Absent a significant possibility for a third party candidate to win the U.S. presidency, I’m pretty much ending my coverage of the 2016 race. Anything said by either major party candidate can be dismissed as bullshit. The polls this year are bullshit. So we know nothing until we have actual election results and begin to see what the president-elect does. In the meantime, I perform no service in regurgitating the propaganda of either campaign.
It appears that many neoconservatives who detest Donald Trump will indeed back Hillary Clinton. This shouldn’t be terribly surprising: Her disastrous foreign policy record is, in significant part, their foreign policy record and she enthusiastically followed up on her husband’s neoliberal push with advocacy of her own both during her husband’s presidency and since. Since, for neoconservatives, neoliberalism is a moral imperative, she should by all rights, except for her negligence with classified information in email, absolutely be their candidate. But, for the most part, they also weren’t able to acknowledge that they got nearly everything they wanted on foreign policy from Barack Obama.
“If you’re for somebody, you either have to leave and go to work for their campaign or you have to shut up. You cannot have this kind of dialogue at the [Democratic National Committee]. I don’t get it at all.” But some commentators continue to insist that Hillary Clinton won “fair and square,” which is entirely to deny that a clearly biased DNC had any impact at all with its thumb on the scales. It’s yet another way in which Clinton benefits from special treatment, yet just like wealthy and powerful people generally, acts like she earned her privilege.
So the Democratic National Committee does everything it can to sabotage Bernie Sanders’ campaign. Then Hillary Clinton chooses a vice presidential candidate who supports Wall Street and, until he got selected by Clinton, supported the TransPacific Partnership. Then she assures now-outgoing Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz a golden parachute. And now they’re surprised when his supporters don’t take it lying down at the convention?
Updated for a report that Hillary Clinton hired Debbie Wasserman Schultz upon her resignation from the Democratic National Committee. Also, updating yesterday’s Daily Bullshit, it turns out that in January, Politifact rated Schultz’s claim that the scheduling of debates had increased the audience false. Yesterday’s post has been updated.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Florida congresswoman, said in a statement that she would resign from her post [as chairwoman] at the [Democratic National Committee] at the end of this week’s convention. She said she would still open and close the gathering and would address the delegates. . . .
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager blamed “Russian state actors” for hacking and leaking emails allegedly sent from senior DNC staffers to boost rival Donald Trump’s campaign.
Notice that the Clinton campaign doesn’t care one whit about the fairness of the primaries but implausibly seeks to divert attention to Donald Trump, whom they allege has support from big bad Russians. And apparently Schultz isn’t all that worried about fairness either: She should be hanging her head in shame, but no, she insisted on appearing. (My impression is that she will not in fact be appearing, but I have not confirmed this.)
To be fair, Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, also said, “Nobody in politics should be attacked for their religion, ever,” but that’s different from addressing the fairness of the process.
I’m as satisfied as anyone that the Democratic National Committee was biased against Bernie Sanders and tilted the primary campaign in Hillary Clinton’s favor. But while Zaid Jilani’s article is given a headline that suggests that bias, actual support for this claim in the article is muddied at best. There is one message in which DNC staffer Mark Paustenbach pitches a story line that the Sanders campaign didn’t have its act together and another in which he attempts to make more of alleged violence that apparently didn’t actually happen at the Nevada convention than there was (a sentiment apparently shared by Debbie Wasserman Schultz). But I don’t expect anyone to react kindly to being accused of bias—and that’s really what many of these messages are about.
A better argument would draw upon the two aforementioned Paustenbach emails and on DNC Chief Financial Officer Brad Marshall’s suggestion to question Sanders’ religion (for which Marshall has apologized) as evidence of a climate of opposition to Sanders within the DNC. We can easily imagine that these are the tip of the iceberg. It would also help to supply evidence refuting Schultz’s claim (Update, July 24, 2016: It turns out Politifact rated this claim false on January 20, 2016) that debates scheduled on weekends were in fact the “highest watched debates in 3 election cycles” and that they were a success.
In essence, Astra Taylor’s argument is that since much of the contact between police and vulnerable populations occurs in a context of raising revenue, we should set fines for traffic violations according to ability to pay and thereby shift the incentives. I’m remembering when I got pulled over for speeding just after I was passed by a Mercedes Benz (although I was in my rather nice 2000 Pontiac Bonneville SSEi at the time). And when while in pursuit of an older speeding vehicle, a highway patrol officer paused to shake his finger at me in the then-comparatively nicer same vehicle. So yeah, I guess I know from personal experience that cops do sometimes target the poor. Even if there weren’t so much other evidence available, it wouldn’t therefore be surprising that cops target subaltern groups at least some of the time.
Updated for Wall Street Journal coverage of Ted Cruz’s speech and further thoughts on the now even more sharply-defined fissure appearing within conservatism. Updated again for a report on the declaration of a state of emergency to facilitate a purge that’s already completely ridiculous in Turkey, yet more on Ted Cruz’s speech, yet more on the divisions within the Republican Party and within conservatism, and Roger Ailes’ resignation from Fox News.
Between #NeverTrump, Melania Trump’s plagiarism, and Ted Cruz, pundits are having a field day with the Republican National Convention.
If Ted Cruz had simply not mentioned Trump, it would have been a mild deal but not a huge thing. He did much more than that. He affirmatively not only refused to endorse Trump but exhorted fellow Republicans not to vote for Trump. Yes, he used the coded phrasing “vote your conscience.” But in context that meant with with crystal clarity: Your Republican identity in no way obligates you to vote for Donald Trump. Rather ‘vote your conscience’ and do not vote for Donald Trump. Because a conservative true to his conscience cannot do so.
It was, of course, much too late to vote against Donald Trump’s nomination; he officially won it Tuesday night. And it’s unclear who Cruz’s supporters would vote for in the general election as an alternative to Trump. But “[u]nlike Rubio, Walker, Pence, and so many others with 2020 ambitions, [Cruz] took a stand, even though it meant loud boos. He’s betting that his party isn’t the party of Trump. We’ll see if he’s right.” But what’s even weirder is that party officials and even Donald Trump apparently let it happen.
If Andrew Prokop is correct in suggesting that Cruz is “betting that his party isn’t the party of Trump” it’s also possible that functionalist conservatives and the Trump team are betting that Trump at least makes a decent showing in the general election:
The reaction has been fascinating. People who can’t stand Ted Cruz or weren’t fans are saying they have to give him credit; people who voted for him are declaring on Twitter they’re ashamed of theirvote. I keep hearing people say Cruz’s decision was selfish. The problem with this assessment is that it only pays off for him under one scenario. If Trump wins the presidency, Cruz’s life in the Senate is going to be miserable. If Trump loses narrowly, Cruz turns into the face of the GOP holdouts and he becomes a convenient scapegoat. Only in a scenario where Trump loses badly, and the party broadly agrees that nominating him was a terrible mistake, does Cruz look like the guy who was trying to take away the keys from a drunk driver.
Be all that as it may, any illusion of Republican unity is now shot to hell. We don’t know any more about the number of dissenters than we did yesterday because many #NeverTrump folks had already gone home. But the convention is where the image of Republicans uniting to take on the evil Hillary Clinton is supposed to take shape. Apart from chanting “Lock her up,” it hasn’t.
Nor should Ted Cruz be dismissed as an electoral outlier as I might with the neoconservatives inside the Beltway whom I thought to form the core of the #NeverTrump movement. First, while Cruz was still in the primary contest, he seemed to do a better job of appealing to social conservatives. Second, as the fusionist National Review rejected Trump, it endorsed Cruz. This is still not the kind of thing that necessarily makes a difference in the election this year, but it raises serious questions down the road about the relationship between authoritarian populists and paleoconservatives on the one hand and other conservatives on the other. And for the Republican Party especially, it divides the base between social conservatives and authoritarian populists.
There is of course the question of how much Trump can actually transform the GOP. That remains the biggest unknown. On the eve of the convention, Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam—respected, young, mainstream conservative intellectuals—published an essay in the New York Times that was largely Trumpian in its prescriptions, calling for less immigration, less foreign military intervention, more tax policy favoring the middle and working classes. Designed to appeal to the real interests of Trump voters. Yet the two cast their piece as “anti-Trump,” calling Trump a demagogue, and assuming that he couldn’t possibly implement their agenda. It’s a loss to Trump that he hasn’t won over people who so largely agree with him, but a sign too of the remaining power of the Republican establishment, which can make even people who mostly agree with Trump unable—so far—to see themselves as potential Trump backers.
Even if Republicans fail to defeat Hillary Clinton, they are already undermining her presidency. As I wrote on July 12,
Cops kill Black men and go unpunished. Hillary Clinton mishandles classified information and goes unpunished. The Bush administration not only illegally invaded Iraq but committed war crimes and goes unpunished. Bankers plunge the country into the worst recession since the Great Depression and go unpunished. But Barack Obama “insist[s] that we are not as divided as we seem.” This is Obama’s legacy before anything else: He took care of the powerful and left everyone else to twist on the vine.
Even if she didn’t have her own record to contend with, Clinton inherits the legacies of her husband and of Obama. That’s going to be a problem.
As of yesterday, over 50,000 people had already been detained, fired, or suspended Today, “nearly 10,000 people have been arrested while hundreds of schools have been closed. Nearly 60,000 civil service employees have also been dismissed from their posts suspended, forced to resign or had their licenses revoked since Friday.” And now, Recep Tayyip Erdogan declares a state of emergency to “in order to remove swiftly all the elements of the terrorist organization involved in the coup attempt.”
I erred yesterday in stating that over 20,000 people had been arrested in the purge. The correct phrasing from Gallup was “detained or suspended.” The posting has been corrected. In addition, we now have a report
that the education ministry fired 15,200 teachers across the country, while the interior ministry dismissed nearly 9,000 workers. Another 1,500 in the finance ministry were fired, as were hundreds more in the religious affairs directorate, the family and social policy ministry and prime minister’s office. The country’s higher education board demanded the resignations of 1,577 university deans.
The firings came on top of about 9,000 people Ankara has detained for suspected involvement in the attempted overthrow of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government.
Assuming Gallup’s email was correct, we might infer from this that something like 11,000 people had been suspended rather than detained “from Turkey’s army, police, and judiciary,” and now nearly 17,000 teachers and university deans have been fired.
I probably shouldn’t be using this kind of methodology. I don’t really have enough detail in either the Gallup email or Bredemeier’s report and, I’m supposed to say, it’s entirely too possible that I might have double-counted some people. That said, as of yesterday, the numbers above would seem to make a total of something like 37,000 people arrested, fired, or suspended. But today, the BBC reports that “[m]ore than 50,000 people [allegedly allied to US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen] have been rounded up, sacked or suspended from their jobs.” Which is to say, it’s not even possible to keep up. I’m reading this as the mother of all witch hunts with no end in sight. And it doesn’t help that women are feeling targeted: Among numerous examples, “[o]n Saturday, the day after the coup attempt, Veysel Taskin, an executive with the Trabzonspor soccer club, tweeted: ‘The properties and the wives of the infidel coup-plotting bastards are spoils of war’” and “people celebrating the government’s survival after the overthrow attempt shouted at [a woman] as they drove by: ‘Bitches, you too will get what you deserve!’”
Turkish media announced that:
15,200 teachers and other education staff had been sacked
1,577 university deans were ordered to resign
8,777 interior ministry workers were dismissed
1,500 staff in the finance ministry had been fired
257 people working in the prime minister’s office were sacked
Turkey’s media regulation body on Tuesday also revoked the licences of 24 radio and TV channels accused of links to Mr Gulen.
The news came on top of the arrests of more than 6,000 military personal and the sackings of nearly 9,000 police officers. About 3,000 judges have also been suspended.
Given the breathtaking scope of this purge, one does not have to believe that “[Gulen’s] philosophy mixes a mystical form of Islam with staunch advocacy of democracy, education, science and interfaith dialogue” to gather that Erdogan’s demand for his extradition from Pennsylvania, apparently still not formally filed, is more about settling a political score than it is any definitive evidence of Gulen’s involvement in the coup. It really doesn’t help that “[a] Turkish government spokesman suggested that the US should be able to extradite the cleric ‘on grounds of suspicion’ rather than requiring facts of the case against him.”
“[Meredith] McIver said the similarities between the two speeches occurred after [Melania] Trump read aloud passages of [Michelle] Obama’s speech as an example of ‘people who inspired her and messages she wanted to share with the American people.’ Ms. McIver said she wrote the passages down in her notebook and ‘later included some of the phrasing in the draft that ultimately became the final speech.’” Which means that Melania Trump was aware of the plagiarism and gave the speech anyway. Under such circumstances and assuming McIver’s veracity, I would accept Donald Trump’s decision not to accept McIver’s offer to resign. But Melania Trump clearly bears some responsibility.
Meanwhile, Niall Stanage’s claim that “[t]he Republican Party largely succeeded Tuesday in unifying around Donald Trump and getting its convention back on track” should be taken with more than a grain of salt. Much as I would appreciate vindication for my earlier certainty that Republicans would come out of the convention singing Kumbaya, Reid Epstein reports that “the combined allied forces of the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee had so demoralized the stop-Trump delegates that many of them went home, not bothering to participate in the Trump coronation.”
Sorry, but I was wrong and so is Stanage. The Republican Party may be mostly united but is by no means entirely united. Further, even those who support Trump largely do so out of antipathy to Hillary Clinton.
I continue to believe that #NeverTrump dissenters are mostly neoconservatives who are most prominent not for their numbers among the U.S. population but for the influence they have gained inside the Washington, D.C., beltway. Such influence does not translate directly into votes and, since a show of force did not materialize, we really don’t know how much strength the #NeverTrump crowd might have fielded on the convention floor. I’m inclined to think neoconservative electoral power is actually rather limited—they win only in alliance with social conservatives and authoritarian populists but because they may not be clear on these distinctions, they may very well overestimate their own popularity. Because Trump appeals to authoritarian populists and at least splits the social conservative vote, neoconservative dissent probably won’t matter much in terms of getting elected. It will matter, as it has since at least the Reagan administration, in terms of governing.
Updated for Ann Coulter’s comments on Roger Ailes’ alleged sexual harassment.
Apparently the number of people “detained or suspended” [note: phrasing corrected on July 20, 2016] in a purge following last weekend’s attempted coup in Turkey is now approaching 20,000. Gallup also reports that “[m]ajorities of Turks surveyed before the coup in 2016 expressed confidence in the military (84%), the local police (78%) and the national government (58%). Slightly less than half (45%) said they are confident in the judicial system or the courts.” No word yet on what they think now.
The #NeverTrump movement has now officially failed to prevent Donald Trump from securing the Republican nomination. It remains to be seen what neoconservatives do now, but as I have said previously, I’ve nearly completely lost interest in this election: Both major party candidates—Republican nominee Trump and Democratic presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton—are absolutely unacceptable to me.
As to Melania Trump’s plagiarized speech, Alan Levinovitz says everything I have to say about it, although I might be slightly more lenient on the word count and I might move more quickly in the direction of flunking a student for the entire class even if the plagiarism only occurs on one assignment. Excuses are irrelevant. This is a hard and fast rule and anyone who has ever attended an accredited university in the U.S. should know it. Levinovitz, however, is also correct to acknowledge cultural differences on the matter.
There is apparently some uncertainty as to Roger Ailes’ future at Fox News, but Ann Coulter (you didn’t seriously expect unimpeachable sources for a story like this, did you?) seems to think that Megyn Kelly would only come forward with a sexual harassment allegation if it was clear that Roger Ailes was on his way out. Apparently, Fox News denies that Kelly has made any such allegation.
This is all a little too rich for me. Ailes is the sort of person I’d basically prefer to ignore. He’s mostly full of shit and built a disreputable “news” network that reports shit. As far as I know, while most scholars might choose more diplomatic language than I use here, this view is widely, perhaps even nearly universally, held within academia. And as I watch this drama, I can only suspect that he holds some leverage over the Murdochs that is not being publicly disclosed.
I think it may have been Juan Cole who, observing the toll—a Deutschewelle article puts the number at over 8,000—that Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s purge is taking, sarcastically credited Ergogan for “quick detective work.” It’s a sham of course, as the Reuters report makes clear.
Meanwhile, a Deutschewelle analysis suggests the coup was better organized and came closer to success than earlier reports suggested.