Blogs | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en McCabegate Is the Latest Scandal That Will Totally Destroy Hillary Clinton <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_wsj_clinton_ally_fbi.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Today in the category of...oh, forget it. I don't have the heart for snark. It's just so goddamn tiresome. The <em>Wall Street Journal</em> headline on the right describes the latest pseudo-scandal in Hillaryland, and it's obviously intended to make you think there's yet more fishiness in the Clinton family. In a nutshell, <a href="" target="_blank">here's the story:</a></p> <ul><li>In early 2015, Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe recruited Dr. Jill McCabe to run for state Senate.</li> <li>Various organizations under McAuliffe's control donated lots of money to her campaign.</li> <li>She lost.</li> <li>Several months later, McCabe's husband was promoted to deputy director of the FBI. Because of that promotion, he "helped oversee the investigation into Mrs. Clinton&rsquo;s email use." This was presumably in addition to the hundreds of other things that a deputy director has oversight responsibility for.</li> </ul><p>There's literally nothing here. Not "nothing substantial." Not "nothing that other politicians don't do." Literally nothing. There's not a single bit of this that's illegal, unethical, or even the tiniest bit wrong. It's totally above board and perfectly kosher. And even if there <em>were</em> anything wrong, McAuliffe would have needed a time machine to know it.</p> <p>Honest to God, I'm so tired of this stuff I could scream. I've been joking about it lately by appending <em>gate</em> to every dumb little non-scandal that's tossed in Hillary's direction, and I guess I'll keep doing that. But our illustrious press corps needs to pull its collective head out of its ass. If you've got real evidence of Hillary being engaged in something fishy, go to town. I won't complain. But if all you've got is a thrice-removed, physics-challenged gewgaw that proves nothing except that you know how to play Six Degrees of Hillary Clinton,<sup>1</sup> then give it a rest. It just makes you look like those monomaniacs with thousands of clippings glued to their wall and spider webs of string tying them all together.</p> <p>Just stop it.</p> <p><sup>1</sup>Here's how it works:</p> <ol><li>Make a list of the entire chain of command that had some oversight over the FBI's investigation of Hillary Clinton's email server. That's going to be at least half a dozen people.</li> <li>Make a list of all their close family and friends. Now you're up to a hundred people.</li> <li>Look for a connection between any of those people and the Clintons. Since FBI headquarters is located in Washington DC and the Clintons famously have thousands and thousands of friends, you will find a connection. I guarantee it.</li> <li>Write a story about it.</li> </ol><p>See how easy this is? But please don't try it at home. This is a game for trained professionals only.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 24 Oct 2016 05:26:15 +0000 Kevin Drum 317271 at Democracy Under Siege In Irvine <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_campaign_signs.jpg" style="margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">I went out to get the paper this morning and noticed that my yard sign was gone. Some Trumpkin vandalizing Hillary signs? Nope. All the other signs in my neighborhood were gone too. City council signs, school board signs, Irvine mayor signs&mdash;all gone.</p> <p>So I investigated. I went over to our sister neighborhood on the other side of the tennis courts. No signs. I don't know what that neighborhood looked like yesterday, but I'll bet there <em>some</em> signs there.</p> <p>I went farther afield and finally found some signs. But only about half as many as there used to be. How strange. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason to which signs were left standing. When I went even farther out, signs reappeared in full force. Half a mile from my house everything was normal. Out on the main drag, signs were still piled high, just as they've always been.</p> <p>What's going on? Did some local busybodies decide that colorful yard signs were polluting our beautiful all-beige neighborhood? Did my local association suddenly decide they didn't care about the First Amendment anymore? Did a yard sign neutron bomb go off? It's very mysterious.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sun, 23 Oct 2016 22:36:26 +0000 Kevin Drum 317266 at Trump Meltdown Continues Apace <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Only 16 days to go! So what did Hillary Clinton <a href="" target="_blank">spend the weekend doing?</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Hillary Clinton moved to press her advantage in the presidential race on Sunday, <strong>urging black voters in North Carolina to vote early</strong> as Republicans increasingly conceded that Donald J. Trump is unlikely to recover in the polls....By running up a lead well in advance of the Nov. 8 election in states like North Carolina and Florida, <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_16_days.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 20px 0px 15px 20px;">she could make it extraordinarily difficult for Mr. Trump to mount a late comeback.</p> <p>....Both Mrs. Clinton and key Republican groups have effectively pushed aside Mr. Trump since the final presidential debate on Wednesday, treating him as a defeated candidate and turning their attention to voter turnout and battling for control of Congress. An ABC News tracking poll published on Sunday showed <strong>Mr. Trump trailing Mrs. Clinton by 12 percentage points nationally and drawing just 38 percent of the vote.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>OK, that sounds like good, sound campaign strategy. How about Donald Trump? Well, he went to Gettysburg, the site of Abraham Lincoln's famous speech about living up to our highest ideals as a nation. Trump was there, supposedly, to provide a vision of his <a href="" target="_blank">first hundred days in office:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Instead, the Republican nominee used the first third of what had been promoted as a &ldquo;closing argument&rdquo; speech to <strong>nurse personal grievances,</strong> grumbling about &ldquo;the rigging of this election&rdquo; and &ldquo;the dishonest mainstream media,&rdquo; and threatening to sue the women who have come forward &mdash; an 11th woman did on Saturday &mdash; to accuse him of aggressive sexual advances.</p> <p>&ldquo;Every woman lied when they came forward to hurt my campaign &mdash; total fabrication,&rdquo; Mr. Trump said. &ldquo;The events never happened. Never. <strong>All of these liars will be sued after the election is over.</strong>&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>As always with Trump, his timing and his venue are perfect. Next up: Trump goes to Checkpoint Charlie to complain about NATO allies not paying us enough money.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sun, 23 Oct 2016 19:16:06 +0000 Kevin Drum 317261 at Pat Buchanan Defends Donald Trump <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Jay Nordlinger and I don't agree on much, but I've never held that against him. However, with 17 days left until we go to the polls, I <em>do</em> hold against him the five minutes of my life that I lost from reading Pat Buchanan's latest column. But you know what? If I have to suffer, so do you. Ladies and <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_17_days_prince_0.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">gentlemen, here is Buchanan's <a href="" target="_blank">latest defense of Donald Trump:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>What explains the hysteria of the establishment? In a word, fear.</p> <p>....By suggesting he might not accept the results of a &ldquo;rigged election&rdquo; Trump is committing an unpardonable sin. But this new cult, <strong>this devotion to a new holy trinity of diversity, democracy and equality, is of recent vintage and has shallow roots.</strong> For none of the three &mdash; diversity, equality, democracy &mdash; is to be found in the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Federalist Papers or the Pledge of Allegiance.</p> <p>....Some of us recall another time, when Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas wrote in &ldquo;Points of Rebellion&rdquo;: &ldquo;We must realize that today&rsquo;s Establishment is the new George III. Whether it will continue to adhere to his tactics, we do not know. If it does, the redress, honored in tradition, is also revolution.&rdquo; Baby-boomer radicals loved it, raising their fists in defiance of Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew. <strong>But now that it is the populist-nationalist right that is moving beyond the niceties of liberal democracy</strong> to save the America they love, elitist enthusiasm for &ldquo;revolution&rdquo; seems more constrained.</p> </blockquote> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Nordlinger comments:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Around the world, there are many, many places that lack the &ldquo;niceties of liberal democracy.&rdquo; You don&rsquo;t want to live there. You would quickly discover that the niceties are more like necessities &mdash; a rule of law necessary to live a good, decent, and free life.</p> </blockquote> <p>Is this just garden-variety Buchanan? It's been years since I've read or listened to him. He's always been a bit of a lunatic, but it seems like he's gotten even crazier in his old age.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sat, 22 Oct 2016 16:33:52 +0000 Kevin Drum 317251 at Friday Cat Blogging - 21 October 2016 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Here is Hopper doing her best impression of a three-toed sloth. It lasted for about three seconds. Sometimes I wish she had the energy of a sloth. She is one high-maintenance cat.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_hopper_2016_10_21.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 15px 0px 5px 30px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 21 Oct 2016 19:14:03 +0000 Kevin Drum 317226 at Republicans Need to Abandon Angry White Guys <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>What's going to happen to the Republican Party after November 8? I've raised the possibility that if Trump loses massively, the party establishment might get serious about marginalizing the tea party caucus in Congress instead of being held endlessly hostage to them. Most of the responses to that suggestion have been skeptical. The more likely possibility is that tea partiers will <em>increase</em> their <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_graham_hat_0.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">influence and the GOP will become even crazier and more obstructionist than ever.</p> <p>That's pretty much what <a href="" target="_blank">apostate Republican Max Boot thinks:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Republican leaders like Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan may hope that after Trump&rsquo;s inevitable defeat the party will return to their brand of conservatism &mdash; in favor of free trade and American leadership abroad, cutting government spending and taxes, a balanced approach to immigration, and making deals where possible with centrist Democrats. But that&rsquo;s not a safe assumption anymore.</p> <p>....Perhaps Trump will fade away after the election and the Republican Party will return to its Reaganite roots. But...survey findings suggest a strong possibility that instead the GOP, or at least a substantial portion of it, could continue veering toward the fringe, muttering darkly about how Trump was robbed of his rightful victory. If that is the case, then the Republican Party may not survive the Trump takeover.</p> </blockquote> <p>I want to make this easy. There's basically only one thing that matters for the GOP: whether they double down on being the white men's party, or whether they take the painful but necessary steps necessary to broaden their appeal. That's it. Everything else pales in comparison.</p> <p>If they continue on their current course, the presidency is going to get further and further out of reach. Eventually they won't be able to hold on to the Senate or the House either. They've simply run out of ways to increase the white vote and suppress the non-white vote, and the demographics of America just flatly don't support a party that's increasingly loathed by women and minorities.</p> <p>Lindsey Graham's critique of four years ago is famous: "We're not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term." Republicans need to print this on a hat and start wearing it at all times. The Southern Strategy worked great for half a century, but nothing lasts forever. It's time to abandon it.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 21 Oct 2016 19:04:45 +0000 Kevin Drum 317221 at Trump Attacks Michelle Obama <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>I have no idea what this is about, but....</p> <blockquote> <blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Trump now going off on Michelle Obama</p> &mdash; Nick Riccardi (@NickRiccardi) <a href="">October 21, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script></blockquote> </blockquote> <p>A few days ago I mentioned that there were a few people who had attacked Trump and avoided return fire: Michelle Obama, Mark Cuban, and Warren Buffett. I guess now we're down to just the last two.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 21 Oct 2016 18:09:58 +0000 Kevin Drum 317211 at Weekly Poll Update: Hillary Clinton Still Flying High <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">Sam Wang's meta-margin</a> hasn't changed much in the past week. He now has Hillary Clinton leading Trump by 4.4 percentage points:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_pec_trump_clinton_2016_10_21.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 15px 0px 15px 75px;"></p> <p>Wang's current prediction is that Clinton has a 99 percent chance of winning and will rack up 339 electoral votes. He still has the Senate tied, 50-50, but the Democratic meta-margin is up to 1.7 percent and the probability of Democratic control is 79 percent. On the House side, he has Democrats up by about 5 percent, which is not enough for them to win back control. <a href="" target="_blank">Here's Pollster:</a></p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_pollster_trump_clinton_2016_10_21.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 15px 0px 15px 7px;"></p> <p>Clinton has dropped a point and is now 7.3 percentage points ahead of Trump. For what it's worth, if you look only at high-quality live phone polls, they have Clinton up by a whopping 9.5 percentage points. In the generic House polling, Pollster has Democrats ahead by 5.2 points, down a bit from last week.</p> <p>If you add to all this the fact that Clinton almost certainly has a far superior GOTV operation compared to Trump, she could win the election by anywhere from 6 to 10 points depending on what happens over the next couple of weeks. Republicans appear to have resigned themselves to this, and are now putting all their energy into downballot races. This means the Senate is likely to be very close, and the House will probably stay in Republican hands&mdash;though only by a dozen seats or so.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 21 Oct 2016 17:57:16 +0000 Kevin Drum 317206 at Politico: Donald Trump Is Doomed <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>With 18 days left in the 2016 campaign, what does <em>Politico</em> have to say about the state of the race? Let's take a look. First, they tell us that <a href="" target="_blank">Donald Trump is doomed:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>In June, POLITICO identified 11 key battleground states &mdash; totaling 146 electoral votes &mdash; that would effectively decide the presidential election in November. A new examination of polling data and strategic campaign ad buys indicates that <strong>six of those 11 are now comfortably in Hillary <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_18_days.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">Clinton&rsquo;s column</strong>....Even if Trump ran the table in the remaining battleground states &mdash; Florida, Iowa, Nevada, North Carolina and Ohio &mdash; <strong>he would fall short of the White House if he cannot flip another state where Clinton currently leads in the polls.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>But the WikiLeaks release of John Podesta's emails is causing Hillary Clinton <a href="" target="_blank">a few problems of her own:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Some of the left&rsquo;s most influential voices and groups are taking offense at the way they and their causes were discussed behind their backs by Clinton and some of her closest advisers in the emails, which swipe liberal heroes and causes as &ldquo;puritanical,&rdquo; &ldquo;pompous&rdquo;, &ldquo;naive&rdquo;, &ldquo;radical&rdquo; and &ldquo;dumb,&rdquo; calling some &ldquo;freaks,&rdquo; who need to &ldquo;get a life.&rdquo;</p> <p>....<strong>Liberal groups and activists are assembling opposition research-style dossiers of the most dismissive comments</strong> in the WikiLeaks emails about icons of their movement like Clinton&rsquo;s Democratic primary rival Bernie Sanders, and their stances on trade, Wall Street reform, energy and climate change. And some liberal activists are vowing to use the email fodder to oppose Clinton policy proposals or appointments deemed insufficiently progressive.</p> </blockquote> <p>The left has felt this way about Clinton since the start, so I'm not sure the email leaks really make a lot of difference. In any case, I assume they were always planning to fight for progressive appointments and causes, right? And now they're still planning to do that.</p> <p>Finally, in other campaign news, you may have heard that the "jokes" at last night's Al Smith dinner were a wee bit rough. But Cardinal Timothy Dolan says it was <a href="" target="_blank">all smiles in private:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Dolan said the three of them prayed together. &ldquo;And after the little prayer, Mr. Trump turned to Secretary Clinton and said, &lsquo;You know, you are one tough and talented woman,&rsquo;&rdquo; he recalled. &ldquo;And he said, &lsquo;This has been a good experience in this whole campaign, as tough as it&rsquo;s been,&rsquo; and she said to him, &lsquo;And Donald, whatever happens, we need to work together afterwards.&rsquo; Now I thought: This is the evening at its best.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>Well, he's a man of God, so I suppose he can't be lying about this. Maybe Clinton will appoint Trump Secretary of Homeland Security after it's all over.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 21 Oct 2016 16:56:24 +0000 Kevin Drum 317201 at California Bullet Train Takes a Hit, Episode 59 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Here's the depressingly familiar latest news on <a href="" target="_blank">California's bullet train:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The California bullet train authority has told its design engineers that the future system would have shorter trains and smaller station platforms, <strong>reducing the capacity of individual trains by roughly 50%</strong> and potentially the capacity of the entire Los Angeles-to-San Francisco route.</p> <p>....The switch to shorter trains was <strong>disclosed in a Sept. 7 memo</strong> that outlined reductions in the size of future passenger platforms, based on a decision that the high-speed rail system would operate trains of only 10 cars. The previous plan was to operate a &ldquo;double&rdquo; train set, which could have up to 20 cars.</p> </blockquote> <p>I'm too lazy to look this up, but my recollection is that the original financial projections were based on trains running every 15 minutes at 90 percent capacity for 19 hours per day. This was always kind of laughable, but if they cut the size of the trains in half then there's really no controversy anymore. The financial projections have to be cut in half too. Or so you'd think. But the Rail Authority says there's no problem: from LA to San Jose, they'll just run trains every five minutes.</p> <p>This is ridiculous. If they could really do this, they would have done it from the start since it's a lot cheaper than building gigantic train stations to handle trains 1,400 feet long. So either they're guilty of gross financial negligence in the original plan, or else they're blowing smoke now. Who knows? Maybe it's both.</p> <p>One other note: I love how these massive changes in the plan get slipped into bland memos that the Rail Authority hopes no one will ever read. In this case, it took the <em>LA Times</em> six weeks to track down the decision, which was made on August 29. I wonder who tipped them off?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 21 Oct 2016 16:07:18 +0000 Kevin Drum 317191 at Is This Election Driven By Fear? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Over at Vox, Ezra Klein talks to Molly Ball about what's driving the weirdness of this election. <a href="" target="_blank">Here's Ball:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>You have a world that feels like it&rsquo;s on fire with terrorism and conflict abroad. You still have a very high number of Americans saying the country is on the wrong track. And people are still really fearful. <strong>The level of fear in the electorate &mdash; fear of terrorism, fear of crime &mdash; is at a 15-year high.</strong> People have not been this afraid since just after 9/11. And it&rsquo;s gone up 20 points in the last year and a half.</p> </blockquote> <p>Here's a chart from the Chicago Council on Global Affairs that <a href=";utm_medium=Email&amp;utm_campaign=Council&amp;_zs=Lu0Gd1&amp;_zl=T1tG3" target="_blank">backs this up:</a></p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_fear_isalamic_fundamentalism.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 15px 0px 15px 30px;"></p> <p>On the other hand, if we go back to Vox, <a href="" target="_blank">we also get this:</a></p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_fear_clowns.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 15px 0px 15px 30px;"></p> <p>Fear of terrorism is a poor third to corrupt government, and can't even beat out fear of clowns. I cut off the chart at the top seven, but even if you look at the whole thing, crime doesn't make the list at all.</p> <p>So...I'm not sure that fear really explains a lot about this election. There's always something out there that makes us afraid, and God knows, Donald Trump has done his best to gin up mountains of fear this year&mdash;why else would lots of people be afraid of corrupt government, economic collapse, and gun rights infringement? But is fear in general a lot higher than in previous elections? I'm doubtful. It's sort of like the "anger" we hear about so often, but which doesn't actually seem to be any different than previous election cycles.</p> <p>Maybe some political science boffin can take a deep look at the evidence and let us know. Is fear really higher this year than in previous presidential elections?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 21 Oct 2016 15:30:55 +0000 Kevin Drum 317181 at Charts of the Day: How Hillary Clinton Beat Donald Trump <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Here are a couple of interesting data points from <a href="" target="_blank">On the left,</a> you can see where Hillary Clinton is picking up votes compared to Barack Obama in 2012. Not from blue states or swing states, which are polling about the same as they did in the last election, but in red states. She's picked up a whopping 8.4 points from folks in red states who would presumably vote Republican in normal times, but just can't stomach Donald Trump.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">On the right,</a> you can see the cumulative total winning margin in CNN's post-debate instant polls since 1992. Clinton posted the best record of any candidate ever. Alternatively, you could say that Donald Trump posted the worst record of any candidate ever. It's not clear which is the more appropriate description, but even if you think Trump's meltdowns were the decisive turning points, Clinton employed a brilliant strategy for baiting Trump into losing his shit in front of a hundred million viewers. Either way, Hillary Clinton is one of the greatest presidential debaters of recent history.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_538_clinton_swing.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 5px 22px;"><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_538_debate_winning_margin.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 5px 5px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 21 Oct 2016 00:07:27 +0000 Kevin Drum 317156 at Paul Ryan Is In Trouble, But Happier Days May Be Ahead <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_19_days.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">With 19 days until Hillary Clinton is elected president, we can now turn our attention to what happens afterward. In particular, what happens to Paul Ryan?</p> <p>Right now, things look grim for the Speaker. In last week's YouGov poll, only <a href="" target="_blank">37 percent</a> of Republicans thought he was a weak leader. Then he abandoned Donald Trump for good, and now <a href="" target="_blank">51 percent</a> say he's a weak leader. And why do they think he's so feeble? Last week, 26 percent thought he wasn't conservative enough. This week it's 25 percent. This suggests that views about Ryan are almost entirely driven by his estrangement from Trump, not by any problem with his ideology.</p> <p>Then there's a <a href="" target="_blank">new Bloomberg poll</a> suggesting that Ryan's leadership future looks bleak. Republicans say they prefer Mike Pence, Donald Trump, <em>and</em> Ted Cruz over Ryan.</p> <p>What's more, <a href="" target="_blank">as Martin Longman points out,</a> Ryan has never been supported by the tea party faction in the House, and only barely won election as Speaker in the first place. Next year, Republicans will probably have a smaller <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_bloomberg_poll_republican_leader.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">majority, which means that it will take only a dozen or so defectors to deny him reelection.</p> <p>So: the future looks grim for Paul Ryan, no? I'm not so sure. For starters, the YouGov poll doesn't impress me. In the heat of the moment, Trump supporters are turning against Ryan for abandoning their hero. But Trump is going to lose big league, and when that happens a lot of the Trump frenzy will die off. I imagine that once the fog clears, Ryan's standing with Republicans will pretty much return to normal.</p> <p>Second, the Bloomberg poll is based almost entirely on name recognition and, again, the heat of the moment. Mike Pence is not going to lead the Republican Party. Neither is Donald Trump. And Ted Cruz is still just as disliked as ever.</p> <p>In any case, none of this has much to do with whether Ryan can win reelection as Speaker. For him to lose, he either has to drop out or else the tea party caucus has to decide to vote against him. Will that happen? It might. But even tea partiers know that if they block Ryan, they'll be stuck in the same mess they were in last year: who can they agree on to replace him? There are very few plausible candidates around, and there are certainly no plausible candidates who are more conservative than Ryan. So it's hardly a slam dunk that they're going to touch off yet another party crisis by blocking him.</p> <p>My advice: Wait and see. Things are going to cool down after the election, and Ryan may come out looking better than people think. If that happens, Ryan then has to make a choice about how to govern. Will it just be the usual obstruction? Or will he team up with Republican moderates to take the party back from the hostage-happy tea partiers, and even team up with Democrats occasionally to pass a few important bills that might revive the party's fortunes?</p> <p>I'm not sure. But I wouldn't count Ryan out just yet.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 20 Oct 2016 19:28:13 +0000 Kevin Drum 317136 at It's International Lottery Time! <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">It's lottery time!</a></p> <blockquote> <p>This month the State Department opened a five-week window for visa applications from citizens of countries that historically have had low rates of immigration to the United States. The annual Diversity Visa lottery selects 50,000 winners who, along with their spouses and children under 21, can obtain green cards and become permanent U.S. residents.</p> <p>Last year 9.4 million people and 5 million family members from more than 200 countries sought visas under the program. <strong>Those numbers included nearly 500,000 Iranians</strong> and 432,000 spouses and children, among the most of any country, though a slight decrease from 2014. About 5,000 Iranians were selected for visas; only Cameroon and Liberia had more winners.</p> </blockquote> <p>Please please please, no one tell Donald Trump about this.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 20 Oct 2016 18:20:07 +0000 Kevin Drum 317121 at Donald Trump's Top 18 Debate Moments <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Many of you didn't watch the debate, but you still want to get a taste of it. I understand, and I'm here to help. So here are the top 17 moments of Trump from Wednesday's show.</p> <p>Note: There were several passages of Palinesque babble from Trump that were basically incomprehensible. Examples <a href="" target="_blank">here</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">here</a>. I'm not including those.</p> <h2>#18</h2> <p>I don't think we should have justices appointed that decide what they want to hear.</p> <p><em>WTF does this even mean? I think Trump was making a point about a strict interpretation of the Constitution, but it's not really clear.</em></p> <h2>#17</h2> <p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_trump_debate_las_vegas.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">If you go with what Hillary is saying, in the ninth month, you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth of the baby.</p> <p><em>Um, no. That's not how it happens, and Hillary Clinton doesn't support it.</em></p> <h2>#16</h2> <p>We have some bad hombres here, and we're going to get them out.</p> <p><em>Bad hombres! I assume t-shirts will be available soon?</em></p> <h2>#15</h2> <p>She shouldn't be allowed to run. It's crooked&nbsp;&mdash; she's&nbsp;&mdash; she's guilty of a very, very serious crime. She should not be allowed to run.</p> <p><em>She shouldn't be allowed to run? Poor Donald, getting beat by a girl.</em></p> <h2>#14</h2> <p>We're bringing [economic growth] from 1 percent up to 4 percent. And I actually think we can go higher than 4 percent. I think you can go to 5 percent or 6 percent. And if we do, you don't have to bother asking your question, because we have a tremendous machine. We will have created a tremendous economic machine once again.</p> <p><em>Well sure! Maybe 10 percent. Or 20 percent. Why the hell not?</em></p> <h2>#13</h2> <p>[Obamacare] premiums are going up 60 percent, 70 percent, 80 percent. Next year they're going to go up over 100 percent. And I'm really glad that the premiums have started&nbsp;&mdash; at least the people see what's happening,</p> <p><em>Trump stopped himself just barely before he said he was glad that premiums are rising. Apparently even he realized that it looked bad to be rooting for people's misfortunes.</em></p> <h2>#12</h2> <p>TRUMP: Look, Putin...from everything I see, has no respect for this person.</p> <p>CLINTON: Well, that's because he'd rather have a puppet as president of the United States.</p> <p>TRUMP: No puppet. No puppet.</p> <p>CLINTON: And it's pretty clear...</p> <p>TRUMP: You're the puppet!</p> <p><em>Trump is supposedly the master of insults, but he frequently resorts to this kind of lame, kindergarten stuff. Here's another one:</em></p> <h2>#11</h2> <p>CLINTON: ... unfit, and he proves it every time he talks.</p> <p>TRUMP: No, you are the one that's unfit.</p> <h2>#10</h2> <p>WALLACE: Mr. Trump, even conservative economists who have looked at your plan say that the numbers don't add up, that your idea, and you've talked about 25 million jobs created, 4 percent...</p> <p>TRUMP: Over a 10-year period.</p> <p><em>I'm including this because it's a first from Trump: he interrupted not to insult anyone, but to add a technical correction that made his plan look a little less awesome. And it was even accurate!</em></p> <p><em>Now let's move on to the lies.</em></p> <h2>#9</h2> <p>CLINTON: I find it ironic that he's raising nuclear weapons. This is a person who has been very cavalier, even casual about the use of nuclear weapons. He's...</p> <p>TRUMP: Wrong.</p> <p><em>Yes, he's been pretty cavalier about nukes. In fact, <a href="" target="_blank">he was cavalier about them with Chris Wallace,</a> the moderator of the debate. "Maybe they would in fact be better off if they defend themselves from North Korea," he said. "With nukes?" Wallace asked. "Including with nukes, yes, including with nukes," Trump said. <a href="" target="_blank">Much more here.</a></em></p> <h2>#8</h2> <p>TRUMP: Look, she's been proven to be a liar on so many different ways. This is just another lie.</p> <p>CLINTON: Well, I'm just quoting you when you were asked...</p> <p>TRUMP: There's no quote. You're not going to find a quote from me.</p> <p>CLINTON: ... about a potential nuclear competition in Asia, you said, you know, go ahead, enjoy yourselves, folks.</p> <p><em>Back in May, Trump told Wolf Blitzer that other countries should pay us more for our protection. Blitzer asked if that meant allowing Japan and South Korea to become nuclear powers. "I am prepared to....all I&rsquo;m saying is this: they have to pay. And you know what? I&rsquo;m prepared to walk....if they don&rsquo;t respect us enough to take care of us properly, then you know what&rsquo;s going to have to happen, Wolf? It&rsquo;s very simple. They&rsquo;re going to have to defend themselves." <a href="" target="_blank">More here.</a></em></p> <h2>#7</h2> <p>You ran the State Department, $6 billion was either stolen. They don't know. It's gone, $6 billion.</p> <p><em>No. The State Department's auditor found that <strong>paperwork </strong>for $6 billion in contracts was <a href="" target="_blank">either incomplete or missing.</a> That's all.</em></p> <h2>#6</h2> <p>CLINTON: He held a number of big rallies where he said that he could not possibly have done those things to those women because they were not attractive enough for them to be assaulted.</p> <p>TRUMP: I did not say that. I did not say that.</p> <p><em>Yes, he said that. Hillary Clinton pointed this out immediately: "He went on to say, 'Look at her. I don't think so.' About another woman, he said, 'That wouldn't be my first choice.' He attacked the woman reporter writing the story, called her 'disgusting,' as he has called a number of women during this campaign."</em></p> <h2>#5</h2> <p>CLINTON: Well, you know, once again, Donald is implying that he didn't support the invasion of Iraq. I said it was a mistake. I've said that years ago. He has consistently denied what is...</p> <p>TRUMP: Wrong.</p> <p>CLINTON: ... a very clear fact that...</p> <p>TRUMP: Wrong.</p> <p><em>Clinton is right. You just have to Google it. Several months before the invasion, <a href="" target="_blank">Howard Stern asked him if he supported the invasion of Iraq:</a> "Yeah, I guess so; I wish the first time it was done correctly."</em></p> <h2>#4</h2> <p>About three months ago, I started reading that they want to get the leaders and they're going to attack Mosul....And the only reason they did it is because she's running for the office of president and they want to look tough. They want to look good.</p> <p><em>This didn't get a lot of attention last night, but Trump is saying here that Obama and the US Army are assisting in a major military engagement solely to make Hillary Clinton look good. At this point it's hardly surprising to hear Trump say something like this, but that's only because our collective bar for outrage has been lowered to gutter level by now. In normal times, this would have been a major bit of news and pundits everywhere would be gabbing about it.</em></p> <h2>#3</h2> <p>TRUMP: She has no idea whether it's Russia, China, or anybody else.</p> <p>CLINTON: I am not quoting myself.</p> <p>TRUMP: She has no idea.</p> <p>CLINTON: I am quoting 17...</p> <p>TRUMP: Hillary, you have no idea.</p> <p>CLINTON: ... 17 intelligence&nbsp;&mdash; do you doubt 17 military and civilian...</p> <p>TRUMP: And our country has no idea.</p> <p>CLINTON: ... agencies.</p> <p>TRUMP (in a heavily sarcastic tone): Yeah, I doubt it. I doubt it.</p> <p><em>This is Trump rather astonishingly suggesting that our intelligence agencies have no idea who's behind the recent of hack of Democratic emails. He's been briefed on this, but he nonetheless refuses to acknowledge that Russia is most likely the culprit.</em></p> <h2>#2</h2> <p>CLINTON: Well, Chris, I am on record as saying that we need to put more money into the Social Security Trust Fund. That's part of my commitment to raise taxes on the wealthy. My Social Security payroll contribution will go up, as will Donald's,<strong> assuming he can't figure out how to get out of it.</strong> But what we want to do is to replenish the Social Security Trust Fund...</p> <p>TRUMP: Such a nasty woman.</p> <p><em>This was obvious bait from Clinton, and Trump dived headfirst into the trap. It was an entirely gratuitous interruption, and it's resonated very, very badly. It has now been co-opted by women, and I'm sure you can already buy t-shirts with "Nasty Woman" logos on them.</em></p> <h2>#1</h2> <p>WALLACE: Your running mate, Governor Pence, pledged on Sunday that he and you&nbsp;&mdash; his words&nbsp;&mdash; "will absolutely accept the result of this election."...Do you make the same commitment that you will absolutely&nbsp;&mdash; sir, that you will absolutely accept the result of this election?</p> <p>TRUMP: I will look at it at the time. I'm not looking at anything now. I'll look at it at the time.</p> <p>....WALLACE: But, sir, there is a tradition in this country...that the loser concedes to the winner and that the country comes together in part for the good of the country. Are you saying you're not prepared now to commit to that principle?</p> <p>TRUMP: What I'm saying is that I will tell you at the time. I'll keep you in suspense. OK?</p> <p><em>This was the single biggest takeaway from the debate, and it drove most of the headlines. And it was a total own goal. Trump could easily have waffled slightly and made the same point: "I'll accept the results unless there's serious evidence of vote fraud." Something like that would have been OK, but he declined to hedge even slightly.</em></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 20 Oct 2016 17:55:58 +0000 Kevin Drum 317101 at Questiongate Will Doom Hillary Clinton's Campaign <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Here is Donald Trump this morning:</p> <blockquote> <blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Why didn't Hillary Clinton announce that she was inappropriately given the debate questions - she secretly used them! Crooked Hillary.</p> &mdash; Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) <a href="">October 20, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script></blockquote> </blockquote> <p>Whoa! How did that happen? Allow unskewing nutball Bill Mitchell to explain:</p> <blockquote> <blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Look at the angle of Hillary's gaze. She is NOT looking down at her notes, she is looking AT the lit panel. <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Bill Mitchell (@mitchellvii) <a href="">October 20, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">During the debate, Hillary was constantly reading "something," yet you can see almost nothing written in her notes. WHAT was she reading? <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Bill Mitchell (@mitchellvii) <a href="">October 20, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Watch Hillary reading her teleprompter here folks. I mean, my God, it is OBVIOUS. <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Bill Mitchell (@mitchellvii) <a href="">October 20, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Every time, as Hillary prepares to answer, she looks down at a 45 degree angle and reads "something". Not her notes.</p> &mdash; Bill Mitchell (@mitchellvii) <a href="">October 20, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Where is Trump's light? <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Bill Mitchell (@mitchellvii) <a href="">October 20, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Hillary was reading throughout the debate.<br> Her notes were almost blank.<br> WHAT was she reading? <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Bill Mitchell (@mitchellvii) <a href="">October 20, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script></blockquote> </blockquote> <p>Bill Mitchell is this year's breakout Twitter star, and I am reliably informed that he is a real person who holds the views he expresses in his hundreds of tweets per day, not a parody account. <a href="" target="_blank">You can read a profile of him here.</a> Truly we live in miraculous times.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 20 Oct 2016 15:49:55 +0000 Kevin Drum 317081 at Hillary Clinton Wins 52-39 Percent, Sweeps Debates 3-0 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_clinton_trump_debate_winner_2016_10_19.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">I figured the polling on this debate would be closer than before, but still give Hillary Clinton the win. I was sort of right. It <em>was</em> closer than the other two, but she still won by 13 points.<sup>1</sup> That's a fairly impressive blowout.</p> <p>The CNN folks seemed to think that Trump's late-debate dig at Clinton&mdash;"Such a nasty woman"&mdash;was what ultimately sunk him. I dunno. Maybe. There were plenty of other things that sunk him too, though, and just generally most Americans don't want a president who's ignorant, mendacious, mean, misogynistic, and unable to control his temper. I think that explains most of it.</p> <p><sup>1</sup>As you may recall, she won the first debate by 35 points, 62-27, and the second debate by 23 points, 57-34.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 20 Oct 2016 03:58:54 +0000 Kevin Drum 317071 at We're Live Blogging the Final Debate of the 2016 Presidential Election <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>By normal standards, Trump was once again frenzied and hostile tonight. However, by <em>Trump</em> standards, he was surprisingly subdued. He had his moments, but not nearly as many as usual, and for most of the debate he managed to keep a level tone. I was joking about the Valium below, but I dunno. Maybe he really did get himself tranked before the debate.</p> <p>I'm going to guess that the instant polls will show this one close to a draw. Maybe Clinton will come out a bit ahead. Basically, they both repeated the same attacks as they did in the first two debates, and they've lost some of their zest at this point. At about the 20-minute mark, Clinton started trying to bait Trump into melting down, but he generally resisted the temptation. Every time he started to get a little animated, it was like something blinked in his brain and he dialed himself back. He would have been more dangerous if he could have (a) dialed himself back even more, and (b) done this from the start.</p> <p>Trump claimed, once again, that all the groping accusations are "pure fiction." He never met any of those women. I guess that includes the <em>People</em> reporter, who he pretty clearly met many times. He also lied when he denied <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_trump_clinton_debate_2016_10_19_1.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">saying that he was OK with Japan having nuclear weapons. He lied again when he claimed, as usual, that he opposed the Iraq War.</p> <p>In the news department, Trump was very clear that no, he would not necessarily accept the results of the election. "I will look at it at the time.," he said. There's just too much election fraud for him to commit to anything. This was by far the biggest actual news of the debate. On the other side of the aisle, Clinton said the Senate should confirm President Obama's nominee to the Supreme Court. Has she said that before? Maybe so, but I don't recall it. In any case, it was a very specific endorsement of Merrick Garland. Does that mean she'd renominate him if she wins?</p> <p>Bottom line: by 2016 standards, this debate was a bit of a bore. It will have no effect on the election at all. However, Trump basically threatened to do&mdash;what? Well, <em>something</em>, anyway, if the election doesn't go his way. This is not a normal threat for a presidential candidate to make, but luckily I doubt the election will be close enough for him to gin anything up. I also doubt that the Republican Party will back him up.</p> <p>A complete transcript is <a href="" target="_blank">here.</a></p> <hr width="30%"><p>God in His infinite wisdom has declared that there should be ten commandments, nine forms of devotion, an eightfold path, seven deadly sins, six remembrances, five pillars of faith, four ages of man, and three presidential debates. Mere mortals can't hope to comprehend why He would do this to us. Unless He's a She and wants us all to get a good long look at Donald Trump and then get our act together. That's probably it.</p> <p>On with the show.</p> <p><strong>10:36 -</strong> And that's a wrap. A <em>real</em> wrap.</p> <p><strong>10:35 -</strong> Clinton delivers standard rah rah. Trump draws picture of America falling into an abyss.</p> <p><strong>10:34 -</strong> Wallace: We all agreed not to have closing statements, but I'm going to ask you for one anyway.</p> <p><strong>10:33 -</strong> Clinton says she will raise Social Security taxes, but won't cut benefits. She wants to expand benefits.</p> <p><strong>10:31 -</strong> Trump: I'm going to grow the economy so much that we'll have no need for entitlement reform. Now he's off on a rant on Obamacare. Trump says he's glad that premiums are going up.</p> <p><strong>10:28 -</strong> Clinton: Donald criticized President Reagan in 1987!</p> <p><strong>10:27 -</strong> Let's talk about the national debt. Why are both candidates ignoring it? Trump: I'll get GDP growth up to 4%. Hell, maybe 5% or 6%. Why not? As soon as we get rid of the political hacks, anything is possible.</p> <p><strong>10:18 -</strong> Clinton: "You are unfit." Trump: "No, <em>you're</em> the one who's unfit." Ooh! What a sick burn. If you're a first-grader, that is.</p> <p><strong>10:16 -</strong> Clinton calls out Trump for lying about his support for Iraq war. Mentions <em>Celebrity Apprentice</em> again.</p> <p><strong>10:14 -</strong> Trump now pretending he knows something about Mosul. Claims that ISIS leaders have already left because we announced attack three months ago. The whole battle is a sham to make Obama and Clinton look tough. The big winner will be Iran.</p> <p><strong>10:09 -</strong> Clinton: "This is very disturbing." Whenever Trump loses something, he claims things have been rigged.</p> <p><strong>10:08 -</strong> Trump on Clinton: "She's guilty of a very, very serious crime....She should never have been allowed to run for the presidency."</p> <p><strong>10:06 -</strong> Will Trump accept the results of the election? Trump: "I will look at it at the time."</p> <p><strong>10:05 -</strong> Trump is back on his schtick about how Hillary should have passed laws to stop him from doing all the sleazy stuff he does.</p> <p><strong>9:59 -</strong> Clinton (paraphrased): Trump is a creep. Trump: It was Clinton's campaign that incited all the violence at his rallies.</p> <p><strong>9:57 -</strong> Trump on the groping accusations: "Those stories have been largely debunked." I'm pretty sure the number that have been debunked is zero.</p> <p><strong>9:55 -</strong> Clinton: "Donald thinks belittling women makes him bigger."</p> <p><strong>9:53 -</strong> Trump says he thinks the Clinton campaign got all those women to say he groped them. "It was all fiction."</p> <p><strong>9:51 -</strong> Clinton: On the day I was in the Situation Room watching the raid on Osama bin Laden, Trump was hosting an episode of <em>Celebrity Apprentice.</em></p> <p><strong>9:42 -</strong> Trump looks smug and congratulates Chris Wallace whenever he asks Clinton a tough question.</p> <p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_trump_clinton_debate_2016_10_19_2.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;"><strong>9:39 -</strong> Trump: "We're going to do a lot of things about college tuition." Like what? No telling, but it'll be way better than Hillary's lame tuition plan.</p> <p><strong>9:36 -</strong> Ah, excellent. The real Donald is back. He just denied saying he wouldn't mind if Japan built its own nuclear weapons, even though he's on tape saying exactly that.</p> <p><strong>9:34 -</strong> Trump interjects his first "Wrong."</p> <p><strong>9:32 -</strong> Trump: No one knows where the WikiLeaks stuff came from. Clinton: Intelligence agencies say it was Russia. Trump, sarcastically: "Yeah yeah, I get it."</p> <p><strong>9:31 -</strong> Trump starting to get a little more red-faced now.</p> <p><strong>9:29 -</strong> Are you in favor of open borders? Clinton: I was only talking about energy. And that all came from WikiLeaks anyway. Trump should denounce Russian espionage.</p> <p><strong>9:26 -</strong> Now Clinton is attacking Trump, hoping to bait him into melting down. It's bound to work eventually, isn't it? Not yet, though. Maybe he took a Valium before coming onstage?</p> <p><strong>9:25 -</strong> Clinton: Trump met with president of Mexico and didn't bring up the wall "He choked and then got into a Twitter war."</p> <p><strong>9:23 -</strong> Trump is against abortion, Clinton is pro-choice. Trump wants a wall, Clinton opposes a deportation force and favors comprehensive immigration reform.</p> <p><strong>9:16 -</strong> My, what a civil discussion so far!</p> <p><strong>9:13 -</strong> Now it's all about protecting toddlers from guns. Clinton is considerably more moderate on gun control than she was during the primaries against Bernie Sanders.</p> <p><strong>9:10 -</strong> Trump: Court needs to uphold the 2nd Amendment. Oh, and all the other amendments too.</p> <p><strong>9:06 -</strong> Clinton: We need a court that respects women's rights, LGBT rights, and opposes Citizens United. Court needs to stand up to the powerful. Senate should confirm Merrick Garland.</p> <p><strong>9:00 -</strong> Chris Wallace: No hootin' and hollerin'!</p> <p><strong>8:55 -</strong> None of the presidential candidates sent me birthday greetings today, so I don't know who I'm going to vote for now. This is a real lost opportunity for Gary Johnson and Jill Stein.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum 2016 Elections Thu, 20 Oct 2016 00:53:27 +0000 Kevin Drum 316876 at The Sexual Revolution May Finally Be (Almost) Complete <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">Jonathan Chait writes today:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Religious Right Now Judgment-Free, Thanks to Donald Trump</p> </blockquote> <p>Yeah, yeah, I know. They support Trump even though he's obviously not religious. Been there, heard it before.</p> <p>But wait! Chait points to a <a href="" target="_blank">new PRRI survey</a> that's genuinely intriguing. It turns out that over the past five years, pretty much <em>all</em> religious groups have steadily given up on the idea of holding politicians accountable for their personal morality. However, the biggest change by far has come from white evangelicals. In <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_immorality_professional_religion_0.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">2011, they were the least willing to accept personal lapses. Today, they're the most accepting.</p> <p>Is this purely political? In 2011, after all, their touchstone was a liberal Democratic president. In 2016 their touchstone is a conservative Republican presidential candidate. Maybe their willingness to forgive moral lapses is purely transactional: they forgive conservatives but not liberals. There's considerable evidence to back this up if you look at congressional races.</p> <p>Still, Catholics and mainline Protestants have also moved in the same direction. The religiously unaffiliated have stayed about where they were. Are Christians just steadily abandoning the whole idea that personal morality matters in public life?</p> <p>Maybe, but I think there may be an alternative explanation. I suspect that a lot of respondents interpret "personal" to mean "sexual." If that's the case, this survey may show something much narrower: that even conservative Christians are loosening up on the sexual front. If "personal immorality" largely conjures images of divorce and premarital sex and gay marriage and so forth, then this survey result just means they don't care about that stuff so much anymore. Is it possible the culture wars have moved on?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 20 Oct 2016 00:14:56 +0000 Kevin Drum 317031 at What Do Michelle Obama, Mark Cuban, and Warren Buffett Have in Common? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>As we all idly wait for the debate to start, here's an interesting question related to <a href="" target="_blank">my previous post.</a> I noted that "no matter how personally or politically destructive it is, Donald Trump is flatly unable to ignore an attack from anyone of influence." Nobody disputes this as a general proposition, but several people pointed out to me that there <em>have</em> been a few folks who attacked Trump and avoided return fire. Michelle Obama is one. Mark Cuban is <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_obama_cuban_buffett_0.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">another. Warren Buffett is a third&mdash;and Trump even publicly acknowledged he planned to leave Buffett alone. "There's no counter-punch," he said.</p> <p>There aren't a lot of examples of this, and I suppose you could say that even Donald Trump doesn't have enough hours in the day to attack everyone who's been nasty to him. But these are all big names, of the kind that he'd normally respond to. So what stopped him? It's not gender: he attacks both men and women. It's not power: he attacks plenty of powerful people. It's not money: he's taken on Michael Bloomberg and Carlos Slim.</p> <p>So what's the deal? How does that feverish brain of his decide who not to attack? Is it popularity? Maybe he's careful to only counterattack people who aren't especially popular. Ideas?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 19 Oct 2016 21:47:36 +0000 Kevin Drum 317016 at Donald Trump is an Unstoppable Revenge-a-Tron 3000 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>There are lots of theories about what truly drives Donald Trump, but with 20 days to go before Election Day, I think my colleague David Corn finally nails <a href="" target="_blank">the single most most important trait that motivates Trump's behavior:</a></p> <blockquote> <p><strong>Revenge&mdash;it's a big part of Trump's life.</strong> Following the first presidential debate, he spent days of valuable campaign time (and hours of valuable sleep time) slamming Alicia Machado....Rosie O'Donnell....Judge Gonzalo Curiel....Khizr and Ghazala Khan....Carly Fiorina and Megyn Kelly.....Gov. John Kasich....Lyin&rsquo; Ted, Little Marco.</p> <p>Why all the insults, bullying, and grudge matches? There is a reason. Trump fervently believes in retaliation. How do we know? Because he has said so numerous times that he is driven by revenge <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_20_days.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">and that it is a basic tool to use in business. <strong>He is obsessed with payback.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Pretty much everything else flows from this. The bullying is always in service of revenge. The narcissism is a way of elevating himself above his adversaries. The dominance games are always aimed at real and perceived enemies.</p> <p>But there's a flip side to this: Anyone who is nice to Donald Trump is a great guy. The best. One of the smartest people you'll ever meet. And this can flip in a minute. This explains why he was inexplicably pleasant to so many of his primary opponents for so long: they hadn't attacked him. Once they did, though, the gloves were off. Ditto for Vladimir Putin. As long as Putin is personally nice to him, Trump is almost literally incapable of attacking him. This will change the moment Putin says anything even mildly derogatory about Trump.</p> <p>There are two ways this plays out. The first is obvious: it's aimed at people Trump needs revenge on. The second is less obvious: it's aimed at people and things that are ipso facto enemies of the United States. This includes Mexico, China, ISIS, and so on. It doesn't include the Syrian regime, because apparently Trump doesn't consider them a threat. Ditto for Russia, I suppose.</p> <p>Lots of people are obsessed with scorched-earth retribution against anyone or anything that attacks them. The weird thing about Trump is that it seems to be almost hardwired. No matter how little sense it makes to play nice with, say, Vladimir Putin, Trump simply can't attack until Putin attacks him first. Likewise, no matter how personally or politically destructive it is, Trump is flatly unable to ignore an attack from anyone of influence. It's as if he has a special revenge neuron in his brain, and it flips back and forth and forces him to attack regardless of anything else. It's as automatic for him as jerking your knee is for you when a doctor taps it with a hammer. It's not something that's under Trump's conscious control.</p> <p>Needless to say, this is a big part of his appeal. Lots of people&mdash;and conservatives especially&mdash;are driven by showy displays of in-group loyalty, and that includes lashing out at anyone who criticizes the group. This includes personal attacks, attacks on family, attacks on friends, attacks on religion, attacks on race, attacks on country, or anything else they identify with. And whatever else you can say about him, Donald Trump is definitely not a guy who will turn the other cheek. That's what Trump's base likes most about him.</p> <p><strong>UPDATE:</strong> Apparently even Newt Gingrich <a href="" target="_blank">agrees:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The former House speaker and top Trump surrogate told the <em>Washington Examiner&rsquo;s</em> David Drucker that the Republican nominee loses his cool in response to &ldquo;anything which attacks his own sense of integrity or his own sense of respectability, and he reacts very intensely, <strong>almost uncontrollably,</strong> to those kinds of situations.&rdquo;</p> <p>....&ldquo;There&rsquo;s also a part of his personality that sometimes gets involved in petty things that make no sense, and I think that that&rsquo;s what I was talking about when I talk about <strong>there&rsquo;s a big Trump and a little Trump,</strong>&rdquo; Gingrich said.</p> </blockquote> <p>Actually, big Trump and little Trump have the same personality. They just express it at different targets. Gingrich doesn't see this because he's basically big Trump himself when it comes to politics.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 19 Oct 2016 17:05:38 +0000 Kevin Drum 316951 at Have You Heard About Creamergate? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Some of you may have heard that James O'Keefe is back with <a href="" target="_blank">yet another hidden camera bombshell.</a> It shows a couple of Democratic operatives&mdash;Robert Creamer and Scott Foval&mdash;allegedly boasting about disrupting Trump rallies and committing voter fraud. O'Keefe's record on this stuff is dicey enough that I'm not willing to waste any time with it myself, but here is Dave Weigel's summary:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_weigel_tweet_creamer.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 15px 0px 15px 90px;"></p> <p>For now, that's my take too. The video is heavily edited, and O'Keefe has refused to release the raw footage. I think we can all guess what that means.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 19 Oct 2016 16:29:00 +0000 Kevin Drum 316941 at Debate Liveblogging Tonight <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Happy birthday to me! I'm 58 today. I plan to celebrate by liveblogging tonight's debate, which begins at 9 pm Eastern. My prediction: Donald Trump will show up to the debate bald as an egg. Like Lex Luthor before him, he will then embark on a life of crime and revenge aimed at Hillary Clinton, who he blames for destroying his hair because she was jealous of his genius.</p> <p>Well, why not? It makes as much sense as anything else he's done.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 19 Oct 2016 15:01:31 +0000 Kevin Drum 316931 at QuidProQuogate Flops to an Early Death After Only One Day <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Yesterday, the "quid pro quo" that totally should have landed Hillary Clinton in a Supermax for life was all the rage in Trumpian circles. <em>J'accuse! She had one of her minions try to pressure the FBI into declassifying an embarrassing email!</em> Today, Matt Zapotosky interviews FBI official <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_quid_pro_quo.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">Brian McCauley to get his take on his conversation with State Department official Patrick Kennedy last year. It started when <a href="" target="_blank">Kennedy called him:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>&ldquo;He said, &lsquo;Brian. Pat Kennedy. I need a favor,&rsquo; &rdquo; McCauley recalled in an interview Tuesday. &ldquo;I said, &lsquo;Good, I need a favor. I need our people back in Baghdad.&rdquo; Then Kennedy, a longtime State Department official, explained what he wanted in return: &ldquo;There&rsquo;s an email. I don&rsquo;t believe it has to be classified.&rdquo;</p> <p>....In an hour-long interview with <em>The Washington Post</em>, his first public comments on the matter, <strong>McCauley acknowledged that he offered to do a favor in exchange for another favor, but before he had any inkling of what Kennedy wanted</strong>....McCauley [] said he asked Kennedy to send him the email in question and then inquired with another bureau official about it....McCauley said that when he learned the missive concerned the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, he told Kennedy he could not help him.</p> <p>&ldquo;I said, &lsquo;Absolutely not, I can&rsquo;t help you,&rsquo; <strong>and he took that, and it was fine,</strong>&rdquo; said McCauley.</p> </blockquote> <p>Is this really how things went down? There's no telling. Obviously McCauley has an incentive to make this conversation sound routine and harmless. That said, McCauley's account is the only one we have, and it sounds perfectly plausible. This is how people talk.</p> <p>What's more, it also sounds as if the FBI took another look at the email, turned down Kennedy's request, and that was that. There was no pressure and no further calls about it. Nor is there any evidence that Hillary Clinton or any of her staffers had anything at all to do with this.</p> <p>This is what passes for a scandal in Trumpland. It's also what passes for a scandal in Republicanland these days. Is it any wonder that the public never took seriously Solyndra or Fast &amp; Furious or IRSgate or Benghazi or any of the other manufactured conservative outrages of the past eight years? You can't keep crying wolf forever. Eventually everyone but the true believers just tunes you out.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 18 Oct 2016 20:36:22 +0000 Kevin Drum 316911 at People Magazine Corroborates Trump Attack Story <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_natasha_stoynoff_small.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Donald Trump's response to the tsunami of women saying he groped or attacked them is to flatly call them liars. The problem with this strategy is that it motivates his victims to defend themselves, thus keeping the stories in the news even longer.</p> <p>Take Natasha Stoynoff, the <em>People</em> writer who accused Trump of <a href="" target="_blank">attacking her</a> after a photo shoot at Mar-a-Lago in 2005. Trump's response? "She lies! Look at her, I don't think so." As a result, this week <em>People</em> is running <a href="" target="_blank">a second story</a> quoting six colleagues and friends who have corroborated Stoynoff's account. That's 3 million readers who will see this story again, plus another gazillion or so who will see it from the inevitable follow-up on every gossip show and website in the country. And this helps Trump how?</p> <p>If you read to the very end, Stoynoff gets in the final dig:</p> <blockquote> <p>Stoynoff admits there&rsquo;s a chance Trump simply pushed her own incident from his mind. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s possible he just doesn&rsquo;t remember it,&rdquo; Stoynoff says. &ldquo;It was over 10 years ago <strong>and I assume I am one of many, many women.</strong>&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>In other news 21 days before we go to the polls, President Obama took on Donald Trump over his repeated remarks about <a href="" target="_blank">the election being rigged:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Obama accused Trump of &ldquo;whining before the game is even over&rdquo; and described Trump&rsquo;s remarks as &ldquo;unprecedented.&rdquo;</p> <p>&ldquo;I have never seen in my lifetime or in modern political history any presidential candidate trying to discredit the elections and the election process before votes have even taken place,&rdquo; Obama said....<strong>The <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_21_days.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">president, clearly troubled by Trump&rsquo;s claims of a fixed election, quickly decided not to hold back.</strong> He described Trump&rsquo;s allegations as a threat to American democracy and to the &ldquo;integrity and trust&rdquo; of the country&rsquo;s civic institutions.</p> </blockquote> <p>And it's not just Obama. Even Republicans are <a href="" target="_blank">getting spooked by Trump's talk:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), a former Oklahoma secretary of state, said he is worried about the alarm bells that Trump is ringing. &ldquo;I just don&rsquo;t believe there is any risk of massive voter fraud in the elections,&rdquo; Cole said. &ldquo;...<strong>It does concern me, because you&rsquo;ve got a national platform running for president, and you delegitimize the process by which presidents are chosen when you raise doubts.</strong>&rdquo;</p> <p>GOP leaders, who are fighting to preserve a fragile Senate majority and hold their wider advantage in the House, <strong>worry that Trump&rsquo;s attacks could cast doubt on wins by other Republicans.</strong> Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner, a Republican, declined through a spokeswoman to be interviewed. In a statement, his office said, &ldquo;Security during elections and encouraging 100% voter participation in Florida&rdquo; are Detzner&rsquo;s &ldquo;top priorities.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>And of course, Mike Pence himself repudiated his own running mate, saying on Sunday, "We will absolutely accept the result of the election." I sure hope so. It would be quite a spectacle if the vice presidential candidate conceded on Election Night but the presidential candidate didn't.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 18 Oct 2016 18:51:26 +0000 Kevin Drum 316886 at