Saturday, June 25, 2016

RUDY GIULIANI SHOULD BE KICKING HIMSELF

Republican voters really will believe anything if it's uttered by or on behalf of someone they think has the ability to kick liberal/immigrant/Muslim ass:
Donald Trump: Born-again Christian?

The presumptive Republican nominee captured a significant number of evangelical voters during the Republican primary, and that may be due to recently accepting “a relationship with Christ,” according to evangelical leader James Dobson.

... Dobson, a Christian psychologist and founder of the Focus on the Family group, said he knows “the person who led [Trump] to Christ. And that’s fairly recent.”

“I don’t know when it was, but it has not been long,” Dobson said in an interview with Pennsylvania megachurch pastor Michael Anthony following that meeting in New York. ”I believe he really made a commitment, but he’s a baby Christian.”
Yeah, and I am Marie of Roumania.

I'm sure I've said this before, but the guy who really underestimated the ability of Republicans to accept a completely phony conversion to religious right values is Rudy Giuliani. I still think he would have been the Republican nominee in 2008 if he'd announced, some time in 2006 or 2007, that he'd suddenly seen the light on abortion and gay rights, and now unswervingly opposed both. Look what's happened in the last two election cycles: The Republicans have nominated Mitt Romney, a moderate on social issues when he was governor of Massachusetts, and Trump, a libertine who was also not an opponent of abortion or gay rights until it became politically expedient.

Why didn't Giuliani flip-flop on these issues in '08? Was it integrity on his part? I doubt it -- I assume he just thought he was such an American hero after 9/11 that he could defy party dogma.

Romney, at least, seemed to be reverting to the tenets of his faith. Trump is transparently phony -- but because religious rightists think he can smite liberals, most of them doesn't care. Giuliani probably didn't think he could get away with fraud that flagrant. Now he knows that gulling voters in his party is ridiculously easy.

CONFESSING MY UNPOPULAR OPINION: I DON'T THINK THE SCOTLAND TRIP WILL HURT TRUMP POLITICALLY

There's near-universal agreement that Donald Trump made a fool of himself in Scotland yesterday:
TURNBERRY, Scotland -- Arriving here Friday for his first trip abroad as the likely Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump did not seem to understand the gravity of the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union.

As the value of the pound collapsed in the morning and stock markets around the globe plummeted, Trump attended a surreal ribbon-cutting at his luxury golf resort in this seacoast village and barely mentioned the global news until reporters pressed him to do so....

He landed by helicopter, sporting a white cap bearing his presidential campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.” The theme was tweaked on red caps worn by resort staffers: “Make Turnberry Great Again.” At a news conference later, Trump stood in front of a bagpiper and continued to speak after a prankster threw several dozen red golf balls bearing swastikas onto the grass.

As reporters pressed him on the referendum to leave the E.U. known as Brexit, Trump declared the vote “fantastic” and “great” because it reflected the anger of voters -- even though Scots voted overwhelmingly to remain....

“I think it’s a great thing that happened,” Trump told reporters shortly after his helicopter landed. “People are angry, all over the world. People, they’re angry.”
I don't think this will hurt him. Help him? No, it won't help him either -- but I think it's a wash. His poll numbers went down after he spent days attacking the judge in the Trump University case. I don't believe this will have a similar effect.

If you like Trump, or at least find him somewhat appealing, you probably liked this press conference. It was the distilled essence of his campaign message: I am a businessman who builds things. I think people are fed up with the status quo, which is about to change for the better.

I know, I know: The golf course he built is an abject failure:
Trump has ... reported to Scottish authorities that he lost millions of dollars on the project -- even as he claims on U.S. presidential disclosure forms that the course has been highly profitable.

Trump’s original plan: ... The project would pump millions of dollars into the local economy and create 6,000 jobs -- maybe even 7,000 jobs, Trump said at one news conference....

Today, the Trump International Golf Links near Aberdeen employs 150 people.... Lonely and desolate, the resort has attracted no major tournaments, and neighbors say the parking lot is rarely, if ever, full.
But Americans, or approximately half of them, love this sort of rah-rah business boosterism. They really believe that Trump is the greatest businessman in the country. They really believe he's as rich as he says he is. And they've been told for decades, going back at least to the Reagan era, that the cure for all economic ills is guys in expensive suits creating jobs out of the goodness of their hearts, because that's what capitalism is.

So Trump embodied that yesterday even as he embodied the other widespread view of business in America, namely that fat cats -- other fat cats, not Trump -- have made a mess of America and the world, primarily through globalism and lack of respect for white people. Oddly, an American building a golf course in Scotland isn't regarded as globalism by Trumpites, or maybe they see it as globalism going in the right direction, i.e., us doing stuff to them. (Scots are white too, but they're foreign.)

Trump was criticized for not making a statement reflecting the seriousness of the situation in Britain. But what he did instead was really hammer away at phrases that strike a nerve with his base:
People want to take their country back. They want to have independence, in a sense, and you see it with Europe, all over Europe. You're going to have more than just -- in my opinion, more than what happened last night, you're going to have, I think many other cases where they want to take their borders back. They want to take their monetary back.

They want to take a lot of things back. They want to be able to have a country again. So, I think you're going have this happen more and more. I really believe that, and I think it's happening in the United States....

But I really do see a parallel between what's happening in the United States and what's happening here. People want to see borders. They don't necessarily want people pouring into their country that they don't know who they are and where they come from. They have no idea.

... again, I think that's what's happening in the United States.... It's a really positive force taking place. They want to take their country back. The people want their country back. We don't want to lose our jobs, we don't want to lose our borders.

... You're taking your country back, you're going to let people that you want into your country, and people that you don't want, or people that you don't think are going to be appropriate for your country, or good for your country, you're not going to have to take.
Over and over and over again. I'm sorry, but that's all some voters want to hear. They don't want to hear a well-informed candidate make an unemotional statement of concern combined with reassurance. They think people who make statments like that in situations like this are the people who've ruined everything in the world.

I'm not saying that the people who responded well to Trump are a majority of American voters. I'm just saying that if you like the sort of thing Trump regularly does, then you probably liked what he did yesterday. If not, not.

Bonus: He was accused of being a Nazi. The fact that he's hated in that way is a mark of virtue for his fans.

Friday, June 24, 2016

SANDERS SORT OF ENDORSES/DOESN'T ENDORSE/SAYS HE MAYBE SORT OF ENDORSES CLINTON

Bernie Sanders endorsed Hillary Clinton this morning!
Asked on MSNBC's Morning Joe whether he will vote for Clinton in November, Sanders responded "Yes."

The Vermont senator, who has not yet formally ended his 2016 campaign, said that stopping Donald Trump from becoming president must be an overarching goal.

"I think the issue right here is I'm gonna do everything I can to defeat Donald Trump," he said.
Except he's not dropping out, even though he's promised to vote for his opponent:
But Sanders also dismissed the idea that he should withdraw from the Democratic race now that Clinton has secured the nomination.

"Why would I want to do that when I want to fight to make sure that we have the best platform that we possibly can, that we win the most delegates that we can?" he said.
And while he said definitively that he'd vote for Clinton, that's not an endorsement:
And in a later interview on CBS, Sanders declined to formally endorse Clinton, although he indicated that he "hopes" to before the convention.

"I haven't heard her say the things that need to be said," he said.
And on CNN, he said he isn't sure about his November vote after all:
Bernie Sanders said Friday he will likely vote for Hillary Clinton for president in November, the strongest expression of support yet from the Vermont senator, but he left the door open that he could change his mind.

"In all likelihood, it will be Hillary Clinton," Sanders told CNN's Chris Cuomo on "New Day."
In the most definitive statement, on Morning Joe, what strikes me is the limited list of issues on which Sanders seems to think Clinton is a clear choice over Trump:


We do not need a president whose cornerstone of his campaign is bigotry, is insulting Mexicans and Latinos and Muslims and women, who does not believe in the reality of climate change, when virtually every scientist who has studied this issue understands we have a global crisis. This is not somebody who should become president.
That's it? Nothing else immediately comes to Sanders's mind that's objectionable about Trump? The ignorance? The recklessness? The flirtation with white nationalism? The support for torture and other war crimes? The very Republican budget with massive tax breaks for the rich? And Trump isn't just insulting various groups, he's actively planning draconian measures to repress them. Everything Sanders says is worth saying, but he could say a hell of a lot more.

Throughout the morning, Trump Sanders emphasized key issues he wants to get into the Democratic platform:
Pressed by [CBS] anchor Charlie Rose on what he needs to hear [from Clinton], Sanders said he wants Clinton to call for public universities and colleges to be tuition-free and to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. These are two areas where Sanders and Clinton disagree, but only by degree.

Clinton is advocating "debt-free" public college, and she says she thinks the federal minimum-wage should be raised to $12 an hour while states and cities could raise it to $15 on their own, as some are already doing.
I think Sanders really believes that Trump is not that far from Clinton on these issues, or at least where Clinton would be if Sanders hadn't run. But:
Compare that to Trump, who believes the Department of Education, which gives federal aid, should be "largely eliminated"; privatizing student loans; incentivizing the kinds of college majors that are proven to make more money; and he has waffled on the minimum wage.

He had said in a November debate of the current $7.25 federal wage, "I hate to say it, but we have to leave it the way it is." Yet, last month, he said he was open to doing something about the wage because he's "very different from most Republicans." But it's unclear what Trump would do exactly. There is no policy position on his web site relating to education or the minimum wage in any way.
Trust me: A President Trump would sign whatever bill the Ryan/McConnell Congress places on his desk with regard to the federal minimum wage, even one that eliminates it altogether. I wish Sanders understood that. And if he does understand it, I wish he'd talk about it.

BREXIT VOTE: TRUMP WINS! SAY TRUMPITES

Britain has voted to leave the European Union, and American right-wing populists and Trumpites are acting as if they won:









The Trump tweet is particularly idiotic:



And Scotland wants the referendum in part because it wants to stay in the EU:
Scotland's government began moves Friday to hold a new referendum on independence from the U.K. after the "Brexit" vote, saying it faced being taken out of the European Union against its will.

First Minister and Scottish National Party (SNP) leader Nicola Sturgeon said officials would plan for a "highly likely" vote on separation from the rest of the U.K....

"We've got a united country in Scotland which wants to be part of Europe, and in the manifesto it said if Scotland was dragged out of Europe against the will of the Scottish people, then the Scottish Parliament should have the right to hold another independence referendum," said Sturgeon's predecessor, Alex Salmond.
I don't know how all this will affect the U.S. election. The average American is barely aware of what goes on overseas, unless there's a terrorist attack in a majority-white country, so this isn't visceral for most Americans. It's possible that whatever chaos ensues in the next few months is going to make more temperate American voters fearful of voting for a candidate who courts chaos here. But we'll see.



Thursday, June 23, 2016

WITH A TELEPROMPTER AND SOME HACK IDEOLOGUE SPEECHWRITERS, TRUMP COULD BE (MODERATELY) DANGEROUS

Donald Trump's speech yesterday got some good reviews. Slate's Michelle Goldberg wrote,
Donald Trump’s Wednesday morning speech about Hillary Clinton’s record is probably the most unnervingly effective one he has ever given. In a momentary display of discipline, he read from a teleprompter with virtually no ad-libbing, avoiding digs at Bill Clinton’s infidelity or conspiracy theories about Vince Foster’s suicide.... Trump spoke for 40 minutes without saying anything overtly sexist. Instead, he aimed straight at Clinton’s most-serious weaknesses, describing her as a venal tool of the establishment. “Hillary Clinton gave China millions of our best jobs and effectively let China completely rebuild itself,” he said. “In return, Hillary Clinton got rich!” He added, “She gets rich making you poor,” and called her possibly “the most corrupt person ever to seek the presidency.”

The point is not that this is true; as political analyst David Gergen said on CNN, the speech was slanderous. But the lies in the speech ... were not obviously self-refuting.
NPr's Mara Liasson had this to say:
Donald Trump did what Republicans have begged their presidential candidate to do for months -- lay out the case, from A to Z, against Hillary Clinton.

... the political significance of the speech is undeniable. After wasting the first six weeks of his time as the presumptive nominee of the GOP -- getting sidetracked almost daily by petty personal feuds and provocative statements -- Trump finally laid out a case against Clinton on foreign and domestic policy.

This speech should quiet some of the angst inside Republican circles about the quality of the campaign Trump is running (or not running). Opposition to the Clintons is one of the strongest strands in the GOP's DNA -- and now that decades-long animus seems to have found a focused champion in Donald Trump.
Josh Marshall's gloss on the speech was titled "For Trump, Almost Normal." Marshall thinks the prompter reined Trump in -- at least temporarily:
So what is it about this speech? The answer is pretty obvious: Trump was using a TelePrompTer, which is to say it wasn't him talking. In fact, pretty much all of Trumps TelePrompTer speeches have been this way. They're kind of plodding. They're clearly not him. But they're also not crazy, which given who we're talking about is not nothing. As I've argued, this is Trump's singular liability in this campaign. People think he's too erratic, crazy, belligerent, unhinged - pick your adjective - to be president. Relatedly, there are whole classes of citizens who think they're at best second class citizens in his eyes - women, Hispanics, blacks, basically anybody who's not a white man.
What has me mildly worried is the fact that the speech had zingers in it that were within the pale. The speech, although it had its share of slanderous lies, wasn't profoundly offensive -- yet it must have been a satisfying attack for Trump. If Trump can continue to find this sort of campaigning satisfying -- doling out scripted zingers that don't shock people but still sting -- he might abandon the all-id-all-the-time approach that put him on course to be the most hated presidential nominee ever.

Marshall has his doubts:
Personally, I think Trump has likely done himself too much damage to be able to overcome these [negative] impressions, which lets be clear, are entirely accurate impressions. Trump is a mercurial and emotional unstable racist and misogynist who is also a pathological liar.

... you have to wait 24 hours to have any idea how a Trump speech went. Why? Because once Trump is cut loose from the TelePrompTer ball and chain, he'll inevitably go on Hannity or O'Reilly and say something totally insane.

... Trump will always be Trump. I have no doubt he'll be back to being Trump very soon.
But maybe, if there's just enough invective in the prepared speeches, he'll abandon his free-form rants at rallies. Maybe his Lewandowski-less team will keep him off Twitter and limit his cable news phone-ins. He'll still be a racist know-nothing. But he'll be somewhat more dangerous as a candidate because he'll seem somewhat less dangerous as a potential president.

Meanwhile, Brian Beutler of The New Republic writes this about Hillary Clinton:
Clinton world is worried about Republicans dumping Donald Trump. Or perhaps that Trump will exit the race voluntarily before the GOP convention. In an otherwise straightforward article about Hillary Clinton’s running-mate selection process, Politico buries this fascinating lede.
The selection process, however, is colored by new uncertainty among Democratic donors and Clinton allies who are no longer convinced that Donald Trump is sure to be the GOP nominee. A big advantage of holding their convention second, Democrats said, was being able to make a final pick with full knowledge of the GOP ticket.
I read this to imply a couple things. First, Clinton will have an heir and a spare in mind: Her ideal running mate to announce should Trump officially secure the GOP nomination, and a more defensive pick should Republicans somehow deny it to him. Second, and relatedly, we’re unlikely to know who her running mate will be until late July.
A somewhat tamed, prompter-reading Trump probably won't have to worry about a challenge at the convention. So Trump may have found the formula that secures the nomination for him. Or maybe he'll cut loose again and the nomination will be at risk again.

The Politico story says that Virginia senator Tim Kaine is Clinton's top VP pick. Kaine boring and temperate and not a passionate progressive. Maybe that's what Clinton wants in a running mate most of all. Or maybe it's what she thinks matches up best against a ticket headed by Donald Trump. Against Trump, boring is good. If you're boring, maybe you look like the adult in the room when Trump is going off half-cocked. Maybe you look sane in a debate with a crazy Trump running mate -- Newt Gingrich, for instance.

So perhaps, as Beutler argues, Clinton would pick someone else if faced with a different opponent. But what if the ticket is a slightly tamed Trump plus a not-crazy-seeming running mate? (Though I don't know who fits that description -- Jeff Sessions?) Is Kaine the person Clinton would want? I don't know. But we'll see how this plays out.

EVEN WHEN DEMOCRATS SEEM TO BE ON OFFENSE, IT'S STILL 1972 (OR 1980, OR 2002) FOR THEM

I'm pleased to see Democrats going on offense on the subject of guns. Yes, I'm weighing the argument that the no-fly list is an error-ridden violation of civil liberties, and therefore it shouldn't be used as the basis for restrictions on gun ownership. In the Bush years, I wrote many posts about people (including Senator Ted Kennedy) who were erroneously placed on one list or another, though I saw the problem at the time as Bush administration incompetence. In fact, the incompetence seems to have decreased in the Obama years:
In one of the most recent internal reviews of the watch list system, the Justice Department inspector general found in a 2014 report that improvements in the F.B.I.’s watch list system had made it “more complete, accurate and current” after problems in getting people on and off the list.

Earlier reviews found that as many as 15 percent of suspects in active terrorism investigations were not on the F.B.I. watch list, and that other people were improperly kept on it even after investigations into their suspected terrorism ties were closed. Both these problems appeared to have been significantly reduced or eliminated by the time of the 2014 review.
But I get the due process argument. And yet it's good to see Democrats fighting back against the gun lobby and a gun culture that believes gun proliferation always make America better.

But it's sad that the principal demand of this sit-in is a vote on a bill linking gun violence to terrorism screening. A vote on a universal background check bill is a secondary consideration. A ban on assault weapons isn't being discussed.

The sit-in came the same day that Brent Scowcroft, former national security adviser to President George H.W. Bush, announced that he was endorsing Hillary Clinton. This endorsement was rolled out to coincide with a Donld Trump speech that harshly criticized Clinton's record on foreign policy.

Clinton wants swing voters to think, Oh, she must be a good choice -- Republican foreign policy gray eminences like her. Democrats in Congress want swing voters to think, Oh, the Democrats are right on guns -- they take terrorism seriously.

For Democrats, it's still 2002, the year of the Iraq War vote, or maybe 1980, the year Reagan was elected, or 1972, the year McGovern lost: The way you're supposed to show you can be trusted with political power, if you're a Democrat, is still by demonstrating that you think like a Republican, or at least that you think about issues traditionally linked to Republicans.

I know that Donald Trump has attacked Clinton from the left on a couple of foreign policy issues, particularly by dishonestly arguing that he was against the Iraq War from the beginning. But he gets away with that because hhe's said he wants to "bomb the shit out of" ISIS and because he wants to re-legalize torture.

And I know that Brent Scowcroft really did oppose the Iraq War before it started. But, still -- he's a Republican. That's why Clinton wanted his endorsement.

Democrats have been on defense on foreign policy for nearly 45 years. I don't think I'll live long enough to see that change.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

TRUMP SPEECH FACT-CHECK IN NEW YORK TIMES FAILS TO MENTION PAPER'S RELATIONSHIP WITH KEY TRUMP SOURCE

Five New York Times reporters collaborated on a summary and fact-check of the speech Donald Trump delivered today, which was a lengthy attack on Hillary Clinton. The fact-check included this bullet point:
• Peter Schweizer, the author of “Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich,” which Mr. Trump repeatedly referred to, is a well-known conservative author who is a senior editor-at-large at Breitbart News and is affiliated with the conservative Hoover Institution.
And?

Sorry, that's all we get regarding Schweizer and his book. There's no mention of the Times's deal to gain early access to material in the book, which the paper's Amy Chozick announced with great fanfare more than a year ago:
But “Clinton Cash” is potentially more unsettling, both because of its focused reporting and because major news organizations including The Times, The Washington Post and Fox News have exclusive agreements with the author to pursue the story lines found in the book.
I guess the Times is embarrassed to acknowledge that it aligned itself with an author whose work is now fodder for the campaign attacks of a bunco artist and conspiracy-monger. Maybe there'll be a tiny correction in the paper a few days from now.

NEW YORK TIMES POLITICAL REPORTER STILL SEES TRUMP AS REPUBLICAN DADDY

In The New York Times today, Trip Gabriel writes about possible demonstrations at the upcoming conventions and tells us that unrest at both gatherings could be excellent news for Donald Trump:
The potential impact on Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton as they formally enter the general election is asymmetrical.

In Cleveland, Mr. Trump -- who will be confronted by left-wing demonstrators, not fellow Republicans -- could potentially benefit from scenes of mayhem that allow him to call for law and order and project strength, as he did recently when opponents punched his supporters and burned their “Make America Great Again” hats in California. Street chaos, if it occurs, could overshadow disunion in the convention hall as an increasing array of party leaders nervously break ranks with Mr. Trump.

Democratic leaders are worried about emerging from their convention with an unmollified “Bernie or Bust” contingent whose protests could provide jarring split-screen images as the party seeks to rally around Mrs. Clinton.
Where to start with this?

First of all, I don't know why Gabriel assumes that all the unrest at the Republican convention will come from the left. A move to stop Trump at the convention seems to be gaining steam again, and let's not forget that Roger Stone was promising in a while back to lead "Stop the Steal" demonstrations if the convention threatened to be anything other than a Trump coronation. Stone also warned that he and his allies would reveal the hotel room numbers of stop-Trump delegates if Trump's nomination was in doubt.

But even if Gabriel is correct and all the unrest comes from the left, why would that "overshadow disunion in the convention hall"? That's not what happened to the Democrats in 1968. That year, America saw chaos outside the conventional hall and chaos inside, and the negative effect on perceptions of the Democrats was additive; the two didn't cancel each other out.

But what's most obnoxious about what Gabriel writes is the assertion that Trump could use demonstrations to "project strength" -- an option clearly not available to Hillary Clinton, in Gabriel's eyes.

I know that we all believe Republicans benefit from political unrest -- that's been the way of things at least since Nixon -- but it ought to be clear by now that Trump simply doesn't have it in him to shift into righteously-indignant-stern-father mode. He's not Nixon, he's not Reagan, he's not Giuliani. He's too adolescent (or maybe pre-adolescent). When there's unrest in his presence, he expresses glee -- he doesn't come off as Dad grabbing his belt so he can whup the perpetrators.

Remember, he didn't get a poll bounce from the Orlando massacre -- which isn't exactly comparable, but it did give him the opportunity to come off as the vengeful embodiment of morality. He just doesn't, except to his fans -- to the rest of America, he comes off as a giddy, insubordinate child. He seems to be part of the chaos, not the stern presence who's going to restore order.

Trump doesn't come off as a rule-enforcing Republican Dad. We need to stop assuming that old frame fits him.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

NO, THE BROOKLYN VOTER PURGE WAS NOT A CONSPIRACY TO DEFEAT BERNIE SANDERS (updated)

WNYC, New York City's NPR affiliate, has analyzed the voter purge that preceded the presidential primaries here and found that Hispanic voters were disproportionately targeted:
Ever since New York State’s presidential primary in April, officials from the city Board of Elections have been trying to explain what led to two illegal voter purges that removed more than 120,000 voters from the rolls.

Board officials have said repeatedly that the purges were a mistake. The two top clerks at the Brooklyn office have been suspended without pay since shortly after the primary. Executive Director Michael Ryan announced earlier this month that the board would return all the purged voters to the rolls in time for Tuesday's congressional primary.

... Under the state Freedom of Information Law, WNYC obtained the list of every voter the board says was removed from the books in a major purge over two days last summer. When mapped by election district, our analysis shows that Hispanic voters were disproportionately purged from the rolls when compared to all other groups....

The concentrations of purged voters generally align with election districts where the majority of the population is Hispanic, based on the population of individual blocks that make up each election district in the 2010 Census.

In fact, 13.9 percent of voters in Hispanic-majority election districts were purged, compared to 8.7 percent of voters in all other election districts. That means voters in Hispanic-majority election districts were removed at a rate about 60 percent greater than everyone else.
WNYC also analyzed the purge list by surname and found that the surnames with the highest purge rates were Santiago, Soto, Vega, Rivera, Colon, Torres, Ortiz, Perez, Ramos, Cruz, and Gonzalez. (See the complete list at the link.)

The purge absolutely was unlawful:
No voter should have been removed from the rolls before that voter was first designated “inactive” - a classification strictly delineated by election law. A voter is classified as inactive only if the post office returns the annual notice, and then the voter does not participate in two subsequent federal elections. The board is only supposed to send an intent to cancel notice to voters who are already on the inactive list. The Brooklyn staff skipped the inactive voter step when it conducted the 2015 purge, Ryan has said.
But while it's not clear why the purge happened, it's preposterous to suggest that it was part of a sinister conspiracy to deny Bernie Sanders a victory in New York State.

Here's one version of that conspiracy theory:
... New York’s flagship public radio station, WNYC, reported that tens of thousand of registered Democrats had been purged from the voter rolls. The New York State Attorney General opened an investigation into how that could have happened, and Diane Haslett-Rudiano, a Brooklyn county clerk working at the New York City Board of Elections, was soon suspended without pay.

Some Sanders supporters quickly noticed something suspicious about Diane Haslett-Rudiano. This was not the first time she had been in the New York City press. A few years before, a real estate deal had made her a multimillionaire, when she sold a severely dilapidated apartment building in Manhattan’s Upper West Side for $6.6 million, despite having only bought it for $5,000 in 1976.

Curiously, the buyer in that deal was Dana Lowey Luttway -- the daughter of Nita Lowey, Democratic Congresswoman for New York’s 17th District, a strong ally of Hillary Clinton -- and a superdelegate to the upcoming convention in Philadelphia.

All this begged a rather unsettling question: Was that real estate deal for 118 West 76th Street, giving a massive windfall in exchange for a property that was described at the time as “an ol’ bag of rats,” really just a front for a payment to a well-situated election official, who could, when the time was ripe, rig the election for Lowey’s ally Hillary Clinton?
But that makes sense only if you think that pro-Clinton conspirators would purge voters in a pro-Clinton voting bloc. Exit polls revealed that Clinton won Hispanic voters in New York State by 28 points.



Yes, there was a poll just prior to the New York primary showing that Hispanic voters were split nationwide between Clinton and Sanders:
A poll released Thursday shows Latino registered voters are relatively divided between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders as the New York primary looms.

Latinos voters were essentially divided 48 percent for Sanders and 47 percent for Clinton in the poll conducted March 30-April 3 by Public Religion Research Institute in partnership with The Atlantic.
But if you were going to carry out a sinister plot to purge voters in order to win an election, why would you purge them primarily from a voting bloc in which you were either leading or tied? Why not purge by age? (That exit poll says Sanders won 81% of 18-to-24-year-olds in the New York primary.) Why not purge voters in hipster neighborhoods? Why purge the Santiagos and the Colons?

Please, can we put this conspiracy theory to rest?

****

UPDATE, WEDNESDAY: WNYC posts a follow-up informing us that the purge affected almost exclusively voters over the age of 29. Here's part of a graphic at the link. On the left you see the percentage of Brooklyn voters who share each birth year. On the right you see the percentage in each birth year who were purged:



Go to the link to see the full chart. Voters of every age from 30 to 101 were more likely to be purged than voters under 30. (That's because voters 29 and under are much less likely to have gone from active to inactive over a period of years.)

If you were trying to screw Bernie Sanders out of a victory through skulduggery, this is the exact opposite of what you'd do.

THE ONLY THING MORE PATHETIC THAN THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN

The only thing more pathetic than the flat-broke, understaffed, internally squabbling Donald Trump campaign is the Republican Party, which theoretically still has an opportunity to dump him from the ticket, but won't, because anti-Trump forces will never agree on a replacement candidate, and party establishmentarians don't have the guts to stand up to Trumpite intimidation.

I understand that Ted Cruz has second-largest number of Republican delegates, and also loves infighting, which means that he'd put up a huge fight if a Dump Trump movement seemed inclined to go with any other substitute candidate. Well, fine -- in that case, the GOP should just suck it up and go with Cruz, even if much of the party hates him. He'll run on GOP issues, he'll do fundraising and campaign infrastructure building like a normal politician, and so it'll be a much more normal election. Yes, Trump will rant and rave, threaten to sue and threaten to run third party. But don't worry about the latter threat. If Trump doesn't have the infrastructure to run a fall campaign, why would he have the infrastructure to run ballot-access drives in dozens of states? He simply won't be able to do it.

And, no, he won't campaign for Hillary Clinton out of revenge -- he wouldn't embarrass himself by turning on a dime that way. And the worshipers from whom he's getting so much ego gratification now wouldn't follow him there.

As a Democrat, I'm happy knowing that the GOP probably can't get its act together to dump Trump and replace him with someone else. But the party should do it. You guys are crazy if you don't.

Monday, June 20, 2016

WILL BERNIE SANDERS BE #JUDAS SOON?

Here's a story from Massachusetts that I missed last week:
NORTHAMPTON -- Sen. Elizabeth Warren's endorsement of Hillary Clinton has sparked more backlash in Northampton -- this time in the form of roadside graffiti.

On Sunday, a small crowd of Bernie Sanders supporters dressed in black and demonstrated silently as Warren delivered a speech at the World War II club, in outrage over Warren's support for Clinton.

And now, graffiti reading "#JudasWarren Sellout" in large red letters marks a concrete structure on Route 5 just before the entrance to I-91.



The related tweets aren't subtle:




It's widely assumed that a Bernie Sanders endorsement of Clinton is inevitable, although it may take a while. But it seems to me that Sanders has to choose between endorsing Clinton and remaining the leader of his movement -- a significant percentage of his followers will simply declare him #JudasSanders immediately after he endorses, assuming he ever does.

That's one more reason I think he won't endorse, even if he mounts an anti-Trump campaign. I don't think the angriest Berners will accept even massive platform concessions as sufficient reason to make common cause with Clinton. Or it's possible that if he gets what he wants, even he'll start to feel that some of the purists are too pure, and he'll blow them off. We'll see.

COREY LEWANDOWSKI IS NOT GOING TO SCREW UP DONALD TRUMP'S NEXT EGO TRIP

I'm sure you already know this:
Donald J. Trump has fired his divisive campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski....

The loss of Mr. Lewandowski was intended as part of a larger shift toward the final sprint of the race, according to those briefed on the matter.

Mr. Trump had faced increasing concerns from allies and donors, as well as his children, about the next phase of the campaign....

The campaign manager was seen as having a hostile relationship with many members of the national press corps who cover Mr. Trump, and many officials at the Republican National Committee had strained relationships with him.
Charlie Pierce writes:
Somehow, I don't see Trump firing this guy because he was mean to the national press corps. I suspect some members of the extended Trump clan lined up against Lewandowski and that was the ballgame.
And that appears to be exactly what happened. NBC reports that Ivanka Trump has wanted Lewandowski out for some time, but only now has her father agreed:
Trump's children, especially Ivanka, have been unhappy with Lewandowski. She has been unnerved "for months," especially after Lewandowski was accused of physically assaulting female reporter, Michelle Fields. But Trump had remained loyal to his campaign manager.....

After Trump's drop in the polls, his children were able to make the case that Lewandowski was no longer fulfilling a need. Ivanka and his other children, Donald Jr. and Eric, attended the meeting Monday morning when Lewandowski was let go.
And according to CNN, there was one more issue:
Contributing to Ivanka Trump's recent dissatisfaction with Lewandowski were intensifying tensions between Lewandowski and Ivanka Trump's husband, Jared Kushner, an influential force behind the scenes. One source said rumors swirled that Lewandowski had attempted to plant negative stories in the press about Kushner -- a final straw for Ivanka Trump.
A threat to Kushner is also a threat to Donald Trump's next ego gratification scheme, if a story published last week by Vanity Fair is correct:
Trump is indeed considering creating his own media business, built on the audience that has supported him thus far in his bid to become the next president of the United States. According to several people briefed on the discussions, the presumptive Republican nominee is examining the opportunity presented by the “audience” currently supporting him. He has also discussed the possibility of launching a “mini-media conglomerate” outside of his existing TV-production business, Trump Productions LLC. He has, according to one of these people, enlisted the consultation of his daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who owns the The New York Observer. Trump’s rationale, according to this person, is that, “win or lose, we are onto something here. We’ve triggered a base of the population that hasn’t had a voice in a long time.” For his part, Kushner was heard at a New York dinner party saying that “the people here don’t understand what I’m seeing. You go to these arenas and people go crazy for him.” ...

Trump, this person close to the matter suggests, has become irked by his ability to create revenue for other media organizations without being able to take a cut himself. Such a situation “brings him to the conclusion that he has the business acumen and the ratings for his own network.” Trump has “gotten the bug,” according to this person. “So now he wants to figure out if he can monetize it.”

... “Even old Fox News didn’t have the right read on what the base is,” one person briefed on the conversation told me. “And we do.”
Trump may be trying to right the campaign ship, and he may be trying to please his children, especially his daughter. But everything with Trump is about Trump. One reason he loves Ivanka and Jared is that they're on board with his ego trip -- the current one and possibly the next one.

TRUMP VS. GOP AS JUDEAN PEOPLE'S FRONT VS. PEOPLE'S FRONT OF JUDEA

Thank you, Aimai, Tom, and Yastreblyansky, for doing some amazing work here after I had to leave on very short notice. I really appreciate it.

Right now, I'm looking at yet another effort to try to prevent Donald Trump from being the Republican presidential nominee. This one has no famous names (no Romney, no Kristol) and apparently no million-dollar consultants, so it doesn't seem like either an ego trip or a scam:
Supporters of a growing anti-Donald Trump movement announced plans Sunday to raise money for staff and a possible legal defense fund as they asked new recruits to help spread the word with less than a month until the Republican National Convention.

Having started with just a few dozen delegates, organizers also said Sunday that they now count several hundred delegates and alternates as part of their campaign....

The group is led by delegates seeking to block Trump at the GOP convention next month in Cleveland by changing party rules so that they can vote however they want -- instead of in line with the results of state caucuses and primaries. It is quickly emerging as the most organized effort to stop Trump....
This comes at a time when Trump's poll numbers vs. Hillary Clinton are plummeting:



There are many complaints that Trump has squandered the opportunity to turn his sights on Hillary Clinton in the weeks since he became the presumptive nominee. But Trump thinks he's doing the right thing -- outraging people, spouting off like a Free Republic thread in human form, garnering free media. So he doesn't really have a campaign infrastructure and he hasn't raised much money? Hey, that worked for him in the primaries!

But that's the problem for Trump: He can't figure out how to beat Clinton, but he doesn't understand that because it was relatively easy for him to beat the GOP establishment. And the campaign and movement he's built are still very effective at defeating, or at least intimidating, the GOP establishment. Let's go back to that article about the Republican delegate revolt:
Some [anti-Trump delegates] reached out on the condition of anonymity, saying that spouses are fearful of physical threats if they speak out publicly about their plans....

A delegate from Colorado supporting the campaign ... spoke by email and on the condition of anonymity because he said he's already being harassed by other Republicans and is concerned for his safety.
I'm not endorsing intimidation tactics, but if they're the Trumpites' best weapon, I can't help noticing that they're still being used only against fellow Republicans. As we pivot to the general election, you might imagine that there'd be attempts to intimidate Democrats and independents into supporting Trump -- that's what a truly determined fascist movement would do -- but as far as I know, no non-Republicans are being scared into posting Trump yard signs and enthusiastically attending Trump rallies. It seems as if Trumpite Republicans are just turning their rage on their own kind. The Judean People's Front hates the People's Front of Judea -- oh yeah, and the Romans, I guess.

I still think we shouldn't be complacent about Trump, given the fact that the public isn't wild about Hillary Clinton, either. But some of the excessive intramural anger I'm seeing on the Democratic side is surfacing again over in the GOP. I don't think that will dissipate until the convention is over -- if then.

And no, I don't think the #NeverTrumpers will beat Trump at the convention. They still don't have a candidate. The person who probably has the most anti-Trump delegates is the widely loathed Ted Cruz. Trump's going to win at the convention, I think, because there still isn't anyone else who can put together a winning campaign.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

I smell a rat. Do you smell a ship?

I didn't want to duplicate Tom's post on the Dowd column, but time and Twitter provided a couple of additional punch lines, so...
Does this Rattus rattus creeping down the guy rope have a hint of red hair? (Can't get a good credit for the image.)
So Dowd's reconsidering her relationship, or whatever it is, with the Trump:
HE won’t pivot. So I have to.
Time was, she was certain Trump wasn't the apotheosis of evil:
Having seen Donald Trump as a braggadocious but benign celebrity in New York for decades, I did not regard him as the apotheosis of evil.
That's right, benign. Now she's not so sure. Maybe he is the apotheosis of evil. We just don't know. Who can say? Maureen's never been wrong before.
I certainly never would have predicted that the Trump name would be uttered in the same breath as Hitler, Mussolini and scary menace, even on such pop culture staples as “The Bachelorette.”
The Bachelorette brouhaha also involved a sweet potato. And George Bush. Dan told Chad hanging out with him (Chad) would be dangerous for his (Dan's) reputation, in the same way as hanging out with Hitler, Mussolini, Trump, or Bush.

This is not stuff I'm familiar with, I got it from the Washington Post. Maureen didn't mention the Bush part. Chad has absolutely volunteered for Trump's vice presidential short list, but I don't know if Trump has responded.

Maureen was not discouraged when Trump "jumped into the race with an explosion of bigotry," because hey, "privately, he assured people that these were merely opening bids in the negotiation." He would presumably work his way down to paroxysms of bigotry, blasts or bursts, eventually nothing but the occasional pop or flare.

Incidentally I've always wondered about that aspect of Trump's Art of the Deal, the way he makes some outrageous proposal and then explains that it's just his opening bid. When he says he's going to slap China with a 45% tariff on whatever product it is, and the experts tell him that this would be a bad thing, and he tells them not to worry because that's merely his opening bid in the negotiation, does he or does he not realize that he is tipping off his whole strategy? Does he not know they have television in China, or people who know English? Now when President Trump tells China he's going to put the duties up to 45% they're going to laugh in his face. "No you are not, Chump Trump. You cannot bluff the Chinese people, who are up to your silly tricks. Sad!"

But then Maureen wasn't worried about that kind of thing. She couldn't help admiring how original and sharp he was on policy issues, and capable of coming up at least once in a while with a positive move:
He has made some fair points. A lot of our allies do take advantage of us. Our trade deals have left swaths of America devastated. And it was a positive move to propose a meeting with the N.R.A. on gun control for people on the terrorist watch list.
Well, he came up with one on Wednesday. And the racism had its good side, too, in the provision of teachable moments:
His obnoxious use of ethnicity only exposed the fact that Republicans had been using bigotry against minorities and gays to whip up voters for decades. 
I mean who wouldn't want to vote for somebody who exposed the Republican use of bigotry? You wouldn't? Just because he's a bigot himself? Isn't that kind of small-minded? I mean he's performing a valuable public service here.

Trump, the Lovable Scamp...Or NOT???

Maureen Dowd, today:
Having seen Donald Trump as a braggadocious but benign celebrity in New York for decades, I did not regard him as the apotheosis of evil.
Yes, he always seemed benign.
When an African American showed up to rent an apartment owned by a young real-estate scion named Donald Trump and his family, the building superintendent did what he claimed he’d been told to do. He allegedly attached a separate sheet of paper to the application, marked with the letter “C.”

“C” for “Colored.”

According to the Department of Justice, that was the crude code that ensured the rental would be denied.

Details of this secret system, as well as other practices that the Trump organization allegedly used to exclude black residents from its buildings in Brooklyn, Queens, and Norfolk, Virginia, in the 1970s, were recorded in a lawsuit brought by the DOJ against Trump and his father, Fred, in 1973 for alleged violations of the Fair Housing Act.

Totally benign.
Yusef Salaam was 15 years old when Donald Trump demanded his execution for a crime he did not commit.

Nearly three decades before the rambunctious billionaire began his run for president – before he called for a ban on Muslims entering the United States, for the expulsion of all undocumented migrants, before he branded Mexicans as “rapists” and was accused of mocking the disabled – Trump called for the reinstatement of the death penalty in New York following a horrific rape case in which five teenagers were wrongly convicted....

Michael Warren, the veteran New York civil rights lawyer who would later come to represent the Central Park Five, is certain that Trump’s advertisements played a role in securing conviction.

“He poisoned the minds of many people who lived in New York and who, rightfully, had a natural affinity for the victim,” said Warren. “Notwithstanding the jurors’ assertions that they could be fair and impartial, some of them or their families, who naturally have influence, had to be affected by the inflammatory rhetoric in the ads.”
Benign like you wouldn't believe.
During Donald Trump’s 1992 divorce proceedings, his wife provided a deposition that detailed an upsetting, ugly sexual assault.
We rejoin Dowd's column just in time for its shattering conclusion:
Now Trump’s own behavior is casting serious doubt on whether he’s qualified to be president.
In related news, Dowd is rethinking her initial positive impression of ISIS.