Thursday Reads: The Tide Has Turned

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Good Morning!!

Following the first presidential debate last week, Hillary is flying high in the polls and many in the media seem to have turned against Donald Trump. I’m reminded of what happened in 2012 after Romney’s “47%” gaffe was revealed. Once you become a laughing stock, it’s hard to change people’s minds. Trump’s loss in that debate may turn out to be his downfall, and now his running mate has his own horrendous gaffe–“That Mexican thing.”

Daily Kos has a great summary of the latest poll data: Daily Kos Elections 2016 forecast: Hillary Clinton’s victory odds now back up to 83 percent.

What a difference a week makes! When we looked at the model on Monday, September 26 (the day of the first presidential debate), Hillary Clinton’s odds of winning were 64 percent. There had been some subtle improvements in the previous week in Clinton’s national polling numbers (as Pneumonia-ghazi started to fade from view) but that hadn’t really trickled down into the state-level polls, which is what our model is based on. By Thursday, September 29, that improvement was starting to filter into the state polls, and our model ticked up to 68 percent … but that was still based only on polls with a pre-debate field period.

On the morning Monday, October 3, we had a few post-debate polls under our belt … and Clinton’s overall odds were up to 72 percent … but we were still left wondering why everything was so quiet on the polling front. By the end of Monday, though, the deluge had arrived, and with one exception (Quinnipiac’s Ohio poll), everything was very good news for Clinton: among others, a Clinton +11 poll from Monmouth in Colorado,another Clinton +11 poll in Colorado from Keating Research, polls from Quinnipiac with Clinton +5 in Florida and +3 in North Carolina, a Clinton +9 poll in Pennsylvania from Franklin & Marshall, a Clinton +3 poll in Nevada from Hart Research, and a Clinton +7 poll in Virginia from Christopher Newport Univ.

Ooops!

Ooops!

It may well have been her single best polling day of the cycle, and by Tuesday her odds had jumped to 82 percent, a one-day gain of 10. That matches the largest single-day gain our model has seen since we started running. That other gain of 10 happened between August 8th and 9th; in case you’re wondering what was happening then, that was the Monday after the Democratic convention ended, when the post-DNC polls started to show up. So you could say that the debate was one of the most momentous events of the campaign: if your metric is the effect it had on our model, she got a convention-sized bounce out of it.

The subsequent days have seen even more strong poll results, most notably two different polls on Wednesday (from Monmouth and Anzalone Liszt) giving Clinton a 2-point lead in Ohio, which isn’t a lot but serves to counteract the Quinnipiac poll that had her down 5. The subsequent polls weren’t enough to really move the model much higher; it currently places Clinton’s odds at 83 percent. But they do continue an impressive little winning streak: out of the several dozen polls of swing states released since the debate, only one of that entire stack had Donald Trump leading (again, that Quinnipiac Ohio poll). And that stack covers every major swing state except Iowa (and Wisconsin, if you even consider that a swing state in the first place).

More details at the link.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks with Zianna Oliphant onstage after speaking at the Little Rock AME Zion Church in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Oct. 2, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks with Zianna Oliphant onstage after speaking at the Little Rock AME Zion Church in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Oct. 2, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

What about demographic data?

Harry Enten at FiveThirtyEight: Trump’s Doing Worse Than Romney Did Among White Voters.

Donald Trump’s strategy in this campaign has been fairly clear from the beginning: Drive up Republican support among white voters in order to compensate for the GOP’s shrinking share among the growing nonwhite portion of the electorate. And Trump has succeeded in overperforming among a certain slice of white voters, those without a college degree. But overall, the strategy isn’t working. Trump has a smaller lead among white voters than Mitt Romney did in 2012, and Trump’s margin seems to be falling from where it was when the general election began.

Four years ago, Romney beat President Obama among white voters by 17 percentage points, according to pre-election polls. That was the largest winning margin among white voters for any losing presidential candidate since at least 1948. Of course, even if Trump did just as well as Romney did, it would help him less, given that the 2016 electorate will probably be more diverse that 2012’s. And to win — even if the electorate remained as white as it was four years ago — Trump would need a margin of 22 percentage points or more among white voters.

But Trump isn’t even doing as well as Romney. Trump is winning white voters by just 13 percentage points, according to an average of the last five live-interviewer national surveys.1 He doesn’t reach the magic 22 percentage point margin in a single one of these polls.

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NBC News: Clinton Holds 41-Point Lead Over Trump Among Asian-American Voters: Survey.

The Fall 2016 National Asian American Survey, taken between Aug. 10 and Sept. 29 in 11 different languages, found that 55 percent of registered voters intended to vote for Clinton compared to 14 percent for Trump. Eight percent intended to vote for a different candidate, and 16 percent had not yet decided, according to the survey. Seven percent of registered voters declined to give an answer.

When taking into account voters leaning one way or the other, Clinton’s lead grows to 43 points, with 59 percent of registered voters intending to or leaning toward voting for Clinton compared to 16 percent for Trump and 16 percent who were undecided or refused to answer.

“The big takeaway is a continuation of what we saw in the Spring 2016 survey— an Asian-American population that was become more Democratic over time,” Karthick Ramakrishnan, the survey’s director, told NBC News. “We see that Trump is likely a significant reason for that shift. Trump’s unfavorables are like nothing we’ve seen before.”

Marc Caputo at Politico: Clinton dominating Trump among Florida Hispanics in new poll.

Hillary Clinton leads Donald Trump by 24 points among likely Hispanic voters in Florida, according to a new poll that shows a significant number of Republican Latinos are unsure of their nominee for the White House.

Clinton’s 54-30 percent lead over Trump with Hispanic voters stands in marked contrast to the U.S. Senate race, where bilingual Republican incumbent Marco Rubio is ahead of Democratic U.S. Rep Patrick Murphy by 48-39 percent, a TelOpinion Research survey conducted for the conservative-leaning Associated Industries of Florida business group shows.

Clinton’s huge advantage over Trump is buoyed by strong support among Democrats (whom she carries 75-13 percent) and independents (among whom she wins 61-20 percent) in the poll of 600 likely Latino voters. Trump’s 63-19 percent lead over Clinton among Republican Hispanics could be much bigger, but 14 percent are undecided. That’s double the number of undecided Latino Democrats.

Those numbers worry Republicans because the polls show Trump is already under-performing 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s final margins with Florida Hispanics — yet there’s a month of campaigning left and Clinton is outgunning Trump in paid Spanish-language TV ads that are playing in heavy rotation in the Miami area.

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What about the fallout from the vice presidential debate? Immediately after it ended, cable talking heads pronounced Mike Pence the winner because he was able to lie repeatedly in a calm voice. By yesterday his performance wasn’t looking so good.

Abby Phillip at The Washington Post: Clinton debate prep is focused on what happens once the debate is done.

Sen. Tim Kaine may have awakened Wednesday to poor reviews after the first and only vice-presidential debate, but his acerbic performance in Farmville, Va., revealed that the Clinton campaign’s strategy for these debates extends far beyond the stage.

Armed with pre-planned Web videos, television ads and tweets, the campaign has used key debate moments this week and last as a cudgel against the Republican ticket, showing a level of discipline and organization largely absent from Donald Trump and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s campaign.

“Kaine had a very clear and simple plan for the debate: remind a national televised audience of all of the offensive things Trump has said and done in this campaign,” said Dan Pfeiffer, a former senior adviser to President Obama. “The Clinton campaign was smart enough to know that who ‘wins’ or ‘loses’ the VP debate doesn’t move votes. Instead it’s an opportunity to communicate a message to a very large audience.”

“I don’t see a single thing that Pence did that moved the needle for Trump in any way,” he added.

And then there was that awful Pence gaffe that many outside of the Latino community didn’t pick up on right away.

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Vox: How the Clinton campaign is making #ThatMexicanThing a thing, explained.

Sen. Tim Kaine made a point during the vice presidential debate of reminding the American public of that time Donald Trump called Mexican immigrants rapists and drug dealers.

“He started his campaign with a speech where he called Mexicans rapists and criminals,” Kaine said, listing Trump’s most controversial campaign statements. “I cannot imagine how Gov. Pence can defend Donald Trump.”

At first, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence responded with a laugh and a shrug — a seemingly implicit defense of Trump implying Kaine’s attack was unfounded (despite the fact that Trump really has said these things). But Pence’s initial lack of response didn’t stop Kaine. He used the same line four times Tuesday night. And by the fourth time, Pence had had enough.

“Senator, you whipped out that Mexican thing again,” Pence retorted. “There are criminal aliens who have come into this country illegally, who are perpetrating violence. He also said, ‘and many of them are good people.’ Sen. Kaine, you keep leaving them out of your quote.”

And then Twitter exploded.

The Clinton campaign also seized on it quickly: www.thatMexicanthing.com now redirects to Hillary Clinton’s campaign website, and Clinton’s campaign is doing its darnedest to make the hashtag #ThatMexicanThing the takeaway from Tuesday’s debate.

It’s an illustration of just how savvy campaigns can be in the face of a losing performance, but it is also a reflection of what Kaine was trying do all night: sink Pence down to Trump’s level.

Vox isn’t so sure the strategy worked, but that’s not what Latino leaders are saying.

You’ve probably seen several videos from Clinton and groups supporting her with clips of Pence denying that Trump said the things he said, but this morning CNN put one out.

I really do think the tide has turned in Hillary’s favor, and the final blow could come in the second presidential debate on Sunday night.

What else is happening? What stories are you following today?


Tuesday Night Live Blog: VeepStakes Debate!

pence-kaineGood Evening!  

The Vice Presidential Debate 2016 is at 8:00 PM – 9:30 PM (CT) on

Tuesday, October 4

The 2016 Vice Presidential candidate Debate is live tonight from Longwood University in Virginia. It’s an interesting place for the debate for several reasons. Coincidentally, Virginia is Tim Kaine’s home state.  Also, Farmville–the small town that’s home to Longwood–has a history of racial tensions in a campaign year full of them.

Across the nation, race has flared again as a dominant political issue. From Black Lives Matter and violence between police and people of color to campus demonstrations, neighborhood riots and the rise of white supremacists in mainstream politics, this has been a tense and divisive campaign season.

When America focuses on Farmville this week, it will find a town that has struggled more than most to come to grips with race. It hasn’t always worked. Though the county is 64 percent white, the public schools are only about 37 percent white. Many white students still attend the private school that opened after desegregation.

But some believe there is a lesson in the effort made by town leaders and the university to confront the worst aspects of the past.

Farmville is “the scene of where leadership has been forged in reconciliation,” Longwood President Taylor Reveley IV said. “That is a powerful concept for the country today as we are wrestling with issues that are very familiar from the past, especially from the civil rights movement.”

Both the Kaines and the Clinton have spent a good portion of their public life in support of civil rights.  Trump and Pence, of course, are fairly well known for just the opposite. There clearly could be some questions that pop up that reflect those differences.

Here’s some information on the debate to as we gear up for our watch party!2016_07_27_kaine_pence_twitter-3_22736636421

Both candidates have a mission as they take the stage Tuesday night: to make the case for their running mates, and to avoid any major missteps that could take their campaigns off-course. Pence needs to show stability for a ticket that has been rattled by Trump’s debate performance and an explosive story about Donald Trump’s taxes, while Kaine will look to extend Hillary Clinton’s newfound momentum and make an effective argument on her behalf.

You can watch the debate on CSpan and any of the major news networks.  You can also live stream it.

The first and only vice presidential debate of this election season is tonight at 9pm ET, 6pm PT. And if you don’t have cable there are plenty of different ways to watch Trump’s running mate Mike Pence and Clinton’s running mate Tim Kaine square off. Kaine, of course, is perhaps best known as the lead singer of the band Future Islands. And you can’t convince me that it’s not the same guy.

 If you’re watching on a computer, one of the easiest ways to watch is on YouTube. PBS Newshour has a livestream that starts at 8:30pm ET, 5:30pm PT, but seriously have you ever seen Tim Kaine and Future Islands lead singer Samuel T. Herring in the same room together? I didn’t think so.

If you have a cable subscription but want to watch CNN on your devices you can watch CNN Go on your iPhone or iPad, Android, and Windows Phone. You can also use the CNN mobile apps for Kindle Fire and Windows 10. Or you can watch using the CNN app for Apple TV and Roku.

There are a lot of topics that could come up tonight! Here’s some analysis from MoJo’s Hannah Levintova.57968fbbc361885e658b458e

In this case, after Donald Trump lost his first presidential debate—in which hesniffed often, spoke in incomplete sentences, lied, and ranted about his “winning temperament”—many conservatives have expressed concern about his lack of focus and debate preparation. It will be up to Pence to restore their faith in Trump. Kaine will have to match Hillary Clinton’s strong first debate performance while defending her against the Trump campaign’s tried-and-true attack lines, including her shifting stance on the Trans-Pacific Partnership and her husband’s role in enacting the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

 So, hold on here we go!!!

 


Tuesday Reads: VP Debate and Other News

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Good Morning!!

Tonight at 9, Vice Presidential nominees Tim Kaine and Mike Pence will debate on national TV for the first and only time. We will have a live blog for discussion of the event.

NPR is billing these two as “softening the image” of the Democratic and Republican tickets.

Unlike running mates of the past, Pence and Kaine have not been unleashed as “attack dogs” to chew viciously on their adversaries. This year, the headlines about outrageous charges have come from the top of the ticket — with help from various TV surrogates and the rest of the media chorus.

Kaine and Pence, by contrast, serve to soften the image of the national tickets. They are Tim and Mike, known by the friendlier, shorter versions of their first names. Both have made their way in politics as loyal party men, to be sure, but as warmer and more personable versions of their respective partisan stereotypes. And both have been known for their ability to maneuver and adapt to changing political circumstances.

So far, at least, both have performed admirably in their subordinate roles. It might even be said that both have exceeded expectations in their assistance to the nominees who chose them.

Kaine has been a prolific fundraiser as well as an affable and effective salesman on the stump. Pence has been enormously influential in bringing religious and social conservatives around to accepting and endorsing Trump. Even some who had pleaded for primary voters to pick anyone but Trump have come on board this fall, however reluctantly; and several have done so after meeting with Pence. Former rival and bitter critic Ted Cruz is one example.

How anyone could consider Mike Pence “softer” on anything is beyond me. I can only assume that NPR is ignorant of or choosing to ignore Pence’s record in the House and as Governor of Indiana.

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Here’s one mainstream article that calls attention to Pence’s “baggage.” Roll Call (September 19, 2016):

Pence made national headlines in early 2015 when he signed into law the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” which limited the legal actions that could be taken against an individual or business for asserting their religious beliefs.

The law sparked widespread outrage. Opponents contended that it would give license to religious conservatives to refuse service to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals. In response, several major events and corporations — including Salesforce.com, the NCAA, and the gaming convention Gen-Con — threatened to limit business ventures in the state or boycott it altogether.

Pence adamantly defended the RFRA legislation and refused to say whether it allowed for discrimination, which led to extensive questioning of his underlying motives.

What followed was a hemorrhaging of support from moderate Republicans in the state, and intense backlash on social media and in the press. So much so that he quietly signed a subsequent piece of legislation — dubbed the “RFRA Fix” — that clarified that the law did not allow businesses to discriminate based on a customer’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

Read about more of Pence’s ugly record at the link. He tried to set up a state “news bureau,” a propaganda organ paid for by taxpayers.

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Pence is virulently anti-abortion and did everything he could to get rid of Planned Parenthood in the state. He attempted to prevent Syrian refugees from settling in Indiana. He has helped keep Indiana a “right-to-work” state. More background on Pence’s views:

Planned Parenthood: This Is Mike Pence’s Indiana, and It’s Terrifying.

Mother Jones: Mike Pence Has Led a Crusade Against Abortion Access and LGBT Rights.

Mother Jones: Pence Tells Evangelicals He’ll Help Trump Restrict Abortion Rights.

Bustle: Mike Pence’s Stance On Gay Marriage Is As Harsh As His “Religious Freedom” Views.

In These Times: Mike Pence May Be a Friend to Trump, But He’s No Friend to Workers.

Here’s the Clinton campaign’s take on Pence and his defenses of Trump:

Other News

Republican Trump supporters have been waiting breathlessly for an “October Surprise” from Julian Assange and Wikileaks. A couple of days ago, long-time Trump adviser and conspiracy theorist Roger Stone tweeted this cryptic warning:

Then yesterday he tweeted this:

But so far, Stone and the Trumpettes have been disappointed.

The Washington Post: Trump backers realize they’ve been played as WikiLeaks fails to deliver October surprise.

For weeks, backers of Republican nominee Donald Trump have hyped the tantalizing possibility that the anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks was on the verge of publishing a set of documents that would doom Hillary Clinton’s chances in November….

The group’s founder, Julian Assange, did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm, suggesting to Fox News hosts that his scoops could upend the race with documents “associated with the election campaign, some quite unexpected angles, some quite interesting.”

The announcement by WikiLeaks that it would host a major news conference Tuesday only seemed to confirm that the bombshell was ready to burst. The pro-Trump, anti-Clinton media world rippled with fevered speculation.

But the dreamed-of takedown of Clinton was not to be.

The much-vaunted news conference, as it turned out, was little more than an extended infomercial for WikiLeaks on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of its founding.

Assange, whose group released a trove of hacked Democratic National Committee documents on the eve of the party’s convention this summer, breezily dismissed the idea that anyone should have expected any news at his news conference.

“If we are going to make a major publication about the U.S., we wouldn’t do it at 3 a.m.,” Assange said at one point, referring to the Eastern daylight start time for the event.That didn’t go over well with Trump backers who had stayed up through the night, thinking they’d be watching live the unveiling of the death blow to the Clinton campaign.

That didn’t go over well with Trump backers who had stayed up through the night, thinking they’d be watching live the unveiling of the death blow to the Clinton campaign.

LOL! Read more hilarious stuff at the link. The Trump campaign is nothing but a “fever swamp” of conspiracy theorists, white supremacists and neo-Nazis. Just look at the campaign’s leadership and advisers like Alex Jones.

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Mother Jones: How Trump Became Our Conspiracy Theorist in Chief.

Consider Trump’s inner circle: Campaign CEO Stephen Bannon is on leave from Breitbart News, the conservative site he helped turn into a one-stop destination for breathlessly reported stories like “Muslim Prayer Rug Found on Arizona Border” (on closer inspection, the “rug” was probably a track jacket). Trump’s deputy campaign manager, David Bossie, a peddler of many of the wildest Clinton conspiracy theories of the 1990s, once made a documentary alleging that Hillary Clinton had murdered a critic’s cat. Trump adviser Roger Stone, a former Nixon campaign aide and political dirty trickster, wrote a book claiming that Chelsea Clinton got four plastic surgeries to mask the identity of her real father.

Populist movements have long flirted with what political theorist Richard Hofstadter, writing about Barry Goldwater in 1964, called the “paranoid style in American politics”—the penchant for framing opponents as the tools of a powerful but shadowy fifth column. But Trump has embraced and normalized the political fringe in unprecedented ways—and that could have far-reaching effects.

That Trump would devote much of the substance of his campaign to wild claims and ominous innuendo is not surprising: This is what first made him a conservative star. Five years ago, Trump embarked on a national press tour to question the legitimacy of President Barack Obama’s birth certificate. Obama, Trump suggested, was actually a Kenyan-born impostor named “Barry Soweto.” Establishment Republicans may have snickered, but Trump’s strategy was an unmitigated success. A CNN poll showed that his support among likely GOP voters nearly doubled once he started talking about the birth certificate. He became a regular guest on Fox & Friends, a sought-after speaker at conservative dinners, and a campaign prop for Mitt Romney, who flew to Las Vegas to accept Trump’s endorsement. In just a few months, Trump showed how intoxicatingly viral the netherworld of conspiracies could be. (Even when he finally conceded that Obama was born in the United States, he claimed the birther rumors originated with Clinton.)

From the day he kicked off his 2016 presidential campaign, an air of paranoia has infused almost everything Trump has said or done. He demanded a border wall on the grounds that Mexico was sending killers and rapists into the country, boosting his claims with an Infowars video he’d seen on the Drudge Report. He promised to “bomb the shit out of” ISIS, while insinuating that the current commander in chief harbored sympathies for the terrorist group (“There’s something going on”). After Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died in his sleep, Trump fanned theories of an assassination. He trumpeted a National Enquirer story suggesting that Ted Cruz’s dad was involved in the Kennedy assassination (even though Stone had written a best-selling book fingering Lyndon B. Johnson).

Read the rest at Mother Jones.

Links Only

Time Magazine: Why Tonight’s Vice Presidential Debate is Unusual.

The New Yorker: Why the Vice-Presidential Debate Does and Doesn’t Matter.

Media Matters: .What Media Need To Know About Mike Pence’s Economic Record.

WSOC TV: Michelle Obama to campaign for Hillary Clinton in Charlotte.

Melissa McEwan at Share Blue: I published this photo of Hillary Clinton and the response was overwhelming. (Must Read!)

Deadspin: Trump Supporters Spent The Debate Tweeting At Jon Lester Because They Thought He Was Moderator Lester Holt.

What stories are you following today? Let us know in the comment thread and be sure to check back tonight for the VP Debate live blog!


Monday Reads: Rounding Third

49fc79b78c4180103d9cfc913b4debfdGood Morning

The first of day August.

Hey…when you woke up today…did y’all think, even for a second…it was a world where Trump never existed?

I did.

Can you believe it?

And would you believe…my non-Trump parallel universe lasted for more than a second. (It was the most pleasant 3 or 4 seconds I’ve spent in some time.)

Trump is no accident of course…we see him loud and clear!

So before your morning links, take a look at this brilliant video from Jon Oliver:
John Oliver Tears Into ‘Fu*king Asshole’ Donald Trump Over Criticism of Ghazala Khan | Mediaite

It took an officially released statement from the campaign for Trump to finally acknowledge Capt. Humayun Khan as a “hero,” a stick point that Oliver sharply criticized Sunday night. Perhaps, offered the late night host, Ghazala Khan is too overwhelmed to speak, “when she sees images of her dead son’s face, you fucking asshole.”

7e29fdbf82a068e03291dc48c77c4e0dOliver further harangued the GOP nominee, saying that the things coming out of his mouth are nothing more that, “self-serving half-truths from a self-serving half-man who is somehow convinced half the country that sacrifice is the same thing as success.”

[…]

The segment did end on an emotional note however. Oliver relayed the overall takeaway from the conventions as follows:

“The main takeaway from these two weeks is that incredibly we may be on the brink of electing a sociopathic narcissist for who the simple Presidential duty of comforting the families of fallen soldiers may actually be beyond his capabilities. And I genuinely did not think that was a part of the job that someone could be bad at.”

4475635037ea74f1e6f2c42d12d31664I know that Boston Boomer and Dak have written about Tony Schwartz…the Ghostwriter for Trump’s book, Art of the Deal. (Check out his twitter feed, it is interesting…you betcha.)I caught an interview Chris Cuomo did with Schwartz on CNN last week that was very good. I will link a few articles on that with some video below. I wish more people would pickup on what this man has to say…because some of his comments about Trump seem spot on and horrifically on point.

Ghostwriter: ‘The inner Trump is the outer Trump’ – CNNPolitics.com

Donald Trump’s former ghostwriter resumed his searing criticism of the Republican nominee Thursday, describing the Republican presidential nominee as a megalomaniac who cares only about himself.

Tony Schwartz, the credited co-author on Trump’s 1987 memoir “The Art of the Deal,” dismissed the notion that the Manhattan businessman has another side to his personality.

“There is no second Donald Trump,” Schwartz said in an interview on CNN’s “New Day.” “The inner Trump is the outer Trump.”

7b13f13d848f6b13444ebaf76d5f1c8a britishI wish you could have seen the entire interview, but I do have some key parts of it to share.

“They think he is going to be, those who currently support him, their savior,” Schwartz told CNN’s Chris Cuomo. “There is no one, no one, Donald Trump cares about less than the people who are not making it in this world. Those people — those people don’t yet realize it — he considers to be losers.”

“The minute that he gets their votes is the last time he will pay attention to them,” he added.

297434d143394e475c1d77d4036230ad russiaSchwartz said that Trump “makes it his business to lie,” and he dismissed the GOP nominee’s claim that he was being “sarcastic” when he seemed to encourage Russian intelligence agencies to find Hillary Clinton’s thousands of deleted emails.
“He wasn’t being sarcastic yesterday about Russia,” Schwartz said. “He was responding impulsively, reactively without thinking, which is what the does. Do we want a president who doesn’t think?”

Video at the link…not the full interview, it is edited down.

RIVETING TV: Trump’s Ghostwriter Rips Chris Cuomo Over Mealy-Mouthed Defense of Donald | BNR

CNN’s Chris Cuomo spent the final morning of the Democratic convention offering an insultingly ludicrous defense of Donald’s character. He was promptly put in his place by Tony Schwartz, Donald’s “The Art of the Deal” ghostwriter.


Under the guise of “balanced” journalism, CNN’s Chris Cuomo embarrassed himself, first by excusing Donald’s outrageous embrace of Russian hackers, then by carrying Donald’s water in an interview with Trump’s ghostwriter, Tony Schwartz.

b663afb787de548424482e4b4a103241 russiaSchwartz wasn’t having any of Cuomo’s both-siderism:

They think he is going to be, those who currently support him, their savior. There is no one, no one that Donald Trump cares about less than the people who are not making it in this world. Those people, those people don’t yet realize it, he considers to be losers. And the minute, because he has to be the winner, and others have to be the loser, the minute that that gets clear, the minute that he gets their votes is the last time he will pay attention to them.

For me this is the real call out of the interview….Trump’s Ghostwriter Calls Out Media’s “False Equivalency” In Trump Coverage

d4ae700d432a5534f7027fc27d926627TONY SCHWARTZ: Chris, you’re setting up, as I’ve heard you in the last ten minutes, a false equivalency. This is the problem I think in the media, is that they’re treating Trump as if he is a legitimate candidate for president of the United States. There is no way he is. No more than my two-year-old grandson would be a legitimate candidate for president. And if the media treated my two-year-old grandson as someone who could be president, that would be scary. But when they treat Trump, who has no attention span, who has only a profound self-interest, who has no experience, and only has his inflated confidence as a qualification, it’s terrifying. It’s terrifying.

Just a couple of more links on the ghostwriter and we will move on:

Donald Trump’s former ghostwriter has noticed something incredible about his insults

f7f727a869e9be1ddec13a0ebe0ac858 spanish civil war wpaThe ghostwriter of Donald Trump’s The Art of the Dealremarked earlier this week that “most negative things he says about others are actually describing him”.

Tony Schwartz, who wrote the bestseller with Trump in 1987, said that people should bear that fact in mind when reading the Republican nominee’s insults on Twitter.

And, well, Trump sure does like an insult. With the help of the New York Times’ extensive collection of his outbursts, we’ve put together a list of bad things he’s said about other people… with some slight edits.

 

385befbc5c32f0e2f64bff4d1810ea26 russiaGo to the link to see some of the comments…

You may have already seen this one, it is from July 22nd. Is Donald Trump a textbook narcissist? – The Washington Post

And the article that started it all: Donald Trump’s Ghostwriter Tells All – The New Yorker

Next up…a bit of confusion.

Kaine defends abortion stance: ‘My voting position … hasn’t really changed’ | TheHill

Tim Kaine breaks from Hillary Clinton on abortion provision – CNNPolitics.com

Tim Kaine differs with Hillary Clinton on a longstanding rule banning federal taxpayer dollars from funding abortions, the Democratic vice presidential candidate told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union,” in an interview that aired Sunday.4c656038d653c1b891386236622f0b3a europe

[…]

Abortion differences

Abortion, though, remains a point of difference between the pair. Kaine said he supports the Hyde Amendment, a 40-year-old rule preventing federal taxpayer dollars from funding abortions. That contradicts comments by Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook in a July 24 “State of the Union” appearance. Kaine “has said that he will stand with Secretary Clinton to defend a woman’s right to choose, to repeal the Hyde Amendment,” Mook quoted Kaine as saying.
“My voting position on abortion hasn’t really changed,” Kaine said in the interview aired Sunday. “I support the Hyde Amendment. I haven’t changed that.”
Tapper pressed Kaine, saying Mook told CNN otherwise.
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“That is not accurate and I don’t think Robby has said that, Jake,” Kaine responded.

Clinton spokesperson Jesse Ferguson told CNN on July 26 that Kaine’s commitment to stand with Clinton on repealing the Hyde Amendment “was made privately.”
Kaine said in the interview that he thought about his differences with Clinton over abortion before joining the ticket. As a potential vice president “I had to get comfortable with the notion that I can have my personal views but I’m going to support the president of the United States, and I will.”
Still the issue is likely to linger among some Clinton supporters. NARAL Pro-Choice America president Ilyse Hogue called Kaine’s continued opposition to repealing the Hyde Amendment “deeply disappointing” in a tweeted statement that was apparently deleted and then reposted.
While we appreciate Senator Kaine’s clarification that he will support the nominee’s position on this, we sincerely hope that Sen. Kaine will continue to educate himself on what Hyde means to the most vulnerable women in this country and join us in fighting this injustice,” the statement said.
On Sunday the group tamped down its criticism, and tweeted it is now “glad” Kaine will stand with Clinton to “end Hyde,” exhibiting a more optimistic outlook on Kaine supporting Clinton regardless of his personal views.
a1e479b53080d3444401a23d372586ab belguimWell, I am glad the confusion was sorted out…but Kaine stance on abortion is what bothered me from the beginning.

The Zika epidemic that has spread from Brazil to the rest of Latin America is now raging in Puerto Rico — and the island’s response is in chaos.

The war against the Aedes aegypti mosquito carrying the virus is sputtering out in failure. Infections are skyrocketing: Many residents fail to protect themselves against bites because they believe the threat is exaggerated.

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Federal and local health officials are feuding, and the governor’s special adviser on Zika has quit in disgust.

There are only about 5,500 confirmed infections on the island, including of 672 pregnant women. But experts at theCenters for Disease Control and Prevention say they believe that is a radical undercount.

a11e263ba5177788fff2aa4578f36a58Just four cases of infection were confirmed last week in Florida. But in Puerto Rico, officials believe thousands of residents — including up to 50 pregnant women — are infected each day.

For a more illustrated look at the Zika virus as it spreads through the US, Interactive Graphic: Zika Goes Local in the U.S. – Scientific American

State officials link cases of the virus to local mosquitoes in the mainland U.S. for the first time, setting off a new phase of public response

dc70f6433e5e65b56b2ff469b66f835d ussrIn other health news…a change may soon be coming to the term transgender identity and its use as a “mental illness.”  Transgender identity is considered a mental illness by WHO. But that may soon change. – Chicago Tribune

According to the World Health Organization, being transgender is a mental illness.

But that could soon change, as WHO prepares a new edition of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD), its global codebook that influences national disease diagnostic manuals worldwide. The current version, ICD-10, has been around since 1990 and ICD-11 is expected to be approved in 2018.

b3da8450375aff4ac548207d970034d3The proposals to declassify transgender identity as a mental disorder have been approved by each committee that has considered it so far. A study published this week in the Lancet Psychiatry journal, offers up new evidence supporting the change.

A condition is designated as a mental illness when the very fact that you have it causes distress and dysfunction, said Geoffrey Reed, a professor of psychology at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, a consultant on the ICD-11, and co-author of the study told the Washington Post. The study argues that this isn’t the case with transgender identity.

1db85abfdc6a3418b462f078bdac7e99 russiaBetween April and August of 2014, Reed and his team interviewed 250 transgender adults who were receiving transgender-related health services at the Condesa Specialized Clinic in Mexico City. They asked them about their childhoods, when they knew they were transgender, and what kinds of reactions they had gotten from work, school, or family.

Reed found that many of his interviewees experienced a lot of distress in their lives. Later, using mathematical modeling, he found a good way to predict who was suffering -but the most important determining factor was not being transgender, it was something else.

“We found distress and dysfunction were very powerfully predicted by the experiences of social rejection or violence that people had,” he said. “But they were not actually predicted by gender incongruence itself.”

d8f580022f77f002b9365f734edde961 australiaThis finding contradicts the basic classification of a mental illness, which is that “distress or dysfunction are essential elements of the condition,” the paper said.

You can read more at the link, or take a look at these articles:

The Lancet Psychiatry: First field trial supports removing transgender diagnosis from mental disorders chapter within WHO classification | EurekAlert! Science News

Removing transgender identity from the classification of mental disorders: a Mexican field study for ICD-11 – The Lancet Psychiatry

Here is some news about violence, the kind that should be studied…because I don’t know how else to explain it. Three Florida Walmart employees arrested for manslaughter after shoplifting suspect dies | AL.com

Three Florida Walmart employees were arrested in connection with the death of a man who was suspected of shoplifting from the store, WFLA reported.

2ae3a0071bcb9adb15658b8ac71c9d15 dutchThe three employees arrested, according to the station, were Nathan Allen Higgins, 35, Support Manager; Crucelis Nunez, 23, Customer Service Manager; and Randall Eugene Tomko, 58, Loss Prevention.

They have all been charged with manslaughter.

On February 7, police responded to the Walmart store in Lakeland, on North Road 98, because there was a suspected shoplifter- 64-year-old Kenneth E. Wisham.

WFLA reported that while en route, police received another call that Wisham was not breathing.

After an investigation, police said that Wisham was on his way out of the store with stolen DVDs when employees confronted him and detained him.

0e2480cc448b8217a15cab7070661b7fPolice arrived and the suspect was taken to a local hospital in critical condition. He later died there.

An autopsy showed that Wisham died of asphyxia due to being restrained, and he also had 15 broken ribs.

A 911 call from the store, published by WFLA, said that the second caller was one of the men who detained the 64-year-old. The caller said, “Um, somebody was stealing from the store and we chased him down and we had him on the ground and we weren’t putting too much force on him and he doesn’t have a pulse now.”

Tomko’s attorney said that his client was only doing his job.

d64f40a445a191e239f2cf7a3a94bc5aUh, this is not his job…Walmart has a strict policy not to confront the shoplifters. And you are not allowed to follow them outside the store. At all. The employees are required to call the cops. That is why they have all those cameras…in store and out of the store in the parking lots.

But what makes people do something like this?

Mug shots if you care to look at them, are at this link: 3 Lakeland Walmart workers charged with shoplifting suspect’s death | WFLA.com

Just one more link before this post is over and done.

31fc80f16cbe7532174f0115a1c58e65There is a new method being used to combat the Asian carp invasion, but it seems like it is replacing one beast with a more nasty monster. (Granted, it once did roam the waters back long ago…) How to combat Asian carp? Get an alligator gar – LA Times

I’s a toothy giant that can grow longer than a horse and heavier than a refrigerator, a fearsome-looking prehistoric fish that plied U.S. waters from the Gulf of Mexico to Illinois until it disappeared from many states half a century ago.

Persecuted by anglers and deprived of places to spawn, the alligator gar — with a head that resembles an alligator and two rows of needle-like teeth — survived mainly in Southern states in the tributaries of the Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico after being declared extinct in several states farther north. To many, it was a freak, a “trash fish” that threatened sport fish, something to be exterminated.

But the once-reviled predator is now being seen as a valuable fish in its own right, and as a potential weapon against a more threatening intruder: the invasive Asian carp, which have swum almost unchecked toward the Great Lakes, with little more than an electric barrier to keep them at bay.

Efforts are underway to reintroduce the alligator gar to the northern part of its former range.

Alligator_gar

Okay, so perhaps it is a good thing to reintroduce the alligator gar, but can you imagine coming across one of these things…they are the size of a horse?

5045c6dda087c2001033429d11361b8c“What else is going to be able to eat those monster carp?” said Allyse Ferrara, an alligator gar expert at Nicholls State University in Louisiana, where the species is relatively common. “We haven’t found any other way to control them.”

Alligator gar, the second-largest U.S. freshwater fish behind the West Coast’s white sturgeon, have shown a taste for Asian carp, which have been spreading and outcompeting native fish for food.

The gar dwarf the invading carp, which themselves can grow to 4 feet and 100 pounds. The largest alligator gar caught was 8½ feet and 327 pounds, and they can grow even larger.

Native Americans once used their enamel-like scales as arrow points, and early settlers covered plow blades with their tough skin and scales.

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But a mistaken belief that they hurt sport fish led to widespread extermination throughout the last century, when they were often shot or blown up with dynamite.

“Some horrible things have been done to this fish,” said Ferrara, adding that sport fisheries are healthier with gar to keep troublesome species like carp under control. “It’s similar to how we used to think of wolves; we didn’t understand the role they played in the ecosystem.”

Gar now are being restocked in lakes, rivers and backwaters — sometimes in secret locations — in several states. In May, Illinois lawmakers passed a resolution urging state natural resources officials to speed up its program and adopt regulations to protect all four gar species native to the state.

I don’t know…I think if it was between an alligator gar and Trump…I’d take the gar anytime!

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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. Most car accident lawyers charge clients in a fairly unique way — as opposed to the hourly fee that many firms charge in other types of cases. The typical auto accident lawyer will charge a “contingency fee” to take an injury case.

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.

clinton-kaine

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?


Thursday Reads: Male Politicians and Pundits should Worry about their “Erectile Dysfunction” and STFU about Women’s Health (and Other News)

Morning News by Ellen Day Hale (1855-1940)

Good Morning!

I thought this painting was appropriate, since we are being dragged back into the 19th Century by both Democrats and Republicans these days. We all know about the war on women being waged by Willard “Mitt” Romney, Rick “the Dick” Santorum, Nasty Newt Gingrich and Ron “White Power” Paul. But Democrats have now been empowered the Catholic Church’s attack on Obama’s attempt to protect women’s health care.

But now “liberal” pundits like Chris Matthews, Mark Shields, and E.J. Dionne have joined the battle to remove any semblance of privacy and autonomy from women.

Today former DNC Chairman and Governor of VA–and likely Senate candidate Tim Kaine came out against the requirement that contraception be included in health insurance policies.

Pat J is right. We need a women’s freedom party. Aren’t any of these dinosaurs aware that birth control (and abortion) have been with us during most of recorded history? Check out this series of photos in Newsweek drawn from the history of birth control.

Did you know that Aristotle recommended birth control methods for women in the 4th Century BC?

The philosopher recommended that women “anoint that part of the womb on which the seed falls” with olive oil in order to prevent pregnancy. His other top picks for spermicides included cedar oil, lead ointment, or frankincense oil. If the lips of the cervix were smooth, he noted, then conception would be difficult.

Sponges used for contraception

Ancient Egyptian women used sponges.

Long before Seinfeld’s Elaine Benes weighed the merits of a man to determine his spongeworthiness, women were using sponges as a method of preventing pregnancy. The sponge has its roots in early Egyptian civilization, and this photo depicts the variety of models available in the early 20th century. Those sponges were made of a variety of materials, and were sometimes drenched in lemon juice or vinegar to act as a spermicide. Today’s sponges (called, in fact, Today’s Sponge) are synthetic, and use a chemical spermicide.

Another early method was the chastity belt. Perhaps religious nuts like Rick Santorum and Mark Shields would find that one acceptable?

At Wonkblog, Sarah Kliff thinks the Obama administration “sees political opportunity in the contraception battle,” because of the data shown in this chart:

(Public Religion Research Institute)

Kliff writes:

while Catholic leadership has blasted the new regulation, polls show that a majority of Catholics are actually more supportive of the provision than the rest of the country. A poll out Tuesday from the Public Religion Research Institute finds 52 percent of Catholic voters agreed with the statement, “employers should be required to provide their employees with health care plans that cover contraception and birth control at no cost.” That’s pretty much in line with overall support for the provision, which hovers at 55 percent – likely because Catholics use contraceptives at rates similar to the rest of Americans.

A majority of Catholics – 52 percent – also agree with the Obama administration’s decision to not exempt religious hospitals and universities from the provision. “Outside the political punditry, most Catholics agree with the administration on the issue,” says one Obama campaign official, explaining the view that this could be a political win.

And a lot of this likely isn’t about Catholic voters at all.

Rather, it may well be about the demographics that are most supportive of this particular health reform provision: young voters and women. In the PRRI poll, both groups register support above 60 percent for the provision.

Those two demographics are important here for a key reason: they were crucial to Obama’s victory in 2008. Third Way crunched the numbers earlier this month and found that the “Obama Independents” — the swing group that proved crucial to his 2008 victory — are, as Ryan Lizza put it, “disproportionately young, female and secular.”

Let’s hope Obama keeps all that in mind instead of bending to the will of the old gray white male Catholic Bishops and the elderly male fake-liberal pundits who won’t STFU and let women make their own choices.

Even some of the saner folks in the GOP are warning their wingnut colleagues that a fight against contraception would be a “disaster” for their party.

Read the rest of this entry »