Since we have exactly 37 days until election day I will probably blog a few posts (sporadically) on my regularly designated “dark days” (the days I don’t usually blog.)
Just to recap those days: Sunday, Monday Wednesday and Friday are blog days. The rest are “time off” days…unless something newsworthy happens.
The following is “newsworthy” because I usually have today off.
Image Credit: AP
“Here’s what I know: Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud. His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University. He’s playing the American public for suckers: He gets a free ride to the White House — and all we get is a lousy hat,” railed Romney, the Republican Party’s 2012 presidential nominee.
Romney spoke at the University of Utah as GOP leaders gird themselves for a last effort to stop Trump’s march to the nomination.
They’ll have an uphill climb after Trump’s command performance in the Super Tuesday primaries, which illustrated the powerful rage of the legions of early state primary voters who’ve gotten behind him.
Romney didn’t endorse a candidate — or say he had changed his mind about running for the nomination again himself — but went all out in sounding notes of alarm as one of his party’s elder statesmen.
“Mr. Trump is directing our anger for less than noble purposes. He creates scapegoats of Muslims and Mexican immigrants; he calls for the use of torture and for killing the innocent children and family members of terrorists,” the former Massachusetts governor said.
“He cheers assaults on protesters. He applauds the prospect of twisting the Constitution to limit First Amendment freedom of the press. This is the very brand of anger that has led other nations into the abyss.”
Romney on Trump: “His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University.” pic.twitter.com/iKpTJ2Wskq
— PolicyMic (@PolicyMic) March 3, 2016
Romney, who also ran in 2008 and was defeated by John McCain, highlighted Trump’s prickly personality: “Think of … the bullying, the greed, the showing off, the misogyny, the absurd third-grade theatrics.”
He attempted to insulate himself from an expected Trump tweet storm: “Watch, by the way, how he responds to my speech today. Will he talk about our policy differences or will he attack me with every imaginable low road insult?” Romney asked. “This may tell you what you need to know about his temperament, his stability, and his suitability to be president.”
Romney, who’s been attacking Trump on Twitter himself for not releasing his tax returns or shedding real light on the veracity of his hard-line immigration stances, also tried to get the GOP and nation to focus on what he framed as the big picture: Winning in November.
“For the last three decades, the Clintons have lived at the intersection of money and politics, trading their political influence to enrich their personal finances. They embody the term ‘crony capitalism.’ It disgusts the American people and causes them to lose faith in our political process,” Romney told the crowd.
“A person so untrustworthy and dishonest as Hillary Clinton must not become president. But a Trump nomination enables her victory.”
As Romney concluded his remarks, Trump’s Twitter feed remained silent on the speech:
On my way to see the great people of Maine. Will be landing in Portland in 2 hours. Look forward to it! #Trump2016
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 3, 2016
You can watch Romney’s full speech here:
(Reuters / Jim Young)
On Wednesday, The Nation published an exclusive story showing how the DMV in Wisconsin was systematically failing to provide the voter-IDs required to cast a ballot this election. We told the story of two African-American voters, Zack Moore and Claudell Boyd, who brought multiple documents with them to the DMV confirming their identities but were still turned away without the necessary voter-ID. Recordings from the DMV provided to The Nation detailed how Moore and Boyd were not offered certificates for voting within six business days, as required by Wisconsin law.
Today federal district court Judge James Peterson ordered the state toinvestigate the DMV and the voter-ID process. “Recent news stories inMilwaukee Journal Sentinel and The Nation have reported that DMV personnel have provided incorrect information to persons who have applied for Wisconsin IDs for voting,” Peterson wrote. “These reports, if true, demonstrate that the state is not in compliance with this court’s injunction order, which requires the state to ‘[p]romptly issue a credential valid as a voting ID to any person who enters the IDPP or who has a petition pending.’”
He ordered the state to report back to the court by October 7. “The report should explain the scope of the investigation, its results, and any corrective action to be taken,” Peterson wrote.
This is significant because 300,000 registered voters do not have a valid voter-ID, 9 percent of the electorate, and many are still struggling to obtain one. The US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit upheld Wisconsin’s voter-ID law based on the premise that the state would make IDs accessible to every eligible voter—which it is clearly not doing.
Wisconsin is not the first state to disregard a court order to make it easier to vote. Texas issued misleading information after the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ordered the state to soften its voter-ID law and counties in North Carolina cut early voting after the Fourth Circuit restored early voting days. Republicans like Scott Walker seem to believe that suppressing the vote is the only way they can win.
ABIR SULTAN/AFP/Getty Images
MSNBC Screen Capture
Over the course of a tense few minutes Thursday afternoon, MSNBC’s Chuck Todd tried to pin down a Donald Trump spokesman on a simple point: From bogus online polls to “rigged” Google results to Sputnik News articles, why does the Trump campaign insist on “creating a reality that doesn’t exist?”
“Why do you think multiple polls, scientific polls have said Hillary Clinton won that debate by a 2-1 margin?” Todd asked communications advisor Jason Miller, noting that Trump had spoken about several instant reaction online polls as if they were methodologically sound.
Miller claimed “The polls that happened the night of the debate, the snap polls, the ones that happen online, those all showed Mr. Trump winning in a huge way.” Todd reminded him that such polls’ respondents are self-selecting, and that results can be easily distorted with computer programs.
“There’s TIME, there’s Variety,” Miller continued, undeterred, mentioning two online instant reaction polls.
“Those are all robot polling!” Todd said. “You’ve been doing this a while, you know those are bogus! They’re beyond unscientific.”
Miller moved on to Trump’s large crowds at rallies. “The energy and excitement are on our side,” he said, before explaining how the debate was rigged against Trump.
“Do you have any concern — he also has been talking about Google being rigged as well?” Todd asked. “There is a constant theme here that when things don’t go well, ‘something is rigged, something is rigged.’ That is not the best way to instill confidence in our democracy. Why does he do that?”
Miller avoided the question, instead pivoting to Clinton’s debate performance and polling among millennials.
The reality-check continued, brutal minute after brutal minute. Todd needled Miller on Trump’s debate prep (“we talked to supporters at a rally in Melbourne who all thought he did poorly!”) and his unfounded Google conspiracies (“An article from Sputnik?!”) before the sweet release of a commercial break.
The Interstate Highway System was one of America’s most revolutionary infrastructure projects. It also destroyed urban neighborhoods across the nation. [YouTube / Christophe Haubursin and Joseph Stromberg]
Vox.com is a news website that helps you cut through the noise and understand what’s really driving the events in the headlines. Check out http://www.vox.com to get up to speed on everything from Kurdistan to the Kim Kardashian app.
Image Credit: YouTube
A Wednesday night airtime — instead of the typical Monday — gave Samantha Bee plenty of time to break down the first presidential debate on Full Frontal, and the late-night host didn’t disappoint. Stressing the importance of this year’s election, Bee noted that even the NFL’s Monday Night Football matchup was skipped by the majority of Americans in favor of the debate.
“For once, concussion-ball was not as compelling as watching American democracy play Russian roulette,” she says.
But while Donald Trump was steady in the opening portion of the debate — or as Bee put it, Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway’s “control collar worked for about 20 minutes” — he fell into Hillary Clinton’s trap by succumbing to his sexist tendencies.
“Trump warned us that Hermione Clinton would be cheating by doing something called ‘preparing,'” Bee said. “But Trump never considered the possibility that she might be a Count of Monte Cristo overplanner. She spent months building an elaborate trap for Trump, and he lumbered right into it.”
“Those wily Clinton bastards knew there are three things Trump can’t resist: Calling women names, doubling down, and making dumb mistakes on Fox & Friends,” Bee added.
That was when Trump doubled down on his remarks about former Miss Universe winner Alicia Machado on the Fox program — who, Clinton noted, he called “Miss Piggy.” On Fox, he said that she “gained a massive amount of weight and it was a real problem,” to which Bee laid out a scathing rebuttal with the help of her staff.
“No, you had a stunningly beautiful Miss Universe winner, but you treated her like garbage — now you have a real problem,” Bee says. “Not only with her, but with any woman who’s ever been called fat, which is all of us. We’ve been dealing with you our whole life.”
Watch Bee’s segments on the presidential debate below.
Source: You Tube
The leaders of the U.S. government, including the President and his top national-security advisers, face an unprecedented dilemma. Since the spring, U.S. intelligence and law-enforcement agencies have seen mounting evidence of an active Russian influence operation targeting the 2016 presidential election. It is very unlikely the Russians could sway the actual vote count, because our election infrastructure is decentralized and voting machines are not accessible from the Internet. But they can sow disruption and instability up to, and on, Election Day, more than a dozen senior U.S. officials tell TIME, undermining faith in the result and in democracy itself.
The question, debated at multiple meetings at the White House, is how aggressively to respond to the Russian operation. Publicly naming and shaming the Russians and describing what the intelligence community knows about their activities would help Americans understand and respond prudently to any disruptions that might take place between now and the close of the polls. Senior Justice Department officials have argued in favor of calling out the Russians, and that position has been echoed forcefully outside of government by lawmakers and former top national-security officials from both political parties.
Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. The President and several of his closest national-security advisers are concerned about the danger of a confrontation in the new and ungoverned world of cyberspace, and they argue that while the U.S. has powerful offensive and defensive capabilities there, an escalating confrontation carries significant risks. National Security Council officials warn that our critical infrastructure–including the electricity grid, transportation sector and energy networks–is vulnerable to first strikes; others say attacks on private companies, stock exchanges and the media could affect the economy. Senior intelligence officials even worry about Russia exposing U.S. espionage operations in retaliation. And while U.S. officials have “high confidence” that Russia is behind what they describe as a major influence operation, senior U.S. officials tell TIME, their evidence would not yet stand up in court.
And so with five weeks to go, the White House is, for now, letting events unfold. On one side, U.S. law-enforcement agencies are scrambling to uncover the extent of the Russian operation, counter it and harden the country’s election infrastructure. On the other, a murky network of Russian hackers and their associates is stepping up the pace of leaks of stolen documents designed to affect public opinion and give the impression that the election is vulnerable, including emails from the computers of the
Democratic National Committee (DNC). Meanwhile, the FBI alerted all 50 states to the danger in mid-August, and the states have delivered evidence of a “significant” number of new intrusions into their election systems that the bureau and their colleagues at the Department of Homeland Security “are still trying to understand,” a department official tells TIME.
All of which makes Donald Trump’s repeated insertion of himself into the U.S.-Russia story all the more startling. Trump has praised Putin during the campaign, and at the first presidential debate, on Sept. 26, he said it wasn’t clear the Russians were behind the DNC hack. But the U.S. intelligence community has “high confidence” that Russian intelligence services were in fact responsible, multiple intelligence and national security officials tell TIME. Trump was informed of that assessment during a recent classified intelligence briefing, a U.S. official familiar with the matter tells TIME. “I do not comment on information I receive in intelligence briefings, however, nobody knows with definitive certainty that this was in fact Russia,” Trump told TIME in a statement. “It may be, but it may also be China, another country or individual.”
Russia’s interference in the U.S. election is an extraordinary escalation of an already worrying trend. Over the past 2½ years, Russia has executed a westward march of election meddling through cyberspace, starting in the states of the former Soviet Union and moving toward the North Atlantic. “On a regular basis they try to influence elections in Europe,” President Obama told NBC News on July 26. With Russia establishing beachheads in the U.S. at least since April, officials worry that in the final weeks of the campaign the Russian cybercapability could be used to fiddle with voter rolls, election-reporting systems and the media, resulting in confusion that could cast a shadow over both the next President and the democratic process.
Spencer Platt, GETTY IMAGES
USA Today, for the first time in its 36-year history, is taking a side in a presidential race, urging readers to vote against Donald Trump.
The newspaper, one of the most widely circulated in the country, published a scathing critique of the Republican nominee on Thursday, arguing that no presidential contest until now has warranted such a statement.
“This year, the choice isn’t between two capable major party nominees who happen to have significant ideological differences,” reads the editorial. “This year, one of the candidates — Republican nominee Donald Trump — is, by unanimous consensus of the Editorial Board, unfit for the presidency.”
The editorial continues: “From the day he declared his candidacy 15 months ago through this week’s first presidential debate, Trump has demonstrated repeatedly that he lacks the temperament, knowledge, steadiness and honesty that America needs from its presidents.”
The editorial lists reasons to vote against Trump, including his prejudiced rhetoric, his erratic temperament, his “checkered” business history and his dishonesty.
The paper stopped short of endorsing Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
“Stay true to your convictions,” the board urged readers. “That might mean a vote for Clinton, the most plausible alternative to keep Trump out of the White House. Or it might mean a third-party candidate. Or a write-in. Or a focus on down-ballot candidates who will serve the nation honestly, try to heal its divisions, and work to solve its problems.
“Whatever you do, however, resist the siren song of a dangerous demagogue,” concludes the editorial. “By all means vote, just not for Donald Trump.”
USA Today’s editorial adds to a string of high-profile, anti-Trump statements by newspapers, including right-leaning publications.
On Tuesday, the Arizona Republic endorsed Clinton, the first time the paper hasn’t endorsed a Republican candidate in 126 years. (The paper has since lost subscribers.) The Cincinnati Enquirer made a similar break with a 100-year tradition by endorsing Clinton. (USA Today, the Arizona Republic and the Cincinnati Enquirer are all owned by Gannett.) The Dallas Morning News endorsed Clinton in June, and the New Hampshire-based Union Leader endorsed Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson, breaking a 100-year streak of backing Republicans.
While the influence of newspaper endorsements has declined along with readership, surprising statements still have an impact. A 2008 study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that newspaper endorsements matter most when they buck their own traditions.
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar,rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.