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Is Evan Bayh “Collapsing?”

[ 44 ] October 24, 2016 |


Despite what looks like a pending Electoral College landslide, the Senate is looking very close. So if Bayh is indeed collapsing, this is a serious problem. As of now, I don’t really see any evidence of a “collapse” as opposed to a “decline” — the RCP average has him up by four points, 538’s polls-only has him north of 80%. I’d like him to be up more but the Democrats have worse problems in swing states.

Still, there is a real dilemma here. On the one hand, Bayh is the best viable Senate candidate from Indiana, and while he was a wet for a red-state senator he was OK — he did less damage to the ACA than Lieberman or Nelson, for example. It’s important that he win. On the other hand, Republican depictions of him as a money-drubbing hack Washington insider are…perfectly accurate. Not only is he a greasy lobbyist but he was really pompous about it. As is so often the case Bayh is the best that can be done in Indiana right now but it would be desirable for conditions to change such as that the best is better.


Today in the Party of Calhoun

[ 22 ] October 24, 2016 |


Seems about right:

Holy cow. The state of Kansas has a lawyer citing Dred Scott in support of its position. In defense of a law aimed at limiting a woman’s right to choose. What in the fck is the matter with Kansas?

Dred Freaking Scott!

I am not a lawyer, nor am I a legal scholar, although I do function as one here in the shebeen. But there’s a nice shiny nickel for anyone who can tell me the last time anyone cited that monstrous ruling in support of anything.

Well, I can’t give you an example of a judge explicitly citing Dred Scott. But I can give you an example of the Chief Justice of the United States joined by four of his brethren using Dred Scott‘s theory of equal state sovereignty, in order to place an extratextual limitation on the powers explicitly granted to Congress by Section 2 of the 15th Amendment to address racial discrimination by states in their regulation of voting. The four surviving members of that coalition also think that the willful and explicit suppression of the votes of racial minorities by state governments should be allowed to proceed.

In a way, then, the candor of the Kansas Solicitor General’s office is refreshing!

Curt Schilling Finds Powerful Media Platform To Launch Sure-to-be-Successful Senate Run

[ 71 ] October 23, 2016 |


This seems over-over-overdetermined:

With it looking increasingly unlikely Donald Trump will be heading to the White House, the prospect that he will partner with his campaign CEO, Breitbart executive chair Steve Bannon, to launch a Trump TV network seems more and more probable. In the meantime, the right-wing website is staffing up with potential on-air talent.

On Monday, Breitbart plans to announce that former Red Sox pitcher and Trump supporter Curt Schilling will begin hosting a daily online radio show featuring political commentary and calls from listeners. The broadcast will eventually include a video livestream. The show marks Schilling’s return to media six months after ESPN fired him for sharing an anti-transgender Facebook post with a message that read: “A man is a man no matter what they call themselves. I don’t care what they are, who they sleep with, men’s room was designed for the penis, women’s not so much. Now you need laws telling us differently? Pathetic.”

“He got kicked off ESPN for his conservative views. He’s a really talented broadcaster,” Breitbart editor-in-chief Alex Marlow said.

Well, when your takes — and your memes* — are too hot for the network that is currently signing paychecks for Skip Bayless, Colin Cowherd, and Jason Whitlock, it was either than or put videos on Sarah Palin’s Facebook wall. I assume Brietbart is also getting a nice check from the taxpayers of Rhode Island out of the deal.

*I have to say I’m finding the weekly mock Schilling memes in this year’s Jamboroo to be pretty amusing. For example:


To reiterate, however, I must disagree with fake Schilling in this case. It is apparent — and I must be clear that my consideration is limited to the present circumstances, for the problem of pass interference generally presents many complexities — that calling DPI on Sherman would have violated the equal sovereign dignitude of the states. The extraordinary remedy of pass interference might have been necessary in 1965, but when Julio Jones can get 175 yards a week it is no longer justified.

NFL Open Thread

[ 211 ] October 23, 2016 |


I guess we should get this up early for the Giants fans out there?

America’s Particularly Overpaid and Underachieving Elites Denounce Democracy as Elitist

[ 229 ] October 21, 2016 |

America’s Liberal News Newtwork (TM), everybody!

MARK HALPERIN: I’m fascinated by a parallel universe in which [Donald] Trump hadn’t said what he said about respecting the results because he had a lot of good moments. I think he got more of his message out than he ever has. He had the demeanor that a lot of people wanted to see. But there’s no doubt that it’s the revenge of the elites. Elites do not accept that that was an appropriate answer and it’s not just the coverage in the immediate aftermath of the debate, the coverage this morning, but until he explains it and gets in sync with everyone on his campaign team I don’t think he’s going to get to talk about much else and that means every bit of good he might have done last night, with a strong performance and her strong performance, I don’t think matters much.

JOE SCARBOROUGH (CO-HOST): Mark, let me ask you. And I’m sure people will disagree with me here — just the implication of my question, the suggestion of my question — how many people in Scranton, Pennsylvania, care about what he said in that answer compared to people in newsrooms that are — whimpering and whining with their, you know —

HALPERIN: Almost —

SCARBOROUGH: With their soy lattes?

HALPERIN: That’s why I said it’s the revenge of the elites. Elites in both parties have been against Trump from the beginning.

There are people who should be paid anything to comment on politics. There are people who still use “latte-drinking” as a stand-in for “snooty elitist” in 2016. (There were are than 12,000 Starbucks locations in the United States. I know it seems like they’re all in Manhattan, but…) You also have to like Halperin’s penetrating insight — surely it is unprecedented for Democratic elites to not support the Republican nominee for president.

But Roger Goodell Always Made Money For His Partners

[ 62 ] October 21, 2016 |


Willfully inept investigations and ludicrously arbitrary punishments, the Roger Goodell story:

There is no way of knowing if the NFL got this divorce file; I can only tell you that it is a public record, and was fairly simple to get. I got a copy; the NFL knew the Browns were going through a divorce; Josh Brown told reporters he was divorced back in August.

But even before that, there was very strong evidence of what happened, again provided by Molly Brown to law enforcement, that plenty of reporters got with relative ease. Here is how the documents the NFL apparently couldn’t get have been coming out, at least at my end: When the New York Daily News story broke, I sent in a public records request to the King County Sheriff’s Office. Since then, whenever they have had records to release, they have included me on the list of reporters who get them. Getting the law enforcement documents has mostly been as simple as hitting refresh on my laptop.

If reporters armed with little more than laptops can get detailed sheriff’s office records, why can’t the NFL? Why did it not only fail to get them but then blame Molly Brown herself, essentially re-victimizing her for the umpteenth time, for their failure to gather basic, public facts? These are perfectly fine questions; the only possible answers here are that the NFL didn’t want to know badly enough to not file basic public-records requests, or that it didn’t want to know badly enough not to read coverage from people who did. Add to that today’s SportsNet New York report by Ralph Vacchiano that the Giants (via the NFL) knew Molly Brown needed a new hotel room at the Pro Bowl in January because her then-husband was drunk and pounding on her door, and you come to a simple conclusion: The NFL knows what it would like to know, and continues to treat domestic violence as little more than a PR crisis.

This is no surprise if you look over previous NFL investigations. An NFL investigation of its Ray Rice investigation (yes, they did such a thing) found that the lead investigator assigned to Rice’s case was a dunce who at one point was just hitting refresh on a web browser. The NFL was so clueless it also interviewed Janay Rice with her husband in the room and then blamed her, not its own incompetence or public-relations-first mindset disguised as a player conduct policy, for doling out a lax punishment.

And yet, time after time, the NFL swore it had learned and that the next time would be different. In the Greg Hardy case, it did get documents—only after reaching sketchy agreements with local law enforcement to allow them see what the public could not. And within that veil of secrecy, with special access to records, they conducted a hearing in which Hardy’s lawyer was allowed to give his version of events, which included using a woman’s sex life against her and saying that what happened to her was just a slip and fall, with very little pushback from the NFL.

The information on offer in the new Brown documents was here all along. Yesterday’s release added color and detail to what was known months ago and reported weeks ago, here and elsewhere. That it took a man saying it was true for it to become a story is only affirmation that the word of women and children and law enforcement officers is not enough.

Well, at least Brown didn’t do anything really bad worthy of the NFL’s sustained attention, like smoke pot.

I didn’t think anything could top the ridiculous ineptitude of the NFL’s Ballghazi’s investigation, but this comes close.

Would A Republican Senate Confirm Hillary Clinton’s Supreme Court Nominee?

[ 231 ] October 21, 2016 |

MItch McConnell

Don’t bet on it:

What McCain said on Monday is almost certainly an honest account of what Republicans plan to do — that is, create a constitutional crisis should Hillary Clinton win the presidency and the GOP retain control of the Senate. The Supreme Court could be stuck with eight members for years, unable to resolve many crucial divisions in the federal courts. If the norm that presidents should be able to nominate qualified, mainstream judges who generally share their constitutional views disappears, the Constitution leaves no way to resolve the issue and staffing the federal government when the Senate and White House are in the hands of different parties will become increasingly difficult.

McCain’s comments, first of all, should underscore that it’s massively unlikely that Merrick Garland, Obama’s nominee to fill the seat on the Court left vacant by the death of Antonin Scalia, will be confirmed during a lame-duck session. Republican senators will be under intense pressure not to collaborate with a Democratic president after what is likely to be a crushing defeat in the Electoral College. Throughout Mitch McConnell’s tenure as leader of the Republican conference, Senate Republicans have consistently refused to make deals with Democrats even at the price of leaving substantial policy concessions on the table. Getting a slightly older and less liberal justice than might be confirmed otherwise is not the hill this practice is going to die on.

The more interesting question is what happens if Hillary Clinton wins the White House but Republicans maintain control of the Senate. This is possible — as of this writing, Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight gives Republicans roughly a one in four chance of retaining the Senate, and two weeks ago it was closer to a 50-50 proposition. The conventional wisdom has been that it will be impossible for Republicans to keep Clinton from filling Scalia’s seat for four years.

As McCain’s unguarded comments indicate, this is dead wrong. Serial Republican obstruction of a Democratic replacement for Scalia is, in fact, entirely thinkable. The key question is this: What causal mechanism can force Republicans to confirm any Clinton nomination to the Court? They will surely get criticism from the press, but so what? Even if this particular form of obstructionism makes Senate Republicans marginally less popular, the electoral map in 2018 is so favorable to the GOP that it almost certainly wouldn’t stop them from adding to their majority. The typical Republican senator has much more to fear from a primary electorate if a Democratic justice who would immediately become the swing justice creating majorities for liberal Supreme Court decisions was confirmed because of their vote.

One thing the conventional wisdom can’t explain is why the extraordinary and unprecedented obstruction of Merrick Garland has been an utter non-issue in the presidential campaign. Regardless of whether the Supreme Court should be an important issue to most voters, in practice it isn’t. Many Senate Republicans, having gotten away with it for a year, will assume they could get away with again — and they’re probably right. It’s true that congressional Republicans have eventually cut deals to end government shutdowns or to avoid defaulting on the national debt, but those are issues with direct, easily discernible material consequences to the public at large. The typical voter notices if they can’t get into a national park or if there’s massive economic collapse. They won’t notice if the Supreme Court is failing to resolve circuit splits.

It’s not certain that a Republican Senate would continue the Supreme Court blockade for another four years — we know the old norms are no longer operative but we can’t be sure what new ones will be established. But it’s entirely possible, and indeed likely.

Should Clinton win but the Democrats fail to take the Senate, you will hear a lot of pundits going to say something like “Republicans can’t block Supreme Court for 4 years.” The question to ask, that they won’t be able to answer, is “who’s going to make them?” And if they start mentioning the august traditions of the Senate just laughing as you fix yourself four fingers of bourbon.

A Journalistic Disgrace

[ 87 ] October 21, 2016 |


4 debates, zero questions about climate change. And what’s even worse is that the last substantive question treated Pain Caucus bullshit as objective fact:

It finally happened. After three straight debates without a single moderator asking about climate change, Fox News’s Chris Wallace decided to focus the final presidential showdown on a slow-moving issue that would greatly affect future generations. He wasn’t going to let Trump or Clinton avoid the topic, either. He pulled out facts and figures and demanded to know why the two candidates were ignoring the problem.

Wait, sorry, I’m just kidding. Wallace didn’t ask about climate change at all. He wanted to talk about the national debt.

The national debt is an odd, recurring fixation in Washington. The fact that the US government borrows a lot of money each year just isn’t a huge problem right now. Interest rates are incredibly low. The US Treasury has no problem rolling over its debt and never misses a payment. The one thing that might be worth fretting about is that someday in the future, our children and grandchildren could have to pay higher taxes to pay down the debt if it gets unmanageable.

But if you’re that worried about the future, why not talk about global warming? It’s an issue that’s already affecting us today — but will also shape the next 10,000 years of life on this planet. And it’s not just a question of whether our grandchildren might have to pay somewhat higher taxes, it’s a question of whether multi-century droughts will ravage the Southwest, or whether the city of Miami will drown beneath the rising seas, or whether vital coral reefs will vanish forever. Quibbling over the payroll tax seems quaint by comparison.

But none of the moderators asked about global warming at all. Not in the first presidential debate. Not in the vice presidential debate. Not in the second presidential debate.* Not in the third presidential debate. Hillary Clinton name-checked the topic, occasionally, but that was it. Humanity is departing from the stable climatic conditions that allowed civilization to thrive, yet the most powerful nation on Earth can’t set aside five minutes to discuss.

It’s possible the debate moderators don’t understand what’s at stake. It’s possible they don’t care. Or it’s possible they’re afraid that any question on the topic might seem too partisan. After all, Clinton thinks the issue is pretty serious and has a bunch of proposals around it, whereas Trump says it’s all a hoax invented by the Chinese. Under the circumstances, even a halfway intelligent question about climate policy would sound “biased.”

Crazy For You, But Not That Crazy

[ 36 ] October 20, 2016 |


Shorter Paul LePage: “Donald Trump is making racist authoritarian buffoons look bad.”

Another Satisfied Customer!

[ 146 ] October 20, 2016 |


I’m sure anyone who’s tried to find an autosaved Word file (“we buried it the 16th subfolder! Each less intuitively named than the last! Designed by software engineers who find BlackBoard too elegant and user-friendly! Assange’s best hackers couldn’t find it!”) can identify:

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, who has never been one to embrace technology, has had it with Microsoft Surface tablets on NFL sidelines. He went on a surprisingly long-winded rant about the devices in today’s presser, where he essentially said that the tablets suck ass and he’s not using them anymore.

The Patriots had dealt with issues in Sunday’s game where their technology and headsets weren’t functioning properly. Belichick told reporters that the team’s IT guy had done all he could, and any issues beyond that were on the NFL. “I don’t know how much urgency there is on the other part from the league standpoint,” he said.

Belichick isn’t the only one to complain about the result of the league’s multi-year, $400 million deal with Microsoft. As Kevin Clark of The Ringer wrote in August, the NFL’s players and coaches have had mixed reactions to the prevalent tablets on the sidelines. Many of them preferred binders to look at plays and formations, since those don’t require batteries.


The NFL released a reminder that Microsoft paid the league a lot of money for this deal…

Speaking of Smilin’ Bill, I’ve long believed he was right that every call should be challengable, with a requirement that a specific error be identified, not just “look at the play and see if you see anything.” Continue to limit the number of challenges, make clear that only indisputable evidence can overturn a call, and let coaches decide what they want to challenge. The fact that John Fox and Rex Ryan will still burn most of their challenges with failed attempts to challenge spots to gain 1 yard on 1st quarter punts would just be part of the fun. All three of the terrible pass interference calls from the last weekend would have been overturned and I don’t know why they shouldn’t be, although of course in the specific case of Sherman mugging Jones this should properly been seen as a character-building exercise for the Atlanta metropolitan area. (Can we also talk about how Seattle basically couldn’t legally cover Jones with two Hall of Fame defensive backs? That’s one example of trading up you have to say worked.)

Clinton Is Good At This

[ 203 ] October 20, 2016 |


One thing that will likely be quickly forgotten is that Donald Trump, as he did in the first two debates, sounded vaguely rational for the first 20 minutes or so, and even showed evidence of actual preparation. His answers on abortion, for example — “send the issue back to the states,” “Hillary Clinton wants 11-month-old babies ripped out of women’s stomachs!1!1!1!” — were on the one hand dumb but on the other hand the standard-issue responses Republican pols have been using to evade the party’s nationally unpopular position on abortion for time out of mind. But as the debate progressed he became less and less hinged, and finally made the lunatic statements that defined his performance so that any Republican less hacky than Jeffrey Lord had to admit he was pretty mush a disaster.

This unraveling isn’t something that just happened, though. While Trump is predictably worse in a one-on-one debate than in a crowded field, he’s also no longer up against a bunch of tomato cans who have no idea how to provoke him:

This is not normal. As Andrew Prokop concluded in his review of the political science evidence around presidential debates, “There’s little historical evidence that they’ve ever swung polls by more than a few percentage points.” In this case, they did. And it’s because Clinton executed a risky strategy flawlessly.

The dominant narrative of this election goes something like this. Hillary Clinton is a weak candidate who is winning because she is facing a yet weaker candidate. Her unfavorables are high, her vulnerabilities are obvious, and if she were running against a Marco Rubio or a Paul Ryan, she would be getting crushed. Lucky for her, she’s running against a hot orange mess with higher unfavorables, clearer vulnerabilities, and a tape where he brags about grabbing women “by the pussy.”

There’s truth to this narrative, but it also reflects our tendency to underestimate Clinton’s political effectiveness. Trump’s meltdown wasn’t an accident. The Clinton campaign coolly analyzed his weaknesses and then sprung trap after trap to take advantage of them.

Clinton’s successful execution of this strategy has been, fittingly, the product of traits that she’s often criticized for: her caution, her overpreparation, her blandness. And her particular ability to goad Trump and blunt the effectiveness of his political style has been inextricable from her gender. The result has been a political achievement of awesome dimensions, but one that Clinton gets scarce credit for because it looks like something Trump is doing, rather than something she is doing — which is, of course, the point.

Clinton is no Obama as a political talent, but debating is one thing she does really well, much better than Obama. One reason I’ve always been confident of her winning was that I assumed that you could consider what she did to Rick Lazio in the debates and then triple it. Sure, Trump is her nearly perfect opponent, but she knew how to put him away despite some obvious issue-based vulnerabilities.

So Donald Trump Said This

[ 213 ] October 19, 2016 |


I’m sure this will end well:

It’s extraordinary that Chris Wallace had to ask this question of Donald Trump during a presidential debate: If he loses, will he accept the result of the election?

But what is even more stunning was Trump’s response: You’ll just have to wait and see.

“I will look at it at the time,” Trump said. He listed off his litany of complaints about the election. The media is biased. There are “millions of people registered to vote that shouldn’t be registered to vote,” he said, distorting a Pew Research Center report that was about voter registration systems rather than fraud. Clinton, he said, shouldn’t even be running in the first place.

Wallace pressed him again: “There is a tradition in this country, in fact one of the prides of this country is the peaceful transition of power, and that no matter how hard-fought a campaign is, that at the end of the campaign that the loser concedes to the winner. Not saying that you’re necessarily going to be the loser or the winner. But 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?”

And again, Trump wouldn’t say that he would. “I’ll tell you at the time,” he repeated. “I’ll keep you in suspense, okay?”

But Al Gore refused to concede an election whose outcome had not been determined, so really Both Sides Do It.

…at least the media seems to be avoiding “is democracy good? Views differ” for now:


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