The news you missed: Buttigieg rises, Kamala falls.
Plus, wild developments overseas and a question about my media diet.
Tangle is an independent, ad-free, non-partisan politics newsletter where I answer reader questions from across the country. If you found Tangle online, you can subscribe below.
Today’s read: 8 minutes.
All the news you missed over the holiday.
Photo: Gage Skidmore | Flickr
Instead of a standard-issue Tangle today, I am going to make sure you’re updated on all the important stories you missed since Wednesday of last week. Relatedly, I apologize for not getting the abbreviated post-Thanksgiving Tangle out on Friday. Turkey comas, quality family time and competitive family gaming were in sixth gear, so I ended up opting for ultimate Frisbee, food and Codenames on Friday. Now I’m ready and recharged for the home stretch into the New Year.
What you missed.
President Trump announced he was re-opening negotiations with the Taliban. Trump made a surprise visit to Afghanistan on Turkey Day. It was his first time in the country where we have been mired in an 18 year-long war. Just three months ago, talks with the Taliban fell apart. Trump told troops they were back on — though details were sparse. Afghanistan is currently going through contested elections as the government continues its fight to beat back the terrorist organization in hopes of a cease-fire. But the Taliban wants political representation as part of any deal, and everyone wants U.S. troops to withdraw. Click.
Pete Buttigieg’s support is surging — amongst older, white Americans. Buttigieg has continued to struggle with black voters and Democratic operatives have feared his inexperience would be a liability with older voters in a general election against Trump. But Buttigieg’s ascending campaign says differently. Buttigieg now leads Biden amongst likely Democratic caucusgoers who are older than 65 in both Iowa and New Hampshire, two critical early states to build momentum in a campaign. History tells us that older voters are the most reliable to show up at the polls, and Buttigieg’s popularity with them could be key to a primary victory. Click.
Kamala Harris’s campaign is coming undone at the seams, according to multiple reports. Harris, once seen a frontrunner who enjoyed surges to the front of the polls after early debates, can’t seem to raise money or get out of the polling basement. Harris’s sister and her campaign manager are at odds, while Harris herself has oscillated between moderate talking points and far-left stances. The New York Times and The Washington Post both chronicled extensive looks into the campaign’s disarray. Read WaPo here or NYT here.
Democratic candidates Joe Sestak and Steve Bullock have dropped out of the presidential race. Joe who? The former Pennsylvania congressman and three-star admiral entered the race in June as the 25th candidate. When he dropped out over the weekend, just 17 candidates remained. Then, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, a moderate Democrat running from the center, announced he was ending his campaign Monday morning. Bullock says he won’t run for Senate in Montana, basically ending any chance Democrats have to win that seat. If you need a reminder on who is running, the Times has you covered. Click for Sestak. Click for Bullock.
Chinese officials lashed out at President Trump on Thursday after he signed off on bipartisan legislation that threw U.S. support behind pro-democracy protesters and human rights activists in Hong Kong. Beijing expressed “extreme anger” and said Hong Kong belongs to China and China had the ability to “deal” with it. Protesters in Hong Kong responded to the bill by praising Trump and the U.S. and urging the rest of the world to stand with them. Some even sang America’s National Anthem in the streets. If you want a Tangle refresher on what’s happening in Hong Kong and China, click here. For more on this news, click here.
The White House said it will not participate in Wednesday’s impeachment hearings it was invited to by the House Judiciary Committee. Impeachment proceedings will move forward this week with a vote on Tuesday to approve the Democrats’ report on the evidence to impeach Trump. Then there will be hearings on Wednesday, though it’s unclear who will testify as witnesses. Democrats offered the White House a chance to represent itself at the hearings to counter Republican attacks that Trump has not been afforded the right to defend himself. The White Hosue declined, heeding warnings from allied Republicans that attending the hearings would legitimize them and draw more attention. The House Judiciary Committee will finalize articles of impeachment that will then be sent back to the House of Representatives for a vote. For a refresher on how impeachment works, you can click here. For more on this story, click here.
P.S. Fox News judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano said House Democrats have enough evidence to impeach Trump. Napolitano has become a rare break from Trump defenses on Fox News since the story of Trump’s July 25th phone call with Ukraine’s president broke. These comments, though, came on The Reason Interview podcast with Nick Gillespie. Napolitano said “Trump hasn’t presented a defense and I don’t know if he plans to. The evidence of his impeachable behavior at this point, in my view, is overwhelming.” Click.
Lisa Page, the FBI lawyer who has stayed silent while being accused of trying to oust President Trump from office, is now speaking out. Page became infamous for her text messages with Peter Strzok, another member of the FBI who she was having an affair with. In them, Page and Strzok express deep concern about Trump winning the election in texts that Trump has used to claim there was a deep-state conspiracy against him. 18 months removed from the FBI, Page can speak publicly, and she gave her first interview to Molly Jong-Fast of The Daily Beast (an admittedly friendly set-up, as Jong-Fast is an openly liberal reporter). It’s a fascinating and explosive read. Click.
In Iran, at least 180 people have been killed in the deadliest protests the country has seen since the Islamic Revolution 40 years ago. The protests started over an increase in gas prices and have since exploded into demonstrators calling for an end to the Islamic Republic’s government. The government has responded with menace, using deadly force to squash dissent. Click.
In London, a terrorist attack that left two dead has set off a debate about how to handle violent criminals. The assailant was a former prisoner convicted of terrorism offenses in 2012 who was released from prison after he spent time in one of Britain’s rehabilitation programs. A judge had warned about his release, and he was wearing an electronic tag when he drove his car into a crowd of pedestrians and then stabbed a police officer. Four people, including the attacker, were killed. 40 others were injured. Click.
Amidst an inundation of negative news, Kamala Harris caught a lot of people’s attention with her new “Trump antidote” ad, which was praised across the left.
A story that matters.
The Department of Homeland Security created a fake university that has arrested about 90 foreign students in the last few months. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) executed a sting operation at the university that has now helped arrest 250 foreign-born students, mostly from India, for immigration violations. Lawyers for some of the students say they were “trapped” by the U.S. government and are challenging the arrests in court. The school opened during the Obama administration and shows just how far the Trump admin is going to arrest and deport undocumented immigrants. Click.
Your questions, answered.
Reminder: Answering reader questions is one of my favorite parts of Tangle. Don’t be shy! You can ask a question by simply replying to this email and writing in — I will get to it as soon as I can.
Q: What is your media diet like to produce Tangle? What do you read and consume?
- Erica, Fayetteville, NC
Tangle: Pretty much everything. My baseline every evening and morning starts with the three big papers: The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. I’ll skim their front pages, op-ed sections and politics sections to see what the political class and best reporters in the game are focused on. After I do that I’ll usually head over to Fox News, CNN and maybe a more left or right-leaning site like HuffPost, New York Post or Breitbart. I don’t really think of Breitbart as a news organization the same way I do New York Post or HuffPost, since I think the latter have much higher editorial standards than Breitbart does. But whether people like it or not, Breitbart has sources inside the Trump administration and usually has a good pulse on what Trump’s base is interested in. Nothing really illustrates that more than the bombshell story on Trump’s top adviser Stephen Miller and how he was essentially feeding Breitbart anti-immigrant news hits he got from white nationalist websites.
After that peruse, I’ll go through my email and read the 10-12 newsletters I subscribe to. This includes everyone from Axios to Breitbart to The New York Times and TheSkimm. Axios is probably the most-cited source for my “Numbers” section, as they do a lot of data-driven news writing. I like these newsletters a lot, but I found that they often didn’t provide enough context or balance, which is another reason I started Tangle. My standard format of “What the left is saying” vs. “What the right is saying” is one of the things about it that I think is really powerful (and, based on the feedback I get, one of the things readers really enjoy about it, too). During or after the newsletter perusal, I turn to Twitter. As you probably have noticed, I use a lot of tweets and information from Twitter in my newsletter. That’s because I think Twitter is a fascinating place to get commentary from reporters, experts and pundits that is unguarded and comes without the filter of an editor or newsroom. I also enjoy Twitter because more “regular” people can go viral or blow up with their own political commentary and thoughts.
Along with all of these, I do a good deal of podcast listening. My favorite political podcast is The Fifth Column, a podcast hosted by Michael Moynihan (VICE News), Kmele Foster (FreeThink), Anthony Fisher (Insider) and Matt Welch (Reason). Nobody is spared on The Fifth Column, as most of the hosts are pretty centrist and libertarian-minded. They basically blast everyone, including the people reporting on the news, and I find their conversations challenging and informative, even though they aren’t super serious (there are a lot of off-color jokes and drinking). They can be a bit tangential as a group but it’s usually well-reasoned political debate, especially when they have guests on. I also listen to The Daily every morning, This American Life from NPR, and The Gist with Mike Pesca, among a few others.
Generally speaking, I do my best to avoid television news. I try to live by the mantra “watch your sports and read your news.” Exceptions for this are 60 Minutes on CBS as well as hearings and debates, obviously. But I really do believe CNN, Fox News and MSNBC are, on the whole, just bad for people’s brains at this point. I’d be honored to work for any of those places to participate in how the shows are scripted, but right now it seems like there is an overwhelming amount of partisan hackery and Thunderdome style politics that is meant to drive ratings and anger people, not inform them (exceptions here are CNN’s international team, Fox News’s Chris Wallace and MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, who I think has a fair-minded progressive slant). Fox primetime, in my opinion, is the worst of the group, mostly because the target of the anger they drive is typically people with less power (immigrants, the homeless, addicts, etc.) while MSNBC is pretty consistently ramping up hatred of Republican politicians, the wealthy and corporations.
Finally, I get a lot of news from just talking with people, having some sources across the country and soliciting conversations via Tangle, Twitter and Facebook. Every day people email or text me with stories they think are interesting or stories I should know about, and often times those are the best and most compelling things I include. I pick up tons of local news that way, or news from more niche media organizations, and I have friends all over the country (and abroad) who are really awesome about keeping me appraised of what’s going on where they live or travel. I always welcome story suggestions and tips, so don’t hesitate to shoot me an email (again — just reply to a Tangle to contact me!) or tweet at me if you have something you think I should know about.
I’m quite wary of news stories that “downplay” the impacts of climate change, but I very much appreciated this piece from Michael Shellenberger in Forbes. Shellenberger is a longtime climate change reporter who has written a lot recently about the apocalyptic coverage of climate change and how it can damage meaningful environmentalist movements. In this story, he highlights and debunks some of the most common refrains about climate change and discusses how the dire predictions, often overblown, may be damaging real progress. It was a thought-provoking story. Click.
62%. The percentage of Democrats in four battleground states — Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin — who said a Medicare for all plan that eliminates private insurance is a good idea.
62%. The percentage of swing voters in four battleground states — Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin who think Medicare for all that eliminates private insurance is a bad idea.
$6.8 million. The amount of money Republicans have spent on impeachment TV ads since October 1st.
$4.7 million. The amount of money Democrats have spent on impeachment TV ads in that same time span.
4,486. The number of Michael Bloomberg mentions on cable news this month.
2,167. The number of Andrew Yang mentions on cable news during his entire campaign (Yang is still polling ahead of Bloomberg).
53%. The percentage of Republicans who think Donald Trump is a better president than Abraham Lincoln was, according to a new YouGov poll.
33.3%. The percentage of Republican men without a college degree who support Medicare for all.
10.4%. The percentage of Republican men with a college degree who support Medicare for all.
Have a nice day.
Strawberry flavored HIV medicine may save thousands of children’s lives across the globe. Every year, about 80,000 children and babies die of AIDS, mostly in Africa. One big reason is that medicine to cure the disease is often bitter-tasting and hard for kids to swallow or keep down, The New York Times reports. But Friday, an Indian drug manufacturer released a new pediatric HIV medicine that can be mixed into milk or cereal and tastes like strawberries. It will cost just $1 a day. You can read more here.