Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Last Call For A World Cup Date Update

The joint North American bid for the 2026 FIFA World Cup by the US, Canada, and Mexico won over Morocco and the tournament will be returning to the states in eight years.

A combined bid from the United States, Mexico and Canada won the hosting rights for soccer’s 2026 World Cup on Wednesday, bringing the tournament to North America for the first time since the 1994 event on a pledge of record crowds, record revenues and, perhaps crucially, a record $11 billion in profits for FIFA, world soccer’s governing body. 
The North American bid defeated its only challenger, Morocco, by a vote of 134-65.
“Thank you for the incredible privilege,” U.S. Soccer President Carlos Cordeiro told the FIFA members in a short speech after the vote, adding, “Football today is the only victor.” 
It will be the first time the World Cup is hosted by three countries, but a vast majority of the tournament will be on United States soil. Of the 80 matches, 10 will be held in Canada, 10 in Mexico and 60 in the United States — including the final, at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. 
The last time the men’s World Cup was in North America was when the United States hosted in 1994. It was held in Mexico in 1970 and 1986, and Canada has never hosted.

Wednesday’s vote was the first in which each FIFA member association was given a say on where the World Cup would be held, and the North Americans rode to victory on a wave of support from the Americas, Europe and Asia, plus a few votes poached from Africa. 
After months of meetings and arm-twisting, a campaign that began last August when Morocco jumped into the race on the final day that countries could announce their intention to bid, ended in an instant: with electronic vote totals suddenly flashing onto a giant screen. 
The victory spared U.S. Soccer a second stunning defeat in less than a year; the United States men’s team is missing the World Cup this summer, its first absence since 1986. The American federation spent more than $6 million — out of a combined budget of about $8 million — to bring the World Cup back to North America, and its first-term president, Carlos Cordeiro, had criss-crossed the globe to meet voters since his election in February.

Both new MLS member cities Nashville and Cincinnati are in the running as one of the 17 possible US sites, but odds are pretty long that any of the games will be played in the Midwest, outside of Dallas's obviously massive stadium complex, Atlanta's transportation hub logistics advantage and Philly's sports capital status, expect all the US games to played on the coasts.

Here's the thing though: Cincy and Nashville, along with Kansas City and Denver, should be thankful.  The FIFA World Cup will probably end up with a net cost of well over $20 billion to host if the 2014 Brazil version is any indication, and hey, Brazil nearly went bankrupt and their government collapsed in scandal after the one-two punch of the World cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics.

In other words, it's money much better spent on infrastructure, roads, social programs, anything else.  I kind of hope Trump wrecks the bid somehow, because for the first time his belligerence would actually be doing us a favor.

Of course hey by then he won't be in the Oval Office.


It's Mueller Time, Con't

A new Politico/Morning Consult poll finds that Donald Trump's constant attacks on the Mueller investigation are starting to pay off politically.

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s public image has sunk to an all-time low since he began his probe into possible collusion between the Trump 2016 presidential campaign and Russia, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll. 
Months of sustained conservative attacks led by President Donald Trump and his allies has harmed Mueller most among Republicans, with a record 53 percent now saying they view the lead Russia investigator in an unfavorable light. That’s a 26-point spike since July, when the poll first started asking voters whether they viewed Mueller favorably or unfavorably.

Mueller’s unfavorable numbers have hit highs among both Democrats and independents, at 24 percent and 33 percent, respectively. Thirty-six percent of all registered voters are also seeing Mueller unfavorably, which represents the highest level since the polling first raised the topic 11 months ago. Back then, 23 percent of all voters said they viewed Mueller negatively. 
The spike in the special counsel’s unfavorable ratings come as he begins his second year on the job. Mueller has already publicly netted five guilty pleas and 18 indictments of people and companies tied to his work examining Moscow meddling in the 2016 election. But he’s nonetheless faced sharp attacks from the president, his lawyers and other associates. 
Voters interviewed for the POLITICO/Morning Consult poll also have changed direction on whether they think the Mueller investigation has been on the up and up. In the latest survey, 40 percent of voters said it had been handled unfairly, compared to early February when 34 percent said the probe wasn’t being handled fairly. The percentage saying the investigation was being done fairly remained unchanged from February at 38 percent.

I understand that Mueller's probe is not subject legally to the whims of polls, the antelope can take all the polls they want to about the lioness and she still hunts them, but in the end this was always going to be about politics, not just rule of law. Nixon resigned in 1974 only because leaders in both parties made it clear he was not only going to be impeached but that well more than 67 Senate votes were there to remove him from office.  The Constitution makes it pretty clear that there's only two ways to remove a president, impeachment and the 25th Amendment, and both of those are political, not just legal acts.

However, not all is rosy for Team Orange here.

The latest poll also has bad news for the president. Forty-eight percent of voters believe Trump has attempted to impede or obstruct the Russia investigation, up from 44 percent who offered the same view in early February. Democrats by a wide margin — 79 percent — said Trump was trying to obstruct Mueller’s probe. But 70 percent of Republicans said the president wasn’t meddling in the investigation. 
Trump also may want to rethink his comments about pardoning himself if he’s found guilty of a crime. The president last week told reporters he had the “absolute right” to make that move, but a majority of voters — 59 percent — said they opposed the idea of Trump issuing a self-pardon. Twenty percent said the president should pardon himself, while 21 percent were without an opinion or responded that they didn’t know. 
The breakdown among party affiliation on pardons is also against the president. About a third of Republicans — 34 percent — agree with the idea that Trump should issue himself a pardon. The same number of Republicans also said he should not pardon himself. Among Democrats, just 13 percent said the president should pardon himself, while 77 percent rejected the idea. Only 15 percent of independents said they thought Trump should pardon himself, while 63 percent said no.

Politics, after all, can cut both ways.  Meanwhile, it looks like Michael Cohen is ready to cooperate with Mueller's investigation.

As attorneys for Michael Cohen rush to meet Judge Kimba Wood’s Friday deadline to complete a privilege review of over 3.7 million documents seized in the April 9 raids of Cohen’s New York properties and law office, a source representing this matter has disclosed to ABC News that the law firm handling the case for Cohen is not expected to represent him going forward.

To date, Cohen has been represented by Stephen Ryan and Todd Harrison of the Washington and New York firm, McDermott, Will & Emery LLP. 
No replacement counsel has been identified as of this time. 
Cohen, now with no legal representation, is likely to cooperate with federal prosecutors in New York, sources said. This development, which is believed to be imminent, will likely hit the White House, family members, staffers and counsels hard.

If Cohen flips on Trump, and all indications are this is happening and happening soon, then Trump is done and he knows it.

Things will move quickly now if this story is true. Cohen is all but asking for a pardon and for the Trump to step in on his sate case in Virginia..  The question is now whether or not he'll get it on the federal level, and if Trump can make arrangements to defend him.

We'll see what happens, but my guess is that Trump will make our ongoing Constitutional crisis exponentially worse by the weekend.

Primary Motivations, Con't

A good night for Democrats last night as primary contests were held in Virginia, Maine, North Dakota, South Carolina, and Nevada, plus a couple of special elections in Wisconsin. Overall, it was a pretty good night for Team Blue, especially for women.

Virginia is quietly one of the most important states in the race for the House — at least four seats should be competitive in November — and Democrats have now nominated a woman as their candidate in every one of those important elections.

In the Virginia Second, they nominated veteran Elaine Luria to challenge Rep. Scott Taylor, In the Seventh, Abigail Spanberger got the nod and is now tasked with toppling Dave Brat, one of the most conservative members of the House. And Jennifer Wexton emerged from a crowded primary and will now face Rep. Barbara Comstock, long considered to be one of the most vulnerable House Republicans in the country, in the 10th.

And prior to primary day, in a local Democratic convention, the party picked Leslie Cockburn in the campaign to replace outgoing and scandal-plagued Republican Rep. Tom Garrett. Each of this races is pegged by election forecasters to be either a toss-up or to lean slightly toward the Republicans. These seats would absolutely be in play in a wave year, especially in a state that is consistently trending bluer all the time.

We’ve seen again and again this year that Democratic primary voters want women to be their candidates. Virginia is maybe the starkest evidence yet.

This is a good thing.  Increasing the percentage of women in Congress has been badly needed for, I dunno, 240-plus years or so and Democrats in Virginia are leading the way. Oh, and Virginia Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton's veep pick in 2016, lucked out last night too as Virginia Republicans decided on white-supremacist adjacent Corey Stewart as their party's candidate for challenging Kaine in November, not that Kaine was in real trouble before.

Wisconsin was also a place for Dems fighting back against GOP Gov. Scott Walker.

After two Republican state lawmakers stepped down to take spots in Walker’s administration, the Wisconsin governor decided to just not call special elections as state law seemed to clearly demand. His lawyers cooked up a farcical literal reading of state law to justify the decision, but Democrats — led by former Attorney General Eric Holder — intervened, the state courts laughed off Walker’s case as absurd, and so the elections were called.

That was the first part of the liberal win, and the second part came on Tuesday, when Democrats prevailed in one of those special legislative elections. Caleb Frostman won in Senate District 1, where Trump beat Hillary Clinton by 17 points in 2016.

One out of two isn't bad considering both special elections were considered safe seats a year ago.  And Walker himself?  He's got to be feeling nervous as he runs for a third term in November.

Oh, and as I mentioned this morning, Mark Sanford did indeed lose his primary contest.  Don't feel too bad for him though.

Onward towards November.


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