Sunday, July 31, 2016

"What's like got to do with it"

Sarah Geracht Gassen paraphrases the Tina Turner song to make the point: you may not like Hillary Clinton, but you certainly must respect her qualifications for the presidency. Consider Sarah's editorial in this morning's Daily Star as required reading.

New national poll reports 10-point convention bounce for Clinton

Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight.com tweets: "First fully post-DNC poll I've seen shows a 10-point bounce for Clinton: rabaresearch.com" and "Entirely possible that Clinton got a big bounce, but we need more than one poll to confirm it. Lots of polls coming Sun/Mon/Tue I'd imagine."

The poll was conducted by RABAresearch.com. Snippets from their report follow.

Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has opened a significant lead over Republican nominee Donald Trump, now leading him by 15 points, according to a new online nationwide survey conducted on Friday, July 29th by RABA Research, a bipartisan polling firm.

Among likely voters, Clinton garners 46% support to Trump’s 31%. Libertarian Gary Johnson now captures 7% of the vote, while Jill Stein sits at 2%.

A RABA Research poll conducted the day after the Republican convention showed a tighter race, with Clinton at 39% and Trump at 34%. Johnson was at 8% in that survey, while Stein found 3% support.

“After closing the gap to single digits last week, Trump’s post-convention bounce has disappeared,” said RABA Research’s John Del Cecato, a Democratic partner with the firm. “While Trump continues to struggle to consolidate support within his own party, Clinton has a sizable lead among independents, and is even peeling off a small slice of Republican voters.”

The online poll was paid for by RABA Research and not by any candidate, committee or outside group. The survey measured 956 voters and was conducted Friday, July 29, 2016. The results were weighted to ensure proportional response and the margin of error for the results is +/- 3.2%.

View the full poll here.


How is the margin of error calculated? 1.96/(2*sqrt(N)) where N is the sample size, in this case, 956. Then convert the decimal fraction to percent.

Trump sinks to new low - mocks mother of Captain Khan

Dean Obeidallah (Daily Beast) reports on and bashes Trump's responses to the most moving speech at the Democratic convention.

I didn’t think it was possible for Donald Trump to say anything more despicable than he has already served up in this campaign. But this weekend the GOP presidential nominee did just that twice.

First, he went after Ghazala Khan, the mother of U.S. Army Captain Humayun Khan who had received a Purple Heart for bravery after being killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom. And then stunningly Trump equated his work as a businessman as being a “sacrifice” akin to the sacrifice made by the brave women and men who have served in our nation’s armed forces.

With respect to Mrs. Khan, Trump was asked by Maureen Dowd on Saturday what was his reaction to ”the poignant appearance of Muslim lawyer Khizr Khan and his wife” at the DNC. Did Trump respond by acknowledging Captain Khan’s sacrifice or offer words of support for these Gold Star parents? Nope, instead he answered with one sentence: “I’d like to hear his wife say something.” (How would his wife saying anything change in any way Capt. Khan’s sacrifice or his parents’ loss?!)

And then Trump doubled-down as he always does when facing criticism for his rants.

And then Trump upped the criticism of Mrs. Khan in an interview with George Stephanopoulos scheduled to air Sunday morning: “If you look at his wife, she was standing there. She had nothing to say. She probably, maybe she wasn't allowed to have anything to say. You tell me.”

In reality, Mrs. Khan was on the stage Thursday night because her husband asked her to be there to offer him moral support. As Mr. Khan explained in a joint interview Friday night to MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell, his wife of 40 years provides him strength, noting, “I’m much weaker than her.”

Mrs. Kahn added emotionally that she didn’t want to speak at the DNC because, “I cannot even come into the room” where a photo of her late son is located without crying.

Mrs. Khan then, with her voice breaking from emotion, shared the words she had told her son before he was deployed to Iraq: “Be safe. Don’t become a hero for me—just be my son. Come back as my son.” Adding as she began to sob, “But he came back as a hero.”

Trump equates his shady business deals to Captain Khan's sacrifice

Just as jaw dropping as Trump’s refusal to praise the service of Captain Khan and his vile attack on Mrs. Khan, was Trump equating his experience in business as being akin to serving in the U.S. military.

Stephanopoulos asked Trump to respond to Mr. Khan’s speech Thursday calling on the GOP nominee to visit Arlington National Cemetery and “look at the graves of brave patriots who died defending the United States of America.” Khan noted that in contrast, Trump had “sacrificed nothing.”

Trump’s reaction was simply stunning: “I think I've made a lot of sacrifices. I work very, very hard.”

My fellow veterans, I hope, will not shrug this one off.

"For anyone to compare their 'sacrifice' to a Gold Star family member is insulting, foolish and ignorant. Especially someone who has never served himself and has no children serving," Paul Rieckoff, the founder and CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, said when asked about Trump’s statement.

Trump feels like a "very brave soldier ..."

... for avoiding sexually transmitted diseases when he was hooking up with models.

But this is not the first time Trump has belittled the service of veterans by equating his billionaire lifestyle to the challenges faced in the U.S. military. In 1997, Trump claimed his playboy years where he was hooking up with models was his own “personal Vietnam” because he had to avoid getting herpes and other STDs. Trump even remarked that the fact he was venereal disease free made him, “feel like a great and very brave soldier.” Let's also never forget when he mocked Senator John McCain for being captured.

And Trump actually had an opportunity to serve in the U.S. military during the Vietnam War. Instead he avoided by claiming he had a “medical disability.”

That’s very curious given that while in college Trump played baseball, tennis and squash. And last year Trump’s doctor released a letter describing Trump’s health as “astonishingly excellent” and “extraordinary.” Trump apparently is one of those rare people who are healthier at 70 than at 22.

Mr. Khan made a powerful plea Friday night to Republicans to put principle over Party and not support Trump. If Trump’s latest comments don’t cause that to happen, either Trump supporters believe Party comes first or they simply have no principles.

That is correct. Principles have been consigned by Trumpists to the scrap heap of political correctness. We are in an age in which one-half of our population adores the pompous demagogue who craps on veterans. Being a Vietnam era veteran, it's as much personal as politics.

Jennifer Granholm's convention speech was fireworks

If Trump's pants were not on fire already, they were after former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm got through lighting a match blow-torch under his a$$.

The Hill has the full transcript and link to the video.

New reality show: "Biff" Trump starts as The Bully

Slate.com has a link to the video. Here's how they rated it.

Unless you consider Austan Goolsbee the height of charisma, the Democratic National Convention bumper videos haven’t been the most entertaining things in the world. On Thursday, though, the DNC knocked it out of the park with this montage video comparing Donald Trump with some of cinema’s all-time most awful bullies.

From Biff Tannen, to Buzz McCallister, to Nurse Ratched, to the end where Clinton addresses a young girl’s question about bullies, the whole thing is just killer stuff (Biff’s character in Back to the Future Part II was actually based on Trump).

It's a hoot. I can't wait for the sequel.

In case you missed it: Gabby and Mark speak at the DNC

Here it is on YouTube; Mark introduces Gabby at the 4 minute mark.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Required reading: "Conservatives Say The DNC Was 'Disaster' For The GOP"

Sounds like they are Running Scared (with apologies to the great Roy Orbison).

Just runnin' scared of seeds we sow

So afraid that Trump might show

Yeah, runnin' scared, what will we do

If Trump comes back and lies to you…

TalkingPointsMemo has a list of tweets that are the basis for the headline.

The evening also hammered home the stark tonal difference between the two conventions. After Trump painted America as a downcast country in need of a billionaire savior, night after night of all-star DNC speakers preached a sermon of American exceptionalism, with values that unify us all – talking points once exclusively owned by Republicans.

It was enough to give a lot of conservatives whiplash. Here are just a few of them praising the DNC and bemoaning the state of affairs in their own party.

Here are my favs.

National Review editor Jonah Goldberg:

Why this convention is better: It's about loving America. GOP convention was about loving Trump. If you didn't love Trump, it offered nada.

— Jonah Goldberg (@JonahNRO) July 29, 2016

Fox News host Greg Gutfeld:

if repubs had championed their principles with specifics rather than embrace autocracy - they wouldn't have yielded this turf to dems.

— GregGutfeld (@greggutfeld) July 29, 2016

Conservative Iowa radio host Steve Deace:

So most of conservative media and the GOP spent the week rooting for Russia, and now the Democrats get to rally around the flag.

Dreadful.

— Steve Deace (@SteveDeaceShow) July 29, 2016

That's what you get when the GOP became the PoP (Party of Putin).

Rich Galen, press secretary for Dick Cheney:

How can it be that I am standing at my kitchen counter sobbing because of the messages being driven at the DNC? Where has the GOP gone?

— Rich Galen (@richgalen) July 29, 2016

In answer to the last question above: the dark side.

And this:

Commentary editor Noah Rothman:

Republicans could have stopped all this.

— Noah Rothman (@NoahCRothman) July 29, 2016

But you did not. Instead your base embraced everything that was not the GOP of our fathers.

How could it be otherwise? The election pits The Lady in White against the Moscovian in Black, the love of country vs. the love of Donald, our core values as a nation vs. Trumpist authoritarianism, Democracy vs. Autocracy.

Clinton casts herself as the anti-Trump

In every way that matters, Hillary Clinton is the anti-Trump. Check out this list of comparisons by Steve Benen at MSNBC/Maddowblog. For example:

Trump offered fear, so Clinton explicitly rejected it. Trump said the country is coming unglued, so Clinton pitched a message of unity, cooperation, and the importance of being “stronger together.” Trump embraced empty slogans and sound-bite solutions, so Clinton emphasized expertise and qualifications.

Trump is intemperate and thin-skinned, prone to lashing out in response to perceived slights, so Clinton reminded the public about the importance of a steady hand.

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

Fact-checking the acceptance speeches: Only one rates "true" or "largely true"

Wanna guess which one? I'll give you a hint. A lady in white.

Not Cate Blanchett as Galadriel in The Lord of the Rings.

Hmmm. Must be Hillary Clinton.

The New York Times fact-checked Clinton's speech from last night (Thursday) and rated her assertions as "True" or "Largely True." To be fair, some of her assertions needed qualifications but none were rated as "false."

Compare that to the fact-checking of Trump's speech by various new organizations.. For example, from the Washington Post: "Numbers are taken out of context, data is manipulated, and sometimes the facts are wrong."

Trump said "We cannot afford to be so politically correct anymore. So if you want to hear the corporate spin, the carefully-crafted lies, and the media myths the Democrats are holding their convention next week. But here, at our convention, there will be no lies. We will honor the American people with the truth, and nothing else."

He lied.

For example, the trumplies.com site analyzed Trump's prepared remarks with the following lead observation.

THE TRUTH: Republican speakers and Trump surrogates have told at least 55 lies during the first three days of the convention. CONVENTION DAY 1: 20 LIES; CONVENTION DAY 2: 21 LIES; CONVENTION DAY 3: 14 LIES

Which one to you want on your side? The Lady in White? or the Man from Moscow in Black?

A view from the other side: Various media sources point out that, in Clinton's speech, there were few facts to be checked. See AZBlueMeanie today for a review.

Recommendation denying Rosemont mine permit

Statement of Gayle Hartmann, President of Save the Scenic Santa Ritas:

The news today that the Los Angeles District of the US Army Corps of Engineers recommended the denial of the essential water permit for the proposed Rosemont Mine is indeed good news. The utter and complete devastation of our water resources that would result from this massive mine is well-documented. The recommendation from the District Engineer to say NO to this foreign mining company is consistent with both this agency and the EPA’s longstanding concerns about this project’s impact to southern Arizona’s water.

It is heartening to know that there are brave public servants who understand the importance of water in a desert and are willing to stand up and protect the public interests. If we deplete and contaminate our water resources, we have no future, economic or otherwise.

We understand that additional regulatory and potential legal steps remain. But today, we are even more confident that this mine will never be built.

For more, see these Links to Recent News

Unit of federal agency recommends denying key Rosemont Mine permit,Tony Davis, Arizona Daily Star, July 29th, 2016

Federal agency recommends denial of key Rosemont Mine permit, Tony Davis, Arizona Daily Star, July 28th, 2016

Friday, July 29, 2016

Kahn who lost a son serving in Iraq to Trump: "You have sacrificed nothing."

Of the many speakers at the convention last night, the New York Times says this.

... the most powerful guest speaker of the evening was Khizr Khan, a Muslim American whose son joined the Army after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and was killed during service in Iraq. Mr. Khan, rebuking Mr. Trump for frequently demonizing Muslims as threats to the United States, pulled a copy of the Constitution out of his suit jacket.

“Mr. Trump, have you even read the Constitution?” he said. “You have sacrificed nothing.”

His words seemed to send a collective shiver through the convention hall, leaving some delegates in tears.

To the best of my knowledge, Donald Trump has spent not one minute in the service of his country. Yet he threatens people like Khan with deportation, and disparages genuine heroes like John McCain.

Trump's many Vietnam era draft deferments have been made public - see the document by thesmokinggun.com here.

politifact.com supplements the document with these observations.

... Trump had a physical exam in September 1968. He had taken one less than two years earlier that did not disqualify him for service as we can tell from his 1-A classification in July 1968. However, his second physical was followed in October with a new classification, 1-Y. That designation put him near the bottom of any call-up list. It meant he would only be drafted if there were a national emergency.

Until recently, the only detail on record about that shift was it was medically related. After his comments about McCain, Trump said it had to do with bone spurs in his heels. Trump reportedly was active in college sports, playing baseball, tennis and squash.

Trump had the opportunity to volunteer and the record speaks for itself that he did not.

Donald Trump, The Moscovian Candidate, has done nothing for his country other than selling us out to Russia.

Disclosure: Unlike Donald Trump I have a DD214 documenting three and a half years of service in the Army, 1963-1966. Not a draft, Donald, an enlistment that was taking the "opportunity to volunteer."

Why Putin prefers Trump

Trump gave the countries in NATO serious jitters when he questioned the US commitment to its NATO allies. Now, reported by politico.com, he has become more specific about what Russian aggressive actions in Eastern Europe he is willing to overlook (and forgive?).

Donald Trump said Wednesday that, if he is elected president, he would consider recognizing Crimea as Russian territory and lifting the sanctions against Russia.

I suspect quid pro quo. Trump promises hands off in Eastern Europe and Putin uses espionage and cyber warfare against Clinton to tilt the election toward Trump.

From Daily Kos:

We knew Putin wanted Trump to win. Now we know why. Trump will not only turn a blind eye towards Russian aggression in Eastern Europe. He will excuse, allow, and enable it.

My convention speech

Not mine! That's the title of the column by Andrew Tobias.. Here are excerpts.

This is the fifth time I’ve had the honor to address you, and each time, I speak about the same two things: money and equality.

First, equality. The Democratic Party has dramatically improved the lives of millions of lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual Americans. And at no cost to anyone else.

Second, money. The Democratic Party is the party of Social Security, Federally Insured bank accounts, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, unions, the minimum wage, Pell grants — and so much more that’s helped lift the American middle class.

The economy does significantly better under Democrats. And so do investors. The stock market tripled under Bill Clinton and has more than doubled since Barack Obama took office. And listen to this: If you had started in 1921 with $10,000 and invested it in the market only in the 48 years that REPUBLICANS held the White House, it would have grown – not counting dividends — to less than $50,000. But to more than $600,000 in the 48 years Democrats held the White House!

And the stock market does better under Dems, more jobs are created, and the national debt shrinks!

But money isn’t everything. The freedom to be who you are and love who you love without fear or oppression are even more important.

In 1993, Bill and Hillary Clinton let the world know that the President of the United States and First Lady had a vision of America that included equality for gays and lesbians. It’s easy to forget what a huge deal this was. How unprecedented it was. It gave space for governors and mayors and university presidents and CEO’s to come out openly in favor of equality, too. It gave space for moms and dads and celebrities and friends and neighbors and co-workers and enlightened clergy to embrace their fellow Americans. Love is love. We are stronger together.

In the years since 1993, we have made almost unimaginable progress — with Republicans fighting us every step of the way.

Vote for equality, my friends. Vote for prosperity. Vote for my amazing friend Hillary.

(And click here.)

h/t Jean Vickers

The revolution fallacy: Voting for bad guys does NOT get you good results

Warning: If you are planning to sit this one out, or are planning to vote 3rd party, or are planning to vote for Trump, you probably don't want to read this even though you should.

The Dems didn't select my candidate, so I am going to get even ...

Having heard this from many people over the years, and hearing it again in this election year, I feel obliged to explain the "this" and take issue with it.

The "this" is the belief, an article of faith and not fact or science, that given a choice between a modestly good candidate (or, if you wish, a marginally bad candidate) and a really, really bad candidate, voting for the really bad candidate will precipitate "the revolution." The people who put the really bad candidate in office will see the light and will oust the candidate or elect a better, really good person in the next election.

If you really believe any form of this, you should get to a shrink ASAP because you are delusional. Here is why.

1968 was the year that the Democratic convention in Chicago was the target of those folks who had lost Gene McCarthy (to electoral defeat) and Robert Kennedy (to assassination). The establishment picked Hubert Humphrey, a guy with very good progressive creds, but that was not good enough and lots of those folks stayed home. Richard Nixon was the result. No revolution.

In 2000, folks voted for a third party candidate in just enough numbers to lose Florida and throw the election to George W. Bush. (More on that below.) Got the Iraq war. No revolution.

In 2014 in Arizona's CD2 race, 167 Dems stayed home because they took issue with some, only some, of Rep. Ron Barber's votes. Martha McSally was the result. "This" was invoked in various forums to argue that McSally would be such a disaster that we would elect a better, progressive candidate in 2016. Not happening. Her handlers gave her a cosmetic and PR makeover and she's kept a low profile. She has far more money in her war chest than the two Democratic challengers combined. She has a good chance of winning this year. I predict no revolution

And that brings us to 2016. I am hearing "this" again. Bernie Sanders got a lot of votes (one of them mine, by the way) but Hillary Clinton won the nomination. Now the disaffected Bernie-or-bust crowd is split between voting for Donald Trump and voting for a third party or not voting at all. The numbers I've seen have 76% of the Bernie supporters voting for Clinton, 11% voting for Trump, and the remainder doing something else. So, the present-day "this" is this: the result of a Trump victory will be so awful, that (1) the revolution will occur, or (2) the voters will elect a true progressive like Bernie in 2020. (1) has never happened, at least not since the American revolution. (2) Is unlikely - see 2014 -- and especially unlikely if Trump wins and does every fascist, dictatorial thing he rants about.

Don't just take it from me. Seth Myers (NBC Late Night) took note of the boos from Bernie supporters on the first day of the convention and has this response - on YouTube.

Here's a similar message from Dan Savage on 3rd party votes.

... People supported Ralph Nader in 2000 and said there was no difference between Al Gore and George W. Bush, therefore we could all afford to throw our votes away, protest-style, on Ralph Nader, who had no hope of getting elected, because there was no difference between Bush and Gore.

These same people, at the same time, said that George Bush was so manifestly obviously terrible that he would bring the revolution if he got himself elected somehow. They didn’t say this about Gore, he wouldn’t bring the revolution. They’re exactly the same, exactly as awful, but one would bring the revolution and one wouldn’t. Which means they weren't exactly the same and they weren't equally awful.

And we're hearing the same thing now about Hillary and Donald. That they’re both equally awful. They're both equally terrible, corrupt two party system, ... fuck both their houses! Vote for Jill Stein!

And if Donald should get elected, oh he’s so terrible, so much worse than the equally awful Hillary Clinton, that his election will bring the revolution.

It's bullshit.

The revolution did not come in 2000 when George W. Bush got close enough to winning to steal the White House. It will not come if Donald J. Trump gets his ass elected.

Disaster will come. And the people who’ll suffer are not going to be the pasty white Green Party supporters — pasty white Jill Stein and her pasty white supporters. The people who’ll suffer are going to be people of color. People of minority faiths. Queer people. Women.

Don’t do it. Don't throw your vote away on Jill Stein/vote for, bankshot-style, Donald Trump.

And if you want to build a viable third party, more power to you. I could see myself voting for a Green Party candidate for president in 25 years, after I've seen Green Party candidates getting elected to state legislatures, getting elected to governorships, getting elected to Congress. Then you can run some legitimate [mo...rfu...r] for president.

Here's the lesson. Electing bad guys gets you bad results.

The choice is starkly clear: you can accept incremental progressivism (at worst) or an authoritarian regime bankrolled by Russian oligarchs (at best).

As I've said here in this blog before, vote for Clinton and then let's all work to make sure that the most progressive platform gets translated into action. I do not know how much of that is possible given the uncertainties about control of the Congress and courts. But I do know that none of it is possible if Trump is our next president.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

What if ...

... Donald Trump, The Moscovian Candidate, actually wins the presidency?

What if we could do something to stop that?

Here's a review in Politico.com of how bad such a win would be for the country and the world. But, take heart, the writer suggests what can be done in the next 100 days. Snippets from the politico.com article follow.

What if Trump wins?

The element that could change dramatically in the next year, and the one that ultimately determines how dangerous he is, is the last one—the tools he has to promote his self-image and punish people who threaten it.
Right now, Trump’s main tools for defending his self-image are threats and insults. So he’s been busy insulting the media, senators, judges, a pope, a Latina governor, and others. ...

He’s also said, "If I become president, oh, do they [the New York Times and The Washington Post] have problems. They're going to have such problems. And one of the things I'm going to do … if I win … is I'm going to open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money.”

Trump would not, as president, have the power to change libel laws, but this statement shows how eager he is to use the powers of the presidency to strike at his critics. Imagine if he had the tools of the CIA, FBI, IRS, the Justice Department, the U.S. military—and the nuclear codes—to promote his grandiose sense of self. President Trump would be able, almost entirely on his own—because there are no real checks and balances when it comes to pushing the button—order a nuclear strike. That makes his proximity to the presidency a global emergency.

What we can do

Trump’s supporters all think he’s strong, so opponents should expose him as weak. They just have to change the way voters see his tantrums.

If the view of Trump as a thin-skinned guy who can’t take a punch becomes a dominant part of the campaign narrative, then his show of strength becomes a sign of weakness—and that weakness is not only exposed; it can be exploited. When Trump turns abusive, he’s sending an inadvertent signal that he’s getting hit where it hurts. His opponents should thank him for the abuse, take his guidance, and keep hitting him in the same spot. The point is not to cause him pain— it’s to expose him as a guy who isn’t tough enough to be president.

The more attention is focused on his tirades, the more Trump’s pattern will become clear: He has a grandiose sense of self; he gets furious with those who challenge him, and if he gains the powers of the presidency, he will use them to confirm his self-image and punish those who attack it. This is the profile of a man who is not fit for duty. It is the face of a tyrant. The question is whether the country sees it before the election, or after he wins it.

Tom Rosshirt, a founding partner of AR Strategies, LLC, served as a national security speechwriter for President Clinton. He was a co-founder of one of the world’s premier speechwriting firms, West Wing Writers.

h/t Paul McCreary

From Russia with Love: The Moscovian Candidate asks for Russian help

Trump, Our Man from Moscow, invites more hacking from Russia

Trump, just this morning (7/27), asked Russia to do more hacking - now of Clinton's email. This is most disturbing because he has requested a foreign power to intervene in an American election. That, as Rep. Steve Israel put it on MSNBC, borders on treason.

Donald J. Trump said Wednesday that he hoped Russia had hacked Hillary Clinton’s email, essentially encouraging an adversarial foreign power to cyberspy on a secretary of state’s correspondence.

“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Mr. Trump said, staring directly into the cameras during a news conference. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

Mr. Trump’s call was an extraordinary moment at a time when Russia is being accused of meddling in the United States’ presidential election. His comments came amid questions about the hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s computer servers, which American intelligence agencies have told the White House they have “high confidence” was the work of the Russian government.

Later in the news conference, when asked if he was really urging a foreign nation to hack into the private email server of Mrs. Clinton, or at least interfere in the nation’s elections, he dismissed the question. “That’s up to the president,” Mr. Trump said, before finally saying “be quiet” to the female questioner. “Let the president talk to them.”

Steve Benen (MSNBC/MaddowBlog) has a lot more to say about Trump's behavior.

Let’s be very clear about what happened this morning. The Republican candidate for president held a press conference in which he urged Vladimir Putin’s espionage services to help sabotage the American election and put Trump in the White House.

No, seriously. That’s the level of genuine insanity that we’ve reached. Against the backdrop of allegations that Russia is already trying to intervene in the U.S. presidential race on Trump’s behalf, Donald J. Trump took the next step towards true madness today, publicly calling on a foreign government to commit a felony against his American rival on his behalf.

There is literally nothing in the American tradition that’s similar to this. Nothing. Trump is taking his candidacy, his party, and his country into unchartered waters.

The Weekly Standard’s Stephen Hayes, a conservative Fox News contributor, asked this morning, “How can any Republican support a candidate who openly hopes for foreign cyberattacks on a political opponent?” I don’t know the answer to that question, but I’d love to hear Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Marco Rubio, and others defend their choice in candidates.

Remember, as far as Trump is concerned, those Clinton emails contain sensitive intelligence. In other words, the Republican nominee this morning said he “hopes” Putin’s government gains access to classified government materials because it might help advance Trump’s personal ambitions.

How did we get to this point? Why is this man a major-party nominee for the nation’s highest office? Since when does the Republican Party think it’s acceptable to appeal to rival states to help sabotage a campaign opponent ahead of an election?

Also consider what we’re learning about Trump’s perspective on intelligence. As far as he’s concerned, there’s nothing wrong with urging an unfriendly foreign state to commit a cybercrime against an American for political purposes. If Trump heads the U.S. executive branch, and has some authority over the CIA and NSA, is anyone prepared to argue that he’ll be restrained and responsible?

What more could Trump do to convince people about the dangers of his candidacy? How is this not a disqualifying moment?

Try to imagine – no, really, take a moment to think about – how significant a scandal it would be if Hillary Clinton publicly urged Russia to do her a favor, target a GOP rival, and help her win an election. How quickly would her career in public life end? How many congressional hearings and investigations would Republicans demand?

I’ve been watching this bizarre presidential race every day since it began. It’s never been scarier than it is right now.

Where are our patriotic Republicans when we need them? How can any Republican or conservative in good conscience support or vote for this traitor? What else will he hand Russia?

Republicans must decide: GOP or PoP (Party of Putin).

Today emails, tomorrow voting machines

In what other forms might foreign intervention take?

Many of our communications systems are vulnerable to hacking from foreign entities. Here's a scary example in the Washington Post.

Government interference with foreign elections isn’t new, and in fact, that’s something the United States itself has repeatedly done in recent history. Using cyberattacks to influence elections is newer but has been done before, too — most notably in Latin America. Hacking of voting machines isn’t new, either. But what is new is a foreign government interfering with a U.S. national election on a large scale. Our democracy cannot tolerate it, and we as citizens cannot accept it.

Last April, the Obama administration issued an executive order outlining how we as a nation respond to cyberattacks against our critical infrastructure. While our election technology was not explicitly mentioned, our political process is certainly critical. And while they’re a hodgepodge of separate state-run systems, together their security affects every one of us. After everyone has voted, it is essential that both sides believe the election was fair and the results accurate. Otherwise, the election has no legitimacy.

Election security is now a national security issue; federal officials need to take the lead, and they need to do it quickly.

Is Trump in the race just to forestall bankruptcy?

That's the question posed by DailyNewsBin.com. Here's their lead-in.

In the days following the revelation that the Russians may have hacked the Democratic Party email servers in order to try to sabotage the United States Presidential election in favor of Donald Trump, and his own son’s admission that he’s increasingly in debt to the Russians, it’s raised the question of whether Trump is anything more than a political and financial patsy of Vladimir Putin. It also raises the deeper question of whether Trump, whose debt load has exploded over the past year, may only be running for President in order to prevent his shaky empire from collapsing into bankruptcy.

There's the reason to publish Trump's tax returns. But the Trump campaign refuses. Steve Benen (MSNBC/Maddowblog) reports.

Since Watergate, every presidential candidate, Democrat or Republican, has released his or her tax returns. It’s not required by law, but there’s a tradition of disclosure that Americans have come to count on: candidates for the nation’s highest office are expected to release information related to their personal health and their tax filings.

In 2016, Donald Trump will only meet one of the two standards. In December, his campaign released an unintentionally hilarious letter from someone claiming to be Trump’s personal physician. But this morning, the GOP candidate’s campaign chairman said we can pretty much stop waiting for the tax documents – because they’re not coming, tradition be damned.

A top aide to Donald Trump said Wednesday that the Republican presidential nominee “will not be releasing” his taxes.

“Mr. Trump has said that his taxes are under audit and he will not be releasing them,” Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort told “CBS This Morning.”

As recently as mid-May, Trump said that he’d “like to” disclose the tax documents, “hopefully before the election,” but he’s waiting for the end of an IRS audit. Manafort’s on-air comments this morning, however, suggest there will be no scrutiny of the documents before voters head to the polls.

As for the “audit” excuse, the fact remains that this rationale has never made any sense: an IRS audit doesn’t preclude someone from sharing their returns.

Indeed, as we’ve discussed before, even Richard Nixon, during his presidency, released his tax materials in the midst of an IRS audit. Trump could, if he wanted to, release these returns whenever he feels like it. For reasons he won’t explain, the GOP candidate just doesn’t want to.

It’s as if the campaign has decided to wave a big, unmistakable sign that reads, “We have something to hide.”

The unfortunate complication here is that there’s probably never been a major-party nominee whose tax returns are more in need of public scrutiny. Donald J. Trump has been caught up in so many financial controversies – his bankruptcies, his lawsuits, his alleged ties to Russian financiers, his dubious claims about charitable work that appear to be brazen lies, et al – that the New York Republican has the added responsibility to tell Americans the whole truth before the cast their ballots in the fall.

But Trump doesn’t want to, and according to his lobbyist campaign chief, “he will not be releasing” the same materials every other candidate has released.

Trump, who had vowed to release his returns before he announced his candidacy, is convinced he can get away with this and voters won’t care. We’re about to find out if he’s correct.

Bernie and the boos

The Democratic convention opened with boos and disruption from Bernie supporters. AZBlueMeanie describes some of the action.

The convention disruptions began early, ‘Bernie’ chants erupt during DNC invocation, and continued for every politician speaker, with the exception of First Lady Michelle Obama. Many of the speakers disrupted were African-Americans, from the minister giving the invocation, to convention chair Rep. Marcia Fudge, to Rep. Elijah Cummings. Does anyone really believe that the disrespect shown for these speakers did not offend the African-American community? I assure you that it did.

It took comedian Sarah Silverman, a Bernie Sanders supporter, to say what many of the delegates wanted to hear by late evening: the ‘Bernie or Bust’ movement is ‘being ridiculous’. She also was lustily booed by the disrupters, but cheered by the vast majority of convention goers.

AZBlueMeanie has Bernie's "lecture" to his supporters.

The night concluded with Bernie Sanders who, unlike some of his supporters who had disrupted the convention all evening, gave a full throated endorsement of Hillary Clinton and a lecture to his supporters about how his “revolution” is not about this campaign or any candidate, but something so much more. Sanders Prepared Remarks for the Democratic National Convention:

Let me be as clear as I can be. This election is not about, and has never been about, Hillary Clinton, or Donald Trump, or Bernie Sanders or any of the other candidates who sought the presidency. This election is not about political gossip. It’s not about polls. It’s not about campaign strategy. It’s not about fundraising. It’s not about all the things the media spends so much time discussing.

This election is about – and must be about – the needs of the American people and the kind of future we create for our children and grandchildren.

This election is about ending the 40-year decline of our middle class the reality that 47 million men, women and children live in poverty. It is about understanding that if we do not transform our economy, our younger generation will likely have a lower standard of living then their parents.

This election is about ending the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality that we currently experience, the worst it has been since 1928. It is not moral, not acceptable and not sustainable that the top one-tenth of one percent now own almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent, or that the top 1 percent in recent years has earned 85 percent of all new income. That is unacceptable. That must change.

This election is about remembering where we were 7 1/2 years ago when President Obama came into office after eight years of Republican trickle-down economics.

The Republicans want us to forget that as a result of the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior on Wall Street, our economy was in the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Some 800,000 people a month were losing their jobs. We were running up a record-breaking deficit of $1.4 trillion and the world’s financial system was on the verge of collapse.

We have come a long way in the last 7 1/2 years, and I thank President Obama and Vice President Biden for their leadership in pulling us out of that terrible recession.

Yes, we have made progress, but I think we can all agree that much, much more needs to be done.

This election is about which candidate understands the real problems facing this country and has offered real solutions – not just bombast, fear-mongering, name-calling and divisiveness.

We need leadership in this country which will improve the lives of working families, the children, the elderly, the sick and the poor. We need leadership which brings our people together and makes us stronger – not leadership which insults Latinos, Muslims, women, African-Americans and veterans – and divides us up.

By these measures, any objective observer will conclude that – based on her ideas and her leadership – Hillary Clinton must become the next president of the United States. The choice is not even close.

Steve Benen puts Bernie's message in a historical context.

Bernie Sanders has faced criticism, some of it fair, for creating more intra-party tensions than necessary in recent months. His detractors, however, should give the Vermont senator credit now for doing precisely what Democrats hoped to see him do.

There will be plenty of debate about whether or not he’s too late and why he didn’t take constructive steps sooner, but as NBC News reported today, Sanders isn’t on board with the disruptive tactics of his most ardent backers.

The Bernie or Bust movement appears to have been busted by Bernie…. As if making up for lost time, [Sen. Bernie Sanders] crisscrossed a sprawling hotel and convention center complex downtown to take the message from his speech directly to individual state delegations.

From New York to Wisconsin to Iowa to California to Florida to Montana to Alaska, his message to the delegates was the same: The only way for his supporters to continue what they started is to elect Clinton and stop Donald Trump.

Not surprisingly, this message wasn’t well received among his backers in the California delegation, some of whom adopted far-right Republican mantras as their own yesterday, but the senator, again to his credit, didn’t placate them.

“It’s easy to boo,” Sanders said. “But it is harder to look your kids in the face who will be living under a Donald Trump presidency.”

And what about his supporters who may be thinking about throwing their support to third-party candidates who stand no realistic chance of winning the presidency? Sanders was specifically asked this morning at a Bloomberg Politics breakfast about the Green Party’s Jill Stein.

“[Green Party members are] focusing on very, very important issues,” Sanders said. “But I think right now – what is it, three, four months before an election – you’re going to end up having a choice. Either Hillary Clinton is going to become president, or Donald Trump.”

It’s easy to overlook this, but Sanders’ electoral pragmatic streak isn’t new. The Vermonter has long kept his distance from Democratic politics, but let’s not forget that Sanders endorsed Bill Clinton in the 1990s, Al Gore in 2000, John Kerry in 2004, and Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012.

That 2000 race is of particular interest because some on the far-left rallied behind Ralph Nader. Sanders rejected each of Nader’s national presidential bids.

By all appearances, Sanders’ calculus has been consistent for a generation: evaluate the viable candidates, support the more progressive choice. The senator may have taken the long road to get to this point in 2016, but it’s a destination he’s reached several times before.

AZBlueMeanie: "It remains to be seen whether Sanders’ supporters learned the lesson he was trying to teach them."

The next night, Sanders, in the end, moved suspension of the rules, that the roll call votes be part of the permanent record, and that the convention select Clinton as the Democratic nominee. The convention chair, Marcia Fudge, then asked for a voice vote on the selection by acclamation. It passed.

Rachel Maddow and Steve Kornacki talk about the historical implications of Sanders' motion.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Hillary Clinton first woman nominee for president

But Bernie Sanders provided the high drama. During the roll call voting, Vermont passed thus positioning themselves to be the last state voting. Bernie entered the hall and joined the Vermont delegates. After Vermont cast their votes, Bernie took the microphone. What would he do, professors, pundits, and politicians wondered. Bernie moved to suspend the normal rules, record the results of the roll call in the official record, and nominate Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee for President of the US. That opened the way for the convention chair to call for a voice vote on Clinton's nomination by acclamation. The ayes had it. And thus was history made.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Moscovian Candidate

Alternate title: The Man from Moscow

We'll borrow the theme song from The Manchurian Candidate.

The Party of Putin?

Steve Benen (MSNBC/MaddowBlog) reports on the new questions about Vladimir Putin's interest in electing Donald Trump - with additional links to reports on Trump's and Manafort's Russian connections.

Team Trump’s credibility problems notwithstanding, it’s not overstating matters to suggest Russia’s alleged interference in the U.S. presidential election may be the biggest political bombshell of the year – or in several years. I realize there are plenty of shiny objects on the political landscape, but this is becoming an issue that shouldn’t be ignored.

Benen reviews the evidence. For example, consider Trump's manipulation of the GOP platform.

  • The Washington Post also reported the other day that 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.
  • The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza, reporting last week from the Republican convention, said he’d spoken to a GOP congressman who believes the “most under-covered story of convention” is Team Trump’s efforts to change the party platform “to be more pro-Putin.”
  • Noting Trump’s anti-NATO posture – another break with decades of Republican thought on foreign policy – The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, a center-right observer, noted last week, “Trump is making it clear that, as president, he would allow Russia to advance its hegemonic interests across Europe and the Middle East.”

So is the GOP now the Party of Putin?

It’s often hard to predict how Americans will respond to political developments and whether voters will care about assorted controversies. But we’re dealing with circumstances that defy easy explanation: a party that has largely defined its foreign policy by its anti-Russia attitudes has nominated a presidential candidate who sees Russia’s autocratic president as an ally, possibly worthy of emulation.

For GOP leaders who’ve grudgingly thrown their support behind Trump, shouldn’t Trump’s Putin ties – substantive, financial, political – give them serious pause? If Russia is trying to influence the outcome of an American presidential election, doesn’t the political world have a responsibility to pause and ask why?

Trump's tax returns: What is he hiding?

The possibility that Trump is "The Moscovian Candidate" makes the release of his tax returns imperative. Steve Benen again:

But when circumstances warrant a return to an old story, the coverage can change. The Atlantic’s James Fallows noted today, for example, that Russia’s alleged intervention in the U.S. presidential election has changed the calculus.

These new developments underscore the importance of an old, familiar point: now, more than ever, Donald Trump must release his tax returns. To put it differently, the press should no longer “normalize” his stonewalling on this issue. [emphasis in the original]

As another veteran figure in the defense world and political affairs wrote to me this morning: “In normal times, this [the Russian hacking] would be the lead on all network news. But these are not normal times. I am having trouble getting through to some people that this is a real thing. The very people who always say “follow the money” with regard to the Pentagon [or other boondoggle bureaucracies] don’t see that (a) Trump has been kept afloat for about 15 years by Russian oligarchs; and (b) Russia has a powerful incentive to see a US president who will end economic sanctions.

To be sure, even if these allegations about Russia trying to boost Trump’s candidacy didn’t exist, Trump would still have a responsibility to honor campaign norms. Indeed, the Russian story isn’t the only controversy that Trump’s tax returns can help resolve.

Moscovian: An inhabitant of Moscow.

How do the candidates compare on the issues?

Sen. Tim Kaine has been described as a very good guy, and a good pick. Elsewhere, though, he's seen as "vanilla" and "middle of the road." Can we do some research to decide between these characterizations? Can we be more precise in characterizing Kaine's beliefs and how they match up with Clinton's views?

A few days ago, the Daily Star (tucson.com) asked "How do Clinton and Kaine compare on the issues?". I set out to answer that question in a quantitative way. I expanded the question to include how the two presidential candidates compare, how the two vice-presidential candidates compare, and how all four of them compare to the former progressive candidate, Bernie Sanders.

I used the characterizations of the candidates positions on brief issue statements (listed in the Star's article), for example, those statements that the candidates favor and those they oppose.

My similarity analyses resulted in two clusters of candidates; members within a cluster are similar to each other and different from members of the other cluster. The clusters are Clinton/Kaine/Sanders and Trump/Pence.

There is no evidence in my analyses to support those who would draw sharp distinctions between Clinton and Sanders; there is much they agree on. Likewise, there is no strong evidence to view Tim Kaine as substantially different in his views from either Clinton or Sanders. But the three Democrats differ markedly from both the Republican candidates.

The details of my research are described after the break.

Does Hillary get it?

That's the question Robert Reich asks in his op-ed. He argues that the biggest divide in America is not right vs. left but establishment vs. anti-establishment.

I understand his reasoning, but have a different take on the divide. The question is not whether there is (to be) an establishment. There is always an "establishment" - even after revolutions. The source of the divide is how the present establishment is failing the (vanishing) middle class and the American workers. Clinton needs to fix the establishment.

Hillary Clinton doesn’t need to move toward the “middle.” In fact, such a move could hurt her if it’s perceived to be compromising the stances she took in the primaries in order to be more acceptable to Democratic movers and shakers.

She needs to move instead toward the anti-establishment – forcefully committing herself to getting big money out of politics, and making the system work for the many rather than a privileged few.

She must make clear Donald Trump’s authoritarian populism is a dangerous gambit, and the best way to end crony capitalism and make America work for the many is to strengthen American democracy.

With that I agree.

"There's a fascist to defeat"

Lawrence Lewis (Daily Kos) reminds us of the the most important battle in the next 100 days. It is not wallowing in some low level staffers' crappy emails. That they came on the eve of the DNC via Russia, that Trump is throwing NATO partners under the bus, are indicative of the problem the nation needs to solve. Defeat Trump. Focus, people, focus!

Why Trump will (and will not) win in November

Michael Moore lists five reasons he thinks Trump will win. J. W. Holland at goodmenproject.org counters with "five reasons Trump Won’t Win." Scriber adds a sixth reason to worry - coming from my worst nightmare: Berniecrats turned Burniecrats.

Bernie supporters are proof of the problem with revolutions - they can turn on their own. Elizabeth Warren got booed. Bernie himself got booed and (some of) his supporters apparently think that Donald Trump is a good idea. The NY Times reports.

As delegates streamed out, a handful of Mr. Sanders’s most dedicated supporters held up his signs and chanted, “Hey, hey, D.N.C., we won’t vote for Hillary.”

Chants of “Bernie beats Trump” and “hell no, D.N.C., we won’t vote for Hillary,” echoed through the surrounding parking lots.

“She’s crooked as all get out,” said Brianne Colling, of Canton, Mich. “All the proof that’s coming out is that she’s stolen this election from Bernie.”

There is no such proof. There is no connection between DNC staff emails (released by Russian hackers) and Clinton's vote count. All I can say to those Burniecrats is to quote Sara Silverman (from the Times' report):

"Can I just say to the Bernie-or-bust people,” she said, adopting their own nickname, “you are being ridiculous.”

Monday, July 25, 2016

Bernie says don't be suckers

Actually, the Daily Kos version is "Don't take the bait because Bernie isn't."

That's in reference to the leaked emails (assuming their veracity) that show shenanigans behind the DNC scenes in which staff was trying to tilt the nomination process away from Sanders. Come on. He already knew that and called for Wasserman Schultz's resignation months ago. (BTW: he got that too - a little late - but she is resigning. and Donna Brazile will be interim DNC chair.) In Scriber's opinion, and I am not alone, Clinton won the nomination in spite of all that noise, not because of it. But this is the digression that Bernie warns against.

The Daily Kos piece has links to clips of Bernie interviews.

The top item on progressive's agenda in the next 100 days MUST be to defeat Trump and Trumpism, and to elect as many progressives as possible, and that includes Clinton/Kaine. You cannot keep the Bernie movement alive if the levers of power reside with Trump. Vote Clinton/Kaine and then keep the pressure on. That's what Bernie will do.

UPDATE: The New York Times reports that those emails were obtained by Russian intelligence agencies during a year of hacked access to DNC computers. Other than connecting Trump's statements about NATO to Russian interests (snippet below), it's not clear where this one goes - yet.

On Sunday morning, the issue erupted, as Mrs. Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, argued on ABC’s “This Week” that the emails were leaked “by the Russians for the purpose of helping Donald Trump” citing “experts” but offering no other evidence. Mr. Mook also suggested that the Russians might have good reason to support Mr. Trump: The Republican nominee indicated in an interview with The New York Times last week that he might not back NATO nations if they came under attack from Russia — unless he was first convinced that the countries had made sufficient contributions to the Atlantic alliance.

Andy Borowitz: "Voters stunned and deeply bewildered" by Clinton's choice of VP

MIAMI (The Borowitz Report)—The involvement of a seemingly decent human being in the 2016 election campaign left American voters stunned and deeply bewildered on Saturday.

In interviews across the country, voters expressed reactions ranging from shock to total incomprehension at the campaign début of a man who, at first blush, exhibits none of the outward characteristics of a sociopath or clinical narcissist.

The man’s apparent humanity could spell trouble for his candidacy, as some voters questioned whether he has the capacity for unspeakable evil that is generally considered necessary to win higher office.

Read more reactions from the electorate in Andy's report in the New Yorker.

Remember: Satire is no stranger than reality. - Scriber.

A little tent stuffed with a big ego

AZBlueMeanie has the morning's toons.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The most important 100 days, part 2

When the DNC winds up in Philadelphia, we approach the 100 days remaining until the November general election. What happens in those 100 days will determine the fate of America. That's not hyperbole. Read on.

The Washington Post editorial board believes that, in The Post's View, "Donald Trump is a unique threat to American democracy." Their recounting of Trump's lies and unfounded rants, for example, disqualify him from the presidency. But the whole bundle of racism, dishonesty, and bullying, make Trump a hugely dangerous commander-in-chief. Here are snippets.

"A campaign of snarl and sneer, not substance"

DONALD J. TRUMP, until now a Republican problem, this week became a challenge the nation must confront and overcome. The real estate tycoon is uniquely unqualified to serve as president, in experience and temperament. He is mounting a campaign of snarl and sneer, not substance. To the extent he has views, they are wrong in their diagnosis of America’s problems and dangerous in their proposed solutions. Mr. Trump’s politics of denigration and division could strain the bonds that have held a diverse nation together. His contempt for constitutional norms might reveal the nation’s two-century-old experiment in checks and balances to be more fragile than we knew.

Any one of these characteristics would be disqualifying; together, they make Mr. Trump a peril. We recognize that this is not the usual moment to make such a statement. In an ordinary election year, we would acknowledge the Republican nominee, move on to the Democratic convention and spend the following months, like other voters, evaluating the candidates’ performance in debates, on the stump and in position papers. This year we will follow the campaign as always, offering honest views on all the candidates. But we cannot salute the Republican nominee or pretend that we might endorse him this fall. A Trump presidency would be dangerous for the nation and the world.

Why are we so sure? Start with experience. It has been 64 years since a major party nominated anyone for president who did not have electoral experience. That experiment turned out pretty well — but Mr. Trump, to put it mildly, is no Dwight David Eisenhower. Leading the Allied campaign to liberate Europe from the Nazis required strategic and political skills of the first order, and Eisenhower — though he liked to emphasize his common touch as he faced the intellectual Democrat Adlai Stevenson — was shrewd, diligent, humble and thoughtful.

In contrast, there is nothing on Mr. Trump’s résumé to suggest he could function successfully in Washington. He was staked in the family business by a well-to-do father and has pursued a career marked by some real estate successes, some failures and repeated episodes of saving his own hide while harming people who trusted him. Given his continuing refusal to release his tax returns, breaking with a long bipartisan tradition, it is only reasonable to assume there are aspects of his record even more discreditable than what we know.

The lack of experience might be overcome if Mr. Trump saw it as a handicap worth overcoming. But he displays no curiosity, reads no books and appears to believe he needs no advice. In fact, what makes Mr. Trump so unusual is his combination of extreme neediness and unbridled arrogance. He is desperate for affirmation but contemptuous of other views. He also is contemptuous of fact. Throughout the campaign, he has unspooled one lie after another — that Muslims in New Jersey celebrated after 9/11, that his tax-cut plan would not worsen the deficit, that he opposed the Iraq War before it started — and when confronted with contrary evidence, he simply repeats the lie. It is impossible to know whether he convinces himself of his own untruths or knows that he is wrong and does not care. It is also difficult to know which trait would be more frightening in a commander in chief.

Trump is "a threat to the Constitution"

You should read the rest of the Post's editorial.. It ends this way.

... The Republican Party has moved the lunatic fringe onto center stage, with discourse that renders impossible the kind of substantive debate upon which any civil democracy depends.

Most responsible Republican leaders know all this to be true; that is why Mr. Trump had to rely so heavily on testimonials by relatives and employees during this week’s Republican convention. With one exception (Bob Dole), the living Republican presidents and presidential nominees of the past three decades all stayed away. But most current officeholders, even those who declared Mr. Trump to be an unthinkable choice only months ago, have lost the courage to speak out.

The party’s failure of judgment leaves the nation’s future where it belongs, in the hands of voters. Many Americans do not like either candidate this year . We have criticized the presumptive Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, in the past and will do so again when warranted. But we do not believe that she (or the Libertarian and Green party candidates, for that matter) represents a threat to the Constitution. Mr. Trump is a unique and present danger.

AZBlueMeanie sums up:

Donald Trump is merely the manifestation of the disease. The disease is a Republican Party that has abandoned democracy and embraced ‘Trumpism,’ the new American fascism. This fascism long predates Trump himself, he is merely taking advantage of its existence in the Republican Party. This fascism has been nurtured and developed by the conservative media entertainment complex propaganda machine for several decades. It is the people behind this propaganda machine who pose the greatest threat to American democracy.

 

The most important 100 days

Tomorrow the Democratic National Convention (DNC) begins. When it ends, we will be approaching the 100-day mark for the November election. In American politics, there has never, never been a more crucial 100 days. This is not politics as usual. We have never, at least in modern times, been faced as we are now with such a stark choice between America the beautiful and America the ugly.

Last Thursday evening we were witness to a major political party nominating a candidate who demonstrated, in his own acceptance speech, why he should not hold any elected office let alone the position of President of the United States of America.

The simple fact of it is that Donald Trump should not be president of the United States. That is not because he is too conservative, as some Democrats would have it, or because he is not conservative enough, as many Republicans would have it. It’s because the presidency is a powerful job where mistakes can kill millions, and whoever holds it needs to take that power seriously and wield it responsibly. Trump has had ample opportunity to demonstrate his sense of seriousness and responsibility. He has failed.

It is said that the benefit of America’s long presidential campaigns is they offer the candidates time to show us who they really are. Trump has shown us who he really is. He is a person who should not be president. That he is being brought this close to the presidency — that he is one major mistake by Hillary Clinton away from winning it — should scare us all. It certainly scares me.

I submit that we should all be afraid, not because Donald Trump deals in fear, but because of what, under a Trump presidency, our America will become.

The above quotes are how Ezra Klein (vox.com) ends his recounting of Trump's deeply flawed personality using dozens of Trump quotes and news reports. Any one of the reported instances should cast suspicion on Trump's suitability for high office. Together, they provide the evidence of how completely, utterly unsuited the man is for the presidency. Consider Klein's piece required reading.

And that brings us back to the DNC. One slip, one minor snafu, or Berniecrats bolting, or a swift-boating campaign, and you get Trump - no good, just bad and ugly.

Fear is indeed a motivator. Use it to shape your actions during the most important 100 days.

h/t Paul McCreary

The Progressive Case For Tim Kaine As VP: "why this Bernie broad loves Tim Kaine"

Krystal Ball is a self-described "Bernie Broad." And, as a Virginian, she is an ardent supporter of Tim Kaine. Here are some of her reasons.

Like a lot of Virginians, I’ve had to chuckle a bit at the way Virginia Senator Tim Kaine has been portrayed since rising to the top of Secretary Clinton’s VP short list. Apparently, the gods of conventional wisdom have decided Kaine is a “boring,” “safe,” “centrist” pick whose “DINO” positions may make him anathema to the Sanders base. Oh really? Because I can assure you as a native Virginian, this caricature doesn’t at all fit the man I’ve watched over nearly 20 years. In fact, the consistent knock on him in every election in Virginia has been that he was too liberal! This was such an issue that when Kaine was elected Lieutenant Governor under Mark Warner in 2001, Warner used their first joint press conference to distance himself from the controversial, left-leaning Kaine. So before you allow the national media topline and Kaine’s status as a white Southern man to lull you into a quick judgment, here are a few things you should know about why this Bernie broad loves Tim Kaine.

... Here’s how his elections in Virginia typically go: the NRA gives him an F rating, fear mongers about how he’s going to take everyone’s guns, spends massively against him, and then Tim goes on to win anyway. Keep in mind, the NRA is literally headquartered in Virginia. If they are powerful anywhere they are powerful in the Old Dominion but that didn’t stop Kaine from signing an executive order following the Virginia Tech massacre to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill. It also didn’t stop him from pushing additional gun control measures as governor like eliminating the gun show loophole and it hasn’t stopped him as Senator from continuing to lead the charge for sensible rules like increased background checks. As someone who ran for Congress, in Virginia, I can tell you that perhaps the definition of political courage for a Southern Dem is willingness to buck the gun lobby. Tim Kaine has been unflinching.

Maybe though, Kaine was able to be bold on guns because he was right of center on everything else. Yeah, not so much. In Virginia, Kaine raised taxes, spearheaded efforts for universal pre-K, made Virginia the first Southern state to ban smoking in public places, and consistently opposed the death penalty. Let me repeat that last one. Tim Kaine consistently opposed the death penalty in a state that trails only Texas in number of executions. As governor, he bucked the prevailing law and order winds and vetoed eight different bills that would have expanded capital punishment. The issue was front and center in his gubernatorial race but he stuck to the Catholic values that have guided his life and never backed down.

Speaking of Catholic values, shouldn’t pro-choice progressives be terrified of Tim Kaine on the ticket? After all, he has said he is personally opposed to abortion. If you didn’t look any further, then a pro-choice feminist like myself might have cause for concern. Continue digging just one inch deeper though and you’ll find that Kaine has consistently supported Roe v Wade. In the Senate, he actually enjoys a 100 percent rating from Planned Parenthood. Based on Kaine’s record, it seems he would be entirely comfortable backing Hillary Clinton’s strongly pro-choice positions and in the unlikely event he would find himself President and making Supreme Court picks, there is every reason to expect Kaine would seek out Justices who would uphold Roe. He has been quite clear that while he may have his own personal objections to abortion, he has no interest in policing the lives of others. I, for what it’s worth, have no interest in policing the thoughts of others. Kaine doesn’t want to control my body and I don’t want to control his mind, so we’re all good there.

But, but, but Kaine is so boring! Surely he won’t bring the energy the ticket needs to win, right? If you think so, here’s something to consider: Tim Kaine has won every single election he’s ever run in. He’s won everything from Mayor of the majority African-American city of Richmond, to governor of a conservative Southern state. In fact, Kaine was a big part of turning Virginia into the state we see today which went twice for Obama and currently has a Democrat in every single statewide office. Bernie Sanders has himself said that we’ve got to do everything we can to defeat Donald Trump. Tim Kaine could be a real asset in that regard. Obviously, he’s from an important swing state but the way Kaine won in Virginia is important too. He precisely targeted and outperformed in the kind of suburban and exurban counties where Republican leaning voters may be feeling the most uncomfortable with the charlatan who has won the Republican presidential nomination.

Krystal Ball is a former MSNBC host and Democratic congressional candidate. h/t theone718 at Daily Kos

UPDATE:

David Steele - Retweeted Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake):

Trying to count the ways I hate @timkaine. Drawing a blank. Congrats to a good man and a good friend.

Friday, July 22, 2016

RNC retrospective, day by day and dog whistles by night

Joan Walsh (The Nation) picks it apart one day at a time.

Monday

Monday night was destroyed by the Melania Trump plagiarism scandal, which Trump’s campaign managed to drag out over three days before owning up to her borrowings from first lady Michelle Obama.

Tuesday

On Tuesday, Christie’s mock trial of Clinton was vicious and repellent, but of course played well in the room. Yet it didn’t make the 10 pm hour that network television planned to cover. Donald J. Trump Jr.’s decent speech did make it that night, but he was followed by a ’90s soap star turned avocado farmer. Why?

Wednesday

On Wednesday night, the last Trump rival standing, who hadn’t yet endorsed him, got the coveted network slot. But Senator Ted Cruz delivered a gutsy non-endorsement that enraged the Trump forces, showcased a divided party, and resulted in Cruz’s wife, Heidi, being escorted from the arena for her own safety. It also sucked the media attention away—once again—from vice-presidential nominee Mike Pence, who gave a charming, self-deprecating speech. Pence effectively vouched for Trump’s character to his far-right evangelical Christian constituency, while hiding his own cruel, retro beliefs about LGBT and women’s rights that have become Indiana law.

Thursday

Certainly things could not get worse ...

Thursday night was not much better. We got not one but two videos about Trump’s fabulous career in real estate, which may inspire voters that he can rebuild America—or remind them he’s a rich mogul who exists in another world from their own. ...

Members of his family starred in Kids Talk.

Daughter Ivanka gave one of the best speeches of the week, but she described a Trump unrecognizable to most people, even admirers. For instance, she said her father is committed to making sure women have equal pay and affordable childcare, terms I’ve rarely if ever heard cross his lips. (Think Progress provides more background here -- and see below.)


ThinkProgress reports an interaction showcasing Trump's shallowness on child care and equal pay.

At a recent event for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, a member of the women’s policy organization Make It Work asked him about his thoughts on child care.

“I love children,” he responded. After her follow up, he continued, “It’s a big subject darling.” He then pivoted to address the rest of the crowd, saying in a derisive tone, “She wants to know my thoughts on child care. Come on, we’ll talk for about 10 hours.”


And then the night was capped by Trump, rambling, dishonest, red-faced, screaming 76-minute rant. (See other posts today for more on his speech.) Joan Walsh summarizes.

... the question of the night is whether it will help Trump. He’s getting credit for responding, once, to chants of “Lock her up” by ad-libbing “Let’s defeat her in November.” Yet he did no such thing other times it was chanted, and he continued the crusade to define Clinton as a criminal, rather than a rival he disagrees with ideologically. We already knew this election was going to be an ugly fight for the state of the country’s soul. I don’t think Trump helped his chances much on Thursday night, but the fact that he has any chance at all is chilling.

'Twas a dark and scary night: "This concludes democracy."

The GOP presidential nominee's acceptance speech was a litany of fear and resentment, a dog whistle to disaffected white Americans.

Check out Bill Moyers' commentary on Trump's speech and the mob's response - after the break.

Trump's acceptance speech: Ends without means, back to being off-script, and more

Ends without means

Throughout the campaign, Trump has been short on details. Thursday night's speech was no exception. Here are examples from the advance copy of Trump's speech at Politico.com.

Trump: "While Hillary Clinton plans a massive tax increase, I have proposed the largest tax reduction of any candidate who has declared for the presidential race this year – Democrat or Republican. Middle-income Americans will experience profound relief, and taxes will be simplified for everyone ... Reducing taxes will cause new companies and new jobs to come roaring back into our country... ""

Scriber: How? All the Bush tax cuts did was make the rich richer and jack up the deficit. Trump's proposed tax cuts will do no differently. As Sen. Warren points out (below), Trump will be a million or so dollars richer under his plan.

Trump: "We will build the roads, highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, and the railways of tomorrow ... We will completely rebuild our depleted military..."

Scriber: I guess the money for all this will come from depleted revenue due to the tax cuts? This guy is blowing smoke.

Trump: "We will repeal and replace disastrous Obamacare. "

Scriber: Usual GOP talking point. Replace with what?

Trump channels the radical right

When he is not glossing over the means to his ends, he pushes a radical right-wing agenda.

Trump: "We will rescue kids from failing schools by helping their parents send them to a safe school of their choice."

Scriber: That's Orwellian for destruction of public education with a voucher system.

Trump: "At this moment, I would like to thank the evangelical community who have been so good to me and so supportive. You have so much to contribute to our politics, yet our laws prevent you from speaking your minds from your own pulpits. An amendment, pushed by Lyndon Johnson, many years ago, threatens religious institutions with a loss of their tax-exempt status if they openly advocate their political views. I am going to work very hard to repeal that language and protect free speech for all Americans."

Scriber: Translation: let's tear down anything that separates church and state. Jefferson this guy is not.

Steve Benen (MaddowBlog) has more on the "Johnson amendment" and what it does. It provides for tax exempt status for churches in return for churches staying non-partisan. And that includes not endorsing candidates from the pulpit. Benen concludes:

Trump is saying he wants to scrap the deal: the churches should get the benefit of a tax exemption from the government, without any of the conditions.

As for the First Amendment, note that tax-exempt entities, including churches, have the option of getting engaged in partisan politics, endorsing candidates, and intervening in campaigns to their hearts’ content – but they can’t do this while keeping their tax exemption.

Why does Trump want to change this? Basically because the religious right told him to. But why does the religious right want this? Because some on the right still dream of creating a church-based political machine.

The consequences could be dramatic. Imagine the campaign-finance mess that would exist if parties, candidates, and PACs could funnel campaign donations through tax-exempt churches, free of oversight.

My old friend (and former employer) the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church State, said this week the idea would be “short-sighted, reckless and corrosive to religious life.” He added, “The Republican platform seeks to turn America’s houses of worship into miniature political action committees. I can’t imagine a more disruptive idea for our nation’s religious community or a real impediment to campaign finance reform.”

Lies and more lies

The speech was peppered with distortions and out-and out lies. Here is an example from PoliticusUSA.com.

Trump Lie: While Hillary Clinton plans a massive tax increase, I have proposed the largest tax reduction of any candidate who has declared for the presidential race this year – Democrat or Republican. Middle-income Americans will experience profound relief, and taxes will be simplified for everyone.

Fact: Moody’s Analytics report: Donald Trump’s tax plan would mostly benefit those at the very top of the income distribution, and job losses resulting from his economic policies would most affect lower- and middle-income households. [Moody’s Analytics report, 6/20/16]

For a more complete analysis of the lies in the speech, see this transcript with embedded fact-checking results.

UPDATE: AZBlueMeanie has a comprehensive list of all the fact checking of Trump's speech done by media sources.

Dangerous Donald's additions to his speech

Now that the convention is over, the old Donald is springing forth with his old nuttiness. For just one example, reported by Steve Benen (MaddowBlog), the Donald is back on one of his earlier obsessions: Ted Cruz's father.

This is obviously speculative, but my suspicion is that Trump was so careful last night, adding very little to his prepared text, that it left him uncomfortable. The Republican nominee had so much craziness he was eager to add to his speech, but everyone told him to stick to the script, and he reluctantly agreed.

But now that the convention is over, Trump no longer feels constrained, and he can return to the craziness that he kept bottled up for one whole day.

What else could explain such nutty behavior?

Whether or not this explains this morning’s bizarre and unscripted performance, the fact that Trump is still eager to talk about Cruz – and Cruz’s father’s imaginary connection to the Kennedy assassination – suggests there may be something very wrong with the Republicans’ presidential nominee.

Having a president, or even just someone being considered for president, who has "something very wrong" is beyond scary. It is a, to copy one of Tom Clancy's titles, a clear and present danger. Elizabeth Warren knows that and calls out Trump as "dangerous" in this interview with Stephen Colbert (Facebook video).

 

George Lakoff on "Understanding Trump" - and how to win in November

Lakoff is a cognitive scientist and linguist who has been applying those disciplines to politics and politicians. Here her writes a very long piece (in commondreams.org) about (1) understanding Trump and his followers, (2) how Trump pushes (your) neurological buttons, and (3) how you can, how we must, use that knowledge to "avert a Trump presidency."

Lakoff's article is most definitely not a tweet or even a Facebook post. It is a serious and long scientific essay. You should read it. But knowing that your time is limited, I'll pass along the closing advice.

How Can Democrats Do Better?

First, don’t think of an elephant. Remember not to repeat false conservative claims and then rebut them with the facts. Instead, go positive. Give a positive truthful framing to undermine claims to the contrary. Use the facts to support positively-framed truth. Use repetition.

Second, start with values, not policies and facts and numbers. Say what you believe, but haven’t been saying. For example, progressive thought is built on empathy, on citizens caring about other citizens and working through our government to provide public resources for all, both businesses and individuals. Use history. That’s how America started. The public resources used by businesses were not only roads and bridges, but public education, a national bank, a patent office, courts for business cases, interstate commerce support, and of course the criminal justice system. From the beginning, the Private Depended on Public Resources, both private lives and private enterprise.

Over time those resources have included sewers, water and electricity, research universities and research support: computer science (via the NSF), the internet (ARPA), pharmaceuticals and modern medicine (the NIH), satellite communication (NASA and NOA), and GPS systems and cell phones (the Defense Department). Private enterprise and private life utterly depend on public resources. Have you ever said this? Elizabeth Warren has. Almost no other public figures. And stop defending “the government.” Talk about the public, the people, Americans, the American people, public servants, and good government. And take back freedom. Public resources provide for freedom in private enterprise and private life.

The conservatives are committed to privatizing just about everything and to eliminating funding for most public resources. The contribution of public resources to our freedoms cannot be overstated. Start saying it.

And don’t forget the police. Effective respectful policing is a public resource. Chief David O. Brown of the Dallas Police got it right. Training, community policing, knowing the people you protect. And don’t ask too much of the police: citizens have a responsibility to provide funding so that police don’t have to do jobs that should be done by others.

Unions need to go on the offensive. Unions are instruments of freedom — freedom from corporate servitude. Employers call themselves job creators. Working people are profit creators for the employers, and as such they deserve a fair share of the profits and respect and acknowledgement. Say it. Can the public create jobs. Of course. Fixing infrastructure will create jobs by providing more public resources that private lives and businesses depend on. Public resources to create more public resources. Freedom creates opportunity that creates more freedom.

Third, keep out of nasty exchanges and attacks. Keep out of shouting matches. One can speak powerfully without shouting. Obama sets the pace: Civility, values, positivity, good humor, and real empathy are powerful. Calmness and empathy in the face of fury are powerful. Bill Clinton won because he oozed empathy, with his voice, his eye contact, and his body. It wasn’t his superb ability as a policy wonk, but the empathy he projected and inspired.

Values come first, facts and policies follow in the service of values. They matter, but they always support values.

Give up identity politics. No more women’s issues, black issues, Latino issues. Their issues are all real, and need public discussion. But they all fall under freedom issues, human issues. And address poor whites! Appalachian and rust belt whites deserve your attention as much as anyone else. Don’t surrender their fate to Trump, who will just increase their suffering.

And remember JFK’s immortal, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” Empathy, devotion, love, pride in our country’s values, public resources to create freedoms. And adulthood.

Be prepared. You have to understand Trump to stand calmly up to him and those running with him all over the country.


George Lakoff is the author of The Little Blue Book: The Essential Guide to Thinking and Talking Democratic (co-authored with Elizabeth Wehling). His previous books include Moral Politics, Don't Think of an Elephant!, Whose Freedom? and Thinking Points (with the Rockridge Institute staff). He is Richard and Rhoda Goldman Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley, and a founding senior fellow at the Rockridge Institute.