Mystery solved

So, I like to think my general media sources and the vast majority of my FB friends are pretty thoughtful.  As a result, I really had not seen any knee-jerk reactions today to the horrible events in Dallas.  Nobody looking for simplistic blame.  I’ve seen plenty of references to simplistic blame, but had not actually read directly of any (then again, I only used twitter today to directly seek stuff on polling).  But now I know.  The Lieutenant Governor of Texas.  Lovely.

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick joined a handful of other Texas Republican officials Friday in blaming former Black Lives Matter protests for the shooting in Dallas Thursday night that left at least five police officers dead.

“I do blame people on social media with their hatred towards police,” Patrick said during an interview on Fox News on Friday. He added that, despite the “peaceful” nature of last night’s protests, he blames previous Black Lives Matter events for the incident.

He also blames protesters at the event critical of law enforcement for expecting protection from them when shots were fired.

“All those protesters last night, they ran the other way, expecting the men and women in blue to turn around and protect them,” Patrick said. “What hypocrites!”

Patrick wasn’t the only Texas Republican to link the Black Lives Matter movement to the shooting in Dallas on Friday. State Rep. Bill Zedler, R-Arlington, tweeted similar allegations.

“Clearly the rhetoric of Black Lives Matters encouraged the sniper that shot Dallas police officers,” he wrote.

In a separate tweet, he said the “hands up, don’t shoot” rhetoric often used in Black Lives Matter events “is a lie” the media needs to dispel.

U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Tyler, also pointed to the movement as a source of tension during an appearance on Fox Business and said President Obama has been “divisive” in his handling of tensions between African-Americans and law enforcement.

Ugh.  Should have just looked to Texas (though I’m sure it’s everywhere if you look hard enough).  And you know what, all white people are responsible for Dylan Roof.

Trump’s demographic problems

So, Pew put up a really, really cool resource.  It compares June polling from 2016 to the June polling from 2012 and 2008 to get a sense of the relative standing of Trump.  Plenty of interesting stuff here, but I find Trump’s relatively poor performance among college-educated whites particularly interesting.


McCain and Romney performed 9 and 5 points better (again, in June polling, not exit polls) than Obama with white college grads.  Trump is in the hole by 12.  Wow.

Alas, Pew does not have Hispanic comparisons for 2008 and 2012 as I’d love to see those.

Speaking of Hispanic voters, though, Nate Cohn brings evidence that they may put Florida out of reach for Trump.  And it’s almost impossible to imagine Trump winning without Florida:

The big demographic threat to the Republican Party isn’t a “blue” Texas or Arizona or Georgia, but the possibility that Florida will follow Nevada and New Mexico to the left. It’s extremely hard for a Republican to win the presidency without Florida’s 29 electoral votes.

The polls suggest that Hillary Clinton might capitalize on huge demographic shifts to an extent that Barack Obama never did. She might even lead by the same margin in Florida that she does nationally — about five percentage points — even though the state has been more Republican than the country in every presidential election since 1976.

To understand why Florida could shift so abruptly, consider this: The demographic changes in Florida over the last decade rival or even exceed those in states like Nevada or Virginia, but the Democrats haven’t gained nearly as much as they have in those states. When Al Gore and George W. Bush fought to an effective tie in the state 16 years ago, 78 percent of registered voters were non-Hispanic whites. When Barack Obama edged Mitt Romney in 2012 by less than a point, just 66.5 percent of registered voters were…

But despite all of these shifts, Florida remained a state that tilted just slightly to the right of the country. That’s because demographic shifts were canceled out by a nearly equal rightward trend among white voters — a trend largely absent in other battleground states. The state’s white voters are far older and more Southern than in the other battlegrounds. The result: Florida barely budged, even as some Northern states with fewer demographic changes moved leftward — states like New Hampshire, Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio, as well as Colorado.

The Republicans might not be able to keep up with Florida’s demographic shift any longer. The early polls show Mrs. Clinton with a consistent advantage.

Here’s the unsurprising reason: Mr. Trump has alienated Hispanic voters, making the last decade of demographic shifts even more potent. According to The Upshot’s estimates, Mr. Trump is losing among Hispanic voters in Florida by a 30-point margin, up from Mr. Romney’s 22-point deficit in similar estimates of 2012… [emphases mine]

It’s hard to overstate how important it would be if Florida shifted to the left. Mrs. Clinton could lose all the other swing states where she’s airing ads — Ohio, Nevada, Colorado, Virginia, North Carolina, Iowa and New Hampshire — and still win the presidency if she won Florida and if the rest of the map held to form. She would even be favored to survive a loss in Pennsylvania, perhaps the only big blue state where Mr. Trump has a realistic chance to win. (She would need only two of the other battleground states, like Nevada and Virginia, to compensate.) Without Florida, the Republican path to the presidency gets very rocky.

Wow. Lots of interesting details about Florida I was heretofore unaware of.  And, yes, things can still change, but the more polling evidence that comes in, the more things look good for Hillary (though, it will be interesting to see if the week’s email stuff has an effect in next week’s polls).  Oh, and that new Rasmussen poll that has Trump up two on Clinton?  How realistic is this?

The universal in all the sad deaths? Guns.

Damn, I didn’t even know what to say about all this.  So sad.  So many lives needlessly lost.  So many people trying to dichotomize a situation that defies it (of course police should not so easily shoot Black citizens; of course police should not be demonized and become targets– that wasn’t hard).  I was thinking, though, that one thing that really brings this all together– yes, even police shooting unarmed Black men, is our amazing prevalence of guns and gun culture in America.  Fortunately, I waited for Adam Gopnik to address it because he says it far better than I ever could:

The killings in Dallas are one more reminder that guns are central, not accessory, to the American plague of violence…

We don’t yet know exactly by whom and for what deranged “reason” or mutant “cause” five police officers were murdered last night, but, as the President rightly suggested, we do know how—and the how is a huge part of what happened. By having a widely armed citizenry, we create a situation in which gun violence becomes a common occurrence, not the rarity it ought to be and is everywhere else in the civilized world. That this happened amid a general decline in violence throughout the Western world only serves to make the crisis more acute; America’s gun-violence problem remains the great and terrible outlier… [emphases mine]

Weapons empower extremes. Allowing members of any fringe of any movement to get their hands on military weapons guarantees that any normal dispute—political or, for that matter, domestic—can quickly lead to a massacre. Our guns have outraced our restrictions, but not our imaginations. Sometime in the not-too-distant past, annihilation replaced street theatre and demonstrations as the central possibility of the enraged American imagination. Guns allow the fringe to occupy the center…

Once again, it needs stating because it can’t be stated too often: despite the desperate efforts of the National Rifle Association to prevent research on gun violence, the research has gone on, and shows conclusively what common sense already suggests. Guns are not merely the instrument; guns are the issue. The more guns there are, the more gun violence happens. In light of last night’s assassinations, it is also essential to remember that the more guns there are, the greater the danger to police officers themselves. It requires no apology for unjustified police violence to point out that, in a heavily armed country, the police officer who thinks that a suspect is armed is likelier to panic than when he can be fairly confident that the suspect is not. We have come to accept it as natural that ordinary police officers should be armed and ready to use lethal force at all times. They should not be. A black man with a concealed weapon should be no more liable to be killed than a white man with one. But having a nation of men carrying concealed lethal weapons pretty much guarantees that there will be lethal results, an outcome only made worse by our toxic racial history. Last night’s tragedy was also the grotesque reductio ad absurdum of the claim that it takes a good guy with a gun to stop a bad guy with a gun. There were nothing but good guys and they had nothing but guns, and five died anyway, as helpless as the rest of us.

All of this so true.  I suspect this will not be the last time I link this post.

Just how risky and careless was Hillary’s email?

Will Saletan adds some much needed context:

As anyone who’s ever had a security clearance will tell you, the labels secret and confidential mean next to nothing. When I worked on Capitol Hill in the late 1970s, the government gave me a secret clearance on my first day of work, pending the investigation into my worthiness to hold a top secret badge. As far as anyone knew, I might have been a Soviet spy, carting out confidential and secret documents every night and making copies for my handler. But they also knew the risk was low because there was nothing in those documents that the Soviets would have paid a dime for. The same is true of our various adversaries and stuff marked secret today.

Top secret information is another matter, but the stuff that showed up in Clinton’s private email wasn’t so special. Seven of the eight email chains dealt with CIA drone strikes, which are classified top secret/special access program—unlike Defense Department drone strikes, which are unclassified. [emphases mine] The difference is that CIA drones hit targets in countries, like Pakistan and Yemen, where we are not officially at war; they are part of covert operations. (Defense Department drone strikes are in places where we are officially at war.) But these operations are covert mainly to provide cover for the Pakistani and Yemeni governments, so they don’t have to admit they’re cooperating with America. Everyone in the world knows about these strikes;nongovernment organizations, such as New America, tabulate them; newspapers around the world—including the New York Times, where some of the same reporters are now writing so breathlessly about Clinton’s careless handling of classified information—cover these strikes routinely.

The other top secret email chain described a conversation with the president of Malawi. Conversations with foreign leaders are inherently classified.

In other words, even if Russian, Chinese, Iranian, or Syrian spies had hacked into Clinton’s email servers, and if they’d pored through 60,000 emails and come across these eight chains that held top secret material, they would not have learned anything the slightest bit new or worthy of their efforts. The FBI’s discoveries should be viewed in that context.

Yes Hillary broke State Department rules (not the law).  Yes, this was stupid.  But a grave threat to America, it sure wasn’t.

I do think there’s a very real danger for Republicans overplaying their hand here and this just becoming another Benghazi(!)  When you are acting like Clinton gave true national security secrets to the Russians and Chinese (much like pretending that Hillary is somehow directly responsible for the death of the ambassador in Benghazi) this is just one more overblown partisan scandal.  Here’s Drum on the matter:

Politically, though, there’s something we can learn from this. Consider two “scandals.” The first is Benghazi. Hillary Clinton did nothing wrong. It was, essentially, a complete nothingburger. The second was Emailgate. In that one, Hillary unquestionably did things that were foolish at best and possibly criminal at worst. It was a genuine story.

But Republicans treated them both exactly the same. It didn’t matter whether Hillary actually did something wrong or not. They went after her with their usual Whitewater/Travelgate/Vince Foster level of fury, convinced that if only they yelled loudly enough the country would finally see her unmasked as the villain she really is. And they’re still doing it. James Comey has spoken, and no one reasonable thinks he’s on the take for the Clintons. But conservatives are almost unanimous in their shrieking that she is too guilty and ought to be put behind bars. Paul Ryan is now promising a probe of the probe, and idiotically calling for the director of national intelligence to “block” Hillary’s access to classified information while she’s running for president. The only surprise here is that he isn’t demanding that Hillary’s access to classified information be blocked even if she wins.

After eight years of Bill Clinton’s presidency and now four years of Hillary Clinton’s post-cabinet career, Republicans have been crying wolf about Hillary for more than a decade. It’s pretty obvious that they’re going to continue, and that they really don’t care whether she’s actually done anything wrong. I have a feeling the public may finally be getting tired of their games.

And here’s Drum on Republicans insisting on grilling Comey the next day:

I don’t know that this hearing will have any real effect one way or another. But there was no reason for Republicans to hold it other than inchoate rage at not getting the indictment they so desperately believed they were due. It accomplished nothing for their side, since Comey had already delivered a pretty blistering assessment of Hillary Clinton’s “carelessness” and was unlikely to go further in front of Congress. But it did give Democrats a chance to get Comey on record refuting several conservative talking points and conspiracy theories. That was dumb. But that’s what happens when you live in a bubble where Hillary Clinton is an obvious villain and it’s simply inconceivable that she did nothing illegal.

Oh, and last, I want to make the point that how we deal with classification is just a mess.  I had lunch with a couple of colleagues who work extensively with CIA and NSA and one of them said, “I assume if somebody is with classified information for more than 10 minutes, they have broken a law.”  There’s probably stuff in today’s NY Times that is somehow classified “Top Secret.”  Here’s law professor Stephen Vladeck on the matter:

But lest it get lost in the larger headlines coming out of Tuesday’s announcement, Comey also tacitly confirmed the larger point I tried to make back in February — that one of the real lessons to learn from this affair is the unchecked pervasiveness of overclassification by, and in, the contemporary United States executive branch. According to Comey, even though more than 2,100 of the e-mails at issue were subsequently deemed to contain classified information, only 113 were “born classified,” meaning that they referred to information that was properly classified at the time the e-mail was sent. That means that 95 percent of the e-mails deemed classified were only so assessed after the fact — by line-officers responding to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

That statistic is — and should be — staggering.

What it suggests is that government officials, tasked with reviewing documents the vast majority of which are completely innocuous (and often incorporate information in the public domain), are nevertheless trigger-happy when it comes to retroactively deeming such information to be classified. And it’s hard to blame them: Current law creates absolutely no disincentive for wrongful classification; the very worst thing that happens when a wrongful classification is discovered is that the wrongly classified document is — you guessed it — declassified. In those rare cases in which that happens, it comes years later, and often after significant expense. It thus hardly beggars belief that thousands of documents are incorrectly classified every year without being discovered, especially when, as in Clinton’s case, they are classified after the fact.

Anyway, I’ll reiterate that I just don’t think this hurts Hillary all that much.  I just don’t see too many people who would otherwise be voting for her deciding that this means they don’t.  Those supporting her were already doing so despite years of concerns– whether legitimate or not– about her honesty and trustworthiness.

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