July 25, 2016

"For the last year, I’ve been feeling the Bern. Relax, I put some cream on it."

Said Sarah Silverman at the Democratic National Convention tonight.

It made me say, quoting the old Bill Clinton line, "Put some ice on it."

I don't think they meant to evoke that. Maybe it was only me.

After all the talk of how much Democrats care about women and the children they tend to, Al Franken ended his speech in a very discordant way.

"Many of you have jobs. Many of you have families. Ignore them. Let me tell you something: kids love it when their parents aren't home. And let me tell you something else. An 8-year-old knows how to use a microwave. And let me tell you something else. An 8-year-old can teach a 4-year-old how to use a microwave. That's just scientific fact. They'll be fine."

I know it's humor. It just hit me the wrong way. I didn't like joking about neglecting children.

"There is only one person" who is "truly qualified" to be President — Michelle Obama says — "and that is our friend Hillary Clinton."

Why say that to all the Bernie supporters in the room? He's not even qualified to be President?

And Democrats been criticizing Donald Trump for saying "I alone can fix it." As Chuck Todd said, interviewing him on "Meet the Press" yesterday:
One of the phrases you used, "I alone can fix it." And to some people, that sounded almost too strong-mannish for them. Do you understand that criticism and what do you make of it?"
Michelle Obama just said the same thing about Hillary.

Amid great disunity, the new DNC chair calls for the "Unity Report."

The newcomer chair, Marsha Fudge, struggles with the disorder at the Democratic National Convention:

I'll Keep It With Mine...



(Today, at Collectivo.)

"Hundreds of supporters of Bernie Sanders drowned out the Vermont senator with boos Monday..."

"... as he tried to make the case on the first day of the Democratic National Convention that his fans would need to vote for Hillary Clinton in order to defeat Donald J. Trump."
[T]he crowd remained fixed on their support of Mr. Sanders and not on the idea of defeating Mr. Trump. Over and over again they chanted, “We want Bernie. Bernie. Bernie. Bernie.”

The reaction from Mr. Sanders’s supporters was consistent with the anti-Clinton message delivered by demonstrators earlier in the day. Some pro-Sanders protesters took a harder turn on Monday, chanting “Lock her up” in an echo of the message of the Republican National Convention a week earlier, fueled by the resignation of the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.
 ADDED: Trump reacts:

"A meeting of Florida Democratic delegates descended into chaos when outgoing Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz took the stage today."

"In the middle of her speech in Philadelphia, angry attendees began to chant, 'Shame! Shame! Shame!'... 'We know that the voices in this room that are standing up and being disruptive, we know that is not the Florida that we know,' said Wasserman Schultz, who quickly exited after brief remarks."

Breaking news email from CNN, just now.

She knows that what is happening right before her eyes is not what she knows she knows.

"A toilet-themed cafe where customers dine on meatballs floating in soup-filled latrines...."

"Guests at the 'Jamban Cafe' sit on upright toilets around a table where food is served in squat loos.... 'Jamban' means toilet in Indonesian...."
Owner Budi Laksono, a public health expert who used to work for the local government, hosts discussions with customers and shows them videos as he seeks to encourage people to use dedicated facilities for their bodily functions...

"This cafe serves as a reminder that many people in Indonesia still do not have toilets," said Laksono, 52.... "Many critics say the cafe is inappropriate and against Islamic law," he said.

"So this is the story the NYT runs with, the one the Clinton campaign is pressing?"

"Instead it should be asking, What did Hillary Clinton know and when did she know it?"

That's typical of the highly rated comments at a NYT article, "As Democrats Gather, a Russian Subplot Raises Intrigue." ("An unusual question is capturing the attention of cyberspecialists, Russia experts and Democratic Party leaders in Philadelphia: Is Vladimir V. Putin trying to meddle in the American presidential election?... It may take months, or years, to figure out the motives of those who stole the emails, and more important, whether they were being commanded by Russian authorities, and specifically by Mr. Putin....")

Imagine if Trump's campaign were putting out an equivalent fanciful story about Hillary's connection to a foreign power. As Donald Trump Jr. put it yesterday (appearing on "State of the Union" after Robby Mook, who pushed the Russians-are-coming theory): "If a Republican did that... they would be calling for people... to bring out the electric chair.... And again, if we did that, if the RNC did that, if my father's campaign did that they'd be calling for people to get the electric chair."

When you have an argument with your husband in the car, do you get out of the car? In an animal park? With tigers?

"Surveillance video that circulated widely online showed a woman exit a car, then walk to the other side of the vehicle, where she was attacked a few seconds later by a tiger. As the animal dragged her away, her husband and mother jumped out in an attempt to rescue her. The woman left the car because of an argument with her husband...."

The woman survived, as did the husband. The mother, however, died. 

I thought this was something that happens only in movies. The characters are going somewhere in a car and they just have to hop out of the car because of whatever the hell they are talking about. In real life — I've always thought — people just put up with being in the car together and try to get wherever they were going.

Don't panic yet, Trump loathers. Hillary's bounce is yet to come.

CNN reports its shocking new poll result with the into "The bounce is back."
Donald Trump comes out of his convention ahead of Hillary Clinton in the race for the White House, topping her 44% to 39% in a four-way matchup including Gary Johnson (9%) and Jill Stein (3%) and by three points in a two-way head-to-head, 48% to 45%. That latter finding represents a 6-point convention bounce for Trump, which are traditionally measured in two-way matchups.

There hasn't been a significant post-convention bounce in CNN's polling since 2000. That year Al Gore and George W. Bush both boosted their numbers by an identical 8 points post-convention before ultimately battling all the way to the Supreme Court.
So if Trump got 6, Hillary should get 6. Just hang on. Wait a week. The rightful order of things will be restored....

ADDED: "Pre-convention, independents split 34% Clinton to 31% Trump, with sizable numbers behind Johnson (22%) and Stein (10%). Now, 46% say they back Trump, 28% Clinton, 15% Johnson and 4% Stein."

Trump gained 15% among the independents!

AND: There's a big flaw in the idea that Clinton should get the same bounce from her convention — like it's a bounce year, comparable to 2000, when Gore and Bush got identical 8-point boosts. Trump had to move from being a strange phenomenon to being seen as even a normal candidate, a person would could credibly serve as President, let alone an especially great prospect. That is, he had huge upward potential. Hillary is so well known. What is the convention supposed to do to change how we think of her? Trump had to fight through the establishment and getting accepted in the ritual of a convention was a real transition from him. But Hillary was her party's preference all along. The convention can only be more of the same... except to the extent that the Bernie delegates — fueled by the recent DNC links — manage to act up. There's a downside for her if the Bernie people don't shut up for the good of the great cause of defeating Trump. But I think they will. Bernie is speaking tonight. 

IN THE COMMENTS: David said: "Is there really that much movement, or are the polls less accurate than usual in a year of rebellion?"

It may be that before the convention, people were holding back from telling pollsters they supported Trump and that the convention, by normalizing him, caused these people to go ahead and acknowledge they're for him.

I think it's been the case — and it's still partly true — that there are a lot of people who have the feeling that they don't personally support Trump and don't want to be thought of that way, but that they are aware of somehow nevertheless wanting him to win.

I have heard it expressed just this way: I'm not for Trump, but I want him to win. That's a hell of a state of mind!

Deborah Kerr in “The King and I,” Natalie Wood in “West Side Story” and Audrey Hepburn in “My Fair Lady.”

All were Marni Nixon.

Nixon has died at the age of 86.
Deborah Kerr was nominated for an Academy Award in 1956 for her role as Anna in “The King and I”; the film’s soundtrack album sold hundreds of thousands of copies. For singing Anna’s part on that album, Ms. Nixon recalled, she received a total of $420.

“You always had to sign a contract that nothing would be revealed,” Ms. Nixon told the ABC News program “Nightline” in 2007....

July 24, 2016

Clinton Campaign Manager Robby Mook floats the conspiracy theory: Russians hacked the DNC emails for the purpose of helping Trump.

On "State of the Union" this morning:
TAPPER: So, I have to ask, what is the reaction of the Clinton campaign to these DNC leaked e-mails suggesting that top officials, including the CFO there, were actively discussing ways to hurt Bernie Sanders in the primaries?

MOOK: Well, I think the DNC needs to look into this and take appropriate action, and I'm sure that they will. What's disturbing to us is that we -- experts are telling us that Russian state actors broke into the DNC, stole these e-mails. And other experts are now saying that the Russians are releasing these e- mails for the purpose of actually helping Donald Trump. I don't think it's coincidental that these e-mails were released on the eve of our convention here. And that's disturbing. And I think we need to be concerned about that. I think we need to be concerned that we also saw last week at the Republican Convention that Trump and his allies made changes to the Republican platform to make it more pro-Russian. And we saw him talking about how NATO shouldn't intervene to defend -- necessarily should intervene to defend our Eastern European allies if they are attacked by Russia. So, I think, when you put all this together, it's a disturbing picture. And I think voters need to reflect on that.

TAPPER: What evidence is there that the Russians were behind this in terms of the hacking or in terms of the timing by WikiLeaks?

MOOK: Well, we need to let the experts speak on this. It's been reported on in the press that the -- that the hackers that got into the DNC are very likely by to be working in coordination with Russia. And, again, I think it's -- if the Russians in fact had these e-mails, again, I don't think it's very coincidental that they are being released at this time to create maximum damage on Hillary Clinton and to help Donald Trump.

TAPPER: But it is a very, very strong charge that you're leveling here. You're basically suggesting that Russians hacked into the DNC and now are releasing these files through WikiLeaks to help elect Donald Trump.

MOOK: Well, this isn't my assertion. There are a number of experts that are asserting this. I think we need to get to the bottom of these facts. But that is what experts are telling us. Experts have said that it is the Russians that, in fact, went in and took these e-mails. And then, if they are the ones who took them, we have to infer that they are the ones then releasing them....
He's just passing along the theory he heard from some "experts." Go ask them if you want some details. 

"Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz will not speak at or preside over the party's convention this week..."

"... a decision reached by party officials Saturday after emails surfaced that raised questions about the committee's impartiality during the Democratic primary."

Breaking news email from CNN.

LATER: "Debbie Wasserman Schultz is stepping down as chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee at the end of the party's convention, which is set to begin here Monday."

More breaking news.

At the Sunday Morning Café...


... talk about what you like.

NYT columnist Nicholas Kristof asks "Is Donald Trump a Racist?," looks for concrete evidence, and finds it.

Many people are just incanting Trump is a racist and expecting you to already know and be on the same page, but I'm not that kind of go-along-to-get-along person. (Ironically, the go-along-to-get-along person is, in a different context, amenable to racism and to following a demagogue and so forth, so I'm happy with my standing apart from the Trump-is-a-racist crowd.)

But Nicholas Kristof, in a short column, undertakes to assemble the evidence, looking at nearly half a century of Trump's very extensive activities in this world. Kristof concludes that Trump is, indeed, a racist, but what matters is the evidence. By presenting evidence, Kristof puts us in a position to judge for ourselves. He also exposes himself to our judgment if his assessment of the evidence is biased. How much evidence do you need before you see — as Kristof does — "a narrative arc, a consistent pattern" that can't be called anything "else... but racism"?

For that great length of time, there should be an awful lot to amount to a consistent pattern, so let's look at Kristof's evidence:

1. In 1973, when Trump was 27 and working with his father, the Nixon administration Justice Department sued the Trump organization for housing discrimination. The government used testers, and, as Kristof puts it: "Repeatedly, the black person was told that nothing was available, while the white tester was shown apartments for immediate rental." The lawsuit was settled, and: "Three years later, the government sued the Trumps again, for continuing to discriminate." Kristof doesn't say how that lawsuit was resolved, and he concedes that Trump "inherited" whatever the policy was. Kristof does not talk about whether there is evidence of discrimination after the mid-1970s, after Trump is out from under his father's dominance. And Kristof — I think quite unfairly — gives absolutely no attention to the absence of evidence.  If Donald Trump began in a business where excluding black people was the norm, and he ended that discrimination, avoiding even accusations, that should count as an achievement, and the failure to notice this is evidence of bias in Kristof.

2. Trump took out an ad in 1989, saying that the 5 teenagers who were convicted of raping and beating the "Central Park jogger" deserved the death penalty we should bring back the death penalty. You can read the ad here. It resonates with today's politics. ("What has happened to our City... What has happened to law and order...?") There's nothing racial in the text — other than a mention of the "families — White, Black, Hispanic and Asian" — who are suffering from the "muggers and murderers" who plague the city. But, Kristof tells us, the 5 who were convicted in the Central Park jogger case were "black and Latino." Kristof accuses Trump of "whipping up the crowds" in "a modern version of a lynching," but the young men were brought to trial and prosecuted, and the problem of law and order in New York was very real. Somebody raped that woman and left her naked, tortured, and in a coma. In those decades, New York was a scary place, and a person going into Central Park at night was considered a fool. I was a woman living in the city in those days. It was a very different place, where you were supposed to be smart and know that you were always in danger. Donald Trump spoke out about that. In later years, the men who were convicted — and who confessed — obtained their release because they did not match the DNA from the victim. This was a complex and important incident in which Trump played a role. Was that role racist? Decide for yourself. Is it part of a "consistent pattern" of racism? It's unlike everything else on this list. And by the way, does Trump get credit for vigilance about violence against women?

3. One former Trump casino worker, back in the 1980s, was quoted in The New Yorker saying: "When Donald and Ivana came to the casino, the bosses would order all the black people off the floor. … They put us all in the back." So, there's hearsay from one person about what was a practice purportedly involving many other persons. Has anyone ever produced the evidence that this was a real practice or tried to figure out who demanded the practice? Where are all the lawsuits about he mistreatment of black employees in the many establishments Trump's organization ran? You just have one man saying something back in the 80s! That's the absence of a pattern. 

4. There is a book written in 1991 that has a quote from Trump complaining about one black accountant and calling him lazy and then making a racial wisecrack: "And it’s probably not his fault, because laziness is a trait in blacks. It really is, I believe that. It’s not anything they can control." Trump denies saying that, but even if it's true, where's the pattern? He made one regrettable racial joke a quarter century ago! If you're proving a pattern, shouldn't you have at least 25 racist jokes? I'd say there's an amazing lack of material like this. Has Hillary ever, in her 7 decades of life, remarked, after criticizing an individual, that maybe he couldn't help it, because he belongs to a group that people think of as having a particular characteristic? Are we going to label "racist" anyone who's ever said one thing like that, even decades ago? We could all sign the "Everybody's a little bit racist" confession, but then what? Why are we losing our minds over Trump being racist?

5. Trump made a show of demanding to see Obama's birth certificate. Obama was running for President and needed to meet the constitutional requirement that he's a natural born citizen. Is that racist? Because Obama is black? Because the possible other country of birth is in Africa?

6. There's Trump's statement that people entering the country illegally from Mexico are "in many cases, criminals, drug dealers, rapists." Kristof concedes that "Latinos can be of any race," so "technically" it's "not so much racism as bigotry."

7. There's the call for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the country. Again, as Kristof concedes, that's not "technically" racism.

8. Trump didn't distance himself quickly and decisively enough from from the Ku Klux Klan in a television interview.

9. Trump retweeted some things: "a graphic suggesting that 81 percent of white murder victims are killed by blacks (the actual figure is about 15 percent)," "messages from white supremacists or Nazi sympathizers."

That's it. That's all the evidence Kristof put together — from an event-filled half century career — and which he reads as "a narrative arc, a consistent pattern." Judge for yourself.


July 23, 2016