Democrats 2016

Chuck Portent

Patricia Murphy, for Roll Call:

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks as part of an immigration policy "Gang of Eight", at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., 18 April 2013.  (Photo by Jason Reed/Reuters)Either Clinton or Trump will live in the White House, but when it comes to getting an agenda passed into law, they’ll need Senate Democrats’ votes to do it. And to get those votes, they’re going to need Sen. Chuck Schumer, the rising Senate Democratic leader and the man poised to be a Clinton consiglieri or Trump’s not-so-loyal opposition.

But after one of the ugliest presidential elections in history, Capitol Hill veterans point to Schumer as the glimmer of hope that Congress may finally be entering an era of accomplishment instead of gridlock after years of partisan paralysis.

The Brooklyn exterminator’s son, who finished Harvard and Harvard Law by 23, may seem like an unlikely vessel for hope in the post-Obama era, but Schumer’s existing relationships, caucus loyalty and prejudice toward action may make him the man for this moment.

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Image note: U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks as part of an immigration policy “Gang of Eight”, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., 18 April 2013. (Photo by Jason Reed/Reuters)

Murphy, Patricia. “Chuck Schumer Is on the Line”. Roll Call. 3 November 2016.

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Uncertainty as Entertainment (Silver “Say What” Mix)

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton walks off stage as Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump puts his notes away after the third presidential debate at UNLV in Las Vegas, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Harry Enten’s headline for FiveThirtyEight: “Has Trump Already Lost Nevada?” There is also his overall outlook on the Silver State:

For now, though, we don’t really know what the early vote in Nevada portends for Clinton nationally. It’s certainly not evidence that this election is over. It is, however, a potentially good sign for Clinton.

The road between is interesting enough; there is a lot to see.

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Image note: Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton walks off stage as Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump puts his notes away after the third presidential debate at UNLV in Las Vegas, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Enten, Harry. “Has Trump Already Lost Nevada?” FiveThirtyEight. 6 November 2016.

Just a Question About “Donald Trump, his top advisors, and the Russian government”

I feel kind of silly because I can’t figure out―

In my communications with you and other top officials in the national security community, it has become clear that you possess explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisors, and the Russian government ― a foreign interest openly hostile to the United States, which Trump praises at every opportunity. The public has a right to know this information. I wrote to you months ago calling for this information to be released to the public. There is no danger to American interests from releasing it. And yet, you continue to resist calls to inform the public of this critical information.

―if Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) just dropped a headline. It is, to be certain, a breathtaking maneuver by FBI Director James Comey to so deliberately unsettle the presidential election, and Mr. Reid seems rather quite upset by the circumstance. Still, though, what am I missing? Because the bit about “coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisors, and the Russian government” just begs for attention. Please do, sir, tell us more.

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Reid, Harry. Letter to James Comey. 30 October 2016.

Reilly, Ryan J. “Harry Reid Blasts FBI Director James Comey Over Handling Of Clinton Email Probe”. The Huffington Post. 30 October 2016.

What Goes On In Nevada (What’s Going On?)

Jon Ralston posted some interesting insight into the electoral outlook in Nevada:

Tarkanian: CD3 Republican Early Vote Is Underperforming. At a discussion with the Southern Hills Republican Women’s Club, Danny Tarkanian said, “I haven’t slept for the last two days, and it’s because you guys are letting us down out here. I mean that. You’ve got a little shrug of the eyes, a little nervous. Tarkanian: CD3 Republican Early Vote Is Underperforming. At a discussion with the Southern Hills Republican Women's Club, Danny Tarkanian said, "I haven't slept for the last two days, and it's because you guys are letting us down out here. I mean that. You've got a little shrug of the eyes, a little nervous. I'm going to be very honest with you right now. Congressional District 3 is underperforming by far of any district in the whole state. The Republican Party is down substantially in early voting; even more so that [than] it was in 2012. That in itself is bad, but Congressional District 3 is underperforming the rest of the state by 6 percentage points. Meaning that Democrats are voting at a 6 percent higher rate with respect to registration here in CD3 than Republicans are, and most of it is not so much that there's been more Democrats that have voted, we haven't got our Republicans out to vote." [Southern Hills Republican Women's Club, 10/25/16] Tarkanian: If Republican Turnout Doesn't Improve "We're All Going Down" And "Joe Heck Is Going to Go Down." At a discussion with the Southern Hills Republican Women's Club, Danny Tarkanian said, "We need your help right now, because I'll tell you, if this doesn't change we're all going down in CD3. Every one of the people that spoke here, if you're in CD3 you're going to be in the same boat as I am, and Joe Heck is going to go down." [Southern Hills Republican Women's Club, 10/25/16] I’m going to be very honest with you right now. Congressional District 3 is underperforming by far of any district in the whole state. The Republican Party is down substantially in early voting; even more so that [than] it was in 2012. That in itself is bad, but Congressional District 3 is underperforming the rest of the state by 6 percentage points. Meaning that Democrats are voting at a 6 percent higher rate with respect to registration here in CD3 than Republicans are, and most of it is not so much that there’s been more Democrats that have voted, we haven’t got our Republicans out to vote.” [Southern Hills Republican Women’s Club, 10/25/16]

Tarkanian: If Republican Turnout Doesn’t Improve “We’re All Going Down” And “Joe Heck Is Going to Go Down.” At a discussion with the Southern Hills Republican Women’s Club, Danny Tarkanian said, “We need your help right now, because I’ll tell you, if this doesn’t change we’re all going down in CD3. Every one of the people that spoke here, if you’re in CD3 you’re going to be in the same boat as I am, and Joe Heck is going to go down.” [Southern Hills Republican Women’s Club, 10/25/16]

Daily Kos diarist First Amendment notes, “This is the reason Democrats are shifting volunteers from Nevada to Arizona”, and if that sounds strange at least we know where it’s coming from. To the other, it just doesn’t sound strange. Rasmussen/KNTV poll numbers coming down this week show Clinton leading Trump in Nevada, and, yes, incumbent U.S. Senator Joe Heck (R) trailing Democratic challenger Catherine Cortez Masto. It’s a thin lead, and the first time Cortez Masto has led during the cycle. Perhaps Danny Tarkanian overstates this part, or maybe not. Donald Trump continues his breathtaking plummet, dragging the Republican Party with him.

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First Amendment. “Republican panic in Nevada. ‘We’re all going down.'” Daily Kos. 26 October 2016.

Giordano, Al. “Breaking”. Twitter. 25 October 2016.

Ralston, Jon. “How bad has early voting been for GOP in NV?” twitter. 26 October 2016.

Snyder, Riley. “KTNV/RASMUSSEN POLL: Clinton pulls ahead of Trump in Nevada as early voting starts”. KNTV. 24 October 2016.

—————. “KTNV/RASMUSSEN POLL: Cortez Masto narrowly eclipsing Heck in close Nevada Senate race”. KNTV. 25 October 2016.

Sean Hannity (Poor Donny)

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump (left) with campaign surrogate, FOX News host Sean Hannity.  (FOX News, 2016)

“I have had it. Thirteen freaking days. Wake up. This can be won. But it’s very, very hard. And I’m telling all of you who is important here. And basically every red state’s important. If you think, ‘well, my state doesn’t matter, it’s Texas,’ no, you better vote. ‘My state’s Georgia,’ well we’ve seen polls that are close in Georgia. ‘My state’s Utah.’ Who’s this idiot that’s running third party that’s killing Trump out in Utah. Who put him up? What was it? The Bush people? The Romney people? Seriously? Really? You’re going to elect Hillary because we lose Utah? What a disaster that would be for the country.”

Sean Hannity

This is just a distraction. Media Matters offers a glimpse into Sean Hannity’s not quite struggle to wear both FOX News and Trump surrogate caps. Two hats, one tongue, half a brain? Right. Seriously: What joke goes here? Are not the words, “Sean Hannity”, enough?

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Image note: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump (left) with campaign surrogate, FOX News host Sean Hannity. (Credit: FOX News, 2016)

Media Matters Staff. “Listen To Sean Hannity’s Unhinged Rant Over ‘Idiot’ Evan McMullin Beating Trump In Utah”. Media Matters for America. 26 October 2016.

An Unfinished Sketch (Trumping the Polls)

[An unfinished sketch of a post; the text file says 13 October. This is just how it goes sometimes; it’s exhausting trying to keep up―you might have noticed we haven’t. Still, herein we find a glimpse of the moment, recorded for the sake of the historical record, and, you know, not really so much my ego, since this could have afforded some better planning and writing.] (more…)

Clinton|Trump (iii)

Pre-debate notes: NPR took a few minutes today to consider Chris Wallace as moderator, which is in its own right a milestone; David Folkenflik’s three minutes and forty-six seconds for All Things Considered is worth the time; it will also make for an interesting reflection when all is said and done:

Fox News’ Chris Wallace is known as a tough interviewer but his role as moderator of Wednesday’s presidential debate has raised questions. Fox has been highly sympathetic to Donald Trump, and Wallace has lavished praise on his former boss, Roger Ailes, who was ousted as Fox News’ chairman after accusations of sexual harassment. Ailes is also serving as an adviser to Donald Trump.

NPR will also feature a live fact check, and, y’know, best of luck to them. (more…)

The Problem With Republicans (Justice in Waiting)

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks to the General Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church during their annual convention at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 8 July 2016. (Photo: Charles Mostoller/Reuters)

“I promise you that we will be united against any Supreme Court nominee that Hillary Clinton, if she were president, would put up.”

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)

It’s not really a gaffe, is it? It’s an interesting headline from CNN: “John McCain: ‘I don’t know’ if Trump will be better for Supreme Court than Clinton”

Trump has released lists of 21 potential justices. He has pledged to choose from among those 21 when making Supreme Court selections, in a move that has earned him praise from conservatives, including his former rival in the Republican primary, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) listens to testimony by U.S. Forces-Afghanistan Commander and Resolute Support Commander Gen. John Campbell, on Capitol Hill in Washington, 4 February 2016. (Photo by Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP Photo)Asked on the Dom Giordano program on 1210 WPHT Philadelphia radio whether Trump was the superior candidate on issues like the Supreme Court, the Arizona senator replied, “Uh, first of all, I don’t know, because I hear him saying a lot of different things.”

Later in the interview, McCain used the opportunity to make the case for fellow Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, who is locked in a close battle to retain his Senate seat in Pennsylvania. McCain promised that Republicans would be “united against any Supreme Court nominee” put forth by Clinton.

“I promise you that we will be united against any Supreme Court nominee that Hillary Clinton, if she were president, would put up,” McCain said. “I promise you. This is where we need the majority and Pat Toomey is probably as articulate and effective on the floor of the Senate as anyone I have encountered.”

Or, as Taylor Link fashioned the obvious lede for Salon:

Sen. John McCain is sure that if Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton wins, the Senate will continue to be an obstructionist mess.

In a Monday interview, the senator from Arizona said that Republican nominee Donald Trump is not necessarily a better candidate than Hillary Clinton when it comes to appointing Supreme Court justices and “promised” that Republicans wouldn’t approve any Clinton nominee to the Supreme Court.

Couldn’t see that one coming, eh?

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Clinton|Trump|Deux

So after a couple days like that, Donald Trump turns up zombified and sniffing.

There is no point to the observation, yet, as we have yet to see if he brought anything other than concussed spite. But the first bit has been, shall we say, strange.

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Something Going On (Asymetrically Intriguing)

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton laughs before speaking to supporters at the Human Rights Campaign Breakfast in Washington, October 3, 2015. (Photo: Reuters/Joshua Roberts)

This is the thing: While it is easy enough to get lost in the spectacular noise and bluster, the breathtaking incoherence and disbelief, something does seem to have happened. Jonathan Chait dove in last month, noting, “The most important substantive problem facing political journalists of this era is asymmetrical polarization”. And to a certain degree, Chait is vital, here, because of something else he wrote, all of several days before:

I had not taken seriously the possibility that Donald Trump could win the presidency until I saw Matt Lauer host an hour-long interview with the two major-party candidates. Lauer’s performance was not merely a failure, it was horrifying and shocking. The shock, for me, was the realization that most Americans inhabit a very different news environment than professional journalists. I not only consume a lot of news, since it’s my job, I also tend to focus on elite print-news sources. Most voters, and all the more so undecided voters, subsist on a news diet supplied by the likes of Matt Lauer. And the reality transmitted to them from Lauer matches the reality of the polls, which is a world in which Clinton and Trump are equivalently flawed.

Nor need one be any manner of confessed media elitist; outside the circles where people perpetually complain about the media, news consumers are more than a little puzzled―indeed, some or maybe even many are alarmed―about what they are witnessing.

Part of the problem, of course, is asymmetrical polarization; Chait considered the question―

Political journalism evolved during an era of loose parties, both of which hugged the center, and now faces an era in which one of those parties has veered sharply away from the center. Today’s Republican Party now resides within its own empirical alternative universe, almost entirely sealed off from any source of data, expertise, or information that might throw its ideological prior values into question. Donald Trump’s candidacy is the ne plus ultra of this trend, an outlier horrifying even to a great many conservatives who have been largely comfortable with their party’s direction until now. How can the news media appropriately cover Trump and his clearly flawed opponent without creating an indecipherable din of equivalent-sounding criticism, where one candidate’s evasive use of a private email server looms larger than the other’s promise to commit war crimes?

Liz Spayd, the New York Times’ new public editor, dismisses the problem out of hand in a column that is a logical train wreck. Spayd specifically addresses a column by Paul Krugman that lambastes two news investigations into the Clinton Foundation, one of which appeared in the Times. Both reports dug deep and found nothing improper, but instead of either walking away from the dry holes or writing an exculpatory story, dressed them up with innuendo. These stories supply a prime example of the larger critique often grouped under the heading of “false equivalence”―journalists treating dissimilar situations as similar, in an attempt to balance out their conclusions. Spayd dismisses false equivalence as liberal whining, without in any way engaging with its analysis.

―in the wake of a New York Times dispute between public editor Liz Spayd and columnist Paul Krugman.

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