Samantha Bee developed a smartphone game to encourage people to vote in November. Yes, Republicans, too.
"We're 55 days from the midterm elections, and one phrase is on every pundit's lips," Samantha Bee said on Wednesday's Full Frontal: Blue wave. She wasn't buying it, explaining all the obstacles to Democrats winning control of anything. "Bottom line: Republican votes actually count more," she said. "Because of all their judicial theft, gerrymandering, and vote suppressing, Republicans have made seemingly competitive races almost impossible to win." Things are so dire, Bee said, that according to one estimate, Democrats have to turn out 15 million more voters than they did in the 2014 midterms. "Where are they going to find those kinds of numbers?" she asked. She remembered that 15 million people played "Pokémon Go" in 2016, and an app was born.
"Gamification is the idea that you can incentivize people to do something that they wouldn't necessarily always want to do, with a reward or a prize," Bee explained. "Civic engagement is important, midterms are important, and I think it would be very helpful if a little balance was restored to our current government." She flew to San Francisco to meet with a group of civic tech experts about creating an app to encourage people to vote. When those experts brainstormed a cat-centric reward scheme, she flew back to New York to meet the CEO of Brigade, who convinced her that the app had to be nonpartisan and, probably, involve trivia.
Things didn't go smoothy, Bee documented, but after lots of trial and error and audience feedback, she and collaborator Adam Werbach came up with a political comedy trivia game, "This Is Not a Game," that offers cash prizes. "If you like it, tell your friends, no matter who they vote for," Bee said, with one exception: "Don't tell Ted Cruz, I don't want to have to give him money." You can watch the journey from concept to product, and learn how to download the game, in the video below. Peter Weber
Conflicting reports emerged Monday about whether Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had resigned from his post or was on the cusp of being fired. While it's still not entirely clear which is the truth, there's a significant difference between the two.
As Washington Post reporter Aaron Blake explained on Twitter, President Trump has the legal authority to nominate a replacement for Rosenstein if Rosenstein resigns — but his ability to hand-pick a successor is less clear if he fires Rosenstein. The Federal Vacancies Reform Act gives the president the ability to temporarily replace an official if the person in office "dies, resigns, or is otherwise unable to perform the functions and duties of the office," per Politico. Legal experts note that the case of a firing is conspicuously absent from the law.
As Politico noted earlier this year, a similar situation arose when former Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin left the administration. Shulkin himself said he was fired, creating a bit of a stir over whether Trump legitimately had the authority to nominate Robert Wilkie as acting secretary as he did, CNN reported at the time.
Several outlets, including CNN, are reporting that Rosenstein has not resigned and is instead heading to the White House expecting to be fired. Per Justice Department hierarchy, U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco would be next in line to assume Rosenstein's role— and would take over Rosenstein's crucial responsibility of overseeing Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election interference. Brendan Morrow
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein reportedly discussed resigning with Chief of Staff John Kelly, CNN reported Monday. Rosenstein is now reportedly en route to the White House and is "expecting to be fired," a source told Axios.
NBC News' Pete Williams reports that Rosenstein did not offer his resignation, but merely discussed it with Kelly, and that "if Trump wants him gone, they'll have to fire him ... [he] will refuse to resign and go quietly." Either way, reports Bloomberg, Rosenstein "isn't expected to be in the job after Monday."
Trump has criticized Rosenstein, who appointed Special Counsel Robert Mueller, for his oversight of the investigation into his campaign's involvement with Russian election interference. The deputy attorney general last week denied a New York Times report that he had advocated for invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office. Trump is in New York on Monday for a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly.
CNN reports that Rosenstein may have spoken with Kelly on Saturday about resigning, but the two did not agree on certain conditions for his resignation. Now, Rosenstein is anticipating that his summons to the White House will result in his firing. Summer Meza
To the extent that police focus on revenue collection through fee and fine enforcement and civil asset forfeiture — a practice often dubbed "policing for profit," particularly when the funds are built into departmental or city budget plans — they solve fewer crimes, study results published Monday at The Washington Post show.
A trio of researchers compared Census Bureau data on municipal revenue collection with information from the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting Program. After examining two years of data for 6,000 cities, they found police in cities that rely on fines for revenue crack significantly fewer cases.
The numbers are dramatic. In a hypothetical average city, if 1 percent of municipal revenue comes from fees, fines, and forfeitures, this model predicts the police department would solve 58 percent of violent crimes and 32 percent of property crimes. But if 3 percent of the revenue is collected this way, only 41 percent of violent crimes and 16 percent of property crimes would be solved.
Thus, the Post report summarizes, "cities where police are collecting revenue, communities are at once overpoliced — because they are charged with more fines and fees — and underpoliced — because serious crimes in their areas are less likely to be solved."
A 2013 study of towns in Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, and Mississippi found some municipal governments get more revenue from fines than from taxes. In a particularly egregious case, Henderson, Louisiana, obtained about $3.73 from fees, fines, and forfeitures for every $1 it collected in taxes. Other cities and towns across the country are increasingly relying on this sort of revenue collection to increase budgets without a formal tax hike. Bonnie Kristian
Millennials are more likely to be stay-at-home parents than Gen X parents were two decades ago.
Data published Monday by the Pew Research Center shows that in recent years, 21 percent of millennial parents have opted to stay home and take care of children. Millennials are generally classified as people ages 20 to 35. Back in 1999, when Gen X parents were the same age, 17 percent of parents in that group remained at home.
The difference between generations is particularly apparent among fathers — 6 percent of millennial dads were home with their children in 2016, while 3 percent of Gen X dads stayed home when they were about the same age. An increasing number of stay-at-home dads additionally say that they are intentionally opting to care for their children full-time, as opposed to parents who stay home because of difficulty finding employment.
About 18 percent of U.S. parents overall don't work outside the home, Pew Research found, which is about the same as the share of stay-at-home parents in 1989. The share of stay-at-home moms hit an all-time low of 23 percent in 2000; it has since since climbed back up to 27 percent. Stay-at-home parenting rose to 20 percent in 2010 in the wake of the recession, but analysis suggests that fathers who stay home are increasingly doing so because of changing gender roles, not because of unemployment. See more data at Pew Research Center. Summer Meza
Measuring the effect of a political endorsement is tricky: For some voters, it may be a determining factor. For others, it may simply match previously-held beliefs. But endorsements do offer a telling gauge of how a political party's base is thinking.
For the Republican Party in 2018, endorsements from President Trump and the Koch network correlate with victory by a large margin. Nearly 90 percent of the candidates who gained these coveted affirmations won their primary this year, a FiveThirtyEight analysis finds. No other endorser can boast above a two-thirds success rate.
"That's especially interesting given the Kochs' opposition to Trump's trade policies and Trump's public feud with the brothers," FiveThirtyEight notes. Charles Koch has said Trump's principles are "antithetical" to his own, calling the president's Muslim registry proposal "reminiscent of Nazi Germany," "monstrous," and "frightening."
Also interesting is what falls at the bottom of the list. For all the present furor over the possibility of a conservative-majority Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, pro-life groups Right to Life and the Susan B. Anthony List are in the bottom third of endorsers.
FiveThirtyEight conducted a similar analysis of Democrats earlier this year and found former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Democratic Party committees were the standout endorsers. Bonnie Kristian
Now contending with a second allegation of sexual misconduct, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh faces an uphill journey to confirmation. But President Trump is standing by his man.
In allegations published in The New Yorker on Sunday, Deborah Ramirez accused Kavanaugh of thrusting his penis into her face at a party while they were both students at Yale University. But the new story has not deterred the president, as Trump told reporters Monday that he still heartily supports Kavanaugh, whom he called a "fine man with an unblemished past."
The allegations, Trump said, are "highly unsubstantiated statements," and the president encouraged reporters to "look into" the lawyers representing the accusers. Last week, California professor Christine Blasey Ford came forward with an allegation of sexual assault against Kavanaugh stemming from a high school party both attended in the 1980s. Kavanaugh has denied both Ford and Ramirez's accusations.
What's happening to Kavanaugh "could be one of the single most unfair, unjust things to happen to a candidate for anything," Trump said, concluding that the allegations are "totally political." Watch his remarks below. Brendan Morrow
At the UN, TRUMP dismisses new Kavanaugh allegations as "totally political": "He's a fine man w/an unblemished past & these are highly unsubstantiated statements from ppl represented by lawyers - you should look into them ...I am with him all the way... I look forward to a vote." pic.twitter.com/etCljNGN1u
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 24, 2018
Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard said Sunday it would seek "deadly and unforgettable" revenge against those responsible for an attack on a military parade that killed 25 people, including 12 guard members.
Tehran has accused Gulf Arab nations allied with the U.S. of supporting the gunmen in Saturday's assault, and Revolutionary Guard acting commander Gen. Hossein Salami again promised vengeance Monday. "You have seen our revenge before," he said in a televised speech before a funeral service for some of the attack's victims. "You will see that our response will be crushing and devastating, and you will regret what you have done."
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley pushed back Sunday on comments from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani linking the United States to the attack, suggesting it was provoked by Tehran's own policies. "I think what Rouhani needs to do is he needs to look at his own home base," she said on CNN's State of the Union. "He's oppressed his people for a long time," she continued. "I think the Iranian people have had enough, and that's where all of this is coming from."
The attack was claimed by both the Patriotic Arab Democratic Movement, an Iranian separatist group, and, without any evidence, the Islamic State. It targeted officials gathered on a viewing stand in the southwestern city of Ahvaz during an annual event held to remember the start of Iran's 1980-1988 war with Iraq. Bonnie Kristian