finds that Ted Cruz has become unpopular in the state, and he could be in trouble for winning the Republican nomination in 2018. Overall only 39% of voters in the state approve of the job Cruz is doing, to 48% who disapprove. It was already clear from national polling that Donald Trump had come out ahead in his feud at the GOP convention with Cruz, but we find that even in Texas 52% of Republicans now say that they prefer Trump as their nominee this year to only 38% who would go with Cruz.

The skirmish with Trump seems to be contributing to an overall weakening of Cruz’s position with Republicans in the state. Only 50% of GOP voters say they’d like Cruz to be their Senate candidate again in 2 years, to 43% who say they would prefer someone else. He hovers right around that 50% mark in hypothetical match ups against both Michael McCaul (51/19) and Dan Patrick (49/27). Against Rick Perry though, who shares Cruz’s universal name recognition, Cruz faces a 9 point deficit at 46/37

The PPP poll was conducted Friday through Sunday, completed two days before Perry rode off to Houston to attack the Khans on Trump’s behalf.

But no matter.

The point here is Rick Perry is back in the mix, even if his passions sometimes seems sort of mixed up.

Early in his second run for the White House last year, Perry emerged as the principled – even erudite – anti-Trump.

From a July 18, 2015 story by Sarah Rumpf at Breitbart:

Former Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) says Donald Trump is “unfit to be Commander-in-Chief,” and says the New York billionaire “should immediately withdraw from the race for President.”

Perry’s sharp words come after Trump attacked Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), saying that McCain was not a war hero and was only regarded as such because he had been captured and held as a prisoner of war.

A few days later, Perry – at a time that Ted Cruz was cozying up to Trump – delivered a powerful speech describing Trump as a “cancer on conservatism.”

From MSNBC:

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry called Donald Trump’s politics “toxic” and his 2016 candidacy a “cancer” on conservatism Wednesday. The comments represented the strongest condemnation yet of the 2016 front-runner from any of his Republican rivals.

Perry’s criticisms came during remarks at the Opportunity and Freedom PAC forum in Washington, D.C., and they are the culmination of an increasingly bitter and personal spat between the two candidates.

“He is without substance when one scratches below the surface. He offers a barking carnival act that can be best described as Trumpism: A toxic mix of demagoguery and mean-spiritedness and nonsense that will lead the Republican Party to perdition if pursued,” Perry said. “Let no one be mistaken — Donald Trump’s candidacy is a cancer on conservatism, and it must be clearly diagnosed, excised and discarded.”

After his own candidacy ended, Perry threw himself into campaigning for Cruz with a passion that rivaled anything he had brought to bear on his own behalf.

From Iowa.

And then, the first week in May, three days after Trump thrashed Cruz in Indiana, ending his candidacy, with Cruz lashing out at Trump as a “pathological liar” and “utterly amoral,” here was Perry, not only happily endorsing Trump but advertising his availability to be his running mate.

From my story the day that Perry unveiled his portrait at the Capitol.

Former Gov. Rick Perry’s official portrait was unveiled Friday at the Capitol Rotunda, and no, he is not wearing the brainy hipster glasses he used to rebrand himself going into his second presidential run.

But the actual Perry was wearing them to see the oil painting hung on a day that broke with a “Thank you Rick!” tweet from Donald Trump amid speculation that Perry might be called upon to help make America great again.

The speculation was mostly generated by Perry telling CNN on Thursday that he would say yes if Trump asked him to be his vice presidential running mate — the same Trump whom Perry last July called a know-nothing “cancer on conservatism.”

xxxxxxx

With new glasses and far better preparation, Perry entered the 2016 race offering himself as the successful governor of the largest red state.

His campaign never gained traction, but he offered the most serious critique of Trump in the early portion of the campaign, saying the mogul would lead the Republican Party the way of the Whigs — to the graveyard.

Perry was the first of the large Republican field of presidential candidates to fold his tent, later endorsing and campaigning for Texas’ Sen. Ted Cruz with zeal in Iowa, South Carolina and Texas.

Of his stark warnings about Trump, Perry said Friday, “The rhetoric is in the heat of battle, it’s in the chaos of a presidential bid. If no one doesn’t understand that, then they don’t understand how our process of elections work. We compete, and then we let bygones be bygones.”

“When the choice is Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, that becomes abundantly easy for me to make that decision,” Perry said.

Perry earned the positive tweet from Trump by telling CNN that the New York billionaire “is one of the most talented people who has ever run for the president I have ever seen.”

“He knows how to market, he knows how to brand, and he’s vanquished 16 pretty capable men and women,” Perry said Friday, adding that he believes Trump has what it takes to improve the economy and rebuild the military, and that Trump recognizes “he’s going to need some people who have great experience” to help him govern.

Perry didn’t get the nod, but he has remained an aggressive, if unofficial, Trump surrogate.

At the Republican National Convention, Perry even faulted Cruz for failing to endorse Trump.

https://twitter.com/jakirkhanbd/status/756095608474198021?lang=en

OK. So what gives. Naked ambition? Pure politics?

I would offer a slightly different take.

It’s simply love of the game.

I think it was George W. Bush who loved the John Fogerty song, Centerfield.

But it’s Perry who really embodies the “Put me in coach, I’m ready to play, today” spirit.

And this is why Trump should have chosen Perry as his running mate and not that stiff Pence, who won the nomination with his mealy-mouthed endorsement of Cruz in the Indiana primary in which he praised Trump so much it did Cruz more harm than good.

As campaigners, as politicians, there is simply no comparison between the junior varsity Pence and  the Gold Medal Olympian Perry. Pence is a wan Man from Glad. Perry is the ebullient Man from I’m-Thrilled-to- be-Here.

I have a selfish interest here. Covering the Perry vice presidential campaign would have been the joy of a lifetime.

So, as Trump retools his campaign, I ask, is it too late to dump Pence for Perry?

It looks to me like Trump is already laying the groundwork, this week unveiling a new campaign sticker design that not only strips the “RUMP” from “TRUMP,” but dispenses with Pence entirely.

 

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It’s not too late. The stakes are too high. Trump-Perry 2016!

And Lord knows that Trump needs some more able surrogates, because right now, the polls don’t look too good.

All of them.

 

 

 

Austin’s Sanders supporters are not Berned out

Bernie-signs-11

 

 

Good day Austin:

On Saturday night, about 50 veterans of the Bernie Sanders campaign, some of whom were at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, gathered in a room at Sholz Garten for a “Post-Philly conversation.”

post-philly-11

 

On Sunday, the campaign finally closed down its little Austin volunteer field office on East 6th Street.

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So the Sanders campaign is over.

Well, yes.

But the spirits of the Sanders’ folks remain high, and the campaign for the Sanders agenda will continue through a number of different organizations intended to support simpatico candidates at the local level.

White board at Austin HQ
White board at Austin HQ

 

I have not been one who ever underestimated Sanders.

The First Reading I did on Sanders in April 2015, when he visited Austin while he was deciding whether to run for president – Sanders Wows Austin: Watch out Hillary, here comes Bernie – got many times more hits than any First Reading I’ve written. Many times more.

Nothing like a market metric to let you know when a socialist is resonating.

The premise of that First Reading was that Sanders was well set to give Clinton a run for her money.

Bernie Sanders, the Independent senator from Vermont, was in Austin for a couple of days last week, the tail end of a trip that took him to Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Las Vegas, to see if there is the interest out here in America for him to run for president in 2016.

Sanders would be a novel candidate for the Democratic nomination for president because, for starters, he is not a Democrat, though he caucuses with them in the Senate. He is, in fact, the longest serving Independent in congressional history.

Also, he is an avowed socialist, unlike most Democrats, who are only accused socialists.

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Judging by his reception in Austin, Sanders will be running for president. And, for a number of reasons I’ll explain as we go along, I think Sanders could prove a problem for Hillary Clinton, especially in the early going.

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He doesn’t care about any of the gossipy, horse race, process kind of questions that dominate political coverage, and he makes you embarrassed you asked those questions. All he wants to talk about is what he wants to talk about – income inequality and the “grotesque and obscene” concentration of wealth and income in America. Voters – Democratic primary and caucus voters at any rate – will like that and it will keep him from being embroiled in the petty corruptions and distractions of hour-by-hour press coverage.

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He has been doing this oil-on-water, Brooklyn boy of the Green Mountains thing for decades with great success, by virtue, it seems, of changing almost nothing about his politics or his persona. His practice in Vermont does give him an edge in rural, small-town and working class Iowa and New Hampshire.

His being an Independent gives him the option of being as anti-Washington as Ted Cruz, but from the left, and his being an out socialist will comfort to the activist left that he won’t wilt on those commitments either in a general election or if he were elected.

And his not being Elizabeth Warren means he will generate less upfront excitement and attention and journalistic nit-picking, which is all good for sneaking up on Clinton.

 

 

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In Philadelphia, I did a  First Reading on Julie Ann Nitsch, a field organizer for the Sanders campaign in Austin and a Sanders delegate, who was feeling pretty alienated from the Democratic Party in Philly.

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Nitsch returned from Philadelphia, binge-watched the CW telenovela Jane the Virginit’s adorable – and attended a day-long seminar put on by Annie’s List, which trains, recruits and funds Democratic women candidates.

“At end the seminar I asked, “How do you know if you’re qualified?” The response: “With all due respect, that’s a very girlie question.”

In other words, cast aside your doubts and run. Nitsch, who was a student and staff at Austin Community College, is now a candidate for ACC trustee.

 

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Here she was Saturday night talking with Cliff Walker,  campaign services and candidate recruitment director. for the Texas Democratic Party, who has made it his mission to bring Sanders supporters into the fold.

 

nitsch

 

Does Nitsch plan to vote for Hillary Clinton?

“I’m going to vote. I can’t not vote.”

For Clinton?

“I believe Donald Trump is going to drop out. I don’t think Hilary Clinton is going to have any problem.”

There is an argument among some Sanders supporters that they only need to vote for Clinton in swing states. Elsewhere, they have the luxury of voting for someone else, like Green Party candidate Jill Stein.

“That’s a mistake,” said Daniel Fetonte, a retired labor organizer for the steel workers, the communications workers and CLEAT, the police officers’ union in Texas, who with his wife, Barbara, are the godfather and godmother of the Sanders campaign in Austin.

He said Sanders supporters need to back the ticket, “because of the program we fought for at the Democratic Convention. If  we walk away we won’t be fighting for that program. Also, it’s going to be a wave election so while we might not win the state we’ll pull in a whole lot of state representatives and state senators and that will help protect the state employees union, the teachers’ union.”

“To vote for a purer candidate who might be better on some issues is a serious mistake,” Fetonte said. “We have tremendous standing in the Democratic Party and we should work with the coordinated campaign. That means voting for an imperfect candidate for president.”

He thinks most Sanders supporters will vote for Clinton.

“If you want to vote for perfection, go live on a commune.”

voteyourconscience
Sign in Lower Manhattan

 

The Sanders campaign also helped grow the socialist movement in Texas. Fetonte said there are now 266 members of the Democratic Socialists of America in Austin and almost 800 statewide. He said that 34 of the 75 Sanders delegates from Texas were DSA members.

“A lot of people are not scared of democratic socialism because of Bernie,” Fetonte said.

“One of the things about Bernie is he believes this stuff and he is totally honest about it and real ethical,” Fetonte said. “He would always tell us, `don’t attack other people.'”

“He didn’t expect to go as far as he did,” Fetonte said.

Barbare Fetonte said that being a Sanders delegate was the high point of her life.

“To represent Bernie Sanders, I hate that that’s the high point of my life, but right now I feel that it was,” she said.

The convention was an emotional roller coaster.

“I remember Monday feeling, she hasn’t got the nomination yet, what are these guys talking about?”

“And then I remember Monday, at the Bernie caucus, it was a high.”

But then many of the Sanders delegate booed their candidate when he called on them to back Clinton.

She saw the hurt in Sanders.

“I was upset with that. I felt like their mothers. You don’t boo this man.”

But didn’t the boos come out of a place of love for him?

“He didn’t see it that way. I don’t think he was ever able to convey to us what he had to do .”

But, in Barbara Fetonte’s view, the very best thing to come out of the Sanders campaign was Chau Ngo, the campaign’s 33-year-old Austin Regional field director – her vast territory encompassed 57 counties –  who she said brought incredible enthusiasm and ability to the campaign.

“She was the best thing about this campaign,” said Fetonte.

 

fetonte-11
Left to right, Chau Ngo, Daniel Fetonte, Barbara Fetonte, Liliana Mendoza-Pierce, at Sholz Garten

Chau, who grew up in Arlington, came to Austin 15 years ago to study astronomy, chemistry and Spanish at the University of Texas. Now, a divorced mother of two children – 9 and 11 – she remains one class shy of graduating with a degree in history and government.

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Barbara, Cardboard Bernie and Chau

 

“Everything has an end to it,” said Chau, as she finished emptying the tiny field office on East Sixth Sunday.

“If we had just closed it up after the primary it would have had a different feeling because there was just so much energy immediately afterward. And you saw for weeks after the election, about how people still came around wanting to talk about their experiences. We had people go to Ohio, Iowa, New York, California to canvass.

 

chau-mirror-10

 

Many of the volunteers were first-timers.

“I think they come out more knowledgeable overall. They learned a lot in the process. They got curious about something and that curiosity doesn’t stop.”

She thinks most will remain active though, “not necessarily political. It was a way for people to find a place. it was a starting point.”

Will most of the volunteers end up voting for Clinton?

“I don’t know. I would probably say most people who will be voting will end up voting for her.  But there are a sizable number who won’t. But I doubt they would have voted for her anyway. They were here for Bernie, not for the Democratic Party. I think it is a mistake for the party not to engage with those folks as much.”

Will she vote for Clinton?

“I am on the Dump Trump campaign, whatever that means, as long as Trump doesn’t make it to he presidency.”

Ngo is among the founders of Left Up to Us, a local organization of Sanders supporters who will back like-minded candidates, though Ngo is now throwing herself into her new job as an apprentice organizer for the Texas State Employees Association.

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Sanders is rolling out a few different new organizations to channel those energies, and will be launching one of those – Our Revolution – with hour-long national live stream the evening of August 24. Local Sanders supporters are setting up viewing events, including one Nitsch is planning at The Gatsby on East Sixth in Austin.

From a July 15 story by Nicole Guadiano in USA Today:

WASHINGTON — His presidential aspirations behind him, Bernie Sanders is looking ahead to a busy future in which he continues to focus on nothing less than transforming the Democratic Party and the country.

In an exclusive interview with USA TODAY, the Vermont senator detailed plans to launch educational and political organizations within the next few weeks to keep his progressive movement alive. The Sanders Institute will help raise awareness of “enormous crises” facing Americans. The Our Revolution political organization will help recruit, train and fund progressive candidates’ campaigns. And a third political organization may play a more direct role in campaign advertising.

Sanders plans to support at least 100 candidates running for a wide range of public offices — from local school boards to Congress — at least through the 2016 elections. And he’ll continue to raise funds for candidates while campaigning for them all over the country. He said he probably will campaign for Tim Canova, a progressive primary challenger to Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, who chairs the Democratic National Committee.

“If we are successful, what it will mean is that the progressive message and the issues that I campaigned on will be increasingly spread throughout this country,” Sanders said. “The goal here is to do what I think the Democratic establishment has not been very effective in doing. And that is at the grass-roots level, encourage people to get involved, give them the tools they need to win, help them financially.”

Meanwhile, Jacob Limon, who was state director of the Sanders campaign in Texas, is launching Revolution Texas.

Some Sanders supporters, including Nitsch, are also involved in another new organization, Brand New Congress.

Here is its plan and here are some of the people involved.

And here is a very positive appraisal of it from D.D. Guttenplan in the Nation.

Nashville

“The Republicans I talk to don’t feel any more represented by their party than the Sanders Democrats,” says Corbin Trent. It’s a steamy night a few weeks after the California primary, in a hall belonging to Local 737 of the United Auto Workers. Bernie Sanders hasn’t yet endorsed Hillary Clinton, but even his most die-hard supporters know he isn’t going to be president. Trent, the founder of Tennessee for Bernie, is talking about the widening gap between Americans and the people who are supposed to represent us in Washington.

 “We have a Congress made up mostly of millionaires who spend all their time talking to each other,” he says. “Our country is becoming an oligarchy.”When Trent finishes, Zack Exley stands up. The people in the room are all Bernie volunteers, and Exley, a senior advisor to the Sanders campaign, begins by acknowledging their grief—and their frustration with the Vermont-based national campaign. “I was one of those people up in Burlington, and I want you to know you guys did 10 times what was required to win. In a whole bunch of ways, we let you down.”

Exley and Trent are a formidable double act. As the inventors of the “Bernie barnstorm”—a concentrated training session designed to turn green volunteers into the disciplined organizers who went on to build the biggest grassroots electoral movement this country has ever seen—they’ve been on the road since September. Exley, a tall, lean man with spiky silver hair and geeky glasses that make him look more like a film director than a veteran political operator, worked on Howard Dean’s pioneering campaign and then for MoveOn.org. A brilliant online organizer, he was chief revenue officer for the Wikimedia Foundation before joining the Sanders campaign—whose success in raising money from small donors proved that relying on corporate funding is a choice, not a necessity.

Trent is younger and more solid; with his calm good humor, he’d be an asset in a bar fight. He also seems less self-conscious—at least here in his home state, where his familiar accent and easy manner soften the radicalism of his message. While both Trent and Exley share their audience’s acute frustration with the outcome of a campaign that came tantalizingly close to victory, they’re in Nashville not to mourn, but to organize.

Their pitch is simple: Even if Sanders had won the nomination, and then the election, his ability to effect change—to bring about the political revolution—would have been severely limited by a dysfunctional Congress in thrall to corporate interests. So why not harness the energy, enthusiasm, national organization, and fund-raising muscle of the Sanders volunteers to elect a brand-new Congress—all at once, in 2018—committed to the same platform of greater economic equality, climate justice, civil rights, criminal-justice reform, and fair trade? Why not elect a Congress that not only looks like us—more women, more people of color—but that will actually work for us instead of for lobbyists and special interests?

This was the start of the Brand New Congress (BNC) campaign. “It sounds like a crazy idea,” admits Exley—and if anyone else were behind it, I’d probably agree. But in state after state, wherever I found Sanders volunteers phone-banking, canvassing, or holding Bernie Fest events to recruit their neighbors, when I asked how they managed to do so much with so little direction from the national campaign, the answer was always the same: “This guy Zack Exley came down for a couple of days…”

Wendy Sejour, a veteran of Florida progressive politics who got scores of volunteers onto the streets of Miami—right in Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s backyard—tells me: “We put out the word four to five days in advance. Found a local union hall. A hundred people showed up. Basically it’s just Corbin and Zack. They talked about what the campaign was doing, and how they wanted us to fit in.” With the national campaign focused on the four early states, the rest of the country was left to Exley and Trent’s “distributed organizing.” And while the national office can claim credit for Sanders’s stunning victory in New Hampshire, it lost Iowa, Nevada, and South Carolina. Meanwhile, the volunteers went on to win another 22 primaries. Sejour has already signed on to BNC.

So when Exley says “I think we can do better than 40, 50 seats. I think we can pick up a couple of hundred seats,” I’m inclined to take him seriously. Because of what he’s already accomplished. And because of the numbers.

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I am dubious, for reasons outlined by Ed Kilgore at New York Magazine, and I am curious about Sanders’ take on something that seems way more audacious and unlikely is succeed than his own campaign was.

From a great distance, the news that volunteers associated with Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign are turning their attentions to the herculean task of organizing progressives for midterm elections would seem to be exciting news for all Democrats. Without question, the close alignment of the two parties with groups of voters who do (older white people) and don’t (younger and minority people) participate in non-presidential elections has been a big part — along with the normal backlash against the party controlling the White House — of the massive Republican gains of 2010 and 2014. The prospect of heightened midterm turnout from under-30 voters alone could be a big and important deal for the Donkey Party. 

But the closer you get to the Sandernistas’ Brand New Congress initiative — the new project by recently laid-off Bernie staffers to create a revolution in Congress beginning with the 2018 elections — the less it looks like the instrument for a difficult but achievable task and the more it looks like the product of a very strange set of beliefs about American politics. It’s not focused on boosting progressive turnout in general elections, but on recruiting and running candidates in Republican as well as Democratic primaries who meet a rigid set of policy litmus tests. The idea is very explicitly that people alive with the Bern can literally elect a “brand-new Congress” in one election cycle to turn public policy 180 degrees. Or so says key organizer Zack Exley:

We want a supermajority in Congress that is fighting for jobs, criminal justice reform and the environment,” Exley said. “Most Americans actually want that, and I think we get it by running Dems in blue areas, Republicans in deep red areas, and by running independents wherever we didn’t defeat incumbents.”

Republicans, too?

Corbin Trent, another former Sanders staffer, said bringing Republicans on board is “the key to it being a successful idea” and there’s enough overlap between Sanders’ platform and tea party conservatives to make the PAC’s goals feasible.

Reality television star Donald Trump’s current status as the Republican front-runner demonstrates that GOP voters are eager for candidates who, like Trump, criticize the corrupting influence of money in politics and the impact of free trade deals on American workers, Trent said.

This will allow Republicans to say ‘Yeah, I’m a Republican, but I believe climate change is real and I don’t believe all Muslims are terrorists,” he said. “It will allow people to think differently in the Republican Party if they want to pull away from the hate-based ideology.”

Yes, that was what I feared: The discredited notion that lefties and the tea party can make common cause in something other than hating on the Clintons and Barack Obama is back with a vengeance. And worse yet, Donald Trump — Donald Trump — is being touted as an example of a Republican capable of progressive impulses because he shares the old right-wing mercantilist hostility to free trade and has enough money to scorn lobbyists. Does your average Trump supporter really “believe climate change is real” and disbelieve that “all Muslims are terrorists”? Do Obamacare-hating tea-partiers secretly favor single-payer health care? Do the people in tricorn hats who favor elimination of labor unions deep down want a national $15-an-hour minimum wage? And do the very activists who brought the Citizens United case and think it’s central to the preservation of the First Amendment actually want to overturn it?

It’s this last delusion that’s the most remarkable. If there is any one belief held most vociferously by tea-party activists, it’s that anything vaguely approaching campaign-finance reform is a socialist, perhaps even a satanic, conspiracy. These are the people who don’t think donors to their political activities should be disclosed because Lois Lerner will use that information to launch income-tax audits and persecute Christians. The tea folk are much closer to the Koch brothers in their basic attitudes toward politics than they are to conventional Republicans. 

But there persists a sort of “tea envy” in progressive circles. Here’s Salon staff writer Sean Illing in a piece celebrating Brand New Congress:

Real change in this country will require a sustained national mobilization, what I’ve called a counter-Tea Party movement. While their agenda was nihilistic and obstructionist, the Tea Party was a massive success by any measure. And they succeeded because they systematically altered the Congressional landscape.

Well, you could say that, or you could say the tea party’s excesses cost Republicans control of the Senate in 2012, and produced an environment that’s made Donald Trump and Ted Cruz the GOP’s only two options for this year’s presidential nomination. Indeed, you can probably thank the tea party for the likelihood of a very good Democratic general election this November. 

But that will again produce excellent conditions for another Republican-dominated midterm in 2018. It sure would make sense for progressives to  focus on how to minimize the damage in the next midterm and begin to change adverse long-term turnout patterns. Expending time, money, and energy on scouring the earth looking for Republican primary candidates willing to run on a democratic-socialist agenda will not be helpful.

berniemoney

What might have been

Of course, per the New England poet, John Greenleaf Whittier, “Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, ‘It might have been.” And, it is now painfully obvious that the dream team ticket for the Democrats this year was Bernie and Michelle.

Just look at the numbers.

Screen Shot 2016-08-14 at 10.16.13 PM

Seriously.

The personal chemistry would be fantastic – cranky old Jewish guy and ebullient young black woman.

She clearly gave the best speech at a convention of some very good speeches.

And for every argument against putting the First Lady on the national ticket, there is an effective rebuttal crafted by the Clintons.

In 1992, Bill Clinton said if you elected him you would “get two for the price of one.” The two he was talking about were the governor and first lady of Arkansas. Big deal. With Michelle you’d be getting the former president and first lady of the United States.

But, of course, Clinton has since padded her resume with that stint in the Senate and service as secretary of state. But all anyone remembers about her Senate career was her voting for the Iraq War and some Wall Street entanglements, and all anyone knows about her tenure as secretary of state is Benghazi and her private email server.

If Sanders had just an inch more political savvy, after the last primary he would have met with the Obamas, offered Michelle the vice presidency, and pried away a sizable number of super delegates, including much of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Could the socialist and the first lady have won? Running against Trump, could they lose?

And instead of the Obamas having to wreak havoc on the Kalorama neighborhood where they are moving when they leave the White House so Sasha can finish high school in D.C., the Obamas could simply have moved into BFF Joe Biden’s place at the Vice President’s residence at the Naval Observatory.

Oh well.

crazy-bernieJPG

Kayfabe companions? On Hillary Clinton’s `He may still beat me, Jonathan.’

Good morning Austin:

Following the Republican National Convention in Cleveland and the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, I spent a week and a day off from work in New York, from whence I originally came, visiting with friends and family, and immersing myself once again in the home state of our next president, assuming this election does not take an even stranger turn.

I worried all week about that stranger turn, as it appeared that Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy, sanctified in Cleveland only two weeks earlier, might not last the week.

From Peggy Noonan, writing in the Wall Street Journal, under the headline, The Week They Decided Donald Trump was Crazy.

I think this week marked a certain coming to terms with where the election is going. Politics is about trends and tendencies. The trends for Donald Trump are not good, and he tends not to change.

All the damage done to him this week was self-inflicted. The arrows he’s taken are arrows he shot. We have in seven days witnessed his undignified and ungrateful reaction to a Gold Star family; the odd moment with the crying baby; the one-on-one interviews, which are starting to look like something he does in the grip of a compulsion, in which Mr. Trump expresses himself thoughtlessly, carelessly, on such issues as Russia, Ukraine and sexual harassment; the relitigating of his vulgar Megyn Kelly comments from a year ago; and, as his fortunes fell, his statement that he “would not be surprised” if the November election were “rigged.” Subject to an unprecedented assault by a sitting president who called him intellectually and characterologically unfit for the presidency, Mr Trump fired back—at Paul Ryan and John McCain.

 

If it is rigged, it would appear to have been rigged by Trump to benefit Clinton. Unless maybe this is Manchurian Candidate complicated and Clinton has plotted with her ostensible enemy Putin to set up Trump.

Or maybe everyone is in on it except Mike Pence – who, by the end of the campaign will be signaling the American people his despair with the eye-blinking-Morse-code expertise of former POW Jeremiah Denton.

And Tim Kaine, who may already be signaling something with his audaciously independent eyebrow.

More from Noonan

The mad scatterbrained-ness of it was captured in a Washington Post interview with Philip Rucker in which five times by my count—again, the compulsion—Mr. Trump departed the meat of the interview to turn his head and stare at the television. On seeing himself on the screen: “Lot of energy. We got a lot of energy.” Minutes later: “Look at this. It’s all Trump all day long. That’s why their ratings are through the roof.” He’s all about screens, like a toddler hooked on iPad.

Mr. Trump spent all his time doing these things instead of doing his job: making the case for his policies, expanding on his stands, and taking the battle to Hillary Clinton.

By the middle of the week the Republican National Committee was reported to be frustrated, party leaders alarmed, donors enraged. There was talk of an “intervention.”

Here is a truth of life. When you act as if you’re insane, people are liable to think you’re insane. That’s what happened this week. People started to become convinced he was nuts, a total flake.

I looked for signs in New York.

A week ago Monday, driving south toward New York City from the Catskills on the Taconic State Parkway, I passed a sign for Donald J. Trump State Park.

That was intriguing. Perhaps it was here that money grew on trees.

I got off the road. But I couldn’t find it.

W1siZiIsInVwbG9hZHMvcGxhY2VfaW1hZ2VzL2RlM2U4OTQ0NGYyNTMxYzcyOF9UcnVtcFN0YXRlUGFyazAwMS5qcGciXSxbInAiLCJ0aHVtYiIsIngzOTBcdTAwM2UiXSxbInAiLCJjb252ZXJ0IiwiLXF1YWxpdHkgOTEgLWF1dG8tb3JpZW50Il1d

 

From Atlas Obscura:

Donald J. Trump State Park is covered in weeds, wild brush, graffiti-covered abandoned homes and is closed to the public. Once Trump’s “gift” to New York, now he wants it back.

Donald J. Trump State Park was created as a result of Trump’s failed attempt to build a golf course in upstate New York. Trump purchased the 436 acres of land in the 1990s for around $2 million, initially intending to develop it into a private golf course. Unfortunately his plans for the land were repeatedly foiled by the meddling of the surrounding towns (and their pesky dogs too) who weren’t so keen on the plan. It didn’t help that the golf course would have been an environmental disaster for the area.

Unable to turn the land into a recreational get away for other Trumpian types, he finally gave the land to New York state as a “gift”, with the intention of turning it into a park. Or with the intention that someone would. Or something. Trump seemed too busy cashing in on the taxes breaks he received from the donation of land, which he conveniently valued at $100 million, to care. Unfortunately, wanting a thing to be, and making it so are two different things entirely, and even though Trump’s donation was generous, there was very little money to maintain it.

The park was given an operating budget of a whopping $2,500 a year, and a maintenance crew, who already worked at nearby Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park, was asked to peel off some time to care for Trump’s “gift.” Surprising exactly no one, given its anemic resources, the park closed after just four years in operation, locking its gates in 2010.

Not taking kindly to his generosity being left to rot, Trump threatened to take the land back, like a spoiled child. But Papa New York wouldn’t give it back, so the park remains, closed and overgrown.

Signs on the nearby highway emblazoned with Donald Trump’s names till lead drivers to the closed park. Should you actually try and find out what is inside of Donald J. Trump park you will only find an empty, unloved ruin with a famous name. 

An empty unloved ruin with a famous name.

Not good sign.

An hour later, I found myself in New York City, driving along the Donald J. Trump Adopt-A-Highway on the Henry Hudson Parkway.

trump-highway

 

Eric March at Upworthy took photos of all the trash he found along Trump’s adopted highway.

Trump seemed to be doing well as an impulse purchase by the register at the Strand Bookstore.

 

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But the real revelation came when I visited an old friend who had bought her daughter a talking Trump doll for her birthday some seven years ago.

 

trumpdoll

It was in mint condition and on message.

Here are the things the Trump doll said:

  • Stay focused.
  • Remember the buck starts here.
  • I should fire myself just for having you around.
  • This one’s easy for me. You’re fired.
  • That was a tough one.
  • Ideas are welcome but make sure you have the right ones.
  • Think big and live large.
  • In my businesses you’ve got to be tough. You under-performed and you let people walk all over you. As a result, I have to tell you, you’re fired.
  • You really think you’re a good leader. I don’t.
  • Brand yourself and toot your own horn.
  • Try to avoid shaking hands whenever possible.
  • Have an ego. There’s nothing wrong with ego.
  •  Never give up. Under any circumstances. Never give up.
  •  Always enjoy what you’re doing.
  • I have no choice but to tell you, you’re fired.
  •  Go with your gut instinct.
  •  Always maintain your momentum.
  •  I’ve made some mistakes in my time but you really screwed up. When confronted with your mistakes you made one excuse after another. I hate excuses. You’re fired.

Then he starts over again.

  • Stay focused.
  • The buck starts here.

Not bad.

And only a little odd.

Corey Lewandowski, who has gone from fired Trump campaign manager to pro-Trump commentator on CNN, appears to have taken the admonition about avoiding handshakes to its logical extreme.

The full video is even more revealing of Lewandowski as a kind of Trump mood ring.

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It is hard to look at this without recalling sunnier days for Trump when he boasted, “I Could Stand In the Middle Of Fifth Avenue And Shoot Somebody And I Wouldn’t Lose Any Voters”.

I worry that the public has so soured on Trump that if he shot someone on Fifth Avenue, he might actually get arrested.

By Saturday, there was so little joy in Trumpville that George P. Bush administered the coupe de grace – endorsing Trump as an act of pity that could not be lost on Trump.

Trump was now such a sure loser that the last best hope for the Bush line could back Trump without any fear that he would actually be elected.

But then, just when all hope seemed lost, a lone voice was raised Sunday for Trump from a most unlikely source.

He may still beat me, Jonathan

That was the startling subject line on the fundraising email I received from Hillary Clinton.

Jonathan —

This week, we learned that Donald Trump and the Republicans raised more than $82 million in the month of July.

This is the same man who mocked a disabled reporter and has called women “fat pigs.” The same man who took the stage at the Republican National Convention and told the world that his vision is to build a wall between the United States and Mexico, deport millions of immigrants, and repeal the Affordable Care Act, leaving countless Americans without health care.

He’s unqualified and unfit to lead our country — but the unfortunate reality we must confront is that he still might be able to win if he spends enough to convince voters otherwise.

This team has what it takes to defeat him — I know that. But I need to know you’re with me right now. Will you chip in $3 or more to help make sure we win in November and build a future for our country that we can be proud of?

If you’ve saved your payment information, your donation will go through immediately.

QUICK DONATE: $3

QUICK DONATE: $10

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QUICK DONATE: $50

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Or donate another amount:

https://my.democrats.org/Stronger-Together

I have long speculated that Donald Trump may be the kayfabe candidate for president.

From Wikipedia:

In professional wrestling, kayfabe /ˈkeɪfeɪb/ is the portrayal of staged events within the industry as “real” or “true,” specifically the portrayal of competition, rivalries, and relationships between participants as being genuine and not of a staged or pre-determined nature of any kind.

But, now it appears that Hillary Clinton is in on the kayfabe, propping Trump up, keeping him in the ring, because, well, she needs him.

From Noonan:

His supporters hope it will all turn around in the debates: He’ll wipe the floor with her; for the first time she’ll be toe-to-toe with someone who speaks truth to power. But why do they assume this? Are they watching Mrs. Clinton? She doesn’t look very afraid of him. “No, Donald, you don’t,” she purred in her acceptance speech. In debate she’ll calmly try to swat him away, cock her head, look at the moderator, smile. She’ll be watching old videos of Reagan-Carter in 1980: “There you go again.”

She is aware no one believes she’s honest and trustworthy. If there’s one thing Mrs. Clinton knows it’s how to read a poll. She has accepted that people understand her. Her debate approach will be this: In spite of what will no doubt be some uncomfortable moments, she will, in comparison with him, seem sturdy and grounded—normal. That, this week, could be her bumper sticker: “Hillary: Way Less Abnormal.”

It must be said that all this is so strange on so many levels.

Donald Trump is said to be in love with the idea of success, dividing the world between winners and losers. But he just won big and couldn’t take yes for an answer.

He got it all, was the unique outsider who shocked the entire political class with his rise. He should be the happiest man in the world, not besieged and full of complaint. All he had to do was calm down, build bridges, reach out, reassure, be gracious. In fairness, he could not unite the party. That isn’t possible now—it is a divided party, which is why it had 17 candidates. Mr. Trump won with just less than half the vote, an achievement in a field that big, but also while representing policies that the formal leadership of the party in Washington finds anathema. He was the candidate who would control illegal immigration, who wouldn’t cut entitlements, who opposes an interventionist foreign policy, who thinks our major trade deals have not benefited Americans on the ground. And he won, big time.

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I end with a new word, at least new to me. A friend called it to my attention. It speaks of the moment we’re in. It is “kakistocracy,” from the Greek. It means government by the worst persons, by the least qualified or most unprincipled. We’re on our way there, aren’t we? We’re going to have to make our way through it together.

OK. But, for all the strangeness of Trump, it was that subject line from Hillary Clinton, barely a week after becoming the first women to be a major party nominee for president, that struck the strangest note of all.

He may still beat me, Jonathan.

Hillary Clinton is not the first well-known American woman to run for president.

There was Victoria Woodhull, the candidate of the Equal Rights Party in 1872. And Shirley Chisholm, who sought the Democratic Party nomination in 1972.

And, in between, there was Gracie Allen, who ran as the candidate of the Surprise Party in 1940.

Here is an excerpt from a Gracie Allen “press conference.”

Reporter: Miss Allen, my senior editor wants to know what you opinion is on capitalism versus the little man.

Gracie: I don’t know…I never go to wrestling matches.

Reporter: Are you in favor of monopolies?

Gracie: Oh, I don’t play Monopoly.  I like Mahjong better.

Reporter: Miss Allen, what do you think of the Neutrality Bill.

Gracie: Well if we owe it, let’s pay it.

George: Gracie, why don’t you call this off?  You know you know nothing about it.  You haven’t said one thing that’s right.

Gracie: Well, I’d rather be president than right.

As far as I know, no reporter ever asked FDR, “Have you stopped beating Gracie Allen?”