Lazy Saturday Reads: Clinton-Kaine vs. Trump-Putin

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Good Morning!!

I woke up this morning feeling very good about the Democratic ticket. I know I have been saying Tim Kaine is boring; but now I that know more about him I realize I was wrong. He’s not a screamer, and he won’t get the Bernie-or-busters excited, but there aren’t that many of those selfish jerks and they aren’t going to vote for Hillary anyway. But Kaine is a lot more interesting than I originally thought.

Here’s Hillary herself on why she chose him (from campaign email):

Tim is a lifelong fighter for progressive causes and one of the most qualified vice presidential candidates in our nation’s history.

But his credentials alone aren’t why I asked him to run alongside me.

Like me, Tim grew up in the Midwest. During law school, he too took an unconventional path — he took time off and went to Honduras to work with missionaries, practicing both his faith and his Spanish.

When he returned to the states and graduated from Harvard Law, he could have done anything. But instead of going to some big corporate firm, he chose to fight housing discrimination as a civil rights lawyer in Richmond. He and his wife joined a church, built a home centered around their faith, and raised three beautiful children. Then, after 17 years of practicing law, Tim ran for city council — and won.

Tim says his experience on city council taught him everything he knows about politics. To the people in Richmond, an underfunded school wasn’t a Democratic or Republican problem. It was simply a problem that needed fixing, and his constituents were counting on him to solve it. So Tim would do it. He’d roll up his sleeves and get the job done, no matter what.

He’s a man of relentless optimism who believes no problem is unsolvable if you’re willing to put in the work. That commitment to delivering results has stayed with him throughout his decades-long career as a public servant. So I could give you a laundry list of things he went on to accomplish — as mayor of Richmond, governor of Virginia, and in the United States Senate.

But this is what’s important: Tim has never taken a job for the glory or the title. He’s the same person whether the cameras are on or off. He’s sincerely motivated by the belief that you can make a difference in people’s lives through public service.

 

Emily Kadei at Newsweek (July 15, 2016) says Tim Kaine is not a “boring” choice.

Personable but unassuming, he’s not the type who, like Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, will engage in Twitter wars with Trump. In Virginia, he built a reputation as a consensus-builder, not a bold thinker, while governing as a Democrat in a traditionally conservative state. Dig beneath the surface, however, and another picture starts to emerge, one that’s a lot more colorful than the vanilla first impression. It turns out that this career politician actually has a pretty radical streak running through him: a fierce, Jesuit-inspired commitment to social justice and racial equality that was very much at odds with the consensus in his Southern state at the time he was building his career.

Kaine declined to be interviewed for this article, but in the past he has credited his deep Catholic faith and a life-changing year as a missionary in poverty-stricken Central America for his foray into public service and politics. Speaking to Charlie Rose in 2008, Kaine said the year he took off during law school to volunteer with Jesuit missionaries in rural Honduras “really reenergized my faith, it gave me a role model…it gave me a sense of mission generally and specifically and it taught me a lot about our country.”

He harkens back to the experience regularly, including on Thursday. Speaking at a community college in Northern Virginia with Clinton looking on, Kaine recounted, “When I lived in Honduras, the best compliment you could make to someone…was to say that they were ‘listo,’ to say that they were ready”—a reference to the Clinton campaign slogan “Ready for Hillary.” Showing off his fluent Spanish, he explained, “What ready means is more than just on time, it means well-prepared, it means they’re ready to get on the ballot!” The crowd roared.

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Kaine spent 17 years as a civil rights lawyer in Richmond, VA.

Kaine’s time in Honduras also pointed the way toward the civil rights work he did in Richmond. It was there that he read the famous Martin Luther King Jr. line: “the most segregated hour of the week is 11 o’clock Sunday morning.”

“When I read that, you know, my experience growing up in a very white suburb of Kansas City, and not really knowing many people different from me, boy the scales really fell from my eyes,” he recounted to Rose. “I just decided whatever I did I was always going to try to make racial reconciliation a core of what I did.”

Kaine’s wife Anne is also a fighter for social justice.

Her father, former Virginia Governor Linwood Holton, made national headlines in 1970 by sending his daughters to a predominantly black school as part of a push to desegregate Richmond’s public education system.

Tim and Anne embraced a similar ethos in the life they built together in Richmond. They joined St. Elizabeth, a Catholic church in the low-income Highland Park neighborhood, at a time when few white people were part of the parish. Even now, the neighborhood is “mostly black folks,” says Rev. James Arsenault, St. Elizabeth’s pastor. The Kaines play an active role in the church, with Tim even being known to sing with the gospel choir from time to time. “I know they’ve been godparents for some kids from the parish and go to graduations and wedding anniversaries,” Father Arsenault says. “They’re friends, people call them Tim and Anne.”

After reading that, I can understand why Hillary chose him. His social justice Catholicism is a very good match for her social justice Methodism.

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The USA Today Editorial Board: Tim Kaine is the right pick for veep: Our view.

Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine is not Mr. Excitement, as he’d be the first to say, but he is the smartest vice presidential pick Hillary Clinton could have made.

Kaine is not going to fire up the Bernie-or-bust crowd and he is, there’s no way to avoid noticing, a middle-aged white guy  (58, to be exact). But he does have the virtue of checking every other box on Clinton’s wish list – starting with the confidence that, as she put it in an interview with Charlie Rose, her running mate “could literally get up one day and be the president of the United States.”

She called that her top priority. It is ours as well.

If resume is destiny, Kaine was inevitable. He is a former city council member, mayor, lieutenant governor and governor who has become a student of war and foreign policy in the Senate. As governor he even had to prove himself in the tragic role presidents must play all too often, as consoler in chief after a mass shooting (the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre that left 32 people dead).

Kaine’s political credentials are also unmatched. A former national party chairman and a former Catholic missionary to Honduras, he has never lost an election and has asolid approval rating in his state. He may not be Hispanic, but he speaks fluent Spanish. He comes from an important swing state with 13 electoral votes – more than twice as many as Iowa (home of another finalist, Agriculture secretary and former governor Tom Vilsack). And, key to Democratic dreams of a Senate majority, Kaine’s successor will be named by a Democrat — Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

Frankly, Hillary is not going to need her VP to be an attack dog against Trump and the Republicans. She will have Barack Obama, Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, and yes, Bernie Sanders to fill that role. Kaine is said to be very loyal and self-effacing; he will not overshadow her, and that is very important for the first woman to run for POTUS on a major party ticket.

Hillary and Tim’s optimism and competence will be a welcome contrast to the negativity of Donald Trump and the anti-woman, anti-LGBT, anti-labor Mike Pence.

Finally, Al Giordano loves Tim Kaine.

More tweets:

 

And on the other side of the 2016 presidential campaign . . .

The Washington Post editorial board: Donald Trump is a unique threat to American democracy.

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 Jerseycelebrated after 9/11, that his tax-cut plan would not worsen the deficit, that heopposed 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.

There’s a whole lot more of this kind of analysis at the link.

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Stephen Hayes at The Weekly Standard (!): Donald Trump Is Crazy, and So Is the GOP for Embracing Him.

Yes, Donald Trump is crazy. And, yes, the Republican party owns his insanity.

Fewer than twelve hours after Republicans rallied in support of his nomination for the presidency, Trump once again implied that Rafael Cruz, Ted Cruz’s father, was involved in the JFK assassination. At a press availability during an event to thank campaign volunteers Friday morning, Trump revived suggestions that the elder Cruz was an associate of Lee Harvey Oswald, Kennedy’s assassin, and that they two were together months before the assassination.

“I don’t know his father. I met him once. I think he’s a lovely guy. I think he’s a lovely guy. All I did was point out the fact that on the cover of the National Enquirer there was a picture of him and crazy Lee Harvey Oswald having breakfast. Now, Ted never denied that it was his father. Instead, he said Donald Trump—I had nothing to do with it. This was a magazine that, frankly, in many respects should be very respected.”

He continued: “Did anybody ever deny that it was the father? They’re not saying: ‘Oh, that wasn’t really my father.’ It was a little hard to do. It looked like him.”

Trump is still running against his GOP primary opponents! Read more at the link.

Quite a few journalists have begun examining Trump’s ties to Russia and his vocal admiration for Vladimir Putin. Some examples:

The Washington Post: Inside Trump’s financial ties to Russia and his unusual flattery of Vladimir Putin.

The NY Review of Books: Trump’s Putin Fantasy.

Paul Krugman: Donald Trump, the Siberian Candidate.

Jeffrey Goldberg: It’s Official: Hillary Clinton Is Running Against Vladimir Putin.

So . . . What do you think? And what other stories are you following today?


Friday Reads: Voting is an Act of Citizenship not Philosophical Masturbation

d22c1faa57e65292fd7d8d4b059e66e4Good Morning!

I’ve pretty much had the television off all week.  I could only handle Haterpalooza in small doses of video and print. The Republican Party has no claim to anything any more other than enabling white supremacists, nativists, and bigots.  I am no longer patient with any one that is looking towards a third party vote.  Donald Trump is not a sane person.  He is not a mature adult.  He is a clear and present danger to the existence of humanity, this country, and the world. The act of nominating Donald Trump is a declaration of war on humanity, the US Constitution, and civilization.  There is no amount of blackmailing emotional, philosophical, or verbal gymnastics that you can do to justify a vote for anyone but Hillary Clinton at this point or you’ve just joined a war against humankind imho.

Here’s Ezra Klein from Vox on the man who wants to be Fascist in Chief.  Donald Trump has a dark, hell-realm filled vision of and for the 2004-11-02__bush-votingUSA.

Donald Trump is not a candidate the American people would turn to in normal times. He’s too inexperienced, too eccentric, too volatile, too risky. Voting Trump is burning down the house to collect the insurance money — you don’t do it unless things are really, really bad.

Here is Trump’s problem: Things are not really, really bad. In fact, things are doing much better than when President Obama came into office.

Unemployment is 4.9 percent nationally — a number Trump knows is far from a crisis, because it’s lower than the unemployment rate Mike Pence is presiding over in Indiana, and Trump keeps bragging about his running mate’s economic record. The deficit has gone down in recent years, and the stock market has gone up. The end of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars mean fewer Americans are dying abroad. A plurality approve of the job Obama is doing.

So Trump needs to convince voters that things are bad, even if they’re not. He needs to make Americans afraid again. And tonight, he tried.

“Our convention occurs at a moment of crisis for our nation,” Trump said. “The attacks on our police, and the terrorism in our cities, threaten our very way of life. Any politician who does not grasp this danger is not fit to lead our country.”

As Jon Favreau, a former speechwriter for Obama, wrote on Twitter, this was Trump’s “Nightmare in America” speech. The address had one goal, and one goal only: to persuade Americans that their country is a dangerous, besieged hellscape, and only Donald Trump can fix it.

83555807I have watched the Republican Party’s decline for some time.  It hasn’t been pretty.   But this is beyond ugly.   Last night was a parade of white supremacists, theocrats, bigots, and the worst the country has had to offer.  Any one that does not speak out against this cannot have the country’s best interests at heart.  They are simply acting out of some kind of selfishness and privilege that’s beyond my grasp.   So, now that I’ve quoted liberal Ezra Klein. Let me get you to the libertarian thoughts on the speech last night.  ” Donald Trump’s RNC Speech Was a Terrifying Display of Nightmarish Authoritarianism. The GOP presidential nominee had only one solution to every problem: Give him more power.”

Donald Trump’s speech accepting the Republican nomination was easily the most overt display of authoritarian fear-mongering I can remember seeing in American politics. The entire speech was dark and dystopian, painting America as a dismal, dangerous place beset by violent outsiders. In response to the nation’s problems, Trump had only one solution: Donald Trump, the strongman who would take America back, by force if necessary.

Trump framed the speech by painting America as a nation under siege from urban crime, terrorism, and immigrants. He talked of rising homicide levels in some cities. He warned darkly of terrorist and immigrants, practically conflating them with urban violence, and told stories of Americans killed by those who had entered the country illegally. The simplest and more straightforward way to interpret Trump’s speech was as a warning that outsiders are coming to America to kill you and your family.

It was a relentlessly grim and gloomy picture of America, built on thinly disguised racial distrust and paranoia. It was a portrait that was also essentially false. Violent crime has been steadily falling for more than two decades. Immigrants are less prone to criminality than native-born Americans.

But portraying America in such a dark light let Trump cast himself as the nation’s dark hero, a kind of billionaire-businessman fixer, unbound by rules or expectations of decorum—President Batman, the only one with the guts and the will to fight for the people.

Trump did not invoke superpowers, of course, but he might as well have; he had no other ideas or solutions to offer.

In addition to terrorism and criminality, Trump stoked anxiety about jobs and the economy, lamenting bad trade deals and the loss of manufacturing jobs. As president, he said, he would take our bad trade deals—especially NAFTA—and turn them into good ones. He did not say one word about how, or even what a “good” trade would look like, only that he would fix the problem. Trump promised to bring outsourced jobs back to America, and, as he has in the past, threatened unspecified “consequences” to companies that move operations overseas.

Trump’s entire speech was packed with threats and power grabs, details be damned. It was a speech about how government should be made bigger and stronger and given more authority over every part of American life, and government, in most cases, simply meant Donald Trump himself. It was an argument for unlimited government under a single man, for rule by Trump’s whim. He sounded less like he was running for president and more like he was campaigning to be an American despot.

John_F._Kennedy_voting_1960Our Dear Miss Brooks calls it the “Death of the Republican Party”.  He refers to Trump as the Dark Knight.   I prefer to see him as the Joker.

But if Trump is detached from the country, and uninterested in anything but himself, he’s also detached from his party. Trump is not really changing his party as much as dissolving it.

A normal party has an apparatus of professionals, who have been around for a while and who can get things done. But those people might as well not exist. This was the most shambolically mis-run convention in memory.

A normal party is united by a consistent belief system. For decades, the Republican Party has stood for a forward-looking American-led international order abroad and small-government democratic capitalism at home.

Trump is decimating that, too, along with the things Republicans stood for: NATO, entitlement reform, compassionate conservatism and the relatively open movement of ideas, people and trade.

50554769Another long time Republican crony has quit the Republican party.  Daniel Pipes joins the likes of Mary Matalin on the rat swim away from the ship.

The Republican Party nominated Donald Trump as its candidate for president of the United States – and I responded by ending my 44-year GOP membership.

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

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

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

There are more reasons.  Go check it out.

This is what happens when you sell your soul to angry bigots to pass tax cuts for the very wealthy.  I should be dancing on a lot of graves–happily Roger Ailes is gone from Fox because the Barbie Army turned him in–but I can’t dance. I can’t celebrate.  I can only stand here with my hair on fire and scream.

I’ve got so many places to send you for folks writing about how horrified they were by last night and nixon votingthe entire week.  I’m going to let my friend Peter rep for them.  Peter, I know this goes a step beyond “fair usage” but damn you Godwinned and you Godwinned appropriately.

I am obviously biased: I hate Donald Trump and am appalled that this sociopath has won a major party nomination. Following Trump closely has led me to modify my belief in Godwin’s Law. Here’s a rough paraphrase of it: mention the Nazis in an argument and you lose. I’ve always avoided Nazi and Fascist comparisons, believing them to be hyperbolic: who was worse than Hitler, after all?While I still don’t anticipate an American holocaust in the unlikely event that Trump is elected, I have to place Godwin’s Law on the back burner for the duration of the campaign. Donald Trump and his supporters represent the dark side of the American psyche and must be stopped.

On to the speech, I thought it was, in equal parts, horrible and horrifying. It was dark, brooding, and jumbled. The delivery was LOUD and wildly OTT. I felt bludgeoned after being screamed at for 76 minutes as well as depressed by listening to a speech that didn’t describe the America I live in.In between accusing Hillary Clinton and James Comey of crimes against the state, Trump told us to be scared, very scared. Even the ostensibly “uplifting” parts were stepped on by Trump’s red-faced, angry, and shouty delivery. I have my doubts that the American people want to be screamed at for four years. It will be bad enough to be shouted at for the next 3 1/2 months.

In substance, tone and delivery, it was a white nationalist speech full of attacks on minorities and immigrants. Brown people scare Donald Trump and he wants you to be afraid too. The speech went over well in the anti-Semitic community as well:

David Duke @DrDavidDuke

Great Trump Speech, America First! Stop Wars! Defeat the Corrupt elites! Protect our Borders!, Fair Trade! Couldn’t have said it better!

 In addition to being delivered in a rather Hitlerian manner, Trump’s solution to every problem was himself. I am your voice, he said several times. Sounds like the Fuhrer principle to me. I wasn’t sure if he’s running for President or Dictator. If you saw it, you know it was that bad. The rest of the convention was funny, Trump’s speech was not.

No one will be surprised to hear that the speech was packed with lies and half-truths calculated to scare the living shit out of the audience. Politics USA has come up with 21 fact checked proven lies in the speech. I’m surprised it was that few. The audacity of mendacity should be the campaign’s slogan instead of Making America White Great Again.

Please notice the number of likes from last night on the David Duke Tweet and start being very afraid.

I’m going to make this short because I expect there will be another post up shortly announcing the VEEP choice of Clinton and it deserves a stand alone post.

Just rant away here because I know I feel a strong need to rant and cry. Here are some associated links.

Twitter Rants via Salon.

World Reaction via CNN.

The One Reaction Every one should have via The Root.

Celebrity Reaction via CBS  (Yeah, how the great have fallen… poor Uncle Walter.)

NPR Fact Checks the speech.  (Shorter NPR:  Lies and Bigotry)

Oy.  Just. OY.


Thursday Reads

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Good Afternoon!!

This is what we’ve come to folks. We have a nominee of a major political party and his surrogates calling for the opposition candidate to be thrown in prison, hanged, or shot by a firing squad. Talking Points Memo: The Trump Campaign is Now Wink-Winking Calls to Murder Clinton.

As our reporters on the ground in Cleveland are telling us, the “lock her up” theme of the Cleveland convention is pervasive. Signs, T-shirts, memorabilia – it’s pervasive. It’s not just a chant on the convention floor. The campaign isn’t just comfortable with it. They’re actively pushing it. We noted earlier that a New Hampshire Trump delegate, who’s also a Trump advisor on veterans issue has just said Clinton should be “shot for treason.” He’s now being investigated by the Secret Service for threatening the former First Lady and Secretary of State’s life.

But there’s a part of this story that’s been overshadowed by the shocking nature of what Al Baldasaro said. That’s the response from the Trump campaign. In response to Baldasaro’s attack, Trump Campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks said: “We’re incredibly grateful for his support, but we don’t agree with his comments.”

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I’m not sure why no one has referenced this. But this is the kind of statement one usually hears about a policy disagreement rather than a demand to murder the opposing party’s nominee.

Calls for violence or the killing of a political opponent usually spurs the other candidate to totally disavow the person in question. Frankly, it’s a pretty new thing for a prominent supporter of a prominent politician to call for killing opposing candidates at all. But the Trump campaign is still “incredibly grateful his support” even though “we don’t agree” that Clinton should be shot.

This too is not normal.

Maybe you didn’t notice her statement until now. I assure you Trump’s more rabid supporters have – or at least noticed the conspicuous lack of any clear denunciation.

Yesterday, Melissa McEwan had a great post at Blue Nation Review on the unforgivable media complicity in this : WE’VE REACHED PEAK HILLARY HATE (Thanks to Our Noxious Media). And she provides plenty of linky goodness.

The national media’s treatment of Hillary has never been great. Whether it’s endlessly discussing her “likability,” or casually referring to her as “Godzillary” or “a Lovecraftian monster, the Cthulhu of American politics,” or depicting her with devil horns, or portraying her as a towering man-crushing monster, or constantly subjecting her to Remember Your Place pictures, or saying she “must be stopped,” they have long been prominent purveyors of narratives about Hillary being History’s Greatest Monster.

But their coverage in 2016 has been a total disgrace. A complete and utter embarrassment, culminating with this now-scrubbed headline care of the Washington Post: In Trump’s moment of triumph, Clinton is in the crosshairs.

Not only are the WaPo’s editors evidently watching a different convention than the rest of us if they imagine Donald is having “a moment of triumph,” but where is their sense of decency that they would say Hillary is in “the crosshairs”? Using such violent rhetoric at any time would be extraordinarily cruel, but to do so in the middle of a national nightmare of mass shootings is truly breathtaking.

And the replacement is hardly any better: Trump captures GOP nomination as focus their fire on Clinton.

“Focus their fire.” This is truly unconscionable.

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Melissa goes on to write about the media’s refusal to acknowledge the millions of people who support Hillary and are excited about the prospect of her becoming the first woman POTUS.

The fact is this: despite all the vitriol, Hillary is a popular presidential candidate. How can I make such a controversialclaim, in spite of her high unfavorables (ahem) and relentless articles detailing how unpopular she is? Because she won.

Because in winning her party’s nomination, she defeated Bernie Sanders, who himself was a popular candidate, by millions of votes and hundreds of delegates. Because she was a popular First Lady. Because she was a popular Senator. Because she was a popular Secretary of State. Because she has been the most admired women in the world for two decades.

And, no, that’s not hyperbole.

But you wouldn’t know that Hillary is popular, if you depended exclusively on corporate media for your news—because there is a seemingly endless parade of stories about how unpopular she is (whoops!); how unliked she is (bloop!); how little enthusiasm there is for her candidacy (uh-oh!).

There’s much more at the link, so please go read it if you haven’t already.

Tony Schwartz

Tony Schwartz

Also yesterday, Tony Schwartz, who wrote Trump’s bestselling book The Art of the Deal, discussed his experience of GOP nominee in an interview with The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer.

Schwartz had ghostwritten Trump’s 1987 breakthrough memoir, earning a joint byline on the cover, half of the book’s five-hundred-thousand-dollar advance, and half of the royalties. The book was a phenomenal success, spending forty-eight weeks on the Times best-seller list, thirteen of them at No. 1. More than a million copies have been bought, generating several million dollars in royalties. The book expanded Trump’s renown far beyond New York City, making him an emblem of the successful tycoon. Edward Kosner, the former editor and publisher of New York, where Schwartz worked as a writer at the time, says, “Tony created Trump. He’s Dr. Frankenstein.”

Starting in late 1985, Schwartz spent eighteen months with Trump—camping out in his office, joining him on his helicopter, tagging along at meetings, and spending weekends with him at his Manhattan apartment and his Florida estate. During that period, Schwartz felt, he had got to know him better than almost anyone else outside the Trump family. Until Schwartz posted the tweet, though, he had not spoken publicly about Trump for decades. It had never been his ambition to be a ghostwriter, and he had been glad to move on. But, as he watched a replay of the new candidate holding forth for forty-five minutes, he noticed something strange: over the decades, Trump appeared to have convinced himself that he had written the book. Schwartz recalls thinking, “If he could lie about that on Day One—when it was so easily refuted—he is likely to lie about anything.”

It seemed improbable that Trump’s campaign would succeed, so Schwartz told himself that he needn’t worry much. But, as Trump denounced Mexican immigrants as “rapists,” near the end of the speech, Schwartz felt anxious. He had spent hundreds of hours observing Trump firsthand, and felt that he had an unusually deep understanding of what he regarded as Trump’s beguiling strengths and disqualifying weaknesses. Many Americans, however, saw Trump as a charmingly brash entrepreneur with an unfailing knack for business—a mythical image that Schwartz had helped create. “It pays to trust your instincts,” Trump says in the book, adding that he was set to make hundreds of millions of dollars after buying a hotel that he hadn’t even walked through.

In the subsequent months, as Trump defied predictions by establishing himself as the front-runner for the Republican nomination, Schwartz’s desire to set the record straight grew. He had long since left journalism to launch the Energy Project, a consulting firm that promises to improve employees’ productivity by helping them boost their “physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual” morale. It was a successful company, with clients such as Facebook, and Schwartz’s colleagues urged him to avoid the political fray. But the prospect of President Trump terrified him. It wasn’t because of Trump’s ideology—Schwartz doubted that he had one. The problem was Trump’s personality, which he considered pathologically impulsive and self-centered.

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Please go read the whole thing. As soon as the article was published, Trump sent him a “cease and desist letter.” and demanded that Schwarz return all of his royalties from the book.

You may have seen Rachel Maddow’s interview with Schwartz last night in which he called Trump “a black hole,” and a “sociopath.” Steve Benen writes:

Schwartz is eager to tell the public about what he learned about Trump after their collaboration.
As Rachel discovered last night, Trump’s lawyers have a different plan in mind.
Tony Schwartz, ghostwriter of Donald Trump’s book “The Art of the Deal,” told MSNBC Wednesday that the Trump campaign sent him a cease and desist letter in response to his comments about the Republican candidate.
Schwartz, a former journalist, was employed by Trump to ghostwrite his memoir in 1987. In an interview with MSNBC, Schwartz described the Republican candidate for president as “having no heart and no soul.”

“This notion that I didn’t write the book is so preposterous,” Schwartz added. “You know, I am not certain that Donald Trump read every word, but I’m sure certain that I wrote every word. And he made a few red marks on the manuscript and sent it back to me, and the rest was history. The idea that he would dispute that is part of why I felt I had to come forward. The notion that if he could lie about that he could lie about anything.”

Benen says the New Yorker article is a must-read, and I agree wholeheartedly.

More stories to check out:

TPM: Ted Turns the Tables on Trump–Hard.

NYT: Donald Trump Sets Conditions for Defending NATO Allies Against Attack.

CNN: Defiant Ted Cruz stands by refusal to endorse Trump after being booed during convention speech.

Jonathan Chait: Republicans in Chaos Must Decide Whether to Elect a Madman.

Slate: Newt Gingrich Probably Just Gave the Last Major Speech of His Career.

HuffPo: Tim Kaine Calls To Deregulate Banks As He Campaigns To Be Clinton’s VP.

NYT: Bill Clinton Said to Back Virginia’s Tim Kaine for Vice President.

NBC News: Cops Shoot Unarmed Caregiver With His Hands Up While He Helps Man.

The Guardian: Roger Ailes accused of harassment by at least 20 women, attorneys say.

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a tremendous Thursday!


Tuesday Reads: Disastrous Day One of the Republican National Convention

Good Afternoon!!

After the first night of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, there’s good news and bad news for the Trump campaign. The bad news is that the big story today is that Melania Trump’s speech last night was basically a light edit of Michelle Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2008 with a few paragraphs thrown in to make it look like it was about Donald Trump. The good news for Trump is that this story is distracting the media from the racist, misogynist, and xenophobic content of the rest of the Convention speeches.

The Washington Post: Republican National Convention: Scrutiny of Melania Trump’s speech follows plagiarism allegations.

Donald Trump’s presidential campaign came under new scrutiny Tuesday after it became apparent that part of Melania Trump’s primetime address Monday night at the Republican National Convention bore conspicuous similarities to a speech delivered by first lady Michelle Obama in 2008 at the Democratic convention.

The plagiarism charges have cast a shadow over Trump and his campaign on the second day of the convention here in Cleveland, where Republicans are making the case to a skeptical country that the celebrity billionaire —the most unconventional and impulsive major-party standard-bearer in modern history — could be a credible and steadfast leader at a time of terrorist threats abroad and senseless tragedies at home.

Trump’s campaign and allies rushed to defend Melania Trump on Tuesday morning.

“In writing her beautiful speech, Melania’s team of writers took notes on her life’s inspirations, and in some instances included fragments that reflected her own thinking,” wrote senior communications advisor Jason Miller in a statement. “Melania’s immigrant experience and love for America shone through in her speech, which made it such a success.” ….

Melania Trump had previously indicated that she wrote the speech herself.h. Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort pretty much threw Melania under the bus by sticking to the story that she wrote it herself.

On Tuesday morning, Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort denied that there had been any plagiarism, despite clear similarities between the two speeches. Some parts of the speeches appeared to be the same, word for word.

“There’s no cribbing of Michelle Obama’s speech. These were common words and values that she cares about, her family, things like that,” Manafort said on CNN’s “New Day” Tuesday morning. “She was speaking in front of 35 million people last night, she knew that, to think that she would be cribbing Michelle Obama’s words is crazy.”

The sections in the video are only the beginning. There are similarities to Michelle Obama’s speech throughout. Even the final lines claiming “he will never turn his back on you” were borrowed from Michelle. Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort pretty much threw Melania under the bus by sticking to the story that she wrote it herself.

Oh yes, and Manafort also blamed Hillary for the mess the campaign is in. Think Progress: Trump Campaign Manager On Melania’s Plagiarism: It’s Hillary’s Fault

Donald Trump and his campaign are scrambling to address the apparent plagiarism in Melania Trump’s Republican National Convention speech, which replicated specific language from First Lady Michelle Obama’s speech at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Trump’s former rivals-turned-surrogates Ben Carson and Chris Christie both refused to acknowledge the plagiarism.

Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort went even further. He not only denied the speech was plagiarized, but accused Democratic presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton of spreading the storybecause she hates other women.

“This is once again an example of when a woman threatens Hillary Clinton she seeks out to demean her and take her down,” he said. “It’s not going to work.”

Manafort repeated the sexist attack in a press conference a few hours later. “When Hillary Clinton is threatened by a female, the first thing she does is try to destroy the person,” he told reporters.

There are now rumors that Trump is furious with Manafort. Perhaps he’ll be looking for a new campaign manager soon–right in the middle of the RNC.

Wow! That’s some heavy duty misogyny there.

Some folks on Twitter have been digging up tweets from Mr. and Mrs. Trump that suggest plagiarism is nothing new for these two.

And check this out:

Unbelievable.

And what about the parts of Melania’s speech that weren’t plagiarized? Isaac Chotiner at Slate: Melania Trump’s Pathetic Attempt to Humanize Her Husband.

The traditional role of the first lady is, in the clichéd language of our politics, to “humanize” her spouse. Melania Trump may in some sense appear to be nontraditional for the wife of a Republican nominee. But in her speech on Monday night she set for herself the same goal: showing a side of Donald Trump that voters had not seen. What she delivered, according to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, speaking from the convention floor, was the speech of the night. The CNN panel gushed. Hugh Hewitt got excited on MSNBC. But don’t believe it: Melania’s speech was just as morally questionable as Rudy Giuliani’s Mussolini-not-so-lite speech that preceded it.

The most striking feature of Melania’s speech was the lack of specifics: Perhaps because her husband is a gruesome demagogue rather than a halfway-decent person, there were no humanizing anecdotes or sweet stories to tell. The candidate’s public personality is clearly more than an act; those who know him have nothing truly nice or personal to say about him, just as he has nothing nice or personal to say about them. (People he likes in his orbit tend to be “absolutely terrific.”)

I noticed that last night. Melania didn’t provide a single specific anecdote to illustrate her husband’s supposed generosity, kindness, and other positive qualities she claims he has.

This morning Ivanka Trump told the AP that her dad wants her to make sure everything in her speech introducing him on Thursday is in her own words.

Could there be trouble between Trump’s third wife and his children from first wife Ivana? Joy Reid tweeted today that Melania refused to attend the introduction of Mike Pence and his family because she was angry with Donald’s children for pushing him to name a VP candidate that he didn’t really want.

Reid also cited a Daily Mail article that suggests trouble in the Trump extended family: ‘She can’t talk, she can’t give a speech’: Donald Trump’s ex-wife Ivana slams his current spouse Melania and suggests she would make a better First Lady.

Trump’s first wife Ivana, who was married to the Republican presidential front runner from 1977 to 1991, said Melania ‘can’t talk’ and ‘can’t give a speech’.

The 66-year-old – who had three children with the billionaire – reportedly said she would have made a good First Lady and backed her ex-husband to be a ‘great President’.

Ivana was told at a recent party in New York that she would have been a good First Lady.

According to the New York Daily News, she laughed and replied: ‘Yes, but the problem is, what is he going to do with his third wife?’

Referring to Melania Trump, Ivana continued: ‘She can’t talk, she can’t give a speech, she doesn’t go to events, she doesn’t want to be involved.’

Ivana also said Trump would be a successful President and backed him to win the Republican nomination.

‘He’ll be a great President,’ she said. ‘He’ll surround himself with the right people. He was always meant to be a politician.’

She added that she had backed Trump to run for President in the 1980s, but ‘then he got involved with Marla Maples and America hated him’.

ROFLOL! Most of America still hates him.

I’m going to wrap this up soon, because I’m completely exhausted after driving nearly 1,000 miles over the past two days. But I want to include stories about one more speech from last night.

screen-shot-2016-07-18-at-10-23-30-pm (1)

If you missed Rudy Giuliani’s crazy address to the convention, you really need to watch it. You can do that at Slate, where Fred Kaplan writes about it: What Has Happened to Rudy Giuliani? He used to be a pragmatic moderate. Now he’s spewing nonsense.

Exactly 20 years ago, as the Boston Globe’s New York bureau chief, I interviewed Mayor Rudy Giuliani in his office in City Hall. The 1996 Republican Convention was going on in San Diego, and I asked him why he wasn’t there. “It’s not my sort of thing,” he replied. “I’m much closer to moderates in both parties than to extremists in either.”

That was a long time ago….

Self-righteous and bombastic as he has become in recent years, I have never seen him—I have never imagined him—huffing and puffing with such fire and brimstone. Or spewing such rank nonsense.

Boasting that he changed New York “from the crime capital of America to the safest large city in America,” he said, “What I did for New York, Donald Trump will do for America.” Stipulating that he played a role in cutting crime in New York (and I think he did, to some extent), what did he do? Most pertinent, he appointed William Bratton as his police chief, who tracked crime with daily computer statistics (before then, there were only quarterly statistics), then instantly redeployed cops to neighborhoods where crime was spurting. He also arrested people for committing small crimes, and many of those people, it turned out, were wanted for large crimes. Other things were happening in society, too. But these techniques and the surrounding circumstances have no application to the fight against global terrorism. Nor does the sophisticated approach that Giuliani and Bratton brought to urban disorder have any resemblance to Trump’s attitude to anything.

Then Giuliani delved into the shallowest realm of Trump’s attack on Obama’s (or Obama-Clinton’s) counterterrorism policies—the refusal to call our enemy by their name: as he bellowed it, “Islamic extremist terrorism” (words that drew an enormous ovation). Obama has addressed this critique: It is silly to believe that, if only he uttered those three words (like “Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice!”), the bad guys would turn and run—or anything different would happen whatsoever. “If they are at war against us,” Giuliani roared, “we must commit ourselves to unconditional victory against them.” What does that mean? What does the United States or the West have to do to achieve that goal? I ask Giuliani and others who speak in this language to put forth a three-point outline, a 100-page treatise—some idea of what new policies, tactics, or strategies they have in mind. I honestly don’t know, and I’m pretty sure they don’t either.

Kaplan carefully dissects the entire Giuliani diatribe.  The piece is well worth reading.

I wonder what atrocities Trump and the Republicans will produce in day 2 of the their convention? So far this week looks like it will be very good for Hillary Clinton.
What stories are you following today?

Thursday Reads: The Trump Convention Approaches

Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention, 2008

Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention, 2008

Good Morning!!

The next two weeks will be fascinating ones for political junkies. The Republican Convention begins on Monday, July 18 in Cleveland, and just a week later on July 25 the Democratic Convention will be held in Philadelphia. The list of speakers for the GOP Convention was released this morning.

The Washington Post: Republican convention’s ‘non-conventional’ list: Model, astronaut and Trump clan.

Donald Trump’s convention will feature an eclectic mix of cultural figures, from the first woman to command a space shuttle mission to the survivors of the 2012 Benghazi attacks to an underwear model.

But while several Republican Party establishment figures will take the stage next week in Cleveland, the national convention to officially nominate Trump will be devoid of some of the GOP’s most seasoned leaders and brightest new stars.

Republican officials released a long-awaited list of convention speakers on Thursday that are billed as “non-conventional speakers” who emphasize “real world experience.”

Barry Goldwater and William Miller at the 1964 GOP Convention in San Francisco

Barry Goldwater and William Miller at the 1964 GOP Convention in San Francisco

A small number of elected officials and former office-holders have agreed to speak at Trump’s convention, including Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Rudy Giuliani, Ted Cruz, Scott Walker, Marsha Blackburn, Mike Huckabee, Rick Scott, Chris Christie, Newt Gingrich, Jeff Sessions, Joni Ernst, and Asa Hutchison. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is not included in the list of speakers. It’s not clear whether that means he will be the VP nominee or if there is some reason he won’t be speaking. Another notable omission from the speakers list is Sarah Palin.

The unusual collection of non-political speakers seems designed to broaden Trump’s appeal. They include retired astronaut Eileen Collins, the first woman pilot and first woman commander of a space shuttle mission; Mark Geist and John Tiegen, two survivors of the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya; and Antonio Sabato Jr., a former Calvin Klein underwear model, soap-opera actor and reality-television star.

Some sports figures will take the stage here, including pro golfer Natalie Gulbis and Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White. But some sporting heroes of decades past that Trump has said he would like to see at the convention — former Indiana University basketball coach Bobby Knight and boxing legend Don King — are not listed as featured speakers.

Thomas E. Dewey at the 1948 Republican Convention

Thomas E. Dewey at the 1948 Republican Convention

Trump family members and close friends will also speak at the convention.

The Cleveland convention will be orchestrated to help expand Trump’s appeal to the general electorate. To that end, several member of Trump’s family are expected to give speeches, including his wife, Melania, and his four oldest children, Donald Jr., Ivanka, Eric and Tiffany.

In addition, other speakers who have known Trump and his family through the years plan to take the stage. They include Haskel Lookstein, a rabbi in New York who converted Ivanka Trump to Judaism; Tom Barrack, a wealthy California-based investor who has worked with Donald Trump on real estate deals; and Kerry Woolard, the general manager of Trump Winery in Virginia.

See a full list of GOP convention speakers at Cleveland.com and a tentative schedule of events at Newsday.

In contrast to the weak list of GOP convention speakers, the Democratic Convention speakers list is star-studded. The Washington Post:

The Democratic National Convention is likely to open with a showcase of some of the party’s biggest stars, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and first lady Michelle Obama, according to a source with knowledge of the convention planning.

Although the speaking schedule isn’t yet set in stone, the jam-packed Monday night is also expected to include Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.) will introduce Warren in Philadelphia.

Sanders’s name will be entered into the nomination, prompting a roll call vote of delegates for both candidates.

Percy Sutton nominates Shirley Chisholm at the 1972 Democratic Convention

Percy Sutton nominates Shirley Chisholm at the 1972 Democratic Convention

As we all expected Sanders will continue trying to get as much attention as he can for as long as he can.

According to another source familiar with the convention planning, the night’s theme will be an economic agenda focused on families. The list of speakers is intended to highlight the unity of the Democratic Party in contrast to the Republican convention that will have come the week before.

The night’s programming, including the speakers and videos, will drive home the theme of Clinton’s campaign, “Stronger together,” by highlighting a populist economic agenda.

The convention speaking list is coming together this week, and more speakers are likely to be formally announced as early as this week.

Presumably, speakers also will include President Obama and former President Clinton as well as rising stars in the party.

The Trump campaign announced yesterday that the presumptive GOP nominee will name his Vice Presidential running mate tomorrow morning at 11AM in New York City. The exact location hasn’t been announced yet. NPR reports: Trump Wraps Up Vice President Auditions, Sets Friday Announcement.

The deadline for a decision comes after the presumptive GOP presidential nominee wrapped up both public tryouts and private meetings with the three men believed to be among the finalists — Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

After he campaigned with Pence in Indiana Tuesday evening, Trump his family met with Pence at his Indiana home on Wednesday morning, according toNBC News, while Gingrich and Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions also flew to Indianapolis to meet with Trump. Christie met with Trump and his family on Tuesday.

Pence, who gave a tepid endorsement to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz before his state’s primary, was more gleefully on board with Trump’s campaign on Tuesday night as he introduced him at a rally in Westfield.

“Donald Trump gets it,” Pence told the crowd. “Donald Trump hears the voice of the American people.” ….

Of the three presumed vice presidential finalists, Pence was the only one who gave a direct introduction for Trump before he came to the stage. Trump also campaigned with Christie on Monday in Virginia and with Gingrich last week in Ohio.

Trump praised Pence at the end of what was a meandering speech — attacking rival Hillary Clinton often but also wandering off into other topics such as immigration and trade and back again.

“I don’t know if he’s going to be your governor or your vice president, who the hell knows!” Trump told the crowd, referring to Pence.

Richard Nixon at the 1968 Republican Convention

Richard Nixon at the 1968 Republican Convention

Yeah, who the hell knows? This horrifying man is actually running for president. The other top VP candidates are supposedly Jeff Sessions, Chris Christie, and Newt Gingrich. TA Frank weighed in on each of these choices at The Atlantic: It’s down to four, but does any candidate offer even a smidgen of hope?

At this point, Trump needs a running mate who amplifies his strengths and, possibly, goes some way toward remedying some of the candidate’s most serious weaknesses: erratic behavior, lack of experience, inadequate grasp of history, and almost zero policy chops. He or she needs to believe what Trump believes—but in a way that suggests there will be an adult in the room. Trump’s vice president is likely to be powerful in the White House, so the pick is about a lot more than campaigning. The question remains, however, whether any of the final four offer a glimmer of hope.

Some excerpts from Frank’s assessments of the top four candidates.

Newt Gingrich

Even in the wake of reports that Fox News and Gingrich have parted ways, perhaps to allow him to be vetted for the post, I still do not think this V.P. possibility is for real. Even Trump has said about Gingrich that “Newt is Newt.” That’s what you say about someone whom you accept despite major flaws. As in: Kanye is Kanye. That sort of stuff. And remember that “erratic” thing that we were trying to remedy? Gingrich is not your man for that.

John Kennedy at the 1960 Democratic Convention

John Kennedy at the 1960 Democratic Convention

Mike Pence

Yes, Pence campaigned with Trump this week in Indianapolis and sang his praises. But he seemed about as believable in his Trump-love as Paul Ryan. O.K., he did a little better than that. At least he wants Trump to win, maybe.

But Mike Pence has a fan club of roughly four, and all four have the last name Pence. This is someone who has the capability to be bungling and divisive on dumb social issues—by all accounts pleasing no one in his management of a religious-liberty law in Indiana, which means he angers social liberals, social moderates, and social conservatives. To be fair, that does leave the apathetic or uninformed.

Chris Christie

We’ve been through this. Christie is, I will admit, an excellent retail politician. He’s a superb attack dog. He’s a social moderate. You like him, and he likes you, or thinks he does. But he’s got that bridge scandal to deal with and no one respects him after he turned into a courtier. Trump’s ticket would become the stuff of comedy. Picture it. Now picture it as a silhouette.

Protesters forming a human pyramid in Chicago's Grant Park during the 1968 Democratic Convention

Protesters forming a human pyramid in Chicago’s Grant Park during the 1968 Democratic Convention

Jeff Sessions

Here, I must bring up one more crucial vulnerability of Trump: the suspicion that he doesn’t really mean a lot of the things that he says. It’s all pandering: on immigration, on trade, on budgets, on health care, etc. That’s one more reason why Jeff Sessions would pack a punch: Sessions represents Trumpism without Trump. Selecting him as a running mate would signal that Trump actually means what he’s saying.

Read more from TA Frank at the link.

I can’t resist including this assessment of Trump’s VP choices from Gawker: Which of His Potential Vice Presidential Candidates Is Donald Trump Just Fucking With? Check it out at that link.

So . . . what do you think? Will you be watching next week’s GOP clusterf#ck? What other stories are you following today?


Tuesday Reads: NASA Goes to Jupiter and Other News

Juno spacecraft

Juno spacecraft

Good Afternoon!!

Lots of breaking news this morning. FBI Director James Comey just held a press conference to announce that the FBI will not be recommending criminal charges against Hillary Clinton for her handling of State Department emails. NBC News reports:

“No reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case,” Comey told reporters.

Federal investigators did not find evidence of intentional wrongdoing, he said — but there is evidence the former secretary of state and her staff were “extremely careless.”

Comey said 110 emails sent or received on the Clinton server contained classified information. He also said it’s possible “hostile actors” gained access to the server.

So there’s still plenty of fodder for the Clinton haters and conspiracy theorists to scream out. Meanwhile, Wikileaks released a more than 1,200 of Clinton’s emails. The Independent:

The website tweeted a link to 1,258 emails on Monday that Clinton sent during her time as secretary of state. According to the release, the emails were obtained from the US State Department after they issued a Freedom of Information Act request. The emails stem from a State Department release back in February, The Hill reports.

And from NY Magazine:

If you have some hours to kill, you could do worse than a deep dive into the Clinton emails released by WikiLeaks yesterday. The site went through the emails released earlier in the year by the State Department looking for any mentions of the Iraq War. The 1,258 emails show mostly that people at the State Department are just like us, namely in that they spend their days sending their colleagues links to things they read online.

It doesn’t sound all that exciting, but Julian Assange thinks Clinton should be prosecuted. This from the guy who ran from a rape charge.

Watch Comey’s press conference:

 

There’s been another terrorist attack, this time in Saudi Arabia. Reuters: U.N. rights boss calls bombing near Saudi holy mosque an attack on Islam.

The U.N. human rights chief on Tuesday called a suicide bombing outside the Prophet Mohammad’s Mosque in the Saudi city of Medina an attack on Islam itself and many Muslims expressed shock that their second-holiest site had been targeted.

Three apparently coordinated suicide attacks on Monday targeted Medina, the U.S. consulate in Jeddah and the largely Shi’ite Muslim city of Qatif on Monday. At least four security officers were killed.

No group has claimed responsibility but Islamic State has carried out similar bombings in the U.S.-allied kingdom in the past year, targeting Shi’ites and Saudi security forces.

Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights and a member of the Jordanian royal family, delivered his remarks via a spokesman in Geneva.

“This is one of the holiest sites in Islam, and for such an attack to take place there, during Ramadan, can be considered a direct attack on Muslims all across the world,” he said, referring to the Islamic holy month.

“It is an attack on the religion itself.”

Militant attacks on Medina are unprecedented. The city is home to the second-holiest site in Islam, a mosque built by the Prophet Mohammed, the founder of Islam, which also houses his tomb.

NBC News: ISIS Fulfills Promise of Deadly Ramadan as Holy Month Comes to an End.

With Ramadan drawing to a close on Tuesday, ISIS has fulfilled its promise of staining the Muslim holy month with bloodshed around the globe—taking credit for some of the deadly attacks that have killed hundreds in several countries, including in Iraq, Kuwait, Bangladesh, Turkey, Saudi Arabia.

The terrorist group vowed in May, just before Ramadan began, to make it “with God’s permission, a month of pain for infidels everywhere.” And that it was, with many countries remaining on high alert following the attacks.

The past few days have been particularly violent. Suicide bombs rocked two Saudi Arabian cities on Monday, killing at least four security officers, wounding five other people — and coming just hours after authorities in a third city stopped a bomber just feet from the U.S. Consulate.

On the attacks in Saudi Arabia:

In Saudi Arabia, the attacks began Sunday night, when a suicide bomber was stopped by security personnel in a hospital parking lot about 30 feet from the U.S. Consulate in Jeddah.

The bomber detonated an explosive belt, killing himself and “slightly” injuring two officers, the Saudi Interior Ministry said in a statement. No Americans were hurt and all State Department personnel were accounted for.

Hours later, on the other side of the country, a pair of suicide bombers attacked the Persian Gulf city of Qatif, a Ministry of Interior source confirmed to NBC News. Details of casualties in the largely minority Shi’ite city were not immediately available.

Shortly after that, four security officers were killed — as well as a suicide bomber — near the security headquarters of the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina, a site considered to be the second holiest in Islam.

The attack occurred in a parking lot outside the mosque, during Maghreb prayers, when the bomber pretended to break the Ramadan fast with a group of security personnel, al Arabiya reported.

 

Now for some positive–even thrilling–news. NASA’s Juno spacecraft is now orbiting Jupiter! CNN:

Jet Propulsion Lab, California (CNN)NASA says it has received a signal from 540 million miles across the solar system, confirming its Juno spacecraft has successfully started orbiting Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system.

Welcome to Jupiter!” flashed on screens at mission control at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, California.

The Juno team cheered and hugged. “This is phenomenal,” said Geoff Yoder, acting administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate….

The probe had to conduct a tricky maneuver to slow down enough to allow it to be pulled into orbit: It fired its main engine for 35 minutes, effectively hitting the brakes to slow the spacecraft by about 1,212 miles per hour (542 meters per second).

Juno was launched nearly five years ago on a mission to study Jupiter’s composition and evolution. It’s the first spacecraft to orbit Jupiter since Galileo. Galileo was deliberately crashed into Jupiter on September 21, 2003, to protect one of its discoveries — a possible ocean beneath Jupiter’s moon Europa.

More from Spaceflight Now:

A 1/5th size scale model of NASA's Juno spacecraft is displayed at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, July 4, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Robyn BECK

A 1/5th size scale model of NASA’s Juno spacecraft is displayed at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, July 4, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Robyn BECK

Setting up post at the king of planets, NASA’s Juno spacecraft fired its main engine for 35 minutes Monday, steering into orbit around Jupiter to peer inside the gas giant and give scientists a better idea of how the solar system took shape 4.6 billion years ago.

Spinning on its axis once every 12 seconds, the probe’s British-built rocket thruster ignited and slowed down Juno just enough to be snared by Jupiter’s strong gravity field into a looping, 53-day-long orbit.

Confirmation of the burn’s successful conclusion reached Earth at 11:53 p.m. EDT (0353 GMT) via a radio tone broadcast by Juno, prompting applause and smiles inside the control room at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

“All stations… we have the tone for burn cutoff on delta-v,” a ground controller said over a radio loop. “Welcome to Jupiter.”

Powered by three solar panels arranged in a propeller-like pattern around Juno’s main body, the Jupiter orbiter wrapped up a five-year, 1.7-billion-mile (2.8-billion-kilometer) trip with Monday’s automated rendezvous with the solar system’s biggest planet.

“Tonight, through tones, Juno sang to us, and it was a song of perfection,” said Rick Nybakken, Juno’s project manager at JPL. “After a 1.7-billion-mile journey, we hit our burn target within one second.”

The record-setting journey made Juno the farthest spacecraft from the sun to ever rely on solar power, and Monday’s maneuver made the $1.1 billion mission the second to ever orbit Jupiter.

Read more about it at the link.

Hillary will be campaigning with President Obama this afternoon–that should also be exciting. Politico: Obama and Clinton rally against Trump.

When Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama publicly reconciled eight years ago at a celebrated summer rally in Unity, New Hampshire, the two recent rivals were still closer to being opponents than friends.

While both candidates were set on healing the Democratic Party after a divisive primary, the lead-up to the event was fraught. Did their show of warmth — a kiss on the tarmac in Washington, D.C., as they boarded a chartered plane together — appear genuine? Would their praise for each other — “she rocks,” gushed Obama, seeking to win over her supporters — seem too forced?

When President Obama takes the stage at the Charlotte Convention Center with Clinton on Tuesday afternoon for their first joint rally of the 2016 campaign, it will be most notable for how far the two leaders of the Democratic Party have come in the eight intervening years.

“It is as far from fraught as can be,” said Obama’s former chief strategist, David Axelrod, of Obama’s long-anticipated campaign trail debut. “He’s been chomping at the bit to get out there. There’s so many reasons why he feels strongly about this — part of it is his genuine respect for her, part of it is his feelings about the alternative. There’s no half-hearted warrior here.”

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a longtime Clinton confidant, said of Tuesday’s rally that unlike eight years ago, “they have such a great relationship that there’s nothing to psychoanalyze. He wants to do everything he can for her.”

ClintonObama_c0-10-3087-1809_s885x516

I can’t wait to watch them together on stage. On Friday Hillary will campaign with Joe Biden in his birthplace, Scranton, PA.

Here’s something else to look forward to. Buzzfeed is going to be working “a new beat” that will involve countering fake news and viral lies. First Draft News: How BuzzFeed wants to use its social media acumen to take on the hoaxers.

BuzzFeed Canada editor and First Draft Coalition member Craig Silverman will be leading the charge from Toronto, “bringing his deep expertise at debunking hoaxes to our reporting arsenal,” said Scott Lamb, BuzzFeed’s head of international growth, “and acting as a resource for all BuzzFeed editions, as well as a watchdog on behalf of our readers worldwide.”

“We’re in a really early phase of testing” Silverman told First Draft, “and seeing what’s going to work in terms of content produced and what works for the BuzzFeed audience.”

Almost every other story in the last month from Silverman, who founded the (currently dormant) rumour-tracking project Emergent, has been a debunk of one kind or another.Quick stories which set the record straight, in-depth investigations into the phenomenon of misinformation and weekly quizzes of the latest fake news to go viral have all been testing grounds to see what resonates with readers.

The biggest challenge for BuzzFeed – and for fact-checkers and debunkers the world over – will be in figuring out a way to make debunks travel as far and fast as the false rumours they address.

Read more at the link.

I haven’t heard anything about Bernie Sanders for days. I’ve been ignoring him, but he also seems to have dropped out of the news. But he’s still getting Secret Service protection. CNN: Sanders’ campaign is over, yet Secret Service motorcade roars on.

Bernie Sanders is back to his old day job, trading the booming applause of his campaign rallies to the far more tedious work of the Senate….But just off the Senate floor and across the Capitol, one vestige of his presidential campaign remains: his Secret Service detail. And taxpayers are footing the bill.

Protecting a presidential candidate costs about $40,000 a day, a federal official familiar with the Homeland Security budget told CNN. For Sanders, that’s more than a half-million dollars since the last primary on June 14. The cost could grow by nearly $2 million if he stays in the race through the Democratic convention in Philadelphia later.

The federal official said it’s difficult to tally exact costs, since some agents are working on other projects simultaneously, but the overall amount spent on Sanders is far higher when calculating the weeks of protection he received after the nomination was effectively out of his reach, as Hillary Clinton surpassed him in the delegate count.

Sanders waved off questions on the matter.

Maybe he’ll keep right on campaigning through November 8. Nothing would surprise me at this point.
What else is happening? What stories are you following today?

Lazy Saturday Reads

Paul Newman at the beach, 1963

Paul Newman at the beach, 1963

Good Afternoon!!

I’m illustrating this post with some beautiful people, mostly engaged in outdoor activities–just because I feel like it.

The news continues to be mostly ugly, unfortunately. There’s the latest terrorist attack in Bangladesh, the endless saga of Bernie Sanders’ refusal to accept reality, and of course the very real danger that racist misogynist xenophobe Donald Trump could somehow gain the presidency.

Before I get started on the bad news, here’s a bit of exciting news for Hillary supporters. The Clinton campaign announced yesterday that it raised nearly $70 million in June. Politico reports:

Hillary Clinton’s campaign reported Friday that it had raised more than $68.5 million for Hillary for America, the Democratic National Committee and state parties in the month of June.

Of that total, $40.5 million went to the campaign, while the remaining $28 million went to the DNC and state parties through the Hillary Victory Fund and the Hillary Action Fund, putting Clinton’s total cumulative fundraising at $288 million for the campaign and $90 million for the joint fundraising agreements. Clinton begins July with more than $44 million on hand, with an average donation of $48 to the campaign itself.

Now for the awful news. There’s been another horrible terrorist attack in Bangladesh, just a short time after the massacre in Turkey.

Steve McQueen

Steve McQueen

CNN: Dhaka cafe attack ends with 20 hostages dead, 13 rescued.

Bangladeshi troops stormed an upscale bakery in Dhaka’s diplomatic enclave Saturday morning, ending an 11-hour siege by militants who killed 20 hostages and two police officers, officials said.

It was the deadliest and boldest act of terror in a country that has become increasingly numb to ever-escalating violence by Islamist militants.

The victims — most of them foreigners — were among roughly three dozen people taken hostage when attackers stormed the Holey Artisan Bakery on Friday evening with guns, explosives and other, sharp weapons Friday evening, authorities said.
Some guests and workers managed to escape, jumping from the bakery’s roof. Others crouched under chairs and tables as the gunmen fired indiscriminately, witnesses said.

Early Saturday morning, military commandos moved in. By the end, 13 people had been rescued and 20 were dead at the restaurant, officials said. Two police officers had been killed in a gunfire exchange earlier in the standoff, authorities said.

Six terrorists were killed and one was captured alive, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed said.

Exactly who was behind the attack is unclear.

Clint Eastwood skateboarding

Clint Eastwood skateboarding

Update to the story:

At least 12 of the 20 hostages who were killed in an hours-long attack at a cafe in Bangladesh’s capital over the weekend have been publicly identified, including three people who attended college in the United States.

Two of the students attended Georgia’s Emory University. That included Abinta Kabir of Miami, who was a sophomore at Emory’s campus in Oxford, Georgia. She was in Dhaka visiting family and friends, the school said.

The other was Faraaz Hossain, of Dhaka, a junior at Emory’s Goizueta Business School in Atlanta….

The third student was Indian citizen Tarushi Jain, 19, who was studying at the University of California at Berkeley, according to India’s minister of external affairs, Sushma Swaraj.

At least nine of the dead were Italian nationals, Italy’s Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni said Saturday.

According to the Italian foreign ministry, they were: Adele Puglisi; Marco Tondat; Claudia Maria D’Antona; Nadia Benedetti; Vincenzo D’Allestro; Maria Rivoli; Cristian Rossi; Claudio Cappelli; and Simona Monti.

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed on Saturday declared two days of mourning for the victims.

It’s all so senseless. What can I say?

Elvis with his bike

Elvis with his bike

CNN has news on the attack in Turkey: Istanbul airport attack: Planner, 2 bombers identified, report says.

Two of the three assailants in the terror attack that killed 44 people at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport have been identified as Rakim Bulgarov and Vadim Osmanov, according to Turkey’s state news agency Anadolu, citing an anonymous prosecution source.

The Friday report did not identify the third attacker.

The report did not reveal their nationalities. But officials have said they believe the three attackers are from Russia, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, and entered Turkey a month ago from Syria’s ISIS stronghold of Raqqa.

The report came a day after U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, said the man who directed the attackers is Akhmed Chatayev, a terrorist from Russia’s North Caucasus region.

Bernie Sanders is never going to go away. I’m convinced that he agrees with Susan Sarandon that if Trump is elected president, Bernie’s long wished-for “political revolution” will magically take place. As I’ve said before, I don’t even want him to endorse Hillary, and I certainly don’t want him out campaigning for her. He would only be his passive aggressive self–seeking new ways to undercut her while pretending he doesn’t want Trump to win.

Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman

Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman

From Politico: Sanders is itching for a convention fight.

Bernie Sanders is still spoiling for a convention fight.

It seemed like Democrats could finally claim unity when no member of the Democratic National Committee’s 15-person convention drafting committee voted against the draft of the policy platform draft during a meeting in St. Louis this past weekend: 13 members of the panel voted for the draft, one abstained and one missed the vote. But since then, Sanders-aligned members have teed off on the draft for not going far enough in key areas.

While both neutral national Democrats and Hillary Clinton-aligned Democrats on the DNC standing committees have hailed the draft document — which is headed to a full vote before the 187-member platform committee on July 8 and 9 in Orlando, Florida — as both satisfactory and historically progressive, Sanders supporters insist the draft remains unpalatable. Among the issues they’ve identified: the platform draft’s treatment of Medicare expansion, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a carbon tax, and a ban on fracking. Sanders and his allies are vowing to fight for changes in Orlando — and all the way to the convention in Philadelphia, if necessary.

Nothing is ever enough for Bernie and his bros.

Bogie and Bacall

Bogie and Bacall

So far, Sanders and his team have locked up draft policy wins on language for abolishing the death penalty, expanding Social Security through raising the cap on how much Americans earning $250,000 or more pay to expand benefits, and breaking up the country’s largest banks. But that’s not everything on Sanders’ lengthy priority list, so the senator and his allies are vowing to keep pushing hard.

While he admits that some gains are better than none at all, Sanders himself has already begun voicing his dissatisfaction. In an email to supporters on Thursday (titled “We’re going to the convention”) Sanders wrote that “we are going to take our political revolution into the halls of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia where we will fight to place a $15 minimum wage, opposition to TPP, and a ban on fracking directly into the Democratic Platform.”

That email came one day after the campaign asked its supporters to sign a petition demanding language against TPP be included in the platform — a top Sanders priority.

“The most significant issue for us is the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The Clinton team has said there’s absolutely no daylight between their position on TPP and ours,” Sanders policy director Warren Gunnels said. “We want to make that clear in the Democratic Party platform. That the TPP should not receive a vote in the lame-duck session and beyond.

Bernie is a horrible excuse for a human being. He’s nothing but a swollen-headed narcissist with delusions of grandeur. At least we haven’t heard much from Jane lately. Maybe she’s disgusted with him too.

Katharine Hepburn skateboarding

Katharine Hepburn skateboarding

Huffington Post’s Sam Stein: Bernie Sanders’ Endgame Is Increasingly Bewildering To Team Clinton.

Democrats have for weeks treated the still-operational presidential campaign ofSen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) with a mix of deference and caution, worrying about too strongly pushing the occasionally irascible senator and his legion of devoted followers.

But as time has passed and the party’s convention nears, supporters of Hillary Clinton really want to know what Sanders’ endgame actually is.

The question has been prompted by some recent muddled messaging from Sanders himself. The senator has said he’ll vote for Clinton, but is declining to actually endorse her candidacy. On Tuesday, he raised the specter of convention disorder over the nuts and bolts of the party platform, all while insisting he will do everything in his power to ensure that presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump loses.

The problem is, Sanders is actually doing everything in his power to help Trump win.

“So far [Sanders] has been riding a wave of good feelings in the sense he ran an incredible campaign,” said former Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), who served with Sanders and Clinton but has endorsed the latter.

“But that has a pretty short shelf life and then people start looking at you through a different lens, and that lens is: Are you a team player and do you have the larger picture in mind or are you just focused on yourself?” Conrad said. “At some point, pretty soon, he crosses the threshold. He may have already crossed it.”

He crossed it long ago, in my opinion.

Marilyn Monroe and James Dean

Marilyn Monroe and James Dean

With weeks to go before the party convenes in Philadelphia, Sanders’ role in that coronation of Clinton remains a mystery. He said Tuesday on MSNBC that he was taking his campaign to the convention floor in an effort to affect the platform.

“Politics is not a baseball game with winners or losers,” Sanders said at the time. “What politics is about is whether we protect the needs of millions of people in this country who are hurting.”

But changing the platform with the dramatic stripes that would satisfy the senator and his supporters seems unlikely. The party, for example, will be hard-pressed to formally disavow trade deals that its leader (President Barack Obama, not Clinton) still supports.

“You can’t have a platform that will embarrass the president,” said one prominent Democratic National Committee official.

But that’s what Bernie wants. And frankly, he has already embarrassed President Obama. He has also made a fool of himself. But I don’t think he’ll quit–maybe not even after the convention.

I’ll end with a silly story about Clinton Derangement Syndrome from The Washington Post: Watch people attack Hillary Clinton for dishonesty — while lying through their teeth.

Jimmy Kimmel’s “Lie Witness News” took to the streets to ask people about the approximately 160 previously unreleased Clinton emails this week. The show, of course, totally made up what was actually in the rather bland emails — saying Clinton was responding to spam from Nigerian princes and asking Vladimir Putin for shirtless pictures, for instance. But that didn’t stop these people from describing how they had read about these non-existent emails and berating Clinton over them.

The best part? The interviewer gets almost all of these liars to attack Clinton for her lack of honesty.

Here’s the video. It’s maddening but funny.

Have a fabulous Fourth of July Weekend Sky Dancers!!