October 31, 2019

The Update Desk: Who Loves Me, Baby? (8)

Here we go again: "Emails, emails, emails!" Here's the history on this series.

This week's tally?  191 emails, up thirty from last week. Here's how it compares with last week on a candidate-by-candidate basis.
  • Joe Biden - 20, down one
  • Cory Booker - 17, up one
  • Pete Buttigieg - 21, up eight
  • Julian Castro - 31, up five
  • Kamala Harris - 24, up four
  • Amy Klobuchar - 14, up one
  • Beto O'Rourke - 17, up four
  • Bernie Sanders - 14, no change
  • Elizabeth Warren - 18, up four
  • Andrew Yang - 15 up four

So, let's look at the biggest movers, Buttigieg and Castro.

Mayor Pete was looking ahead, with eight emails focused on what has to happen in the 100 days until the Iowa caucuses. He also wrapped up the contest to attend Hamilton in San Francisco (3 emails), introduced new policies (his Women's Agenda and Criminal Justice Reform plans) and shared two emails comparing 2007 and 2019.  Here's the gist of them.
On a November evening, at what was then called the “Jefferson-Jackson Dinner,” Barack Obama took a stage in Des Moines, Iowa and presented Americans with a passionate appeal for a new vision that instilled hope for the future and led to a surge in support for his campaign. The crowd roared as he declared, “This is our moment.”
It was the moment that changed everything for the Obama campaign and, ultimately, for the country.
That same moment for Pete, and for America, is this Friday night.
Meanwhile, back at the struggling Castro campaign, here's what's going on - and note,  all the bolded words are Castro email subject lines, as delivered to my in box since last week's deadline. I think it's pretty clear the status of his campaign, and the heightened desperation that we're seeing in the outreach.
I'm so vulnerably asking, I really am vulnerably asking.  It can't end like thisI don't say this lightly, but we could be on the verge of a TRAGIC mistake!!! This could be the end. It might be time to pack up. go home. it's dire. I really need your help, I mean, I'm in dire need. Forgive me for being blunt - this isn't easy for me, but we are truly in dire need and as of 9AM!!! I hate to say but this could be the end, the end of my campaign. I mean, I'm floored. It would be U-N-B-E-L-I-E-V-A-B-L-E!!!!!! if I suffered a HISTORIC upset myself, instead of having someone else face an UNPRECEDENTED upset. And so, as of 12PM (!!!) I'll share this: Joaquin Castro SHAVES his head!!!?? That's how desperate things are here on our team. I hope you'll help. let's hop on the phone?
There's a clear difference in tone from the two most active campaigns, don't you think?

And now, to our email of the week: it's the Halloween message from Gory BOOker:
Real quick, then you can get back to putting the final touches on your costume
Well, we're here... The last day of October, the spookiest fundraising deadline of the year. I wanted to send you a quick update on our goal progress.
The scariest thing you’ll see today is this: We're still $75,882 short of hitting our $725,000 goal -- and we need to get there by midnight tonight if we want to stay competitive.
I know it may seem like a lot to raise in a short amount of time, but each time we’ve set a big goal, this team has risen to the challenge -- and I know this one will be no different.
Make a fun-size donation today: 
Whatever you do today, I hope it's something fun-sized.

October 30, 2019

Wondering on Wednesday (v188)

Today's wondering begins not in the halls of Congress or anywhere else in DC, but in a Dallas courtroom where the NRA is suing its former ad agency, Ackerman McQueen (AMc). The whole thing is a mess, but here's a quick recap from the Daily Beast.
According to an Oct. 25 amended complaint filed in its ongoing lawsuit against Ackerman McQueen, NRA officials believed the short-lived TV outlet - which featured shows from right-wing stars like Dana Letch and Dan Bongino - "strayed from the Second Amendment to themes which some NRA leaders found distasteful and racist." 
You know, distasteful and racist like "a picture of cartoon character Thomas the Tank Engine wearing a Ku Klux Klan hood."  This whole thing is part of a big ugly fight between the gun rights group and AMc, and comes on the heels of the litany of scandals that the NRA has faced:
a ProPublica report alleging sexual harassment by a senior NRA staffer; vicious infighting among top executive; and reportedly out-of-control spending and debt fueled by legal fees, unpaid bills and expenses on lavish travel, clothing and makeup for LaPierre and his wife. 
So, what's to wonder about? Well, with the messy lawsuits, and if things in this August Mother Jones article are still true, and we continue to see polling showing  the majority of Americans  - including Republicans - favor universal background checks, red flag laws, and more, I'm wondering how long politicians will continue to fear the NRA at election time, and if they stop being afraid, will we be able to get these very popular measures passed and signed into law?

Turning now to San Francisco, we learn that Twitter will ban ALL political ads, beginning November 22nd.  The company's CEO, Jack Dorsey, tweeted the decision this afternoon, saying that "political message reach should be earned, not bought."  And, he offered some insight, including this:
For instance, it‘s not credible for us to say: “We’re working hard to stop people from gaming our systems to spread misleading info, buuut if someone pays us to target and force people to see their political ad…well...they can say whatever they want! 😉” 
We know that politicians have been suggesting that Facebook needs to verify the truth of an ad, or not accept it. We've all heard about Sen. Elizabeth Warren's fake ad, suggesting that the social media giant and its CEO had endorsed Donald Trump in 2020. Facebook accepted that ad. And, the Biden campaign had asked Facebook to take down lies or debunked statements pushed by the president regarding the Ukraine thing.

In response, Facebook said that "politicians are not allowed to share a previously debunked viral hoax in ads, but their direct speech was ineligible for fact-checking." And, Katie Harbath, Facebook's head of global elections policy, said
Our approach is grounded in Facebook's fundamental belief in free expression, respect for the democratic process, and the belief that, in mature democracies with a free press, political speech is already arguably the most scrutinized speech there is. 
So, here's what I'm wondering:
  • Should Facebook and Twitter and the rest of the social media companies be required to fact-check everything that's published on their platforms? 
  • Should these companies be required to fact-check only ads and promotions, things they're paid to publish?
  • Should the companies be allowed to left our speech - truth, lies and everything in between - flow freely without fact-checking any of it?
  • And finally, why are these companies being treated differently from any other media platform -television and radio stations, newspapers and magazines, web-only news outlets, and so on, who aren't fact-checked at all, except by other media companies?
And finally, tonight, I'm wondering when the president and people in the media will stop referring to the summary memorandum of that beautiful phone call with Ukraine's President Zelensky as a 'transcript'?  It's happening all over again, because of the revelation that Lt. Col. Anthony Vindman, a Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, said the 'reconstructed transcript' of the call was incomplete and that his efforts to have it corrected were rebuffed.

As a reminder, here is the disclaimer that appears on the so-called transcript:
CAUTION: a Memorandum of a Telephone Conversation (TELCON) is not a verbatim transcript of a discussion. The text in this document records the notes and recollections of Situation Room Duty Officers and NSC policy staff assigned to listen and memorialize the conversation in written form as the conversation takes place. A number of factors can affect the accuracy of the record, including poor telecommunications connections and variations in accent and/or interpretation. The word "inaudible" is used to indicate portions of a conversation that the notetaker was unable to hear. 
I get why the president calls it a transcript - no need to wonder about that - but I don't get why reporters are more careful when describing a document that expressly states it's not what they say it is.

I mean, if they're not careful, Facebook will start fact-checking them.

The Update Desk: Meanwhile Back in Albany (v34)

Was it really only back in September that we were talking about New York's failed attempt to limit outside income for our state legislators?

That's when we learned, in Meanwhile Back in Albany (v34), that two different state judges had tossed the outside income limit, fought by both Republicans AND Democrats. The limit was recommended by the same commission that defined a three-year pay raise, elevating the base pay from $79,500 to $130,000 over three years; the first bump, to $110,000, took effect in January 2019.

The raises (and the income limit) were predicated on the claim that the legislators were full time, that the pay hadn't gone up in around 20 years, and that we have had enough of ethically-challenged legislators. The 2020 and 2021 raises had the limits attached.

The judges had different opinions on the limits.
State Supreme Court Justice Richard Platkin determined only the raises - not the outside income limits - carry the force of law, noting
"All of the committee's other recommendations are just that - recommendations advanced for the consideration of policy makers, but not the law of New York State." 
Under this decision, it appears the three-year raise deal will stand.
However,
State Supreme Court Justice Christina Ryba ruled that the pay raise committee had overstepped its authority by tying the raises to the outside income limits. And, her ruling allowed at least this year's installment of of the raise to stand, perhaps because this is the only year of the three where there is no limit on the outside income.
In one part of her decision, Ryba "severs" the 2019 pay increase from scheduled hikes for future years - suggesting the pay raises for 2020 and 2021 won't take effect, and the pay committee or Legislature would have to revisit the issue.
There was always a chance that - oh, heck, who am I kidding? There was NO chance at all that the legislature would come back this year for a special session to come up with a plan that would effectively limit outside income, or officially give up the pay raise for years two and three, since those were tied to the progressive income limits.

There was no chance, and they have not come back, of course. So, what do we do now?

Well, good government groups have not given up on this, it seems. In a recent entry in the NY State of Politics blog, Nick Reisman provided an update.
A coalition of good-government organizations on (October 24th) released a letter to the governor and top lawmakers in the state Senate and Assembly urging them to take up an outside income ban. 
The groups - Common Cause New York, NYPIRG, the League of Women Voters of New York State, Reinvent Albany, and Citizens Union of the City of New York, want this whole thing relooked at. Here are excerpts from their letter.
Dear Governor Cuomo, Speaker Heastie, and Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins:   
We write to urge you to act to limit the outside income of lawmakers, consistent with the recommendations of the 2018 New York State Compensation Committee, when the legislature next meets. 
Our groups were pleased when the ​New York State Compensation Committee​ ​last December acted to restrict outside income earned by lawmakers at 15 percent of the legislative base salary, or $18,000, consistent with limits for members of the United States Congress. The Commission also completely prohibited the earning of compensation when lawmakers have a fiduciary relationship to a client or employer...  ​These restrictions are consistent with those imposed on the United States Congress. 
 Unfortunately, the binding recommendations issued by the Compensation Committee regarding outside income were struck down by the courts, even while lawmakers received a raise... We understand Attorney General Tish James is no longer pursuing appeals of the different cases involving outside income restrictions.  
It is therefore incumbent on you as the state’s leaders to act to curtail outside income by lawmakers to address the corruption problem in Albany and restore the public trust. 
It goes on to remind the current leaders of "too many instances of corruptions and conflicts of interest" - including recent unethical poster boys Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos - stemming from legislators seeking personal gain related to their other jobs or jobs held by family members.
This is why the Commission concluded that restricting outside income “will eliminate both the perception of and any actual conflicts of interest” and “eliminates the possibility for the public to question whether the citizens of this State are being properly served.” 
The Commission’s conclusions are no less true than they were a year ago. The state’s leaders must act to fulfill them. 
I'll add one more note on this: the 2020 legislative calendar has been released; our full-time, no-outside-income-limit legislators are scheduled for 57 days in Albany next year.

October 28, 2019

Sunday School Extra Credit: 10/27/19

 "Aboooo. Baccahhhrrr. Al. Bag-daddy. Is dead."

Thus spoke the president in his prepared remarks yesterday morning.

As I mentioned in our Sunday School post, much of the conversation in the classrooms were about the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, by suicide (not by killing, as has been repeatedly and incorrectly reported).

For this week's extra credit, let's look at what the president himself had to say.I've left out his prepared remarks, read emotionlessly from the TelePrompTer, as always, and I've tried - and it wasn't easy, I can assure you, but I've really tried - to bucket related comments from the open mic that followed the official statement.

On al-Baghdadi himself
Trump said  "from the first day" he came to office, he would say "Where's al-Baghdadi? I want al-Baghdadi."
And we would kill terrorist leaders, but they were names I never heard of. They were names that weren’t recognizable and they weren’t the big names. Some good ones, some important ones, but they weren’t the big names. I kept saying, “Where’s al-Baghdadi?”  
When Trump focuses on something, he tweets and tweets and tweets about it. And yet, with all the alleged focus on al-Baghdadi, there are only two references in his Twitter archive - under any spelling of the ISIS leader's name - one from 2017 and one from 2015. Perhaps he wasn't as focused on this as he said?

Asked if he heard al-Baghdadi 'whimpering' on the video feed he was watching, Trump said
I don’t want to talk about it, but - he was screaming, crying, and whimpering. And he was scared out of his mind.
Later, though, he said that al-Baghdadi "died in a ruthless, vicious manner. That, I can tell you."

Asked if the Syria pullout generated any intelligence for the raid,

No.  We were looking at this -  look, as I said, Steve, I’ve been looking at this -  I’m here almost three years. I’ve been looking at this for three years. They’d come in, “Sir, we have somebody under…”  - I said, “I don’t want somebody. I want al-Baghdadi. That’s the one I want.” They’d said, “Well, we have somebody else.” I said, “That’s great.  Fine. Take them out. But I want al-Baghdadi. That’s who I want. I don’t want other people.” 
As to the operation itself, and participants
One reporter asked if Trump went straight to the Situation Room when he got back to the White House around 4:30, after some golf.
Well, I knew all about this for three days. Yeah. We thought, for three days, this is what was going to happen. It was actually - look, nobody was even hurt. Our K-9, as they call - I call it a dog, a beautiful dog, a talented dog - was injured and brought back. But we had no soldier injured. 
He added to the obfuscation on the timing with this head-scratching comment.
You know, you would think you go through the door. If you’re a normal person, you say, “Knock, knock. May I come in?”  The fact is that they blasted their way into the house and a very heavy wall, and it took them literally seconds.  By the time those things went off, they had a beautiful, big hole, and they ran in and they got everybody by surprise. Unbelievably brilliant, as fighters.  I don’t - I can’t imagine there could be anybody better. And these, as you know, are our top operations people.
And then there was the identification part of this, the 'jackpot!' moment, if you will.
So, that’s another part of the genius of these people. They brought his - they have his DNA. More of it than they want, even. And they brought it with them with lab technicians who were with them. And they assumed that this was Baghdadi. They thought, visually, it was him. But they assumed it was him, and they did a site - an onsite test. They got samples.
Visually? I thought the guy was blown to bits? 
...  and they, as I said, they brought body parts back with them, et cetera, et cetera. There wasn’t much left. The - the vest blew up, but there are still substantial pieces that they brought back. So they did an onsite test because we had to know this. And it was a very quick call that took place about 15 minutes after he was killed, and it was positive. It was - it’s, “This is a confirmation, sir.”
When asked, he was unable to articulate which of our teams participated in the raid, which is incredible, given Trump's propensity for loving our military and crowing about how they love him.
Many of them, and at the top level. And people that were truly incredible at their craft. I've never seen anything like it. 
The Special Forces teams will be invited to the White House, he said - presumably for hamberders.
Oh, yeah. They’ll be invited. I don’t know if they’ll want to have their faces shown, to be honest with you. You know, they want to - they’re incredible for the country. They’re not looking for public relations. But they love doing what they’re doing. I’ve seen it. The First Lady was out there, recently, looking at what they do. She came back, she said, “Wow, I’ve never seen anything like that.” 
And then he talked about history, when asked about any successors to al-Baghdadi.
Yeah. We know the successors. And we’ve already got them in our sights. And we’ll tell you that right now, but we know the successors. Hamza bin Laden was a big thing, but this is the biggest there is. This is the worst ever.
Osama bin Laden was very big, but Osama bin Laden became big with the World Trade Center. This is a man who built a whole, as he would like to call it, “a country,” a caliphate, and was trying to do it again.
Regarding the US intelligence community
And he pointed out that "some incredible intelligence officials" did a great job, saying "That's what they should be focused on." And, we can infer, not doing other intelligence stuff like making sure the president is not acting like a lunatic. And there were smart people involved, too.
We were involved, on our own team, with some brilliant people who I’ve gotten to know. Brilliant people that love our country. Highly intelligent people... 
And speaking of loving our people, our great intelligence community,  there's this response to a question on whether we had any intel assistance from others.
We got very little help. We didn’t need very much help. We have some incredible people. When we use our intelligence correctly, what we can do is incredible. When we waste our time with intelligence, that hurts our country, because we had poor leadership at the top... But the people that I’ve been dealing with are incredible people. And it’s really a deserving name: “intelligence.” I’ve dealt with some people that aren’t very intelligent, having to do with intel, but this is the top people and it was incredible.   
Trying to act presidential
On whether he had told Congressional leaders,  that's a negative, at least Pelosi is a negative.
We’ve notified some. Others are being notified now, as I speak. We were going to notify them last night but we decided not to do that because Washington leaks like I’ve never seen before. There’s nothing - there’s no country in the world that leaks like we do...  
And he watched this, like he was watching a baseball game or something (minus the "lock him up" chanting, of course), with "a few of the Joint Chiefs...some generals.We had some very great military people in that room. And we had some great intelligence people... It was great."  

And he of course complained about our allies, because they didn't want their ISIS fighters back.
And I actually said to them, “If you don’t take them, I’m going to drop them right on your border. And you can have fun capturing them again.”
He reiterated that he did not inform House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
No, I didn’t.  I didn’t do - I didn’t do that. I wanted to make sure this kept secret. I don’t want to have men lost - and women. I don’t want to have people lost.  
Someone tried again on what time Trump went to the SitRoom.
Well, I started at five o’clock. We were pretty much gathered at five o’clock yesterday.  We were in contact all day long through, hopefully, secure phones. I’ll let you know tomorrow. But nothing seemed to leak, so I guess they were secure, for a change.
The oil The Oil THE OIL
Look, we don’t want to keep soldiers between Syria and Turkey for the next 200 years. They’ve been fighting for hundreds of years. We’re out. But we are leaving soldiers to secure the oil. And we may have to fight for the oil. It’s okay. Maybe somebody else wants the oil, in which case they have a hell of a fight. But there’s massive amounts of oil.
And we’re securing it for a couple of reasons. Number one, it stops ISIS, because ISIS got tremendous wealth from that oil. We have taken it. It’s secured. Number two - and again, somebody else may claim it, but either we’ll negotiate a deal with whoever is claiming it, if we think it’s fair, or we will militarily stop them very quickly... 
And there was this:
They’re going to have to make their own decision. The Kurds have worked along incredibly with us, but in all fairness, it was much easier dealing with the Kurds after they went through three days of fighting, because that was a brutal three days... 
Let that last part sink in for a moment. Really let that one sink in.

Back to the oil. It seems that '#1' didn't change from earlier in his remarks, but '#2' has transformed a bit, and now 'vomit' (#3) has entered the picture.
The oil is, you know, so valuable for many reasons. It fueled ISIS, number one.
Number two, it helps the Kurds, because it’s basically been taken away from the Kurds. They were able to live with that oil.
And number three, it can help us because we should be able to take some also. And what I intend to do, perhaps, is make a deal with an Exxon Mobil or one of our great companies to go in there and do it properly...
The one the only ME
You know, these people are very smart. They’re not into the use of cellphones anymore.  They’re not - they’re very technically brilliant. You know, they use the Internet better than almost anybody in the world, perhaps other than Donald Trump. But they use the Internet incredibly well.
And, there was this.
If you read about the history of Donald Trump — I was a civilian.  I had absolutely nothing to do with going into Iraq, and I was totally against it. But I always used to say, “If they’re going to go in…” - nobody cared that much, but it got written about.  “If they’re going to go in…” - I’m sure you’ve heard the statement, because I made it more than any human being alive. “If they’re going into Iraq, keep the oil.”  They never did.  They never did.
There was more.
Now, I will secure the oil that happens to be in a certain part. But that’s tremendous money involved. I would love to - you know, the oil in - I mean, I’ll tell you a story. In Iraq - so they spent - President Bush went in. I strongly disagreed with it, even though it wasn’t my expertise at the time, but I had a - I have a very good instinct about things.  They went in and I said, “That’s a tremendous mistake.” And there were no weapons of mass destruction. It turned out I was right. I was right for other reasons, but it turned out, on top of everything else, they had no weapons of mass destruction, because that would be a reason to go in. But they had none.
But I heard recently that Iraq, over the last number of years, actually discriminates against America in oil leases. In other words, some oil companies from other countries, after all we’ve done, have an advantage Iraq for the oil. I said, “Keep the oil.  Give them what they need. Keep the oil.” Why should we - we go in, we lose thousands of lives, spend trillions of dollars, and our companies don’t even have an advantage in getting the oil leases. So I just tell you that story. That’s what I heard. 
And there was this.
And then I also wanted Hamza bin Laden because he’s a young man, around 30, looks just like his father.  Tall, very handsome.  And he was talking bad things, just like his father.
You know, if you read my book — there was a book just before the World Trade Center came down. And I don’t get any credit for this, but that’s okay.  I never do.  But here we are.  I wrote a book - a, really, very successful book. And in that book, about a year before the World Trade Center was blown up, I said, “There is somebody named Osama bin Laden. You better kill him or take him out.” Something to that effect. “He’s big trouble.”
Now, I wasn’t in government. I was building buildings and doing what I did. But I always found it fascinating. But I saw this man - tall, handsome, very charismatic - making horrible statements about wanting to destroy our country. And I’m writing a book. I think I wrote 12 books. All did very well. And I’m writing a book. The World Trade Center had not come down. I think it was about  - if you check, it was about a year before the World Trade Center came down. And I’m saying to people, “Take out Osama bin Laden,” that nobody ever heard of. Nobody ever heard of. I mean, al-Baghdadi everybody hears because he’s built this monster for a long time. But nobody ever heard of Osama bin Laden until, really, the World Trade Center.
But about a year - you’ll have to check - a year, year and a half before the World Trade Center came down, the book came out. I was talking about Osama bin Laden. I said, “You have to kill him. You have to take him out.” Nobody listened to me.
And to this day, I get people coming up to me, and they said, “You know what one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen about you? Is that you predicted that Osama bin Laden had to be killed before he knocked down the World Trade Center.” It’s true. Now, most of the press doesn’t want to write that, but you know  - but it is true. If you go back, look at my book. I think it was “The America We Deserve.” I made a prediction, and I -  let’s put it this way: If they would have listened to me, a lot of things would have been different. 
Good lord: A 900-word official statement, followed by 8,000 words of blood, guts, glory, and ego.

See you around campus. 

October 27, 2019

Sunday School 10/27/19

Today's classrooms were all abuzz with the announcement from the president that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed (well, committed suicide) last night during a raid in Idlib province in northwest Syria.

We'll get to that, but as always, I look first to see if any of the 2020 presidential candidates are making the rounds. Andrew Yang was supposed to have been on with Chuck Todd, but that's been postponed until next week, but Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar was on with Margaret Brennan on Face the Nation. Let's look in.

They started the conversation with the takedown of al-Baghdadi, and Klobuchar was grateful for the  folks who "put themselves in danger" in the mission, and that it was a good decision to go after him. She reminded us, however, that this doesn't mean that ISIS is dead. First of all, there are 100 or so of them who escaped during Turkey's raid on the Kurds, and that it's unclear who's going to be guarding the ones who are still being held. And she noted that the Kurds helped with this, even though we left them "for slaughter."

Calling the raid a political win for the president, Brennan wondered, "Isn't this going to make it harder to run against him when he can say he's the guy who got Baghdadi?"
Look, I have in the past, for instance, when the president made the decision to respond to Assad's use of Sarin gas, I commended him for that decision. But just because you make some decisions for the security of this country doesn't - doesn't mean that his foreign policy overall hasn't been a disaster.  
Mentioning as examples of Trump's disastrous policies the decision to get out of the Iranian nuclear agreement, the Russian nuclear weapons agreement, and the climate change agreement, Klobuchar said those were "very bad decisions." Brennan asked if Klobuchar, "unlike other Democratic candidates," would pledge to keep the US military in Syria. The Senator would not have removed them, she would have kept them there. And now, she said, we have to use whatever leverage we have left to continue the fight against ISIS, for humanitarian aid, and to help the Kurds.

Next question: should the ISIS leaders be extradited here for prosecution? Yes, she said, we should go after them,
But the point of this is not really exactly what we're going to do now. The question is what do we do going forward when the American people have a decision to make? Do they want to keep a president in that has been so divisive in this moment - where this morning, we are unified behind getting rid of terrorists, that's for sure, but every morning, probably tomorrow and the next day he wakes up and he starts...dividing people... So I think the American people can come together say, "yes we want to defeat a terrorist," but then they look at what he does every single day to this country and they want new leadership.
They moved to education and paying for stuff like her plan for free two-year college and technical schools, which will cost $500B. She's focused on those issues specifically because "those are the fastest rising degrees right now in terms of number of jobs we're gonna have," citing a need for 74K electricians and similar numbers for plumbers, med techs, home care workers and so on.

Here's how she'd pay for it (and yes, she admitted, taxes are going to go up for folks making around $400K a year).
...by taking the capital gains rate, which (has) been a ripoff for average Americans, and changing that to the personal income rate. I have shown everything, Margaret, how I'm going to pay for it...I want to make college more affordable. Double the Pell Grants, and do this in a smart way, instead of paying for rich kids to go to college, which is sadly what my opponents' plans do. 
They shifted gears to impeachment, with Brennan questioning whether Klobuchar thinks the whistleblower should testify. It would be good, she said, but maybe not necessary, because people with first-hand knowledge are testifying.
I think what's most important, is to keep getting the testimony of people that were actually there on the scene. That Ambassador Taylor testimony was devastating. It showed that this was not just one phone call, that this had been a plan for a long time, for the president to put the interests of America behind his own personal interests to get dirt on an opponent. It's a pattern. He does it for his business. He does it for his partisan interests. He does it every single day.
And that's where they left it, as they were out of time.

October 26, 2019

In Case You Missed It (v8)

Ready for our week in review? Let's dive in.

We had three interviews with Mayor Pete in this week's edition of Sunday School; here's a snippet from one of the questions on Turkey, Syria and the Kurds.
...when an American president talks like that, when an American president pulls the rug out from under people who trusted us with their lives, that's going to have implications for American interests all over the world. Any place in the world where we need someone to trust us, to go out on a limb, to fight alongside our troops, it's going to be harder. And that could last for decades and will make America less safe.
Because of all of the Peteness, we had a Sunday School Extra Credit entry on Monday, which featured Chris Wallace talking with Mick Mulvaney, and the latter's explanation of his horrible press conference, as well as a Jake Tapper interview with Amy Klobuchar. Mulvaney told us he has not offered to resign, among other things. One of Klobuchar's subjects? Presidential decision-making, and how her deliberate approach differs from the guy in the White House now.
And this president, President Trump, has been folding to all kinds of pressure. He gets a call from Erdogan, and what does he do? He puts the Kurds out to slaughter. He gets a call from Vladimir Putin, and what does he do? He says that he doesn't believe that Russia invaded our election... 
In Tuesday's Meanwhile Back in Albany entry, we learned that NY's Sonofa Gov is continuing an unethical practice that was apparently followed by his predecessors: hiding Executive Chamber staff on payrolls unrelated to the Executive Chamber. And that's led to an FBI investigation, and attorneys, and whatnot.
Making the decision to be ethical in spite of how others have acted in the past, are acting today, or are likely to act in the future is exactly as easy as making the decision to be unethical because of those same factors. That Cuomo and his advisers don't know this, or choose to ignore it, is a stain on them, but it's consistent with past behavior.
 That's right, this is not the first time that the governor had a choice, and took a wrong turn.

And then it was time for Wondering on Wednesday. In addition to the usual nonsense, I wondered about the state of the Old Gray Lady for a couple of reasons, including the one below.
I'm also wondering how long the NY Times will be able to survive? I mean, the president is threatening to cancel  its subscription, according to his interview with presidential advisor Sean Hannity (R-Fox).
Thursday was a two-fer, with a Sidebar providing some details on the hiring issue that has the FBI nosing around in Albany.
 In fact, more than 40% of the people who currently work in Cuomo's office are paid not by the Executive Chamber but by separate agencies or public authorities, according to a Times Union analysis of records.
And, I had another update in Who Loves Me, Baby? This week showed a distinct difference in tone from the Dems running for president. On the side of desperation, we Julian Castro and Joe Biden, among others.
Biden's emails, while slightly less frequent, generally reached out with Castro-like subject lines: we're dropping; we fell short; reaching out to you personally; I hate doing this; here's the honest truth; please. 
There were happier candidates, of course, including Buttigieg and Klobuchar.
Klobuchar was in a celebratory mood after her debate performance, including a thank you for blowing past the $100K one-day-post-debate fundraising goal. In the first 24 hours, her campaign raised $1.1 million, with a $2M total for the week.
Friday was another two-fer, with a Quick Take on New York's Democrats and what they've committed to - fighting against Donald Trump.
Not "committed to fight for New Yorkers" or "committed to fight for fairness and equal opportunity for all New Yorkers" or frankly, any commitment at all that represents me. 
And then, it was time for TGIF. The 'bad week' folks? Most of them have been in that boat before including Rudy Giuliani who landed there, spectacularly, this week,
 - not for the usual reasons, such as a wacky TV appearance, assault and battery on sentence structure and logical thought, or any of that.
And on the flip side, the good week side? Would you believe a kid's song made the list?
The Washington Nationals are up two games to none, as I write this, against the Houston Astros. That's probably surprising to most experts, it seems, who tended to pick the Houstonians. Sadly, this is also good news for the Baby Shark song.
So there you have it - another week in the books. And we'll be right back at it before you know it.

October 25, 2019

TGIF 10/25/19

It's that time again folks...

Ready... Set... Go!

Bad weeks were had by:
  • House Freedom Caucus members, who orgasmically 'stormed' the Secure Compartmented Information Facility, or SCIF, in the basement of the Capitol. Their breathless assault on a room where depositions are being taken in the House impeachment inquiry in front of both Democrats AND Republicans was laughable - at best - and it was played out for an audience not of their constituents, but for an audience of one. They know that, and we know that - everyone knows that. 
  • Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who was found to be in contempt by a federal judge (in addition to having been found to be in contempt by millions of Americans) and was fined $100,000. Some say the fine was too low, given her resources, but at least someone in a position to do so took a stand. 
  • The DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel, after a bunch of federal watchdogs said the decision to stop the whistleblower complaint in Trump's impeachment inquiry from getting to Congress was wrong, and not only that, it "could seriously undermine the critical role whistleblowers play in coming forward to report fraud, waste, abuse and misconduct across the federal government."
  • And, let's add Rudy Giuliani to the list this week - not for the usual reasons, such as a wacky TV appearance, assault and battery on sentence structure and logical thought, or any of that. Nah -- this time, it's because the founder of Giuliani Security & Safety, which "offers corporations, individuals, and governments a full platform of security, investigative and crisis management services" managed to butt-dial a reporter and leave a voicemail - for the second time in less than three weeks
  • Democratic presidential candidates; it seems several Dem money bigwigs are unhappy with the choices they have, and might be trying to get others into the race
And now, on to the good week, with a World Series focus. My team is spending the off-season trying to figure out what to do next year, but it's still fun to pay attention to the Fall Classic.
  • The Washington Nationals are up two games to none, as I write this, against the Houston Astros. That's probably surprising to most experts, it seems, who tended to pick the Houstonians. Sadly, this is also good news for the Baby Shark song.
  • Super gymnast Simone Biles had a flippin' good week, too, as she busted a move before throwing out the ceremonial first pitch in Game 2.
  • And women had at least a bit of a good week. Astros' assistant general manager Brandon Taubman was fired after repeatedly shouting at three female reporters how "(bleeping) glad" he was that the Astros had picked up Roberto Osuna before the playoffs. Osuna was the third player suspended by MLB for violating the league's domestic violence policy.  
Here's to some good baseball, a clean series, and hopefully, a first win for the Nats.

Oh -- one last thing: hey, Freedom Caucus - you KNOW it's a bad week when even Russia is laughing at you.


TGIF, everyone.

Quick Takes (v44): NY Dems Have Lost Their Mind

Quick Takes
And, yes, it's their collective mind that is missing, it's not any one mind, or even a couple. It's all of them.

I don't know about you, but when I go to the polls to vote for local officials, I'm thinking local. Here in Syracuse, I get to vote for my district's Common Councilor, for an at-large Councilor, and for Common Council president. I also get to vote for someone to represent me in the Onondaga County Legislature, and for  Syracuse City School District school board members.

When making decisions on who will help lead my community forward, on who will address local issues that are important to me, am I thinking about what Donald Trump thinks about the candidates on my ballot? Am I thinking about Donald Trump's ethical, policy and human failings?

Nope - I'm thinking about who can improve our schools, our city, and our county. I'm thinking about who can lead those elected bodies into the future. I'm thinking about who can help reduce poverty, grow our economy, help our neighborhoods, and educate our children.

I can assure you the absolute last person I'm thinking about is the current occupant of the Oval Office.

The New York State Democratic Committee? Yeah, they're thinking about Washington more than they're thinking about New York.  Need proof? Check out this email I received from the State Democratic Committee earlier this week.


The first sentence says it all: they're "committed to fighting back against Trump and his cronies."  Not "committed to fight for New Yorkers" or "committed to fight for fairness and equal opportunity for all New Yorkers" or frankly, any commitment at all that represents me. And I look at the decision I made, months ago, to withdraw my party registration, and affirm that it was the right one.

They are fighting the wrong battle, the NY Dems are. They have lost their collective mind. 

October 24, 2019

The Update Desk: Who Loves Me, Baby? (7)

It's time for another update on the Dems (and Bernie) running for president. I have to tell you, my social experiment has been enlightening, for sure. I'm learning all kinds of stuff about the candidates, if not about their positions, and about how to ask for money, tips I'll keep in mind for my annual fundraising for my favorite charity.

This week, I got 161 emails; Julian Castro (26), Joe Biden (21), Kamala Harris (20) and Cory Booker (16) led the way. A little less frenzied? Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders (14 each) Pete Buttigieg, Beto O'Rourke and Amy Klobuchar  (13 each) and Andrew Yang (11).

I want to share some email subject lines with you, so you get the true feel for how things are going out there, starting with the most desperate of them all, Castro. Take a look at these:
  • four emails received 10/22: this could be the end; Julian Castro RESCUED; unfortunately; vulnerably asking
  • three emails received 10/23: in dire need; TRAGIC ending; I won't sugarcoat this
  • one email received 10/24: the fate of my campaign
Biden's emails, while slightly less frequent, generally reached out with Castro-like subject lines: we're dropping; we fell short; reaching out to you personally; I hate doing this; here's the honest truth; please. 

Booker is pushing not only his charming personality, but his girlfriend's too: I think Rosario reached out, Sue; Have you ever wanted to hang out with Rosario Dawson AND Cory Booker?; Have you entered to meet Rosario Dawson and Cory Booker yet, Sue?; So, what do you say, Sue, dinner?  

And here are four emails in four days from Kamala Harris, the other candidate in the 'desperate' column: not so great news; since this morning; absolutely critical; clear. These relate primarily to daily fundraising goals that are not being met, or barely being met.

So, the candidates that are happier, who are doing better since the debate last week?
  • Warren was pushing to get 2 million contributions, with one email on the 18th, two on the 19th, and two on the 20th, including the one announcing the milestone had been reached. 
  • Sanders was torn between leveraging Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and not even mentioning her. There were two emails on the 19th featuring her, one with a picture of the two of them at his rally. Over the next three days he was still talking about the rally, but not about her. 
  • Klobuchar was in a celebratory mood after her debate performance, including a thank you for blowing past the $100K one-day-post-debate fundraising goal. In the first 24 hours, her campaign raised $1.1 million, with a $2M total for the week.
  • Yang was heavily focused on proving people wrong, helping convince people who haven't made up their mind yet that he's the right one, and on his 10-hour Q&A (huge props for that). But it sounds like he has too little cash on hand, which could be a problem. 
  • Mayor Pete also raised a million bucks in the first 24 hours after the debate, and there were five emails related to his latest contest: a trip to San Francisco to see Hamilton with his husband. The subject line on one of those? young, scrappy and hungry. Gotta love that! And, he wins the the prize for the email of the week.


Next week? I'll try and cull the herd so this becomes a little more manageable, unless the herd culls itself. 

Sidebar: Meanwhile Back in Albany (v35)

In Monday's Meanwhile Back in Albany post, we learned that New York's Cuomo administration is under FBI investigation for hiring practices, specifically the practice of putting Executive Chamber employees on the payrolls of other state departments or on the payrolls of the generally free-to-do-what-they-want 'authorities' that are all over our government.

I wanted to share some additional reporting by the Albany Times Union on this, including details on some of the specific hires that were handled this way.  Take Steven L Aiello, for example.
About a year ago, Steven L. Aiello, who was several years out of college, landed a prestigious new job as a policy adviser to Gov. Andrew Cuomo. But like many others who have worked on the Capitol's second floor, Aiello was not actually paid by the governor's office. 
Instead, records show he drew his salary as a "project assistant" in the Division of Military and Naval Affairs, which manages New York's military forces. 
His father, COR Development executive Steven F. Aiello, was sentenced to three years in jail and must pay a $500,000 fine after being convicted on federal conspiracy and fraud charges as part of the 'Buffalo Billions' investigation. One of the things that got him in trouble? Demanding his son get a $5,000 raise. According to emails uncovered during the investigation, Steven F. was unhappy - very unhappy.
"I just got a call from (my son), he got his paperwork for his raise. He went from 54 thousand a year to 56 thousand!," the senior Aiello wrote. He added that his son "bust(s) his ass, loyal as the day is long. I have been loyal as the day is long. They insult us like this. I'm finished!!!"
That worked, it seems - Steven L. Aiello did get his raise; he's since left the administration.

The dumping of Steven L.'s salary and benefits to a place outside the Executive Chamber payroll is not unusual. In fact, more than 40% of the people who currently work in Cuomo's office are paid not by the Executive Chamber but by separate agencies or public authorities, according to a Times Union analysis of records. An open records request from the paper garnered a list of 209 people who the governor's office says work for Executive Chamber's office, but payroll records from the Comptroller's office show the Executive Chamber itself is only paying 120 employees.

Some other examples are not as juicy as the Aiello situation. Among others uncovered by the TU were a couple of Cuomo speechwriters. One was placed on the payroll as a "special assistant" at the office of Children and Family Services. Another was paid by the Affordable Housing Corporation, one of our many authorities. The deputy director of Cuomo's Washington office, who's been paid by the Environmental Facilities Corp., and the assistant deputy secretary for Homeland Security, paid by the Housing Trust Fund, are a couple more high-level examples. And, of course, the authority positions are outside the state's civil service system.

Now, we're told that this has been going on for a long time, one of those 'everyone does it' things that happen in Albany, but I'm not sure how that excuses similar behavior from anyone who pretends to be ethical?

One of the Sonofa Gov's spokespeople said
The state payroll has been reduced by more than 10,000 staffers during this administration. To focus on 80 slots is absurd. 
Again, I'm not sure how cutting the payroll across the board would excuse the unethical payroll-dumping of Executive Chamber staff to other departments and agencies?

It's a mess - an unethical mess. If these people are needed in the Executive Chamber, then they should be paid by the Executive Chamber. And if the Sonofa Gov is trying to make himself look good, he's failing - miserably - again.

October 23, 2019

Wondering on Wednesday (v187)

Anyone else out there wondering about stuff tonight?

For example, do you wonder whether president Trump dangled a little quid pro quo in front of Florida's Rep. Matt Gaetz if he tried to break into the room where other members of Congress, including Republicans, were meeting behind closed doors hearing testimony in Trump's impeachment inquiry? You know, maybe there's a job for Gaetz in the administration or on Trump's campaign if he continues to act like an idiot on the president's behalf?

Gaetz was the one who led the charge to the basement of the building where the committee hearings were being held behind closed doors.  And seriously, it's not like there are no Republicans in the room, and it's not like every single Democrat in the House is in the room, right?  The people in the room are the ones who sit on the committees who are charged with the investigation -- and I think if nothing else, Gaetz et al made it clear why they are not on those committees.

I also wonder why it is that politicians, in this day and age in particular, that are guaranteed to inflame things? I'm referring of course to the president's declaration that the impeachment investigation is a lynching. The president's tweet is at right.

And of course, while there were many folks who disavowed what he said, and there were many who found other politicians (Joe Biden among them - he apologized today for his comment in 1998) who have made similar comments over the years, there were others who appear to think that what Trump said is not only not offensive, but also true.  Need an example? 
This is a lynching in every sense. This is un-American.
Yep, that's what Lindsey Graham, (R- Trump Organization) had to say about it. And being from South Carolina, where there were over 160 lynchings, I guess he'd know.

Seriously, this is nothing like a lynching, by any definition. It's not a death row trial, it's not an extra-judicial action by a mob, it's a Constitutional procedure being played out the way it should be, whether the president likes it or not, whether his defenders like it or not. And we know, with absolute certainty, that if the shoe were on the other foot and it was President Obama who had been accused of doing what president Trump is accused of (and has basically admitted to) the Republicans would be doing exactly the same thing, and they'd be doing it behind closed doors.

Why? No need to wonder, let's ask Trey Gowdy, the star of the BENGHAZI!!! hearings, of Fox News, and almost of the president's impeachment team, speaking back in March about former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen's upcoming closed-door appearance:
Well, I think what we learned this past week is how utterly useless public Congressional hearings are. And this notion that you can unlock important information in five minute increments?
Yeah, nothing to wonder about in that statement is there? And of course, the Dems are trying to prevent any testimonial collaboration, since the folks they're interviewing could be considered to be hostile witnesses. I also wonder, with so many folks in Congress who are lawyers, why they would think that the investigation should be done in public? When was the last time a grand jury proceeding was held in public, the twelfth of never?

I'm also wondering how long the NY Times will be able to survive? I mean, the president is threatening to cancel  its subscription, according to his interview with presidential advisor Sean Hannity (R-Fox)
All these people for doing it from the New York Times, which is a fake newspaper — we don’t even want it in the White House anymore. We’re going to probably terminate that and The Washington Post. They’re fake.
And then, of course, there's the much more serious issue with the paper's role in the Hillary Clinton-Tulsi Gabbard kerfuffle. Here's how Raw Story explained things.
 The original piece quoted Clinton saying Russians have "got their eye on somebody who's currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate. 
In fact,  the actual think Clinton said was that Republicans were grooming Gabbard to be a third-party spoiler candidate in 2020.
"Hillary Clinton waded into the Democratic primary by suggesting that Russia was backing Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii for president and that Republicans were 'grooming' her as a third-party candidate, the Times said in a correct report.
This kind of thing is unacceptable. I mean, is there any wonder whether what Clinton really says can be damaging enough (hint: deplorables, anyone?), without her words being completely misinterpreted?

One more for tonight - a quick one. We learned that Anonymous, one of the adults in the room with the child-man that is Donald Trump who wrote a NY Times op-ed last year, has written a book titled A Warning.  Here's a refresher on what happened last September:
Trump lashed out at the anonymous author after the column’s publication. The president questioned both whether the author existed and whether the author had committed treason. He also demanded on Twitter that the Times turn over “the GUTLESS anonymous person” to the government “at once.” The Times did not.
So - the book will be out on November 12th, and between now and there'll be furious speculation on which senior White House official is Anonymous, and the wondering has begun anew that  Kellyanne Conway is high on the list of likely suspects. 

I wonder....

October 22, 2019

Meanwhile Back in Albany (v35)

Nathaniel Brooks/NY Times
Everyone is so focused on the ethical shenanigans going on in Congress and the White House, where the even president himself has admitted to impeachable offenses, we sometimes forget that lots of other equally dubious stuff is going on in statehouses around the country, including here in New York State.

According to the Albany Times Union article linked above, our Sonofa Gov Andrew Cuomo has had his administration give as much as $1.2M more to a criminal defense law firm that was originally hired back in 2016 for the "Buffalo Billion" investigation. That's the one, you'll remember, that brought charges against several developers (including COR Development here in my neck of the woods) and others close to the gov.

Here's a bit of background on the contract with Morvillo Abramowitz, from the Times Union article:
For $950,000, the Executive Chamber originally retained Morvillo Abramowitz on April 29, 2016, the same the day administration was served with a sweeping federal subpoena from the Manhattan US Attorney's office. The document request was part of the upstate bid-rigging probe that included Cuomo's "Buffalo Billion" initiative.
After two extensions of the contract worth another $1.5M, the contract ended in July 2018 - the same month the second and final trial concerning state contract bid-rigging - featuring SUNY Polytechnic founder Alain Kaloyeros and others as defendants - ended with convictions.
But now? The firm is involved for a new reason: it seems the FBI is investigating Cuomo's administration for its practice of placing certain employees on the payrolls of state agencies and authorities, instead of on the Executive Chamber payroll where they belong.
Two years ago, the FBI was in the midst of interviewing Executive Chamber staffers in that manner as part of the probe. A Cuomo spokesman at the time dismissed the FBI inquiry as "absurd" and noted that governors had for decades engaged in the practice. 
The Times Union has been reporting on this for a while; it was their story in 2016 that 89 of 209 Executive Chamber employees were on other payrolls; that prompted the current investigation. Another group of employees, more than 20 of them, came on board in the spring of 2017, all but five of whom were paid outside the Executive Chamber.

Although the no-bid contract extension was originally denied by Comptroller Tom DiNapoli's office for being too broad, it was eventually approved and runs through the end of 2020. According to DiNapoli spokeswoman Jennifer Freeman,
We asked them to be specific about why they wanted to extend the contract. they provided us with justification for why they wanted to extend the contract and what the services were for and we approved in early 2019.
The article notes that Morvillo Abramowitz has worked for Cuomo not only on the Buffalo Billions case, and the hiring practices case, but also a third case, from 2014, when Cuomo shut down his Moreland Commission investigation into public corruption. (You can read posts about that debacle here). But what was different then was that Cuomo's campaign picked up that tab, whereas we taxpayers are carrying the load on the recent investigations.

What's telling here is that the Sonofa Gov apparently thinks it's OK to do this because others have done it too. And they probably have - honestly, I have no doubt about that - but the point is, being ethical and honest is an individual choice.

Making the decision to be ethical in spite of how others have acted in the past, are acting today, or are likely to act in the future is exactly as easy as making the decision to be unethical because of those same factors. That Cuomo and his advisers don't know this, or choose to ignore it, is a stain on them, but it's consistent with past behavior.

Need an example? Cuomo said we needed to close the LLC loophole in NY's campaign finance laws, that it was wrong and needed to be fixed, at the exact same time he was benefiting from it.
It's no secret that Cuomo happens to be the biggest beneficiary of  LLC donations. He has reported raising $16.54M from them since taking office in 2011. By comparison, his past three opponents - Republicans Carl Paladino and Rob Astorino and Democrat Zephyr Teachout - raised $8M from all of their contributors combined... 
Since Cuomo took office, 574 committees associated with candidates for one of the Legislature's 213 seats have received at least one donation from an LLC. Combined, those hundreds of individuals have reported raising $16.5M from LLCs, just slightly less than Cuomo's total.
And the Senate Republicans who bear the brunt of Cuomo's criticism? They've raised $6.4M from LLCs, or 39% of Cuomo's total. 
And, of course, we know that he rests peacefully at night because he knows he's ethical. Because he told us he is, back in 2014.
I'm going to make the decision that I think is right for them because at the end of the night I go home and I put my head on the pillow and I have to be able to fall asleep and I can't fall asleep if I don't believe I'm doing the right thing.
And somehow, five years later, that means taxpayers are on the hook for lawyers to help defend him in an FBI investigation for what (at the very least) has the perception of being unethical and dishonest.

Sleep well, Governor.

October 21, 2019

Sunday School Extra Credit: 10/20/19

As I noted in yesterday's Sunday School post, which included excerpts from three classrooms discussions with Pete Buttigieg, Chris Wallace had the 'get of the week' - an exclusive conversation on Fox News Sunday with Mick Mulvaney, the acting Chief of Staff for the president. We've also got highlights from Jake Tapper's interview with Senator Amy Klobuchar.

But first, Mulvaney attempts to answer questions on the quid pro quo press conference last week.  He spent a lot of time trying to say he didn't say what he said.
Again, that's not what I said. That's what people said I said. 
Just like I told you then, and then I said the exact same thing I just said now...
Yes, but go back and watch what I said before that. I don't know if you guys can cue it or not.
Well, and a couple different things. You again said just a few seconds ago that I said there was a quid pro quo. I never used that language because there is not a quid pro quo but -- 
Well - and reporters will use their language all the time. So, my language never said quid pro quo.
Can I see how people took it the wrong way? Absolutely.
Chris, you've been in these - in these briefings You know how back and forth (it) is. You know how rapid-fire it is. Look to the facts on the ground, things that you can actually sort of certify.
I recognize that folks - that I didn't speak clearly maybe on Thursday, folks misinterpreted what I said, but the facts are absolutely clear and they are there for everyone to see. 
Get it? Got it?  Yeah, me neither. Wallace wondered if there were any repercussions from the presser - did Mulvaney offer to resign?
No, I'm -- listen, I'm very happy working there.  Did I have the perfect press conference? No. but again, the facts were on our side. 
So, I haven't (had) a chance at the presser to do everything I wanted to, but I still think I'm doing a pretty good job as the chief of staff and I think the president agrees.  
They also talked about possible changing tides with the Republicans in Washington who might be "if not breaking with the president, distancing themselves from him." Wallace pointed out that a "very well-connected Republican in Washington" told him that, if an impeachment trial happens, there's a 20% chance enough Rs would vote to remove Trump.
Oh, that's just absurd. This comment about a 20% chance, the person clearly doesn't know what they're talking about.
Wallace asked more directly whether there's any concern that Trump is losing support of the Republicans in Congress.
No, the president is extraordinarily popular back home, more popular in the swing districts now that impeachment has started.
 Wallace reminded him the question was about losing support in Congress.
Yes, but they - they have to go home eventually as well. So no.
And they talked about the decision, since withdrawn, to hold the G-7 meeting at Trump's Doral property, noting that while Trump blames the "hostile media" and their Democratic partners, he also took a lot of heat from Republicans, and wondered why the president caved.
...I honestly think what he put out in the tweet was real. The president isn't one for holding back his feelings and his emotions about something. He was honestly surprised at the level of pushback.
 At the end of the day, he still considers himself to be in the hospitality business...he wanted to put on the best show he possibly could and he felt very comfortable doing that at Doral. 
I think it's the right decision to change. We'll have to find someplace else. And my guess is we'll find someplace else that the media won't like either, for another reason.
Mulvaney conceded that Trump understands how bad it looked, which I guess is progress. But that he was surprised at the pushback? Yikes.

Turning to CNN's State of the Union and Amy Klobuchar, Tapper started by asking her about the chance the impeachment trial in the Senate could be in December, and whether it was more important for her to be present in the Senate for the trial, or on campaigning in Iowa. Klobuchar said that was an easy question,
because I have a constitutional duty to take part in that trial. That's what you do when you're a US Senator and such an important case comes before you.
She allowed as how it would change things, but that she doesn't really have a choice and I can't imagine her doing anything else. She noted that she's got more endorsements from current and former elected officials in Iowa than any of the other candidates, so she'll be represented on the ground. Tapper suggested it could mean she loses whatever momentum she can achieve by December, and that non-Senators (or those with a different work ethic) could be on the ground in Iowa. And he asked if she'd commit to being in Washington for the impeachment trial, no matter what?
Listen, I have a constitutional duty, but I can do two things at once. There's many ways to reach out to people...
Tapper moved on to candidates pressuring Elizabeth Warren on how she planned to pay for her Medicare for All (M4A) plan; Warren's campaign has said she's "reviewing the revenue options" and Tapper asked if that was good enough.
No, it's not. I have made very clear how I'm going to pay for everything I have put out there. I think that's important because we have got a president that's added trillions of dollars to the debt, on the shoulders of our kids... And I think you have to show how you are going to pay for things. And that was the point.
Klobuchar believes her plan, which has a nonprofit public option, is better and it builds on Obamacare, instead of trashing it. And she suggested that other candidates who have signed on to Medicare for All weren't paying attention if they didn't realize it will "dismantle out current insurance system."
It says that 149 million people will be kicked off their current insurance. That's what it says. And Senator Sanders has been very honest about that. But I think we have to be honest about that. All the people in the Senate that were on that stage and others who have said they have supported it, they signed on to that. 
I got a lot of pressure to sign on to it. I read it, and I decided there was a better way and a different way to do it...
She made the point -  well, I think -  that just signing on to something or going along with everyone is not what we need from the person sitting in the Oval Office. She pointed to Trump, who's known for doing whatever the last person he talked to tells him. Here's what she said about how he makes decisions.
And this president, President Trump, has been folding to all kinds of pressure. He gets a call from Erdogan, and what does he do? He puts the Kurds out to slaughter. He gets a call from Vladimir Putin, and what does he do? He says that he doesn't believe that Russia invaded our election. He gets a call from, like -- someone does -- from the pharmaceutical companies, and he doesn't do anything to take on pharma.
Instead, she said,
I think we need a president that stands up to that kind of pressure, that does what they think is right. It doesn't mean that everyone agrees with you, but that's what I do. That's what I have done throughout my time in Washington. And I think that the American people are looking for that kind of grit. 
Klobuchar did well at the debate, and this is part of the reason why. We're definitely looking for something more measured, less prone to whim, and more thoughtful and consistent, for sure.

See you around campus.