Mark Cuban, former Trump supporter, on what he thinks of the guy now:

There's that guy who'll walk into the bar and say anything to get laid That's Donald Trump right now to a T. But it's all of us who are going to get fucked.

Cuban also wonders why none of Trump's business partners are speaking at the convention. "They’re not coming forward to speak. They’re not coming forward to give him money." No they aren't, are they?

As near as I can tell, no one who does business with Trump wants to repeat the experience. Nor does he have any genuine personal friends. He's cordial only as long as you're useful to him. In other words, he's basically a low-grade sociopath. He just doesn't care about people except as markers in whatever game he happens to be playing at the moment.

Donald Trump Has Some Numbers

Last night the New York Times promised to release a transcript of its interview with Donald Trump, and sometime during the night they did. It's here. You'll be unsurprised to learn that Trump wasn't misquoted at all, as his campaign chairman alleged. Once again, Paul Manafort baldly lied to the press. He is truly a man after Trump's own heart.

Here's my favorite bit:

David, I have statisticians, and I know, like if I went to Pennsylvania, I say, “Give me the statistics on what is going on with respect to manufacturing.” Numbers — 45, 55, 65, I have states that are so bad. New England. Look at New England, what happened. Nafta has been a disaster for this country.

Trump has statisticians! They give him statistics! And numbers! For example, 45, 55, and 65. Those are great numbers. The best numbers. They are Trump's numbers.

The New York Times has yet another interview with Donald Trump, foreign policy genius. Let's listen in:

He even called into question whether, as president, he would automatically extend the security guarantees that give the 28 members of NATO the assurance that the full force of the United States military has their back.

For example, asked about Russia’s threatening activities that have unnerved the small Baltic States that are the most recent entrants into NATO, Mr. Trump said that if Russia attacked them, he would decide whether to come to their aid only after reviewing whether those nations “have fulfilled their obligations to us.”

Vladimir Putin will be delighted to hear this. Next:

Reiterating his threat to pull back United States troops deployed around the world, he said, “We are spending a fortune on military in order to lose $800 billion,” citing what he called America’s trade losses. “That doesn’t sound very smart to me.”

Mr. Trump repeatedly defined American global interests almost purely in economic terms. Its roles as a peacekeeper, as a provider of a nuclear deterrent against adversaries like North Korea, as an advocate of human rights and as a guarantor of allies’ borders were each quickly reduced to questions of economic benefit to the United States.

Lots of politicians say American can no longer be policeman of the world. Trump actually believes it. Next:

Mr. Trump said he was convinced that he could persuade Mr. Erdogan to put more effort into fighting the Islamic State. But the Obama administration has run up, daily, against the reality that the Kurds — among the most effective forces the United States is supporting against the Islamic State — are being attacked by Turkey, which fears they will create a breakaway nation.

Asked how he would solve that problem, Mr. Trump paused, then said: “Meetings.”

Meetings. Right. And finally this:

When asked what he hoped people would take away from the convention, Mr. Trump said, “The fact that I’m very well liked.”

How very Willy Lomanesque. Trump's campaign manager immediately stepped in to say the Times had botched its quotes and Trump didn't really say this stuff about NATO. The Times has promised a transcript of the interview. I think Jonathan Bernstein has the right call on this:

How Has Indiana Fared Under Mike Pence?

Has Mike Pence been good for Indiana? It probably doesn't matter much, but I was curious anyway. For example, did he really enact the biggest income tax cut in the state's history? It turns out the answer is yes: he enacted a cut from 3.4 percent to 3.23 percent. That may not sound all that gigantic, but it turns out the only previous income tax cut in state history was 0.1 percent. So Pence's cut is the biggest!

What about other economic trends? Are there more Hoosiers at work than at any time before, as Paul Ryan said while he was praising Pence? Sure. But thanks to population growth, that's true almost everywhere. A better question is how employment compares to the nation at large. Answer: the unemployment rate since Pence took office in January 2013 has dropped from about 8 percent to about 5 percent. There's nothing wrong with that, but it's about the same as the rest of the country.

Is it true, as Pence said, that there are fewer state employees today than when he took office? I suppose there are multiple ways of counting this, but FRED tells us that the number of state employees has gone up from 116,000 to 117,000 since Pence took office. That's pretty slow growth, but it's not negative growth. Unless there's been a big cut in state employees in the first half of 2016, I'm not sure why Pence would say this.

And how about the state economy in general? There are lots of ways of looking at this, but the simplest is probably state GDP. Regrettably, we only have that through the beginning of 2015. Still, if you take a look at GDP growth during Pence's first two years in office, Indiana looks about the same as the entire country. There's nothing to be ashamed of, but nothing much to write home about either.

Pence has cut taxes and cut spending, and so far he's managed to avoid the disastrous experience of Kansas. Overall things seem to be OK in Indiana. But did Pence's conservative policies produce an economic miracle? Not by any measure I can see.

The weirdness factor was turned up to 11 today. Here are my five favorite moments:

  • After spending all of Tuesday insisting that Melania Trump plagiarized nothing, the campaign admits she did and blames it on her speechwriter.
  • The teleprompter goes out on Michelle Van Etten, who ends up giving perhaps the worst speech ever at a national convention. Before that, she was busily hawking Youngevity, a pyramid scheme that sells pseudoscience vitamin supplements. This may also have been a first for a national convention.
  • Not satisfied with merely locking her up, Trump advisor Al Baldasaro says Hillary Clinton should be shot for treason. The Secret Service investigates. Trump is forced to release a statement saying he "does not agree" that Hillary should be shot.
  • Ted Cruz declines to endorse Trump in his speech. "Don't stay home in November," he says to cheers, but then with a smirk tells them not to vote for Trump, but to "vote your conscience." When everyone finally catches on to what's going on, they begin booing and chanting "We want Trump." The Trump family sits through the entire speech with stony expressions on their faces. After it's all over, Heidi Cruz is escorted out by security while Trump supporters heckle her.
  • Instead of just letting this go, Newt Gingrich insists on putting it in the spotlight a second time by claiming fancifully that when Cruz said "vote your conscience," he really meant "vote for Trump." Nice try, Newt.

On the bright side, they finally got their scheduling in order tonight, filling the entire primetime hour with marquee speakers. It's the first time this week.

The Trump campaign is working on a few "tweaks" to his tax plan:

An updated version of Donald Trump’s tax cut will be about one-third the size of the previous $10 trillion version, two campaign advisers said on Wednesday.

One-third! Down from $10 trillion to $3 trillion. I guess when you're as fabulously wealthy as Donald Trump, $7 trillion hardly seems worth fussing over.

We've known all along that Trump's "policy" proposals were mostly meaningless, but this is sure a brazen confirmation. I can't wait for his new wall proposal: "We've tweaked it from 2,000 miles to 600 miles, and that's already built. Mr. Trump gets things done!"

On July 5, FBI Director James Comey held a press conference about Hillary Clinton's email server. By all accounts, his narrative was devastating. She had been "extremely careless." She had sent and received documents now considered classified. She had used her private server while traveling in unfriendly countries. There was a strong possibility that her server had been hacked.

As it happens, Comey overstated a lot of this stuff. But he did say it. And the reaction of the press was nearly unanimous: Comey had validated many of the worst charges against Clinton. There would be no indictment, but it was certain to hurt Clinton badly. And yet, look what happened according to the Pollster aggregates:

In the week following Comey's press conference, nothing happened. Clinton's poll numbers were basically flat, and then bumped up a couple of points. As near as I can tell, Comey's lengthy rebuke had no effect at all.

This is genuinely puzzling. Sure, the email affair had been going on for a long time and people were pretty tired of it, but Comey made genuine news—all of it bad for Clinton. At the very least, you'd expect a dip in the polls of two or three points for a few weeks.

Why didn't anyone care? Is this a sign that everyone's minds are made up, and there's basically nothing that can change the race at this point? Or does it mean that emailgate was a much smaller deal than we political junkies thought it was?

Wait! Melaniagate Isn't Over After All!

Melaniagate lives! There are still some questions to be answered:

I'm sure McIver will claim that (a) she worked on the speech only in her off hours, and (b) she did it solely because of her deep and abiding love for the entire Trump family.

And here we are. The final chapter in the Melania Trump plagiarism story. Meredith McIver, who has written some of Donald's books and helped Melania write her speech, has taken the fall.

They could have fessed up to this early Tuesday morning and avoided all the angst. Why didn't they? Who knows. More to the point: it seems as if all of Trumpland spent the entire day yesterday insisting that the disputed parts of Melania's speech were just common phrases and nobody plagiarized anything. Steven Dennis summarizes:

So are all these folks going to apologize for obviously trying to deceive everyone they talked to? I think we know the answer to that.

Donald Trump Keeps the Bad News Coming

The fuss over Melania Trump's plagiarism is finally dying down. So what does Donald do? He keeps it going by finally deciding to offer up a comment:

Why would he do this? There's no way to spin this into good news. Does he think he can eventually morph it into some kind of devastating attack on the hated liberal media? Will he spend half his speech on Thursday complaining about the treatment of his wife? The mind boggles.