Category Archives: Politics

The Case of the Capitol Police and the January 6 Near-Putsch

Cop Jan 6

Capitol Police officer on Jan 6, 2021
© 2021 lvert Barnes via Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License

At Press Watch my brother drops the results of an intensive investigation into the Jan. 6 committee documents and more in The story no one wants to touch: Why the Capitol Police enabled 1/6:

The news media’s continuing failure to explore why the U.S. Capitol was so scantily defended against an angry horde of white Trump supporters on Jan. 6, 2021, has now been compounded by the House select committee’s refusal to connect the most obvious dots or ask the most vital questions.

It’s true that there were countless law enforcement failures that day — indeed, far too many to be a coincidence.

But the singular point of failure — the one thing that could have prevented all of it from happening — was that Capitol Police leaders brushed off ample warnings that an armed mob was headed their way.

They lied to everyone about their level of preparedness beforehand. Then they sent a less-than-full contingent of hapless, unarmored officers out to defend a perimeter defined by bike racks, without less-than-lethal weaponry and without a semblance of a plan.

Even the insurrectionists who actively intended to stop the vote could never have expected that breaching the Capitol would be so easy.

[…]

An examination of the committee reports, the accompanying depositions and supporting documents leads to the following conclusion:

  • The failure was not due to lack of intelligence. There was plenty. “I don’t think it was a failure of intelligence. I think it was a failure to operationalize the intelligence,” Julie Farnam, assistant director of the Capitol Police intelligence unit, told committee investigators. “They should have been ready for war, and they weren’t.”
  • The lag in mobilization of the National Guard is a red herring. No one at the Capitol requested their presence until after police lines had been breached. To the extent that it was discussed beforehand, it was in order to have the Guard help direct traffic on surrounding streets.
  • The Capitol Police were vastly unprepared. Despite Sund’s insistence that he was getting “all hands on deck,” he didn’t even cancel officers’ days off.
  • The perimeter was defined with bike racks, which are good only for protests where most people are law-abiding. They do nothing to stop a horde. In fact, they get turned into weapons to use against the police.
  • The Capitol Police had no backup plan in case multiple protesters posed a threat. Even as police lines had already collapsed, clueless police leaders were trying to deploy more bike racks.
  • Incredibly, chief Sund ordered the removal of some bike racks late on Jan. 5, for reasons that some of his colleagues considered suspect.
  • Actual calls for help were only made after it was too late. Justice Department officials said that even after they saw TV footage of insurrectionists parading through the Capitol Rotunda, Capitol Police officials told them they had things under control.
  • Police leadership simply could not conceive of white Trump supporters as the enemy. Time and again, law enforcement leaders were presented with intelligence showing that desperate Trump supporters were targeting the Capitol, but didn’t take it seriously.
  • Anti-scale fencing — the kind erected around the White House during the Black Lives Matter protests — would have stopped any of this from happening. It was never even considered.

There’s lots more where that came from.  IMHO, this deserves wide attention.

Posted in 1/6, Dan Froomkin | 2 Comments

The Devil Still Lives in Georgia (and Elsewhere)

On CNN last night after they called the run-off Senate election for incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock, the commentators seemed giddy with relief. They liked Warnock, they disdained challenger Hershel Walker (“an insult to Black people” said the Black analysts, speaking of his selection as a candidate by GOP kingmakers).

The story line the commentators tried to push was that this election might be a turning point in at least three ways:

  1. It would start the process of weakening Trump’s control over the party–but only if senior elected officials started distancing themselves from him.
  2. The election mechanics were good.  And, Walker’s post-election concession speech–which was, simply, a concession and not election denial–underlined the turn away from election denial outside of Arizona.  So maybe that dragon is slain or at least mortally wounded.
  3. Warnock’s eloquent victory speech, full of non-partisan good feeling as these speeches traditionally were, signaled a possible new era of decreased political division.

CNN analysts’ bottom line: turning point.

Problem: most of it is bunk.

Even if Trump’s grip on elites were to slip, the issue is his grip on primary voters. That may slip too, but it’s too early to say that is happening.  I think it will turn on how many court cases he loses, and most of the important ones, the criminal cases, have yet to be filed and thus cannot be seen as certain to materialize.

More ominously, key party leaders such as Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis, see their lane as “more effective Trumpism without Trump”.   That is, believe this Florida resident, quite a scary thing.

And one need only look at the machinations in the GOP House caucus, in which Speaker-in-waiting Kevin McCarthy is being humiliated by his right flank. When MTG is one of your main supporters, and that doesn’t tame the cavepersons, you have a problem.

It may be that the fever of election denialism has broken, at least for now. But that is not even our biggest problem.

Imagine, if you will, how you would go about choosing a candidate for high office who was not just obviously unfit, but graced with attributes designed to turn off the modern voter. What might you look for?

  • ☑ Out-of-state residence.
  • ☑ No relevant experience.
  • ☑ No familiarity with issues.
  • ☑ History of unsuccessful businesses.
  • ☑ History of serious mental illness.
  • ☑ History of falsifying his resume.
  • ☑ History of domestic violence.
  • ☑ Child who says he is dangerous and unfit.
  • ☑ Ex-longtime girlfriend who says he is mentally ill and unfit.
  • ☑ Secret children out of wedlock who he then abandoned.
  • ☑ Frequent incoherence and confusion in interviews.
  • ☑ Procured abortions for at least two other women. (Running as ‘pro-life’ candidate.)

Well, Herschel Walker checked all those boxes and more. And, here’s the thing, Walker still got more than 1.7 million votes – 48.6% of those cast. Imagine what a candidate with only half those liabilities might have done.

Last night’s vote in Georgia, while welcome, is not a sign of a turn in our politics. Tribalism and party are still king.  This result for all it is very welcome is just a very temporary and limited reprieve from a still very potent and possible doom.

Posted in 2022 Election | Leave a comment

More Evidence for My Claim About Polls and Support for Biden (and Democrats)

Regular readers were not on board with my suggestion as to why Democrats beat the polls.  Well, here’s some more evidence for my hypothesis–‘Right track’ polling numbers jump following GOP’s lackluster midterm showing:

As the ‘red wave’ narrative took hold in the Beltway, many prognosticators cited the country’s abysmal right track/wrong track numbers as evidence Democrats were destined for heavy losses.

It’s true that, heading into Election Day, the numbers were spectacularly bad, according to Civiqs tracking of the issue. Just 21% of registered voters said the country was on the “right track” compared to 68% saying it was on the “wrong track.”

But the assumption among myriad old-school analysts that all the negativity would specifically pull Democrats under turned out to be incorrect.

In fact, everyone, including Democratic voters and leaners, was dissatisfied with the state of the country, and they didn’t necessarily fault Democrats for the sorry state of affairs.

[…]

Since Election Day, right track numbers have made a small-but-notable rebound, from 21% just before Election Day to 28% now. Wrong track numbers have similarly fallen 5 points in the same time period, from 68% to 63%. Here’s Civiqs tracking of right track/wrong track views over the past 12 months.

It’s a smallish group, but big enough to have provided the margin of victory in the recent election: Some of the ‘wrong track’ people were, like me, primarily concerned about MAGA madness and the Dobbs decision.

Posted in 2022 Election | 1 Comment

Why Biden & Co Beat the Polls

The conventional wisdom on mid-term elections is that the party in the White House loses seats. How many they lose is supposed to be highly correlated to the incumbent President’s poll numbers.

Yet, Democrats suffered only very modest losses–albeit with large consequences since their majorities were so thin–given that President Biden’s approval number was in the lower 40s, a number that historically suggested greater losses.

I think I can explain at least a big part of that: the polls missed something important. The classic question asks what the voter thinks of President Biden’s job performance. The choices offered are Very Satisfied, Somewhat Satisfied, Somewhat Unsatisfied, and Very Unsatisfied. They’ll usually take a “no opinion/undecided” if you offer it. Critically, the polls don’t ask why voters are unsatisfied.

Commentators assume, based no doubt on experience, that voters unsatisfied with the President are more likely to take it out on the party at election time. The more unsatisfied they are, the worse for the party. That logic fails in the case of Biden because a significant fraction of the unsatisfied voters think he is too moderate or insufficiently aggressive against Republican tactics. Those voters are never going to vote for Republicans. They may stay home, contributing to the extent that turnout matters, but if they do vote, they are going to vote for Democrats, and all the more so if the Democrat on the ticket seems like a real progressive rather than a triangulator.

This group probably shows up in all the polling groups: If you think Biden is not progressive enough, you might nonetheless say say you are “Very Satisfied” on the grounds that at least he’s not the other guy. Or, like me, you might say you are “Somewhat Satisfied” on the grounds that while Biden did some good things, I would have liked much more. I can easily see how some progressives might also say they are Somewhat or Very Dissatisfied to have their high hopes disappointed. Until we poll better, we’ll never know how this breaks down, but I’m certain this group exists, and that while not enormous it’s well sizeable enough to move the needle.

TL/DR: Democrats did better than expected because the way Biden’s approval number is measured ignores the existence of Progressives who wish Biden were different–but are never going to vote for Republicans.

Posted in 2022 Election | 5 Comments

Ballot Saga, Part 3: The Anticlimax

I voted!I went to vote at my local polling place at around 2pm. It was not deserted, but it was nearly empty. As I entered, a lady gave me a form, and asked me to hand it to the poll workers. It showed my time of arrival, and had a blank for when I got to the voter table — which proved to be about 60 seconds later.

I explained my story to the nice lady at the table. She scanned my driver’s license and looked me up in her system. “It’s here!” she said. I thought that meant my vote had miraculously arrived in the 45 minutes between when I last checked and when I turned up. But, no, turned out it meant that it showed they had sent it to me. But, as I explained, although I had returned it, it still was not received. And the system confirmed that too.

At that, they printed out a new ballot receipt for me, handed me the flimsy paper and a large ballot, and off I went to vote it.

I was in and out in under ten minutes, including parking.

The only slightly odd thing about the experience is that every other time I’ve voted, outside the polling place there has been a forest of signs for the various candidates, and multiple often competing campaign workers offering leaflets for their candidates.

This time, there were zero signs and zero people.

Maybe they were all off phoning and texting people: I got three calls and four texts reminding me to vote or asking me to vote for a candidate between 9am and 2pm today. So maybe it’s virtual campaigning now? Probably beats standing in the sun…

Posted in 2022 Election, Florida | Leave a comment

Ballot Saga, Part 2

As of this morning, the Elections Dept. still has not received my ballot.

I was glad therefore to find instructions as to what I should do in the Miami-Dade Voter Information Guide/FAQ. At page 11 is says:

Surrendered at the Polls on Election Day – A voter who prefers to vote in person may surrender a voted or un-voted mail ballot to the voter’s precinct on Election Day. The returned ballot will be marked “canceled” by the election board. A voter who desires to vote in person, but does not return the ballot to the precinct, may vote only under the following conditions:

• The election board confirms the voter’s mail ballot has not been received.
• If the election board cannot determine whether the voter’s mail ballot has been received, the voter may vote a provisional ballot.

Voters cannot vote by submitting their Vote by Mail ballot at their precinct. It must be surrendered.

That seems clear enough: if by tomorrow they don’t have it, go to my polling place, and they will either let me vote, or give me a provisional ballot.

But I’m never going to vote by mail again if I can avoid it–I’m dumping that ballot in a drop box.

Posted in 2022 Election, Florida | Leave a comment