Thursday, July 28, 2016

I guess all those D-list celebrities and Trumplets wasn't enough for the Nielson families of America

I don't give a shit about the TV ratings for either of the political conventions. But I am amused that Trump seems to care that the DNC has been getting higher ratings than the RNC, and so he is telling people not to watch tonight.


Congratulations Sierra Leone!!!!

The U.S. is the 121st most round country, just below Turkmenistan. What an outrage! Why aren't any candidates addressing the roundness gap!?!?!?!

(via B2)

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

For the history books

I believe today is the first day that a presidential candidate has asked a foreign country to wage a cyberattack on his opponent.

Actually, quite a lot of what Trump said in today's news conference is totally fucked up. Don't ignore the other, only slightly less crazy things just because the official Republican nominee actually solicited a foreign government to commit a felony! Don't forget the other highlights. Seriously, try to read through this word salad without laughing a little.


It was a stupid thing to say with an upcoming election, but is there anyone who doesn't think that what McAuliffe said isn't true?

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Quadrennial Convention Post (this time with caps!)

Whatever few longtime readers I have left will not be surprised that I am not watching any of the political conventions. You know, like I said back in ought-fourought-eight, and ought-twelve.

For a while it looked like something might actually happen at the RNC this year (unlike every other recent political convention), but then the #NeverTrump forces crumbled and instead of a something, they put on a shitshow. Admittedly, the shitshow itself has a certain so-awful-I-can't-look-away appeal. But even that wasn't enough to get me to tune in. And now we are on to the DNC, which is more like a regular convention, which is another way to say too uneventful to watch.

It is fun to watch the detritus of political spectacle as they wander past me on the streets of Philadelphia this year. But otherwise, I still don't get why these things draw any significant ratings. Who would want to sit down and watch hours of what is effectively an over-produced political commercial? Apparently, nearly everyone in America but me.

Trump thinks NATO is just an income stream for the U.S.

Trump's latest comments on NATO show pretty clearly that he does not know what NATO is:
On Monday night, however, Trump offered an even more explicit ultimatum to NATO allies.
"I want them to pay," he said. "They don’t pay us what they should be paying! We lose on everything. Folks, we lose on everything."

He went on to criticize former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's foreign policy record: "She makes it impossible to negotiate. She’s not a negotiator. She’s a fool.”

"We have to walk," Trump added. "Within two days they're calling back! Get back over here, we’ll pay you whatever the hell you want."
I guess Trump thinks that NATO is an arrangement in which foreign allies pay the U.S. for the privilege of being a member, rather than being an alliance countries who each commit to defend the other in the event of an attack. There are no NATO dues. NATO members don't owe the U.S. any money because they are members of the alliance. His entire statement is completely incoherent if you have even the most basic notion of what NATO is.

Doesn't know what NATO is, doesn't have any advisers who are able to point out his error, doesn't have a media that is willing to call out his incredible ignorance for what it is.

Monday, July 25, 2016

The DNC email controversy seems to be nothing but bullshit

I read some of the emails from the wikileaks DNC file and, is it just me, or is this one giant nothingburger? There are a lot of emails of DNC people getting exasperated with the Sanders campaign for not dropping out when it became clear that he had no real chance of winning... and that's about it. ABC news identifies the four "most damaging' emails and I think only one is even remotely damaging. Here's the list:

1. Debbie Wasserman Shultz referred to Sander's campaign manager with some mean names in an internal DNC email discussion.

2. DNC CFO Brad Marshall, contemplated having someone ask Sanders about his religious beliefs, because being an atheist could harm him in some states.

3. DNC National Secretary Mark Paustenbach asked the DNC Communications Director if they could push a narrative that the Sanders campaign was disorganized. The Communications Director rejected the idea because the chair of the DNC had ordered them "not to engage."

4. Shultz lamented that Sanders never has been a member of the Democratic Party and does not really understand the party.

#1 doesn't matter (there's no reason that the head of the DNC can't have feelings about some of the people in a campaign and mention those feelings in a private email). #3 shows that the DNC was committed to its neutrality stance, and #4 is an opinion that is arguably true (until he ran for President, Sanders did not identify as a Democrat).

The only one that I think is at all damaging is #2, the one about using Sander's religion. And yet, the DNC did not put out any statements about Sander's religion. Nor did any DNC plant try to put Sanders on the spot with an embarrassing question about his religion. There's just this email (dated May 5, when the contest was already, for all practical purposes, over) floating an idea that no one apparently pursued.

#2 happens to be the email that is getting the most attention. And some people are misreporting that it suggested using the fact that Sanders is Jewish as a weapon against him. But that's not what the email says. If you read the full text, I think it is clear that Marshall was floating the idea of using atheism against him, not Judaism. Here is the full email:
It might may no difference, but for KY and WVA can we get someone to ask his belief. Does he believe in a God. He had skated on saying he has a Jewish heritage. I think I read he is an atheist. This could make several points difference with my peeps. My Southern Baptist peeps would draw a big difference between a Jew and an atheist.
The email clearly suggests that while Sanders has "Jewish heritage" (which is already public knowledge anyway) he really is an atheist and that Southern Baptists "draw a big difference between a Jew and an atheist." To me, it looks like what he is saying is Southern Baptists might accept a Jew, but they would have more problems with an atheist, so Marshall asks whether "we can get someone to ask [Sanders about] his belief" in the hopes that he will reveal his atheism and damage his candidacy. The proposal was not a Jew-based attack, it was an atheism-based attack. As a Jewish atheist myself, I think Marshall is correct that Judaism is a lot more acceptable to a broader segment of the population than atheism. The anti-semitism charge I have seen in a few of the news accounts are not supported by the actual email. I would buy an anti-atheism charge, except that no one took Marshall up on his idea, so it ended up being little more than an idea that never went anywhere. So even this one arguably damaging email is not all that damaging.

Wikileaks released a total of 19,252 emails, so obviously there are a lot more than these four, and I haven't read the vast majority of them. Maybe there are other bad things in there somewhere. But if the four highlighted by ABC News as the "most damaging" really are the most damaging, there is nothing to this scandal.

ADDING: And is it really breaking news that the DNC favored Clinton throughout the primary? They didn't even try to hide it. I didn't need leaked emails to tell me that. 

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Convention related program activities

I actually had one! I went to a party hosted by Raw Story  which meant I got to reconnect with some Philadelphia Drinking Liberally friends, including Atrios as well as a bunch of others. And I finally met Tbogg and Amanda Marcotte  (and a few other liberal losers) and reconnect with Roxanne after all these years. Yay, DNC!

Now I'll go back to being a regular local and bitch about how the event is disrupting my life.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Approaching zero

The mother of Ambassador Chris Stevens wants the Trump campaign to stop using her son's name in their anti-Clinton Benghazi!TM rants. What are the chances that Trump and his lackies will actually respect her wishes?

Friday, July 22, 2016

The Turkish Coup foiled by MIT?

A fascinating account of why the Turkish coup failed. The article argues that it was because of the plotter's incompetence, but rather because Turkish intelligence found out about the plot, which forced the plotters to accelerate their timetable, making them look incompetent when they were unable to communicate the accelerated timetable to everyone involved.

Is it true? Who knows! I'm just throwing this out there because it is different from the two currently dominant narratives that (a) the plotters were just a bunch of yahoos or (b) that Erdogan was behind the whole thing and it failed by design.

UPDATE: The New York Times reports what is essentially the same account.  I wonder if this will become the dominant narrative of the coup.

Pence who?

Do you know anything more about Mike Pence after this convention than you did before? Party conventions are really just a big ridiculous political commercial (even when they are not a total shitshow like this one was). But one role they do play is allow the campaign to introduce the Vice Presidential candidate to the American people. Sarah Palin's speech in 2008 is what changed her from an obscure governor of a far off state to a household name. The one political convention I attended (DNC in 1996), the Vice President's speech was the highlight of the evening. (It was Al Gore's blinking to the camera macarena bit).

I was listening to a political podcast this morning and one of the bobbleheads made a passing reference to the fact that Mike Pence had given a speech during this year's RNC. He gave a speech? It didn't appear in anyone's highlight reel. Did it even make the news?  Does anyone even remember it?

Mike Pence has totally disappeared from the conversation. He even has a daughter who is a vampire, but no one cares.