Welcome to the 11th issue of The Outsider Perspective, brought to you by The Beltway Outsiders.
This past week I wrote about how George Orwell’s essays 75 years ago apply to us now. Orwell wrote about how liberals of his time struggled to understand tyrants like Hitler. Orwell argued it was an inherent blindness of liberalism that made it incapable of spotting mass movement tyrants. I argued you could take that same insight and apply it to the current situation. Modern liberalism is incapable of understanding or stopping the rise of Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders. Which is one reason why both of those politicians are thriving, despite pushing failed ideologies. In a way, we’re repeating history.
This week I’m covering the ongoing 2016 election and its many twists and turns. This week we have the surprise formation of a resistance candidate for conservatives: Evan McMullin has launched an independent bid for President. He has the backing of many conservative activists and potential donors. Second I’ll cover the current race and the polling situation. And finally, I’ll cover some news on Clinton that’s been buried by Trump’s continued news cycle domination. Must reads and quick slants follow the analysis.
A challenger appears: Evan McMullin launches a conservative independent Presidential campaign to beat Clinton and Trump
The biggest story of the week is that Evan McMullin launched his bid for President (you can see the kickoff here). McMullin is a former CIA operative and Policy Director for the Republican House Caucus. After speaking with people working behind the scenes, he launched his campaign for President. He provides the lone conservative voice in 2016. He’s off to a great start so far with over 60,000 people signing up to volunteer for his campaign. It’s a long shot, but I believe he has a chance to make some noise in this election. I would not treat this as a gimmick campaign, as some in the media are doing. There is a very reasonable path for McMullin to 1) Win states, and 2) Get support/backing by donor class.
On the first point, McMullin’s campaign is beginning in Utah. He’s beginning here for more than one reason. First, his Mormon and BYU roots will help him appeal to these voters. That’s the easy point. Both Bush and McCain carried Utah by more than 60% of the overall vote. Romney by more than 70% of the vote. Outside Wyoming, it’s the most conservative state in the Union. In other words, it’s a layup in terms of Republican politics. Except for Trump. While most Republicans win Utah by massive margins, Trump is falling into a dogfight, with some polls showing him TIED with Clinton in Utah. Clinton’s campaign internal polls must be showing the same numbers because they’ve started moving resources into Utah to court Mormon voters. This is simply unheard of. While not many electoral votes are at stake, the symbolism of taking Utah from a Republican is massive. It would be akin to a Republican taking Washington DC. It’s a huge sign that conservatives reject Trump. Which is why McMullin has an opening in Utah. He can appeal to disaffected Utah voters and build from there.
On the second point, Trump has chased away regular Republican donors and activists. It’s why his donation numbers have lagged behind and why he’s finding it impossible to open and run campaign offices in any state. He lacks an organization that will go out, find voters, and get them to vote. But just because Trump hasn’t received support from the conservative donor and activist class does not mean they’ve disappeared. They’re either on the sidelines or working on down-ballot races (specifically the Senate). But there is more money and support out there. Back when David French was considering a run, he wrote the following:
Indeed, the path is there. I spent the last several days with some of the best minds in politics. I learned that the ballot-access challenge can be met with modest effort (by an existing network ready to activate), that the polling for a true outsider independent was better than most people know, and that there are many, many Americans — including outstanding political talents — who are willing to quit their jobs — today — to help provide the American people with an alternative.
McMullin can pull this support that French found to himself. The first main challenge for McMullin is the ballot access. McMullin’s team is fairly confident they can get past most of them (they just got on the Colorado ballot). And I believe they can challenge some in court and win, as French described. But remember, the McMullin does not have to be on every state’s ballot. He only needs to be on the one’s where a conservative could win. That narrows the field down. To what, I’m not entirely sure. But it’s not inconceivable for him to get on enough ballots to win states.
Finally, I believe the donor class will join up with McMullin if he shows the ability to grow beyond Utah (and maybe if he just shows the ability to win there). His campaign is being run by Rick Wilson and Joel Searby, two Super-PAC pro’s who are well connected with the donor class. Further, you’ll see Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard jump in and support McMullin as well. Kristol was instrumental in trying to convince French and Romney to run. And speaking of Romney, if he throws his support behind McMullin, the Republican donor gates will flood open. McMullin really needs to convince two people to back his campaign: Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney. If he can do that, this is officially a 3 party race. The money will flood to McMullin.
I think this can happen. And I think McMullin can, at a minimum, hamper Trump’s path to 270 electoral votes. But his path to winning is beyond a long shot. In order to WIN the entire election he needs the following: Romney/Bush donor class support, a continual Trump implosion (currently in progress), and a Clinton implosion (something I think could happen in a debate where Clinton is at her most vulnerable).
It’s not over yet.
The polls are not skewed, Trump is killing himself in the polls, and Clinton’s convention bounce is growing
Trump is down in the polls right now. Down badly. Or bigly, as he would say.
There’s no getting around this point for Trump supporters. So what they’ve started arguing is: 1) Arguing the polls are skewed, 2) Arguing, as Sean Hannity is doing, that Trump’s rallies and large social media presence should be weighed heavier than the polls (social media is irrelevant in measuring polling impact). Both are wildly wrong.
The Polls are not skewed against Trump. There’s no evidence that pollsters are trying to sway the election by overweighting Democrats.
Second, there’s little evidence Trump voters are skewing the polls by being underreported due to embarrassment to openly support him. Also known as the shy Tory effect. Even if Trump supporters are the equivalent of “Shy Tory” voters, that would only be good for a MAX 2% bump in the polls. No more. Give Trump the Shy Tory bump by adjusting the polls 2% in his favor, he’s still behind. By a lot. Double it to 4% and he’s still behind (Shy Tory has never been observed beyond 2%). If you say more people are shy Trump supporters than 2%, you’re making a claim without proof. That’s impossible to prove. The polls have been highly predictive in regards to Trump’s wins in the primaries. Experts may not have believed them all the time, but the polls were accurate.
I made the mistake of jumping onboard the unskew polls in 2012 for Romney. Not again. They aren’t skewed. And if you want better party identification, get people on the ground registering new GOP voters. Democrats are good at this. The GOP is not. Trump doesn’t have a ground game to accomplish a get-out-the-vote (GOTV) operation. He’s not going to be bringing in new voters to shift party identification. Donald Trump has exactly ONE field office. In Sarasota, Florida. Less than 90 days out from the general election. Nothing else in any other county or battleground state. Let that fact sink in for a moment. Then remember: the job of a campaign is to go out and get people to vote. Trump has nothing that accomplishes that goal. He has no way of capturing who the people are at his rallies. Outside a rally or TV interview, his campaign has no contact with his main supporters.
Finally, the Clinton convention bounce in the polls is real and growing. I expect her rise to level out and drop some as we head into September. The odds of a Clinton landslide are minimal in the long run. But unlike Trump, she’s taking advantage of her opening to expand her voter base while Trump destroys his. She’s pushing Trump back in Red states while Trump flounders everywhere.
Clinton news update – she literally is crooked Hillary. But because Trump says something stupid every day, we ignore her
In a normal election, right now, we would be talking about Clintons continuing scandals and how those scandals could derail her campaign. But we live in Trump’s media world now so we aren’t following these stories.
For starters, news this week came out about how the Clinton’s used the State Department and the Clinton Foundation to pay favors, reward staff, and grant access. The easy view here is that we’re looking at “pay-to-play.” You get favors and access to the Clinton’s and State Department by “helping out” the foundation. This isn’t just a case of people reading things into emails. The FBI found the evidence so compelling they requested to investigate the Clinton Foundation THREE times for conflict-of-interest corruption charges. The Obama Administration blocked all three investigation requests by the FBI. Three field offices wanted to investigate. Each one was denied. In other words, the FBI had suspicions not only was Clinton violating federal law by mishandling classified information, but also because they had corruption problems. This should seem familiar since the NYTimes thought the same exact thing after investigating the Clinton Foundation. In a normal election: this is the lead story because it’s the leading candidate using her personal foundation as a slush fund for pay-to-play corruption.
Donald Trump decided help the Clinton’s out by setting off a media frenzy when he suggested “the second amendment people” could “take care of” Clinton in the event she was elected. It doesn’t really matter if you think it was a veiled assassination comment or not, the Secret Service took it seriously enough to “talk” with Trump about the comments. Clinton’s corruption was buried in the news. Trump’s comments led the news cycle.
The second strange story: The Orlando Pulse gay nightclub shooter’s father attended a Clinton rally in Florida and was visible in the stands behind her speech. It set off a storm of criticism on social media as well as bewilderment as to why the Clinton campaign allowed him in and to sit in a prominent position behind her speech.
This would have mattered, except the Trump campaign did the exact same thing by allowing disgraced former Florida Congressman Mark Foley, who was forced out of office after he sexually harassed his interns, to sit behind Trump. Bailing out the Clinton campaign from any criticism at all.
And now the latest controversy is Trump saying Obama is the founder of ISIS (with Clinton as co-founder). Which means any negative Clinton news is buried for the rest of the week. Clinton can kick back and focus on campaigning instead of news cycles.
Each time Clinton needs cover in the media, Trump provides it. The only thing the two of them seem to agree on in is that the election should be about Trump, not Clinton.
No, Obama is not the Founder of ISIS (on Trump’s comments that Obama & Clinton are the founders of ISIS):
“It’s not difficult to see where Trump gets such wacky ideas. Mike Flynn, his national security guru, has repeatedly come close to saying the same, hinting that Obama wanted ISIS to succeed. Flynn is a retired Army three-star general whom Obama fired as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency with ample cause.
Since then, Flynn’s gotten cuddly with the Russians, regularly appearing on their propaganda network RT, even admitting he’s taken Kremlin money for a photo op with Vladimir Putin. This is where things get really interesting. “Obama created ISIS” has been a Kremlin trope for a couple years now and it’s frequently trotted out by Putin’s mouthpieces and online trolls. When your campaign is riddled with people on the Kremlin payroll, with deep ties to Moscow, it’s not surprising that the candidate starts mouthing their disinformation.
As I’ve recently explained, the Intelligence Community believes Trump is an unwitting Russian agent, and this is why that matters. It’s a remarkable turn of events when the GOP, a party until recently known for its hardline on the Russians—as Mitt Romney reiterated in 2012 and was mocked by Obama and the literati for—is taken over by people who peddle Kremlin agitprop.”
By John R. Schindler, former NSA analyst and counterintelligence officer.
Now’s Not the Time to Lower America’s Nuclear Guard, Mr. President (on stories out of the White House saying the President is considering making it official US policy for a “no first use on nukes” policy to be in place):
Proponents of these ideas claim they would reduce tensions and the risk of escalation or inadvertent nuclear conflict. Unfortunately, the opposite is true: Despite their superficial appeal, these measures would be deeply destabilizing.
No future president would want to make the choice Harry S. Truman had to make in August 1945, but there is no way of knowing what circumstances may confront America in coming years. Sometimes, nuclear weapons are the only way to offset a large mismatch in conventional forces — for example in Cold War Europe and on the Korean Peninsula. They may also be the only the way to prevent a catastrophic chemical, biological, or cyber-attack. A no-first use policy is unlikely to convince U.S. nuclear rivals to change their plans and could one day needlessly tie a president’s hands.
Lowering their alert status and making it harder to deploy nuclear weapons creates a perverse incentive for adversaries to strike first.
By Andrew Shearer, senior advisor on Asia Pacific security at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
A House Republican task force has found that officials from the U.S. military’s Central Command altered intelligence reports to portray the U.S. fight against ISIS and al Qaeda in a more positive light than lower-level analysts believed was warranted by the facts on the ground, three officials familiar with the task force’s findings told The Daily Beast.
A roughly 10-page report on the controversy is expected to be released by the end of next week, two officials said. While it contains no definitive evidence that senior Obama administration officials ordered the reports to be doctored, the five-month investigation did corroborate earlier reports that analysts felt the leaders of CENTCOM’s intelligence directorate pressured them to conclude that the threat from ISIS was not as ominous as the analysts believed, the officials said.
The task force, led by members of the House Armed Services and Intelligence committees and the Defense Appropriations subcommittee, was created after The Daily Beast first reported that more than 50 analysts had filed a formal complaint alleging their reports on ISIS and al Qaeda’s branch in Syria were being inappropriately altered by senior officials. Some told The Daily Beast they felt they were working in a hostile, toxic office where they felt “bullied” to draw conclusions not supported by the facts.
By Nancy A. Youssef & Shane Harris of The Daily Beast
Donald Trump’s campaign and top Republican Party officials plan what one person called a “come to Jesus” meeting on Friday in Orlando to discuss the Republican nominee’s struggling campaign, according to multiple sources familiar with the scheduled sit-down.
Though a campaign source dismissed it as a “typical” gathering, others described it as a more serious meeting, with one calling it an “emergency meeting.” It comes at a time of mounting tension between the campaign and the Republican National Committee, which is facing pressure to pull the plug on Trump’s campaign and redirect party funds down ballot to protect congressional majorities endangered by Trump’s candidacy.
And some officials on Trump’s campaign have privately questioning the party’s commitment to its nominee – concerns that were inflamed Thursday when POLITICO revealed that more than 70 Republicans had signed an open letter to Priebus urging him to stop spending any money to help Trump, and to instead shift cash to saving the party’s congressional majorities.
By Marc Caputo, Ben Schreckinger, & Kenneth P. Vogel of Politico
Evan McMullin’s “Letter to America” on why he is running for President – EvanMcMullin.com
Twitter CEO Dick Costolo Secretly Censored “Abusive” Responses to President Obama in a Twitter Q&A – Buzzfeed
US Officials were briefed over a year ago about the Russians targeting the DNC for hacking – CNBC
Trump may not participate in debates. Many expecting him to drop out of at least one debate – Twitter / Politico Playbook
Latest polls show a widening education gap in the supporters of Trump and Clinton – NBC News
Obamacare costs are hammering Insurers and driving them out of the marketplaces – Forbes
A University of Maryland Study estimates ISIS and its allies have killed more than 33,000 people since 2002 – Baltimore Sun
American spies are convinced Trump is a Putin’s Guy. And Trump is the useful idiot. – The Observer
How ISIS kidnaps children and turns them into child soldiers – Spiegel Online
What I’m Reading
The BBC has written a great history of Brazil’s great statute of Christ with his arms open and welcoming. It covers the restoration job that is currently happening on the statute as well as a brief history. There are many issues with lightning bolts damaging the statute. The BBC covers how they are attempting to help the statute survive these storms. In particular I enjoyed this section:
A mile away, as the crow flies, the figure of Christ appears like a white cross gleaming on the hill top. Or on special occasions it may be illuminated in a coloured light – lilac for Mother’s Day, pink for a breast cancer charity or blue for an autism awareness day.
“We’re privileged to have a view of Christ – it’s a symbol of our community,” says Daniel Nascimento who sells a popular Brazilian sorbet made from the Amazonian acai berry.
It’s an enjoyable read and includes some fantastic photos and diagrams.
Quote of the week
“CHILD: Which candidate is which?
ME: The Democrat is the one who worries the FBI. The Republican is the one who worries the Secret Service.”
Thanks for reading!