Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Trump helps the rich get richer. Democrats have an issue.

We have an income distribution problem. Most of the increased income since 1970 has gone to the top 10% of income earners.

Click: inequality.org
Wages and incomes for lower and middle income people have been nearly flat for decades. The new GOP tax bill made the problem worse. It favored corporations, top income earners, and inheritors. 

Trump wants yet another tax cut for them.

Inequality has been growing since mid-century. The top 1% now gets 22% of the national income, up from 8%-10% during the post-WW2 decades. The rich get richer and the others struggle. We are back in the Great Gatsby pre-1929 bubble era on the concentration of wealth.

Progressive taxation helps ameliorate this. The structural problems remain (the gig economy, automation, foreign competition, reduced private sector unions) but the after tax result is that incomes are more equalized when we have progressive taxation.  The battle lines have been established, with constant tension between Democrats who advocate for more progressive taxation, and Republicans who have pushed to cut taxes for the wealthiest. 

This is a message the public understands. The 2017 tax bill was and remains unpopular for that reason. When it was passed only 17% of American thought it would help the middle class and only 29% of people liked the bill, measured by both Reuters and Quinnipiac. Click: Reuters
Click: Voters think it mostly helps the richest.

It is still unpopular, and for the same reason. Voters see a pattern and have integrated it into their minds: it helps other people, people richer than themselves.

Now Trump wants to make inequality worse, with a proposal to cut capital gains taxation. People who work and earn money pay taxes on the money they get. They pay Social Security taxes, Medicare taxes, and then regular income taxes on that money. That is called earned income and this pays at the highest rates, up to 37%, plus additional Medicare surcharge of up to 2.35%

Click: Oregonlive.com
Capital gains: When a taxpayer has an investment asset that gets sold at a profit the taxpayer pays either no taxes at all on the gain, or for the wealthiest, a 20% top tax rate. 

Earnings from work is taxed at a much higher rate than earnings from capital appreciation. Many voters are only dimly aware of this fact.

Who has significant capital gains? People with significant capital, i.e. wealthy people. Income from capital already gets favorable tax treatment, and Trump would make it an even better deal.  Some 97% of the benefit of the Trump proposal on capital gains would go to the wealthiest 10%.  Click: Wharton Study, March 2018

He would accomplish this by indexing the "cost basis" to inflation. Trump wants the IRS and Treasury to implement a change in the tax law by executive order--not legislation--by instructing the IRS to re-define the calculation of "basis,", i.e. by indexing the original cost of the asset to inflation, so the taxable gain would be less--often much less. Doing it by executive mandate creates its own controversy. Previous GOP presidents had considered this and concluded that it was an illegal usurpation of Congressional authority, but GOP legislators might not raise a fuss. Trump wants the "credit," and perhaps vulnerable Members of Congress can avoid the political fallout.

Trump is presenting Democrats with a good clear issue that is congruent with the current progressive direction of Democrats: reduce income inequality.

Trump has been better than Democrats at creating a simple, clear overarching message that clicks into place in the public mind. He denied the economy was recovering under Obama and said it was fake news and fake statistics. He said economic problems were due to foreign nations and illegal immigrants. He said liberal political correctness kept Democrats from caring or doing anything about it.  But he would do something, boldly, and stop foreigners taking advantage of us. He would make America great again.

Simple. It made sense to many voters as a diagnosis, a villain identified, and a cure.

Click: NY Times article

Democrats have an opportunity here. Now it is their turn. 

Voters understand that the changes in the economy in the past 4 decades have created winners at the top and strugglers among the bottom 80%. Democrats need a message with a diagnosis, a villain, and a cure. 

The diagnosis is that the vast majority of Americans are being hurt by a system that benefits the very top. The system is rigged in favor of capital, not earners. The privileged are protecting their own and the workers cannot get ahead, and indeed cannot get out of debt. The villains are Trump and the GOP Congress that is openly--flagrantly, even--creating even more benefits to the richest with the increased inheritance benefit, income tax cuts, and now capital gains tax cuts. They pretended to want to drain the swamp but in reality they are chest deep in the swamp, under the influence of their special interest donors. The cure is to elect liberal progressive Democrats who will reverse that by de-rigging the system, by restoring progressively to the tax structure so the wealthiest don't get away with paying a lower tax rate less than a struggling family with both adults working, which is what happens today, with the blessing of Trump and the GOP.

Voters would understand this. They already are primed to understand this by what they already know and think. 

Democrats have an issue if they spell it out clearly and forcefully.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Heads up for Democrats. "No," means no.

She keeps saying no.  Listen to her.

Some voters on the left are lost to the Democrats.  

Move on. There are plenty of fish. 

Democrats are in turmoil. The Bernie/Hillary wounds have not healed. Russian hacking revealed that the DCC preferred Hillary. The Democratic Party is suspect as an institution. 

Progressive groups in Facebook provide source material. Some writers say we need to hold our noses and support Democrats for the sake of unity. Others are angry and inconsolable. Progressive Facebook groups regularly post angry denunciations of Democrats.

Yesterday's post was a first person observation by a "regular" long-time Democrat--someone who voted for Bernie in the primary but supported Hillary in the general election--who was pushed out of his local volunteer assignment by being made uncomfortable by a consortium of people restless and discontented with his "old guard" thinking. 

Never, ever let him kick the ball.
Part of the dynamic taking place within the Bernie/Hillary split is that Democrats keep courting the Bernie-left, and keep being urged by the Bernie-left to court them. The votes lost to Ralph Nader in 2000 and to Jill Stein in 2016 were the difference between election and defeat. Democrats consider these to be low hanging fruit, people who should have voted for the better of the two candidates.  Surely, Hillary would have been better than Trump. If they could just become enough like them, then they would pick up that vital one or two percent. So close, but so far.

Democrats humiliate themselves by failing to take the hint. No means no.

Democrats are misunderstanding this. The power of the Nader/Stein/forever-Bernie left comes from resistance, not consent. By resisting they have leverage, the 1% moving the 49%. Once they agree to compromise, their influence disappears. They want to be courted, but must stay forever out of reach.

Never, ever Democrat
The low hanging voter fruit for Democrats is not that final 1-5% on the Bernie left. The low hanging fruit is among the "regular" Democratic voters, the ones who do not respond to talk of "socialism" and "abolish ICE." These people are unmotivated voters because they have no interest or patience for policy nuance. They look at politics the way I personally look at professional football: no interest until the Super Bowl, then I pick a team based on the color of the uniform. There are a lot of Americans who are apathetic. The key is to motivate them with something clear, simple, and interesting. 

That is what Trump did. The Trump schtick is interesting theater, with a simple message and a simple villain. 

The Nader/Stein/forever-Bernie people urge Democrats to go full throttle left. The progressive left has an argument to make--that their policies have appeal and would motivate the unmotivated, but this proposition has been tested. More Democrats voted for Hillary than for Bernie in the 2016 primary. In the general election voters had Jill Stein to vote for, and she got 1% of the vote. In 2000 Ralph Nader got 3% of the vote. In 1972 George McGovern got 38% of the vote.

Or: Nominate someone exciting and transformative.  Hillary was a stale idea. She was familiar and shopworn. I supported her and watched a half dozen of her speeches from a distance of less than ten feet. She was boring. She was Sisyphus, pushing a rock hopelessly up a hill. Popular excitement comes from the personality and charisma of the candidate. JFK had it. Ronald Reagan had it. Trump is appalling to many people but he has charisma. He excites crowds. He stirs emotions.

Facebook Group
The ongoing theme of this blog is that politics is understood by blunt body language tone and action. Trump understands this. If he shuts down the government to demand his border wall he will have communicated that he really, really wants a border wall. People will understand that. It will get through to the uninterested voter.

The Democrat who will create low hanging fruit is someone who understands that presidential politics is theater, not a seminar on policy. If they nominate a policy wonk, then Trump will be re-elected, because the low hanging Democratic fruit will not be motivated to vote.

Is there someone exciting out there? 

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Allen Hallmark Up Close: First Person, Present Tense

Local Democrats jostle over how best to encourage Democrats to vote. It looks messy because democracy is messy.

Allen Hallmark: Facebook portrait
Today's post: A letter from a political soldier, writing from the battlefront of Democratic politics.

It is one slice of the story of what is happening on the American left. Factions are jostling for control of the Party, its message, and the future of the country.

Jackson County Democrats abruptly adjourned a packed meeting on Thursday, ending discussion of a proposal to change the way Democrats organized the data and volunteers for its Get-Out-The-Vote program. People disagreed over whether the proposal itself was a good idea, plus whether the process to evaluate the new idea was a good one. It was unruly, with heckling and shouted questions from the audience.

I post on this subject because it is a microcosm of the energy--and division--within the Democratic party nationally. What happened here was a confluence of political ideology, personal ambitions of some of the players, political alliances of groups within the party, personal friendships, and old grudges and resentments. 

The past isn't past, and people are motivated to shape the future. 

Guest Post: Allen Hallmark.  

Allen Hallmark's letter to fellow Democratic activists is a primary source document. His letter is a snapshot. He doesn't tell the whole story, nor fully explain the context, nor the personalities, nor the details of the proposal that was not accepted. He was writing to people who already knew the context. 

Readers should read this, instead, like a letter home from an army corporal in an infirmary near the battle front. The corporal describes what he saw, his experience, his up close view, not the whole big picture war. That's what makes it authentic and useful.

Hallmark is a former reporter for the Mail Tribune, where he covered local government and politics. News coverage was far more extensive then. Every single weekday he would write two or three stories about county government, typically with one story appearing on page one and the remainder on page three. He is retired now, and volunteers for the local Democratic Party.  

[Note: Hallmark gave me permission to quote this letter. It is lightly edited, primarily to flesh out abbreviations.]

   "Dear my fellow Precinct Committee Persons,

   Yes, I’m resigning my position as chair of our Neighborhood Leader Program’s Steering Committee. I do so with a heavy heart and not because our proposed GOTV (get out the vote) Pilot Program was rejected by the majority at Thursday night’s Central Committee meeting by moving to adjourn suddenly.

    No, I’m resigning because I just can’t deal with the increasing incivility exhibited by some members of both the Central Committee and the Executive Committee. I knew that getting the GOTV Pilot Program passed on such as short timeline was a very longshot, indeed, but the members of our Steering Committee thought it worth a shot.
But I don’t think that Tonya Graham was given a fair chance to present the proposal before being bombarded with questions before she could finish her presentation.

    We brought the proposal to the Central Committee on Thursday because we were told that there would not be another opportunity for it to be heard until the Sept. 28th Central Committee meeting, which would have been too late in the campaign.

    In the simplest terms, the GOTV Pilot Program proposal was for the Jackson County Democratic Neighborhood Leader Program to disaffiliate from the Democratic Party of Oregon’s NLP just for this general election campaign and ask our Neighborhood Leaders to work through Cathy Shaw’s Operation GOTV for this election only--and only if Shaw signed a legally binding contract to turn over the data she has gathered over the past decade or so to the Jackson County Democrats so that in all future elections there would be just one GOTV effort, and it would be run by the JC Democratic Party. At present there are two separate GOTV programs that sometimes overlap.  Merging the two programs for this one election would have given our candidates the best shot at winning and after the election we potentially could have doubled the number of Neighborhood Leaders.

    As I say, I was not at all confident that our Pilot Program proposal would pass and if there had been a civil, respectful hearing after which a motion was made and had gone down to defeat, I would have had no problem with the result, and our committee would have gone back to preparing for the coming election as the NLP affiliated with the Democratic Party of Oregon's program.

    But there was no civil and respectful hearing of the proposal. Instead, there was bullying, bluster and acrimony.

    In my view our Party has been invaded by zealots of the left just as in 2010 the national Republican Party was taken over by zealots from the right, known as the Tea Party. Our Revolution Southern Oregon and its allies (some of whom have been elected to leadership roles and aspire to even higher positions) have done a super job of recruiting like-minded people to apply to be Precinct Committee People.    

    That’s why many of you became PCPs – thank you!

    Although Our Revolution Southern Oregon (ORSO) is not a Standing Committee of the Jackson County Democratic Party, I think we’d be better off if it were. Then, we’d have some transparency from that group about its members, its goals and its tactics. It seems to me that ORSO is using many of the tactics of the Tea Party to achieve its goals, among which are electing its members to all the leadership positions and especially all the delegate positions. Electing ORSO members as delegates to the DPO State Central Committee (SCC) and to the DPO 2nd Congressional District Committee (CD2) is a big goal because they aim to take over leadership of the SCC and CD2 in order to be in position to elect Our Revolution delegates to the Democratic National Convention in 2020, which will elect the Democratic Party’s nominee for President of the United States.

    One of the tactics of ORSO, in my view, was to rewrite the Bylaws of the Jackson County Democratic Party to weaken the power of the chair of the party and put nearly all power in the hands of the Central Committee, which they accomplished at a series of meetings in late 2017 into April 2018 when the new Bylaws were adopted. It will be interesting to see what happens once an ORSO member or ally because chair. Will they then work to change the Bylaws to give the chair more powers? We’ll see.

    I count many friends among the members and allies of ORSO. I was active in the Rogue Valley chapter of Move to Amend and a supporter of Occupy Ashland some years ago with Andy Seles and others who are now ORSO members. [Deleted: Hallmark lists names of people he has worked with amicably.] I’m a strong supporter for Health Care for All Oregon. I voted for Bernie in the 2016 Oregon Primary and was a delegate to the DPO State Convention that elected Bernie delegates to the Democratic National Convention. But I’m certainly not pure enough for ORSO and its allies.

Photo by Dasja Dolan
   Over the last 14 years or so I have served the Jackson County Democratic Party in many capacities, always as a volunteer. I have been at various times Office Volunteer, Campaign Committee co-chair, newsletter editor, founder of the JCDP Facebook page and frequent contributor to it, delegate to the DPO 2nd Congressional Committee, delegate to the DPO State Central Committee and vice chair and chair of the JC Democratic Central Committee among other roles. I am a Grassroots Donor to the JCDP, giving monthly, and I always buy tickets to fundraisers if I’m going to be in town even though I’m far from being a rich guy.
   Serving this party as a volunteer has been one of the cornerstones of my volunteer life in retirement because I felt it was a great way to give back to our community, raise the consciousness of our community and to elect Democratic candidates who would fight for a clean environment & against climate change, support public education, social & economic justice & common spaces. In other words -- make our community, our state & our nation a better place to live.
  But I can no longer serve as a chair or vice chair of a standing committee of the JCDP or participate in the contentious debates that have characterized the Executive Committee & Central Committee meetings lately.
   I ask you, what kind of Democratic Party do you want in Jackson County? Do you want a Party that demands political purity of its members and leaders or a more inclusive Party that welcomes Hillary liberals as well as Bernie progressives? Do you want a Party that demands strict adherence to rules or one that allows members of committees to come forward with ideas and whose members listen first and ask questions later?  A Party that is raucous & rude to those who don’t hue to the ORSO line or a party that is courtesy and works out its differences without so much rancor and finger-pointing?
I’d love to hear your answers.

Allen Hallmark
Former Chair, JCD Neighborhood Leader Program

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Politics of smoke in Southern Oregon

Warning to environmentalists: the smoke is changing opinions on forest management.

The forest issue is flipping. It used to be that "natural" was good.  Now "natural" is a hazard.

Democrats need to re-discover logging and forest management. Voters in the American west are re-thinking forest land.

Hazard day: visability 200 yards
For decades the battle had been between
environmentalists, who wanted "quality of life," versus the timber industry that argued that clearcuts and pollution were good. "Those are jobs you smell."  

The political parties aligned here in southern Oregon. Democrats supported individual citizens concerned about livability and the environment. They sided with the little guy against the powerful industry groups, with the money to lobby and finance the campaigns of the "pro-job, pro-business" Republicans. Democrats wanted restrictions on harvest volumes and lumber mill pollution. 

In general, environmentalists were in favor of "preserving" and doing less. They spoke to the value of camping and tourism and the clean water and air that comes off natural forests. And they favor wilderness--preserving wild, untouched places. Republicans supported the do-more-cut-more view of monetizing the forests for wood extraction. Republicans had the support of the Chamber of Commerce and business community and small government/low regulation oriented voters. Tourism was dismissed as a niche, low-wage industry. 

The local alignment fit the national line up. Democrats for "livability," and protecting endangered species and the environment. Republicans for freedom and jobs. Democrats complain about coal and fracking; Republicans talk of "clean coal" and "Drill, baby, drill."

The smoke is changing things.  

For the past few summers the forests surrounding southern Oregon have been burning up  Last year the forest fires started in earnest in August. This year they started in early July. The air is hazardous to breathe on some days. On others, it is merely "unhealthy."  It makes summers--the height of the tourist season--unbearable. 

Perceptions of the forest have changed. Those uncut trees are just waiting to burn up and fill your house and lungs with bad air. Forest fires can kill you. Today some 500 homes in the city of Redding, California, about 120 miles south of here burned up, notwithstanding all the resources of a city fire department. You cannot protect yourself; the fire jumped the Sacramento River. Last year hundreds of homes burned up in the city of Santa Rosa when the fire jumped a ten lane freeway. East of Portland a fire jumped the Columbia River.

Better day: visibility two miles 
The fires and smoke reverse the polarity of the "livability" political argument. Trees and natural forests aren't the presumed good guys anymore. Now they are a menace. Not just a potential menace--like bears or cougars. They are a menace in your face. They breed fires that burn up homes deep inside city limits. It causes evacuations. It fills vast areas with miserable air that destroys your summer BBQ, cancels your camping trip, keeps your kids from going outside to play, and ruins the visit from out of town relatives.
Timber "harvest" had formerly been dangerous talk for a Democrat. "Harvest" implied a crop, and natural forests were to be considered a complex organic whole, of trees and water and wildlife and a source of pristine air. Environmentalists generally wanted relatively few trees cut, and their organizations used the tools of lawsuits to bring federal timber sales to a crawl, to protect the spotted owl, to protect a waterway, to question the data in an Environmental Impact Statement. Stop the clearcuts! Stop the rape of our natural environment! Save the wildlife! It was a politically viable position.

Democrats need to re-callibrate, both policy and message, because the facts on the ground have changed and the public perception has changed. "Harvest" cannot be a dirty word anymore. There is an opportunity for Democrats to describe increased timber harvest as a good thing, both for jobs and the environment. Logging would reduce some of the fuel load and it would create the revenue that would allow better thinning of brush and over-dense vegetation. Theoretically, this should not be hard for Democrats, since it is consistent with the overall Democratic message that a wise government steps in to address problems. Fuel-loaded forests are now understood to be a problem. 

Managing the forests better--more--would be a popular argument in the midst of dense smoke in cities. The impediment will be the portion of the Democratic environmental base that is uncomfortable with logging and willing to make the argument that forest fires are natural, and therefore some combination of inevitable and beneficial. Natural is good. Logging is selling out to corporations. Forest management is "centrist." They resist having the forest fires blamed on them. Reduced cuts aren't the problem, they argue. Thinning could be done with tax money, not forest harvest revenues. Natural forests aren't the ones that burn the most. 

There are these arguments to be made, but it is a tougher sell amid the smoke. 

Forests they helped preserve are burning up. Breaking news shows homes on city streets on fire.  People watch the news and breathe the air and think this is intolerable. The forests are analogous to MS-13, aggressive and dangerous and a very easy target for public concern by Republicans who see a political opportunity. 

Democrats are the "do something" party. They will do something about the forests burning up, or they will get creamed politically.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Push-Poll Mystery in Southern Oregon

Who done it? And what did they do, really? 

CLICK; Maxwell Smart: "Would you believe. . . "

Advertising testing, probably.

Someone wants to know what lies and half-truths people will believe.

My current thinking is that we did not see a push-poll. In the long run, what we are seeing is worse.

It is too early in the season for push-polls. What local citizens experienced and objected to was some ad testing. It was a preview of coming attractions: ugly ads.  People weren't being pushed, they were being tested to see how they can best be pushed.

What lie will you believe?

Who is out there testing ads? PACs and organized lobby groups with the money to do it, and there is lots of money sloshing around. The Senate District 3 race is one of the swing districts which will determine whether the Oregon Senate has 18 Democrats, or perhaps only 16 or 17.  Either way, it is a majority--there are 30 Senators-- but if it is 18 then Democrats would have the 60% majority necessary to pass revenue bills without Republican votes. 

Who asked the negative poll questions that got people surprised and angry?

   1. Probably not National Research, Inc. That company got paid some $14,850 by the No Supermajorities PAC, an in kind contribution to Jessica Gomez, and they did in fact do a poll. They had been a prime suspect for me.  I don't think they are the ones with the nastiest questions. Alan DeBoer says he knows exactly the questions they asked--which he won't reveal, but said they were not the harshest ones. 

"Not my poll."
I spoke with the owner of the company, Adam Geller, and he, too, wouldn't reveal the questions. Their secrecy doesn't surprise me. Their thoughts as to Jessica Gomez's and Jeff Golden's potential weak spots would be too revealing of their campaign strategy. It wouldn't surprise me if some of the questions would come across as mean spirited, and contrary to their goal to present Jessica Gomez as "nice", not vicious, but there would have been no need to include statements that were memorable as vicious against Gomez.

Adam Geller suggested there was likely a second poll, taking place the same time as theirs, and the confusion comes because my informants are reporting two polls, theirs plus one that is harder-hitting. Alan DeBoer--one of the people who happened to have been polled--got the harsh one.

Am I naive to believe Alan DeBoer (who many would say is dishonest per se since he has two strikes against him, being a salesman of used cars and a politician, both) and Adam Geller (a New Jersey political operative and spin creator who works for Chris Christie and Donald Trump)?  Surely, I am a gullible fool to believe them.

In fact, I do believe them.

The poll they created was a poll, not a message piece, and it may well have tested negative statements, but not the worst of them. It was too long to be a simple hit piece, and the No Supermajorities PAC probably wouldn't attack Gomez.

I believe there is enough statewide interest and PAC available for there to be multiple polls. One of my informants, Gayle Lewis, felt quite certain she had pinned down a different name for the source of the poll: Long River Research.  Such a firm exists, in Beaverton, Oregon. I will see what I can learn from them.

I asked Geller why a second poll had not shown up on the Secretary of State's report.  He said that it might not show up until it had been fully paid for, and invoicing might be several weeks delayed. As an alternative  he said the organization that commissioned the poll might be attempting to construe it as internal background research for their own purposes and not an election expense, and therefore not report it at all. The money trail is not foolproof or prompt, he said.

   2. Probably not the OEA. The OEA PAC reports spending $40,000 for election related surveys, and I spoke with Trent Lutz of their organization. He said they favored Jeff Golden and that local people here might be helping his campaign, but said that they were not going to be fully engaged at the state level because Golden is refusing PAC money. He said they had not done polling down here. I believe him. He didn't seem that motivated.

  3. Probably not Curt Ankerberg or any other provocateur. The poll was too long and complicated to be a prank. A prankster would have asked four or five incendiary questions, then moved on. It was probably a real poll by a real professional, but one administered so poorly that my informants couldn't quite believe it was real. 

Occam's razor, again. When forced to choose between a clever, well designed conspiracy of evil-doing, or simple stupidity and incompetence, go with incompetence.

The take-away: Some group with the capacity to spend $10,000 or more is testing negative ads and messages, and it isn't being coordinated with the campaigns. The Republican side has the money to do this, but we don't really know which side is behind this. But people don't test negative ads unless they have the capacity and interest to run negative ads.

The real ugly stuff comes later. 

Thursday, July 26, 2018

UPDATE-- Push-Poll in Medford-Ashland State Senate campaign

There is a smoking gun. 

Culprit? National Research.

The question is whether it is the right smoking gun.

One thing we can do is follow the money.

Here is what we know:

1. At least seven local citizens got called for an opinion poll. All seven were surprised and unhappy at the harshness and dishonesty of some of the statements in the poll attributed to Jeff Golden and Jessica Gomez. The citizens were familiar enough with the candidates that they knew the statements to have been flatly dishonest.  

2. All of the local citizens suspected it might not be a poll at all, but rather a negative hit piece, intended to insert negative, dishonest information, on both candidates.

3. We can track the money that might have paid for this, using the State of Oregon's tracking system: Click  On the left is "Transaction Purpose". Scroll down within that box to "Surveys and Polls" then click "Search."

One of the top polling expenditures was paid by "No Supermajorities PAC" for an amount of $14,850. The line looks like this.

Clicking on the magnifying glass icon for detail shows it was a Survey for SD3, and it was done by a company called "National Research" of Hazlet, New Jersey. The detail looks like this:

That looks promising. Did either candidate show this as an in-kind contribution?


There is no sign of it for Jeff Golden, but for Jessica Gomez we see a $14,850 in-kind contribution. It looks like this: 

What kind of firm is National Research of Hazlet, New Jersey? Their website says they are in the "opinion management business" and the very top tab for their array of services is "AD TESTING."

That was exactly what the nasty push-poll was ostensibly doing--testing which statements might get people to change their minds.

Right time. Right amount of money. Right purpose. And the firm that does the work advertises itself as doing exactly what the push-poll did. 

The smoking gun.


I brought this information to the attention of Alan DeBoer. I said it looked very suspicious.  

DeBoer had told me he was confident that this company with the in kind contribution to Jessica Gomez was not the firm--well, "90% sure."  It must be someone else, he said. He observed that, yes, he is actively raising money for the No Supermajority PAC, but we didn't contract for a nasty push-poll.

I said I would contact National Research personally (I have a call into them) but I suspected they are unwilling to discuss the poll with me. I said it makes sense that this is the source of the push-poll--assuming political activity is reported, as is required by law.

In a second conversation yesterday DeBoer said that he had--in hand--a copy of the questions that were asked in the $14,850 poll. He said they did not contain the push-poll questions that he heard on the phone. But he acknowledged that he gets lied to all the time in politics, and we are never quite sure what we know. Someone presumably paid for the negative push-poll.

Maybe it was a rogue pollster. Or maybe an independent prankster, he wondered, who wouldn't report it. Could Curt Ankerberg have done it?  

Curt Ankerberg is a very talented, motivated, politically active advocate and provocateur--someone sharply critical of both Golden and Gomez. He ran for this seat and lost narrowly to Gomez. Ankerberg has written critically of both candidates in the comment section here on this blog. Ankerberg is highly intelligent and sophisticated, and he has a pattern of working with aliases and anonymously when doing political advocacy. I said the "random" call to the office of John Watt's public affairs consultancy was curious because Ankerberg mentions Watt and the Chamber of Commerce by name as local malefactors and crony capitalists. I think he would consider them a fun target. Ankerberg would be capable of pulling this off, but it would have required him to have arranged for a variety of callers, including people whose first language did not appear to be English, and have arranged for scores of calls in order to have had seven people--five of whom are not closely tied to politics--to notice and complain.

It could be Ankerberg--or some other provocateur--but I think the single most straightforward explanation of the push-poll is that this is yet one more example of what happens every cycle in this District--out of control upstate interference in the election, and that DeBoer is being lied to.

The well-established pattern is that political operatives and vendors consider Medford-Ashland candidates too naive and squeamish to do politics correctly--to play real hardball with negative campaigns--so they write ads, do mailers, film TV commercials, and do polls that are "for our own good to get the win."  They ask for forgiveness, not permission.

The upstate funders and vendors are not very concerned about who gets hurt down here. They think they have evidence to show that negative campaigning works. All is fair in love and political warfare. So they do hard negative stuff in an effort to win, and think to insulate the candidates by keeping them at arms length.

In recent history this has backfired badly. Their activity has been so extreme and dishonest that they have hurt the reputations of the supposed beneficiary, Jim Wright, David Dotterer, Tonia Moro. Each ended up needing to try to explain away ad campaigns and political activity done on their behalf, and were left with admitting they were dishonest or else admitting they were inept and careless in being unable to control what was done on their behalf.

Maybe this kerfuffle will cause upstate vendors and out of state polling firms to be more aware of the potential political cost to hijacking local campaigns. And it is a head's up to the candidates Golden and Gomez. Watch out for your friends. 

It is your reputation on the line, not theirs.

No one knows or cares about the name or reputation of Adam Geller, the owner of the polling firm National Research, Inc., whose face is at the top of this page. The firm did work for Chris Christie, now Trump and the No Supermajority PAC. Maybe they were the culprit, but in any case they move on. The candidates will still live right here. The name local people will remember is the candidate on whose behalf the dirty work was done. The stink lingers.

I will keep trying to get to the bottom of this.

UPDATE FROM CURT ANKERBERG.  Since I mention him by name as a person of suspicion,  I am adding this immediate response by Ankerberg.

"I can assure you that I had zero to do with this political poll. Al DeBoer and his friends did it. Follow the money. Never trust a DeBoer. If DeBoer inferred that I was involved, then he's lying.

I'm a conservative republican, and both Golden and Gomez are liberal democrats, so of course I oppose their politics, but nevertheless, for this particular senate election, I support Jeff Golden, and I hope that Jeff Golden wins. I encourage all conservatives to abstain from voting for liberal Gomez.

Golden may be liberal, but Gomez is out-and-out criminal. Gomez represents "bought government" and "influence peddling". She's the "front man" for special interest groups. Gomez is a liar, too. She's well-aware of these polls. For me, bought government is a bigger threat than liberalism. Corporations (and unions) can out-spend individuals, and they are creating an environment whereby government serves them, and not people. If Gomez gets elected, then you'll see more of your tax dollars being spent to pay for the Chamber of Commerce's private developments (corporate welfare)."

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Georgia Republicans choose angry populism over conservatism

It is Trump's Party, now more than ever.

Oregon Republican voters chose Trump over Kasich four to one. There is a culture war going on and Trump is the resistance. 

Democrats beware: There is a Red Wave out there. It may be growing.

Nancy Pelosi, boogeyman.
The Oregon primary took place in May, 2016. Trump had demolished the rest of the field, leaving only Trump, Ted Cruz, and John Kasich. Trump the ethno-nationalist populist celebrity. Cruz the unabashed Constitutional conservative. John Kasich, the get-things-done experienced conservative. 

Trump won, with 253,000 votes; Cruz got 65,000; Kasich got 62,000.

Yesterday, in Georgia, Republican voters had a clear choice of their own, in a run-off election between Brian Kemp, the Georgia Secretary of State, and Casey Cagle, the Lieutenant Governor. 

Kemp won big.

Kemp got Trump's tweeted endorsement a week before the election. Kemp ran as a Trump-style ethno-nationalist populist. Gayle ran more as a conservative, with the backing of the state's GOP leaders. That signals what kind of party the GOP voters want: Trump-style.

Kemp messaged opposition to the policies and values of the coastal elites:

   Identity: "This is the state of Georgia. We are a red state."
   Resistance to cultural liberals: "We don’t need the radical left telling us how to live, worship and raise our family," and "you want a politically incorrect conservative, that's me."

The ad revels in in-your-face symbols of disdain for the urban, Prius driving, liberal. "I've got a big truck."  

"I own guns that no one is taking away."   

   Pugnacious, bring-it-on tone: He ran an ad showing him holding a shotgun in his pickup truck. He doesn't use the polite liberal language of "undocumented immigrants." He says he has the truck and gun "just in case I need to round up criminal illegals and take them home myself.”

  Attack news media: "the fake news media machine."

Click: 30 seconds
  Guns: Ran a controversial commercial holding, pointing a gun. It imbeds a message of cultural conservatism, the adult man demanding respect from the younger man thinking to date his daughter, with Kemp exercising authority from a position of power. The young man kept saying "Yes, sir."

  Immigration: Kemp's ad "Track and Deport" starts with victims "all killed by illegal immigrants," and defines immigration as a public safety issue. Donald Trump's pre-runoff endorsement tweet noted "Brian is tough on crime, strong on the border and illegal immigration. He loves our Military and our Vets and  protects our Second Amendment. I give him my full and total endorsement."

There is a message here for Democrats.  

Click: 30 seconds. Scroll down to the ad.
The political situation for Trump should be devastating. Michael Cohen is releasing tapes of Trump paying off a Playboy model. Stormy Daniels is dogging him. His former campaign manager is cooperating with the Mueller probe. Russians are indicted for interfering with the election on Trump's behalf. The FISA warrant material showed that there was plenty of reason for the FBI to look at Carter Page. Trump himself  looked like a wimp and puppet in Helsinki, as if he is hiding something and Putin knows the secret. 

Trump is weak, right? No. 

Notwithstanding all that, Trump has the support of his base, and it is expanding.  His popularity is up, now at 45%. He has some 88% support among Republicans. He must be doing something very popular to have held onto his base amid all this.

Yes, he is. He is creating and riding a populist backlash against the current liberal Democratic message.

The Georgia vote last night confirms Georgia Republicans want someone who will fight coastal elite values, symbols, and language, and do it with pride and pugnaciousness. The Kemp message is that we Georgians are OK, in our gas guzzling trucks, our guns, our values and we don't want outsiders risking us or shaming us. It is defensive, circle-the-wagon thinking. The enemy is Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, Barrack Obama, illegal immigrants, gun control advocates, and anyone who wants to say "undocumented immigrant" rather than "criminal illegals."

It is tribal. The "real American" tribe is fighting back against the new, liberal, diverse, multicultural, carefully respectful, ecologically sensitive, gun-fearing tribe.

The question for Democrats is whether they back off, rethink and moderate their message to take some of the sharp edges off, for example by saying they do in fact support border security and lawful entry. Or, maybe they are confident that they are both morally right and on solid ground politically supporting with messages of "abolish ICE" and sanctuary cities. 

Trump--and Kemp--have made it harder for Democrats to return to their border-enforcement policies of a decade ago. Trump and Kemp have drawn a line in the sand and Democrats will feel a loss of pride if they appear to move toward it. The Democratic left may call it out as "centrism." Bill Clinton has moved from hero to backstabber in the minds of many progressives.

Democrats may well have won the culture war on gays, but they have not won it on immigration. If they stand pat, then the November election showdown may take place on weak ground for Democrats: Trump saying it is a matter of safety from vicious criminals, with Democrats saying that things aren't all that bad on immigration and we should all be better to one another.

This could be a red November.