Saturday, July 25, 2020

Last Call For Not Even The Ghost Of The Gipper

Not even Zombie Ronald Reagan wants anything to do with Der Trumpenfuhrer anymore.

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute, which runs the 40th president’s library near Los Angeles, has demanded that President Trump and the Republican National Committee (RNC) quit raising campaign money by using Ronald Reagan’s name and likeness.
“It was simply handled with a phone call mid-last week to the RNC, and they agreed to stop,” Reagan Foundation chief marketing officer Melissa Giller said in an email Saturday.

What came to the foundation’s attention — and compelled officials there to complain — was a fundraising email that went out July 19 with “Donald J. Trump” identified as the sender and a subject line that read: “Ronald Reagan and Yours Truly.”

The solicitation offered, for a donation of $45 or more, a “limited edition” commemorative set featuring two gold-colored coins, one each with an image of Reagan and Trump. The coins were mounted with a 1987 photograph of Reagan and Trump shaking hands in a White House receiving line — the type of fleeting contact that presidents have with thousands of people a year.

“Friend,” the fundraising email purportedly from Trump said, “I just saw our new Trump-Reagan Commemorative Coin Sets and WOW, these coins are beautiful - I took one look and immediately knew that I wanted YOU to have a set. These aren’t any ordinary coins. They symbolize an important time in our Nation. This year, in addition to being re-elected as YOUR President, it also marks the 40th anniversary of our Nation’s 40th President, Ronald Reagan. Unfortunately, we already sold out of the first batch we had in stock. But I liked these coins so much that I asked my team to rush order another batch for my TOP SUPPORTERS ONLY.”

It cautioned: “I’ve authorized a very limited production of these iconic coins, which is why I’m ONLY offering them to our top supporters, like YOU. This offer is NOT available to the general public, so please, do NOT share this email with anyone.”

Proceeds from the coin sales went to the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, a joint fundraising operation that benefits both the Trump campaign and the RNC.

I keep thinking of Reagan's infamous "11th Commandment" -- Thou Shalt Not Disparage Another Republican -- and I laugh for a good fifteen minutes.

Not even Reagan wants anything to do with Trump the Nazi loser.

The Country Goes Viral, Con't

Our old friends at Sinclair Broadcasting are openly working to discredit Dr. Fauci publicly through the dozens of local TV news station that they own, with a horrific lie that may threaten public safety across the country.

Local television stations owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group are set to air a conspiracy theory over the weekend that suggests Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top expert on infectious diseases, was responsible for the creation of the coronavirus. 
The baseless conspiracy theory is set to air on stations across the country in a segment during the program "America This Week" hosted by Eric Bolling. The show, which is posted online before it is broadcast over the weekend, is distributed to Sinclair Broadcast Group's network of local television stations, one of the largest in the country. A survey by Pew Research Group earlier this year showed that local news was a vital source of information on the coronavirus for many Americans, and more trusted than the media overall. 
In this week's episode of the show, Bolling spoke with Judy Mikovits, the medical researcher featured in the discredited "Plandemic" video that went viral earlier this year and which was banned from platforms such as Facebook and YouTube. Throughout the segment, the on-screen graphic read, "DID DR. FAUCI CREATE COVID-19?" 
Bolling also spoke with Mikovits' attorney, Larry Klayman, a right-wing lawyer who also has a history of pushing misinformation and representing conspiracy theorists. 
During the interview Mikovits told Bolling that Fauci had over the past decade "manufactured" and shipped coronaviruses to Wuhan, China, which became the original epicenter of the current outbreak. Bolling noted that this was a "hefty claim," but did not meaningfully challenge Mikovits and allowed her to continue making her case. 
Klayman, who did not respond to a request for comment, also pushed conspiracy theories about the coronavirus. He said the "origins" of the virus were in the United States. Bolling didn't meaningfully challenge Klayman either. 
In the segment that immediately followed, Bolling spoke to Dr. Nicole Saphier, a Fox News medical contributor, to get her response to the claims from Mikovits and Klayman. 
Bolling and Saphier agreed that it was, in Saphier's words, "highly unlikely" that Fauci was behind the coronavirus. But they went on to theorize about other possible explanations for what had happened. Saphier said it was possible the virus was "man-made within a laboratory" and escaped. That claim has been rejected by experts who have studied the virus' genetic sequence. 

And now millions of people who get their information from the local news station they trust are going to be wondering if Dr. Fauci created the "China virus" to hurt Donald Trump's reelection and to destroy America on purpose.

Sinclair should have their FCC license revoked for this, but of course that won't happen.  But now we have to deal with this on top of everything else.

Bluenami Tsunami, Con't

Even grouchy contrarian Josh "The Democrats are always in trouble" Kraushaar now has the Republicans drowning in a tidal wave come November.

There are hints of the looming GOP shellacking all over. Joe Biden is up by a whopping 13 points in Trump’s new home state of Florida, according to a new Quinnipiac poll, as close to a must-win as it gets for the president. Trump is trailing in Texas by 1 point, consistent with other surveys showing the president in trouble in a state Republicans have carried in every election since 1976. Democrats are investing millions in Georgia, convinced that they can contest not just the presidential race but both Senate seats up for grabs in the traditionally red state. Democrats provided us with remarkable internal data from reliably Republican House seats—from Oklahoma to Indiana—showing districts that Trump carried by double-digits are now Biden battlegrounds in the presidential race.

Biden is now the heavy favorite to win the presidency. This week, The Cook Political Report declared Democrats are favored to win back the Senate, with a massive Democratic gain of five to seven seats more likely than a narrow Republican majority. And our House race rankings of the most competitive races contained more Republican-held seats than Democratic ones, a stunning dynamic given how many red-district seats Democrats are defending after riding a big blue wave in the 2018 midterms.

Indeed, the last midterm election is a useful benchmark for examining this year’s election. Optimistic Republican strategists are holding out hope that the political environment would be similar to that of two years ago, when Republicans badly struggled in the suburbs but ran competitively in wide swaths of the country. Republicans point out that GOP candidates notched a few significant wins that year despite their overall struggles, winning a big Senate seat and governor’s race in Florida, toppling a couple of red-state Democratic senators, and holding their own in working-class territory where Trump made major gains in his first presidential race.

Right now, replicating that 2018 environment looks like a best-case scenario for Republicans. They’re losing even more ground in the suburbs, forcing the party to write off nearly any district where Trump was already losing ground before. And as the coronavirus continues to spread across the country, Republicans are taking hits among normally dependable white working-class constituencies. The rural heartland of Iowa would normally be a golden opportunity for Republicans to mount a comeback. Instead, GOP Sen. Joni Ernst is struggling against a little-known challenger, and the GOP could whiff on three promising pickup opportunities in the House.
Actions are speaking as loudly for Republicans as the polls. Trump’s decision to dramatically scale back the Republican convention—canceling proceedings in Jacksonville after demanding a packed house full of Trump supporters weeks ago—is a sign of Republicans’ declining fortunes. A clear majority of voters don’t believe Trump has taken the pandemic seriously, and is continuing to punish him and his party for the misconduct. With early voting in many states beginning in two months, there’s not much time left for the president to shake off the widespread perception of incompetence on the biggest issue of the day. Businesses have again been forced to close in major hotspots across the South and Sun Belt, threatening another economic speed bump that Republicans simply can’t afford.

Internal Republican divisions are also beginning to emerge, in ways that suggest the party is already looking ahead to a post-Trump future. Republicans are struggling to find consensus on a new coronavirus-relief package, a fight that pits fiscal conservatives wary of spending additional public money against the risk of economic calamity that awaits if they don’t. Several House GOP hard-liners went after Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney this week, accusing her of being insufficiently supportive of the president. Cheney, a potential future party leader, fired back by portraying them as political nihilists. In Kansas, outside Republican groups are pouring millions into a primary in a desperate attempt to prevent a hard-right candidate from costing the party an otherwise winnable Senate race.

This is the sign of a political death spiral. At this point, Republicans would be content to suffer through another blue-wave election, holding out hope the Senate could remain narrowly in Republican hands. Right now, Republicans are staring at the reality of a historic tsunami, wiping out all their avenues of power in a rebuke against a hapless president

"Hotline" Josh Kraushaar usually can't get enough of Democratic misery, so for him to openly proclaim a "political death spiral" like this is a pretty good sign for November.

Also this weekend Cook Political Report's Amy Walter moves Florida into Biden's column, giving him an overwhelming electoral college win in November.

Given its track record in presidential campaigns over the last 20 years, it’s hard to think of Florida as anything other than a Toss Up. Since 2000, the winner of the state has never carried it by more than 5 points. In fact, in four of the last five presidential elections, the winner squeaked in by 3 points or less.

But, at this point, this battleground state looks less like a 50-50 proposition and more like a state that is leaning Biden’s way.
To paraphrase CNN’s crack polling analyst Harry Enten; sometimes politics is complicated, sometimes it’s not. Right now, it’s really not. When a major health crisis hits, Americans expect their leaders to handle it. If they don’t, voters will turn against them.

In Florida, as COVID-19 cases started to rise this summer, Trump has seen his vote margin and his job approval rating drop.

In the FiveThirtyEight poll tracker, Trump held a decent — though unimpressive, 47-48 percent of the vote against Joe Biden in the Sunshine state from March through April. By May, it had dropped to 45 percent. He has spent most of June in the 42-43 percent range. Biden’s lead has expanded from 2 points in March to almost 7 points in July.

It’s not just Trump who has seen his numbers slump as the state has struggled to contain the virus this summer. GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis has seen a drastic change in his political fortunes from spring to summer. A Quinnipiac poll released this week found DeSantis’ job approval rating at just 41 percent favorable to 52 percent unfavorable — a 19 point shift in negative opinion since April.

That July Quinnipiac poll found Biden leading Trump by 20 points on who is best able to handle the coronavirus, including an eight-point lead with those 65 and older. For months, Trump has questioned the severity of this crisis. But in Florida, 83 percent of voters see coronavirus as a serious problem, and 66 percent are very, or somewhat worried that they will get this virus. The only group not taking coronavirus seriously are Republican voters; 52 percent say they think the virus is under control.

Back in April, the last time Quinnipiac polled Florida, Biden had a narrow 4 point (46-42 percent) lead. In July, that lead has ballooned to 13 points (51-38). The big changes from April to July were among independents (Biden went from +7 to +16), men (Biden from -6 to +7) and white men (Biden from -21 to -11). Biden also improved his vote among Latinos by 9 points (from +8 to +17).

Trump supporters can criticize Quinnipiac’s recent track record in the state (their final polls in 2018 showed Democrats significantly ahead in both the Governor and Senate races). Even so, theIr final 2016 poll showed a dead heat in a state that Trump won by less than 2 points. More important than any polling, however, is the fact that Trump announced on Thursday that the RNC was cancelling their convention in Jacksonville. This is about all the proof you need that he and the campaign realize how big of a hole he’s currently sitting in.

Florida always finds a way to stay close. And, there’s reason to believe that Trump can win back some of the white men he lost from April to July. But, Biden is better positioned with these voters than Hillary Clinton was in 2016. A July 2016 Quinnipiac poll found Clinton’s favorable/unfavorable rating in the state at a dismal 35 to 59 percent (including 53 percent who viewed her very unfavorably). Opinions of Biden are evenly divided - 43 percent favorable to 43 percent unfavorable. Among white men, 71 percent viewed the former Secretary of State very unfavorably in July of 2016. Biden’s strongly unfavorable ratings among these voters are 44 percent.

Indeed, at this point Cook has Biden at 308 to Trump's 187, with tossups now moving to Trump's firewall states of AZ, GA, NC and Maine's 2nd. And yes, Iowa, Ohio, and Texas are all in play.

Having said that, my usual caveat: Trump's goal is to use COVID-19, federal mercenaries, a depression, and a broken Postal Service to drive turnout to under 40% so he can win.

Take nothing for granted, including your right to vote.

Tales From The Trump Depression, Con't

The moratorium on federal housing evictions expires today, and millions of Americans will be getting 30-day notices to pay up the full amount on rent due or face eviction in August.

The ban on evictions at federally backed properties that Congress passed in March as part of the CARES Act has played a significant role in shielding the nation’s renters from the risk of losing their homes during the pandemic, a ProPublica analysis of eviction cases filed before and during the pandemic shows.

In the months before the passage of the CARES Act, evictions at federally backed apartment buildings made up more than a third of the eviction cases filed in cities like Atlanta and Houston every month, according to ProPublica estimates. In those two cities alone, that amounted to more than 7,700 households a month.

In the months since the law went into effect, eviction filings at those properties have dropped to less than 200 a month on average, making up about 5% of eviction filings in May and June.

The reach of the federal moratorium varied widely by city. While over 40% of evictions in metro Atlanta before the pandemic were at federally backed apartments, that number was just over 20% in St. Louis and around 10% in Milwaukee.

At the same time, ProPublica found eviction filings were also down significantly, if less dramatically, at apartment complexes not covered by the ban. That suggests that other factors — including expanded unemployment benefits and rental assistance programs, an anemic rental market, and state and local court closures and eviction moratoriums — also played a crucial role in reducing the level of eviction cases filed against tenants during the coronavirus crisis thus far.

“The moratorium was just one component,” said Paula Cino, vice president of construction, development and land use policy at the National Multifamily Housing Council, a group that represents apartment owners. “The financial support of unemployment insurance, stimulus checks and other relief, we think that that was really a lifeline and it was successful in helping many Americans meet their housing needs.”

That financial support has allowed most tenants to make the rent each month, Cino said, pointing to survey data her group collects that shows only a small percentage drop in people able to make rent payments in July compared with a year earlier.

But both expanded unemployment payments and the federal eviction ban are set to wind down at the end of the month, and eviction filings have started to tick up in recent weeks as courts in many jurisdictions are either scheduled to or have already reopened.

That sets the stage for a potential crisis for renters and landlords alike if lawmakers don’t extend measures to support renters as Congress returned to session this week, housing advocates say.

“The next three weeks are going to be critically important,” said Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, a tenant advocacy group. “There will be a bill at the end of it, one way or another, and the scope and extent of it will determine if a tsunami of evictions will happen.”

Without another CARES Act, there will be a massive housing crisis at the end of the month and heading into September. Millions will be evicted into a deadly pandemic and economic depression, and the effects on both will be exponential and brutal.

By Labor Day we will have an unavoidable crisis, and the GOP took millions hostage by sitting on the HEROES Act that House Democrats passed ten weeks ago until the current CARES Act expired. Even if a bill was passed now, it would still take weeks to get things moving again.

It's going to get bad even with a bill, it's too late now.

Should the Senate adjourn for August recess without passing another bill, it's going to be devastating.

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