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June 3rd, 2016

Clinton ahead in the polls, Ryan endorses Trump, and America’s Eastern European “idiocracy”: US national blog roundup for 28 May – 3 June


Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Blog Admin

June 3rd, 2016

Clinton ahead in the polls, Ryan endorses Trump, and America’s Eastern European “idiocracy”: US national blog roundup for 28 May – 3 June


Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

USAPP Managing Editor, Chris Gilson looks at the best in political blogging from around the Beltway. 

Jump to 

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The 2016 campaign and the primaries
The Democratic Campaign and the Candidates
The Republican Campaign and Donald Trump
The Libertarian Party and the rest
President Obama and the Administration
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The Beltway and the Supreme Court
Foreign policy, defense and trade
Obamacare and health policy
The economy and society

The 2016 Campaign and the primaries

On Saturday, American Thinker comments that having to choose between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump this fall is the worst choice ever. They say that we need an honourable alternative to what they describe as the “two odious candidates”. Red State also argues that both Trump and Clinton are “unfit” for the presidency, with one big reason that neither are motivated by wanting to serve the public. The Federalist argues that we need to burn down the two-party system if we want to see real change. Not everyone wants another choice, though. Townhall writes that Clinton is so much worse than Trump, that they reject the #NeverTrump movement.

PoliticusUSA has the news Thursday that a new poll shows that Hillary Clinton has expanded her lead over Donald Trump by nine percentage points. Monkey Cage takes great pains to tell us that, despite what many think, general election polls are not broken; national polls look a great deal like those from previous presidential elections.

This election season has seen an explosion of patriotic ads, from American flags on cans of Coca-Cola to Budweiser’s renaming to “America”. Powerline reckons that much of this trend is down to the rise of Donald Trump, and his slogan of “Make America great again”.

With the rise of Donald Trump, some commentators have wondered if attacking Donald Trump directly early on would have hurt his electoral chances. Monkey Cage reckons that early ads against The Donald would have had a hard time creating a negative narrative about the New York billionaire that would have lasted.

Whoever the next president is, they will inherit a divided country, says The Atlantic. Writing Tuesday, they comment that whites make up 90 percent of the GOP’s general election voters, while only 55 percent of the Democrats’.

On Tuesday, VoteView analyses the ideological perceptions of this year’s presidential election candidates. It turns out that ideologically, Donald Trump is actually fairly near to Florida Senator (and former presidential candidate), Marco Rubio.

Turning to electoral mechanics, The Brennan Center for Justice reports that with the recent passage of a voting bill in Illinois, nearly 1 in 5 Americans may soon be living in a state with automatic voter registration.

Sabato’s Crystal Ball turns their eye towards the fall’s down-ballot races, commenting that the GOP has an advantage in terms of the number of “quality” candidates available to them given that the Democrats’ votes tend to be concentrated into a smaller number of highly populated counties.

This week’s primaries 

No primaries this week, but  PoliticusUSA reports that a new poll shows a close race in the Democratic Primary in California, with Clinton leading Sanders 49 to 47 percent. FiveThirtyEight meanwhile comments that Hispanic voters will decide Sanders’ fate in the Golden State.

The Democratic Campaign and the Candidates

Hit & Run argues with a video as to why Democrats should actually vote Libertarian this year.

The American Prospect looks ahead to the Democratic convention in July in Philadelphia. They say that given that Bernie Sanders’ momentum is strong, but given that he is short on delegates, uniting the party may prove to be tricky. The unity problem is made worse by Clinton’s continuing stumbles. Along the same lines, The Atlantic argues that calls to rally around Clinton are not likely to convince Sanders’ supporters to give up on the Vermont Senator in the Democratic primary, despite the relatively urgent need to wrap the primary up to deal with the looming threat of Donald Trump.

The Lonely Conservative wonders what might happen if Clinton doesn’t win the nomination – say if her superdelegates were to drop her if she did poorly in the California primary. The result might end up being a President Bernie Sanders. The Upshot, meanwhile talks on how the Democratic race will likely end, with Clinton securing the nomination after California.

Looking on to November, Daily Kos comments that the Democrats are making a “last minute scramble” to do what until recently was considered unthinkable – retaking the House of Representatives. Speaking of Democratic Congressional candidates, does their party’s seeming dislike of ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft make their use of them hypocritical? Hit & Run thinks so. Turning now to the (very) likely nominee: 

Hillary Clinton

  • Is Clinton a career criminal? (American Thinker)
  • How Clinton’s email scandal may just be a Benghazi witch-hunt (Crooks & Liars)
  • But is her email scandal actually getting worse? (Red State)
  • The Clinton campaign is spending $1 million to fight online abuse and trolls (The Atlantic)
  • According to the polls, Clinton is still the best bet to be the next president (Kevin Drum)
  • With her attacks, Clinton has succeeded where Trump’s GOP rivals have failed (Daily Kos)
  • How Clinton showed she is the perfect Democrat to beat Trump in her foreign policy speech (PoliticusUSA)
  • Six takeaways from Clinton’s foreign policy speech (The Federalist)
  • Ahead of the Golden State primary, California Governor, Jerry Brown endorsed Clinton (Hit & Run)
  • Massachusetts Senator, Elizabeth Warren also made noises to the effect that she would be endorsing Clinton (PoliticusUSA)

Bernie Sanders

  • The Vermont Senator is none too impressed with the New York Times’ coverage of his campaign (Hit & Run)
  • Sanders is sounding like he might want to be Vice-President (PoliticusUSA)
  • How Sanders is going to town on the July convention (Kevin Drum)
  • Sanders’ policies are a ‘utopian nightmare’… (Townhall)
  • and his campaign is being bankrolled partly by donors who don’t work (Powerline)
  • Sanders’ supporters aren’t more conservative than Clinton voters – and here’s the data to prove it (Monkey Cage)
  • Why Sanders needs to get out of the presidential race ASAP (Caffeinated Politics)
  • Many of Sanders’ supporters have been claiming that their candidate lost the primary because the process was rigged. But sometimes your candidate just loses (The Upshot)
  • How Sanders hopes to use a win in the California primary as a pretext to steal the nomination from Clinton (Red State)
  • But what if Sanders actually wins California? (RedState)
  • Some describe Sanders’ push to grab Clinton’s superdelegates as ‘delusional’ (Daily Kos)

The Republican Campaign and Donald Trump

Townhall argues that the GOP now needs to become a part of the workers, rather than a rich-man’s party as currently seems to be the case. It’s perhaps ironic, then, that the Republican National Committee (RNC) is actually nearly broke, as Daily Kos suggests. They say that the RNC has only $17 million on hand, nearly $1 billion short of the amount the party had to play with in 2012.

On Tuesday, American Thinker reckons that it’s time for Donald Trump to unify the party, rather than continuing to insult its former leaders such as 2012 GOP presidential candidate, Mitt Romney. Crooks & Liars reports that Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is hoping that Trump will “stick to the script”, something that they comment doesn’t seem particularly likely. On the other side of the Capitol, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) is struggling with the mess that is the Republican Party, says Daily Kos. Speaking of Ryan, this week he quietly announced that he would be voting for Trump come November, according to The Atlantic. So what does Ryan hope to achieve with this endorsement? Wonkblog says that he’s hoping to be able to influence Trump’s policy agenda so that the House can send him bills he will sign if he moves into the White House in January. Most Americans don’t actually care that Paul Ryan is supporting Trump. Why not? Most of them just want their side to win, says The Federalist. 

Kevin Drum, surveying the current state of the GOP, comments that the “last gasp of the angry white guy is upon us”. And as for the angry-white-guy-in-chief:

Donald Trump 

  • Mexican flag-waving provocateurs clashed with Trump supporters at a Trump rally (Red State)
  • Some Trump supporters are just plain fascists (Crooks & Liars)
  • What does the violence of some of Trump’s supporters reveal? (The Atlantic)
  • Trump went on a rant against American-born Judge Gonzalo Curiel in the Trump University case (PoliticusUSA)
  • Trump can’t get Judge Curiel recused, just because he wants to build a wall to exclude illegal immigrants (The Volokh Conspiracy)
  • The only thing you actually need to read about the Trump University fiasco (Americablog)
  • If he wins the White House, Trump plans to commit a massive fraud against the American people (PoliticusUSA)
  • Trump has contempt for the rule of law, and for freedom of the press (Outside the Beltway)
  • It turns out that North Korea is a big fan of Donald Trump (Red State)
  • The Trump campaign is apparently telling GOP insiders that it’s low on cash (Outside the Beltway)
  • It turns out that GOP voters are rallying behind Trump as if he were any other candidate (FiveThirtyEight)…
  • though women leaders of the party most certainly are not (The Atlantic)
  • Trump doesn’t think that married women should work (PoliticusUSA)
  • How Trump – and his supporters – are fighting the culture wars (Kevin Drum)
  • Yes, everyone. Donald Trump could win the presidency (The American Prospect)
  • Trump’s key to victory is electoral math (Townhall)
  • Trump’s not going to release his tax returns before the election (The Left Coaster)…
  • …though he did demand IRS documents from veterans’ groups he was supposed to be fundraising for (PoliticusUSA)
  • Trump’s financial disclosure statements have revealed an $100 million conflict of interest (Daily Kos)
  • So where did Trump send the millions he fundraised for veterans? (The Atlantic)
  • Trump is unhappy with the media for forcing his hand on paying the veterans’ charities $5.6 million (Red State)
  • So just why do Trump’s attacks on the press work? (White House Dossier)
  • Why the press are about to turn on Trump (Caffeinated Politics)
  • Five or six potential Trump Vice-Presidents (Powerline)
  • Trump’s proven that he would never nominate an actual conservative to the Supreme Court (Red State)
  • Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski has not denied that the campaign’s offices are bugged (Crooks & Liars)
  • Trump blurted out a racist statement at a rally in California this week (PoliticusUSA)
  • Did Mitch McConnell actually compare Trump to Dwight Eisenhower? (Red State)
  • … and did Trump compare one of his own speeches to Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream speech”? (Freak Out Nation)
  • The ultimate argument for #NeverTrump: our institutions may not be as strong as we think they are (The Federalist)
  • Will the CIA’s presidential briefings be watered down for Donald Trump? (Caffeinated Politics)
  • Trump know what Brexit is, but not what it means (Crooks & Liars)
  • Trump reckons that cutting social security is morally right (PoliticusUSA)
  • Right now Donald Trump has been involved in 3,500 lawsuits. That’s unprecedented for a presidential candidate (PoliticusUSA)
  • Some in the GOP welcoming the idea of a third party challenge to Trump, as it will help him to beat Clinton (Townhall)
  • How Trump appeals to the rhetoric of White nostalgia (The Atlantic)
  • At a recent rally, Trump showed that he has no idea what the President does (PoliticusUSA)
  • Even Trump’s national campaign chair can’t explain his ever-changing position on giving Japan nuclear weapons (Crooks & Liars)
  • Trump reckons that he’ll gut NATO with his first phone call as president (PoliticusUSA)

The Libertarian Party and the rest

Much has been made in recent weeks at the potential for the Libertarian Party to be successful in the year of Trump. But what would success (or failure) for the party look like? Hit & Run investigates. Outside the Beltway this week has news that former New Mexico Governor, Gary Johnson, has emerged as the party’s presidential nominee. After Johnson’s nomination, Hit & Run has six reasons why the party’s delegates are wary of picking former Massachusetts Governor William Weld for the party’s Vice-Presidential nomination.

Weld won the Libertarian Party’s Veep spot anyway, meaning that the party’s ticket this year has remarkable experience. Monkey Cage wonders if that will matter. The Federalist reckons that it probably won’t – an effective third party is not going to happen this cycle, they say. Hit & Run wonders why people should vote for the lesser of two evils – Hillary Clinton – when there is a third, “non-evil” candidate in the form of Johnson.

President Obama and the Administration

On Wednesday, Powerline talks on what they say is a new “silly regulatory diktat” from President Obama in the form of new guidelines on salt in food. The Federalist, meanwhile argues that the Obama Administration’s “war on salt” is bad policy, based on bad science.

The Federalist reports that the Obama Administration is keeping House Republicans waiting on its transgender bathrooms directive, after they queried how it would plan to enforce its guidelines.

American Thinker writes on the irony that President Obama has been warning about the dangers of Trump’s racial divisiveness, warnings which they say come from a president who has done more than anyone in recent history to divide the country along racial lines. Monkey Cage looks at arguments that Obama has ignored the concerns of African-Americans. The evidence shows that he hasn’t.

This week, president Obama spoke on the economy, but new numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that he was far too optimistic – employment growth in the US now appears to be slowing, says The Daily Signal. 

The Beltway and the Supreme Court 

On Tuesday, Daily Kos says that the Department of Justice has asked an “erratic” federal judge to stay his order, which comes from a legal challenge to Obama’s immigration actions, which demands that the government release the names and contact data for thousands of Dreamers – despite the information not being relevant to the case.

Staying on the federal government, Townhall writes that there is an $16 billion tax-credit “black hole” made up of Earned Income Tax Credit Payments which were issued improperly in 2015. They say that the tax credit has ballooned into a massive welfare entitlement for constituents who pay no more income taxes.

Moving on to Congress, PoliticusUSA reports that House Republicans are creating a massive new problem for the party with their efforts to impeach the head of the Internal Revenue Service, Commissioner John Koskinen, over what may be relatively minor offences. The American Prospect meanwhile wonders if Congress will be able to thwart what might be the territory of Puerto Rico’s best chance for relief – a Supreme Court case which would restructure the island’s $70 billion debt. They say that Congress has its own solution in the form of the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act, which would make it harder for the island to get more favorable terms for its debt.

Turning to the Senate, The Atlantic says that the GOP is coalescing around the Senate candidacy of Florida’s Marco Rubio. Rubio had decided years ago that he would not run for both the Senate and for the presidency. With Rubio’s presidential bid having long since flamed-out, the Republican Party are keen for Rubio to hang on to his seat to help preserve the party’s Senate majority in the fall. The Daily Signal takes a close look at the goods and the bads of the Senate’s annual defense policy bill. The goods: expanding missile defense policy and prohibiting the defense budge from being used for non-defense research. The bads: opening the door to a post Guantanamo prison in the US, and adding women to the selective service. 

Foreign policy, defense and trade

The American Interest covers what they refer to as “The American Idiocracy” as it pertains to Eastern Europe. They say that since Russia invaded Georgia in 2008, President Obama has been on a “constant crusade” of resetting the US relationship with Russia at the expense of its Eastern European allies. The American Interest also talks Russia, commenting that it has eased its food embargo on the US, EU and other countries as Russians have ended up with empty shelves as a result of Western sanctions stemming from the 2014 war in Eastern Ukraine.

The lack of a Congressional Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) against ISIS continues to be controversial in some quarters. The Atlantic reports that a case filed in the DC District Court in early May asks the court to declare that the war with ISIS violates the War Powers Resolution since Congress has not declared war.

Monkey Cage writes that most US states have sanctions against Iran. This is a problem. Why? It might hurt the US ability to implement last summer’s Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran as well reduce the president’s ability to conduct foreign policy.  The American Interest advises that when it comes to Democracy promotion, the US needs to aim lower, given that it lacks the ability to reconcile the governance and political institutions of other countries – and it may not even be prudent to try.

Obamacare and health policy 

On Monday, The Daily Signal says that under Obamacare a small business in Maryland has been forced to get rid of its existing health care benefits, or it will face an up to $500,000 fine. The issue stems over the business’ use of Health Reimbursement Agreements, which are not prohibited except when they are integrated with group plans. Townhall comments that small businesses will also be hurt as Obamacare’s premiums begin to rise, some as high as 24 percent in some states.

Hit & Run writes that a recently published statement of David Fisher, Chief Risk Officer for the IRS gives more evidence that the Obama Administration acted illegally when deciding to pay subsidies to Obamacare insurers, and that they did so in the knowledge that the move was not justified.

The economy and society 

Kevin Drum bemoans the fact that mass transit ridership is on a downward trend in some areas such as California. They say that a closer look at the figures shows that ridership falls when fares increase.

Turning to criminal justice reform, The Federalist argues that it’s not something that conservatives should be rushing. Why? There is doubt about its benefits given the potential harms that be incurred.

The Atlantic this week examines what they say is “America’s profound gender anxiety”, commenting that the recent debate over who can use which bathroom is only the beginning of what may be a lengthy conflict over what it means to be men and women.

Which states are run the best? Well, according to a new study reported on by The Lonely Conservative, it’s red states, led by Alaska and Nebraska.

On Thursday, The Atlantic looks at the surging cost of basic needs, writing that low income families often spend more than 80 percent of their budget on items like housing, food and healthcare, a significant increase from 30 years ago.

This week also saw the release of the latest employment report, which showed that employers only added 38,000 jobs in May, a notable slowdown. The Upshot says that the latest report is not quite as terrible as it looks as it may well overstate the extent of the slowdown. 

Featured image credit: Hillary for America (Flickr, CC-BY-NC-SA-2.0)

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Note:  This article gives the views of the author, and not the position of USAPP– American Politics and Policy, nor of the London School of Economics. 

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