Google donated $5k to GOP Senator who “joked” about attending a lynching with her Black opponent [Cory Doctorow/Boing Boing]

Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith is a Mississipi GOP Senator is going into a runoff election against her Democratic opponent, a Black man named Mike Espy who might end up the first Black Mississipi Senator since 1883. She made headlines last week with a joke about attending a “public hanging.” She also made public comments in favor of voter suppression.

Google donated $5,000 to her campaign.

Google says they made the donation before they heard about her comments and they never would have donated had they known. However, she espoused hateful views before her recent comments, and Google isn’t asking for its money back.

Republicans are paying the Trump tax

Trump’s political strategy is failing. Given the relative strength of the economy, Republicans should be polling a LOT better than they have been. Ezra Klein compares present-day polls with past research done in the midterms in other elections, and finds a big gap. Obama in particular was significantly more popular with 10% employment than Republicans are at less than 4%.[Ezra Klein/Vox]

A Clinton-hater’s wise observation

I’m a Clinton supporter, as you know. But what may not be entirely clear is that I don’t just support her because the alternative is Trump.

That is a sufficient reason to support Clinton. That is a sufficient reason to support anyone. If the Democrats were running a chimpanzee against Trump, I’d support the chimpanzee.

And yet there’s more to it with me and Clinton. I think she’ll be a good president. Or, to be more precise, I think she has the POTENTIAL to be a good president. Maybe even one of our greatest Presidents, on a caliber with the Roosevelts and Harry S. Truman.

I got in a conversation with a Clinton-hater the other day, who declared that she is the most paranoid Presidential candidate since Richard Nixon, and her administration would quickly, like Nixon’s second term, become paralyzed by scandals of her own invention.

Since then, I’ve surprised myself to find I agree with my friend. She IS paranoid. Justifiably so, given her career of being dogged by Republicans who make up lies about her and spread them to millions of willing supporters. Republicans lied that she’s a closet lesbian, they lied that she murdered Vince Foster, they lied that she made money on insider real estate deals in Arkansas (in fact the Clintons LOST money). They lied that she faked being sick during the first Benghazi hearings, and they are lying now that she is faking being essentially healthy other than pneumonia that she’ll get over. Republicans lie that she has somehow coopted three Republican prosecutors who have cleared her of wrongdoing that would get anybody else thrown in prison. Etc. etc. etc. I’m sure there’s a list somewhere of all the Republican lies about Hillary Clinton.

And yet paranoia would be Clinton’s undoing. Even if it is justified.

There’s an old joke that goes: Are you paranoid if they really ARE out to get you? That’s supposed to be a rhetorical question, with the answer: No. Paranoia, according to the premise of the joke, is the DELUSION of persecution. No delusion, no paranoia.

But the reality is you can be both paranoid and persecuted. And that’s Clinton’s problem.

Bill Maher: Clinton needs to embrace the cartoon evil image Republicans have created

Bill Maher: “Hillary has to embrace all the nasty things the haters say and run as the Notorious HRC.”

In character as Notorious HRC: “When Donald Trump gets angry at someone he sends out a mean-girl tweet in the middle of the night. That’s cute. Here’s me killing bin Laden. And Gaddafi’s ass is a little sore these days too.”

Hilarious. I love it. And there’s truth here. Americans don’t want “sweet grandma Hillary.”

Also: “Try as I might, I cannot make my brain work like a Trump voter. Maybe it’s my mother not drinking when she was pregnant.”

The data are on Clinton’s side. About half of Trump’s supporters really are deplorable. 

Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic:

We know, for instance, some nearly 60 percent of Trump’s supporters hold “unfavorable views” of Islam, and 76 percent support a ban on Muslims entering the United States. We know that some 40 percent of Trump’s supporters believe blacks are more violent, more criminal, lazier, and ruder than whites. Two-thirds of Trump’s supporters believe the first black president in this country’s history is not American. These claim are not ancillary to Donald Trump’s candidacy, they are a driving force behind it.

Trump fined for payoffs to Florida’s attorney general

Donald Trump contributed $25,000 to the campaign of Florida attorney general Pam Biondi, after which she dropped the fraud investigation against Trump University and went to work for his campaign.

The contribution was illegal, and not reported accurately on tax records. Officials working for Trump said the whole thing was an honest mistake.

He was fined $2,500 by the IRS, which is a pretty good deal for Trump.

David A. Fahrenthold, The Washington Post

The GOP seems incapable of delivering the kind of support Trump needs to win

Inside Trump Tower: Facing grim reality – Alex Isenstadt, Politico

If the Republicans were capable of mounting a winning campaign, Trump would not be their candidate. The party did everything it could to beat him, and failed spectacularly.

I’m not making an argument for complacency by the Clinton campaign. They need to get up every morning for the next 60+ days and fight like they were down by two points.

Paul Manafort quits Donald Trump’s Campaign after tumultuous run

Maggie Halberman, New York Times:

Paul Manafort, installed to run Donald J. Trump’s operation after the firing of his original campaign manager, handed in his resignation on Friday, signifying the latest tumult to engulf the candidate, whose standing in the polls has steadily dropped since the Republican Party’s convention in July.

What’s the over-under on how long Stephen Bannon and Kellyanne Conway last?

No, Rudy Giuliani Did Not “Forget 9/11.” He Messed Something Else Up, Though.

Jeremy Stahl, Slate:

Rudy Giuliani got a lot of grief on Monday for having supposedly forgotten about the Sept. 11 attacks that took place when he was mayor of New York City and formed a not insignificant portion of the basis for his national political career.

During a speech introducing Donald Trump’s vice presidential nominee Mike Pence in Youngstown, Ohio, Giuliani said: “Under those eight years, before Obama came along, we didn’t have any successful radical Islamic terrorist attack in the United States. They all started when [Hillary] Clinton and Obama got into office.”

This led to some hyperventilating on Twitter from outlets saying that Giuliani was ignoring 9/11 (something Giuliani is normally not accused of doing).

This whole story has been a series of embarrassments. Several media outlets, including CNN, inaccurately reported that Giuliani said the US had never been attacked by Islamic fanatics before Obama, which would be an absurd thing to say. But Giuliani doesn’t seem to have said that.

What Giuliani seems to have actually said was that the US wasn’t successfully attacked in eight years prior to Obama taking office. Which is technically untrue — 9/11 was about eight months short of eight years.

But the real problem is that Giuliani is promulgating the bullshit Republican narrative, also promoted by Jeb Bush during the primary, that somehow 9/11 doesn’t count against Bush or the Republicans, while the attacks on American soil since 9/11 completely discredit Obama and the Democrats.

Peter Thiel makes the case for his bankrolling the Gawker lawsuit

Peter Thiel, The New York Times:

Last month, I spoke at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland because I believe our country is on the wrong track, and we need to solve real problems instead of fighting fake culture wars. I’m glad that an arena full of Republicans stood up to applaud when I said I was proud to be gay, because gay pride shouldn’t be a partisan issue. All people deserve respect, and nobody’s sexuality should be made a public fixation.

Unfortunately, lurid interest in gay life isn’t a thing of the past. Last week, The Daily Beast published an article that effectively outed gay Olympic athletes, treating their sexuality as a curiosity for the sake of internet clicks. The article endangered the lives of gay men from less tolerant countries, and a public outcry led to its swift retraction. While the article never should have been published, the editors’ prompt response shows how journalistic norms can improve, if the public demands it.

Not mentioned here: The vast databases of private information compiled by business and government in the name of marketing and national security. That kind of information is potentially far more damaging to far more people than sex tapes.

Also, while Thiel is right that even public figures have a right to privacy,I don’t want to live in a world where billionaires decide the boundaries of legitimate journalism. (See also.)

Trump cites Iraq withdrawal he passionately supported to say Obama “founded ISIS”

Andrew Kaczynski and Nathan McDermott, Buzzfeed:

Donald Trump has said repeatedly during the campaign that President Obama “founded ISIS,” a remark that has come under scrutiny in recent days.

“He’s the founder of ISIS. He’s the founder of ISIS. He’s the founder. He founded ISIS,” Trump said at a Wednesday rally.

Trump has cited the conservative critique of President Obama’s Iraq policy — that the withdrawal of troops in 2011 led to a power vacuum that allowed ISIS to flourish — in making the claim.

“He was the founder of ISIS, absolutely,” Trump said on CNBC on Thursday. “The way he removed our troops — you shouldn’t have gone in. I was against the war in Iraq. Totally against it.” (Trump was not against the war as he has repeatedly claimed.) “The way he got out of Iraq was that that was the founding of ISIS, OK?” Trump later said.

But lost in Trump’s immediate comments is that, for years, he pushed passionately and forcefully for the same immediate troop withdrawal from Iraq. In interview after interview in the later 2000s, Trump said American forces should be removed from Iraq.

“First, I’d get out of Iraq right now,” Trump said to British GQ in a 2008 interview. “And by the way, I am the greatest hawk who ever lived, a far greater hawk even than Bush. I am the most militant military human being who ever lived. I’d rebuild our military arsenal, and make sure we had the finest weapons in the world. Because countries such as Russia have no respect for us, they laugh at us. Look at what happened in Georgia, a place we were supposed to be protecting.”

The “greatest hawk [and] most militant military human being” got multiple draft deferments when it was his time to serve.

No, the World Won’t Go Back to Normal After Trump

Jason Tanz, Wired:

If  recent polls are right, Hillary Clinton is probably going to win the race for president in November. Did you feel a sense of relief as you read that sentence? As if, in just a few short months, this protracted battle for the future of our country will finally come to an end? As if we will wake up on November 9 like it’s the last episode of Newhart, shake off the bizarre dream of the Trump candidacy, and resume with our normal lives? (Oops. Spoiler alert.)

Well, too bad. The world won’t return to normal after the election, no matter who wins. And this is not just because Trump has unleashed political forces that won’t be easy to contain, or because a Republican-led Congress may be no more likely to cooperate with Clinton than they were with President Obama. It’s because elections are not the end of the argument, but the beginning of a new one.

Even if Trump loses the election and concedes gracefully — and neither of those outcomes are assured, not by a long shot — he still leaves behind a network of supporters that will make it difficult for Clinton to govern.

Clinton is terrible at building the kind of grass roots network that supports Trump, and that supported Sanders.

Moreover, Trump is already laying the groundwork for not conceding, with his claims that the election is “rigged.”

Moreover, do we even WANT Clinton to be able to govern effectively? She represents the Reagan/Bush/Clinton/Bush/Obama establishment that’s been running the country for the past 35 years. No, I am not saying there is no difference between all those administrations. There are significant differences. But what they have in common is that they serve D.C. and Wall Street, and leave the rest of us picking up table scraps.

Trump is just a figurehead. His supporters will go on without him. When he inevitably disappoints them, they’ll find some other figurehead, or, like the Tea Party, get co-opted.

Meanwhile the Republican establishment is gearing up to fight the Clinton White House in 2017 and beyond,, ready to claim that her election is not a mandate for her or her policies, but against Trump. Which may well be the case but it’s even MORE true that this election is already a mandate against conservatism. The Republican voters rejected conservatism when they voted for Trump, and the American people as a whole seem likely to reject Trump too. Conservatism has gotten its ass kicked twice in 2016. The Goldwater/Reagan revolution is over, it’s done, the American people have spoken decisively on that ideology and said Do Not Want.

And as for Goldwater: He got clobbered in the election, but he shaped political discourse for decades after. He continues to be a powerful political force today.

So don’t count Trumpism out, even if he loses.

The Democrats are the party of competence. The Republicans are the party of chaos.

Scalzi weighs in: Clinton and the Convention and Where We Go From Here

Great points, and my title for this post is a paraphrase from him. Trump and the Republicans were unable to “even handle a four-day self-advertisement,” Scalzi notes. All the GOP had to do was put a parade of luminaries on stage who would all praise and endorse Trump and attack the Democrats. Instead, they had a line-up of reality TV freaks, D-list celebrities, and has-beens (Scott Baio? Chachi Loves Donnie?). One of their headliners — Ted Cruz — pointedly failed to endorse Trump, which Trump’s campaign was shocked, shocked to discover, even though they had approved his speech in advance.

By contrast, the Democratic convention got off to a pratfall, but then operated like clockwork. As Scalzi notes: That doesn’t prove Clinton will make a good president, but at least she and her team could run a successful convention.

Scalzi errs by labeling Trump supporters as crazies, bigots and haters. They’re not. They’re desperate — and rightly so. Hillary Clinton is the culmination of 30 years of American leaders’ failure to serve the American people. I’ll vote for her — and do it hopefully — because the alternative is crazy incompetence. Or maybe I’ll just vote for the Libertarian ticket, not because I’m a libertarian, but because they’ve got two guys there who seem to have done a good job of running their states pretty well.

A person who is dying of cancer, and who has been failed by Western medicine may turn to alternative medicine not because they’re a believer, but because they don’t think they’ve got anything to lose.

Only 20 Percent Of Voters Are ‘Real Americans‘

Nate Silver, FiveThirtyEight: When conservative politicians talk about “real Americans,” they

often mean white people without college degrees — the so-called “white working class.” They usually mean practicing Christians. Their examples usually refer to people in the South or the Midwest — not East Coast elites or West Coast hippies.

If you’re one of these “real Americans,” you’re in the majority in almost every respect. Most Americans are white, most are Christian, most don’t have college degrees, and most live in the South or Midwest Census Bureau regions. And yet, only about 1 in 5 voters meets all of these descriptions.

This Melania Trump plagiarism scandal is just plain silly

Supposedly, Melania plagiarized a few words of her speech from a Michelle Obama 2008 address.

Nobody cares other than a few college professors and journalists. The thoughts in the passage aren’t original. They praise hard work and honesty and the importance of passing those values on to the next generation. Mom-and-apple-pie stuff.

So far the Republican convention has been surprisingly dull. The #NeverTrump insurrection fizzled, which is unsurprising; if the Republicans were capable of standing up to Trump they would have done so long ago.

Considering the talk of guns just prior to the convention, it’s a blessing that the convention is dull. Here’s hoping it stays that way.