RNC Convention – Day One Live Blog

Ok final thought…As bizarre as that entire first night was, I still think that what happened before the prime time speeches was actualyl more important. First, Manafort picked a fight with the Republican Governor of Ohio. Then, the Chairman of the convention shut down a movement led by conservatives in Colorado, Utah, and Virginia to open a debate on the rules of the convention. Ohio, Colorado, Virginia, Utah – three of those are swing states that could determine the outcome of the election, and the fourth is one of the most die-hard Republican states in the union. If Trump is to have a shot at winning the general, he’ll need the grassroots activists in each of these states serving as foot soldiers in this campaign. Voter enthusiasm is a wildly overrated concept, but the importance of grassroots activist enthusiasm can’t be overstated. Picking a fight with the grassroots activists in four crucial states seems…well…not terribly helpful?

All for tonight….more tomorrow! 

11:23p OK so I was sitting here wondering why this speech from Ernst was scheduled for so late in the evening given that it’s filled with all of the best lines of attack on Hillary, and then it hit me: if Trump can’t stand Hillary’s yelling, then there’s no way Ernst  was going on while Trump was in the building. I don’t think that was an accident at all, no matter how much it will be portrayed that way.

11:17p I’m sorry but Sen. Ernst is so boring I couldn’t think of what to write. But then she said the three magic words about terrorism and I woke up! “Yes…boo!” Also….if you don’t like the way Hillary delivers speeches, how can you possibly like her?

11:00p “That’s right! Lock her up! Use hashtag #NeverHillary.”

10:59p Flynn is now blaming Obama for hiding the truth about bin Laden. Well, I suppose it is true that Obama hid bin Laden at the bottom of the ocean.

10:54p Gen Flynn says “War is about winning” and that we need to call failed tyrants by their names. He’s claiming a complete lack military preparedness, and yet he spent his whole life as an officer responsible for preparing the military to do battle. Uh…. Oh now we get to “Obama is to blame for ISISf” without any reference to Bush or the Iraq war. And the silence in the room is deafening.

10:50p Josh Marsahll on Rudy: “”It’s like Giuliani has spent the last fifteen years living together with 9/11 in a two bedroom apartment of his mind. It’s a dark picture.”

10:48p Wait no….the headliner wasn’t last! Hog castratin’ Sen Earnst yet to come.

10:42p And thus ends day one, I think. Huh. That was….weird? Careening from one out of context to the next, from happy to sad to scared to…good god that was strange. As one of my good friends said early on, “These are not my people.” That’s never been more clear to me than tonight.         

10:36p “You judge a society by how it treats its citizens.” Well, I mean yes, but…this is supposed to be a deep thought? Also, this speech is much funnier when you replace “this nation” and “this great nation” with “my boobies.” Yes, it’s childish, but try it. You won’t be able to stop laughing once you do.

10:32p Have you noticed that Melania does Blue Steel each time she pauses? Also, come to think of it, so does Trump!

10:29p She’s now assuring us that Trump loves his country and will never give us up or let us down. Sing it with me!

10:24p Well…here’s comes Melania. She’s going to squint at us now I’m sure. 

10:17p Trump will lead by leading! They’re coming to kill us!!! BE AFRAID!!!  There’s no more elections!!!! THIS IS IT!!!! DONALD TRUMP. IS THE AGENT OF CHANGE!!! IM WAVING MY ARMS WILDLY AND YELLInG AT YOU!!!! ALSO REAAAAAAGAAAAAAAN!!!!!!!! GREATNESSSSSSSSSSSS USAAAAAAAAAAAAA YEAAARGGGHHHHH!!!!!!!!

10:14p Wait…so Hillary is responsible for the chaos in Libya because we deposed that tyrant, but Republicans aren’t responsible for the chaos in Iraq because…what…because Obama? Do these people even think through what they are saying?

10:11p Rudy has said the margic words! Our enemies see us as weak because we won’t sue the right words? On a night of unhinged rants, this is something special.

10:03p Oh god…here comes Rudy. Be afraid! Which I swear I wrote before he started ranting about people being afraid. The endless desire of these people to live in glorious time amidst a glorious fight really never ceases to amaze me. And wow….I forgot how weird Rudy is. “One America! AMERICA!!! WHERE DID IT GO?!?! HOW DID IT FLOAT AWAY?!!?”

9:59p As bad as Tom Cotton is as a speaker, Jeff Sessons is worse. “These are extreme numbers.” Down with extreme numbers! And down with things that Obama and Clinton have never actualyl opposed!

9:53p Our enemies define the world in which we live? Our rules of engagement are ludicrous? Do these people realize we have no idea what they are talking about? Yes, unshackle our soldiers, unbind  them from the rule of law! Huh…apparently Trump isn’t opposed to fighting more and better wars?

9:48p It’s amazing that we’re nearly two hours in and the former Republican President Bush has not been mentioned once. VP Cheney just got his first shout out, but not Bush. These people act like the times before Obama were fantastic, but the times before Obama were the times of Bush. We all remember this, don’t we?

9:28p Republicans now cheering the idea of respecting and deferring to authority. What happened to the bloody tree of Liberty? Peaceful protest leads to anarchy? What happened to the love of the Bill of Rights? What happened to the love for the actual Tea Party?

9:24p “Blue Lives Matter in America.” Well yes, of course they do. No one denies this. In fact, as we all know, we value their lives so much that we make it almost impossible to prosecute them when they break the law. But good god, no…I don’t want to get into this fight, because this fight hurts my head. We can value both the lives of cops and of average citizens. All reasonable people know this, no matter their political party. So please just stop pretending like this is an either/or proposition. At the very least, please go back to All Lives Matter, k?

9:20p “Am I safer than I was 8 years ago,” they ask. Well…I don’t feel more unsafe than I did for years ago, but if I did, would I want Trump to be president? No. I suppose I’m not the audience for this question, but… Also, whomever this McCaul dude is, he’s an awful speaker.          

9:18p Hillary Clinton is +62 among Hispanics, but Trump is planning an outreach tour, so….no, that won’t change.

9:13p “Trump is sent from God.” Is the point of tonight to show people whose children were tragically killed? The theme of the night death?

9:09p Talking heads pointlessly blatering….here’s some video of the chaos that broke out over the rules fight earlier today. And here’s video of a former US Senator calling this fascism and complaining about brown shirts.

9:00p Thinking more….I think it was just stupidity. Why would he bigfoot this on Fox and not on CNN? That speech was perfectly designed to motivate the Fox audience and he bumped it from the air. I can’t even…

8:56p OK so…apparently Trump preempted not just the Benghazi film but also the super-emotional and storage speech by the grieving mother. This was either an admission that the speech was backfiring and thus a deliberate attempt to get it off the air, or it was even more clueless than I had thought. I’m guessing the former, but I wouldn’t bet against the later.

8:50p Props to Andrea Mitchell for pointing out that most of the controversy around Benghazi comes from the fact that it was a CIA Annex, and that the administration went out of its way at the request of the CIA to hide that fact. AS THEY SHOULD HAVE, BECAUSE IT WAS A SECRET CIA ANNEX IN THE MIDDLE OF A WAR ZONE. Everything that happened during the attack and since flows directly from that fact. Oh, and for the record, the Republican Committee investigating Benghazi found no evidence for any of these theories of stand-down orders. The committee tried for YEARS to connect Hillary to the events that night and they could not do it. Does anyone honestly believe that conservative Republicans in congress are hiding this evidence?

8:49p Don’t forget that Andrew Sullivan is back for the week and live blogging. That was always when he was at his best. Weirdly, I remembered that just after unknowingly making an identical point as him.

8:33p OK I’m not going to comment on the presentation of the grieving mother, other than to say that my best guess is that most people have no idea what she’s talking about, and that the claim that Hillary is personally responsible for the death will seem utterly bizarre to most. But leaving that aside…the RNC is currently showing its film on Benghazi, and not only is it not being covered on CNN or MSNBC, but Trump just preempted it’s airing on Fox by calling in to Bill O’Reilly’s and doing a phone interview. The presumptive nominee is preempting his own convention!

And finally, for the record: can you imagine what would’ve happened had a speaker at the Democratic convention said they hold Geroge Bush or Condi Rice personally responsible for the death of their son in Iraq? If a speaker had said that Condi should be in prison because of that death? Republicans would’ve rightly lost their minds.

8:27p I’m sure this Navy SEAL did something epic, but he’s coming across as somewhat unhinged.

8:00p OK let’s get at this

6:33p Some Politico headlines right now: Cuccinelli on rules rebuff: ‘This is disgusting’; Chaos erupts on GOP convention floor after voice vote shuts down Never Trump forces; Trump, Ohio GOP at war as Cleveland convention begins; Sen. Mike Lee: ‘We are now in uncharted territory‘; Anti-Trump delegate promises ‘more insurgency

6:05p The Colorado delegation is PISSED at what the RNC has done. Colorado is a very key state in the upcoming election, and the coverage of this within that state is going to be really interesting to watch. And good luck getting the party die-hards in the state to work for the campaign. Some of the North Dakota delegates who were previously all-in on Trump are now out. One of the members of his finance committee in ND has just resigned his position. “If they were going to lose, just let them lose and let off steam…these are volunteers, and they’ve been crushed.” Yikes!

The difficulty for the party here is that this movement isn’t really about Trump. The people that appear to be most angered here are some really die-hard, grassroots conservatives, the people the state parties rely on to raise money, knock on doors, make phone calls, hold rallies, and whatnot. They are the heart and soul of the party, and at least at this moment, even many of the ones who supported Trump are furious at the campaign’s attempts to centralize power. And they would be, right? The genuine conservatives in the party really do truly hate the consolidation of power, and they’ve been working for years, in some cases decades, to decentralize power inside their party. Many of them had hoped Trump would be a vehicle for that decentralization, but over the last few weeks they’ve begun to catch on to the fact that Trump has no interest in pushing their agenda. They had hoped to use convention rules to push forward their reform agenda today, but the RNC and the Trump campaign worked together to essentially ignore the rules and shut them down. If I had to guess, I’d say this has few serious short-term consequences at the convention but lots of serious long-term ones for the party. But we’ll see…

5:55p “It is a weird way to start the day, but it is very Trump-like.” Well, yes. People continue to be amazed by the fact that this election is close, but it’s not hard to understand once you accept the power of partisanship in American elections. People don’t change their minds. They never have. Elections have never been about persuasion. They’ve always and only been about turnout. I realize that this doesn’t fit with most of the narratives that you’ve been sold over the course of your lives, but I promise you, there’s a mountain of research that backs up my claims. Politics is based on tribes, not issues, so no, Trump’s craziness isn’t altering things much because there’s almost nothing that would alter things much. All that really matters is who turns out in November, and who turns out is driven by a combination of internal factors like GOTV campaigns and external factors like extreme economic shocks.

5:45p Here’s Bloomberg’s take on the floor fight: http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2016-07-18/republican-rules-panel-said-to-quash-anti-trump-effort. Again, not saying this will alter the outcome of either the convention or the election, rather recording what’s happening as it happens for those who care. This very rarely happens at conventions, so whether there are short-term, long-term, or non-term consequences for this, it’s worth noting in and of itself.

5:40p Kaisich is laughing off Manafort’s comments from this AM calling him an “embarrassment.” Manafort is obviously “moving forward,” since he like Trump never apologizes and never back peddles. Some say this makes them both “master persuaders,” but those are people who confuse bullshitters for persuaders.

5:26p The RNC has said it will NOT be releasing the names of the people who withdrew. Given that we already know the states that withdrew their support for the petition — Iowa, Minnesota, Maine, and DC — it won’t be long until we find out in each delegation handled this. And as you’d expect, so far this is the only thing anyone on either CNN or MSNBC is talking about. I don’t need to turn on Fox to know they aren’t talking about it.

5:08p Some details – the petitions from several states were withdrawn under the theory that some of the people who signed them didn’t understand what they were signing. Given that the petitions called for nothing more than an on-the-record vote, this seems….unlikely.

5:00p “This is not a sanctioned protest” are not words that should ever be uttered in America.

4:55 Trump’s surrogates just said this will all be good for ratings, and that its all just “disgruntled Romney-ites”. That’s…an odd defense…

4:45p Getting to this a bit late, but here we go…

The day started with a huge fight between the Trump campaign and the Governor of Ohio, John Kaisich. Manafort called him “an embarrassment” to the party, which is an odd thing to do given that he’s very popular in Ohio and that Republicans can’t win the White House without winning Ohio.

Then, a pretty big fight broke out over the convention rules. Two different movements had come together in advance of the convention – the Stop Trump people, led by US Senator Mike Lee of Utah, and the grassroots reform people, led by Virginia’s Ken Cuccinelli. I’ll post a review of the later when I have time to find one, but in the short-term let’s stick to the convention itself. Over the past few days this group had been gathering signatures to force a roll call vote on the convention rules, but after submitting the necessary signatures to the Chair, the Chair used some back-channel maneuvering to throw out some of the signatures and deny the vote. In reaction to this move: the floor erupted into a chaos of boos; the Colorado delegation walked out of the convention; a delegate from NH who once was a US Senator calls the move by the convention chair “fascism”; Ken Cuccinelli declared himself to be “furious,” said it was “cheating,” and compared it to not following the constitution.

Senator Mike Lee of Utah is now meeting with leaders of both movements to strategize their next move.  Honestly, I’ve no idea why they decided to take this hard line approach to dissent. Right now, there are very few people watching this convention, and if they’d gotten all of this relatively meaningless dissent out of the way today, it would never have been a story. And yes, it absolutely might yet still all go away. But it also might not, so stay tuned….

And FWIW: No, I don’t think this will lead to Trump not getting the nomination. But yes, this will be one of many things that shapes the narrative that comes out of the week. Because no, these people aren’t going away.

Noisy Polls Are To Be Expected

She’s up! She’s down! He’s closing! He’s fading.

Nate Cohn at the NYT does a truly fantastic job of laying out yet another reason why shifts in the polls don’t mean what people seem to think they mean. It’s all a function of normal distributions and bell curves, and in many ways it’s just like baseball, but with one HUGE exception: there’s only one game day in politics – Election Day – so polling streaks are entirely meaningless until and unless they represent a fundamental change in expected voter behavior. Nate explains:

If Mrs. Clinton leads by 4 points, you should expect polls that show her with a big lead or locked in a tight race, with others clustered around the average. That’s more or less what we saw this past week. It’s a lot like baseball. Even great baseball players go 0 for 4 in a game — or have rough stretches for weeks on end. On the other end might be a few multihit nights with extra-base hits, or a spectacular few weeks. Sometimes, these rough stretches or hot streaks really do indicate changes in the underlying ability of a player. More often, they are just part of the noise inevitable with small samples. Taking more polls is like watching more at-bats, and you need many if you want to be confident about whether a candidate is ahead or tied.

polls

 

 

A Note On Summer Polls [UPDATED]

There are all kinds of reasons to ignore the polls in the summer, but understanding the issues raised here will serve you well once we get into the fall.

If you’ve read the news over the last 48 hours, you’ve undoubtedly heard that the race has “tightened” and that Hillary’s “negatives” are rising. Most, but not all, of this is being driven by the results of Quinnipiac’s polls. It’s way too early for polls to mean anything of lasting importance. The only contest that matters is the one that happens on Election Day, so this contest isn’t like a regular season GSW game where the team can run up the score in the first three quarters and then coast at the end. Just as the Warrior’s ability to blow out Cleveland in the regular season meant nothing once they met in the NBA Finals, so too here.

That said, the movement in the polls does teach us something about polling itself, so it’s worth spending a moment or two looking at the polls driving this latest wave of otherwise pointless stories.

This early out, the pollsters can do nothing more than guess at what the eventual turnout will look like. The pollsters at Quinnipiac, to their credit, explicitly say as much in their own explanations of their latest results. As they explain, they used “guess work” to predict that white voters will account a much larger share of the vote in 2016 than they did in either 2012 or 2008, and more specifically that whites will turn out at levels we haven’t seen in decades WHEN MEASURED AS A PERCENTAGE OF THOSE WHO VOTE. And yes, that’s in all caps because it is an essential point to understand. They aren’t simply predicting a surge in white turnout; they are instead predicting a surge in white turnout that isn’t accompanied by a similar surge among non-whites. They are, in essence, predicting the Republicans will be much better at mobilizing their base than Democrats will be at doing the same AND that they will do so in ways that are unprecedented in our modern hyper-partisan era.

That might end up happening, but this far out there’s no reason whatsoever to think it will. If we were a few weeks from the election AND there was real evidence to suggest this would happen, then these findings would be meaningful. Not only is there no evidence yet that this will happen, this far out it’s not even yet possible for there to be reliable evidence suggesting this will happen. So when they say it is “guess work,” they REALLY mean it, which is why they and all other pollsters should be ignored until September.

But hey…since we’re guessing…I’ve made the prediction before and I stand by it: non-white participation as a percentage of the vote will hit roughly 1/3 of the voting population, up from the approximately 30% we hit in 2012. My best guess has been and will remain precisely the opposite of Q’s. I’m not going to change, but they might! Either way, we’ll have ourselves an answer on Election Day.

Much more here from Vox.com

UPDATE: Just in from Marist, polls that show a totally different race. Why? Haven’t seen the internals yet, but when they are available I bet they show a much less white electorate than Q is predicting. Elections in a partisan age are about turnout, not persuasion. One of the campaign’s is building a turnout machine, the other seems to want to rely totally on free media. Will be interesting to see how it all goes down…

Interesting Things I Read in the Last Few Days

The Trump meltdown (a.k.a. Pivot to center) continues apace. So many stories means so many bullets. Let’s do this!

Trump Campaign News

  • This might be the most Donald Trump story of all time. Remember when The Donald promised to save Ed McMahon’s House? “Like some of Trump’s other charitable pledges, this one generated an avalanche of publicity, only to mire in confusion and delay once the TV cameras moved on. Trump negotiated for months over the property without striking a deal, with McMahon and his family in limbo. Then another deep-pocketed investor stepped in and resolved McMahon’s predicament with no fanfare.” [Bloomberg]
  • I’m sure you’ve read about Stargate by now, but if not, here you go: First the Trump campaign tweeted an image of Hillary surrounded by money and a Star of David. Then they deleted it. Then they retweeted it with a circle instead of a star. Then they claimed the star was a sheriff’s star. Then they blamed Microsoft shapes. Then Trump went on the attack. Then David “KKK Grand Wizard” Duke announced that the original meaning of the image was unambiguous. And tonight? Tonight he claimed to be the victim of “racial profiling.” And all of it took place on the day that he could’ve and should’ve been attacking Hillary Clinton over the FBI’s findings about her email. Well done, Republicans! Well done.
  • And for the record, yes, Donald Trump has a long history tweeting things that come from the white supremacist subculture. And no, it doesn’t matter in the slightest if he is “a racist.” All that matters is that he is trafficking in language and images are racist. What’s in his heart is unknowable and irrelevant. [Kevin Drum and Josh Marshall]
  • But this is Trump, so that’s not the only insane thing he’s done in the last 48 hours. He’s also spent the last two days complementing Saddam Hussein, and then by extension, defending his defense of Hussein. “‘Saddam Hussein was a bad guy. Right? He was a bad guy, really bad guy,’ Trump offered as a disclaimer. ‘But you know what he did well? He killed terrorists. He did that so good. They didn’t read them the rights—they didn’t talk, they were a terrorist, it was over.'” Ah yes…wasn’t it wonderful how Saddam gassed the people he declared ‘terrorists’ for their opposition to his regime? And wasn’t it just fantastic how he did that without resorting to niceties like the rule of law or due process? If only America could do away with those ridiculous aspects of our constitution that are designed to protect our natural rights…if only we could be more like Saddam’s Iraq! You know, the one we invaded so that we could put an end to his rape rooms and execution chambers? Well done, Republicans. Well done!
  • “Trump wants to torture people. He wants to kill the relatives of terrorists. He doesn’t want to read people their rights before summarily executing them. These are the things he’s promising that he can do for us. There was a time not too long ago that these kinds of actions were considered so loathsome and beyond the pale that they were used as justifications for invading Iraq and toppling the Baath regime there, but now one of our major party presidential candidates is offering to behave the same way.” [Martin Longman, with all the hyperlinks necessary to justify each of those claims]
  • “Eric Trump reportedly called up The Washington Post on Wednesday to profanely rant at the reporter spearheading coverage of the charitable contributions made (or not made) by his father, Donald Trump. But the younger Trump didn’t offer any evidence of those donations. ‘I’m just saying, Jesus Christ, why is this guy trying to f—ing kill us?’ Trump allegedly told the Post’s David A. Fahrenthold.” [TPM]
  • But wait….there’s more! Trump also accused Clinton of bribing the Attorney General of the United States. “That’s bribery folks. Bribery!
  • Almost but not quite finally… Trump released his fundraising numbers for June. Well, sort of.. Not only were they significantly smaller than Clinton’s numbers, but… “”The way the release is written makes it difficult to determine precisely how much Trump raised and for which committees and during which time period,” Rick Hasen, an election law expert and professor at the University of California at Irvine School of Law, told TPM. “So, we’ll have to wait for the official FEC report before we know for sure what the money figures actually look like.” Remember, the FEC report with the actual numbers will drop right smack in the middle of Trump’s convention. That should be fun!
  • We have the list of the state’s Trump plans to target this fall: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin. The fact that they are publicly announcing the need to defend Arizona and Georgia while ignoring the parts of the Rust Belt that The Donald had promised to flip tells you everything you need to know about the.coming campaign. [Wall Street Journal]
  • And last but certainly not least…oes this sound familiar? “Anti-Donald Trump Forces See Convention Coup as Within Reach

Clinton Campaign News

  • This may be the best single-paragraph description I’ve ever read of the Clintons: “One way to read this is that Obama is unusually clean and the Clintons usually sketchy in their dealings. Another is that the Clintons were targets of an unusually intense smear campaign. The reality is a mix: The Clintons really were unfairly targeted in the early 1990s, but the experience has left them sufficiently jaded and paranoid that they think their own conduct is irrelevant to whether they’ll be targeted. That leads to carelessness, which in turn leads to more scandals, and on and on the cycle goes.” [Vox.com]
  • And this may be the best answer yet that the Clinton Campaign has had to Trump’s faux-populism: “He intentionally ran up huge amounts of debt on his companies — hundreds of millions of dollars — he borrowed at high interest rates, he defaulted on those loans, didn’t pay them back, and in the end he declared bankruptcy four times.” And remember, he has bragged about how he will do for us what he has done for himself! [Matt Yglesias – much more from the speech here via TPM]
  • As you read this article on Republican plans to spin up yet more investigations of the Clintons, remember: their attack on Bill in the 1990s made him more popular, not less, eventually leading to a historic victory in the midterms of his second administration. I know they think they just haven’t been able to present their case appropriately, but c’mon guys…you’ve been at this for A QUARTER CENTURY now. The problem isn’t that you haven’t presented your case; it’s that you have and it’s incredibly lame. We hear you. We see you. We didn’t like what you were doing then, and we don’t like it now! The problem isn’t us; it’s you! [TPM]
  • “Hillary Clinton just made her college affordability plan a whole lot bolder. She announced Wednesday that she will call for college tuition at public universities to be free for families making less than $125,000 per year — a dramatic departure from President Obama’s higher education policy that shows the impact Bernie Sanders’s candidacy has already had on the Democratic Party.” [Vox.com]
  • Paul Ryan wants to deny classified briefings to Clinton during the campaign, but he’s apparently fine with Trump getting them. Uh…good luck with that argument guys?
  • Bernie Sanders plans to endorse Hillary Clinton before the convention. Because of course he will. This was always obviously going to happen, and you should henceforth take with a grain of salt anything said by anyone who ever claimed otherwise.

Email and Drones in the News for $1000 Alex

  • The FBI Director announced what everyone who understood the facts of the case already knew: Although Clinton had done something painfully stupid, what she did was so obviously not illegal that “no reasonable prosecutor” would bring an indictment against her. I’m honestly so sick of this story that I don’t have the patience to write at length about it. But in a nutshell: under the current classification system, it is a violation of security protocols for people inside the government to discuss the nation’s drone program even when that discussion is directly connected to news accounts of the program. So, for example, if the NYT publishes a story about it and the Secretary of State send a link to it in an email, THAT is a violation of the rules. This is so self-evidently stupid that I’e been opposed to it since I first learned of it when Bush was in office, and I said then what I say now – violating this rule says nothing about the person violating it and everything about the growth of the national security state, and I don’t care one whit that Condi Rice or Hillar Clinton violated it. But because no one actually cares about the actual issues involved here, and because everyone already thinks they know the facts of the case, no one seems to pay any attention to this. But since you are reading this, you likely are not one of those people, and in that case: here are the facts of the case, and I promise you, they are not what you think they are.
  • Here, for the record, is the key segment from Director Comey’s press conference: “Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case…In looking back at our investigations into mishandling or removal of classified information, we cannot find a case that would support bringing criminal charges on these facts. All the cases prosecuted involved some combination of: clearly intentional and willful mishandling of classified information; or vast quantities of materials exposed in such a way as to support an inference of intentional misconduct; or indications of disloyalty to the United States; or efforts to obstruct justice. We do not see those things here.” [FBI.gov]
  • My man Josh Marshall gets it: “The nonsense about this being an epic crime has mainly overwhelmed the simple facts of what happened which show Clinton in a very poor light. Not a disqualifying light. But just really bad judgment on a few fronts. All this said, this was 99.9% predictable and 100% obvious. It’s a mammoth press failure that for various reasons this reality was concealed from the public.” [TPM]
  • No, what General Petraeus did was not similar to what Hillary Clinton did. He knowingly and willfully provided classified documents to his mistress, and then tried to cover up his actions by lying to the FBI. So please just stop. [Bloomberg]
  • From one of the only political scientists I still regularly read: “we found little evidence that United States attorneys or the career prosecutors whom they supervise target opposition party defendants with weaker cases — no measurable difference was observed in conviction rates between parties. In fact, prosecutors seem to treat members of the president’s party more harshly in resolving cases, perhaps to avoid the appearance of favoritism in plea deals that typically involve recommendations for sentence reductions.” [Brendan Nyhan]
  • “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…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.” That, in a nutshell, is how well more than 1/3 of your friends and neighbors see the “scandals” surrounding the Clintons. Even if some of them have merit, the manner in which Republicans pursue them is to us worse than the “Scandals” themselves. You don’t need to agree with us, but if you want to understand us, you really do need to understand this. [Kevin Drum]

Fox News’ Roger Ailes Sued For Sexual Harrassment By Gretchen Carlson

  • Not that long ago she was one of the top anchors on the network. Now she’s suing Ailes for sexual harrassment, and boy does she have some disgusting and quite specific allegations to make. Read them in full if you like.
  • “In the hours since the lawsuit was announced, “at least ten” other women have contacted the law firm, wanting to speak about Ailes’ treatment, according to a spokesman for the firm.” [CNN]
  • Dear old white dudes: the world has changed, and you need to just stop. It doesn’t matter if you don’t like the way things are now: reality is what it is and it ain’t going back. That is all.

Random Thoughts on American Politics

  • “Trump supporters were more likely to describe blacks negatively, relative to whites, when compared with people who backed fellow Republicans Ted Cruz and John Kasich or Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.” Sanders supporters, meanwhile, are the least likely to express racist views among all of the groups of supporters this election. [Reuters]
  • “we’re seeing white flight from the Republican Party. Of course, I should probably add that ANY flight from the GOP would be white, because that’s the demographic they have appealed to since the 1960’s. The folks at Bloomberg credit this flight of white college-educated voters to the candidacy of Donald Trump. But as a lot of us have been pointing out, his rise can only be understood by examining what Republicans have been up to since the Bush/Cheney era (or perhaps before that). So it might be helpful to take a more historical look at what brought us to this place.” [Political Animal]
  • “One could make the case that Clinton compromised more than necessary, or that he accomplished too little (those accomplishments include the Family and Medical Leave Act, a more generous Earned-Income Tax Credit and a higher top tax rate, and an economic boom that yielded across-the-board wage gains). The point is that Clinton made those compromises in the face of real pressure. That African-Americans remained his most loyal constituency throughout his presidency attests to Clinton’s success in maintaining his party’s trans-racial appeal even as he reassured dubious whites.” [New Republic]
  • “But politics in a democracy is inherently a team sport, and parties are the most important of the teams in the game. Team sports never offer the option of playing alongside only people you like. To effect sustained political change, you have to build broad coalitions. Broadening the coalition does not imply unwavering loyalism to every bad party decision…a party is more than its presidential nominee, more even than its organization and its organizational leadership. It’s a vast national network of men and women inspired by a shared ideal and impelled by common interests. Those networks are not easily built, and they are even less easily replaced. And if they are replaced, any new network would soon become as messy and inconsistent as the previous, because that’s the nature of political networks in a vast, complex, continent-spanning society.” Good god I find myself agreeing with David ‘Axis of Evil’ Frum. Then again, one of the reasons he was such an effective political operative is because he understood on a deep level just how and why American politics works as it does.
  • “Guess what? The Pentagon is still lying about how effective our anti-missile defenses are.” [Kevin Drum]

BREXIT News

  • “The answer to the disruptions of globalization is a strengthening of the social welfare state and a return to classic Keynesian principles, which the president evoked by quoting the Canadian-American liberal economist John Kenneth Galbraith: So we need growth that is broad and that lifts everybody up, including tax policies that do right by working families, and robust safety nets for those who fall on hard times. As John Kenneth Galbraith once said: The “common denominator of progress” is our people. It’s not numbers. It’s not abstractions. It’s how are our people doing.” [New Republic]
  • Nigel Farage, Key Architect Of Brexit, Steps Down As Head Of Far-Right UKIP. When all of the supposed winners in a conflict are running from the field, you have to ask yourself…did they really win? Oh, and Farage, for his part, is apparently outraged that foreign nationals might not get to stay in the UK if BREXIT happens. Because of course he didn’t think it would apply to people like him, right? Only those “other people” would be asked to leave, yeah?
  • In a move that will surprise absolutely no one, the Tories have announced that they will move to slash corporate taxes to the lowest of any major economy as a response to the crisis that the BREXIT vote has caused. [Financial Times]
  • “there is no possible resolution to the Article 50 negotiations that pleases British voters and the other 27 European countries — without tanking the UK economy.” [Vox.com]
  • “This current divide must be especially sad for the Tories. The idea that Europe, the place where they buy their cheese, the place where they took their first five mistresses on minibreaks, the place where they cried at Hitler’s bunker, this collection of potential second homes, this was the place that tore them apart. And so we have a Conservative leadership election, a sort of X Factor for choosing the antichrist. Already, the cast looks like the episode of Come Dine With Me they show in hell before Top Gear comes on.” [The Guardian]

Random Bits and Bobs

  • “It was my first time in Scotland. Insurance people completely forbid drinking on set, but try that up there and you’ll get shot. I’m not saying Scottish people drink all the time, but if they drink, they drink. It’s not a sip of wine, it’s a quarter of a bottle of scotch. There were 1,000 extras for the battle scenes and they went at it for real. After each shot, the cries went up: “Doctor!” “Nurse!”” [How We Made Highlander – The Guardian]
  • Why is ISIS turning to global terrorism? Because it’s losing: “The key takeaway here, then, should not be that these attacks show ISIS is a growing threat. Selling the past week of attacks as a sign of reach and strength, rather than weakness and decline, is handing ISIS the narrative it wants. This perspective doesn’t make last week’s attacks any less of a tragedy. But being clear about the sources of ISIS’s turn to terrorism helps us limit its ability to profit from the murder of innocents.” [Vox.com]
  • “Built by Christians who believe the Earth is 6,000 years old, a 510-foot-long, $100 million “replica” of Noah’s Ark is set to open in a new Kentucky theme park later this week. “I believe this is going to be one of the greatest Christian outreaches of this era in history,” said Ham during the ceremony. “People are going to come from all over the world.” [io9.com]
  • “A woman accused of taking part in a 14-hour group beating that killed one of her half brothers and injured another during a church counseling session was convicted on Tuesday of manslaughter and assault but was acquitted of murder.” [AP]

There. Now you’re caught up!