Russia, damnit!

So, I was watching Fox in the gym this morning as they were speculating on violent riots at the Democratic convention.  Nothing, of course, about Russia.  And thinking that imagine if there were any evidence whatsoever that the Russian government was working to help Clinton.  That would be literally wall-to-wall coverage.  Is there an open and shut case?  Of course not.  But again, plenty of independent experts on such matters think is is plenty plausible that the Russian government is behind this leak.  That should be a huge story. This is not some Clinton fantasy, but a genuinely reasonable and plausible explanation given the evidence.  So, where’s the media?  NYT front page is on it.  Washington Post has a link buried way down.  CNN has a piece under “opinion.”  And the current only comes up with Olympic news on the front when you search for Russia.  Pathetic!

Oh, and as for the emails, I did a quick skim of the Post’s “Here are the latest, most damaging things in the DNC’s leaked emails.”  And good Lord, talk about a mountain out of a mole hill.  There’s just so little that is truly surprising or damaging here.  I mean seriously, one of the top 10 is that Wasserman Schulz called a Sanders aide a “damn liar.”  Oh, the horror.  And this is what is dominating media coverage?!  Next month in my Media class I’ll talk about the media’s bias for conflict and negativity (remember this whole event next time somebody complains about “liberal media bias”).  You are seeing it in spades here.

Trump’s gonna win!

Ahhhhh!  Or, more likely, he got a convention bounce.  And then Hillary Clinton will get one.  And we’ll be back where we were.  Nate Silver on the bounce:

The now-cast also suggests that Trump has gained a net of about 4 percentage points on Clinton in national polls from a week ago, turning a deficit of about 3 points into a 1-point lead. If so, Trump would turn out to have a fairly typical convention bounce. Over the past few cycles, convention bounces have been 3 to 4 percentage points, on average. As is also typical of convention bounces, Trump appears to have gained in the polls (taking votes from undecided and third-party candidates) more than Clinton has declined…

On the opposite side of the spectrum from the now-cast is our polls-plus forecast, which builds in a convention bounce adjustment. Because Trump’s convention bounce is broadly in line with its expectations, the polls-plus forecast hasn’t moved very much: It gives Trump a 42 percent chance of winning the Electoral College, up only slightly from last week.

And, here’s the Upshot post I was planning on linking before all today’s polls started coming in.

Donald Trump officially became the Republican party’s nominee Thursday night, and on Monday, the Democratic convention begins in Philadelphia. In the coming weeks, you can expect lots of polls — and headlines — suggesting new insight into the state of the presidential race.

With some caveats, our advice is: Don’t pay too much attention to them.

You can see what we mean in the chart above. It shows how much the polling average at each point of a presidential election cycle has differed from the final result. Each gray line represents a presidential election since 1980; the bright green line represents the average difference. In general, as the election nears, the polling average comes closer and closer to the election’s final result — but not for the next few weeks.

History suggests that in the short periods after the conventions, the polling average can often move away from the final result, not toward it. That’s because polls taken in the middle of the convention are often unreliable: Gains made by the party’s nominee can often be short-lived.
And here’s the chart:
So, as much as you want to obsess about the polls now, really, wait another few weeks to obsess.

Photo of the day

One more from my vacation.  Some amazing color in the sky over the Atlantic most evenings.  This was a couple of hours after the rainbow I posted last week.


Wasserman and the email link (and Russia!)

Oh, boy, I’m shocked, shocked that the institutional elites of the Democratic Party supported Hillary Clinton and not Bernie Sanders.  Yes, the DNC is supposed to be officially neutral, but of course people who spent years working with Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party as an institution are going to support her over somebody who is not even really a member of the Democratic Party.

But, I get it, Wasserman Schultz’s got to go so Democrats can put this in the rear-view mirror as fast as possible.  I did an interview on this today with questions as if it is actually some huge thing.  How many Democrats even know who the hell Debbie Wasserman-Schultz is?  Like her emails are going to affect the election.  This is not exactly Hillary Clinton’s emails saying, “how can we smear Bernie Sanders?!”  But, boy, does the media love conflict in the face of a convention (Ted Cruz, anybody).

Now, it hurts, because this is not what Democrats want to be talking about, but again, the idea that this actually matters in the big scope of the election is the conflict-driven media fantasy.

And, while we’re at it, the best evidence is that the Russian government is truly behind this because Putin truly wants Trump to be President.  That should sure as hell give people pause and be getting way more prominent coverage that the Democratic party disunity.  This Post article seemed like it almost had to feel bad that not just Clinton’s campaign, but actual cyber-security experts and Russia experts think the Russians are behind the email leak:

We’ve been looking at this very closely from both the technical and non-technical spheres,” said Rich Barger, chief information officer for ThreatConnect, a cyber intelligence software firm. “Based on our analysis, we strongly feel Guccifer 2 is linked to a Russian information operations campaign and is not the independent Romanian hacker that he claims to be.” …

The apparent link to Russian intelligence raises troubling implications for U.S. foreign relations and national security. Russia has not to date tried to interfere in U.S. elections, analysts say. But if this is a deliberate effort by the Kremlin to meddle, it is worrisome, they say.

Fiona Hill, a former Russia expert on the National Intelligence Council, said putting the emails out on WikiLeaks for the world to see is consistent with her view of the modus operandi of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian intelligence.

“They’re doing what they do best,” said Hill, now a Brookings senior fellow. “They would not be doing their jobs as intelligence officers if they were not trying to outsmart their main opponent and to have influence on their politics.”

But, Rid points out, “what we don’t know is whether this is a top-down order or not.”

Meanwhile, this CNN report is a classic case of the worst sort of journalism.  Clinton’s campaign manager lays out the case for the Russian’s being behind this (and it’s a compelling one) and then we get Trump’s campaign saying this is just laughable and Clinton will say anything to win.

Horrible!  Talk to some actual experts instead of just the most lazy, he said, she said.  Do we know the Russians are behind this.  Nope.  But do many uninvolved experts thing it is entirely plausible?  Indeed.  And that sure as hell matters.  Shame on any news organization that reports the story this way.  Now that I think about it, I’ll think I’ll save these two stories for my media class this coming semester.

Oh, and Trump and the Russians, Josh Marshall was all over it even before the leak:

To put this all into perspective, if Vladimir Putin were simply the CEO of a major American corporation and there was this much money flowing in Trump’s direction, combined withthis much solicitousness [emphases in original] of Putin’s policy agenda, it would set off alarm bells galore. That is not hyperbole or exaggeration. And yet Putin is not the CEO of an American corporation. He’s the autocrat who rules a foreign state, with an increasingly hostile posture towards the United States and a substantial stockpile of nuclear weapons. The stakes involved in finding out ‘what’s going on’ as Trump might put it are quite a bit higher.

More Kaine

Some more good reactions on Tim Kaine I wanted to share.  Larry Sabato:

Vice-presidential candidates can be divided into two categories: political choices selected for what they can deliver on Election Day and governing picks who can do some heavy lifting in the White House.

By choosing Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton will get both.

Clinton has been the favorite to win in Virginia since the Republicans chose Donald Trump, whose backing in heavily populated suburbs such as Northern Virginia should lag behind the previous three Republican presidential candidates. But with Kaine on the ticket, Virginia can probably retire its swing-state jersey for this year. A good-size Democratic victory in this once-reliable GOP state should be expected, likely larger than President Obama’s 3.9 point margin in 2012. Recent studies have suggested that a solid running mate can add two to three percentage points in his or her home state.

Kaine will also add more than home-state votes. Experience matters greatly to success on the campaign trail and in office, and Kaine has experience at every level. He has spent more than two decades learning local, state and federal government through service as a city council member, mayor, lieutenant governor, governor and U.S. senator — all the while never losing an election. Even Republican politicians have acknowledged that Kaine mastered each job, and many have praised Kaine’s savvy and collegiality…

If Clinton wins, Kaine could be an enormously valuable vice president. Moreover, one can easily imagine Kaine as president if it ever should prove necessary. In recent history, this hasn’t always been the case with running mates.

And Greg Sargent:

 2) Kaine is good on other issues important to progressives. Kaine, who is fluent in Spanish after having worked as a Catholic missionary in Honduras, has been a longtime advocate of immigration reform that includes a path to legalization for the undocumented…

Kaine has been a longtime proponent of closing the gun background check loophole, and has brought his personal experiences to bear in advocating for gun reform, having been Governor of Virginia at the time of the Virginia Tech massacre. Kaine would thus be well positioned to act as Clinton’s point man on the issue if she wins the presidency, much as Joe Biden has done for President Obama. It’s true that Kaine is personally anti-abortion, but he has voted for funding Planned Parenthood and against restricting access to abortion.  And as Ed Kilgore recently explained, in one sense his approach to the issue shows off a type of depth that could help politically: Kaine is skilled and experienced at navigating hot-button religious and cultural issues and explaining nuanced positions in that context, even if he isn’t fully aligned with progressives on them…

3) Kaine’s position on trade and Wall Street is nuanced. He is not a class warrior in the Sanders mold, but neither is Clinton…

It’s also worth noting that Kaine supports Dodd-Frank and has voted against efforts to gut the law’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The Clinton adviser confirms that Kaine has pledged to support her Wall Street reform agenda, which includes defending Dodd-Frank and boosting oversight of the shadow banking sector. Here again, this is something that we could see confirmed publicly in the near future, and this is something progressives can hold the ticket to later…

Mo Elleithee, a Democratic operative who has advised Kaine for many years, agrees that Kaine does not really share Sanders’s ideological and economic worldview. But he says Kaine views government as having an important role in leveling the economic playing field, noting that Kaine ran a vocational school for poor children in Honduras and later acted as a civil rights attorney on housing cases. “Kaine has never been a class warrior,” Elleithee tells me. “But he believes that government ought to be used to help increase opportunity and boost economic mobility for everyone.” [emphases  mine]…

In a sense, all this makes Kaine a good fit for Clinton, both ideologically and temperamentally. If Kaine does not fully share Bernie Sanders’s worldview, particularly his view of politics through the prism of class struggle and the imperative of breaking the power of the plutocracy, neither does she. But both Kaine and Clinton have been devoted to public service for much of their lives. Both have long been more comfortable talking and thinking about policy than about politics. Both care deeply about government, which they see as an essential agent for improving people’s lives. And both have long been more in the workhorse mold than in the showhorse one.

And Krystal Ball with”the progressive case for Tim Kaine:”

Ahh but perhaps Kaine abandoned all his lofty principles in a quest for political power in a conservative Southern state! If that’s your concern, perhaps you should just ask the NRA how they feel about Tim Kaine. Here’s how his elections in Virginia typically go: the NRA gives him an F rating, fear mongers about how he’s going to take everyone’s guns, spends massively against him, and then Tim goes on to win anyway…

Maybe though, Kaine was able to be bold on guns because he was right of center on everything else. Yeah, not so much. In Virginia, Kaine raised taxes, spearheaded efforts for universal pre-K, made Virginia the first Southern state to ban smoking in public places, and consistently opposed the death penalty. Let me repeat that last one. Tim Kaine consistently opposed the death penalty in a state that trails only Texas in number of executions. As governor, he bucked the prevailing law and order winds and vetoed eight different bills that would have expanded capital punishment. The issue was front and center in his gubernatorial race but he stuck to the Catholic values that have guided his life and never backed down.

Speaking of Catholic values, shouldn’t pro-choice progressives be terrified of Tim Kaine on the ticket? After all, he has said he is personally opposed to abortion. If you didn’t look any further, then a pro-choice feminist like myself might have cause for concern. Continue digging just one inch deeper though and you’ll find that Kaine has consistently supported Roe v Wade. In the Senate, he actually enjoys a 100 percent rating from Planned Parenthood. Based on Kaine’s record, it seems he would be entirely comfortable backing Hillary Clinton’s strongly pro-choice positions and in the unlikely event he would find himself President and making Supreme Court picks, there is every reason to expect Kaine would seek out Justices who would uphold Roe. He has been quite clear that while he may have his own personal objections to abortion, he has no interest in policing the lives of others. I, for what it’s worth, have no interest in policing the thoughts of others. Kaine doesn’t want to control my body and I don’t want to control his mind, so we’re all good there…

Look, anyone who has served as long and in as many ways as Tim Kaine is going to have taken positions you don’t agree with. I’m not saying the guy is perfect. But having watched a long time and gotten to see the man up close, I can tell you he is courageous, principled, and value driven. I can also tell you that this progressive who begged HRC not to run and drove 12 hours to be able to vote for Bernie would be delighted to see him on the Dem ticket.

And, lastly, the kind of liberal response that so annoys me from Nora Caplan-Bricker:

He’s also, at least in his personal views, opposed to abortion due to his Catholic faith—a symbolic kick in the teeth for the feminist organizations that faithfully championed Hillary over Bernie throughout the long primary season. “Is Clinton a progressive? Not if she chooses Tim Kaine,” Jodi Jacobson of the reproductive rights site Rewirewrote Thursday.

That’s not to say that Kaine is running to be a heartbeat from the presidency while nursing a secret plot to overturn Roe v. Wade. Like Vice President Joe Biden—another Catholic, personally anti-abortion Democrat—he’s said that he supports the Supreme Court ruling that established a woman’s right to choose; also like Biden, Kaine has seemed to drift leftward on the issue of late. But his personal beliefs have sometimes seemed to influence his public policymaking, making his selection an optical, and perhaps actual, move toward the center for Hillary.

Among Kaine’s anti-abortion sins:

Two years later, Kaine incensed local and national women’s rights groups by signing a law that allowed the sale of “Choose Life” license plates whose proceeds went to anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers. “It is unfortunate that, even after receiving thousands of messages from Virginians and pro-choice activists across the country, Gov. Kaine has opted to sign a bill that advances a divisive political ideology at the expense of women’s health,” Nancy Keenan, then-president of NARAL, said at the time.

Well, there goes Roe v. Wade.  In fairness, there’s more:

In 2005, he ran for governor on promises to promote adoption, reduce abortion, and support the farce that is abstinence-only sex education. While in office, he backed a so-called partial birth abortion ban, which prohibits a certain method of mid- and late-term abortion, though he supported exceptions in cases where a woman’s health was endangered. He also supported a parental consent law that requires minors to get a parent’s signoff before obtaining an abortion—and though that law theoretically includes a “judicial bypass” option, teens are often prevented from using it by misinformation, as the HuffingtonPost has reported.

Is this a solidly, 100% pro-choice record?  Nope.  It is actually quite reflective of the real-world compromises even many pro-choice Americans are quite comfortable with?  Yes indeed.  Look, he’d clearly appoint judges who would uphold Roe and it also seems clear that he strongly supports Planned Parenthood and that he would not at all seek to initiate legislation limiting abortion in any meaningful way.  That sounds plenty pro-choice enough for me.  Oh, and lastly, the idea that deviating from the hard-line pro-choice view on the single issue of abortion automatically makes one “moderate” or “centrist” is simply misleading in my book.


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