Trump, Democrats kick off final midterm campaign blitz
By KEN THOMAS
Thursday, November 1
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump launched an eight-state campaign blitz on Wednesday, seeking to shore up Senate Republicans and GOP gubernatorial candidates against an onslaught of Democratic surrogates, including entertainment icon Oprah Winfrey.
Trump will crisscross the nation, landing him in Senate battlefields such as Indiana, Missouri and Florida along with nail-biter contests for governor in Georgia and Ohio.
Winfrey, who offered crucial support to President Barack Obama during his 2008 rise, will campaign Thursday for Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, who is attempting to become the nation’s first black female governor.
Obama plans to campaign Friday for Abrams in Atlanta and in Miami to boost Florida Sen. Bill Nelson and Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum, who is running for governor. On Sunday, the former president will be in Gary, Indiana, for Sen. Joe Donnelly, who is among the most endangered Senate Democrats, and in his hometown of Chicago for J.B. Pritzker, who is the favorite in Illinois’ race for governor.
Democrats are defending several Senate incumbents in Republican-leaning states in their quest to narrow the GOP’s 51-49 majority. The terrain is more favorable in the House, where Democrats need a net pickup of 23 seats to recapture the majority, and in several states with vulnerable Republican governors.
A look at midterm campaign activities Wednesday:
Federal judges ordered Ohio to allow voters who had been purged for not voting over a six-year period to participate in this year’s election.
A divided 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel granted an emergency motion sought by voting-rights groups. The ruling overturned in part an Oct. 10 ruling by a federal judge that said voters haven’t been illegally purged from Ohio’s rolls.
Plaintiffs, led by the A. Philip Randolph Institute, lost their broader challenge in June to Ohio’s election administration process as unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Ohio’s practices.
Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted said he wouldn’t fight the order, aiming to avoid “an unnecessary source of contention with election only five days away.”
Trump slammed outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., tweeting that Ryan “should be focusing on holding the Majority” instead of weighing in on the president’s push to end the Constitution’s guarantee of birthright citizenship.
Trump tweeted that Ryan shouldn’t offer “his opinions on Birthright Citizenship, something he knows nothing about!”
Trump has said he can end the right to citizenship for babies born to non-U.S. citizens on American soil with an executive order. And he has argued that the right isn’t covered by the 14th Amendment, even though the text of the constitutional amendment says that “all persons born or naturalized” in the U.S. are citizens.
Ryan, who is retiring, said Tuesday that Trump couldn’t “end birthright citizenship with an executive order.”
Former Rep. Ron DeSantis suggested during a rally with President Donald Trump that his Democratic opponent in the race for Florida governor should be impeached over ethics questions in his role leading the city of Tallahassee.
DeSantis criticized his Democratic opponent, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, at length during his speech at the rally, bringing up an ongoing ethics investigation involving Gillum.
Gillum has asserted he paid his way on trips to Costa Rica and New York City, but newly released documents appear to contradict him.
Gillum has steadfastly denied any wrongdoing in the ethics probe, which is separate but related to an ongoing FBI investigation into city government.
DeSantis said maybe Gillum should be impeached. That prompted the crowd to chant, “Lock him up. Lock him up.”
The Libertarian candidate in Montana’s Senate race threw his support behind Republican Matt Rosendale in response to an election mailer from an unknown group that appears aimed at undermining Rosendale’s support among conservatives.
Rick Breckenridge said Wednesday that he doesn’t know the source of the mailer promoting him as a “true conservative” and claiming that Rosendale supports using drones to spy on private citizens.
Breckenridge said it was an attempt by so-called dark money groups to influence Montana’s election. He said he has decided to back Rosendale, who is in a tight race against two-term Democratic Sen. Jon Tester.
The mailer is reminiscent of tactics used by Democratic-friendly groups in Tester’s 2012 race to promote the Libertarian candidate and peel away Republican voters.
Vice President Mike Pence said during a stop in Ohio that the caravan of Central Americans walking toward the U.S. southern border represents “an assault on our country” and Republicans are “determined to end this crisis of illegal immigration once and for all.”
An estimated 4,000 Central American migrants have been walking across Mexico toward the U.S. border. The Defense Department has authorized the deployment of 5,200 troops to help along the U.S. border.
Pence was accompanied by Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, for a rally attended by several hundred people inside a hangar at an airport in Mansfield, Ohio.
It was aimed at helping Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, who is running for governor, Senate candidate Jim Renacci and Republican members of Congress.
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi declared late Tuesday that Democrats will win the House majority, predicting a “great night for America.”
Pelosi said in an interview with Stephen Colbert on “The Late Show” that “up until today, I would have said, ‘If the election were held today, we would win.’” Asked what had changed, Pelosi said, “What now I’m saying is we will win. We will win. We will win.”
Pelosi, who was the nation’s first female House speaker, could be in position to reclaim the gavel in House leadership elections after the midterms.
More than 3.4 million people in Florida have already voted, surpassing the number who voted early or by mail four years ago.
New statistics released Wednesday by the state Division of Elections show registered Republicans still have the edge, casting 1.43 million ballots compared to nearly 1.37 million by registered Democrats. More than 592,000 voters with no party affiliation have voted.
More than 1.48 million people have voted early, and more than 1.9 million people have voted by mail.
During the last midterm election, nearly 3.19 million Floridians cast their ballots before Election Day. More than 6.6 million voted early or voted by mail in the 2016 presidential election.
Florida has more than 13 million registered voters.
Associated Press writers Gary Fineout in Tallahassee, Fla.; Jill Colvin in Estero, Fla.; Matthew Brown in Billings, Mont.; and Dan Sewell in Cincinnati contributed to this report.
For AP’s complete coverage of the U.S. midterm elections: http://apne.ws/APPolitics
Ideologically motivated far-right extremists have killed close to 500 people since 1990 – and 10 percent were targeted based on religion
October 31, 2018
Associate Professor of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
Associate Professor of Criminal Justice, Seattle University
Jeff Gruenewald has received funds from the Department of Homeland Security and the National Institute of Justice for grants related to the Extremist Crime Database. He is affiliated with the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START).
William Parkin has received funds from the Department of Homeland Security and the National Institute of Justice for grants related to the Extremist Crime Database. He is affiliated with the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START).
Partners: Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.
The mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh exemplifies an increasingly deadly form of domestic terrorism committed by far-right extremists: the targeting of institutions and individuals due to their religious affiliation.
Unfortunately, it’s not new for far-right extremists to vilify non-white, non-Anglo-Saxon and non-Protestant religions. Judaism has endured most of their ideological rage and conspiratorial paranoia. For more than a century, extreme far-right ideologues have peddled anti-Semitic and racist conspiracy theories. Their dogma claims, falsely, that globalist Jews have infiltrated the government and other U.S. institutions, and that Jews and non-whites pose an existential threat to the white race.
Some more militant members of the extreme far-right have acted on these beliefs by attacking Jewish people and institutions. The ultimate goal for many, according to the information we collect about perpetrator motives, is to ignite a race war in which Anglo-Saxon whites will emerge victorious – such that they can reclaim power over the U.S. political system and social institutions.
Patterns of religious animosity
Since 2006, the U.S. Extremist Crime Database has been a reliable source of information on extreme far-right homicides. We and other terrorism researchers have used this database to understand the nature of violent and non-violent extremist crimes in the U.S.
From 1990 to the present, far-right extremists have committed 217 ideologically motivated homicides. Of these homicides, 19 targeted religious institutions or individuals thought to be associated with a particular religion. Eleven were motivated by anti-Semitism, specifically.
More than three-quarters of these homicides had only one victim; however, many events had multiple fatalities. Due to this, the total number of ideological homicide victims was 490, including the 168 murdered in the Oklahoma City bombing. Of those victims, more than 50 were murdered because the offender targeted an institution or individual based on religious affiliation, real or perceived.
Although religious minorities are murdered less frequently than racial and other social minorities, an increasing number of lethal attacks by extreme far-rightists have drawn more attention to this form of violence.
Including the 11 killed at the Tree of Life synagogue, other examples of attacks at religious institutions include the murder of seven at a Baptist church in Texas in 1999; two killed at a Unitarian church in Tennessee in 2008; six killed at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin in 2012; and nine killed at an African Methodist Episcopal church in South Carolina in 2015. Such attacks lead us to question whether violent extreme far-rightists may be increasing their focus on religious targets.
In addition, there have been close to 100 failed or foiled plots against Jewish institutions or individuals between 1990 and 2014. These plots, some involving attempted murders, rarely receive the same amount of attention as successful murders. However, the fact that failed or foiled plots are an estimated nine times as prevalent as similarly motivated homicides during this time frame is cause for concern.
The aftermath of anti-religious violence
For religious minority communities, hate crimes like vandalism and intimidation are all too common in the U.S. Recent reports reveal upticks in hate crimes targeting both Jews and Muslims.
Moreover, ECDB data on anti-Semitic homicides point to a disturbing trend. Far-right extremists are engaging in deadlier attacks within the most sacred of spaces: houses of worship. There is no indication that extreme far-rightists will cease propagating anti-Semitic conspiracies. And it is also likely that some will interpret these twisted messages as permission to kill religious minorities. As in in the past, some may even perceive doing so as a higher calling or sacred duty.
The trauma stemming from these attacks will have severe and long-lasting psychological effects on the victims, their families and the broader Jewish community. In this way, crimes targeting religious minorities and other protected groups are unique from parallel crimes and rip deeper at America’s social fabric.
We, as a society, may not know what exactly pushes one person to act so violently on their beliefs and another to not. But we believe countering divisive narratives with different viewpoints informed by evidence on what works to prevent radicalization is more productive than aggravating wounds with politicized rhetoric.
As Americans, we must speak openly about the perils of white supremacy, anti-Semitism and both the rhetorical and real dehumanization of those we perceive as unlike us. Those wielding political power and influence need to publicly and clearly condemn acts of violence by extreme far-rightists and the ideologies underpinning this form of domestic terrorism.
Dr. Steve Chermak at Michigan State University and Dr. Joshua D. Freilich at John Jay College of Criminal Justice contributed to this research.
No More Whitewashing Hate
by Wim Laven
Pro-Trump extremist Cesar Sayoc was arrested and charged last Friday (10/26) for mailing multiple pipe bombs. The apparent motive for the crime: politics.
Saturday (10/27), Robert Bowers was arrested for murdering 11 people at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburg PA, he gunned them down yelling “All Jews must die!” during Sabbath. Among his more misguided beliefs were claims that “[Jews] were committing genocide on his people,” and that “illegals” should be called “invaders.”
Sunday (10/28), Gregory “Whites don’t shoot whites” Bush gunned down two people after trying to break into a predominantly African American church in a suburb of Louisville KY.
The three hate crimes in three days, inspired by racial and religious bigotry, are not isolated; the SPLC (tracking over 1600 extremist groups across the U.S. since 1971) has presented increasing incidence of hate crimes for four consecutive years.Curiously these acts of terrorism (violence inspired by political ideology) have almost immediately been whitewashed by some powerful people.
Covering up the political roots of this violence is a real problem. It is literal and metaphorical. When House Majority Leader—Kevin McCarthy—tweets “We cannot allow Soros, Steyer, and Bloomberg to buy this election! Get out and vote Republican…” it is a clear reference to the tropes promoted by right-wing extremists. The so-called MAGA-Bomber sent a pipe bomb to George Soros, McCarthy is blaming Jews, and Trump has famously respondedto hate crimes with “some very fine people on both sides.” He loves to lie“paid for by Soros—or somebody else.”
When McCarthy deletes his anti-Semitic tweet, that simply is not good enough, more must be expected from the Representative who wants to take over for Paul Ryan. These campaigns of prejudicial stereotypes are a problem. When Republicans refuse to condemn Trump’s sinister lies they tacitly support all the bias bigotry he promotes.
The lies delivered by Trump and supported by the whole of the GOP are specifically mentioned as motivation for the attack on the Synagogue. The shooter claimed he wanted to stop Jews, because he believed they were responsible for orchestrating an invasion. This is the dishonesty Trump is pedaling in order to fire up his base. These hate crimes are political terrorism, and the problem will not be addressed until it is properly identified and placed in context.
It is time to make a more accurate comparison: The Republican Party Trump champions is a modern wave of the Ku Klux Klan. The first and the third waves of the KKK focused on limiting the political participation, rights, and social advancement of African-Americans. First during Reconstruction after the civil war and then again in response to the civil rights movement. The second, 1920’s, wave of the KKK focused on nationalism—which Trump has recently labeled himself—xenophobia over immigration, even now including Trump’s blatantly unconstitutional threat to stop the practice of babies born in the US being citizens even if their parents are not yet. These are a collection of fear-based policies of exclusion and supremacy.
Glossing over Trump’s lies, anti-Semitic tropes like McCarthy’s (and others present), or even the “Make America Great Again” slogan is as big a problem as the ability of homegrown terrorists to arm themselves. Whitewashing hate is what allows discussion on migrant caravans to ignore laws protecting asylum seekers while extremists sling violent rhetoric. MAGA is an echo of a time when redlining minority groups didn’t cost the Trump family any money. It remembers when a person could wear white robes and burn crosses at a Klan rally and go to work the next day. The truth stays the same: many of these racists are not violent, but it is time that we truly acknowledged that supporting the prejudice is more than tacit endorsement of the carnage.
The tactic is simple. Trump started by manufacturing a crisis. He called out the caravan—the threat to our borders—in an effort to get an easy victory. He already knew that only a small fraction of the thousands of women and children fleeing violence in Honduras were likely to make it to the U.S., but 5,200 troops sent to the border and illegally denying asylum are a great show of force. Short term he whips up the nationalist base, just like the 1920’s Klan, appeal to ideas of purity; long term he says that he kept everyone safe. The truth: there is no threat, is irrelevant.
It has always been clear that Trump only cares about himself. This is the reason he ignores even the most reasonable requests. In a city suffering from the shock of a hate crime, Trump wasn’t even willing to honor the requests that he wait to visit. Instead of providing security for a funeral, where fear of copycats exists, Pittsburg is forced to use their resources to guard the President whose jingoism catalyzed the violence. Hate is not a problem solved by erasing history.
There are many strategies for combating prejudice. Know your roots and take pride in your heritage. Invite people from different backgrounds to join in on your traditions, and, when invited, join in on theirs. Celebrate holidays, traditions, and difference—embrace it—and do not let it be a source of division. Avoid stereotypes, and speak out against jokes and slurs that disparage other groups. Educate yourself; accurate information is a great defense against prejudice. This can include reading, watching documentaries, traveling, or taking trips to museums.
Remember that ignorance has been weaponized, the lies are not harmless, and that this is all serious. Today’s Republican Party forces us to acknowledge that all lies matter, we must take care of each other, and we must pressure our leaders to restore our true American values in equality and honesty. It is clear what happens when we fail at this task.
Wim Laven, syndicated by PeaceVoice, worked on reconstruction in Sri Lanka after the 2004 tsunami, is an instructor of Political Science and International Relations at Kennesaw State University, and on the Governing Council of the International Peace Research Association.
Opinion: The Most Important Election Ever? No
By Antony Davies and James R. Harrigan
To listen to the media, this election is the most important in generations. The media are outdone in their breathlessness only by politicians who proclaim it the most important in history. The election of 2018, really? This election is more important than those surrounding and during the War of 1812, the Civil War, the crash of 1929, the Great Depression, and two world wars? The elections surrounding these events were far more important, and anyone with an ounce of common sense knows as much.
There are two reasons people trot out this foolishness every two years. First, politicians from both sides of the aisle have a vested interest in scaring voters. They will do anything to encourage their respective bases to get to the polls. People who are not frightened are less likely to vote.
Second, and more distressing, is that the American people have come to the erroneous conclusion that politics is the means by which they can solve their problems. From this perspective, every election is the most important one in history precisely because whatever problems voters presently face are, to them, the most important problems that have ever been.
This year, Democrats are working with a “hijacked democracy” narrative, that voting rights are being stolen, money is irreversibly damaging the political process, and the rich aren’t contributing their fair share. Republicans counter, saying that Washington is a swamp that must be drained, there is an invading force from South and Central America poised on our southern border, and today’s judicial appointments will determine policies for generations to come.
Both sides craft their rhetoric to point to one conclusion: The stakes are so high in this election that we must get out to vote. And if your party’s candidate is unpalatable, then get out and vote anyway, because the other party’s candidate is even worse.
The real crime is that people fall for this same tired line every two years. They never seem to realize that, once the election is over, it will be business as usual in Washington. Then, politicians will ignore the voters until the next two-year cycle begins, at which point they will rinse, wash and repeat yet again.
The way to break this cycle is to acknowledge that government is not a panacea. If applied well, government can solve a limited number of specific types of problems. The rest it will solve not at all. Indeed, if applied to problems to which it isn’t suited, government will only create new ones.
Government is a good tool for helping people to live peacefully together, and it is the most effective tool for providing for a limited number of shared needs, like a military, national infrastructure and a justice system. It is decidedly not good at giving people the various and sundry things they want, like retirement benefits, “free” health care, and maybe someday soon “free college.” Economic theory, political theory and centuries of evidence demonstrate that government can be an effective umpire, but is simply not up to playing Santa Claus.
That people want things is not an indication that this, or any election is the most important in our nation’s history. It is just another election. The election rhetoric will frighten people into voting, but they are inclined to believe the rhetoric precisely because they expect more from government than it is capable of delivering.
For proof, consider everything government has ever tried to accomplish, from Social Security, to health care for veterans and the poor, to the war on poverty, to the war on drugs, to balancing the budget, then apply that elusive ounce of common sense. Because when you expect too much, you are bound to be disappointed.
ABOUT THE WRITERS
Antony Davies is associate professor of economics at Duquesne University. James R. Harrigan teaches in the department of Political Economy and Moral Science at the University of Arizona. They host the weekly podcast Words & Numbers. They wrote this for InsideSources.com.
Opinion: Will 2018 Be the ‘Macbeth Midterms’?
By Michael Graham
What if they held an election and everybody came … but it didn’t make any difference, anyway?
While politician after politician embrace the mantra that the 2018 midterms are (to coin a phrase) “the most important election in our lifetime,” the available data point to something else. Call them the Macbeth Midterms: “Sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
OK, maybe not “nothing.” But not very much.
“Nothing I see on the horizon is showing there will be any meaningful change from this election,” says New England College political science professor Wayne Lesperance. “The status quo is going to be affirmed.”
No, Professor Lesperance isn’t predicting Republicans will hold the House. Far from it. He believes it’s all but certain that Nancy Pelosi will be speaker once again. But the GOP will likely add to its majority in the Senate, giving both sides something to brag about and, most significant, the bases of both parties the ability to declare a victory, reinforcing their strategy of “fight, fight, fight!”
Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight gives Democrats an 86 percent chance of taking the House but just an 18 percent shot at control of the Senate. According to Democratic political strategist Bob Shrum, now director of the Center for the Political Future at the University of Southern California, its latest polling finds a Democratic advantage of around 17 percent in voter preference. But because those liberal voters tend to be packed together around major urban centers, the net number of congressional seats they pick up may not be as impressive as their poll numbers.
At the University of Virginia, for example, Larry Sabato’s “Crystal Ball” team finds “212 seats rated Safe, Likely, or Leaning Democratic, 202 Safe, Likely, or Leaning Republican, and 21 Toss-ups. Democrats would need to win everything at least leaning to them and six of the remaining Toss-ups to win a majority. As we assess the Toss-ups right now, we’d probably pick half or more to go Republican, and some of our Leans Democratic rated races may very well be too bullishly rated for Democrats.”
Net result: A narrow Democratic House majority. Hardly the political earthquakes of 1994 or 2010.
Not everyone agrees. Shrum believes a 30- or 40-seat Democratic House wave is on its way.
“I don’t think it’s just a lot of noise. I think something is really going on out there,” Shrum said. “About 20 percent of the respondents in the USC/LA Times poll are what we call ‘hold your nose’ voters. They don’t like the Trump or Pelosi agendas. In 2016, those people broke for Trump. In the latest poll they’re breaking for Democrats in the House 59-34 percent.”
And if Shrum is right … so what? On Wednesday, November 7, the House is controlled by Democrats, the Senate is slightly more Republican, Trump is still Trump, and America is just as partisan and divided as it was before. We remain the fairly evenly split, 50-50 nation we’ve been since at least the 2000 Bush v. Gore election.
“I think that’s right,” says political analyst Michael Barone. “We’ve had divided government two-thirds of the time over the last half-century. Two of the three previous presidents saw their victories followed immediately by their own parties losing big in their first midterms. It would likely have happened to George W. Bush, too, if not for the effects of 9/11.”
Which is why this may be a ‘Macbeth Midterm’: Rather than a major shift in political direction, a clear win for one party or the other that resolves the national debate and sets our politics on a new course (think Reagan in ’80 or Kennedy in ’60), this election is instead going to involve massive turnout and record-setting levels of campaign spending and shouting mobs and protests and politicians chased out of restaurants all leading up to … more of the same.
Consider the Clinton example. When his party lost control of Congress, President Bill Clinton abandoned his leftward push and famously declared “the era of big government is over.” The Clinton presidency after the GOP took control of Congress was very different from the first two years.
Does anyone expect a similar shift in the Trump presidency? The more likely outcome is for Trump to double-down on his “us-vs-them” warfare, but with the added benefit of Speaker Pelosi as his new foil.
“For President Trump, a Democratic House majority will be great in some ways — the attacks, the hearings, the subpoenas,” Lesperance says. “He’ll be able to tell his supporters ‘They’re coming after me just like I told you they would. It’s vendetta time!’ It really does set him up for 2020.”
Shrum believes the Democrats will be smarter than that. “I believe wise heads will prevail, including Representative Pelosi’s. There will be no rush to impeachment. Democrats will wait for the (special counsel Robert) Mueller report and see where it leads.”
“Trump is going to have to show he can make deals with the Democrats,” Shrum says, and Democrats are going to be ready to deal. “I think they’re also going to attempt to do a real middle-class tax cut, probably paid for by rolling back some of the tax benefits that went to the top 1 percent,” and he sees an infrastructure package potentially on the table, too.
That’s one scenario. The other is that the newly-energized progressives like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rep Ayanna Pressley show up in Congress ready to wage war against a president they’ve preached is both prejudiced and impeachable. Meanwhile, would-be presidential candidates in the Senate like Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand and Kamala Harris will play to their party’s progressive base in an attempt to power up their 2020 campaigns. All of which will give President Trump precisely the political opponent he wants for his re-election campaign.
The first scenario is based on hope. The latter is based on experience. Place your bets accordingly.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Michael Graham is political editor of NH Journal. He’s also a CBS News contributor. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.