Monthly Archives: July 2016

Baited By The Tweet

“Imagine him in the Oval Office facing a real crisis,” Hillary said last night. “A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons.”

To be sure, after the convention, Trump let loose with a bunch of Tweets…. although it was clear that this was not Trump himself.

This morning though, we can see what actually got under Trump’s skin…. it was Bloomberg.


Now here’s the interesting thing.  Here’s what he said at a Trump rally yesterday:

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said Thursday afternoon he wanted to “hit” some of the Democratic National Convention speakers “so hard” while watching them last night, including a “little guy…so hard his head would spin.”

“You know what I wanted to. I wanted to hit a couple of those speakers so hard,” Trump said. “I would have hit them. No, no. I was going to hit them, I was all set and then I got a call from a highly respected governor.”…

“I was gonna hit one guy in particular, a very little guy,” he said. “I was gonna hit this guy so hard his head would spin and he wouldn’t know what the hell happened.”

In other words, Mike Pence told Trump to settle down and not go after the “little” guy.  But today, Trump was tweeting about “little” Mike Bloomberg.  He just couldn’t let it go.

Breaking: 4th Circuit Overturns Lower Court; Finds That GOP “Intentionally” Passed “Discriminatory” Voting Rights Law

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit invalidated North Carolina’s stringent new voting restrictions, holding that the law violates both the United States Constitution and the Voting Rights Act. The North Carolina measure, the Fourth Circuit held, has a discriminatory impact on black voters, impermissibly burdening their voting rights under the VRA. More boldly, the court also held that the law was enacted with discriminatory intent, designed by the Republican legislature to curb black voting rights in violation of the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. This dual finding of discriminatory impact and intent makes the Fourth Circuit’s decision the boldest judicial rejection of voting restrictions in years.

As the court explains, North Carolina passed its omnibus voting bill, SL 2013-381, almost immediately after the Supreme Court freed the state’s voting laws from federal “preclearance”—meaning that after nearly 50 years under supervision, the state was finally free to change voting laws without federal oversight. The legislature promptly “requested data on the use, by race, of a number of voting practices.” And “upon receipt of the race data, the General Assembly enacted legislation that restricted voting and registration in five different ways, all of which disproportionately affected black voters.” The new law created draconian requirements for valid voter ID, eliminating those IDs most commonly used by black voters; cut back early voting and killed same-day registration; eliminated preregistration for teenagers; and eliminated out-of-precinct voting for voters who accidentally showed up at the wrong precinct in the correct county.

Every single one of these restrictions disproportionately burdened black voters; indeed, as the Fourth Circuit writes, SL 2013-381 seemed to “target African Americans with almost surgical precision.” (Meanwhile, there is essentially no evidence that voter fraud ever occurs in North Carolina.) The evidence that the legislature enacted SL 2013-381 for precisely this purpose—to hamper black voting rights—is almost overwhelming. Indeed, the state even acknowledged that it had eliminated one early voting day, a Sunday, because it was a traditional “souls to the polls” day, when black voters were provided transportation from church to the polls. “Counties with Sunday voting in 2014 were disproportionately black” and “disproportionately Democratic,” the legislature said—so, in response, it did away with one of two days of Sunday voting. This, the Fourth Circuit writes, is “as close to a smoking gun as we are likely to see in modern times”:

The State’s very justification for a challenged statute hinges explicitly on race—specifically its concern that African Americans, who had overwhelmingly voted for Democrats, had too much access to the franchise.

But really, the North Carolina legislature littered its voting law with almost comically obvious smoking guns. Black voters, the court explains, are also more likely to utilize same-day registration, preregistration, and out-of-precinct voting. The legislature knew this when it enacted SL 2013-381; it had “requested a racial breakdown” of different voting methods, and, as the Fourth Circuit notes, discovered:

The legislature’s racial data demonstrated that, as the district court found, “it is indisputable that African American voters disproportionately used [same-day registration] when it was available.” … [I]n-person assistance likely would disproportionately benefit African Americans. SL 2013-381 eliminated same-day registration.

And on and on it goes—each restriction, the court persuasively explains, was crafted to crack down on voting methods favored by black voters. These “seemingly irrational restrictions unrelated to the goal of combating fraud,” the Fourth Circuit writes, can only be explained by discriminatory intent. And the legislature’s highly suspect behavior in enacting SL 2013-381—rushing it through, on party lines, as soon as it was freed of federal oversight—raises serious constitutional red flags. “Indeed,” the court writes, “neither this legislature—nor, as far as we can tell, any other legislature in the Country—has ever done so much, so fast, to restrict access to the franchise.”

As a result of the law’s discriminatory intent and impact, the Fourth Circuit concludes, each of its central provisions must be invalidated under the Equal Protection Clause and the VRA.

It is a very hard rebuke to the lower court.  Now, I know Judge Schroeder, the lower court judge who found that there was no discrimination intended when North Carolina passed its new voter laws.  He is a thorough and competent judge, and certainly no racist.  But not being a Southerner, he just doesn’t see certain things which the older Southern gentlemen of the Fourth Circuit did see.  As the Fourth Circuit wrote, “the [lower] court seems to have missed the forest in carefully surveying the many trees.  This failure of perspective lef the court to ignore critical facts bearing on legislative intent, including the inextricable link between race and politics in North Carolina.”

This is a HUGE win for North Carolina (the people, not the current government) with national repercussions.

It will no doubt go to the U.S. Supreme Court, where, with a 4-4 split, it will probably be upheld.

The 83 page opinion is below:

Highlights From DNC Day 4

It was a very well-orchestrated Day 4 of the convention, with some extraordinary speeches.  Unfortunately, the networks and 24 hours cable news stations didn’t cover some of the best ones, like these:

(1) The father of a deceased Muslim soldier offering Trump his copy of the Constitution:

(2) North Carolina’s Own, Reverend Barber shakes the walls:

(3)  Friend of mine — David Wils (spelled wrong below):

Hillary’s speech was fine.  She’s not an orator.  But the speech itself was good.  It went a little to the left, a little more to the right, having laid the groundwork for welcoming in NeverTrumpers.

The Bernie Sanders deadenders who were delegates came and sat on their hands.  There were sporadic attempts to chant on their part, but they were always drowned out by the rest of the crowd.  Even during stirring speeches which should appeal to ANYONE, they just say on their hands like the skunk at the party.  Some apparently DID leave.

The truth is, those people are activists.  They don’t know what to do in the room where it happens.  They are better off (for all involved) being on the outside yelling in.

Trump, after bragging so much about his convention, is now claiming ignorance:

“I didn’t produce our show — I just showed up for the final speech on Thursday,” Trump told The New York Times in a phone call this week.


His claim that he had no hand in the convention programming was also eyebrow-raising, given that campaigns typically dictate the speaker roster and many of the RNC speakers had direct ties to Trump. Among those were five members of the Trump family, the manager of Trump Winery and ‘80s sitcom star Scott Baio, who said Trump personally invited him to speak at a campaign fundraiser.

The DNC earned applause from media observers for tightly hewing to schedule and drawing big names including Meryl Streep, Paul Simon, Katy Perry and President Barack Obama.

The Democratic convention outpaced the RNC’s ratings on multiple nights, according to Nielsen.

Also, Bill liked the balloons A LOT.

Here Bill sees the balloons for the first time:They are real, not just something he heard about in a storybook.He touches another.Bill can't believe his luck. He gets to play with these balloons?Bill gets to kick one.He holds one.He tries to kick a bunch of little ones.

A Look At Convention Ratings

For some reason, Trump thinks that success in the political arena has to do with TV ratings.  During the GOP debates, he bragged about how he,and he alone, was responsible for the high TV ratings of the debates.

So let’s play in that ballpark and see how the DNC is stacking up against the RNC — uh-oh:

President Obama’s prime time speech lifted the Democratic convention to its third straight night of ratings wins over the Republican convention last week — and now the Trump campaign is exhorting supporters not to watch the Democrats’ final night.

About 24 million viewers watched Wednesday’s DNC coverage on the six biggest channels (CNN, MSNBC, NBC, ABC, CBS, and Fox News), according to preliminary Nielsen data.

Last Wednesday’s RNC coverage drew 23.4 million viewers across eight channels.

The coverage of Obama’s speech and Hillary Clinton’s appearance on stage spilled into the typically lower-rated 11 p.m. hour, but the ratings results indicate that most viewers kept watching until the very end of the evening.

For the third night in a row, CNN was #1 overall, with 6.17 million viewers between 10 and 11:45 p.m. MSNBC was #2 with 4.92 million. NBC was #3 with 4.17 million.

The Democratic ratings advantage has come as something of a surprise, given Donald Trump’s reputation as a ratings magnet.

Last week he touted the viewership for his Republican convention and predicted that no one would watch the Democrats.

That’s gotta hurt.  Oh, well.  What’s the plan, Donald?

On Thursday morning, Trump’s campaign sent a fund-raising email urging supporters not to tune into Clinton’s acceptance speech on Thursday night.

“Unless you want to be lied to, belittled, and attacked for your beliefs, don’t watch Hillary’s DNC speech tonight,” the email read. “Instead, help Donald Trump hold her accountable, call out her lies and fight back against her nasty attacks.”

Okay then.

A Word To The Bernie DeadEnders

I’ve been fighting with them online for days.  Sarah Silverman called them “ridiculous”.  I GET that their guy lost, and I GET that that is hard to digest.

But some of them — probably (I’m assuming) the fucking millennials — think something is OWED to them before they decide to back Hillary against Trump.


Anyway, I’m spent from those conversations, and I’ll call in Seth Myers, who does it with better humor than I can muster:

A Bunch Of Funny Side Stories From This Week


When Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Tim Kaine addressed the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia Wednesday night, the North Carolina GOP thought it quickly spotted something wrong.

When Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Tim Kaine addressed the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia Wednesday night, the North Carolina GOP thought it quickly spotted something wrong.

“[Tim Kaine] wears a Honduras flag pin on his jacket but no American flag,” the state party tweeted as he was speaking. “Shameful.”

There was one problem: Kaine’s pin, which had a single blue star on a white background bordered with red, wasn’t the flag of Honduras, where he spent a year as a missionary decades ago. It was the symbol for Blue Star Families, or those with members serving in the military.

Read more here:
“[Tim Kaine] wears a Honduras flag pin on his jacket but no American flag,” the state party tweeted as he was speaking. “Shameful.”


There was one problem: Kaine’s pin, which had a single blue star on a white background bordered with red, wasn’t the flag of Honduras, where he spent a year as a missionary decades ago. It was the symbol for Blue Star Families, or those with members serving in the military.

The tweet was deleted with an apology.


Michelle Obama delivered a powerful speech during the Democratic National Convention on Monday, as the first lady shed light on the historical significance of her family’s eight years at the White House as its first African-American family.

“I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves,” Mrs. Obama said in her keynote address. “I watch my daughters — two beautiful, intelligent, black young women — playing with their dogs on the White House lawn.”

As it turned out, one person was not entirely amused and went so far as to “fact check” the first lady’s comments.

FOX News personality and political lightning rod Bill O’Reilly defended the working conditions slaves faced while building the White House by offering the following explanation during The O’Reilly Factor on Tuesday:

“Slaves that worked there were well-fed and had decent lodgings provided by the government, which stopped hiring slave labor in 1802. However, the feds did not forbid subcontractors from using slave labor. So, Michelle Obama is essentially correct in citing slaves as builders of the White House, but there were others working as well. Got it all? There will be a quiz.”

If there was a quiz, Bill failed.

The notion of the “happy slave” is old racist trope, and it is despicable that O’Reilly peddles this shit on television. But let’s get to the facts….

As O’Reilly noted, Michelle Obama’s predecessor as first lady, Abigail Adams was living in the White House at the time when slaves were building it, and she recorded her observations of those working on landscaping the grounds.

“The effects of Slavery are visible every where; and I have amused myself from day to day in looking at the labour of 12 negroes from my window, who are employd with four small Horse Carts to remove some dirt in front of the house,”she wrote. Moreover, Mrs. Adams took note of their condition—and her observation stands at odds with O’Reilly’s:

Two of our hardy N England men would do as much work in a day as the whole 12, but it is true Republicanism that drive the Slaves half fed, and destitute of cloathing, … to labour, whilst the owner waches about Idle, tho his one Slave is all the property he can boast.


Adams’s rebuke to O’Reilly is not the first time that a benign recollection of slavery has broken apart on the shoals of reality.


The New York Times reports on hard times at Fox News:

Megyn Kelly and her co-hosts [at the Democratic convention], including Bret Baier and Brit Hume, have not been speaking during commercial breaks, according to two people with direct knowledge of the anchors’ interactions, who described the on-set atmosphere at Fox News as icy. During ads, the hosts are often absorbed with their smartphones.

….Employees say there is a continuing split inside the network, with one camp of old-guard Fox News loyalists — some of whom owe their careers to Mr. Ailes — upset at his ouster. Some are resentful toward Ms. Kelly for cooperating with lawyers brought in by the network’s parent company, 21st Century Fox, to investigate Mr. Ailes’s behavior. (About a dozen women have reported improper behavior by Mr. Ailes to investigators.)

Another contingent inside Fox News is equally dismayed by the responses of stars like Kimberly Guilfoyle, Greta Van Susteren and Jeanine Pirro, who were quick to publicly defend Mr. Ailes after he was accused of harassment in a suit filed by the former anchor Gretchen Carlson.

And the pressure really seems to have gotten to Bill O’Reilly:

“I think the time has come now, where this whole network is going to have to band together, all of us, and we’re going to have to call out the people who are actively trying to destroy this network, by using lies and deception and propaganda. We’re going to have to start to call them out by name, because that’s how bad it’s become,” he said.

….”Jesse Watters goes on the floor of the Democratic convention, and some photographer comes up and starts swearing at him and cursing at him right in his face? This is provocation,” he continued. “These people are doing this. They want me dead, Bolling, literally dead.”

Bolling responded to O’Reilly, “I’m not sure they want you dead.”

“Oh they do, believe me,” O’Reilly said.

Poor Bill. I think he revels in the notion that we all want him dead. It would be a shock to his ego to find out that most of us just want him to go away.


Bradley Cooper’s appearance at the Democratic National Convention has irked some conservative fans of the actor’s portrayal of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle in 2014’s “American Sniper.”

Cooper was spotted by TV cameras Wednesday night seated at the meeting in Philadelphia alongside his Russian model girlfriend, Irina Shayk.

Some Twitter users say they plan to boycott Cooper’s future films over his presence at the convention. Another commented that they thought his experience playing Kyle would have rubbed off on him.

The complaints have been mocked by others who say Cooper was simply acting a role when playing Kyle and conservatives shouldn’t be surprised.

Cooper earned an Oscar nomination for “American Sniper,” which became a blockbuster thanks in part to an enthusiastic reception among conservative moviegoers.


The plagiarism in question? It was an entire paragraph.  No three sentences.  One sentence?

Nope. Both men used the line “This is not the America I know” in their respective convention speeches.

The problem?  As NBC News pointed out, Obama has used versions of this line in several past speeches. In a 2010 speech, he used the line, “That is not the America we believe in.” And in addresses delivered in 2012 and 2016, he used the line, “That’s the America I know.”

Former President George W. Bush also once used the line, “That’s not the America I know,” as NBC News noted.

See, Don Jr., five or six common words can’t be plagiarism, whereas 70 or so?  Yeah.


Day Four Of The DNC Already?

The stream of news that usually comes from political conventions has been a torrent for the past two days.

This has not been a conventional convention.

On Day One, you had the homage to Bernie, which spilled into Day Two with the Bernie Deadenders (that’s what I’m going to call those Bernie supporters who won’t vote in unity behind Hillary Clinton).  Now, having some dissension in a political party isn’t new, and in fact, it livens the proceedings.  But this time it is particularly nasty.  As my twitter tweets suggest, I have a hard time with the Bernie deadenders.

And then we have Trump in between the convention days, saying and doing some pretty messed up stuff, like urging (“with sarcasm” he says) that Russia should located Hillary’s “missing” 30,000 emails and give them to the press.  Yeah, he was urging espionage on another political candidate.  The GOP has tried to turn it around and make it about Hillary’s email server, but that’s stale bread.  Especially since most of those emails were recovered and vetted by the FBI, so there are not “missing”.

But the convention itself has been amazing.  Bill Clinton gave an amazing speech.  As did many others.  Tim Kaine did well last night.  Michael Bloomberg — an Independent, self-made businessman AND politician — came out as the antithesis of Trump, and made the case for Hillary.

And of course, Obama, who has a high bar anyway, simply hit it out of the park.  An historic speech.

Here’s what Obama did without being obvious:

(1)  He reclaimed the patriotism mantle
(2)  He reclaimed the optimistic mantle
(3)  Rather than saying that Trump was a typical Republican, he cast Trump as NOT a Republican, giving a good place for NeverTrumpers to plant their flag (for this election)

It was magnificent.  And indeed, there is evidence that this election may end up finally dislodging the white, college educated demographic from the GOP, which has won them since the time polling first began.  Many of them can see that Trump is dangerous. Last night was an invitation from the Democratic party for them to leave the dark side and come into the light. And they did it with the most liberal platform in history. That’s a pretty neat trick.

The conservative reaction was….. jealousy:


Anyway, here are some takeaways from last night:

(1) Hillary has a team, Donald doesn’t

There were so many big name speakers in Wednesday night’s lineup that Democrats had to cut Sen. Sherrod Brown, for time (he’ll speak Thursday).

“There has never been a man or a woman — not me, not Bill, nobody — more qualified than Hillary Clinton to serve as president of the United States,” President Obama said of his former rival, Hillary Clinton. Trump is essentially a party of one, who has no one with the gravitas or with the willingness to make a similar claim on his behalf.

Bloomberg, who wholeheartedly endorsed Clinton a night after Bernie Sanders did, pummeled Trump with billionaire-on-billionaire attacks that mocked the real estate mogul’s financial acumen. “Trump says he wants to run the nation like he’s run his business. God help us!” Bloomberg said. “I’m a New Yorker, and I know a con when we see one.”

But it remains to be seen if the surfeit of endorsements will actually pay off for Clinton, or, in a populist election year, if Donald Trump can spin them as only further proof that she is a product of a corrupt establishment that spans partisan boundaries.

(2) Trump’s World War III

While Trump complained about the lack of flags at the Democratic National Convention, Democrats fielded a former CIA director and secretary of defense, a retired Navy Admiral, a former Marine Corps captain, a president, a vice president, and a retinue of congressional foreign policy experts.

All essentially made one simple point: Donald Trump might very well start a nuclear war, potentially even by accident, if he’s president.

National security was almost completely absent from the first two nights of the DNC, and ISIS has still hardly come up. But the third night’s emphasis on national security was auspiciously timed. Earlier in the day, Trump at a press conference seemed to call on Russia to hack Clinton’s emails.

“This morning, he personally invited Russia to hack us. That’s not law and order. That’s criminal intent,” said retired Adm. John Hutson.

“Donald, you’re not fit to polish John McCain’s boots,” Hutson added, referring to Trump’s insults of the Arizona Senator and Vietnam veteran.

Throughout the night, Democrats suggested that it was Americans’ duty to stop Trump, adopting themes of patriotism that Republicans typically own.

“They say they believe in ‘Country First.’ What a joke,” Senate Minority Leader Reid said. “Republicans who won’t stand up to Trump believe in one thing and one thing only: ‘Party First.’

(3) Gun control is no longer a dirty word

Gun control was absent from the 2012 Democratic National Convention, which occurred just months before the Sandy Hook massacre that re-launched a moribund movement for new gun safety measures.

Gabby Giffords, the former Arizona Congresswoman who was partially paralyzed in a 2012 shooting, brought that year’s convention to the tears as she made one of her first public appearances since the massacre, barely able to speak.

This time, she returned with a full voice and a strong gait, having started a new gun control group with husband and fellow speaker, astronaut Mike Kelly. “Speaking is difficult for me,” Giffords said,” but come January, I want to say these two words: Madam President.”

And the crowd grew quiet and emotional as they heard from family members of the victims of the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting.

(4)  We’ll Miss You, Uncle Joe

Vice President Joe Biden brought delegates from a hush to a roar Wednesday as he gave what could be one of the best received speeches of his career. Biden will be out of office for the first time in nearly half a century soon, having never fulfilled his long-held dream of giving a speech on the final night of a convention as the party’s nominee

But he can feel good about going out on the speech he delivered Wednesday, which had the crowd so rapt that “malarkey” became a huge applause line.

“No major party nominee in the history of this nation has ever known less or has ever been less prepared” than Trump, Biden said, taking the inverse line from Obama.

Rejecting the dire portrait of America painted at last week’s Republican National Convention, Biden expressed his optimism succinctly as he closed: “C’mon, this is America!”

(5) Tim Kaine is a walking dad joke and it’s great

Obama’s VP spent five months in the White House before The Onion helpedcreate the meme of Joe Biden, washing his Pontiac Thunderbird shirtless in the White House driveway. But a caricature of Kaine was born on his very first night as Clinton’s running mate: If Obama was a cool dad, Kaine is a dad dad

Standing on easily the biggest stage of his career, Kaine started off a bit unsteadily, but rose to the occasion in his own goofy way, which featured an endearing Trump impersonation.

Kaine’s “aw shucks” Midwestern humility is refreshing in cycle dominated by two deeply polarizing candidates. But it was hard for him to stand out in such a strong lineup.

That may not be his role, but it leaves the Democratic ticket bereft of a powerful orator, since Clinton has often admitted that big speeches are not her forte. Still, Democrats had Obama.

The Case For Trump’s Kremlin Connection

Yeah. It sounds like something out of a movie.  Very Manchurian Candidate-ish.  But over at Kos, they’ve compiled the facts:

[W]ith apparently clear evidence that Russia hacked the DNC and released information designed to harm the Clinton campaign, there’s a question that has to be asked: Why? 

Why would Russia hack into the emails of one American political party and push out selected information on the brink of that party’s convention? Just why would Russia want to harm the chances of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton?

Increasingly, the answer seems clear: Because the Kremlin wants Trump.

The theory that Moscow orchestrated the leaks to help Trump—who has repeatedly praised Russian President Vladimir Putin and practically called for the end of NATO—is fast gaining currency within the Obama administration because of the timing of the leaks and Trump’s own connections to the Russian government, the sources said on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing and developing quickly.

The connections between Trump and Putin go beyond a mutual admiration society and dip deeply into Trump’s hidden finances. And it certainly looks like the Russians are getting a good return on their Trump investment.

Trump deliberately rewrote sections of the Republican Party platform to make the Republican position on the Ukraine more Russia-friendly.

… the Trump campaign, which generally took no interest in the Republican Party’s official platform, took special care to add language about U.S. policy towards Ukraine – a new position that contradicts GOP foreign-policy orthodoxy – that brings the platform in line with the policies of the Russian government. 

Trump has repeatedly attacked the NATO alliance, hinting that he would refuse to come to the aid of states he found less than worthy.

… asked about Russia’s threatening activities that have unnerved the small Baltic States that are among the more recent entrants into NATO, Mr. Trump said that if Russia attacked them, he would decide whether to come to their aid only after reviewing whether those nations “have fulfilled their obligations to us.”

Trump has frequently made statements about Putin, going beyond even the bizarre levels of Republican admiration for an anti-democratic dictator and into defending Putin for invading other countries and murdering journalists.

SCARBOROUGH: … and invades countries, obviously that would be a concern, would it not?

TRUMP: He’s running his country, and at least he’s a leader, unlike what we have in this country.

SCARBOROUGH: But, again: He kills journalists that don’t agree with him.

TRUMP: Well, I think that our country does plenty of killing, too, Joe.

Meanwhile, Putin also had good things to say about Trump.

Officials also noted Trump’s own connections to the Russian government. Putin has publicly praised the nominee, who said he was “honored” by the compliment. 

On the Ukraine issue, the connection between Trump’s campaign and the Kremlin is very clear.

Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, was a consultant for Viktor Yanukovych, the former president of Ukraine who was ousted for his pro-Moscow orientation (and now lives in Russia). 

The financial links between Trump and Moscow are more than just a beauty pageant.

1. All the other discussions of Trump’s finances aside, his debt load has grown dramatically over the last year, from $350 million to $630 million. This is in just one year while his liquid assets have also decreased. Trump has been blackballed by all major US banks.

2. Post-bankruptcy Trump has been highly reliant on money from Russia, most of which has over the years become increasingly concentrated among oligarchs and sub-garchs close to Vladimir Putin. 

Trump is in deep to Russian oligarchs under the thumb of Putin. How deep? We don’t know. Because Trump won’t release his financial information.

Meanwhile, while speaking to the Russian press service, Tass, Putin’s spokesman cited Donald Trump Jr.

“They (democrats) spoke about hackers (who allegedly have ties to Russia),” Peskov said. “Mr. Trump Jr. has already strongly responded to them denying all this.”

At the very least, Trump and Putin have demonstrated a twisted relationship based around a mutual disdain for human rights, free speech, and international law. At the same time, Russian forces are already directly intervening in an American election in an attempt to alter the outcome. That’s perhaps the most extraordinary and disturbing aspect of an election season already marked by deep threats to the continuation of democracy. Pile on top of that Trump’s financial dependence on Russian oligarchs to prop up his crumbling empire.

Vladimir Putin is clearly in Donald Trump’s corner and working for his election. Donald Trump is clearly an admirer of Putin … and quite possibly more than just an admirer.

The Daily Beast is reporting:

The FBI suspects that Russian government hackers breached the networks of the Democratic National Committee and stole emails that were posted to the anti-secrecy site WikiLeaks on Friday. It’s an operation that several U.S. officials now suspect was a deliberate attempt to influence the presidential election in favor of Donald Trump, according to five individuals familiar with the investigation of the breach.

Let Me Remind You Fuckers Who I Am


What the fuck is your problem, America??

I’m Hillary goddamn Clinton. I’m a political prodigy, have been since I was 16. I have an insane network of powerful friends. I’m willing to spend the next eight years catching shit on all sides, all so I can fix this fucking country for you. And all you little bitches need to do is get off your asses one goddamn dayin November.

“Oh but what about your eeeemaaaaillls???” Shut the fuck up. Seriously, shut the fuck up and listen for one fucking second.

Here’s all you need to know about me:

  1. In 1992, I said I was proud to have followed my career instead of baking cookies.
  2. The GOP fucking dragged me for it. They made me bake cookies. They’rescared of me.
  3. Every time I have a job, y’all love me. Every time I run for anything, the GOP breaks out the big guns again and fucks me up good. And apparently it fucking works.

But you know what? I don’t fucking care. If I gave two shits about the haters I would’ve dropped the game decades ago.

You know why I keep fighting? Because we all want the same shit. We want economic and racial justice, we want to seriously attack climate change, we want everyone to be able to afford college and health care and housing and food, we want women to be treated like humans, yada yada yada.

And I’m the only person in this goddamn country who knows how to do it.

Because of course I do. Because I’ve been preparing my whole fucking life for this job. So stop making me dab on Ellen and just give me a fucking chance already.

If it seems like I have contempt for the American voter, it’s because I do. Frankly, most of you are fucking stupid. Most of you have no goddamn idea what it takes to run a country. I mean god damn, almost half of you think God created the Earth 10,000 years ago!

What the actual fuck????

Look, this is the big leagues. If you think any problem has a tweetable solution, you’re just wrong. If you think “border wall” or “muslims = bad” is gonna solve our problems, I don’t have time for your shit.

This is literally why we have a representative government. I know you don’t want to read long, boring things. So I do it for you, and I ask a bunch of smart people, and we come up with shit that works. Here’s my solution on energy.Here’s my solution on Wall Street. Here’s my solution on jobs. I have fucking binders full of this shit and you know it. I’m so fucking ready, America.

The GOP just spent their entire convention fantasizing about literally imprisoning me. They are terrified. They know what I can do.

I’ve spent my life clawing my way into a system that’s terrified of change. A system that just wants to let rich white dudes be rich white dudes. And holy shit, you guys, I could not have picked a better opponent for my final boss battle.

So lemme sign off with the same Nancy Scheibner poem I quoted back in 1969 (when I gave the commencement speech at my own fucking graduation, btw).

My entrance into the world of so-called “social problems”
Must be with quiet laughter, or not at all.
The hollow men of anger and bitterness
The bountiful ladies of righteous degradation
All must be left to a bygone age.
And the purpose of history is to provide a receptacle
For all those myths and oddments
Which oddly we have acquired
And from which we would become unburdened
To create a newer world
To translate the future into the past.
We have no need of false revolutions
In a world where categories tend to tyrannize our minds
And hang our wills up on narrow pegs.
It is well at every given moment to seek the limits in our lives.
And once those limits are understood
To understand that limitations no longer exist.
Earth could be fair. And you and I must be free
Not to save the world in a glorious crusade
Not to kill ourselves with a nameless gnawing pain
But to practice with all the skill of our being
The art of making possible.

(Flip flop my ass.)

Great DNC Moments

Barack Obama’s 2004 DNC speech was historic.  So was Michelle’s this year.  Nobody expected it would be THIS good.

And props to Demi Lovato for talking about mental health:

Yeah, I’m Nervous

Events are moving fast and it is hard to document and comment on them.  We’re starting Day Two of the DNC and I am not a happy camper.

Let me tell you why I have a bad feeling:

(1) I think the Hillary people continue to underestimate the diehard Bernie people.  It should be clear to everyone by now that Bernie Sanders created a monster that he can no longer control.  My friend on the DNC floor last night informed me that the strategy was to let the Bernie people vent, and then it will all be over.  Well, not from what I’ve seen.  The news was full of Bernie delegates being interviewed saying one of two things (a) I’m going to Dr. Jill Stein or (b) The Clinton campaign is going to have to give up something.

Can’t do much about (a), so let’s look at (b).  Already, the Bernie people have succeeded in:

  • removing Wasserman-Schulz as the DNC chair
  • gotten most of their platform approved, including major reforms for future elections
  • a very public apology
  • prime speaking spots

And now they want… more?  What more is there to give?

All of Bernie’s Sighted supporters understood this. Virtually every one of his endorsers who has a track record in the give-and-take of real politics—union activists, elected officials, environmentalist leaders—has proclaimed, as Bernie has, that the revolution succeeded in moving the party and its nominee to the left, and that a Hillary Clinton presidency, whatever it shortcomings, would create the possibility of significant progressive organizing and victories, while a Trump presidency would be a reign of repression.

The drama of Monday was to see how many of the Blinkered Bernie backers—who saw only that revolutionary nirvana had yet to descend from the heavens, and who believed that Hillary and the Democrats were merely play-acting in their move leftward—could be persuaded by Bernie himself and his leading supporters to see the light. In an early afternoon meeting with his delegates, Sanders detailed all that they’d won on the primary trail and in the platform, and told them that electing Clinton was both essential for the nation and a prerequisite for further progressive advances. At which point, some of his supporters began booing.

We’re told not to panic — that 90% of the Bernie people, according to a Pew poll, will vote for Hillary.  But the problem with that poll is that the respondents were only given a choice of Bernie or Hillary as a second choice.  It didn’t give any third party candidates, or staying home.  Nate Silver thinks (and I agree) that only 70% will vote for Hillary.  In fact, I think it  might be lower.

Conventional wisdom is that they will come around, just like Hillary’s people came around for Obama in 2008.  Well, this isn’t 2008.  Not even close.  The rules are out the window.  Conventional wisdom has been completely wrong this year.  I don’t think they going to come to Hillary because I don’t think a lot of them are Democrats.  They are a lefty version of Ron or Rand Paul.  Insurgents who are fed up with “the system”, which they see as “rigged” (although it is becoming less and less clear to me what that means to them).  I would almost venture to say they are anarchists.  Some of them, particularly the millennials, are so obsessed with the idea of “revolution” that I seriously doubt they have any idea what they would do if it ever came.

Now, to be sure, they comprise a minority of the Sanders supporters, but it is a significant enough minority to make a difference in some swing states.  And that worries me.

Talk to me, Rude Pundit:

Fuck you for not knowing your history and not wanting to do everything you can to stop someone like Trump from ascending to the White House and appointing Supreme Court justices, which will fuck us all for the rest of our lives. You know who agrees with us and disagrees with you? Bernie Sanders. Elizabeth Warren. Michael Moore. President Obama. And a fuck-ton of liberal writers (and a shitload of conservative writers, but fuck them where they stand anyways).

Do you think we’re all just lying to you? Do you think people across the left are liars or shills, including the dude you worshipped all this time? Or maybe, just maybe, we are sounding a warning bell, telling you that this shit is real. A Trump presidency is realer in its consequences than a Clinton one, however bad you think a Clinton presidency might be. Fuck, the Washington Post took the really unusual step to say, “Yeah, fuck this. Trump is a psychopath. Stop him.” That’s unheard of.

Don’t damn us to be Cassandras. Don’t let us stand there in 2017 and forward and say, “Told you so.” Probably from our cells in the gulag.

(2) I think support for Trump is stronger than people imagine.  People are (and should be) ashamed to say they are part of the white bigot revolution.  But when people pull the curtain behind them in the voting booth, there is no pollster there.  They can pull any lever they want.  It’s just them… alone.

In other words, I think polls are underestimating Trump’s appeal by 2-3 points.  I think for Hillary to consider a state comfortably in her column, she would have to be up by 7 points at least.

Never underestimate the power of white rage in its death throes.

(3)  Mother Russia,  Well, clearly they are trying to influence the elections.  You think the hacking is going to stop at the DNC?  Why not election results?

Hillary’s Veep

There is an announcement expected any day, maybe even today.

I predict it will be Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, safe and boring choice, with limited appeal to hardcore progressives.

It should be Labor Secretary Tom Perez, a strong progressive who is still on her short list.

Others on her short list are:

  • Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack (safe, boring, but doesn’t help in any swing state like Virginia)
  • New Jersey Senator Cory Booker (charismatic but too much like Clinton)

Me, I would have gone with Senator Al Franken from Minnesota.

Trump Steps On His, Uh, Hands Again

Trump’s successful speech last night — successful from a Nuremberg standpoint that is — got squashed a little today by Trump himself, talking about Ted Cruz at press conference.

Speaking this morning alongside his Vice Presidential candidate Mike Pence, Republican nominee Donald Trump told the press about his take on several National Enquirer stories, a sticking point of controversy that has dogged his campaign in the past.

In May, the real estate mogul worked himself into a bit of trouble when he implied that Raphael Cruz, the father of Texas Senator Ted Cruz, was involved in the assassination of President Kennedy. The assertions came from a cover story in the well-known tabloid, and Trump said at the time, “His father was with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Oswald’s being — you know, shot. I mean, the whole thing is ridiculous.”

The issue surfaced in light of the fact that Cruz’s refusal to officially endorse his party’s nominee came largely from the fact that Trump has disrespected his family. He said:

“This was a magazine that, in many respects, is respected. They got OJ [Simpson], they got [John] Edwards, they got this. If that was The New York Times, they would have gotten Pultizers for their reporting. I’ve always said, ‘Why didn’t the National Enquirer get the Pulitzer surprise for Edwards? And OJ Simpson? And all of these things?”

Trump stressed that the National Enquirer, “does have credibility,” referencing the ways in which the tabloid first broke the news of John Edwards’ secret love child in December of 2007 and the subsequent cover-up of the one time Democratic candidate for President.

The Dark Dark Speech

Welp, my twitter to blog app seems to be, uh, not working, so my “live” comments from last night’s Republican National Convention, may not ever show up.  Just as well, I suppose.

So, yeah.  It seemed like all was going well.  You actually had some good speeches last night — ones that (if they were to believed) showed a softer side of Trump.  Ivanka Trump got out there and talked about how her father had fought for womens’ rights in the workplace, equal pay, etc. — stuff that Trump has NEVER talked about.

She introduced this warm nice father of hers, but out came this hulking red-faced angry man.  The speech wasn’t as interesting as his usual ad-libbing boastful person. But … this was much darker, much uglier. There was little to laugh at. Less to mock. His ego was subdued by his speechwriter, which must’ve been quite the feat in itself, but still, holy shit this was nasty.

At moments he starts screaming just to raise his bile up to wake himself up. To get that bit of rage-high. He’s bored to death otherwise. Trying desperately to contain his ADD.


Now, nobody expected a wonkish policy speech, but he promised EVERYTHING with no details as to how to do it.  “We’re going to defeat Islamic terrorism with our allies. Quickly. Fast.” How? He won’t say. He promised some reforms earlier in the speech. None has emerged. Surely those open to his blandishments can see he has nothing specific to offer.

Get rid of crime.  Trump yelled “I have a message for all of you: The crime and violence that today afflicts our nation will soon come to an end… Beginning on January 20, 2017, safety will be restored.”  How?  Sign an executive order?

It got more and more insane as he went on.  So much about law and order, clearly trying to capitalize on recent police shootings in Dallas and Baton Rouge.  But oh so fact free.  Crime has been trending down for years.  It spiked up in a few cities last year, and that’s the part that Trump focused on, failing to mention the overall trend.

At no point in the entire exhausting, tedious, repetitious series of barks and growls did Trump say he would go to Congress to ask for something. Not once did he even hint that he understood that he couldn’t just clap his wee hands and make it so. In fact, everything in his acceptance speech was pointedly about how he and only he can solve the problems in the country.

What is going to happen if Trump is elected and Democrats in the Senate block a bill to build the stupid border wall? Or a bill to change the Affordable Care Act? What is he going to do? Trump would say that he’ll make deals with them, as if that never occurred to President Obama, who gave Republicans nearly everything they asked for in many negotiations while still getting stabbed in the gut by them when it was time to vote. Senators have a long memory, and Democrats will want payback. So what will Trump do? He’ll do what his idiot hordes demand, up to and including violence. Because when you have a cult of personality, the leader of that is the only thing that matters.

And he went on. 75 minutes — the longest nomination speech in presidential history.

At times, he would seem to be inclusive of all races and religions and thoughts.  And then he would pivot back to “We don’t want them in our country.” An unscripted eruption from Trump’s gut. I can’t imagine any other nominee in my lifetime speaking so crudely, and evoking so much fear and loathing of immigrants.

This may have been my favorite tweet of the night:

For those waiting for him to pivot to a more centrist message, this was not it.  He is playing to his base.

And more importantly, playing to fear.  Fear of crime.  Fear of other.  Fear of THEM taking the country from US.  It wasn’t so much about fixing healthcare as much as it was locking up (or shooting) Hillary Clinton.

What is important to keep in mind is that this is what authoritarians always do. They capitalize on fear as a way to get people to give them power. That is why so many people have zeroed in on what might have been the most important line of Trump’s speech.

I am your voice, said Trump. I alone can fix it. I will restore law and order. He did not appeal to prayer, or to God. He did not ask Americans to measure him against their values, or to hold him responsible for living up to them. He did not ask for their help. He asked them to place their faith in him.

My natural inclination is to remain calm and avoid hyperbole. But even from that frame, I have to say that this is the root of fascism. Here is how Suderman described it:

The essence of that argument is that America is unsafe and decline, and that as a result it should be cut off from the world, plunged into fear, and managed by a simple-minded strongman whose ego and bluster know no limits. This was the argument that Trump made last night. It is his pitch for the presidency. And it is a lie—a fictitious, nightmarish vision that a power-hungry narcissist invented for the purpose of acquiring power for himself by being elected president.

At the end of Donald Trump’s interminable acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention last night, CNN commentator Ana Navarro had this to say:

I am getting texts from Republican congressmen who are saying “I’m embarrassed of my party,” “he sounded like a fearmonger,” “this is not Republicanism.” A lot of Republicans today are cringing by what we’ve seen tonight…. Go listen to the words of the chief of police of Dallas, that’s the kind of thing that will get us past this crisis not this fearmongering, not this disgusting speech that we heard tonight that does nothing but bring out the darkness in America. It is terrifying to me.

Other reactions? Yglesius says (correctly) that the problem isn’t Trump, but the Republican Party (or specifically, what it has become):

Not everything in American conservatism is toxic, but the convention has revealed a profound and genuinely unusual intellectual and moral rot in the Republican Party: a weakness for outlandish conspiracies and a preference for talk-radio antics over the necessarily-somewhat-dull work of practical politics. Trump is not so much the cause of this rot as the man who simply has the daring to punch the tree and send it tumbling down. The run-of-the-mill elected officials and the rank-and-file delegates who cheered them on did the damage.

Lost in the debate over the propriety of the convention’s loud and lusty “lock her up” chants, for example, has been insufficient focus on the basic ridiculousness of the argument.

Hillary Clinton’s email server, after all, has already been extensively investigated by a team of FBI agents and federal prosecutors. She’s not going to be locked up because she’s not going to be put on trial because James Comey, a Republican and George W. Bush administration veteran, determined that, given the facts, “no reasonable prosecutor would file charges.”

Under the circumstances, why on earth should she be locked up? Are Comey and the whole FBI in on the cover-up? Why?

They don’t know and they don’t care to ask. Or they do know and they just don’t care that they’re wrong. Or something.

Daniel Pipes, who has served in five presidential administrations, quits the GOP and writes why:

Here’s why I bailed, quit, and jumped ship:

First, Trump’s boorish, selfish, puerile, and repulsive character, combined with his prideful ignorance, his off-the-cuff policy making, and his neo-fascistic tendencies make him the most divisive and scary of any serious presidential candidate in American history. He is precisely “the man the founders feared,” in Peter Wehner’s memorable phrase. I want to be no part of this.

Second, his flip-flopping on the issues (“everything is negotiable”) means that, as president, he has the mandate to do any damn thing he wants. This unprecedented and terrifying prospect could mean suing unfriendly reporters or bulldozing a recalcitrant Congress. It could also mean martial law. Count me out.

Third, with honorable exceptions, I wish to distance myself from a Republican Party establishment that made its peace with Trump to the point that it unfairly repressed elements at the national convention in Cleveland that still tried to resist his nomination. Yes, politicians and donors must focus on immediate issues (Supreme Court justice appointments) but party leaders like GOP committee chairman Reince Priebus, House Speaker Paul Ryan, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wrongly acquiesced to Trump. As columnist Michael Gerson wryly notes, Trump “attacked the Republican establishment as low-energy, cowering weaklings. Now Republican leaders are lining up to surrender to him – like low-energy, cowering weaklings.”

Fourth, the conservative movement, to which I belong, has developed since the 1950s into a major intellectual force. It did so by building on several key ideas (limited government, a moral order, and a foreign policy reflecting American interests and values). But the cultural abyss and constitutional nightmare of a Trump presidency will likely destroy this delicate creation. Ironically, although a Hillary Clinton presidency threatens bad Supreme Court justices, it would leave the conservative movement intact.

Not surprisingly, during the convention, the RNC displayed a tweet by a white-supremacist account. The tweet, written by the account @Western_Triumph, appeared on four large screens in the Quicken Loans Arena Republican after the halfway mark during Donald Trump’s acceptance speech on Thursday night. It was one of a series of tweets by Twitter users that appeared in the hall that were curated by the Republican National Convention.

Well, what are you going to do?  You cook with racism, it’s going to taste that way too.

I haven’t even mentioned the lies.  Oh my God the lies.

How should Clinton respond?  Not in the same way obviously.  And she can’t pretend there are no problems.  She just has to show that she has the temperament to fix things rather than scare people about them.  Be efficient, entertaining and patriotic.  And stick even harder to STRONGER, TOGETHER.  Great theme.

One good thing- this brought Jon Stewart out of the woodwork:

UPDATE: Trump, true to form, bragged about the assumed high TV ratings of the speech.  Turns out…. not so much.

DNC ’12 (final night): 35.7 million viewers
RNC ’12 (final night): 30.3 million viewers
DNC ’08 (final night): 38.4 million viewers
RNC ’08 (final night): 38.9 million viewers

An average of 29.9 million people watched Donald trump accept GOP nomination during 10 PM hour last night on broadcast, CNN, FOX, MSNBC.

Rape Survivor Jailed


A bipolar rape survivor was jailed for nearly a month in Houston after she broke down while testifying against her rapist. In jail, she was allegedly abused and mistaken as a sex offender. Now she’s suing the prosecutor who sent her to jail, a jail guard who allegedly hit her, and others.

The 25-year-old woman, known as Jane Doe, was the key witness in the trial of serial rapist Keith Hendricks, who received two life sentences for raping multiple women. In court last December, she broke down during questioning and ran from the courtroom, screaming that she’d never return.

She was hospitalized and then jailed because court officials feared she would not return to finish her testimony. Doe’s mom had been told her daughter would be treated in a mental health facility, but instead she was imprisoned for 28 days at Houston’s Harris County Jail, where she stayed in the general living quarters.

The woman’s lawyer, Sean Buckley, said a jail guard punched her in the face after she hit the guard (assault charges filed against her were later dropped) and that another inmate gave her a black eye. The complaint states an inmate “repeatedly slammed her head into the concrete floor” and she “was forced to drink from a spigot attached to a dirty metal toilet,”according to the Washington Post. Some jail staff mistakenly thought she was an offender from her jail record, which wrongly listed her charges as “Arrested for aggravated sexual assault,” according to local station KPRC’s investigation. After the woman testified against Hendricks again in January, she had to wait three more days in jail before she was released on January 14, in case she was asked to give more testimony.

Prosecutors had petitioned a judge for a “witness bond,” which by Texas state law allows a witness to be held without bail to make sure they arrive in court to testify. But a former Harris County prosecutor, a legal analyst, and other attorneys told local station KPRC they’d never heard of a witness bond being used to hold a rape victim.

Buckley filed the woman’s lawsuit against Harris County, the sheriff, the jail guard who hit her, and the prosecutor who asked her to be jailed. In a statement, District Attorney Devon Anderson supported the prosecutor’s decision, though as Jezebel noted, it seemed to suggest the woman’s family agreed to the witness bond while mistakenly thinking she would receive care in a proper facility. Anderson said:

Because the DA’s Office has been notified that a lawsuit is imminent, we cannot go into details about this case… However, witness bonds are a common tool used by prosecutors and defense attorneys when the lawyer has reason to believe that the witness will be unavailable or make him or herself unavailable for trial. A judge must approve a witness bond. In this case the judge and family agreed with the decision to obtain a witness bond.

KPRC’s legal analyst Brian Wice noted perhaps the most tragic result of this case: “At the end of the day she received less due process, less protection than the rapist did.”

This country, and particularly law enforcement and the courts, needs one long seminar on how to treat people who have suffered traumatic emotional injury, whether they be soldiers or rape victims.

He Did Everything Right But Got Shot Anyway

Charles Kinsey, a behavioral therapist who was trying to help an autistic patient who had wandered away from a group home, did everything right when confronted by cops with guns drawn.

Frankly, I say he should have known better than to be a behavioral therapist trying to help an autistic patient in the middle of the day like that.

Editorial From The Christian Post


Editors’ Note: The Christian Post has not taken a position on a political candidate before today. We are making an exception because Trump is exceptionally bad and claims to speak for and represent the interests of evangelicals.

We the senior editors of The Christian Post encourage our readers to back away from Donald Trump.

As the most popular evangelical news website in the United States and the world, we feel compelled by our moral responsibility to our readers to make clear that Donald Trump does not represent the interests of evangelicals and would be a dangerous leader for our country.

Trump claims to be a Christian, yet says he has never asked for forgiveness.

While God, in His wondrous creativity, has drawn people to Himself through the saving grace of Jesus Christ in many different ways, there are certain non-negotiable actions needed to become a Christian: One must repent of their sins and follow Christ as Lord and Savior. Trump doesn’t talk this way, even when urged to.

Further, his words and actions do not demonstrate the “fruit of the spirit.”

Trump is a misogynist and philanderer. He demeans women and minorities. His preferred forms of communication are insults, obscenities and untruths. While Christians have been guilty of all of these, we, unlike Trump, acknowledge our sins, ask for forgiveness and seek restitution with the aid of the Holy Spirit and our community of believers.

On Sunday, Trump’s apparent reluctance to disavow David Duke until late in the day was extremely distasteful. The Ku Klux Klan is an evil, unholy movement representing the worst of America. Anyone who will not immediately denounce their support is unfit to be president.

Read the whole thing.

Unity In Color, At Least


At last official count, there were expected to be a total of 18 black delegates at the Republican National Convention this week. Yes, eighteen, or roughly 0.7 percent of the 2,472 national delegates in Cleveland.


According to the best estimate we have, the share of black delegates at this week’s GOP convention is lower than any time it has been in more than a century (and possibly even longer)—including during a dozen or so conventions that took place back when there were still legally segregated water fountains and lunch counters in our country.

Anyone surprised?



Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner?

Winston-Salem Journal:

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump will be campaigning in Winston-Salem on Monday, the Winston-Salem Police Department confirmed to WGHP/FOX8’s Michael Hennessey on Wednesday afternoon.

The Trump campaign contacted the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds on Wednesday about a potential event on Monday, City Manager Lee Garrity said on Wednesday evening.

Staff at the fairgrounds sent the Trump campaign a proposal, but nothing has been confirmed, Garrity said.

According to the station, Winston-Salem police have a meeting tentatively scheduled with the Secret Service for today.

The Trump campaign has not released details on the location or time of the event.

Former Forsyth County GOP chairman Scott Cumbie said he has also heard rumors of the Republican presidential nominee coming to Winston-Salem but does not know any of the details.

Oh God.

Trump’s Non-Convention Fire: His Foreign Policy Interview

Well, we know why Trump doesn’t discuss policy much.  Because when he DOES, oooooh my.  The New York Times has yet another interview with Donald Trump, foreign policy genius. Let’s listen in:

He even called into question whether, as president, he would automatically extend the security guarantees that give the 28 members of NATO the assurance that the full force of the United States military has their back.

For example, asked about Russia’s threatening activities that have unnerved the small Baltic States that are the most recent entrants into NATO, Mr. Trump said that if Russia attacked them, he would decide whether to come to their aid only after reviewing whether those nations “have fulfilled their obligations to us.”

Vladimir Putin will be delighted to hear this.

And so much for pledges, right?  We have kept this one to our NATO allies for 75 years.  Trump wants to throw it away or squeeze more out of them.

Trump’s ridiculous comments have already had international repercussions:

So… well done there, Candidate Trump.  No wonder Putin loves you.  Even John Bolton thinks Trump has gone off the rails.

“When an American leader says ‘I’ll look at what the situation is after the Russians attack,’ that is an open invitation to Vladimir Putin,” Bolton said.

“When he (Putin) reads this kind of statement, it’s an encouragement to him. We’re not deterring him, we’re in effect giving him a free hand. So I hope that whoever advised Mr. Trump on this rethinks it,” Bolton said.

UPDATE:  Paul Manafort, the Trump campaign manager says that the Times got it wrong.  But nope.  The transcript is clear.

Also from the New York Times interview:

Reiterating his threat to pull back United States troops deployed around the world, he said, “We are spending a fortune on military in order to lose $800 billion,” citing what he called America’s trade losses. “That doesn’t sound very smart to me.”

Mr. Trump repeatedly defined American global interests almost purely in economic terms. Its roles as a peacekeeper, as a provider of a nuclear deterrent against adversaries like North Korea, as an advocate of human rights and as a guarantor of allies’ borders were each quickly reduced to questions of economic benefit to the United States.

Lots of politicians say American can no longer be policeman of the world. Trump actually believes it. Next:

Mr. Trump said he was convinced that he could persuade Mr. Erdogan to put more effort into fighting the Islamic State. But the Obama administration has run up, daily, against the reality that the Kurds — among the most effective forces the United States is supporting against the Islamic State — are being attacked by Turkey, which fears they will create a breakaway nation.

Asked how he would solve that problem, Mr. Trump paused, then said: “Meetings.”

Not everything is a business deal, jerkface.

RNC Convention: The Last Day

Well, it has been a hell of a ride.  Trump promised an unconventional convention — he certainly did deliver.  Although I don’t think he can claim that the convention helped.

The Melania Trump plagiarism-gate scandal took up the first two days of the convention, when it could have been put to rest in less than 12 hours.  A Trump Organization ghostwriter wot done it, guvner, although many are skeptical of that story (in part because it took the Trump campaign so long to come up with the explanation… oh, and let’s just ignore the clear FEC violation of a Trump Organization worker writing for the campaign.)

If could have got past the plagiarism issue, what you saw was a wall of rage from the convention floor.  A few speeches were reasonable, but the anti-Clinton ones – almost completely fact-free, whipped the crowd into a bloodlusty fervor.  Chants of “Lock her up!” filled the auditorium, the first time a convention has actually called for internment of the opposition.


Oh, this was red meat.  And the place was full of raptors.

The problem was, I don’t think this convention (so far) has convinced anyone to vote for Trump other than the already-converted.  What was missing from the convention?

Serious policy proposals.  I know, I know.  Conventions are not for wonky discussions.  But you HAVE to say more than “We’re going to get ISIS” or “Hillary can’t get ISIS”, for example.

Love of Country.  This convention, compared to most GOP conventions, has been short on patriotism, even the jingoistic kind.  Nativism — yes.  Plenty of that.  Plenty of talk about isolation of the US and how every country (and, implicitly, non-white people) suck.  A few unrehearsed shouts of “USA, USA” but not nearly as much as before.  It was more about “us” rather than U.S.

“The Vision Thing”  Where does Trump want to take the country?  I have no idea.  The convention didn’t answer that question other than, again, the nativism thing.

Trump – the Man.  We were told, repeatedly, that we would learn another side to Trump.  We haven’t so far.  His wife told few personal anecdotes about him.  His kids didn’t either.  Oh, they sang his praises — like how he finished the ice rink in Central Park — but we KNEW that already.  Some people told us things that we were supposed to take on faith — he’s really smart, he listens, etc.  But no real world examples.  I don’t think his family knows him that well.

But what was missing most from the convention?  Unity.

With the first two days overshadowed by plagiarism issues (and more importantly, the inability of the campaign to move past that story), Ted Cruz came to the stage last night and said all the Cruz-y things.  He said nothing negative about Trump.  He told the audience to “vote your conscience up and down the ticket”, and that’s when it became clear that he wasn’t going to give a full-throated endorsement of Trump.  The place went bonkers, starting with the NY delegation chanting “Endorse Trump”… which he never did.

It was the story of the night — a night that was SUPPOSED to be about Vice President nominee Mike Pense.

Was Cruz right or wrong?  I think it was noble.  I think the pledge meant nothing to him, and rightly so.  Trump posted nasty things about Cruz’s wife, made insinuations that Cruz’s father helped kill JFK, and never apologized or un-posted those things.

Now, I can’t stand Cruz, and some say that by not endorsing Trump, Cruz positioned himself to pick up the pieces when Trump loses to Clinton (or alternatively, to run against Trump in 2020).  Maybe so, but I think sticking to conscience was also a reason.  And supporting his family. All good reason.  I can’t stand Jonah Goldberg at NRO, but I understand and agree where he comes from here:

Ted Cruz has never been my favorite politician. And I am not so naïve that I don’t recognize the gamble Cruz is making. But if the choice is between forgiving Ted Cruz’s obvious political calculation to become the standard bearer of an authentic conservatism or Donald Trump’s lizard-brain narcissism where no principle or cause outranks his own glandular desire to be worshipped, like a conqueror atop the carcass of conservatism, I choose Ted.

If the choice is between, say, congratulating the Boy Scoutish obedience of Mike Pence as he sells off bits and pieces of his soul like jewels from a family heirloom just to survive another day, or Ted Cruz who took the tougher road and refused to join the mewling mobs of toadies, apologists, human weather vanes, difference-splitters and vacillators, I choose Ted.

If the choice is between suspending the rules of decorum, decency, and civility for Donald Trump as he casually bad mouths his own country to the New York Times just as he secures the presidential nomination of the Republican Party or accepting that we are in dark and uncharted waters and conscience must light the way, I choose Ted.

I think Ted Cruz took the high road last night, which only shows the low road that the Trump people, and his followers, are going.

But this not the time to worry about Cruz’s future political prospects.  There’s a political campaign going on.  What did the Cruz brouhaha say about THIS election?  Well, the Trump campaign KNEW was Cruz was going to say, having seen his speech in advance.  They did not ask or require him to endorse Trump.  They are trying this morning to say that was a “magnanimous” gesture on Trump’s part, but in fact, it just shows how sloppy and unprofessional the Trump campaign is.  Why?  Because it stepped, once again, on their message of the day — get to know Mike Pence.  Nobody is talking about Mike Pence this morning.

(There is another view, articulated here, that Trump orchestrated this whole thing.  I don’t buy it — too many moving parts and these people aren’t that clever.  As Josh Marshall continues, “Cruz came into Trump’s house, Trumps party, and humiliated him.” Trump’s brand is domination, and he got dominated. It’s as simple as that.)

So once again, this year’s RNC has been problematic not only because Trump is squandering an opportunity to put on his best face for the voters, but also because he’s made a lot of unforced errors, suggesting that his campaign might struggle in all sorts of ways from now through November.


Fox News Chairmen Roger Ailes Has Until August 1 To Resign….

… or else he will be fired.  This comes on the heels of reports that Fox anchor Megyn Kelly has informed Fox management that she, too, like a Gretchen Carlson, has been sexually harassed by Ailes. New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman reports:

According to two sources briefed on parent company 21st Century Fox’s outside probe of the Fox News executive, led by New York-based law firm Paul, Weiss, Kelly has told investigators that Ailes made unwanted sexual advances towards her about ten years ago when she was a young correspondent at Fox. Kelly, according to the sources, has described her harassment by Ailes in detail.

Kelly’s comments to investigators might explain why the Murdochs are moving so quickly to oust Ailes. As New York reported yesterday, Rupert and sons James and Lachlan, the three top executives at 21st Century Fox, have, according to multiple sources, decided that Ailes needs to be removed. Kelly, who has become something of a feminist icon thanks to her tangles with GOP nominee Donald Trump, is seen by many inside Fox as the future of the network. She’s currently in contract negotiations, and given that Bill O’Reilly has said he’s considering retirement, Fox can’t afford to lose her.

According to two sources, yesterday afternoon lawyers for 21st Century Fox gave Ailes a deadline of August 1st to resign or face being fired for cause. Ailes’s legal team, which now includes Susan Estrich, former campaign manager for Michael Dukakis, has yet to respond to the offer. Ailes has also received advice on strategy from Donald Trump and Rudy Guiliani, sources say.

UPDATE: News reports are now saying Ailes is out in a couple of days with a nice 40 million dollar parachute.

RNC Convention Day One: The Melania Speech

Yes, Day One of the “unconventional convention” was a trainwreck.  For so many reasons.

It got fun in the late afternoon with a rules challenge by delegates opposed to Trump.  They basically wanted to say they didn’t agree with the Rules Committee, and hoped to insert certain new rules for the future, like having only closed primaries.  But the Trump forces basically steamrolled over them

Then you had Rep Steve King (R-Iowa) who appeared with a panel on MSNBC and essentially made the case for the white identity movement:

“This whole ‘old white people’ business does get a little tired, Charlie. I’d ask you to go back through history and figure out where are these contributions that have been made by these other categories of people that you are talking about? Where did any other subgroup of people contribute more to civilization?”

“Than white people?” Mr. Hayes asked.

Mr. King responded: “Than Western civilization itself that’s rooted in Western Europe, Eastern Europe and the United States of America, and every place where the footprint of Christianity settled the world. That’s all of Western civilization.”

Then you had Scott Baio, being, you know, Chaci and soap opera star Antonio Sabato, Jr., who later went on ABC and said he was “absolutely” sure that Obama was a Muslim.

Much of the evening was devoted to fear and stark long-debunked lies, most notable regarding Hillary Clinton and Benghazi.  The lie that there was a “stand down” order was repeated several time, even though it has been debunked by the House Select Committee on Benghazi.

Ugly shouts of “Lock her up!”, referring to Hillary.  William Kristol described the first night of the Republican convention in The Weekly Standard.

It was always perhaps the stupider party, the clumsier party, and the stodgier party. But it was also the sounder party, the more constitutional party, and the more responsible party. Now, Donald Trump’s Republican party is stupider than ever, but it is no longer sound or constitutional or responsible. Quite an achievement. So it was a depressing first day here at the Republican convention in Cleveland.

It was the day when it became incontrovertibly clear that a distinguished political party has fallen into the grip of a vulgar demagogue with a thuggish retinue. They will maintain that grip at least through November 8. And even if they lose, the after-effects will be substantial, and recovery and renaissance won’t be easy.

But the lowlight (in retrospect) was the speech of Melania Trump.  As it happened, it wasn’t a terrible speech.  In fact, it was just about the only speech of the night that didn’t assert false facts, and was low-level and measured, and didn’t spit at Hillary Clinton.

The biggest criticism one could make about the speech on its face was that it really didn’t say much of anything about the side of Donald Trump we don’t know.  We thought we were going to hear charming stories about Trump’s personal side, a softer side.  But none of that.

Oh, she praised him — possibly even rickrolled him, saying at one point:

He will never, ever, give up. And, most importantly, he will never, ever, let you down.

Funny.  But rickroll aside, that is pretty strange coming from the man’s THIRD WIFE!

But about 20 minutes after she left the stage, people started noticing the plagiarism.  Actually, credit goes to Huffington Post blog contributor Jarrett Hill who first caught this:

That, coupled with the fact that she had told Matt Lauer earlier in the day that she had written the speech herself with as little help as possible, put the Trump camp in an interesting corner.

Would they own up to the plagiarism?  Conservative Jonah Goldberg correctly said it was about the Trump campaign’s incompetence.

This is simply grotesque political malpractice, bordering on sabotage. While I obviously think plagiarism is bad, the way the journalistic clerisy treats it as a capital offense always bothered me.

But, this isn’t some journalistic brouhaha, it’s political malpractice. Obviously, Melania Trump fibbed when she told Matt Lauer she wrote the speech herself — a fib a great many politicians and political spouses have told over the years (I know a disproportionate number of speechwriters and ghostwriters, starting with my wife). I have no doubt she worked on it to make it her own. But it doesn’t matter whether she cribbed those lines herself or whether some idiot on the Trump campaign did it. This was Melania’s introduction to the country, and she knocked it out of the park. But the homerun was called back on account of cheating. Last night the conversation was all about how great she did. That conversation is over. If ever Trump had an excuse to bust out a “You’re fired!” this is it.

The answer came this morning.  Trump campaign manager and spokesman Paul Manafort said it was just a coincidence, and that this was Hillary Clinton once again attacking women (although the Clinton campaign has not said anything about the plagiarism at all).  Specifically, he responded to the charges with this:

There’s no cribbing of Michelle Obama’s speech. These are common words and values that she cares about her family, things like that,” he continued when asked by anchor Chris Cuomo about the plagiarism allegations. “I mean, she was speaking in front of 35 million people last night. She knew that. To think that she would be cribbing Michelle Obama’s words is crazy. This is once again an example of when a woman threatens Hillary Clinton, how she seeks out to demean her and take her down. It’s not going to work.”

Emphasis mine.  So there it is.  Melania just happened to express using the exact same words as Michelle did eight years ago – a freak accident.

But even if you don’t care about the actual plagiarism, consider this

Whether Melania knew she was reading plagiarized text or not (and I think it’s quite likely she did not) it’s just devastating to see a campaign premised on the imagined notion of Obama incompetence get caught stealing from Obama’s own operation.

But the power of the images is actually much deeper. They don’t just negate something central to Trump’s appeal. They amplify one (actually more than one) of the main knocks on Trump himself: That he’s sloppy, erratic, in so many ways the opposite of the virtues he claims to embody. And, let’s not gloss over it, this is a depiction of a campaign–a campaign that nurtures white grievance and resentment–trying to profit off the work of a black woman, from an African American family that Trump and his supporters regularly belittle. The fact that the plagiarized text in question was about the value of hard work just makes matters worse. A mortifying, calamitous, self-immolating moment.

Indeed.  And you have to wonder about the collective brains of this operation, whether it is Trump himself, or the “brilliant minds” he surrounds himself with.  They knew, or had to know, it was going to be a scrutinized speech.  Who thought they could get away with it?

And who is thinking that by denying it, they can get away with it?

This isn’t a he said/she said thing, or something hiding on an email server somewhere, where we have to take someone’s word for what happened or what was said.  Michelle’s speech is right there.  Melania’s speech is right there.  If a person can look at that and accept that it is not plagiarism, then you know that person is SWIMMING in the Koolaid.

Missing is the irony that the particular passage that Melania chose to lift makes her transgression all the more devastating. Michelle Obama spoke eloquently about working hard and treating others with respect and dignity. “Your word is your bond,” Michelle said.  And, in an extraordinary irony, Melania said the same thing, word for word.

Meanwhile, the tough NJ prosecutor Christie had this to say about it:

Matt Lauer: You’re a former prosecutor, could you make a case for plagiarism?

Christie: Not when 93% of the speech is completely different …

Right.  Teachers? If 7% if a student’s paper was copied, would you just ignore it?

As for the Trumps themselves, they’ve been silent and it is well past noon the following day. Melania’s Twitter account merely passes along the campaign’s official statement, while Donald’s Twitter account has been unusually inactive.

I close with these sage words from Richard Barry:

Donald J. Trump has run his campaign based on the premise that the truth is whatever he says it is. His attacks on the media have always been a part of this strategy, preparing the way to argue that whatever “they” say is intended to tear him down because he is in fact the only real truth-teller and, in any case, an outsider privy to a different understanding of things. If a candidate decides that lying about everything is the only way to succeed, it is necessary to attempt to discredit those who claim to specialize in fact-checking.

It’s a clever approach and has worked well so far.

Melania’s petty theft is not a huge issue for the Trump campaign, but a lot of people are laughing today at this man who takes himself oh-so-seriously. And that’s a bad day, especially when the whole world really is watching.

UPDATE… gotta add Yglesius, who takes on the plagiarism debacle for what it is – an exercise in intellectual laziness.

But if there’s one thing we’ve learned over the course of this campaign it’s that he’s not willing to put in the time and work to make it happen. He hasn’t courted party elders, he hasn’t hashed out a policy agenda, he hasn’t built a minimally competent digital operation, and he can’t even work out his convention schedule on a reasonable timeline.

He hasn’t built the kind of professional campaign staff that could save his wife from the humiliation of making her primetime national television debut delivering a plagiarized speech.

His wife. The one who promised us he’d never let us down.

Because at the end of the day, Trump is lazy. He was too lazy to diligently rebuild his credit and his real estate empire, too lazy to get into the food business in a way that would enhance his brand rather than run it down, too lazy to develop menswear that meets his own standards, too lazy to develop a real curriculum for Trump University, and too lazy to run a real presidential campaign.

Not lazy in the sense of spending all afternoon napping — he’s clearly happy to keep up a frenetic pace of activity — but too lazy to pay attention to the boring details like “Is this a good suit?” “Is this educational program an actionable fraud?” “Does this policy idea make any sense?” or “Am I about to humiliate my wife on national television?”

To people who find Trump’s topline message unappealing — most likely the majority of Vox readers — this kind of thing may not matter. But to the millions of Americans who dolike the “divisive” aspects of Trumpism and are hoping he’ll be their champion, it’s precisely these smaller things that ought to make the difference. Is Trump on the level? Is he really out there giving it his all? Is he motivated by the same sense of duty as the war heroes he trotted out Monday night, or is he just out there having fun? Is he going to handle your interests as sloppily as he handled Melanias?

…and these points from the Atlantic (but read the whole thing) about why this is more than about plagiarism:

5) Trump has just vividly demonstrated that his campaign—never mind the campaign, he himself—have zero skill at crisis management. Confronted with this comically absurd failure, their instinct is not only to lie, shift blame, and refuse responsibility, but to do so in laughably unbelievable ways. It’s all a big joke when the crisis in question is a plagiarized speech by a would-be first lady. It won’t be so funny when a President Trump tries to manage a truly life-and-death crisis in the same blundering, dopey, and cowardly way.

6) The incident throws a harpoon into the heart of the Trump campaign’s racial politics. Trump’s message: Non-white people are ripping off hard-working white Americans who play by the rules. “They” cheat; “we” lose. Could there be a sharper reversal of that racialized complaint than Melania Trump in her designer dress stealing Michelle Obama’s heartfelt words?

RNC Stage Smells Like Rotten Bananas And Mildew

Gawker has the scoop:

There is a foul odor emanating from the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, and folks—it isn’t the party platform. This morning, just before the start of the convention, a police officer conversed with a dispatcher about the distinct smell of “rotten bananas and mildew” wafting out of the arena’s banjo-shaped stage. That back-and-forth, broadcast via police scanner, is captured above.

All New York-based reporters forced to suffer the indignity of this gut-wrenching stench are recommended to return to the city, where the mountains of trash bags fermenting in 90-degree heat have given our streets the pleasing smell of a homely candle shop.

“Art Of The Deal” Co-Author Speaks Out… And It Ain’t Good For Trump

The New Yorker today reports that Tony Schwartz, who was Donald Trump’s ghostwriter for The Art Of The Deal, really hated that experience. From their article:

Schwartz thought about publishing an article describing his reservations about Trump, but he hesitated, knowing that, since he’d cashed in on the flattering “Art of the Deal,” his credibility and his motives would be seen as suspect. Yet watching the campaign was excruciating. Schwartz decided that if he kept mum and Trump was elected he’d never forgive himself. In June, he agreed to break his silence and give his first candid interview about the Trump he got to know while acting as his Boswell.

“I put lipstick on a pig,” he said. “I feel a deep sense of remorse that I contributed to presenting Trump in a way that brought him wider attention and made him more appealing than he is.” He went on, “I genuinely believe that if Trump wins and gets the nuclear codes there is an excellent possibility it will lead to the end of civilization.” If he were writing “The Art of the Deal” today, Schwartz said, it would be a very different book with a very different title. Asked what he would call it, he answered, “The Sociopath.”


“I was shocked,” Schwartz told me. “Trump didn’t fit any model of human being I’d ever met. He was obsessed with publicity, and he didn’t care what you wrote.” He went on, “Trump only takes two positions. Either you’re a scummy loser, liar, whatever, or you’re the greatest. I became the greatest. He wanted to be seen as a tough guy, and he loved being on the cover.” Schwartz wrote him back, saying, “Of all the people I’ve written about over the years, you are certainly the best sport.”


This year, Schwartz has heard some argue that there must be a more thoughtful and nuanced version of Donald Trump that he is keeping in reserve for after the campaign. “There isn’t,” Schwartz insists. “There is no private Trump.” This is not a matter of hindsight. While working on “The Art of the Deal,” Schwartz kept a journal in which he expressed his amazement at Trump’s personality, writing that Trump seemed driven entirely by a need for public attention. “All he is is ‘stomp, stomp, stomp’—recognition from outside, bigger, more, a whole series of things that go nowhere in particular,” he observed, on October 21, 1986. But, as he noted in the journal a few days later, “the book will be far more successful if Trump is a sympathetic character—even weirdly sympathetic—than if he is just hateful or, worse yet, a one-dimensional blowhard.”

There’s lots more.  Read it.

GOP Convention Starts Today

On its face, it’s remarkable that the GOP convention is being held in battleground Ohio but will not feature a speech — or even be attended by — the GOP Governor of Ohio (Kasich).  Trump was on TV this morning bashing Kasich for that.  I’m not sure what the wisdom is in that — Kasich is popular among Republicans in Ohio and Ohio is a swing state.  And the two Ohio polls out this month had Clinton up by 4 points and 3 points respectively.  Trump has no path to victory without Ohio.

Another oddity: Front row delegations—AL, CT, NY, CA, PA—are all states Trump won. Back row—DC, MN, WY, TX, UT—has contests he lost.

Coming off a couple of weeks of police shootings, and a terrorist attack in Nice, the GOP convention is going to be white testosterone on fire.  A lot of tough talk about “law and order”, a phrase used to get elected before he did all kinds of breaking the law and disorder.

Trump promises an “unconventional convention” which means…. well, I don’t know.  The list of speakers contain no ex-presidents or ex-presidential nominees.  Well, Speaker Paul Ryan, I guess, who was Romney’s VP choice — if you want to count that.  But no heavyweights in the GOP — no Bushes, no Romney, no McCain, no Reagan, no Cheney.  Dole will be there, but what be speaking.

He’s got celebrities — every convention does — but they are very C-list.  Scott Baio, who has no relevance whatsoever.  “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Willie Robertson, actor/model Antonio Sabato Jr. (Jagger on “General Hospital”) and former “Real World” star turned U.S. Congressman from Wisconsin Sean Duffy speak on Monday. Soap actress Kimberlin Brown (“The Bold and The Beautiful,” “The Young and the Restless”) and LPGA golfer Natalie Gulbis take the podium Tuesday.

As far as celebs go, that’s it.

No Eastwood. No Schwarzenegger.  Tim Tebow couldn’t come, and although Trump reportedly wanted Don King, he was talked out of it since Don King (convicted of manslaughter for stomping a guy to death) didn’t quite mesh with the whole “law and order” thing. Transgender activist Caitlyn Jenner is scheduled to appear at an event hosted by a pro-LGBT conservative group, but has no plans to attend the convention (which opposes LGBT rights anyway).

The big concern, given recent events, is security.  Ohio is an open-carry state. The Cleveland police chief has begged Governor Kasich to suspend open carry by declaring a state of emergency (given recent police shootings in Baton Rouge and Dallas), but Kasich says no.

You get the contradiction of the dynamics, right?  The convention is, on the one hand, about unification — unifying the party and unifying the country behind Trump.  In a room full of white people making incendiary comments while there are armed guards everywhere hoping there isn’t a shooting.

Let’s see how that flies.

Same Actor – 52 Years Apart

What is odd to me is this: the new ad uses some of the same language of the old one.  Except they decided not to use this: “I mean, when the head of the Ku Klux Klan, when all these weird groups, come out in favor of the candidate of my party, either they’re not Republicans or I’m not.”

A great line that really SHOULD be said again in this year’s version.

Trump’s VP Mike Pence: The Bullet Points

    • He’s anti-gay. As governor of Indiana, he signed a “religious freedom” bill into law which basically made it okay to discriminate against gay couples and gay marriages.  He backed down once businesses threatened Indiana boycotts.
      See Pence Lies Himself Into A Corner, Bigots Get ItThe Indiana “Religious Freedom” Law Isn’t Like Past LawsIndiana Governor Plans To Sign Pro-Discrimination Bill Into Law
    • He’s anti-abortion. Pence led the first congressional effort to defund Planned Parenthood — way back in 2011.  And as governor of Indiana, Pence signed the most extreme anti-abortion bill in the country, requiring that aborted fetuses be cremated and prohibiting abortions for “fetal anomalies” like Down syndrome
      See The Seven States Working Hard To Close Abortion Clinics
    • Hoosiers don’t like him. It probably won’t put Indiana into play (it is solidly Trump), but Pense probably would not have been re-elected governor.
    • He’s pro-trade.  Contrary to Trump, he is pro-NAFTA and pro-TPP.
    • He doesn’t “believe” in global warming.
    • He doesn’t believe in evolution.
    • He built his career on Koch money.
    • He was pro-Iraq invasion. Unlike Trump, Pence was for the Iraq invasion (Well, so was Trump, but he denies it now).  And Pence was still pro-invasion, even after things went South.
    • He was, at least originally, against Trump’s proposed Muslim ban.

Presidential Race Even – Time To Panic?

For the first time ever this presidential season, my Polltracker graph (in the right column) shows Trump ahead of Hillary Clinton.  According to the Polltracker poll averages, Trump has 41.1% to Clinton’s 40.2%.

A couple of things to note.

Most importantly, Trump’s poll numbers have not gone up.  Almost no national poll places Trump above 45%.  It is, and always has been, his ceiling.  And nobody has ever been elected President with 45% or lower.

Clinton, however, has gone down, and understandably so, given her bad week.  Yes, she outspent Trump with ads 15-to-1, but that only managed to buffer the bad news of the email scandal.

Also, one should note that other poll averages are not as bleak.  Real Clear Politics average still has Clinton up by 2.7 points.

In addition, a lot of political events are coming that will change the landscape.  For example, this just happened:

…and pretty soon we get into the conventions with the convention bounces.

Also, the statewide polls still look good.  This came out just this morning:

Hillary Clinton leads Donald Trump in four of the most diverse presidential battleground states, according to brand-new NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist polls.

Clinton is ahead of Trump by eight points among registered voters in Colorado, 43 percent to 35 percent; a combined 21 percent say neither, other or are undecided.

In Florida, which decided the 2000 presidential election, she’s up seven points, 44 percent to 37 percent; the rest are undecided or prefer someone else.

In North Carolina, a state Obama won in 2008 but lost in 2012, Clinton leads by six points, 44 percent to 38 percent.

And in Virginia, Clinton’s advantage is nine points, 44 percent to 35 percent.

When we go to 538, which not only focuses on state polls, but also weights pollsters based on their past predictive success, we see that it gives Clinton a 62% chance of winning.

So panic?  No.  But Hillary has some work to do.  She has to deliver a few body blows to Trump, and she can’t count on Trump making self-inflicted wounds.

But I expect Trump to get a post-convention bounce, and then Hillary to get her bounce afterward.  If they are this close when the debates start (on September 26), then I might start to panic.

UPDATE: Like clockwork, Nate Silver answers my query….

What would keep me up late at night if I were Clinton?

We’ve gone over most of the reasons for concern. I’d be worried about those trend lines. I’d be worried about my numbers in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, especially after having spent a lot of money on ads. In a big-picture sense, I’d be worried that Americans come to view the race as one between two equally terrible choices, instead of Trump being uniquely unacceptable.

What would keep me up late at night if I were Trump?

I’d be worried that after a bunch of events that would seem to play to my strengths — Brexit, Orlando, Dallas and the resurfacing of Clinton’s email problems — the best I could do was to narrow Clinton’s lead. I’d be worried that some of those undecided and Johnson voters will gravitate toward Clinton now that Sanders has endorsed her (although I’d be hopeful that I have some room to grow among my own base). And I’d be worried about my ground game. Maybe FiveThirtyEight’s model says that I’m more likely to win the Electoral College than the popular vote — but a disorganized turnout operation could eventually yield problems in the swing states.

Nice Terror Attack: At Least 84 Killed, Including 10 Children, As Truck Slams Into Bastille Day Crowd


He drove more than a mile through the crowd, swerving at times to make sure he hit people.

The videos of the carnage are devastating.

The driver, Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, was shot and killed.

The victims include two Americans: Texas residents Sean Copeland, 51, and his son Brodie, 11, who were on vacation with their family in Nice.

Here’s what we know about the terrorist, and it shows a familiar pattern:

Lahouaiej Bouhlel was a 31-year-old French-Tunisian delivery driver known to police who is reported to have driven a 19-tonne white Renault lorry into crowds gathered for Bastille Day celebrations in the French Riviera city of Nice, killing 84 people. His identity as the driver has not been confirmed by the French police.

The perpetrator of Nice’s worst ever terror attack was reportedly a married father of three who neighbours described as a “loner” with a George Clooney haircut.

According to several French reports, Bouhel was born in Tunisia in 1985 and had a French residency permit. Police raided his flat, where he reportedly lived alone, in the Abattoirs area of the city on Friday morning.

According to Tunisian security sources, Lahouaiej Bouhlel hailed from the Tunisian town of Msaken, which is close to the seaside city of Sousse, where 38 people, including 30 Britons, were gunned down by terrorists in June 2015.

French television station BFM TV reported that he was a divorced father of three who had become depressed following the breakdown of his marriage.

Neighbours told the channel he was not particularly interested in religion, adding that he preferred girls and salsa.

They said that he had been unhappy since he divorce, and that he suffered from financial problems.

Neighbors described him as “depressed and unstable, even aggressive” of late. They put this down to his “marital and financial problems”.

One told BFM TV he was “more into women than religion”.

“He (didn’t) pray and like(d) girls and Salsa,” according to BFM’s crime correspondent.

Jasmine, 40 said: “He was rude and bit weird.

“We would hold the door open for him and he would just blank him. He kept himself to himself but would always rant about his wife. He had martial problems and would tell people in the local cafe. He scared my children though.”

She added: “He was very smart with the same haircut as George Clooney.”

Sébastien, a neighbour, said he “didn’t have the apparence of a religious person and was often in shorts, sometimes wearing ‘security’ shoes”. Another neighbour, Anan, said that she found him shifty and described him as “a good-looking man who eyed up my two girls too much”.

One resident told the Telegraph: “He was quiet and moody. I did not know whether he was a Muslim. I think he had a motorbike.”

A woman living in the same block said: “I hardly knew him, but from what I could see he seemed very weird. He lived alone. He said very little to anyone and wasn’t very polite. He wouldn’t hold the door open for you.”

He was known to the police for assault with a weapon, domestic violence, threats and robbery but had no previous convictions for terrorism.

Investigating sources said his last appearance in a criminal court was as recently as March and had previous convictions for armed theft, conjugal violence and threatening behaviour. Despite this, he had no known links with terrorism and was not under surveillance.

According to BFMTV he had also recently caused an accident after falling asleep at the wheel while working as a delivery driver, and was taken into custody following the incident.

The operative phrase: “more into women than religion”.  Like the Orlando shooter, this guy seems to have latched on to committing a terrorist act, not because of some ideology, but because his life was falling apart.  And some psychological problems.

And note — not a refugee.

Enter Donald Trump. Without knowing details about the attack, Trump wants to declare war. On whom, he doesn’t say. On what basis, he doesn’t know. A NATO country has been attacked, sure (by a lone individual as far as we know now). But Trump thinks NATO is obsolete and the U.S. pays too much for it. Others should pay. So with that for background, when Bill O’Reilly asked Trump if he would send in air and ground forces (somewhere) Trump said:

“I would, I would” when asked if he would seek a formal declaration of military action from the US Congress. “This is war,” Trump continued. “If you look at it, this is war. Coming from all different parts. And frankly it’s war, and we’re dealing with people without uniforms. In the old days, we would have uniforms. You would know who you’re fighting.”

But since Trump doesn’t know who that is and can’t force whoever it is to wear uniforms, what this situation absolutely requires is a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody’s part. And Trump is just the guy to do it. Count on him to try to make somebody else pay for it. In the end, that someone would be us.

Trump is, of course, stoking fear.  Just like a terrorist would.

He probably needs to be reminded that ISIS has lost at least 50 percent of the territory occupied since its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared the establishment of their “caliphate” in 2013.  They’ve been run from places like Haditha, Fallujah, and in due course Mosul.

Not that Trump would dare give Obama credit.

Gingrich added to the stupidity, saying:

Western civilization is in a war. We should frankly test every person here who is of a Muslim background, and if they believe in Sharia, they should be deported. Sharia is incompatible with Western civilization. Modern Muslims who have given up Sharia, glad to have them as citizens. Perfectly happy to have them next door. But we need to be fairly relentless about defining who our enemies are.

Aside from being unconstitutional, it is unclear if that tactic would have stopped this guy (had he been an American) or the Orlando shooter.  Neither was particularly religious.

Also — not for nothing, Newt — but since we’re going to deport people for their dangerous beliefs, I know plenty of Christians who hold incompatible values.


So this happened:

During two separate discussions of Black Lives Matters protests on Tuesday, Donald Trump claimed that people have called for moments of silence for
Micah Johnson, the gunman who killed five police officers in Dallas and injured nine others, without specifying who or where.

On an O’Reilly Factor segment….“I saw what they’ve said about police at various marches and rallies,” said Trump.“I’ve seen moments of silence called for for this horrible human being who shot the policemen.”

Trump repeated the claim Tuesday night, saying at a rally in Indiana, “The other night you had 11 cities potentially in a blow-up stage. Marches all over the United States—and tough marches. Anger. Hatred. Hatred! Started by a maniac! And some people ask for a moment of silence for him. For the killer!”

Except…  not really:

This isn’t getting a lot of attention. But it should….There is no evidence this ever happened. Searches of the web and social media showed no evidence. Even Trump’s campaign co-chair said today that he can’t come up with any evidence that it happened.

….A would-be strong man, an authoritarian personality, isn’t just against disorder and violence. They need disorder and violence. That is their raison d’etre, it is the problem that they are purportedly there to solve. The point bears repeating: authoritarian figures require violence and disorder. Look at the language. “11 cities potentially in a blow up stage” … “Anger. Hatred. Hatred! Started by a maniac!” … “And some people ask for a moment of silence for him. For the killer.”

This is loathsome race-baiting. Never has a presidential candidate been so brazen in simply making these facts up, and a reticent media simply not doing anything about it.  These aren’t even dog whistles — they are train whistles.

What The Hell Kind Of Campaign Are You Running There, Trump


So let me get this straight.  A racist was fired from the Trump campaign last year.  Then two others in the Trump shop were caught having a lovers’ tiff on a New York City street corner, and the racist told the newspaper — what?  That those two people were lovers?  So Trump sued the racist to hush him up, but then the Associated Press found out about the lawsuit and everything spilled out.

Yeah, I want this guy to be my leader.



Also, the Nunberg affidavit

The Clinton campaign needs to jump on this ASAP.  How can we vet Trump when he threatens to sue anybody who talks about him?

He Who Lives By The Sword?

You don’t want to slander the dead, but if this is true, then I suppose it wouldn’t be a slander.

What am I talking about?  An awkward but somewhat convincing article that Lorne Ahrens, one of the five Dallas cops killed last week by Micah Xavier Johnson, was a white supremacist.

Let’s be clear.  Murder is murder.  Even if Ahrens was a white supremacist, he died at the hands of a murderer.  Period.

But if true, does it not add to the dialogue about a racism problem in our police force?  Was this man a hero?  You read the article and decide for yourself.

Hail The New PM

Theresa May just became the 76th prime minister of the United Kingdom.

May was first elected as a Conservative member of parliament in 1997. She earned a reputation as a modernizer, calling in 2002 for a more inclusive party and warning that many voters saw the Conservatives as the “nasty party.” She briefly served as party chair before assuming her current role of home secretary in 2010.
May has a reputation as a serious-minded workaholic and has been dubbed a “safe pair of hands” by supporters. They maintain that she can be trusted to steer the country as the U.K. begins the fraught process of divorcing the European Union as called for under the Brexit referendum held last month.
A male Conservative party grandee who served under Thatcher and supports May was last week caught in a “hot mic” moment describing her as a “bloody difficult woman.” The unguarded comment likely endeared May to grassroots party members who fondly recall Thatcher’s headstrong and stubborn approach to leadership.
Image: Theresa May

Damage Report: Clinton Email Scandal Fallout

From the latest set of Quinnipiac polls, it seems that the recent attention on Hillary Clinton’s email practices as secretary of state has taken a toll. The Department of Justice has dropped the case, but several of Mrs. Clinton’s statements were disputed by the F.B.I., which said she was “extremely careless” with classified information.

Specifically, surveys from Quinnipiac University show the two candidates statistically tied in the states going into their party conventions in Cleveland and Philadelphia this month. Trump leads Clinton in Florida by a margin of 42 percent to 39 percent. In Pennsylvania, he is ahead, 43 percent to 41 percent. And in Ohio they are tied, with each having support of 41 percent of voters.

When Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party nominee, and Jill Stein, the Green Party’s candidate, are included in the polls, Trump does even better, leading Clinton by five points in Florida, six points in Pennsylvania and one point in Ohio. Johnson is expected to be on ballots in all 50 states.

The polls, which have margins of error of plus or minus three percentage points, show improvement for Trump in Pennsylvania and Florida, where he is starting to do better with women and independent voters while gaining more support among men. In June, Clinton held small leads over Trump in Florida and Pennsylvania and they were tied in Ohio.

Perhaps the most significant finding in the new poll is that Trump now leads among Independents in all three states:

  • Florida – Independent voters shifted from 44 – 35 percent for Clinton last month to 43 – 30 percent for Trump today;
  • Ohio – Trump leads 43 – 31 percent among Independent voters;
  • Pennsylvania – Trump leads 39 – 36 percent.

Nationally, Clinton still leads by 3 over Trump according to a McClatchy/Marist poll released today.  That number goes to +5 when you include third party candidates.  The RCP average has Clinton at 45.0 and Trump at 40.7

Arguably, it could have been worse.  Maybe if Clinton hadn’t outspent Trump 15-to-1 over these past few weeks, it would have been a disaster.

Over at FiveThirtyEight’s General Election Forecast, Hillary Clinton’s victory chances have dropped to 68.7% (in the most pessimistic view).  So, it’s still good, but not in the mid-seventies like it was a couple weeks ago.

Am I worried?  Not yet.

A little.

A bit.

But we have some more poll results coming out today, VP picks coming up (Trump’s will be this week sometime), and the conventions.  Plenty of time for more unforced Trump errors.

UPDATE:  NBC/Marist polls are quite different for PA:


Pennsylvania white voters:
Trump, 40%
Clinton, 40%

Pennsylvania black voters:
Trump, 0%
Clinton, 91%

Same with Ohio — Trump has zero percent black voters

Trump v. Ginsburg: The Rare Occasion Where Trump Is Right

Associate Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is no fan of Trump. She has launched criticisms of him in interviews with three news organizations.She told CNN Wednesday:

He is a faker. He has no consistency about him. He says whatever comes into his head at the moment. He really has an ego. … How has he gotten away with not turning over his tax returns? The press seems to be very gentle with him on that.

And earlier this week, Ginsburg told The New York Times:

I can’t imagine what this place would be—I can’t imagine what the country would be—with Donald Trump as our president. For the country, it could be four years. For the court, it could be — I don’t even want to contemplate that.

She even mused to the newspaper that “it’s time for us to move to New Zealand” if Trump were elected.

Last week, Ginsburg told The Associated Press, in another interview, that she didn’t “want to think about … [the] possibility,” of a Trump presidency, “but if it should be, then everything is up for grabs.”

Trump’s initial response also came to the Times:

I think it’s highly inappropriate that a United States Supreme Court judge gets involved in a political campaign, frankly. I think it’s a disgrace to the court and I think she should apologize to the court. I couldn’t believe it when I saw it.

Yup.  While I don’t think it is a “disgrace to the court”, nor is an apology necessary, it IS highly inappropriate.  It just isn’t done.  We all know that Supreme Court justices have political opinions — they are people, after all — but it damages the appearance of impartiality of the Court when they weigh in.

Ginsburg certainly knows this.  So why would she do it?

I think I know.

She’s not planning on staying with the Court.  She probably was going to resign at the end of the last term, but seeing as how the Senate was balking at filling the late Scalia’s seat, she probably didn’t want to make the Supreme Court have two vacancies during the election year (which would probably cause some people doubtful about Trump to vote for him anyway on that one issue alone).

So she’s speaking out.  Big deal, she’s thinking.  I’m getting out as soon as Hillary is elected.

That’s my theory.

And yes, while I agree with Trump (and the New York Times) that Ginsburg is doing something inappropriate, Trump is, as usual, taking it too far:

Oh God.  His complaint isn’t that she made a political statement, but that it was a DUMB one ABOUT HIM.  And then to question her mind?  Oy.  And so, Trump, who has a valid point for once, squanders it away by acting like a giant baby.

Hillary Clinton: The Vox Interview

This is a nice interview.  Yes, Ezra Klein is partial to Clinton, but that is irrelevant.  The questions are not always softball, and more importantly, she answers them.

Table of contents:

0:00 – Extreme poverty, welfare reform, and the working poor
6:08 – Is it time for more deficit spending?
10:15 – Would more immigration be good for the economy?
19:00 – The difficulties of free college and universal healthcare
26:57 – What skills does a president need that campaigns don’t test?
33:53 – What’s on Hillary’s bookshelf?
38:26 – Why America stopped trusting elites — and what elites should do about it

I agree with Betty Cracker at Balloon Juice:

Watch it — any random five-minute snippet of it, even — and try to imagine Donald Trump answering those types of questions in any detail at all. It is to laugh — he’s all hat and no cattle. But Trump can whip up a crowd!

Also, if you are masochistic enough to glance at the YouTube comments, which are infested with the Trumpenproletariat / Sanders dead-enders (I honestly can’t tell them apart on the topic of Clinton anymore), you’ll see an excellent illustration of the unique challenges Clinton faces as a politician.

One chief complaint is that she doesn’t answer Klein’s questions. But she does — with nuance and impressive detail! What she doesn’t do is answer with applause lines. Is that a failing?

In politics as currently constructed, it sure seems to be. President Obama is both an incredibly inspiring speaker and in command of the policy details — he’s the rare politician with the hat and the cattle. Could Clinton’s relationship-building skills compensate for her lack of oratory talent in a way that would make her just as effective a president as PBO has been? Maybe. I hope we get to find out.

Happy Endorsement Day

I think Bernie waited too long to do this — the fact that he is (finally) endorsing Hillary is irrelevant now.  There are, to be sure, some very loud and obnoxious #BernieorBust supporters who are actually butt hurt by this, having held on to the delusion for so long.  It is unclear who they will take it out on, Bernie or Hillary… but it hardly matters.  I don’t think very many of them will go to Trump.

Trump apparently hoped it would be so, and is now calling Bernie a “sellout”


… and I really don’t think that will help him get Sanders supporters votes.

Bernie explained WHY he supported Hillary, and not Trump.  Hardly a mystery.

UPDATE:  Now Trump is trying to use carrots:

I’m no expert but Trump better worry about getting Mitt Romney voters before Bernie Sanders’ voters.

Picture Of The Year?

“They’re not protesters. You know, these are thugs, they’re rioters.  And yeah, I’m calling out the media, saying quit claiming that these rioters are people. They’re stomping on a flag — figuratively and literally — shouting ‘death to cops’, celebrating violence.” – Sarah Palin on Black Lives Matter Protesters



How’s That Open Carry Working Out For You?

Although it was a tragedy, the Dallas sniper shooting of 5 police officers was a reality-based experiment on the theory that a good guy with a gun beats a bad guy with a gun.  Not only did the bad guy with a gun kill five armed good guys, but the bad guy was killed with a robot using explosives (one of the first times that law enforcement used a drone/robot for purposes of catching someone in a domestic crime).

What’s more, the prevalence of guns, rather than making people safer, actually made things HARDER:

It is legal in Texas to openly carry rifles and has been for decades. People with rifles have been spotted at recent public protests across the state.

[Dallas Mayor] Rawlings said Dallas police Chief David Brown told him that people running through the shooting scene with rifles and body armor required officers to track them down and bring them to the police department. Whether that was time that could have been spent trying to find and stop the shooter is something police will have to comment on, Rawlings said.

He said Friday that about 20 people in “ammo gear and protective equipment and rifles slung over their shoulder” participated in the Black Lives Matter rally downtown on Thursday night.

“When the shooting started, at different angles, they started running,” he said. “We started catching.”

Then police interviewed them.

Rawlings said open carry brings confusion to a shooting scene.

“What I would do is look for the people with guns,” he said.

Max Geron, a Dallas police major, talked about the confusion during the shooting in a post on a law enforcement website.

“There was also the challenge of sorting out witnesses from potential suspects,” Geron said. “Texas is an open carry state, and there were a number of armed demonstrators taking part. There was confusion on the radio about the description of the suspects and whether or not one or more was in custody.”

Now listen to the stupidity of the counter argument:

But C.J. Grisham, president of Open Carry Texas, said police should be able to separate the good guys from the bad guys in such a scenario because “the bad guys are the ones shooting.”

“If you can’t identify a threat, you shouldn’t be wearing a uniform,” he said.

Grisham said some in law enforcement look at law-abiding gun owners as a threat.

“It’s not that difficult to tell the difference between a bad actor and a good actor,” he said. “The good guys are going to obey commands, the bad guys are not.”

Wait, wait.  Shots rings out.  And as you turn, you see a guy across the street RUNNING with a RIFLE.  He can’t hear your commands to stop.  And you didn’t actually see whether he fired those shots.

Apparently, CJ Grisham thinks that real life is like a movie, where the camera is on the shooter as he shoots.

It’s scary that these people are allowed to have opinions.

More and More, It Looks Like The Dallas Cop Killer Was A Nut

Dallas police now believe that Micah Johnson, who shot and killed 5 Dallas police following a Black Lives Matter march, was actually planning some sort of mass attack, but advanced his plans to take advantage of the BLM march. His house was full of bomb making equipment, far too much to have put together in recent days.  He had received “defensive” combat training in Dallas two years earlier.

And most troubling, writing on his wall in blood.

This man was a time bomb. It’s almost like he didn’t need a reason to go off.

Breaking: Officers Shot In Dallas Protest

CNN affiliate KTVT in Dallas is reporting that two police officers have been shot after a peaceful protest deaths of two black men. Chaotic live footage from the scene shows police and SWAT teams in a tense combat

Police in tactical gear carrying riots shields descended after about 20 shots in boomed loudly in quick succession, audio that was captured by eyewitness video and posted to Twitter.

MSNBC reporting that the suspect is cornered, three officers have been shot.

UPDATE: 4 officers shot, 1 had died. Negotiators are talking to shooter who is holed up somewhere.  

All this happened about a block from another famous shooting in Dallas.

UPDATE #2: Holy shit. Two snipers, ten officers shot, three of them dead

UPDATE #3: Four dead now. One suspect is in custody after a shootout. The news outlets have been showing a photo of a “person of interest” – a black man with a long rifle before the shooting (totally legal in Dallas).  Social media was able to find that guy in a video AS the shooting was happened, so he’s been cleared by social media even though CNN.and MSNBC are behind on that. Anyway, that person of interest has turned himself in and hopefully he will be let go soon.

Big manhunt for the second suspect.

UPDATE – NEXT MORNING: 12 officers shot, 2 civilians shot, 5 of those officers are dead.

Sniper killed when SWAT team detonated explosive device near him.  He has been identified as Micah X. Johnson, an Army veteran. During standoff, Johnson told police he was “upset by.Black Lives Matter” and “wanted to kill as many white people as possible, especially white cops”.  He also claimed to be acting alone.

Others have been taken into custody, but police are not saying anything about their involvement. They are not acting like other gunmen are at large.

Ironically, Dallas PD had been reactive to BLM movement with increased training, racially diverse policing, etc.  This seems more directed at cops on in general, not Dallas PD in particular.

Pew Poll Looks At Demographics Of 2016 Race

The summary chart is too big to cut-and-paste, so I will just link to it.

Basically, it is another Clinton-Trump poll and it shows Clinton leading Trump by 9 points.  But then it compares this presidential race to the polling in June of 2012 and June of 2008 to see where the demographics of the electorate have changed.

Here are a few takeaways that jump out at me:

  • Young women have, and continue to be strong pro Democrat, but this has leaped a lot this time around (D+14 in 2008, D+15 in 2012, D+24 in 2016)
  • Huge shift in higher education to Democrats. For those with postgrad degrees, it’s D+3 in 2008, D+10 in 2012, D+27 in 2016.  College grad: D+1 in 2008, D+3 in 2012, and D+16 in 2016.
  • Also a huge shift in upper income from Republicans to the Democrats.  For those making >$100,000, it’s R+10 in 2008, R+3 in 2012, and D+8 in 2016.
  • Sadly, there is no comparative data for 2008 and 2012, but Hispanics are D+42 this time around.


Trump Meets With House Republicans (And Senate Republicans)

And this happened:

Another Republican in the meeting who declined to go on the record so he could speak candidly told TPM that Trump was asked pointedly if he would defend Article I of the Constitution.

“Not only will I stand up for Article One,” Trump enthusiastically stated, according to the member in the room. “I’ll stand up for Article Two, Article 12, you name it of the Constitution.”

The Republican member said that Trump’s lack of knowledge about how many articles exist, gave him “a little pause.” (The Constitution has seven articles and 27 amendments.)


Blake Farenthold (R-TX) dismissed the flub as little more than a small error.

“He was just listing out numbers,” Farenthold said. “I think he was confusing Articles and Amendments. Remember, this guy doesn’t speak from a TelePrompter. He speaks from the heart.”

Speaking from the heart.  I guess that’s the nicest thing you can say about a guy with no brain.

UPDATE:  It didn’t go better with the Senate Republicans:

Donald Trump’s private meeting Thursday with Senate Republicans — designed to foster greater party unity ahead of the national convention in Cleveland — grew combative as the presumptive presidential nominee admonished three senators who have been critical of his candidacy and predicted they would lose their reelection bids, according to two Republican officials with direct knowledge of the exchanges.

Trump’s most tense exchange was with Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who has been vocal in his concerns about the business mogul’s candidacy, especially his rhetoric and policies on immigration that the senator argues alienate many Latino voters and others in Arizona.

When Flake stood up and introduced himself, Trump told him, “You’ve been very critical of me.”

“Yes, I’m the other senator from Arizona — the one who didn’t get captured — and I want to talk to you about statements like that,” Flake responded, according to two Republican officials.

Flake was referencing Trump’s comments last summer about the military service of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who was a prisoner of war during the Vietnam conflict. Trump questioned whether McCain was a war hero because he was captured.

Two Deadly Police Shootings In Two Days

Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old black man, was standing in the parking lot selling CDs as he had for years when two white cops arrived on Tuesday night. By Wednesday morning he was dead and protesters were in the city’s streets. Calls erupted from Congress and the NAACP for an independent investigation into the shooting, which the Justice Department announced within hours.

Abdullah Muflahi owned the Triple S Food Mart in Baton Rouge where all this happened.  He was a friend of Sterling and allowed him to sell CDs in front of the story.  Muflahi walked out the front door when he saw the officers talking to Sterling and said there was no “altercation,” as police claimed, until the cops tasered and tackled Sterling. That’s when Muflahi took out his phone and started recording. (Warning: Graphic video)

I was on Twitter last night reading about this, and the protests, when something came across the transom.

Another shooting of a black man by cops.  A traffic stop in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, near Minneapolis.  The victim’s name is Philando Castile.

The video begins after the shooting occurred and shows the man, slumped and bloodied, against the woman who was recording. Her young daughter sat in the back seat.  The video streamed live on a private Facebook account belonging to Lavish Reynolds, and the clip was passed rapidly among Twitter, Facebook and YouTube users, becoming significant news online before traditional outlets — even those in the Minneapolis area — caught up.

The woman, presumably Lavisjh Reynolds, began by calmly narrating what was happening as she trained the camera on Mr. Castile, whom she described as her boyfriend, and on at least one officer who was pointing a gun through the driver’s side window.

“Please, officer, don’t tell me that you just did this to him,” she said. “You shot four bullets into him, sir. He was just getting his license and registration, sir.”

Reynold’s daughter, who was in the back seat, appears several times in the video. Near the end of the 10-minute clip, as the two are sitting in the back of a police car, she comforts her mother, saying, “It’s O.K., Mommy. It’s O.K. I’m right here with you.”

The terror in the voice of the cop is palpable, while Lavish Reynolds (at least in the beginning) is calm and reasoned.  Castile dies in the video.

Reynolds can be heard throughout the video repeating that they were stopped for a broken tail light, that the officer requested Castile’s driver license, and that Castile was shot when he went to retrieve his license for the officer. She also states on the video that he worked for St. Paul public schools and did not have a criminal record. According to Castile’s mother, he was the cafeteria supervisor at a St. Paul Montessori school.

The Minnesota governor has asked for a federal investigation into the fatal shooting of Castile.

The Washington Post is tracking the number of people killed by police in the America. There were 990 in 2015. There were 506 showing for 2016 now.  There is something terribly wrong.

And because it is a presidential campaign year, expect this: Hillary will talk about it, and Trump will use it as an excuse to pat policemen on the back.

But I suspect nothing much will happen.

Breaking: It’s A Perjury Trap

FBI Director James Comey is on the Hill right now testifying before the House.  He stated that he did not believe that Hillary Clinton lied to the FBI about her email server nor broke the law.

It’s what he was expected to say.

However, at one point, he was asked if Clinton lied to Congress when she testified (before the Benghazi committee) she did not send or receive emails that were marked classified.  Comey responded that the FBI was not charged to investigate that and they would need a referral from Congress to investigate that.  He was immediately told that one would be forthcoming.

I don’t think Clinton can be nailed on perjury even if what she testified was wrong.  There is a difference between saying something wrong, and knowingly lying to Congress.

But that’s not the point.  The point of these hearings is to keep the flame burning on this so-called scandal through November, if not beyond. New prosecutors, new committee probes, new conspiracies. A total of five congressional committees will either hold hearings with high-profile law enforcement officials over the next week or have already begun inquiries to the FBI about its investigation of the former secretary of State. There’s too much invested already, and too much ginned-up expectancy within the GOP base to see Clinton criminally charged, and frankly too much political value to let this end this week.

UPDATE:  House GOP indefinitely delays gun control votes.  Because priorities.

Let’s Face It: The Way We Classify Documents Is F*cked

Another reason it is hard to get all bent out of shape about the Clinton email “scandal” came to me moments ago in the form of a Tweet I read:


We’ve got a system where things are overclassified, inconsistently classified, and incorrectly marked.

Look, it’s not like things got out there that are super super really secret.

Breaking: Corker Takes Himself Off Trump’s VP List

Yesterday, Trump and Senator Bob Corker were together in Raleigh NC campaigning at a Trump rally.

Today, this:

Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker withdrew himself Wednesday from consideration as a possible running mate for Donald Trump.

The surprise move comes as sources had told CNN Corker was being “very seriously” vetted by the Trump campaign.

But Corker, who is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told CNN he is instead open to serving in Trump’s cabinet, perhaps as secretary of state, and will speak at the Republican convention later this month.

“I feel like I’m better suited to other kinds of things and I think there are probably better suited people for this particular job for now,” Corker told CNN on Capitol Hill.

Corker declined to say whether he and Trump had discussed particular positions in a Trump administration. “I don’t want to get into that so much,” Corker said.

Translation: “I spent some time with Trump yesterday and the guy is batshit insane and I don’t want to campaign with him because I want a political career that goes past November.”

Carlson Sues Ailes For Sexual Harassment At Fox News

This is fundamentally a dispute about facts and a sexual harassment case which, whoever is right, needs to be understood and adjudicated on its own terms. But sexual harassment, sex in the workplace and the much broader issue of coercion and the concept of consent are hot button political, legal and cultural issues today. We can’t ignore the fact that Fox News is one of the institutions at the center of charged atmosphere.

It’s not too much to say that in the Fox News bubble, and certainly among many Fox News viewers, sexual harassment is barely even a real thing. It’s a charge that temperamental or uptight women bring against gregarious or just non-PC guys either because of their ‘uptightness’ or to leverage some professional advantage. That’s an unvarnished way to put it, but it is the mindset that informs huge amounts of Fox News coverage and chatter and the same for many, though obviously not all, Fox News devotees.

I’m not a fan of Carlson, but to her credit, she never swallowed the Fox News ethos on sexual harassment.

Tony Blair Lied Britain Into The Iraq War (P.S. Bush Did, Too)

Across the pond, rather than running bullshit investigations like our Benghazi hearings, the parliamentarian body did something useful and tried to discern how they got involved in a huge quagmire.

Sir John Chilcot delivered a devastating critique of Tony Blair’s decision to go to war in Iraq in 2003, concluding that Britain chose to join the US invasion before “peaceful options for disarmament” had been exhausted. His report, which amounts to arguably the most scathing official verdict given on any modern British prime minister, concludes:

  • Tony Blair exaggerated the case for war in Iraq
  • There was no imminent threat from Saddam Hussein
  • Britain’s intelligence agencies produced “flawed information”
  • George Bush largely ignored UK advice on postwar planning
  • The UK military were ill-equipped for the task
  • UK-US relations would not have been harmed had the UK stayed out of the war

For his part, Blair disavowed the conclusions of the report, but apologized anyway:

He began by describing the choice to join the US in military action as the “hardest, most momentous, most agonising decision” of his life.

Blair said he had wanted to set the Iraqi people free and secure them from the “evil” of Saddam Hussein, but instead they had become victims of sectarian violence.

“For all of this, I express more sorrow, regret and apology than you can ever know or believe,” he said, in a speech in which his voice cracked with emotion.

Live Chilcot report live: George Bush says ‘world is better off’ without Saddam as Tony Blair mounts Iraq war defence
Live coverage as Sir John Chilcot unveils his report into the Iraq war. Plus all the day’s other political news as Tory leadership runners go down to three
Read more
The Labour politician went on to repeat that he apologised for the failures in planning the war and its aftermath, but was clear that he still believes the decision to remove Saddam was correct. Iraq could be in a worse state than Syria is now if the regime had not been stopped, he suggested.

“I did it because I thought it was right,” Blair said.

Pressed on what he was apologising for, the former prime minister named three areas where he would have done things differently: presenting the cabinet with an “option paper”; pressing the US to have better planning in place for the aftermath; and sharing the advice of the attorney general to senior colleagues.

The Milli Vanilli of Fireworks

I was on the National Mall on the Fourth and it was not what was broadcast:

If you were watching Washington’s Fourth of July fireworks outside on Monday night and also happened to catch PBS’s broadcast of “A Capitol Fourth,” you might have noticed something looked…a little off.

The actual weather in Washington was cloudy and misty, making it quite difficult to view the fireworks. But on “A Capitol Fourth,” the annual concert special that airs live from the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol, many of the fireworks (primarily in the second half of the display) looked glorious in a clear sky. Immediately, people started commenting on Twitter….

PBS acknowledged intercutting old footage with its live broadcast shortly after the show ended, saying in a tweet, “We showed a combination of the best fireworks from this year and previous years. It was the patriotic thing to do.”

Well, it was the American thing to do — faking patriotism.

Why I Don’t Have Much To Say About The Hillary Email Scandal

FBI Director James Comey gave a press conference yesterday morning that sent shock waves through the political establishment.

The bottom line:


Shock waves indeed, but when I looked around at the political landscape when it was over, I noticed that the pieces hadn’t moved.

Hillary wasn’t indicted.  That wasn’t news.

She acted stupidly, carelessly.  That wasn’t news either.

That the right wing would go apoplectic — not terrible surprising.

I guess I would be more moved if the right wing hadn’t tried to get Hillary in jail since 1991.  Kevin Drum is right on the money when he writes:

Consider two “scandals.” The first is Benghazi. Hillary Clinton did nothing wrong. It was, essentially, a complete nothingburger. The second was Emailgate. In that one, Hillary unquestionably did things that were foolish at best and possibly criminal at worst. It was a genuine story.

But Republicans treated them both exactly the same. It didn’t matter whether Hillary actually did something wrong or not. They went after her with their usual Whitewater/Travelgate/Vince Foster level of fury, convinced that if only they yelled loudly enough the country would finally see her unmasked as the villain she really is. And they’re still doing it. James Comey has spoken, and no one reasonable thinks he’s on the take for the Clintons. But conservatives are almost unanimous in their shrieking that she is too guilty and ought to be put behind bars. Paul Ryan is now promising a probe of the probe, and idiotically calling for the director of National Intelligence to “block” Hillary’s access to classified information while she’s running for president. The only surprise here is that he isn’t demanding that Hillary’s access to classified information be blocked even if she wins.

After eight years of Bill Clinton’s presidency and now four years of Hillary Clinton’s post-cabinet career, Republicans have been crying wolf about Hillary for more than a decade. It’s pretty obvious that they’re going to continue, and that they really don’t care whether she’s actually done anything wrong. I have a feeling the public may finally be getting tired of their games.

I think this is true.

And watching Trump last night, you could see a prime example of a wingnut overplaying the hand.  Trump insisted that Comey — Republicans James Comey — was crooked and that Loretta Lynch was bribed.

And that’s when he took a gift and blew it.

How badly will this hurt Hillary?  It should hurt her badly politically.  Not fatally, but badly, if only in the short term.  I think, however, it won’t.

UPDATE: Another predictable thing — Sarah Palin word salad on Facebook:

Ironic, tragic, but not unexpected – amidst America’s Independence Day celebrations the Ruling Class put another boot on our neck to snuff liberty’s life out of We the People.  It’s a farce that “no one is above the law” and my heart goes out to all who’ve been unjustly accused and destroyed over much lesser crimes than Hillary’s…


Today’s FBI forgiveness of tyrants’ illegal acts illustrate purpose in why I insist Americans rise up and tear down this tyrannical system that is destroying America from within. Truly, you’re either with us or you’re against us…


Message to all the “Republican” elites throwing in for Hillary, boasting they’ll stay home instead of vote because their particular weakened good ol’ boy is not the GOP nominee (the R.A.T.s suffering chapped ass because their power and purse are threatened by the grassroots movement to destroy their failed politics-as-usual), Hillary thanks you. She knows she can’t win without you.

Fourth of July Flashback

At around 50 seconds into the video, the four-year old on my shoulder starts singing a patriotic song that she made up.

Something about “America” and how the fireworks appear every day and every night….

NC State Senate Moves $500K From Disaster Relief Fund To Defend Anti-LGBT Hate Bill

The Associated Press reports:

North Carolina lawmakers took steps Thursday to set aside a half-million dollars for the legal defense of a law limiting protections for LGBT people as a judge sought to streamline a cluster of lawsuits it has inspired.

Republican lawmakers were mapping out the end of the session, including possible changes to the law known as House Bill 2, which has attracted high-profile critics including the NBA. The session could end this weekend.

But there was no appetite to change the provision requiring transgender people to use restrooms corresponding to the sex on their birth certificate in schools, universities and many other public buildings. The law also excludes sexual orientation and gender identity from statewide anti-discrimination protections.

Legislative leaders were weighing possible adjustments, while trying to determine whether there’s enough support to get the legislation to Gov. Pat McCrory’s desk. McCrory has urged lawmakers to repeal a provision preventing workers from using state law to sue over workplace discrimination.

That half-million dollars comes from a disaster relief fund and its transfer must also be approved by the state House.

By the way, the NC legislature has been drafting legislation to “refine” the HB2 bill — basically, it will issue an official document that would recognize a person’s gender reassignment. The new document, which is treated as the equivalent as a birth certificate in the draft legislation, is referred to as a certificate of sex reassignment.  But it only applies where the person’s birth state does not do amend birth certificates — i.e., only for transgender people born in Tennessee and Idaho.

In other words, it does nothing.

LGBT activists denounced the attempt by North Carolina Republicans to “refine” the anti-transgender section of HB2. Yesterday the NBA and the Charlotte Hornets joined in. Their message:

“We have been engaged in dialogue with numerous groups at the city and state levels, but we do not endorse the version of the bill that we understand is currently before the legislature. We remain committed to our guiding principles of inclusion, mutual respect and equal protections for all. We continue to believe that constructive engagement with all sides is the right path forward. There has been no new decision made regarding the 2017 NBA All-Star Game.”


Oh for crying out loud.

Another Clinton “scandal” that calls into question Hillary’s trustworthiness.  Here’s what happened:

Attorney General Loretta Lynch faced continuing questions Thursday related to an awkward encounter with former president Bill Clinton after the two crossed paths Monday at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International Airport.

Lynch, who will ultimately determine the outcome of an ongoing investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of private email server while secretary of state, was arriving in the city in advance of a community policing event as Clinton was departing when the former president relayed through a security detail that he would like to say hello.

Lynch, during a later meeting with reporters, acknowledged the meeting with Bill Clinton but said there was no discussion of the investigation involving his wife, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, or the congressional report that examined her response to the deadly 2012 Benghazi attacks.

So let’s point out some obvious points:

(1)  Hillary Clinton wasn’t there
(2)  Even if you don’t trust Bill Clinton, there is nothing to suggest that Loretta Lynch is corruptable

And that’s it.

Once again, we have the “guilty before proven innocent” standard that applies to the Clintons only.  And then you have some pundits out there (Smerconish, I’m looking at you) who say, “Well, it looks bad and given the high untrustworthiness rating of the Clintons, shouldn’t he have known better?”

Yup. Even if we acknowledge that the “guilty before proven innocent” standard is unfairly applied, we can still ding them on the optics.

This is obscene and circular.  The Clintons have a bad rap for untrustworthiness because of inflated non-scandals like this, so now ANY non-scandal becomes part of the meme whether it has any basis or not.

Bill Clinton got a BJ in the White House, and lied about it.  16 years ago.  That had no relevance to his presidency now, and even less to Hillary’s candidacy today.

But here we are.

Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch plans to announce today that she will accept whatever recommendation career prosecutors and the F.B.I. director make about whether to bring charges related to Hillary Clinton’s personal email server. Her decision removes the possibility that a political appointee will overrule investigators in the case.  Okay?

Next non-scandal?

UPDATE:  Well, Lynch didn’t quite go as far as predicted:

Attorney General Loretta Lynch is reserving the right to overrule prosecutors and FBI investigators on whether to bring charges after their probe into Hillary Clinton’s personal e-mail server, but she is strongly inclined to follow their recommendation, a Justice Department official said.

The attorney general will discuss the inquiry during an appearance at the Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado on Friday, according to the official, who asked not to be identified in advance of Lynch’s comments that are aimed at reaffirming that she will follow usual Justice Department practices. News of a private meeting between the attorney general and former President Bill Clinton sparked rebukes from Republicans and concern among some Democrats about perceptions of impropriety.

Which means this will be fodder for a while.  Maybe the Fourth of July holiday will get people focused on other stuff.