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Politics

Open Thread: When It Comes to Blotting Out the Sun…

Balloon Juice - 1 hour 32 min ago

(David Fitzsimmons via the The Arizona Daily Star)
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Speculation from last night…


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And not just Americans…

Let’s just hope Lord Smallgloves isn’t peeved enough to revert to Erik Prince’s ‘unlimited global grifting’ proposal…

Categories: Politics

Lunchtime Photo

Kevin Drum - 1 hour 53 min ago

We didn’t get a total eclipse here in Southern California, but that only lasts a couple of hours anyway. So why not visit this summer and enjoy our lovely beaches? You can spend days or weeks enjoying our golden sunshine. Doesn’t that really sound better?

Categories: Politics

Donald Trump demonstrates the wrong way to watch an eclipse

Daily Kos - 2 hours 14 min ago

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Actually I’ve heard that white supremacists have much tougher eyes than normal people. So tough that they can look directly at the sun for hours. Hours and hours. So tough.

And it’s not as if the White House staff spends all their time covering up Trump’s craziness.

“You have no idea how much crazy stuff we kill”: The most common response centers on the urgent importance of having smart, sane people around Trump to fight his worst impulses. If they weren’t there, they say, we would have a trade war with China, massive deportations, and a government shutdown to force construction of a Southern wall.

Categories: Politics

Donald Trump Is An…Oh Forget It

Kevin Drum - 2 hours 16 min ago

Somehow, Donald Trump can always find a new way to be stupid. How does he do it?

Categories: Politics

Midday open thread: A ship found, a jumping car and a racist in the White House

Daily Kos - 2 hours 23 min ago
  • Today’s comic by Tom Tomorrow is Crisis of the week:
Cartoon by Tom Tomorrow - Crisis of the week
  • What you missed on Sunday Kos ...

A regional official in Spain says that the death toll in the attacks last week in Barcelona and a coastal town south of the city has risen to 15.

Catalan interior minister Joaquim Forn gave the updated figure in a news conference. He said that the new victim is a man found stabbed in a car. The car was believed to be used by one of the attackers to flee the scene.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) is no longer in the running for a job on a local sports talk show, he announced in a statement Sunday.

Christie auditioned for the post-gubernatorial gig as a co-host on WFAN’s morning show last month, during which he called a caller a “communist.”

For 72 years since the cruiser USS Indianapolis sank after being struck by Japanese torpedoes in the waning days of World War II, its exact resting place had been a mystery.

But a team of researchers led by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen now says they have positively identified the wreckage, 18,000 feet below the surface in the Philippine Sea. [...]

Indianapolis sank in just 12 minutes, with 300 of her crew going down with the ship. With few lifeboats, many of the remaining 900 faced death by exposure or shark attack until they were spotted three days later by a U.S. Navy patrol plane. By the time they were reached by rescuers, only 317 of the crew of 1,196 aboard were still alive.

A family heading to Cape May, New Jersey, found themselves in an improbable situation earlier this month when a drawbridge lifted right underneath their car and they were forced to jump the opening.

Terence Naphys, after paying the $1.50 toll at the Middle Thorofare Bridge that connects the Wildwoods and Cape May via Ocean Drive, was heading across the bridge when a steel metal grate suddenly lifted 3 to 6 feet underneath his car, Naphys told Lower Township police. [...]

The car landed on the other side of the bridge and the family was able to drive away without any injuries.

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On today’s Kagro in the Morning show: Happy eclipse! We’ve got more on the Confederate monument phenomenon, and a fascinating turn into some real lost Southern history. Also, an update on those alt-right idiots at sea, and the first post-mortems on Bannon’s “departure.”

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Categories: Politics

Being the First Name on the Ballot Has a Huge Effect

Kevin Drum - 2 hours 28 min ago

Here’s a fascinating bit of political science research. It’s a few months old, but I just recently found out about it. In Texas, names are placed on the ballot in different orders depending on the county. The order is selected randomly, which allows an examination of whether being first on the ballot matters very much. Darren Grant of Sam Houston State University did exactly that, and he found that it really, really makes a difference:

Across all twenty-four contests, the effect is invariably positive and, with two exceptions in runoff elections, statistically significant. The smallest effects are found in high-profile, high information races: the Republican primary for U.S. Senator, which featured the incumbent, John Cornyn; the governor’s race, which featured long-time Attorney General Greg Abbott; and Land Commissioner, which featured well-known political newcomer George P. Bush. In these races the ballot order effect is only one or two percentage points.

Larger estimates obtain for most “medium-profile, medium-information” races such as Comptroller, Railroad Commissioner, or the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator. Most of these fall in a fairly tight band that ranges from three to five percentage points. Estimates are even larger in the low-profile, low-information judicial elections, generally ranging from seven to ten percentage points. Overall, the ballot order effect tends to be larger in contests that receive less attention and in which voters are likely to know less about the candidates on the ballot.

Here this is in colorful chart form:

In medium and low-profile races, the ballot order effect is big enough that it might decide races all by itself. Even in high-profile races, “one or two percentage points” can be a pretty big effect. There are plenty of races for governor or senator that have been won by less.

In states that don’t randomize ballot order, this means that the first candidate on the ballot has a huge advantage. And this could be true even in states that do. If you got lucky and ended up at the top of the ballot in Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio, you’d get an advantage in areas with millions of votes, while your opponent would get an advantage in areas with only thousands of votes. And there are certain unusual circumstances where the ballot order effect can be truly massive:

In an ironic twist of fate, we were recently able to [test our hypothesis] with the March, 2016 Texas Republican primary, held just after the first draft of this paper was completed. Featuring a highly visible Presidential race, it drew twice as many voters as in 2014—and had contests for three Supreme Court positions, one of which was between Paul Green and Rick Green, two men with common first names and identical last names. It was The Perfect Storm, and our logic implies that this should lead to large ballot order effects. This is immediately evident in the histogram of county vote shares presented in Figure 2(a), without even looking at ballot order: in a race won with 52.1% of the statewide vote, virtually no county’s vote was nearly evenly split. Instead Paul Green’s vote shares are bifurcated into two clusters, one around 40%, and another around 60%, suggesting a ballot order effect approaching twenty percentage points. The regression results in Figure 2(c) confirm this: the coefficient estimate is 19.4 percentage points. We have never seen a ballot order effect this large, and may never again.

Since different counties had different ballot orders, this might not have made a difference in the final result. But with an effect that gigantic, getting even a little bit lucky with the ballot order in the biggest cities might have made the difference.

I’m not sure if there’s a policy answer to this. At the very least, ballot order should always be randomized. Beyond that, Grant suggests that if you’re not sure who to vote for, vote for the person at the bottom of the ballot. They could use the help.

Categories: Politics

Breitbart is sorry for mistaking a German soccer star for a 'migrant gang member'

Daily Kos - 2 hours 47 min ago

Just days after white supremacist and former presidential counselor Steve Bannon “returned” to Breitbart, the website reported on a group of violent thugs who have been taking advantage of desperate African refugees trying to reach Europe, charging them thousands of euros to smuggle them across the Mediterranean. There was just a glaring problem with the site’s reporting, though—the man featured in the story’s photograph wasn’t one of the described human smugglers roaming the Mediterranean for his next victim, but instead German soccer star Lukas Podolski, photographed while in Brazil for the 2014 World Cup:

In an editor’s note appended to the story, last modified on Sunday, Breitbart London apologized to Podolski for including an image of him in the report on “a gang charging migrants 5,000 euros each to bring them across from Morocco via the Strait of Gibraltar on jet-skis.”

“A previous version of this story included an image of Lukas Podolski on a jet ski. This image appeared as an illustration of a person on a jet ski. Breitbart London wishes to apologise to Mr. Podolski,” Breitbart London wrote. “There is no evidence Mr. Podolski is either a migrant gang member, nor being human trafficked. We wish Mr. Podolski well in his recently announced international retirement.”

Nassim Touihri, Podolski’s manager, told a German newspaper that the situation was “a mess.”

“Lukas distances himself from it and won’t let himself be exploited. Our lawyer is already involved,” Touihri said, according to The Guardian.

As Salon notes, “Breitbart quickly pulled the photo and then issued a correction, or rather, a strangely defensive ‘editor’s note.’” Of course, when it comes to the website’s history of pushing disproven lies trying to link migrants to crime in Europe, that’s another story. The fact is that a number of these refugees have been killed by human smugglers, and thousands of others have drowned trying to make the journey just this year alone. But don’t expect the website to report on it as a humanitarian issue, which is what it is. Also, as Talking Points Memo noted, Trump touted Bannon’s return “as ‘competition’ for ‘fake news.’” How’s that going, Donald?

Categories: Politics

Another Eclipse Open Thread

Balloon Juice - 2 hours 49 min ago

Photo from resident photographer Jeffreyw:

I didn’t see anything except it got darker out. I’m glad so many millions got a kick out of it. I celebrated this like every other major event in my life- general indifference and a mid-afternoon nap.

Also, this:

Categories: Politics

Fox's Ralph Peters Blames Obama For Naval Crash This Weekend

Crooks and Liars - 3 hours 26 min ago

On this morning's Varney & Co., Fox News' Ralph Peters eventually blamed the second naval crash in the last two months, the USS John McCain on President Obama.

Guest host Ashley Webster asked Fox News' military and strategic analyst, Lt. Col. Ralph Peters, why with our fabulous technology, these crashes keep happening.

At first, Peters blasted the officers and the crew, "The obvious conclusion is the officers on the bridge and the seamen don't have basic navigation skills. They don't, no longer are drilled in basic seamanship. They don't have the discipline they should."

Peter expressed how much he loved the Navy, but said it was in a bad way right now, especially after the "Fat Leonard" scandal.

Peters continued, "You had the horrific behavior of the sailors who were grabbed by Iran without a fight."

Ashley, "Yes."

And then he claimed Obama had turned the military into wussies.

Peters continued, "But I think they're -- one of the parts of this problem, part of it is fundamental. Those sailors did not have the basic seamanship skills, but by God, they got their sensitivity training, they got their race relations training, they got their sexual harassment training and we have for a long time, but particularly under Obama, turned the military into a social engineering experiment."

read more

Categories: Politics

AG Candidate Dettelbach Gets Support From Every Democratic U.S. House Member In Ohio

Plunderbund - 3 hours 44 min ago

U.S. Attorney Steve Dettelbach.

On Monday, all four current Democratic members of the U.S. House endorsed former U.S. Attorney Steve Dettelbach’s bid for Ohio Attorney General. The endorsements add to the momentum after Dettelbach’s latest campaign finance filing showed $630,000 raised for the period, positioning the campaign for success in 2018, according to a press release..

“I’m honored to have the support of these public servants who work every day to make Ohio a better place. As Ohio Attorney General, I’ll stand shoulder to shoulder with our representatives to take on powerful special interests, keep our communities safe and level the playing field so that every Ohioan gets a fair shot,” Dettelbach said in the release.

Below are quotes from each of the U.S. House members endorsing Dettelbach. Later this week, Plunderbund will publish an exclusive interview with Dettelbach about his campaign for Ohio attorney general.

U.S. Representative Joyce Beatty, OH-03: “I enthusiastically support Steve Dettelbach for Ohio Attorney General. With Columbus and Washington special interests attacks on working families, it’s more important than ever that Ohio has an Attorney General who has the experience taking on tough fights. We know now more than ever how important it is that we have experienced leaders who will look out for working people as our State AGs. And I can’t think of anyone who fits that description better than Steve.”

U.S. Representative Marcy Kaptur, OH-09: “I saw Steve Dettelbach in action when he served as U.S. Attorney for Northern Ohio. I know he has the experience to tackle the challenges facing our state. His record working with law enforcement is second to none. I have seen it first-hand with his work from combatting human trafficking to helping clean up the mess from the bank meltdown of 2008. Steve has the right priorities. He’ll use the office of the Attorney General to fight to level the playing field for Ohio families and to ensure that every Ohioan gets a fair shot to get ahead.”

U.S. Representative Marcia L. Fudge, OH-11: “The State of Ohio is in need of strong leadership. It matters who we elect our next Attorney General. We need someone fair, just, and compassionate. That is why I support Steve Dettelbach. Steve is a champion for civil and human rights and has the experience to make our communities safer and the commitment to defend the rights of every Ohioan.”

U.S. Representative Tim Ryan, OH-13: “When Steve was US Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, I watched him lead anti-gang initiatives in Warren and Youngstown, all the while taking on powerful corporations and corrupt politicians from both parties. I know he has what it takes to stand up to the powerful as Attorney General and fight for working Ohioans. I’m proud to support his campaign for Ohio AG.”

Categories: Politics

Here Is Southern California’s 69% Eclipse

Kevin Drum - 3 hours 47 min ago

Sure, sure, you can do better at the NASA site, with all their fancy telescopes and stuff. But what you really want to know is what the eclipse looked like in my backyard with a cheap camera. Right? Well, here you go:

UPDATE: Hey, this is a perfect opportunity to try out my camera’s HDR function, which cleverly takes multiple shots at different exposures and then combines them. In theory, this means the camera can properly expose both the sun and the surrounding trees. In theory:

Jeez, you really have to hold the camera steady for HDR to work, don’t you? I’m not so good at that. And I guess there’s a limit to just how much contrast HDR can handle. Either that or I need to learn more about it. I just switched the HDR setting to ON and fired away. Oh well. At least I got a moderately interesting effect out of it.

Categories: Politics

Eclipse Open Thread!

Balloon Juice - 3 hours 53 min ago

I saw it! I saw it! The eclipse started about 10 minutes ago in my area, will peak just before 3 PM and be over shortly after 4 PM. We have a lot of fat, puffy white clouds, which I thought were going to ruin it — and still might.

But I went out into my shady yard, made my way to the one sunny spot, put on my eclipse glasses, and behold! The dragon took a wee nibble out of the sun!

It’s still hot and bright as fuck. And I stepped in dog shit on the way back in. But a magical experience nonetheless, and I’m looking forward to seeing the 80% or so occlusion at peak, if the clouds cooperate!

Feel free to share eclipse chatter here.

Categories: Politics

University of Texas at Austin removes its Confederate statues overnight

Daily Kos - 4 hours 5 min ago

If America is the land of opportunity, then it could surely be said that it’s a country filled with people who are opportunists. While opportunists are generally known for taking advantage of a situation to gain some benefit without regard to ethics or morals, every once in a while even the most calculating ones can do the right thing. Politicians, who are the most notorious opportunists out there, have used the violence in Charlottesville to seize the moment when it comes to removing Confederate monuments. Last week, Baltimore removed its monuments in the middle of the night and other cities are planning to follow suit. And the University of Texas at Austin also joined the club, removing several of its Confederate statues from campus on Sunday night. 

Workers began removing the statues of Robert. E. Lee, Albert Sidney Johnston and John Reagan from the university's main plaza late Sunday night. The news was delivered to the campus community via an email from UT-Austin President Greg Fenves just before 11 p.m., who said the monuments depicted parts of U.S. history that "run counter to the university's core values." Another statue, one of former Texas Gov. James Stephen Hogg, was also taken down.

This is great news, especially coming from the Lone Star State. While state Republicans spend their time doing everything they can to block women’s access to abortion and reproductive health care, this proves that progressive ideas can move forward at local levels. It is also a pretty big deal that this is occurring in a state which has a notorious passion for defending the Confederacy. 

"We do not choose our history, but we choose what we honor and celebrate on our campus," Fenves wrote, adding that recent unrest in Charlottesville, Virginia, "make it clear, now more than ever, that Confederate monuments have become symbols of modern white supremacy and neo-Nazism." 

Indeed, these monuments are about white supremacy.

Categories: Politics

Organizations continue to cancel events at Mar-a-Lago

Daily Kos - 4 hours 19 min ago

Donald Trump will have to rent more golf carts to the Secret Service, because still more charities are canceling events at his, ugh, “Florida White House.”

In the last five days — since President Trump said there were “fine people” among those marching in a violence-plagued “Unite the Right” demonstration in Charlottesville — the president’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida has been deserted by 14 charities that use its ballrooms for fundraisers.

Mar-a-Lago already had a lot of empty dates in its schedule. Donald Trump’s earlier statements had made many charities and other organizations leery of holding events at Trump’s premiere property. But Trump’s embrace of white supremacists has sent a lot of organizations who were previously tottering on the brink of whether it would draw more attention to stay or cancel, into the cancel camp.

Others canceling galas or dinner events include the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, the American Cancer Society, American Friends of Magen David Adom, Leaders in Furthering Education, the Palm Beach Zoo, the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach, the Susan G. Komen breast cancer charity and the Autism Project of Palm Beach County.

An additional group of charities have cancelled other types of events, just as luncheons. But so far there are two groups hanging in there with Trump.

The Palm Beach Police Foundation — whose Policeman’s Ball is one of Mar-a-Lago’s largest events — is “continuing with its plans” to hold the gala there again in 2017, spokeswoman Maureen O’Sullivan said Sunday.

The same is true for the Palm Beach County Republican Party, which has held its annual Lincoln Day dinner at Mar-a-Lago since 2013. “We have no plans to switch venues,” the party's chairman, Michael Barnett, wrote Sunday.

That … seems about right.

Categories: Politics

Eclipse Watching With Hilbert

Kevin Drum - 4 hours 22 min ago

Hopper seems to be OK, thank Ra, but after her close call Hilbert insisted on watching the eclipse with proper eye protection:

Hilbert seems to have a mistaken notion of where the sun is right now, but other than that everything worked out fine.

Categories: Politics

Does the Civil War Really Represent “Southern Culture”?

Kevin Drum - 4 hours 30 min ago

This weekend the Washington Post ran a story about a huge Confederate statue in Louisville that was dismantled and shipped off to the town of Brandenburg, which thought it might be a good tourist attraction. Apparently everyone was pretty happy about it except for Mildred Brown, an African-American seamstress who’s lived there for 50 years:

She recalled telling him [the judge executive in Meade County] that having the monument was a mistake. It was a symbol of dark times — dark enough that she no longer went to the riverfront. “It doesn’t unify us,” she said. “It separates us.”

He recalled telling her: “Don’t worry, we’re not going to let people come down there and throw a fit and have Confederate flags and call names.” He also said the monument was about preserving a part of history with a lot of nuance. “It had a whole lot more to it than slavery,” he said.

I don’t want to pretend to be naive, but when Southerners talk about these statues representing their heritage, or their history, or their culture, what heritage do they think it represents? Let’s assume they don’t buy the argument that these statues are mostly 20th century monuments to Jim Crow and white terror. Fine. They’re certainly monuments to the Civil War. I can understand why northern states would build monuments to the war, but why would Southern states do it? It was a war of treason. It was a war to protect slavery, even if there were other catalysts too. It was a war of white supremacy. It was a war of personal bravery in defense of the indefensible. It was a war they lost.

From the perspective of 2017, what exactly is there to honor about that? What’s the party line here?

Categories: Politics

As Phoenix braces for his visit, Trump may pardon Arpaio in unprecedented way

Daily Kos - 4 hours 47 min ago

Campaign Action

As Donald Trump ignores pleas from Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and other local leaders to delay his rally there after his official embrace of white supremacists and Nazis following the terror attack in Charlottesville, the Daily Beast reports the popular vote loser may be readying to pardon the crooked former Sheriff Joe Arpaio for his crimes in a truly unprecedented manner:

In recent days, speculation has mounted that Trump will follow through on this suggestion at a campaign rally in Phoenix on Tuesday. Should he do so, it will be a unique moment in modern presidential politics. Trump will have given the first pardon of his presidency to someone for what appears to be purely political reasons and he will have done so without going through the normal review process. Trump has yet to name a new pardon attorney and while the vast majority of people who get presidential pardons wait for at least five years after being sentenced, Arpaio hasn’t even been sentenced yet.

Arpaio, convicted of criminal contempt of court for violating a federal judge’s order to stop racially profiling brown drivers in Maricopa County, hasn’t even applied for a presidential pardon yet, which means he will skip the line (you know, the way anti-immigrant nativists like him claim undocumented immigrants do) past the thousands of cases waiting to be considered.

How silly of us—don’t we know that the rules are only for the little people, not the criminally-challenged authoritarian buddies of the president?

Categories: Politics

NASA Live Stream: Watch The Eclipse

Crooks and Liars - 4 hours 47 min ago

Clouds obscuring your view? Not in the direct path of totality? Here's the next best thing -- a video live stream of the eclipse.

Enjoy!


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Categories: Politics

Russian 'lobbyist' at Trump Tower meeting was actually asset for Russian spy services

Daily Kos - 4 hours 51 min ago

One of the last people to be identified as attendees of the Trump Tower meeting between the senior staff of Donald Trump’s campaign and Russians offering information harmful to Hillary Clinton, was Rinat Akhmetshin. Akhmetshin was identified as a lobbyist working with lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya—on that pesky problem of Russian adoptions. Meaning that Akhmetshin was actually part of the team there to fight against Russian sanctions connected to the Magnitsky Act, for which “adoptions” has been the cover story used by both Russia and Trump.

But Akhmetshin turns out to have more connections to the Kremlin than just the people who promised to provide Clinton dirt.

Interviews with his associates and documents reviewed by The New York Times indicate that Mr. Akhmetshin, who is under scrutiny by the special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, has much deeper ties to the Russian government and Kremlin-backed oligarchs than previously known.

Since everyone who deals with Trump seems to be in bed with Russian oligarchs, including Trump, how bad can it be?

He has an association with a former deputy head of a Russian spy service, the F.S.B., and a history of working for close allies of President Vladimir V. Putin. Twice, he has worked on legal battles for Russian tycoons whose opponents suffered sophisticated hacking attacks, arousing allegations of computer espionage. He helped federal prosecutors bring corruption charges against an American businessman in the former Soviet Union who turned out to be working for the C.I.A.

Ah. That bad. It wasn’t just that the Russians promised to provide Trump with the documents they hacked from Democratic servers. They sent along the guy who had worked directly for the hackers, and directly against the CIA.

Categories: Politics