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The Convention

[ 8 ] July 25, 2016 |


Watching a few minutes of Bernie Sanders’s speech to his supporters made me very worried about this convention. Not because of Sanders. But because many of his die-hard supporters who are at the convention hate Hillary. When he brings her name up, they still boo. What Clinton needs is a convention that is united and shows stability going forward into the election. I don’t think that’s going to happen. Bernie can’t control these people and they have no intention of being controlled. Some are probably going to jeer Hillary Clinton during her acceptance speech on Thursday. I think we are going to see a really divisive four days with a media narrative about an untrustworthy Hillary Clinton that can’t unite her party, even though the actual Bernie supporters sitting at home watching are rapidly coming around to voting for Clinton. This is very much not good news going forward to the last three months of this horrible election year.


Candidate Benefits From Convention Bounce

[ 7 ] July 25, 2016 |

Trump has eked past Hillary Clinton in the polling averages. This has led my Twitter feed to light up with consternation. But let’s keep some perspective, shall we? The Monday after the RNC should be the most favorable point for Trump. John McCain had a narrow lead in the Gallup tracking poll after the RNC and Dukakis had a double-digit one.

I wouldn’t say don’t panic, exactly, because any chance that Trump could win is pretty much a reason to panic, and it’s possible that he could win. But nothing about these polls suggests that Clinton doesn’t remain a heavy favorite. If Trump maintains this bounce a month from now, that’s a different story, but as of now it doesn’t mean very much.


[ 46 ] July 25, 2016 |

DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-FL, speaks at the Democratic National Committee's Womens Leadership Forum Issues Conference in Washington, DC on September 19, 2014. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN        (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

I guess I am just amazed by Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s determination to address the convention, even though she knows she is going to get booed and shouted down. I imagine she sees herself as a righteous figure and I’m sure she knows this is the pinnacle of her political career, but why would you put yourself through this for nothing? And why would the Clinton team be OK with this?


[ 1 ] July 25, 2016 |

We’ll be down for maintenance for the next couple of hours.

Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 41

[ 14 ] July 24, 2016 |

This is the grave of Thurlow Weed.

2016-06-04 16.55.21 HDR

Thurlow Weed was a political kingmaker of the Whig Party. Born in 1797 in New York, Weed became involved in politics at a young age, first supporting DeWitt Clinton and then John Quincy Adams. He was elected to the New York state assembly in 1824, becoming a leader of the Anti-Masonic Party. He took over a series of newspapers and effectively became the boss of the New York Whigs during the 1830s. He was a major player in a series of Whig presidential nominees–Henry Clay in 1832, William Henry Harrison in 1840, Zachary Taylor in 1848, and Winfield Scott in 1852. He was originally close to Millard Fillmore so had hopes when Taylor died that Fillmore would see his policies through, but the new president proved quite susceptible to southern influence and Weed grew distant from him. With the Whigs’ collapse, Weed moved into the new Republican Party and worked to elect John C. Fremont in 1856. Typically for Weed’s ambitions, this ultimately failed. Weed was very close with William Seward and hoped to get him the 1860 Republican nomination. When Abraham Lincoln won it instead, both Seward and Weed were disappointed but supported the nominee. After the Civil War, like Seward, Weed turned far to the right, becoming an important supporter of Andrew Johnson’s Reconstruction policies, which effectively made him politically irrelevant by 1868. Weed lived until 1882, but had little political pull after this.

Thurlow Weed is buried in Albany Rural Cemetery, Menands, New York.

Rejected blog post titles

[ 372 ] July 24, 2016 |

Debbie Downer.

The chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee resigned Sunday after a trove of emails were disclosed showing DNC officials working to undermine the underdog presidential campaign of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Florida congresswoman, said in a statement that she would resign from her post at the DNC at the end of this week’s convention. She said she would still open and close the gathering and would address the delegates.

Only 11 million more days until Election Day!

Choose your news here.

The current GOP response seems to be Trump tweeting about it as fast his Lackey in Charge of Social Media can type.

Cooperstown Day

[ 84 ] July 24, 2016 |

Watching that eternally glorious bottom clip again, I was thinking about Buck Showalter, a fine manager who’s done an excellent job in Baltimore. Part of me has always thought that it’s unfortunate that he didn’t get a chance to manage the dynasty he helped build just as Jeter was about to come up. But it’s also true that he did unconscionably screw up an elimination playoff game. He sort of did Grady Little one better, letting a completely gassed pitcher give up the leads in the 8th and the 11th innings. When Cone walked the immortal Doug Strange with the bases loaded to allow the Mariners to tie the game in the the 8th, it was his 147th pitch. (And as with Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS, it wasn’t just the pitch count — any idiot could see that Cone had nothing left well before Strange came to the plate.) And then he let Jack McDowell — an above-average innings eater but nothing more than that — throw to 10 batters on one day’s rest, letting him blow the game in the 11th. And he did this despite having John Wetteland, a very good closer, available. (Yes, he had given up a grand slam in Game 4 and also gave up a couple runs in a non-save situation in Game 1, but you can’t overreact to a pitcher giving up a home run to peak Edgar Martinez, who in 1995 had an OPS north of 1.100.)

The decision to fire Grady Little was easy — when a guy indefensibly screws up an elimination playoff game and is nothing but a generic hack anyway, there’s no choice at all. But Showalter was a good manager, and while it was really dumb not to bring Wetteland (or Wickman, or Rivera earlier, or anyone who wasn’t as obviously done as Cone), I’m not entirely sure that his firing was fair. But you have to say it worked out well for the Yankees.

…good to see that Piazza’s overdue induction is making blogger and back acne analyst Murray Chass cry.

Terms and conditions may apply

[ 118 ] July 23, 2016 |

Talking of grading on a curve, I wonder if the press/pundit industrial complex will do much beyond note that Priebus has vowed that the RNC will never support hateful bigots.

(Provided said bigot is or once was a member of a hate group.)

(And is running for Senate.)

(In a contest where there are plenty of other contenders to choose from.)

(And has snowball’s chance on the streets of D.C. in July of winning anyway.)

The appropriate angle to such a story would be Mr. Chairman, you’ve got a lot of damn nerve. The RNC just put together a platform that is equal parts venom and shriek and nominated a vain, loud, bigoted con artist, a man who never met someone he didn’t want to screw over and laugh about it. A man someone once described as a giant shouting yam, and the imagery was so perfect, so powerful, that it put me off yams for life.

If there’s no place for Duke’s bigotry in the GOP, it’s because all the slots are filled and there’s a waiting list a mile long.

However, the most likely angle is Here’s how Reince Priebus is working (oh, so very hard) to a repair his party’s image, so that he looks like a decent bloke, rather than a cowardly, self serving, nothing of a human being. The latter approach might make it hard to maintain the Both sides do it narrative and if that goes, people might have to do some real reporting.

Feel the Kaine-Mentum. No, Really.

[ 224 ] July 23, 2016 |

The Clinton-Kaine ticket will be hard to beat. I was downright shocked by the shrewdness of the Clinton-Kaine event I just witnessed. Shouts out to Latinos and the military community? So smart. What was even smarter was the highlighting of Kaine’s social justice roots. Smarter still? The damn positivity of the whole event. It was a STARK contrast to the Trump speech, which was wall to wall gloom and doom. If these two candidates keep campaigning like this, they will be unstoppable. I’m comfortable putting this on record now.

Police officer delivers life-saving projectile to therapist’s leg

[ 118 ] July 23, 2016 |

In case anyone is still wondering if there is anything police officers won’t say to justify the unnecessary use of force:




Kinsey, before he was shot in the leg, could be seen lying on the pavement with his hands in the air. He told police that he was unarmed and that the man sitting beside him was autistic and holding a toy truck — not a gun as a 911 caller had claimed.

Yeabut, but if someone got hit with a toy truck, it could really hurt. And if Kinsey was lying down, maybe he was also lying. About the truck. Not being a gun. It’s just logic.

“I took this job to save lives and help people,” the officer said in a statement released Thursday by the union. “I did what I had to do in a split second to accomplish that and hate to hear others paint me as something I’m not.”

This was Aledda’s official statement, which isn’t an improvement on his initial IDK [shruggy emoticon] when Kinsey asked why he had shot him.

Personally, I think that as an excuse, Hey, I was aiming at the other unarmed person! lacks a certain je ne sais quoi. But I’m not the sort who would selflessly shoot people who pose no threat to anyone, so clearly I am a flawed human being.

It’s also important to remember police heroically handcuffed the shooting victim – a therapist who was attempting to help one of his patients – after he had been shot. Maybe to keep him from running around, as people do when they’ve been shot in the leg.

And let’s not forget Aledda’s commander Emile Hollant, who valiantly gave conflicting statements about the shooting and got suspended without pay.

When’s the ticker tape parade?

Across the Gulf of Mexico, in Texas, the Say anything so long as some recognizable words fall out of your face approach lead to a brief but comprehensive tour of white supremacy, American style.

(Spradlin was one of the arresting officers who initially pulled King over for speeding and wound up body slamming her a few times.)

In the second video, shot inside a squad car as King is being transported to jail, Spradlin can be heard talking to King about race.

“Why are so many people afraid of black people?” he said.

King said she was also trying to understand.

“I can give you a really good idea why it might be that way,” Spradlin said. “Violent tendencies.”

The officer can be heard saying he does not blame white people for being afraid because of violence in the black community.

“Some of them, because of their appearance and whatnot, some of them are very intimidating,” he said.

Say, maybe that’s why the Klan wears hoods! To preserve the public image of white people as … No that doesn’t make any more sense than a white man who has just knocked a black woman down telling her she’s the scary one.

I suspect Aledda and Spradlin are operating from different motives. Aledda’s A man’s gotta do gibberish sounds like a CYA from someone who doesn’t really understand y his A needs a C; Spradlin sounds like the abusive crud who gets off first by beating his victim and then, when she is too frightened or hurt to argue, telling his victim why it’s her fault he hit her.

However, they’re both operating from the assumption – call it the certainty – that anything they say will be accepted without comment.

The result is statements that are bizarre if one believes that people are accountable for their actions. Some may say people like Aledda and Spradlin sound (or are) crazy. This is a mistake; not just because Fristing is irritating and it perpetuates the crazy (however that is defined) = dangerous stereotype. It’s a mistake because it assumes the officers are attempting to communicate in a meaningful way.

Aledda understood words were required, and so he uttered some words (making sure to let everyone know he’s a poor put upon hero as he did so). Spradlin shared his toxic beliefs with a captive audience because he could. If it sounds weird, congrats.

And maybe in a couple hundred years people like Aledda and Spradlin and Hollant will automatically stuff a candy bar in their mouths instead of talking. And in a millennia or three they’ll avoid doing the thing that would require an excuse at all. But I’m sure I’m being way too optimistic.


[ 393 ] July 23, 2016 |
U.S. senatorial candidate and former Virginia Governor Tim Kaine addresses the first session of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S. September 4, 2012. REUTERS/Jason Reed/File Photo

U.S. senatorial candidate and former Virginia Governor Tim Kaine addresses the first session of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S. September 4, 2012. REUTERS/Jason Reed/File Photo

People who bet the chalk were right. I’ll probably have a piece about it, but a few quick points:

  • The pick is…fine. He wasn’t my first choice and still wouldn’t be, but the pick accomplishes the basic minimum of what is necessary in a vice presidential candidate, which is minimizing the downside risk. (As I will return to later, he’s far from unique in this respect, but he meets the standard.) He’s a moderate but not a Lieberman or anything. He’s not unqualified to be president, the media likes him, and Clinton seems comfortable with him.
  • I don’t believe that there’s any significant mobilizing effect that comes from vice presidential selections, so I don’t really see a major political missed opportunity.
  • With all due respect, the concerns about abortion are specious. Trying to figure out what a politician REALLY THINKS is a useless mug’s game. Maybe his 100% NARAL rating is a product of shifts in the party. So what? It’s not shifting back, and Kaine would have no means to impose some kind of secret anti-abortion agenda even if he wanted to.
  • I have two reservations about the pick. First, it unnecessarily puts a Senate seat at risk. It’s not a dispositive factor like it is with Sherrod Brown — there’s a Democratic governor in Virginia, and the Democrats can probably (although not certainly) retain the seat in an off-year election. But it’s a negative factor. The second problem is that it plays into the narrative that a “safe choice” means “white guy.” What risk, exactly, is involved with Tom Perez, and extremely intelligent and well-educated person who has numerous public offices without scandal or notable gaffes?

The pick is acceptable but suboptimal — in other words, very Clinton.


The Imaginary Progressive Donald Trump

[ 148 ] July 22, 2016 |


One way of mainstreaming Donald Trump is to pretend that “I don’t think gay people should be subject to mass murder” is some sort of major concession to LGBT rights. Another strategy, which Ivanka Trump used last night, is to just outright lie and suggest that Trump is running on the Democratic platform rather than the Republican one:

And so, Trump continued, her father would “change labor laws that were put in place when women were not a significant portion of the workforce, focus on making quality child-care affordable and accessible for all.”

Trump went on to argue, correctly, that “policies that allow women with children to thrive should not be novelties, they should be the norm” and then claimed that while “politicians talk about wage equality,” her father “has made it a practice his entire career” and promised that Donald “will fight for equal pay for equal work and I will fight for this too, right alongside of him.”

This portion of Ivanka’s speech was beautifully delivered, cogent, and mostly right on the money. It was also, with regard to her father, an enormous crock.

If Ivanka Trump is looking to be part of a two-for-one presidential team that brings our labor, economic, and social policies up to speed regarding women’s participation in the workforce, she should really get on the phone with Hillary Clinton. Clinton is the candidate running on policy proposals that would cap child-care spending at 10 percent of family income, boost pay for child-care workers, implement early childhood home visiting programs. and guarantee paid family leave — the basic building block of humane workplace policy that this country so embarrassingly lacks.

Ivanka certainly shouldn’t cast a vote for her father, a man who has not only shown zero interest in addressing any of the workplace inequities his daughter laid out, but whose campaign rests partly on the premise of returning America to the earlier era Ivanka described, in which women were treated as dependents, not as economic actors or as professionals or as equals in any realm.

In fact, just hours before Trump’s daughter took the stage, his campaign manager, Paul Manafort, had given an interview in which he described Trump’s appeal to women lies with fact that “there are many women in this country who feel they can’t afford their lives; their husbands can’t afford to be paying for the family bills.”

This is the Trump’s campaign vision of women — they are wives whose economic concerns extend only to their husband’s earning power.

And if you believe this is some sort of internal dispute — that there is substantive tension between Manafort’s vision and Ivanka’s view, and hers will win out — I would submit that every available piece of evidence supports the fact that Trump himself, and certainly the party he is leading into November, wants to return women to a subservient past, and actively obstruct policies that would better support them, or treat them as fully human.

If not for the recent changes at Salon, I would bet that two recent prep-school dropouts would already have published pieces using Ivanka Trump’s speech as evidence that her father is actually to Clinton’s left.

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