Politics

Politics is the process of making decisions that apply to members of a group. It refers to achieving and exercising positions of governance—organized control over a human community, particularly a state. In modern nation states, people have formed political parties to represent their ideas. They agree to take the same position on many issues, and agree to support the same changes to law and the same leaders. An election is usually a competition between different parties.
The latest news and discussion about what's happening in the world.
  • Trump, in 2020 campaign mode, calls Democrats 'radical'
    Associated Press

    Trump, in 2020 campaign mode, calls Democrats 'radical'

    President Donald Trump jabbed at the press and poked the political establishment he ran against in 2016 as he kicked off his reelection campaign with a grievance-filled rally that focused more on settling scores than laying out his agenda for a possible second term. Addressing a crowd of thousands at Orlando's Amway Center on Tuesday night, Trump complained he was "under assault from the very first day" of his presidency by a "fake news media" and an "illegal witch hunt" that had tried to keep him and his supporters down. Trump made only passing mention of any of the Democrats running to replace him even as he tossed out "radical" and "unhinged" to describe the rival party.

  • Trump floats new slogan 'Keep America Great' as he launches 2020 bid
    USA TODAY

    Trump floats new slogan 'Keep America Great' as he launches 2020 bid

    President Donald Trump returned to the key battleground state of Florida on Tuesday to ask voters to give him another four years in office.

  • Jilted by Trump, Xi and Kim Seek Upper Hand Before G-20 Summit
    Bloomberg

    Jilted by Trump, Xi and Kim Seek Upper Hand Before G-20 Summit

    (Bloomberg) -- Both China’s Xi Jinping and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un have suffered from President Donald Trump’s penchant for walking away from talks. Now, he’ll have to worry about what they tell each other behind closed doors.Xi’s state visit to Pyongyang on Thursday -- the first such visit by a Chinese president in 14 years -- will showcase a renewed camaraderie between two neighbors that battled the U.S. together in the Korean War. The trip also sends Trump a pointed message about China’s broader influence ahead of potentially pivotal trade talks between American president and Xi on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Osaka, Japan.For Kim, it’s another chance to demonstrate he’s got options beyond a third meeting with Trump, after the second ended in collapse in February. The North Korean leader may find a more receptive audience for complaints about U.S. after Trump rejected China’s latest trade offer last month.“Both leaders will likely seek to put pressure on Washington to conduct nuclear diplomacy with North Korea largely on North Korea’s terms -- through a phased, step-by-step approach to denuclearization and including partial sanctions relief,” said Mintaro Oba, a former U.S. diplomat who worked on Korean Peninsula issues. “If anything, this visit will underscore the weakening regional support for the U.S. pressure campaign.”China’s LeverageThe summit comes at dramatic point in the strategic dance between the three leaders -- with U.S. ties with both China and North Korea on the downswing. Until his recent breakdowns with Xi and Kim, Trump had managed to keep relations with either one or the other on the rise.The problem for Trump is that China -- as North Korea’s dominant trading partner and sole security ally -- is key to maintaining the economic isolation the U.S. is relying on to force Kim back to the negotiating table. While China has repeatedly affirmed its commitment to the international sanctions regime it helped erect against North Korea, the country has shown its limits amid the trade showdown with Trump.On Tuesday, China joined Russia in blocking the UN Security Council committee that monitors North Korea sanctions from declaring that the country exceeded its annual import cap on refined petroleum products, the Associated Press said, citing two diplomats. The move came after the U.S. and its allies accused North Korea of using illicit ship-to-ship transfers to bring in more oil, Bloomberg News reported, citing a U.S. letter to the panel.In a commentary published Wednesday in North Korea’s ruling party newspaper, Xi said he wished to “open a new chapter” in ties. He told Kim, whom he repeatedly referred to as “Comrade Kim Jong Un,” that China supported North Korea’s “right direction for politically solving the issue on the Korean Peninsula.”Xi’s visit -- representing his fifth meeting with Kim -- is part of series of moves to repair ties strained by Kim’s weapons tests and other efforts to assert his independence after taking power in late 2011. The first meeting came in the early days of the U.S.-China trade dispute last year, when Xi told Kim in Beijing that he had made a “strategic choice” to have a friendlier relationship.Missile Tests“It is in China’s interest to comply with UN sanctions without necessarily enforcing them, mainly for two reasons -- so as not to put strain on DPRK-China relations, and to ensure that North Korea survives prolonged sanctions,” said Rachel Minyoung Lee, a Seoul-based senior analyst with NKPro.Trump may have facilitated Xi’s trip to North Korea by playing down Kim’s recent tests of short-range ballistic missiles in an apparent violation of UN sanctions -- approved with China’s vote. During a trip to Japan last month, the U.S. president referred to the missiles tested as “some small weapons,” saying the operation “disturbed some of my people, and others, but not me.”Xi and Kim might discuss ways to convince Trump to drop his demands that North Korea first dismantle its nuclear arsenal before it can receive sanctions relief. China, like Russia, backs a process in which North Korea’s disarmament steps are met by U.S. rewards, arguing that it’s the best way to build trust.‘Over-interpreting’Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang acknowledged during a briefing Wednesday that the country wields “significant” influence in North Korea, but encouraged “all parties” to do more to promote a resolution. Earlier this week, Lu dismissed a link between trade talks and the North Korean visit, saying: “Whether or not this meeting will be used as a marker or leverage, I can only say that people who think this may be over-interpreting.”Still, Xi’s mere presence in Pyongyang -- a place no top Chinese leader has visited since Hu Jintao in 2005 -- may make the point. Trump has previously speculated after meetings between Xi and Kim that China was working to undermine nuclear talks out of spite for their trade disputes.“Xi’s visit will send a message that the strong relations between China and North Korea are critical to tackle the nuclear issue and to maintaining the peace on the peninsula, which the U.S. should not ignore,” said Wang Sheng, a professor of international politics at Jilin University in China.\--With assistance from Peter Martin, April Ma and Lucille Liu.To contact the reporters on this story: Jihye Lee in Seoul at jlee2352@bloomberg.net;Dandan Li in Beijing at dli395@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at bscott66@bloomberg.net, Jon HerskovitzFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Dems get inside Trump inner circle with Hope Hicks interview
    Associated Press

    Dems get inside Trump inner circle with Hope Hicks interview

    The closed-door interview that House lawmakers have with Hope Hicks, a former communications director for President Donald Trump, marks the first time they are hearing from someone linked to his inner circle since the release of special counsel Robert Mueller's report. Obtaining the testimony Wednesday from Hicks, a close and trusted former Trump aide, is a significant victory for Democrats, given that Trump has broadly stonewalled their investigations. The House Judiciary Committee originally subpoenaed Hicks to give public testimony, but agreed to the private interview after negotiations.

  • Could a Revenue-Neutral Carbon Tax Be the First Step to Fight Climate Change?
    National Review

    Could a Revenue-Neutral Carbon Tax Be the First Step to Fight Climate Change?

    When it comes to combating climate change, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal is currently the fashionable solution of the liberal Left. Since its botched rollout in February, anyone with common sense has conceded that the plan’s utopian promises of guaranteed jobs, government-funded health care, and an expanded social safety net give it little chance of producing real legislation. American taxpayers should be relieved; the conservative think tank American Action Forum estimates that it would cost as much as $93 trillion, or roughly 450 percent of the United States’ current GDP, to implement.Such is the unimaginative and irresponsible approach to public policy that has become a mainstay of modern Democratic politics: Any problem, no matter how complex, can be solved if we throw enough money at it.Fortunately, Republicans in Congress have finally woken up to the problems of climate change and are proposing their own solutions. Senator John Cornyn has announced that he’s working to draft bills that would promote research on clean-energy technologies. Likewise, Senator Lamar Alexander has outlined a “New Manhattan Project” to develop cleaner energy through nuclear power, cheaper solar technology, electric vehicles, better batteries, and carbon capture. These are exciting developments for environmentally conscious conservatives, who have long advocated for the GOP to awaken to the dangers of climate change.Additional Republican proposals are in the works, and unlike their spendthrift counterparts on the liberal Left, they take the more responsible and realistic approach of harnessing the power of free markets to influence behavior. Conservatives’ faith in free markets rests on the belief that millions of individuals acting in their own economic self-interest are more efficient (and powerful) at allocating resources to accomplish an objective than bureaucrats in government. And the most targeted and effective free-market policy to incentivize reduced carbon emissions, the primary cause of climate change, is a carbon tax.A carbon tax would drive investment in new technologies and spur innovation both by providing a financial incentive to reduce emissions and by giving markets a steady price signal. A set price per ton for carbon emissions — along with gradual, scheduled increases in the tax rate over time — would establish the market certainty needed to influence long-term decision-making. Investors and businesses could more reliably forecast the payback period and return on investment for clean technologies, projects, and processes. Companies that save on carbon taxes through innovation would soon be able to undercut more carbon-intensive competitors on cost. An intense race to reduce emissions would sweep every corner of the U.S. economy.Carbon taxes also hold the most promise for fostering global cooperation on the issue. If the U.S. simply invests in clean-energy technology to reduce or eliminate reliance on fossil fuels, two things will happen: We will emit less carbon, and the rest of the world will emit more. If we stopped buying fossil fuels, the price of those fuels would fall. China, India, and other developing countries would exploit this cheap-energy bonanza, offsetting our emissions reductions. This “leakage problem” has proven one of the greatest obstacles to forging global climate cooperation.A properly crafted carbon tax would mitigate leakage through “border adjustments” in the form of import tariffs. Carbon-based import tariffs are an essential component of any carbon-tax plan for two reasons. First, tariffs ensure that a carbon tax would not unfairly penalize domestic U.S. industries. Second, the tariffs would be designed to exempt countries with a similar domestic carbon-tax regime. Foreign governments, eager to keep their exports competitive and not minding the extra tax revenue, would be incentivized to enact their own carbon taxes. If America led, the world would follow.Despite the compelling case for a carbon tax, most Republicans still balk at the idea. How could a tax, of all things, promote innovation? But the simple truth is taxes do foster innovation: They encourage tax dodging. The more taxes get enacted, the more intricate and creative the schemes to dodge them become — and the simplest way to dodge a carbon tax is to emit less carbon. In this manner, a carbon tax would spark an explosion of emissions-reducing R&D throughout all sectors and industries.The fight against climate change is a marathon, not a sprint. The policies we craft today must fuel innovation and research for many decades to come. Public investment in clean-energy and carbon-capture technologies is laudable, but it’s not enough on its own to reduce global emissions, because of the “leakage” problem. Carbon taxes have, to be sure, been met with intense political resistance in many places where they’ve been proposed, including the U.S. But they are the most pragmatic solution and — importantly for conservatives — could be designed to be revenue-neutral and thus not result in an expansion of government. If Republicans hope to craft meaningful climate legislation in everyone’s long-term interests, a carbon tax is a necessary first step.

  • National Popular Vote Movement Tries to Win Over Skeptical Conservatives
    National Review

    National Popular Vote Movement Tries to Win Over Skeptical Conservatives

    Last week, Oregon’s Democratic governor, Kate Brown, committed her state to an interstate compact designed to ensure that the national popular vote determines presidential elections. By signing the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC), Brown is aligning herself squarely with fellow Democrats who believe that a plurality of voters nationwide should elect the president.Their efforts, while long predating President Trump’s election, gained new urgency in its wake. The Electoral College, many Democrats claimed, subverted the will of the electorate in 2016. After all, 3.5 million more votes were cast for Hillary Clinton than for Trump, yet she was forced to retire to Chappaqua while he moved into the White House.Trump’s victory, and George W. Bush’s similar triumph over Al Gore in 2000, provide ample pretext for Democrats to redouble their efforts on behalf of the NPVIC. But if they are to have any success, they will have to win over conservatives wary of eliminating the Electoral College, either out of political self-interest or principle. Proponents of the NPVIC believe they are uniquely well-suited to meet this challenge because unlike, say, the constitutional amendment proposed by Senator Elizabeth Warren, it preserves the College."This is the constitutionally conservative way to ensure that every voter in every state is politically relevant in every presidential election while preserving the Electoral College," the movement’s largest benefactor, John Koza, said in a statement earlier this month after the Oregon House signed on to the NPVIC. The compact is designed to go into effect once states representing more than 270 electoral votes have signed on, and things are moving quickly: Oregon is the third state to join this year, bringing the total committed number of electoral votes to 196.While the NPVIC’s advocates will certainly tailor their message to conservatives when the need arises, the Institute for Research on Presidential Elections (IRPE), the movement’s nonprofit educational arm, stresses in all of its communications that the issue is non-partisan; it’s about fairness, they claim.“We don’t get too bogged down on partisan frames at the Institute for Research on Presidential Elections. Those winds have changed three times in the last decade,” IRPE chairman Patrick Rosensteil tells National Review. "Instead, we focus on educating interested parties on the shortcomings of the current system and the merits of the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact and/or other potential reforms.”His argument is straightforward: Voters in Iowa, regardless of political affiliation, should not have more political power than their counterparts in New York or California. While they may agree in principle, self-interested Republicans’ usual response is fear that under the NPVIC, mostly Democratic voters in metropolitan areas will replace battleground-state voters as the most politically influential group in presidential elections. Presidential campaigns will inevitably restrict their appeals, and appearances, to highly populous regions, and this will pervert public policy in much the same way that sops to Iowans, such as ethanol subsidies, currently do.Not so, claim the compact’s proponents, who predict that when every vote counts in every election, presidential candidates will campaign everywhere that voters live. While it is impossible to say with any certainty whether this claim would be born out if the compact were passed, the obvious objection is that of limited resources. At present, presidential campaigns have the ability to traverse battleground states because there are, more or less, only twelve such states. Will they spend precious time and resources traveling to North Dakota to appeal to its roughly 700,000 residents when they could flatter more than 2 million potential voters by spending the afternoon in Brooklyn instead?Advocates of the Compact argue that, since only roughly 15 percent of Americans live in the 50 largest cities, candidates will travel to wherever the other 82 percent live. But the vast majority of that 82 percent live in the suburbs of those major cities and, as a result, can be reached through advertising in the same major media markets as city residents. In 2018, 46 million Americans lived in rural counties while 147 million lived in suburbs or small metros — and that number is only going to continue increasing in the coming years, according to the Pew Research Center.Asked about the claim that the national popular vote would lead to a geographically diverse campaign strategy, Republican strategist Luke Thompson suggests that campaigns would concentrate on the suburbs of major cities, where the most persuadable voters reside. “In a national popular vote, you'll make an effort to mobilize your base voters EVERYWHERE, true. But you're still going to concentrate your campaign firepower — television spending and candidate appearances — where the most persuadable voters are,” Thompson says. “That means . . . concentrating on the largest clusters of high- and mid-propensity persuadable voters. Where are those voters? The suburbs of major American cities — New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Miami, Chicago. . . .”While the precise consequences of the NPVIC’s implementation remain unknowable, its proponents must deal with the perception problem created by its main funding sources as they try to recruit more state legislatures to the cause. The movement is primarily funded by two wealthy donors: Koza, a former Democratic state legislator who serves as the group’s chairman and continues to donate each year; and Tom Golisano, a pro-life political independent who made a one-time $10 million donation. While the effort primarily relies on a group of wealthy individuals unknown to the public, its institutional donor base comprises only liberal groups, according to an investigation by The Daily Signal and the Capital Research Center.In addition to the perception that its donors are exclusively liberal, the movement now has to contend with the fact that, among prominent national political figures, only Democrats are calling for a national popular vote. In addressing this concern, supporters of the compact will inevitably return to the fact that the Electoral College would still exist under the compact, whose member states can abandon it anytime they see fit. (This is, of course, another potential vulnerability: Capricious state legislatures may leave the compact after watching their state’s electors bring the opposing party to power one too many times.) Saul Anuzis, spokesman for the IRPE, sees this as a strength. Unlike a constitutional amendment, the compact can be dissolved if it has, in Anuzis’s words, “unintended consequences.”But that, of course, is not an argument for joining the NPVIC; it’s just an argument against dissolving the Electoral College entirely.

  • The California Housing Crisis and the Problem with Local Control
    National Review

    The California Housing Crisis and the Problem with Local Control

    Conservatives have long been advocates of local control over policy. They often use the word “subsidiarity,” a concept with origins in Catholic social thought and a simple premise: that problems are best solved by those closest to them.In the United States, this principle is often folded into our tradition of federalism. We conceive of government as acting on three levels: federal, state, and local (cities and towns, mostly). And we consider the smallest of these three tiers to be the best actor when grappling with a specific problem. But what about when problems don’t fit into that neat framework?California is facing just that challenge. Its major cities are caught in an affordability crisis; San Diego, Oakland, San Jose, Los Angeles, and San Francisco are all in the top ten nationally for highest median rents. The city that Nancy Pelosi likes to call “the City of Saint Francis” takes the top spot: The average two-bedroom apartment costs $3,930 a month. One likes to think that St. Francis would be less than pleased.In some ways this is the various cities’ own faults. California cities generally have some of the most restrictive zoning laws and labyrinthine permitting processes in the nation. Additionally, anti-gentrification activists rival college protesters in their use of unhinged rhetoric: Representative Scott Weiner’s bill to “upzone” areas near transit hubs for greater development was called “a 21st century Trail of Tears” by one such group.But a large source of the affordability crisis actually lies outside the purview of the city governments. Cities, after all, are not the only places where people live. California cities, especially in the north, exist within a complex ecosystem of smaller cities, suburbs, and towns. San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose, for example, all lie within the nine counties of the Bay Area. Los Angeles makes up the heart of the sprawling Southland, bounded by Ventura County, Orange County, and the Inland Empire.These suburbs, from the tract-home vastness of Orange County to the idyllic small towns of Marin, are leaving cities to shoulder the housing crunch alone. While the state sets regional housing targets on eight-year cycles, enforcement is incredibly weak, and many municipalities fall far short of reaching their goals.On top of all of this, suburban communities, having lower density to begin with, resist building housing the most. The somewhat impenetrable process by which regions assign housing targets to municipalities tends to leave larger cities holding the rope; small, wealthy suburban communities often have laughably low targets. Beverly Hills, for example, has to add only three units during the current cycle.For all the press that urban NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) voters get, the suburbs are where NIMBYs have really conquered all before them. Towns with high rates of home ownership have seen meteoric rises in home prices since 2008, and homeowners enthusiastically organize to protect their investments. Small-town politicians live in fear of backlash from angry residents who oppose almost all new housing.The situation is not good: Around halfway through the current cycle, the state is only a quarter of the way toward reaching its targets, many of which were set during the recession and fail to take into account the state’s recent boom. According to a report by Beacon Economics, an independent research group, “certain jurisdictions in California will not meet their low-income housing production targets for more than 1,000 years” at the current rate of development.Which is why the governor, Gavin Newsom, is pushing for drastic steps. For several months, he has been floating the idea of withholding gas-tax funds from cities that do not reach their housing targets. “If you’re not hitting your goals, I don’t know why you get the money,” he said.The backlash immediately erupted. Small-city mayors and representatives criticized the governor for heavy-handedness and for imposing a one-size-fits-all policy on the state. Newsom has partially backed down, pushing his proposal to a 2023 date.These are arguments that conservatives traditionally sympathize with. Local control, an aversion to top-down governance, and clearly delineated areas of authority are important goods. And using the gas tax as a cudgel on a seemingly unrelated issue should rightly raise concerns.But local-control advocates ignore a dimension of government that does not fit neatly into standard American thinking: the regional. When smaller cities in regions such as the Bay Area and the Southland do not build, larger cities are left to pick up the slack.Oakland, for example, is actually on track to meet its 2023 housing targets. But farther north in the Bay, wealthy Marin County has permitted only 442 of the 2,298 homes it’s required to build. One city falling short puts pressure on others, and not only in the form of real-estate prices.This is where the gas tax comes in. One of the most pernicious effects of low-density suburbs lying near cities is the massive increase in traffic congestion. Middle- and lower-income workers who have jobs in the cities are forced to take longer commutes, as buying or renting in closer and more affluent commuter towns is impossible. Bay Area and Los Angeles commuters lose 61 hours a year waiting in traffic, time away from their families and their work.So a coherent rationale for using the gas tax as the proverbial stick does exist. And the state is more than willing to approve a carrot: This year’s budget includes $250 million to help localities plan for housing goals, $500 million for infrastructure that supports low-income housing, and $1 billion of tax credits and loans for affordable and mixed-income housing.The frameworks currently in place do allow for regional variation. After all, targets are set by expected population growth and job-creation numbers, and regional groups decide how to assign housing within themselves. But regional associations are voluntary and comparatively weak; they do not effectively balance between city hall and the statehouse. Oakland and San Jose do not have many levers to pull when Marin sets itself against new development.This is likely to persist. In the long term, regional governance structures would be a welcome development for the state, but their near-term prospects are slim. Pro-housing advocates should take the situation as it is and work with what Newsom is offering, which attempts to thread a needle between empowering local governments and bending to the needs of the entire state.Subsidiarity should be honored by conservatives, but not when it results in a few wealthy towns passing off the housing crisis to poorer ones.

  • Trump’s Personality Is His Biggest Re-Election Obstacle
    National Review

    Trump’s Personality Is His Biggest Re-Election Obstacle

    ‘What’s your pitch to the swing voter on the fence?” ABC’s George Stephanopoulos asked President Trump in an interview that aired Sunday.Questions of this sort are gifts to politicians, but interviewers ask them for a couple of reasons. One, they’re civic-minded. Politicians deserve the opportunity to make their cases straightforwardly — and voters deserve to hear them. Second, they save time. If you give your subject a free shot to get the talking points out of the way, you can move on to the more interesting stuff.Trump’s initial answer started off following the standard script. He got four words off that must have had his political advisers cheering: “Safety, security, great economy.”Ideally, this is where Trump should have stopped talking.But the president kept going, boasting that he won 52 percent of the women’s vote in 2016. He didn’t. That was the white women’s vote; he got 41 percent of women overall, according to exit polls. Then, Trump talked about how the economy would help him with minorities.“So,” Stephanopoulos asked, “that’s the pitch?”Trump briefly got back on message. “No, I have no pitch,” he said. “You know what I have? The economy is phenomenal. We’ve rebuilt our military. We’re taking care of our vets. We’re doing the best job that anybody’s done probably as a first-term president.”This was another good place to stop. But he was only getting warmed up: “I have a phony witch hunt, which is just a phony pile of stuff. Mueller comes out. There’s no collusion. And essentially a ruling that no obstruction.”And then Trump was off to the races, fighting with Stephanopoulos about what the Mueller report did or didn’t say. The facts weren’t on Trump’s side, as virtually every news outlet was eager to trumpet.But politically, that’s not the important part. Impeachment is catnip to the mainstream media and Democrats. Whether Trump was “set up” by the deep state and their “dirty” dossier is catnip to Republicans and right-wing media. But it seems a fair bet that the swing voters Stephanopoulos asked about aren’t intoxicated by either topic.And that’s the problem for Trump. When you talk to people who think Trump will be re-elected, they point to conventional rules about how a good economy makes voters want to stay the course. That’s superficially plausible, but it leaves out the single most important fact of the political landscape: Trump’s personality.A good economy doesn’t necessarily speak for itself. Normal presidents stay on message to deny the press the ability to talk about more interesting stuff. The only talking point Trump can be counted on to stick to is himself. Hence, his claim to Stephanopoulos that no one has been treated worse than him.Trump doesn’t want the election to be about the economy, he wants it — and everything else — to be about him. His exchange with Stephanopoulos was an analogue of every Trump rally. He runs through the talking points about the economy or conservative judges as quickly as possible so he can get to the really important topic: Donald Trump.The problem for Trump is that if the central question of the election is him, he will lose because he is not popular.The Trump campaign’s internal polling, which was leaked last week, showed him trailing Joe Biden in several must-win states by wide margins. Brad Parscale, Trump’s campaign manager, said the polls were irrelevant because it was “ancient” data from last March, taken before he was “exonerated” by the Mueller report. But Trump’s post–Mueller-report approval ratings haven’t improved. Trump’s sub–50 percent approval rating has had the least variation of any president since World War II. Most people have made up their minds about him, and most of them don’t like him.The campaign responded by saying it had fresh data showing solid support from “informed voters.” Parscale told ABC News that since March, “We have seen huge swings in the president’s favor across the 17 states we have polled, based on the policies now espoused by the Democrats.”The key words there are “informed voters.” According to the New York Times, the polls Parscale described were “informed ballot” polls that described Democrats in negative ways before asking about support for Trump.The common wisdom among pollsters is that if you’re citing informed-ballot polls, you’re losing. But even taken at face value, the meaning of these polls is that some voters could be persuaded to vote for Trump if they could be convinced they were voting on issues rather than Trump. For that to work, Trump would have to stop acting like Trump and make the message about something other than him. That’s a tall order.© 2019 TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY LLC

  • Kamala Harris’s Dreadful DA Record
    National Review

    Kamala Harris’s Dreadful DA Record

    In 2005, the sharp-elbowed, ambitious district attorney of San Francisco had the opportunity to correct an all-too-common prosecutorial violation of duty that the leading expert on prosecutorial misconduct found “accounts for more miscarriages of justice than any other type of malpractice.” Rather than seize the opportunity, she did nothing. The prosecutor went on to become state attorney general and now represents California in the United States Senate. If she can persuade enough voters to support her in next year’s Democratic presidential primaries, Kamala Harris will contend with President Trump in 2020 for the highest office in the land.To understand Harris’s 2005 moral failure, we must go back to 1963. That year, the United States Supreme Court affirmed the unique constitutional position of criminal defendants. In Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), the Court announced that “the suppression by the prosecution of evidence favorable to an accused upon request violates due process where the evidence is material either to guilt or to punishment, irrespective of the good faith or bad faith of the prosecution.” This is because “society wins not only when the guilty are convicted, but when criminal trials are fair”; accordingly, “our system of the administration of justice suffers when any accused is treated unfairly.”Despite half a century of Brady’s regime, cavalier (and sometimes willful) prosecutors routinely violate its command, resulting in untold numbers of court decisions bemoaning these violations, reversals of criminal convictions, and, at worst, the imprisonment of innocents. In New York, the causal link between Brady violations and “wrongful convictions” compelled the chief judge of the New York Court of Appeals to require criminal trial judges to “issue an order to the prosecutor responsible for the case to timely disclose exculpatory evidence favorable to the accused -- called Brady material.” Indeed, former chief judge Alex Kozinski of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which is headquartered in San Francisco, wrote in a 2013 dissenting opinion from a denial of a rehearing en banc that “there is an epidemic of Brady violations abroad in the land.”While it was laudable of Chief Judge Kozinksi to take judicial notice of systemic prosecutorial misconduct, criminal defense lawyers have long known what Professor Bennett L. Gershman observed in Shakespearean fashion, “Brady, one may correctly conclude, is ‘more honored in the breach than the observance.’”Accordingly, it is deeply troubling that in 2005 District Attorney Harris ignored the recommendation of her own assistant district attorneys that she adopt a “Brady policy” of “disclos[ing] past misconduct by law enforcement in order to help ensure defendants received a fair trial,” as the Wall Street Journal recently reported. Caving to the collective interests of public-sector unions that opposed the policy, Harris “appeared to lose interest” in protecting the individual rights of the accused. She neither ratified nor implemented the proposed reform.Her decision to do nothing came back to haunt Harris in 2010 when, as the Journal explained, “a San Francisco police crime-lab technician was found to be skimming cocaine from evidence for personal use” that resulted in about 1,000 cases being “dismissed or dropped because of tainted drug tests.” San Francisco Superior Court judge Anne-Christine Massullo castigated Harris for failing to “have in place policies and procedures designed to discover and produce exculpatory information” and failing “to produce exculpatory information actually in” the district attorney’s “possession” about the rogue lab tech.Had Harris accepted the pleas of her subordinates to adopt the 2005 Brady policy, this scandal would have almost certainly been avoided. After a judicial reprimand, 1,000 criminal cases terminated, and unfavorable media coverage, Harris finally “scrambled to pull together a Brady policy.”Harris’s tenure as San Francisco’s chief prosecutor reveals much about her character and judgment.In 1940, United States attorney general Robert Jackson told a gathering of federal prosecutors: “The prosecutor has more control over life, liberty, and reputation than any other person in America. His discretion is tremendous. . . . While the prosecutor at his best is one of the most beneficent forces in our society, when he acts from malice or other base motives, he is one of the worst.” If Harris, as district attorney, could not muster the basic decency and sense of fairness to respect the constitutional rights of criminal defendants whose liberty was at risk, how can we possibly expect her, as president, to honor constitutional rights that involve less than the deprivation of freedom but so much of what it means to be American?

  • Trump's Orlando Rally Shows He's Running Out of New Tricks
    Bloomberg

    Trump's Orlando Rally Shows He's Running Out of New Tricks

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- Four years ago, Donald Trump glided down an escalator into the lobby of Trump Tower, a building he regards as his signature accomplishment, for a marketing event. During a speech in which he boasted of his wealth and business acumen, and promised to tackle what he described as unchecked immigration from Mexico, unfair competition from China, and the “big lie” of Obamacare, he announced his presidential bid. “We are going to make our country great again,” he said. “I will be the greatest jobs president that God ever created. I tell you that.”On Tuesday evening, Trump took to the stage in Orlando, Florida, for what, by all appearances and a dearth of concrete policy proposals, was also nothing much more than a marketing opportunity. “Tonight, I stand before you to officially launch my campaign for a second term as president of the United States,” he said in the Amway Center, a stadium named after the company his education secretary’s in-laws co-founded and still run. “We are going to keep on working. We are going to keep on fighting. And we are going to keep on winning, winning, winning.”Trump has got far in life on little more than gossamer-thin promotional efforts and he tapped into the allegiances and sentiments of thousands of his supporters in Orlando by asking them to help pick his new campaign slogan. Should he retain “Make America Great Again” – Trump stopped to gauge their applause – or swap that one out for “Keep America Great?” The crowd clearly preferred the latter. He also made his case by gesturing toward positive economic and jobs data, and trotting out a tired series of enemies including Hillary Clinton, the media, Robert Mueller, China, ISIS and immigrants. The good guys were God, the American flag, the country, guns, Israel and national security.Trump wound up saying little new in his Orlando speech and he’s probably going to have to do much better if he wants a second lease on the Oval Office. While he’s successfully mobilized the emotions and resentments of a large portion of the electorate, and has commandeered the Republican Party machinery, the biggest fruits of his presidency have been enjoyed by cultural conservatives and his most affluent supporters. Other voters have now road-tested the unproven Trump of 2015 who promised to take a wrecking ball to the Washington bureaucracy, drain the swamp, and negotiate a series of political and economic deals that would benefit average Americans struggling with uncertainty. A significant number of those folks may review Trump’s original promises and find him lacking. In that context, Trump’s 2015 marketing salvo in Trump Tower may offer a more interesting series of reference points than Tuesday night’s performance art at the Amway Center. Consider some of these highlights from the 2015 speech:IMMIGRATION AND THE WALL“I would build a great wall, and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me, and I’ll build them very inexpensively, I will build a great, great wall on our southern border. And I will have Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.”There is no wall, of course. Other than incarceration and deportation, Trump hasn’t offered a refined, sophisticated response to immigration problems and the humanitarian crisis plaguing the U.S.’s southern border. He’s merely hatched an escalating series of migration crises to court his base and thus converted a thorny policy challenge into a wrenching, inhumane debacle.HEALTHCARE“We have to repeal Obamacare, and it can be –  and – and it can be replaced with something much better for everybody. Let it be for everybody. But much better and much less expensive for people and for the government. And we can do it.”Trump failed to overturn Obamacare. He and his party still haven’t outlined and made a case for a healthcare plan to replace it. While Trump has hinted recently that he might roll out a new plan soon, somebody who promised to get something better “for everybody” – at a lower price point for both the government and consumers – is peddling snake oil. EDUCATION“End – end Common Core. Common Core should – it is a disaster… We have to end, education has to be local.”Education in the U.S. is already largely local, and Common Core programs (a set of standards on what American schoolkids should know at the end of each grade) are administered at the state and local level. Trump never had the power to gut Common Core to begin with, and it still exists.PUBLIC WORKS“Rebuild the country’s infrastructure.”Nope.NATIONAL SECURITY“I will stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons.”The drama unfolds and the president seems determined to honor this promise. But he has run a fragmented and chaotic White House and his national security team is no exception. So his approaches on Iran policy (like his approaches toward North Korea, China and Russia) are invariably inconsistent, sometimes suspect, and often just plain senseless. THE ECONOMY, MARKETS AND FISCAL MANAGEMENT“Reduce our $18 trillion in debt, because, believe me, we’re in a bubble. We have artificially low interest rates. We have a stock market that, frankly, has been good to me, but I still hate to see what’s happening. We have a stock market that is so bloated. Be careful of a bubble because what you’ve seen in the past might be small potatoes compared to what happens. So be very, very careful.”Although he didn’t mention a tax cut at all in his 2015 speech, Trump and the GOP engineered a massive corporate rate reduction and a meaningful cut to personal rates that – along with deregulation and judicial appointments – may be a core accomplishment of his first term. It created a short-term economic pop and has given markets a lift. But the national debt has breached $22 trillion and the deficit is tracking to reach $1 trillion next year. Trump is now pushing the Fed to lower rates to stave off a possible recession and many stocks appear to be at peak valuations. Bubblicious all around. But Trump (and the country) are also enjoying unemployment rates at their lowest since the late 1960s. If middle class and working class voters end up realizing very few financial gains from the tax cut, or a recession hobbles the job market, Trump will have some explaining to do.GOOD GOVERNMENT“You know, we’re building on Pennsylvania Avenue, the Old Post Office, we’re converting it into one of the world’s great hotels. It’s gonna be the best hotel in Washington, D.C. We got it from the General Services Administration in Washington.”Trump operates a hotel in Washington that sits atop federally controlled land that he is, in essence, leasing from himself now that he’s president. The hotel draws guests who do a lot of business or conduct a lot of diplomacy with the White House, and it’s emblematic of the financial conflicts of interest that continue to dog Trump and his eldest children. Did Trump mention the hotel during his 2015 speech because he wanted to emphasize his desire to divest his holding in the interest of transparent, corruption-free governance? No, he did not. He mentioned it because the speech – at its core – was part of a marketing effort Trump deployed to promote his personal brand and properties.Trump’s bid for the presidency in 2020 will hinge on whether he continues to have economic winds at his back, who the Democrats put forward as their nominee, and how voters respond to the various promises made by Trump in 2015 – and not kept. Soliciting input from crowds on catchy campaign slogans won’t paper over any of that.To contact the author of this story: Timothy L. O'Brien at tobrien46@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: James Boxell at jboxell@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Timothy L. O’Brien is the executive editor of Bloomberg Opinion. He has been an editor and writer for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, HuffPost and Talk magazine. His books include “TrumpNation: The Art of Being The Donald.”For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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