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The Washington Report: October 23, 2020 … “One Scaramucci Till Election” Day”
23 Oct 2020

The Washington Report: October 23, 2020 … “One Scaramucci Till Election” Day”

The Final Debate … Over My Empty Seat …  Flood The Zone Theory … 3rd Coronavirus Has Arrived …  The Price For Not Wearing Masks: 130,000 Lives … Tsunami Money Surge …  Republican Senate Control … The Cliffhanger Could Be Georgia … The Foxx Con (WI Snookered) … and other news of the week.
Joyce Rubenstein
Capstone National Partners
P.S. 11 DAYS (or one Scaramucci) TILL ELECTION DAY. Over 47.1 million Americans have already checked ‘vote early’ off their to-do lists – either by mail or in-person. That’s 100% of the total 2016 early vote count.

The Final Debate

NYT “Last night’s presidential debate felt much more normal than this year’s first one. The candidates interrupted each other only occasionally rather than constantly. They argued about big policy issues like the coronavirus, foreign policy and more.
But the debate wasn’t normal by the standards of nearly all of American history. It wasn’t normal because one of the nominees — the sitting president — told one lie after another. He did so about the virus, North Korea, China, Russia, climate change, his own health care policy, Joe Biden’s health care policy, Biden’s finances and the immigrant children who were separated from their parents.
I understand you may be tired of hearing about President Trump’s untruths. I’m tired of writing about them. They hardly qualify as surprising anymore. But it’s impossible to analyze a debate filled with untruths without first acknowledging them. They undermine an event meant to highlight differences between candidates. They undermine democracy. To ignore them is to miss the biggest story: a president trying to construct his own reality.
No previous president has behaved this way. Democrats often accused George W. Bush of lying, and Republicans accused Barack Obama of lying. And both men made questionable statements and statements that later proved untrue. But when they proved untrue, Bush and Obama stopped making the claims. Trump just keeps making them. …
The moderator, NBC’s Kristen Welker, won praise as the best, most commanding moderator of this debate season (thank you, mute button).

‘Flood The Zone’ Theory

WaPo “It’s one of the defining phrases of the Trump era. Stephen K. Bannon, candidly reflecting in early 2018 on President Trump’s strategy for effective political communication, noted that the real opposition Trump faces is not Democrats, but the media.
“And the way to deal with them is to flood the zone with sh-t,” Trump’s former adviser brashly declared.
The phrase launched a thousand laments: Trump’s lies work! Their sheer relentlessness has mesmerized voters into distrusting all legitimate sources of authority! Trump’s reality-bending mysticism has reduced us to a nation of epistemic zombies, rendering accountability impossible! But, now that the final presidential debate is behind us and we’re heading into the campaign’s homestretch, a funny thing is happening: If Trump has succeeded in “flooding the zone with sh-t,” Trump himself is the person most at risk of drowning in it.
This idea is itself becoming one of the big stories of this cycle.
And that’s not a small development. If the whole point of the zone-flooding is to drown the possibility of parsing truth from fiction in a tank of uncertainty and false equivalence, then it’s a welcome paradox that this murk is yielding a clarifying narrative about the lopsided dishonesty imbalance between the two candidates.
“Trump yet again broke the fact-check meter at the second presidential debate, while Democratic nominee Joe Biden made relatively few gaffes,” concluded the Post fact-checking team. …
The striking possibility that Trump is drowning in his own zone-flooding is unfolding on several fronts at once.
  1. … there’s the coronavirus. At the debate, Trump claimed his spectacular leadership prevented 2 million deaths, an absurd manipulation of statistics. He hyped the role of his China travel restrictions, which did far less than he regularly claims. He falsified the Obama-Biden record on swine flu. He falsely claimed a vaccine is “ready.” Trump’s biggest coronavirus-related claim of the night, that we’re “rounding the turn,” is false by any reasonable reading of the numbers, which show that we’re entering a third surge. And this is one of Trump’s central arguments for reelection. Trump has been lying to the United States about the coronavirus for nine months.  … majorities know Trump isn’t telling them the truth about it. Recent polls show that huge majorities do not trust what Trump says about the coronavirus and that they trust government scientists far more than Trump on it. All this points to a way that Trump’s zone-flooding might paradoxically be producing a higher form of clarity. Even if it’s true that voters might not know what to believe on this or that detail … they know they can’t believe what Trump tells them on the single biggest crisis facing the country right now.
  2. Trump’s continued zone-flooding claims that he has a secret plan to protect people with preexisting conditions, which we again heard at the debate, have become a sick joke.
  3. Trump also absurdly tried to paint Biden as supporting a socialist takeover of health care, when voters everywhere saw Biden arguing with his progressive primary challengers about this for months.
  4. Similarly, Trump’s airing of the latest turns in the fake Hunterghazi scandal again displays bottomless faith in his zone-flooding powers. But at the debate this grew so absurd that it almost became a topic of mockery for reporters. Many noted that Trump’s “laptop from hell” chatter has become incomprehensible to those unschooled in right-wing media-bubble vernacular. In an interesting conversation about journalism in the Trump era, Sean Illing and Jay Rosen identified the big problem that Trump’s zone-flooding poses to the media. As Illing noted, faithfully reckoning with it will inevitably be seen as “inherently biased” by some audiences. And as Rosen added, doing this risks alienating audiences that media organizations don’t want to lose. But on the other hand, not doing this is tantamount to surrendering to journalism’s “enemies.” None of this necessarily means Trump will lose reelection. He could go on to win, especially via cheating. But it’s hard to see how all the lying and zone-flooding is helping him at this point. And if he loses, we might look back and conclude that the real story all along was that he drowned himself in it.”


Over My Empty Seat

theSkimm “Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee sent Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination to the Senate floor. Every Republican on the panel voted in favor. And every Democrat on the committee boycotted the vote. … Reminder: Dems have called Barrett’s confirmation process a “sham.” The full Senate is expected to vote on her confirmation on Monday. A resounding ‘yea’ could result in Barrett becoming the first justice in history confirmed so close to an election.”

3rd Coronavirus Surge Has Arrived

Politio “The trend lines are pointing up. More than 75,0000 new cases were reported in the United States on Thursday, its highest daily total nationwide since July (2nd highest since the pandemic began). Eight states set single-day case records.”  AT CAPACITY NYT “More than 41,000 people are currently hospitalized with the coronavirus in the United States, a 40% rise in the past month, and cooler weather that pushes more people indoors is threatening to expand the outbreak still more. At least 14 states saw more people hospitalized for the virus on a day in the past week than on any other day in the pandemic, according to the Covid Tracking Project. Seven more states are nearing their peaks. … Patients are now spread more broadly across the country, with troubling hot spots from North Dakota to Kentucky. More people than ever are falling critically ill in rural areas, particularly in the Midwest and the Mountain West, where they must rely on hospitals that may have only a handful of beds.”

The Price for Not Wearing Masks: 130,000 Lives,”

NYT’ “Universal mask use could prevent nearly 130,000 deaths from Covid-19 … in the United States through next spring, scientists reported on Friday. … The new study, published in the journal Nature Medicine, also offered a rough estimate of the pandemic’s toll in the United States: perhaps 500,000 deaths by March 2021, even with social distancing mandates reinstated in most states.”

The Pope & Same-Sex Unions

WaPo “In a surprising announcement, Pope Francis told a documentary filmmaker that same-sex couples should “legally covered” by civil union laws. The Pope’s response suggests a softening of the Vatican’s views of the issue, which for centuries has contended that homosexuality constitutes sinful behavior and that gay marriages would not be allowed in the Catholic church or recognized by the church as a familial relationship. However, Pope Francis’s new messaging on this issue of same-sex relations may be coming as a result of a seismic shift in the way that many Catholics, especially Catholics in the United States, view homosexuality and the legal recognition of same-sex marriage. In fact, U.S. polling data offers little to suggest that the Church would face significant backlash by changing its stance on what was once a centerpiece of the culture wars.
Roman Catholics’ views of the LGBTQ community divide by party. For instance, over 80 percent of Catholic Democrats hold a favorable view of gays and lesbians; for political independents, that’s 75 percent; and for Catholic Republicans, just 65 percent.
Looked at broadly, the evidence points to a clear conclusion: U.S. Roman Catholics hold favorable views of a significant portion of the LGBTQ community. It would be difficult to find a demographic group that would be strongly opposed to Pope Francis’s support of civil unions. While it’s impossible to know if this is part of a broader papal strategy to make the Church more welcoming and tolerant to variations in sexual orientation, large shares of American Catholics will certainly applaud this change in policy by the Holy See.”

The Fight Over Prop 22

Politico “The Fight over Proposition 22, the California ballot measure that would exempt Uber, Lyft and Doordash (and others) from a new state labor law and save their companies hundreds of millions of dollars [is becoming] the most expensive ballot measure campaign in the state’s history, “with its backers contributing nearly $200 million. … Despite the big spending and a barrage of television advertising, only 39% of likely voters said they supported Uber and Lyft in a poll last month by the University of California, Berkeley , while 36% opposed their proposal and others were undecided. People close to the campaign said they would want to see close to 60% approval in polling before they could breathe a sigh of relief.”

Tsunami Money Surge

Roll Call “Whether they are betting on a party takeover or just fired up by the rushed confirmation of a Supreme Court justice, campaign contributors showered Democratic challengers in competitive Senate races with cash during the first two weeks of October, the final disclosure reports to the Federal Election Commission show. Here’s a quick look at the numbers:
Michigan Democratic Sen. Gary Peters, who trailed GOP challenger John James in fundraising for much of the year, took in $7.4 million to James’ $3.3 million. The other vulnerable Democrat, Alabama Sen. Doug Jones, raised $1.8 million to GOP challenger Tommy Tuberville’s $713,000. South Carolina Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison continued to shatter records, raising $22.1 million, or almost $1.6 million a day. Harrison’s total includes more than $12 million raised in amounts of $200 or less. For the cycle, Harrison raised almost $109 million to Lindsey Graham’s $68 million. Graham, who chaired Judiciary Committee hearings that began Oct. 12 on the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, reported raising $14.8 million during the two-week period.
In the Georgia special Senate election, Democratic frontrunner, Raphael Warnock, raised $4.7.million to Kelly Loeffler’s $3.5 million. Georgia’s other senator, Republican David Perdue, raised $1 million to challenger Jon Ossoff’s $4.2 million. Alaska independent Al Gross, who plans to caucus with Democrats if elected, continued to raise healthy amounts, collecting $3 million to incumbent GOP Sen. Dan Sullivan’s $456,000. For the cycle, Gross has raised $16.9 million to Sullivan’s $9.8 million. Iowa Democratic challenger Theresa Greenfield bested GOP Sen. Joni Ernst by more than 3-to-1, raising $7.2 million to Ernst’s $1.9 million. A similar theme played out in Maine, where challenger Sara Gideon raised $5.9 million to GOP Sen. Susan Collins’ $1.9 million. Montana Gov. Steve Bullock outraised GOP Sen. Steve Daines by more than 2-to-1, collecting $5.3 million to Daines’ $2.6 million. Texas GOP Sen. John Cornyn raised $1.3 million to challenger MJ Hegar’s $3.7 million. Colorado GOP Sen. Cory Gardner raised $1.5 million to former Gov. John Hickenlooper’s $3 million.
Arizona GOP Sen. Martha McSally raised just under $6 million to challenger Mark Kelly’s $7 million. Whoever wins the race would have to run again in two years because the battle is for the unexpired portion of the late Sen. John McCain’s term, and Kelly had $11 million on Oct. 14 to McSally’s $9 million.  In Kansas, where there’s an open seat, Democrat Barbara Bollier’s $3.8 million haul was almost 8 times that of Rep. Roger Marshall. For the cycle, Bollier raised $24.4 million through Oct. 14 to Marshall’s $6 million, and part of Marshall’s total was spent on a competitive primary. A scandal over extramarital sexting did not seem to derail North Carolina Democrat Cal Cunningham’s fundraising against GOP Sen. Thom Tillis, with Cunningham raising $4.1 million to Tillis’ $1.5 million.”

Republican Senate Control

WaPo “In 2016, for the first time since America ratified the 17th Amendment in 1913 and began directly electing senators, whichever party carried a state in the presidential race also won the Senate contest there. Politics has been growing increasingly nationalized for decades, but President Trump supercharged these trends and accelerated a once-in-a-generation realignment. Sen. Doug Jones is almost certain to lose because he is a Democrat in Alabama while Sen. Susan Collins trails in the polls because she is a Republican in Maine, and many GOP strategists have written off Sen. Cory Gardner because he is a Republican in Colorado.

In other words, whether Republicans maintain Senate control is inextricably linked to how Trump fares 11 days from now. … Many prominent Republicans have privately become more pessimistic about their hopes of holding the Senate … because Trump is currently faring worse than they had expected in states with competitive Senate races, from Arizona to Iowa and Georgia. It is also why GOP strategists are feeling confident that competitive races will break their way in red states that Trump is poised to carry, including Montana, South Carolina, Kansas, Alaska and Texas, even as Democrats wage well-funded campaigns. Republicans hold a 53-to-47 seat majority. Democrats need to pick up a net four seats to seize control of the upper chamber. If Biden wins, they need to gain three because a Vice President Kamala Harris could cast a tie-breaking vote.

“Historically, with the political atmosphere the way it is, it would be expected that GOP incumbents would be trying to distance themselves from Trump. But most Republican senators in tough races have been nervous to publicly break with the president because they recognize how closely their fortunes are tied together. They are fearful of being on the receiving end of the kind of Trump tweetstorm that greeted Collins last week over her opposition to confirming Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.”

The Cliffhanger Could Be … Georgia

Axios “Georgia hasn’t backed a Democrat for president since 1992. But the state’s changing demographics may prove pivotal this year — not only to Trump vs. Biden, but also to whether Democrats take control of the Senate. Why it matters: If the fate of the Senate does hinge on Georgia, it might be January before we know the outcome. Here’s why it could come down to Georgia:
  • Not just one, but both of Georgia’s Senate seats are on the ballot this year because of the special election to fill Johnny Isakson’s seat.
  • Polling shows they’re crowded or close races with no clear winner.
  • Georgia law sends general-election races to a Jan. 5 runoff if no one hits 50%+ — and, right now, no candidate is reaching 50% in the polling. So if control of the Senate isn’t clear by then, we’ll have to wait for the Georgia runoffs.”


The Foxx Con … Wisconsin Snookered*

The Verge “In June 2018, President Trump broke ground on an LCD factory he called “the eighth wonder of the world.” Trump and the Wisconsin GOP had struck a deal with Foxconn that promised to turn Southeastern Wisconsin into a tech manufacturing powerhouse.The scale of the promise was indeed enormous: a $10 billion investment from the Taiwanese electronics giant, a 20 million-square-foot manufacturing complex, and, most importantly, 13,000 jobs. From a political perspective, [Foxxcon] could hardly have done better than the Wisconsin deal: a factory in a swing state Trump narrowly won, where the Republican governor was campaigning for reelection on job creation, in the district of then-Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Wisconsin State Assembly Speaker Robin Vos. From a business perspective, the project made less sense. Combined with infrastructure the state promised to build, … the package totaled more than $4 billion in state subsidies. In a best-case scenario, … the state wouldn’t break even until 2043 [and] each job would cost taxpayers somewhere between $200,000 and more than a million dollars. The average subsidy in the U.S. is around $24,000 per job.
Three years later, the factory — and the jobs — don’t exist.
Key Findings:
  • Foxconn said it would build a 20 million-square-foot LCD complex. Instead, it constructed an empty building 1/20th that size it calls the “Fab.” Records show Foxconn recently changed the intended use of the building from manufacturing to storage.
  • The company said it would aim to employ 5,200 people at the end of 2020, a number that was to grow to the promised 13,000 jobs. At the end of 2019, Wisconsin found Foxconn employed only 281 people eligible under the terms of the contract (see Jobs chart below)
  • Foxconn attempted to exploit a loophole in its contract with the state by hiring a sufficient number of employees to receive subsidies just before the end of the year. Employees were hired with no actual work to do. Many were laid off after the deadline passed.
  • One recruiting program targeted foreign recent graduates on student visas. Employees say these workers were targeted because they would work longer hours for lower pay, and their immigration status was used as leverage.
  • Employees describe a toxic workplace, where supervisors often berated and publicly humiliated employees. Many of the original Wisconsin hires have quit or been laid off.
  • Despite publicly insisting it was building an LCD factory, as early as 2018, Foxconn employees had been asked to figure out a business plan for the company in Wisconsin
  • Foxconn’s search for a viable business led it to consider everything from fish farming to exporting dairy to renting storage space. Almost every idea collapsed in corporate infighting and a reluctance to spend money.
  • Very little manufacturing ever occurred with the Foxconn project. Recently, the company set up a small manufacturing line for servers — Foxconn had raced to finish buildings and set up an assembly line in time for a visit from Trump during the 2020 campaign.
A long, worthwhile read. Click Here.
*Snookered: trick, entice or trap

Today’s Smile … Because It’s Almost Halloween

Every year, Americans spend billions of dollars on Halloween candy—$8.8 billion in 2019, according to The National Retail Federation. And while traditional trick-or-treating will look different this year due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the NRF predicts that consumers will actually be spending more this year on candy, decor, and greeting cards as a way to make the holiday at home extra special. put together a list of the most popular Halloween candy in every state, based on how many times each candy was purchased over the last several years. Their candy experts looked at sales data from the last 13 years to determine the candy-buying habits of consumers in all 50 states and put together an interactive map of their findings—including the second and third place candies, and the number of pounds of candy sold in each state.  Click Here To Find Most Popular Candy By State.

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