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Supreme Court vacancy watch Day 75: Counting down to recess with a pointless vote and nothing else

Thu, 04/28/2016 - 13:29

It's Tuesday, April 28, and Day 75 since Justice Antonin Scalia died and Mitch McConnell laid down his Supreme Court blockade: No meetings, no hearings, no votes on his replacement. It's also Day 45 since President Obama named Merrick Garland to be Scalia's replacement. What's the Senate doing today instead of considering the Supreme Court nominee? 

Mostly, they're carrying on with their fight from yesterday, in which the odious Sen. Tom Cotton decided to blow the whole energy and water appropriations bill up by having another temper tantrum over President Obama's Iran nuclear deal. It had the same result—Democrats blocked it because of Cotton's poison pill.

That took up a bit of time. More time was spent by Democrats pointing out in floor speeches that the Senate is going to quit work for the week today, and then be out all of next week and Republicans are still not doing anything about Zika. Which led to a pretty great tweet from the no-more-fucks-to-give Harry Reid.


Maybe Republicans should ask the Zika-carrying mosquitoes not to breed this summer since it’s the last year of a two-term Presidency.

— Senator Harry Reid (@SenatorReid) April 28, 2016

 Good point, because not only is McConnell not doing anything about Zika, he's not backing down from his  Supreme Court blockade.

Please donate $3 today to help turn the Senate blue. The future of the Supreme Court depends on it.

Climate change bites. And stings.

Thu, 04/28/2016 - 13:00

What happens when you have the warmest year on record and come through winter with more or less no winter? Stuff like this.

The scorpions that scurry around this desert region emerged from their winter slumber early this year.

Usually dormant until late March, the creatures came out in February as temperatures soared, making a month that is generally pretty pleasant the second-warmest February on record.

Arizona is home to the Bark Scorpion, which is small and about as innocuous in appearance as anything that is basically nature’s horror show can be. But being stung by one is … uh … memorable.

Israel Leinbach, a biologist for the United States Department of Agriculture in Hawaii who spent years in Phoenix researching bark scorpions, described the pain as “the feeling of being stabbed with a hot knife.” It may last anywhere from a few hours to several days and resist all efforts to make it go away quicker: cold compresses, over-the-counter pain medication, antihistamine.

My personal experience from being stung in one hand: think of accidentally grabbing the handle of a red hot skillet. Then imagine you can’t let go for the next twelve hours.

A plague of scorpions is just one of several biological effects of climate change. And by many measures, far from the worst.

So Carly Fiorina is Ted Cruz's answer to his woman problem?

Thu, 04/28/2016 - 12:49

The best rationale for the most disliked clown in the Republican car picking the second-most disliked clown as his pretend running mate is that Ted Cruz thinks Carly Fiorina will help him with women voters. That's just not going to happen considering who Cruz picks to have on his payroll.

The leaders of three prominent liberal and pro-abortion rights organizations on Thursday issued a scathing letter to Ted Cruz urging the Texas senator to oust Troy Newman, co-chair of the Pro-Lifers for Cruz coalition, citing his past incendiary statements and comments on abortion. […]

“Troy Newman has called the murder of an abortion provider a ‘justifiable action’ and runs an organization whose baseline purpose is to harass and terrorize women. It is not surprising to see Ted Cruz embrace this type of violent extremism — after all this is the same man who has told malicious lies about Planned Parenthood, would criminalize abortion, and tried to shut down the government in order to prevent low income women from accessing cancer screenings,” Laguens said in a statement. “However it is disappointing to see even a presidential candidate like Ted Cruz so blatantly disregard women’s health and lives but this is what the Cruz Fiorina ticket stands for.”

Newman is a founder of the so-called Center for Medical Progress, the group that created all those fake videos about Planned Parenthood. You know, the videos that were all bullshit but still didn't show the horrific things Fiorina insisted she saw in them. So, yes, it's pretty much horrible all the way down.

Perhaps this is actually Cruz's strategy—surrounding himself with people who are even more horrible and hateful than he is, to look less awful by comparison. It's not going to work.

Hunger strikers protesting SFPD slayings begin their second week without food

Thu, 04/28/2016 - 12:26

Protesters seeking the firing of San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr began their second week of a hunger strike at a police station in the city’s Mission District Thursday.

What started as a protest by five people—who some are calling the #Frisco5—has now grown to as many as 20. The hunger strikers are occasionally bolstered by dozens of supporters. The core group had been talking for several months about plans to protest police killings of three men of color over the past two years as well as other police actions. They were spurred into beginning the hunger strike after the April 7 police shooting of Luis Góngora, a 45-year-old homeless resident who had allegedly threatened a homeless outreach team with a knife.

There were conflicting accounts of the actual shooting, which occurred outside the reach of a surveillance camera that recorded the arrival of officers in three patrol vehicles. Officers can be heard ordering Góngora to “get on the ground,” then to “put it down.” This is followed by a sound of four bean bags being fired followed by the louder and sharper sound of several shots from their sidearms. Some witnesses said Góngora did not speak English well, and one said the two officers fired at him after he was already on the ground. Police said Góngora had lunged at them with a knife, but more than one witness disputed that. An investigation is still underway.

In addition to the slayings of Góngora and three other men, the hunger strikers are protesting other violence and recent revelations about racist and homophobic electronic messaging by some SFPD officers.

The citizen activist group 48Hills has been providing daily coverage of the hunger strike at its website and on its Twitter account.

On Wednesday, a crowd of more than 100 showed up to disrupt a public meeting on police behavior. Police showed up in force, set up barricades and, as they have in the past, threatened arrests. But nobody was arrested. The meeting, however, was canceled.

Polling Roundup: Inaugural Clinton v. Trump, and damn Trump is stuck in the gutter

Thu, 04/28/2016 - 12:01

The state of the presidential contest is … not close

20160428161418785.png General election 2016: Clinton v Trump

Conventional wisdom is that general election polling this far out is suspect at best—the candidates might not be fully introduced to the general public, hurt primary feelings can skew results as supporters of defeated candidates claim they won’t vote for their party’s nominee (they’ll come back), the general public still hasn’t fully tuned in, and the attack machines from both parties haven’t fully geared up.

Things might be different putting these two candidates up, since everyone knows Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and their favorability ratings already reflect those of candidates who’ve been put through the wringer. Clinton, of course, has over a generation of being “wrung” by the Republican Noise Machine, and Trump seems hell-bent on putting himself through the ringer, no outside assistance necessary thank you very much!

Registration among Latino voters spikes and they ain't voting for The Donald

Thu, 04/28/2016 - 11:28

Beyond recent national polling that is just devastating for the GOP in 2016, we now have evidence that Hispanic voter registration is “skyrocketing,” reports Rafael Bernal: 

Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Elected and Appointed Officials, projects 13.1 million Hispanics will vote nationwide in 2016, compared to 11.2 million in 2012 and 9.7 million in 2008. 

Many of those new Hispanic voters are also expected to vote against Trump if he is the Republican nominee, something that appears much more likely after the front-runner’s sweeping primary victories Tuesday in five East Coast states.

While many of the new registrations are taking place in California and Texas, which are likely to go Democratic and Republican respectively regardless, the numbers are also rising in Colorado, Nevada, and Florida.

A whopping 80 percent of respondents in a poll of registered Hispanic voters in Colorado and Nevada said Trump's views on immigration made them less likely to vote for Republicans in November. In Florida, that number was 68 percent.

Here’s the Colorado, Nevada, and Florida polling from Latino Decisions referenced above. 

Taken together, new Latino voters and their attitudes toward the GOP’s likely nominee could also have serious implications for down-ticket races. That’s exactly why the GOP is pinning its hopes on “split tickets,” per the New York Times. Still, the GOP brand as a whole is in peril and it’s not just with Latinos, The Donald is also digging a hole with female voters. Keep digging, Donald, keep digging.

Bang bang! You're ... probably hearing a lot of gunshots.

Thu, 04/28/2016 - 11:21

My mother is selling the house she’s lived in for 52 years. One thing she had to replace was a sheet of paneling in the garage that had a fist-sized hole in it. That’s because, along about 1975, I fired a 45-caliber pistol through a target, through a reclining chair, through the paneling, and right out the side of the garage. On another occasion, I directed a shot straight up, so close to the side of my own head that I nicked my ear and scorched my hair. Yeah, it’s a wonder I’m alive.

Naturally, neither of these shots produced a call to the police. Or anyone other than my parents, who had to fix the garage. Turns out, I'm not the only one firing a gun where I shouldn’t.

The study, from economists Jillian Carr and Jennifer Doleac, looked at new ShotSpotter data, which uses high-tech audio sensors to report gunshots, in Oakland, California, and Washington, DC. It found that only 12 percent of gunfire incidents resulted in a 911 call to report gunshots...

There’s some question about the ShotSpotter data. Some shots get reported more than once, and those sensors can be fooled. It’s also likely that the shootings that the data is detecting rarely end with someone injured or killed. Shot and a miss? Might go unreported. Shot and someone dead? Likely to be on the radar. But these are definitely areas where gunshots shouldn’t be a part of the normal soundscape. So it’s interesting that they’re showing up much more than crime statistics would indicate.

... Carr and Doleac suggest that a drop in reports of crime may just mean that people are reporting fewer crimes even as it continues happening. So researchers using the traditional sources may have been picking up how policies affect reports of crime, not necessarily crime itself.

Maybe. I suspect there are a lot of idiots who like to shoot guns. I have firsthand experience.

Louisiana inmate punished for talking to media

Thu, 04/28/2016 - 11:00

A Louisiana prisoner was punished and transferred for speaking to a reporter about misconduct in the Department of Public Safety and Corrections. William Kissinger corresponded with reporter Maya Lau of The Advocate about his experiences at Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, the most notorious prison in Louisiana. From The Advocate:

Kissinger described life at the prison and responses around Angola to articles about the warden and his domain. He also shared his own concerns and suggested areas for further investigation.

Then Kissinger went silent. A few weeks later, Lau received a handwritten letter from Kissinger — now incarcerated at [Elayn Hunt Correctional Center], in St. Gabriel.

“Angola snatched me up, chained me up, and drove me straight to Hunt, and put me in ‘the dungeon’ (punitive cells) in the middle of the night on February 4th,” Kissinger wrote.

“In a ‘kangaroo’-style disciplinary court I was found guilty of 2 serious rule violations for things I said to you in our emails. As a result, I have been stripped of basically everything and am now housed in a punitive cellblock, basically until they decide to let me out.”

A prison spokesperson confirmed that Kissinger was "under investigation," stating that "His behavior going forward will dictate his future housing and other assignments." The Advocate says Kissinger's correspondence with Lau was "not threatening or profane, nor does he discuss committing any crimes. Mostly, he writes about goings-on at the prison; his descriptions include criticisms of the staff."

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has said that prisoners have “a right to send media mail unopened and to receive media mail that has been opened only for the inspection of contraband in the inmate’s presence." However, as The Advocate notes, Lau used an alias when writing Kissinger because she knew that he'd been punished before. 

House Democrats trying to slow down Obama administration effort to reduce drug prices

Thu, 04/28/2016 - 10:41

A group of House Democrats is attempting to slow down an Obama administration effort to reduce drug prices in the Medicare system. At question is a proposed test of a new payment model to physicians and facilities that administer prescriptions drugs, like infusions of cancer drugs and other intravenous medications under Medicare Part B. Economists and health policy experts say that there are financial incentives to providers to use higher-cost drugs when there could be less expensive but just as effective options. To reiterate: what the Medicare program regulators are proposing is a test of a new payment model, not a wholesale switch.

So why would House Democrats have a problem with it? Because the drug companies and the doctors don't like it. And their excuse for organizing to slow down this test is pathetic.

The letter from House Democrats, according to Drew Hammill, a spokesman for House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), was made necessary because Big Pharma and oncologist lobbyists had pushed many Democrats to the brink of signing a much more aggressive Republican letter. The letter expresses concerns with the proposed rule, but doesn’t call for it to be withdrawn.

“Members are outlining their concerns, but this letter is in furtherance of getting an effective rule in place under the current timeline. This in no way is an effort to slow down or undermine the administration’s efforts,” Hammill told HuffPost after this story published.

Hey, about this, House Democratic leadership? Tell your members who say this is "necessary" or they'll do something worse to suck eggs. Tell them that you'll go all out supporting the administration on its effort to figure out how to save Medicare money and if they sign with Republicans, you'll hang them out to dry. Maybe tell them that they'll be responsible for explaining to their constituents why they're standing with Big Pharma and the physicians' lobby instead of President Obama. Because after all, testing ways to have lower drug prices for Medicare sounds like a pretty damned good idea. 

The rationale that they're providing is that they're only asking the administration to answer a whole bunch of questions about this proposal to test this new system, whereas the Republicans are demanding it be stopped altogether. But, once again, this is only a test. What's more, says Patrick Conway, deputy administrator for innovation and quality at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, "Nothing in this proposed payment model will prevent doctors from prescribing exactly what treatment patients need." It's a proposal that won't prevent anyone from getting the treatment they need. That could save lots of money. Any Democrat considering signing on to a letter opposing that needs to seriously reconsider his or her priorities.

It's hard to be a Republican woman with Trump calling the shots

Thu, 04/28/2016 - 10:33
Goal Thermometer Play the progressive card.

There are 62 Democratic women in the House of Representatives, but there are also 22 Republicans. There are also six Republican women over in the Senate. As you might imagine, having Donald Trump denigrate Hillary Clinton's experience is a teensy bit uncomfortable.

“The only card she has is the women’s card,” Trump said during a victory speech after sweeping in five state’s primaries. “She’s got nothing else going on. Frankly, if Hillary Clinton were a man, I don’t think she would get 5 percent of the vote.”

And what do Republican women have to say about that? Well, there was a good deal of ...

“Oh God, I’m not getting into that. I’m not getting into that,” said Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), walking away quickly.

And a big stack of Republican women legislators seem to have contracted a case of selective deafness—they simply hadn’t heard Trump speak. Hadn’t heard about it. Didn’t want to hear about it. And excuse me, I have to leave before these fingers in my ears start to hurt.

Susan Collins? No? Kelly Ayotte? Uh-uh.  Joni Ernst? Joni? But that doesn’t mean a few weren’t ready to sign onto Team Trump.

Help us put people in the Senate who will support women by donating $3.

Go ahead, Donald, just keep talkin’ about how much the ladies dislike Hillary …

Thu, 04/28/2016 - 10:05

Donald Trump began pressing a line of attack this week that’s deadly for his candidacy—that the ladies won’t vote for Hillary Clinton ‘cuz she’s playing the “woman card.” Brilliant, Trump, take it straight to your opponent among a voting bloc you absolutely need but already pretty much despises you. Who knows, maybe they don’t feel “cherished” by The Donald—at least, 70 percent of them don’t per Gallup’s daily tracking poll (that “unfavorable” view is up from 12 points since last July.) 

It’s not just that he’s losing single women, who vote disproportionately Democratic as a rule, it’s that he’s tanking with the segments that are essential to a Republican candidacy: both married and white women. Tierney Sneed reports:

Married women

Married women, who turned out for Mitt Romney over Obama by 53 percent to 46 percent, have an overwhelmingly negative view of Trump. Seventy percent of them view Trump unfavorably, according to Purple Slice online poll conducted by Purple Strategies for Bloomberg Politics and released earlier this month. Married women choose Clinton over Trump 48 percent to 36 percent. (The married female vote would be split 43-to-43 percent if Clinton was facing Cruz, according to the poll.)

“There’s a 21-point gap between where [Trump] is and where he needs to be just to match Romney, who lost,” Douglas Usher, a pollster for Purple Strategies, told TPM.

A Democracy Corps poll this month put Trump in slightly better stead with the married contingent—narrowly beating Clinton by 3 percentage points. But Clinton crushed him with unmarried women, 73 percent to 21 percent.

“Married women are supporting Trump by a slight margin and unmarried women are giving Hillary Clinton a 52-point advantage. That’s huge,” said Page Gardner, president of the Women’s Voices Women Vote Action Fund.

The free market seems to be working pretty well with Obamacare

Thu, 04/28/2016 - 10:00

The Obamacare headlines that make news continue to be the ones that aren’t very good: United Health leaves the marketplace, premiums go up by double digits, etc. You rarely see the flip side—United Health wasn't a very big player in the exchanges, anyway, and the average premium hike for Obamacare customers is about 8 percent. At Balloon Juice, Richard Mayhew (an actual health insurance expert) points out how it's working—and profitable—for insurance companies.

2014 was a year where there were only guesses about both the Exchange population, the market structure, and federal policy structure (specifically the risk corridor revenue neutrality restrictions.  2015 had a bit more clarity on who was coming into the market, what was working and what was not working, and what federal policy on risk corridors would actually be.  2016 is the first year where the policies are priced on functionally decent real information and some of the amazingly dumb strategic decisions have been unwound through either course changes or through exiting the market.

As a simple reminder, competitive markets should see some companies make money and some companies that offer more expensive and less attractive products lose money.  I would be extremely worried if everyone was making money after three years, just like I would be extremely worried that everyone was losing money after three years of increasingly better data.

Exactly how the free market is supposed to work, actually. Not to mention how the law was intended to work. Companies actually compete for customers, and when they make decisions that aren't good for customers, they lose them. That's one of the reasons most people purchasing on the exchanges aren't seeing humungous premium hikes—they shop around. Companies that find their niche (and their customers) can actually profit. Again, that's how this was supposed to work.

Cartoon: Nate the Right Pundit, in 'Skeptic Shock'

Thu, 04/28/2016 - 08:50

Follow @RubenBolling on Twitter and Facebook.

Please join Tom the Dancing Bug's subscription club, the INNER HIVE, for early access to comics, and more. 

And/or buy Ruben Bolling’s new book series for kids, The EMU Club Adventures. Book One here.  Book Two here.

Trump First: foreign policy from the guy who 'grasps all the details'

Thu, 04/28/2016 - 08:45

Confronted about the idea that his call for unpredictability might simply be a mask for not actually having a plan, Donald Trump was quick to override the hosts of Today, telling them that 

I have a total grasp of the details, far greater than just about anybody else.

In the same discussion, he also doubled (tripled? quadrupled?) down on his statement that the only thing Hillary has going for her was that she is a woman, and refused to rule out using nuclear weapons against ISIS. Because clearly, nuclear weapons are the tool of choice when dealing with terrorist embedded in a civilian population. (Though since Cruz has called for carpet bombing of the areas controlled by ISIS, it’s hard to think that civilians in the region are anxious to see either of these men with the ability to apply their “grasp of the details”)

But Trump’s foreign policy speech on Wednesday really only reinforced one thing—Trump has spent his life making deals. And he’s learned all the wrong things.

John Boehner on Ted 'Lucifer' Cruz: 'never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life'

Thu, 04/28/2016 - 08:26

Former U.S. House Speaker John Boehner sat down with students at Stanford University for an in depth, no holds barred interview about his time in office. When it came to the topic of current presidential candidates, Boehner was unusually frank about U.S. Senator Ted Cruz:

When specifically asked his opinions on Ted Cruz, Boehner made a face, drawing laughter from the crowd.

“Lucifer in the flesh,” the former speaker said. “I have Democrat friends and Republican friends. I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life.”

OUCH! That’s going to leave a mark. Would Boehner suck it up and vote for Ted Cruz if he somehow pulled out the nomination? Nope:

Boehner for the most part accepted Trump as the presumptive Republican nominee, though he did express his surprise at the candidate’s success. While he did not praise Trump’s policies, the Speaker did say he would vote for Trump in the general election if he becomes the Republican nominee. The former Speaker said he would not, however, vote for Cruz.

It is stunning how many people who truly know Ted Cruz openly and loudly despise Ted Cruz. 

Aiming for new empowerment of black women

Thu, 04/28/2016 - 07:48

Three Democratic congresswomen have teamed up in a new effort to help African-American women overcome economic and social barriers. Rep. Robin Kelly (D-IL), Rep. Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY), and Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) have launched the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls, the first caucus devoted to public policy that eliminates the significant hurdles and disparities faced by black women. The three hope that the new caucus gives the same attention to black women that President Obama’s My Brother's Keeper initiative has given to black men and boys.

The caucus is an outgrowth of a MoveOn.org petition from the #SheWoke Committee, a group of seven women asking congressional leaders to find ways to improve the lives of black women. That committee includes Ifeoma Ike, the co-founder of Black and Brown People Vote; philanthropic strategist Nakisha Lewis; and Sharon Cooper, sister of Sandra Bland, the Illinois woman who died in police custody in Texas after being stopped for a traffic violation.

The formal launch for the caucus is April 28, when the three congresswomen will lead a symposium at the Library of Congress titled “Barriers and Pathways to Success for Black Women and Girls.” The event will featuring academics, advocacy leaders, business executives, and media personalities. Among the speakers on two different panels are Melissa Harris-Perry, the Maya Angelou Presidential Chair at Wake Forest University and now editor-at-large at Elle magazine (now that she’s no longer at MSNBC); Beverly Bond, founder and CEO of Black Girls Rock!, the annual award show that honors women of color; and Monique Morris, co-founder and president of the National Black Women’s Justice Institute and author of Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools.

An evening event (both the daytime and evening meetings are open to the public) will give members of Congress “an opportunity to address organizations focused on black women, other civic leaders, and individuals who are committed to advancing the quality of life of black women in America,” according to the congressional office of Rep. Watson Coleman.

“I hope that what we will do is to highlight the issues facing black girls and black women—the issues that are impacting their lives,” Watson Coleman said. The range of issues to be addressed in the April 28 symposium include black women’s experiences with law enforcement; disparities in health care, including clinical trials; inequality in salaries; unemployment; domestic violence; and many other topics.

Daily Kos Radio is LIVE at 9 AM ET!

Thu, 04/28/2016 - 07:30

It’s getting to that late part of the week where some of the really interesting stories are “on the bubble.” Will they get air time before they become stale? Or will we be buried under the constant avalanche of outrageous GunFAIL stories, something extra bonkers that Donald Trump did, or some horrible violation of constitutional norms suggested by an obscure Republican state legislator?

Well, if the usual sources of breaking news cited above fail us (or perhaps just bore us), I think we can leverage a few more instructive points out of the events of the last week or so.

Yes, other media outlets can do nuance and layers. But you’re into KITM for the fractals.

Listen LIVE right here at 9:00 AM ET!

From now on, it will cost you $1,000 per episode to listen to the Kagro in the Morning show on Daily Kos Radio. But for loyal readers of Daily Kos, we’ve reduced that price to... absolutely free!

Why would we make such an amazing offer? Reasons!

But perhaps you’re concerned that such a fantastic deal is too good to be true. That it’s unsustainable. Well, worry no more! We here at Daily Kos Radio will do anything to help set your mind at ease about sustainability, up to and including accepting your PayPal donations, or even recurring, monthly support! For you hipsters, we offer the same monthly option, but with a fancier name, through the KITM Patreon account!

There are thousands of you downloading the podcast and listening to the show live each day, five days a week. That’s about 20 shows each month, so on a per-show basis, mere pocket change from each listener is all it would take to turn this from a pleasant pastime into something my family wouldn’t shake their heads and sigh about.

Give it some thought, won’t you? Thanks!

Did you happen to miss our last LIVE show? You can catch it here:

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David Waldman congratulates all of you who enthusiastically went out to vote yesterday, and hopes your voting machine was as turned on as you were. What is Greg Dworkin’s diagnosis after looking at poll results? Not so good for the Sanders campaign, but a sunny prognosis for his ideas. Bernie nabs Rhode Island, Connecticut goes to Hillary, and guns are a significant factor. Hillary Clinton gets more votes by addressing voter priorities. John Kasich face plants even where people should like him. Cruz rides the FU train out—and has something to say to you! Time to look towards the election. How did those states get those crazy shapes? Joan McCarter returns for her regular Super-post-Tuesday visit: Remember, every election is critical, don’t lose focus on the down-ticket. Bob McDonnell argues that Citizens United means he’s not corrupt —  thanks Scalia? After losing to Donald Trump, Ted Cruz pulls out a tape measure to reassure his followers. Arianna Huffington is now the Uber of optimistic leadership we need. Donald Trump demonstrates the art of the deal on himself. Moms again and again buy a gun to protect their family, stick it in their purse, and leave the purse with their kids. A toddler shoots himself, barely reaching adulthood before doing it again.

(Thanks again to Scott Anderson for the show summary!) Need more info on how to listen? Find it below the fold.

Cheers and Jeers: Thursday

Thu, 04/28/2016 - 07:15


T-Minus 11 Weeks and Counting to Netroots Nation

The elves behind the progressive event of the year are busy dotting their i’s and crossing their t’s for the July 14-17 convention in St. Louis. Here's the latest:

Netroots Nation 2016 logo.  St. Louis July 14-17 (that’s Central Time).

• The NN16 organizers have published their list of "40 hands-on training sessions on topics ranging from data and analytics to field organizing, dismantling structural racism and more." Mary Rickles tells us that it's the most diverse training slate yet: 74% of the trainers are women and 64% are people of color. And, yes, the legendary Joel Silberman is returning with his must-see seminar Presence and Authenticity: How to Be a Media Star. For the complete list of training sessions, click here.

• Ever since a demonstration of my teleportation prototype went disastrously wrong (hey, gimme a break, I was only three), I've given up the techie life. But if you're a gadget guru, you'll be glad to know that the fast and fun Great Netroots New Tools Shootout is returning for its fourth year with partner New Media Ventures. Says Raven Brooks:

"This is your chance to (re)introduce the Netroots community to your voting, organizing, campaigning and/or make-the-world-a-better-place technology solution.

Ray gun My tech solution turns Republicans into Democrats.

Select presenters will have 5 minutes to make a live pitch. Attendees vote on their favorite new feature/product, most innovative use of technology, and favorite startup technology. It's a great way to get the inside stories on how these tools are being designed and built, the impact they’re already having on campaigns and organizations, and what they can do to help you become a more powerful and more effective activist and leader."

Deadline to get your application in is May 23rd. Sign up by clicking here.

• There are already fifty people who have RSVP'd for the annual Daily Kos/Connect-Unite-Act/C&J Eat-'n-Greet at the Peruvian-style restaurant Mango which is just a stone's throw from the convention hall. To add your name to the list, email Navajo and then circle Wednesday, July 13 on your calendar. We'd love to see you there for our traditional pre-convention kickoff party. I promise to behave for at least the first ten minutes.

• Volunteers are needed for a variety of jobs before and during the convention. Attending the registration booth, filling the swag bags (Try not to scratch the Rolexes), assembling name badges, etc. If you can spare some time, drop Eric Thut an email at volunteers [at] netrootsnation.org.

•  Registration and official Hotel info are here and here.

•  Follow Netroots Nation via Facebook here and Twitter here.

And since we have 11 weeks to kill, Cheers and Jeers argle bargles below the fold... [Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Gong!!]

Morning Digest: This is the worst polling debacle we've ever seen, by a huge margin

Thu, 04/28/2016 - 07:01

Leading Off:

MD-01: Forget any clever ledes—we're just going to give this one to you right up front: Republican pollster Gravis Marketing blew a race by 96 points on Tuesday night. Yep, 96 points. It's by far—by far—the biggest polling disaster we've ever seen, so let's talk about it a little.

Back in January, Gravis conducted a poll for former state Del. Mike Smigiel, who was challenging Rep. Andy Harris in the GOP primary in Maryland's conservative 1st Congressional District. Smigiel's poll gave him an impossible 58-29 lead on Harris, and we knew, just knew, that those numbers had to be total bullshit, but we didn't find out why until Politico's Steve Sheppard discovered that Gravis had conducted a so-called "informed ballot" poll.

In such a poll, respondents are given information about each candidate before asking which they'd prefer in a direct matchup. That's contrasted with an "initial ballot" test, where voters are asked for their preferences without hearing any candidate information; usually you ask both, with the initial ballot, as you'd expect, coming first.

Informed ballots are common practice, but if you're releasing informed ballot numbers, you simply have to explain that that's what they are. Ordinarily, in fact, we wouldn't even bother to assess how well informed ballots stack up against actual election results, since they represent some Platonic ideal of a campaign rather than reality. We also usually don't evaluate polls taken four months before Election Day, because circumstances can change. But it's doubtful they did in this case, and we have good reason for making an exception here.

That's because Smigiel went out of his way to conceal the fact his numbers did not represent an initial ballot test.

Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: Ted picks a mate, Trump gives a speech, Bernie cuts his staff

Thu, 04/28/2016 - 06:27

Well, that was a newsy Wednesday. Trump, figuring he needs to look Presidential gives a mess of a speech with a TelePrompter, the usual Republicans clap, and the foreign policy experts scratch their head. Let’s start with Madeleine Albright:

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Fred Kaplan:

A Mess of Contradictions

Donald Trump’s foreign policy speech was even worse than his usual incoherent rambling.

I didn’t think it possible, but Donald Trump’s “major foreign policy address” on Wednesday—a written speech, which he read off a teleprompter—was even more incoherent than his impromptu ramblings of the past several months. In fact, it may stand as the most senseless, self-contradicting foreign policy speech by any major party’s presidential nominee in modern history.

Daniel W. Drezner:

Donald Trump’s big foreign policy speech, explained.

I suffered through all of Donald Trump's foreign policy speech. This is my story.

Trump doesn’t really have any useful ideas or strategies to offer for how to improve American foreign policy. What he does have, however, is a really stinging indictment of the existing foreign policy establishment. This certainly resonates with a lot of Americans, even people who wouldn’t otherwise sympathize with Trump.

The challenge for Hillary Clinton will be to point out that whatever qualms one has about the foreign policy status quo, Trump’s alternative would be worse.