Open Thread and Link Farm, About To Leave England Edition

  1. Here’s How Breitbart And Milo Smuggled White Nationalism Into The Mainstream
    A long read, but very interesting slash infuriating.
  2. Related: Vice Has Fired the Writer Who Told Breitbart’s Milo Yiannopoulos to ‘Please Mock This Fat Feminist’
    This is a rare case where I approve of firing someone for something they said in a private email. Broadly is an explicitly feminist site; a Broadly editor passing anti-feminist story tips to Milo saps the publication of all credibility.
  3. Civil-Rights Protests Have Never Been Popular – The Atlantic
    “… only 22 percent of all Americans approved of the Freedom Rides, and only 28 percent approved of the sit-ins. The vast majority of Americans—60 percent—had ‘unfavorable. feelings about the March on Washington.”
  4. The Jones Act – The Law Strangling Puerto Rico – The New York Times
    (Indirect link.) Completely appalling. Since this article was published, the Trump administration bowed to pressure to waive the Jones Act – but only for ten days, which won’t be enough.
  5. ‘Junk science’: experts cast doubt on widely cited college free speech survey | US news | The Guardian
  6. A female Marvel comics editor posts a selfie of herself and some female co-workers drinking milkshakes — and fanbabies throw a fit :: We Hunted The Mammoth
    I’m late with this story – I was aware of it at the time, but distracted by work overload so didn’t tune in. But it’s worth remembering, because the misogyny is so unhidden. “They are women and they work in comics! We must attack!” Includes a comment by youtuber Diversity & Comics, who has tens of thousands of followers, calling them fake geek girls.
  7. German Senior Homes Build Fake Bus Stops For Alzheimer’s patients
  8. Careful New Study Finds at Least Thousands in Two Wisconsin Counties Didn’t Vote Because of Voter ID Requirements, Confusion Over Them | Election Law Blog
  9. (18) The Left | ContraPoints – YouTube
    This 13 minute critique of the antifa left – in which vlogger Contrapoints plays both parts in a fairly friendly debate – is entertaining and well done. I think it makes some good points, but then, I would.
  10. ECHIDNE OF THE SNAKES: Too Much Push For Gender Equality In Tech? The MRAs Speak.
    Echinde comments on that New York Times article.
  11. Graphic Novel ‘This One Summer’ Tops 2016 Most Challenged Book List – NBC News
    “Most challenged” as in, people trying to get libraries to destock it. (If I’ve understood correctly.) It’s also a genuinely great graphic novel, one of the best I’ve read this decade.
  12. Roman Polanski is now facing a 4th accusation of sexual assault against a teen – Vox
  13. Examining the Origins of the Phrase ‘Black-on-Black Crime’ – CityLab
  14. A Nation of Snowflakes – The Atlantic
    “The greatest threats to free speech in America come from the state, not from activists on college campuses.”
  15. University of Wisconsin approves protest punishment policy
    “Other Democratic opponents charge that the policy doesn’t clearly define what type of conduct is considered disruptive. ‘Who’s going to show up to a protest if they think they could be potentially expelled?'”
  16. Take a look at this rather lurid 1959 magazine illustration by Mort Kunstler. Then read this post to be told something incredibly cool about the illustration. My jaw literally dropped.
  17. Study: anti-black hiring discrimination is as prevalent today as it was in 1989 – Vox
  18. As the Crow Flies – Pockets
    A lovely short comic story about a mom and her trans girl daughter.
  19. Guggenheim, Bowing to Animal-Rights Activists, Pulls Works From Show – The New York Times
    I’m not bothered that they pulled the works per se; I’m bothered that they obviously did so, not because they were persuaded that the words shouldn’t be displayed, but because of threats of violence.
  20. Only a quarter of Americans can name all three branches of government.
    Furthermore, “Nearly a third of Americans cannot name any of the three branches of government, according to the survey conducted by the Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC) of the University of Pennsylvania.” This is appalling in any case, but I wonder if part of the issue may be that people don’t know what the phrase “branch of government” means. (This poll is about a year old, btw.)
  21. Ender’s Game Is About Forgiving Hitler.
  22. Right-Wingers Are Claiming This Asian-American Doctor Who Took A Knee Is Too Privileged To Speak Out
  23. The Word History of Latinx | Merriam-Webster
  24. Seattle teen calls out her dad’s Native American art. He learns she’s right | KUOW News and Information
  25. A massive new study reviews the evidence on whether campaigning works. The answer’s bleak. – Vox
    With only a couple of fairly narrow exceptions, voters in a general election vote based on partisanship, and are not persuadable.

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64 Responses to Open Thread and Link Farm, About To Leave England Edition

  1. 1
    damigiana says:

    Thanks for finding the time to collect the links! Enjoy your trip.

    You make me feel so lucky living in Europe right now – even with Brexit and Cataluña and AfD and all the other problems, we can just hop on a (cheap) plane and visit all these wonderful cities. I should do it more often.

  2. 2
    hf says:

    “Ender’s Game” is a probably-deliberate portrayal of a world misruled by narrow Artificial Intelligence. If you don’t see why Card would write a book about that, see Slate Star Codex on Communism, computers, and linear programming.

    Card’s character Graff accomplishes feats of prediction he should be flatly incapable of, given how incompetent he appears whenever we see him act. The explanation the book offers for this discrepancy is that Graff gets advice from the Mind Game, a computer program which can manipulate Ender by grabbing images of his family (entirely on its own authority) and showing him an odd tableau involving his sister.

    There’s a scene where Graff sees the computer’s recommended schedule of battles for Ender. By this point he’s already decided to make Ender kill another kid – I infer this was the answer he got when he asked the computer a completely different question, and Graff doesn’t understand that the two need not be compatible. He actually pauses for a second and wonders if Ender will be rendered useless to them after this one-two punch. Then he does it anyway. Result: Ender is temporarily rendered useless to them, until Graff brings his sister Valentine to make him go back to fighting.

  3. 3
    Seriously? says:

    Ampersand, the story about the printing limitation sounds nice, but is at best misguided, and at worse deliberately deceptive. There is no way that anyone achieved, with the described technology, that quality. It’s nice to believe in human ingenuity, but anyone familiar with the technological process, the task is nearly impossible, involving pretty serious math to begin with, and unlikely precision in dye composition.

    I’ll bet serious cash the image in the article is NOT from a magazine published in the 50s.

  4. 4
    Mookie says:

    Seriously?, did you read the post Amp linked to? Your skepticism is addressed across several comments.

    A better example of the Comrade Zoltan illustration can be found here, along with other examples (2nd image, last image) of the same “trick” (double-page with full or nearly full color on one and duotone on the other). As the link confirms, this was a common enough technique, though often jarring and by no means as subtle as the original linked image suggests. There are a few examples here from James Bama*. Light sources were a common means of explaining the contrast, as in the original image, but not always.

    *Künstler modeled for Bama, funnily enough (he’s the one shooting)

  5. 5
    Sebastian H says:

    I sort of feel like the Ender’s Game commentor doesn’t realize that Card is Mormon or doesn’t understand the importance of it.

    Why invoke eugenics, at best a pseudo-science and at worst an excuse for controlling one’s “inferiors?” Why is it so important that Ender be a Third, to the point that Card gives the word a capital T? And why, oh why, the unnecessary and offensive hints at incest with his sister, the only member of the family that Ender is close to?

    Well, because the whole question of family bloodlines is super important to Mormons. Because the Chinese ‘one child’ policy was prominent at the time of writing (it became big news in 1979). And I’m not seeing the incest angle between Valentine and Ender at all. They are definitely wounded people who lean on each other, but I didn’t see that as having a sexual subtext.

    And once you bring in Speaker for the Dead, the idea that Card is pro-genocide is hard to support. The whole point of the cycle is that humans keep thinking that they have these unreconcilable relations with aliens that it turns out they don’t actually have to kill. Once you remember that Mormons were hunted down and killed in very recent memory and only survived by escaping to far away states, the whole thing becomes clearer–different doesn’t equal enemy. Difficult to understand doesn’t equal impossible to get along with.

    If you want to equate it to politics you don’t like you would be on much firmer ground seeing it as infused with a strong libertarian influence but colored in a Mormon direction (so it won’t go full rugged individual). It has a strong brush of “governments destroy the things they try to rule”.

  6. 6
    Seriously? says:

    Seriously?, did you read the post Amp linked to? Your skepticism is addressed across several comments.

    I had read the story, I did not read the comments. I am not surprised that other people got suspicious, as well. By the way, the skepticism is not addressed, it is confirmed.

    This technology was still in widespread use in Eastern Europe until the late 80s, and I bet is still in use in some places. Plenty of people will be familiar with it, and with what can be achieved in the real world.

    I am not denying that the artists had great skill and imagination. I just do not think that the author should have used an image that is probably from the original work by the artist, and not from the publication. At the time I read the story, it was implied the image was of the final product.

  7. 7
    Kate says:

    Once you remember that Mormons were hunted down and killed in very recent memory and only survived by escaping to far away states, the whole thing becomes clearer–different doesn’t equal enemy.

    This is the way I read it originally. I also don’t see implied incest in the relationship between Ender and Valentine.
    However, the numerical coincidences he points out between Ender and Hitler are a bit freaky -especially since the far right often places a lot of emphasis on things like that.

  8. 8
    Mandolin says:

    For what it’s worth, I’ve always been somewhat dubious about this claim re: osc. I mean, if it were proven, I wouldn’t be totally shocked, but It would be one of those demotivating disappointing surprises.

  9. 9
    Jeff says:

    Hope you’re enjoying your trip!

    On 2, I not only agree, I go a little further; In cases where private conversations are revealed, and those revelations have public impact…. We can’t put the genie back into the bottle. That’s why in the cases like the Vice reporter, or Donald Sterling, or the DNC Emails, we can be morally opposed to the illegal/immoral/unethical aspect of the way the information was disseminated, we can hope that the people who disseminated that information be held to account, but we can’t pretend that we don’t know what we know. The Vox reporter might never have allowed whatever bias he had to creep noticeably into his work, that Email might have been a moment of weakness in an otherwise virtuous lifestyle, but it’s out there, and his progressive cred is shot.

    It’s something of a catch 22, because these leaks often have exactly the outcome the person leaking them wanted…. But that seems unavoidable. So maybe the lesson is that it’s 2017… And cyber security is important.

  10. 10
    Harlequin says:

    I think I’m more persuaded by the essay the author links to about creating the innocent killer than I am about the Hitler connection. Though, like Mandolin, I wouldn’t be astonished to learn the Hitler connection was deliberate, either; I just think it’s less likely than not.

    I do read Ender and Valentine’s relationship as incestuous, though not necessarily sexual. They treat each other in a way I associate more with romantic partners than siblings. That said, I tend to find a lot of the sexuality in OSC’s books to be rather odd (particularly the Homecoming books, but really all of them), so maybe there’s just a disconnect between my brain and his in how relationships work.

  11. 11
    Nancy Lebovitz says:

    I thought the situation in Ender was that the adults conned him into genociding the aliens so that the adults would feel as though it wasn’t their fault. No?

  12. 12
    hf says:

    I thought the situation in Ender was that the adults conned him into genociding the aliens so that the adults would feel as though it wasn’t their fault. No?

    Yes, and since they were able to fool him and predict that they’d done so with near-certainty, they shouldn’t have needed Ender. Except that they’d forgotten how to use personal judgment. Like I said, this is a picture of a world mis-ruled by narrow AI.

    The people who were ultimately in charge didn’t necessarily know Ender would commit genocide, though they seemed happy after the fact. They didn’t need to know what would happen, because they largely handed over judgment to the Mind Game program.

  13. 13
    RonF says:

    Well, this being an open thread, I believe this is the place I can introduce a topic.

    Commenting from me will be light for an indefinite period, but I can’t let this pass. The BSA will admit girls to the Cub Scout and Boy Scout programs.

    This link and this link will give you more information. I can sum it up.

    Starting in the fall of 2018, sponsors of Cub Scout Packs will have the option of establishing all-girl Dens. Starting in the fall of 2019, sponsors of Boy Scout Troops will have the option of establishing all-girl Troops. The Cub Scouts will use the same program for boys and girls. The program details for the Troops have not yet been fully worked out but will be as close as possible to the program that is provided for the boys. Advancement will be the same, all the way from Bobcat to Webelos (Cub Scouts) and from Scout to Eagle (Boy Scouts).

    For those of you that unlike me have not spent 12 years of your youth and 25 years of your adult life in Scouting, here’s some salient details. Cub Scout Packs are organized into Dens. Dens are groups of Cub Scouts all in the same grade (4 to 8 Cubs is the recommended size) from 1st Grade through about 1/2 way through 5th Grade. Dens are where all the work on rank advancement goes on, one rank per year and everyone pretty much gets their rank at the same time. They meet anywhere from 2 to 4 times a month, either at the school, church or at the Den Leader’s house, the Den Leader generally being a parent of one of the Den’s members. The Pack is essentially an umbrella group for the Dens. They meet once a month. The Cubs show off what they’ve done in the Den meetings, maybe do a song or a skit, patches are handed out and this is where campouts and field trips are planned and run. Everything is run by the adults.

    Boy Scout Troops cover generally from the middle of 5th Grade through High School. They are organized into Patrols. The Patrols are generally (but are not required to be) organized by age. They are led by a Patrol Leader, which is one of their members who is elected by those members. The Troop as a whole elects a Senior Patrol Leader. The Troop as a whole meets once a week and a good Troop will have 8 – 10 weekend campouts plus a week of summer camp every year. The PL’s and SPL get together once a month to plan the Troop’s program, and they run the meetings, not the adults (if the Troop is being run correctly). Advancement work happens at Troop meetings and at campouts – you cannot advance without going on campouts. All the Scouts in a Patrol tend to advance through the first 4 ranks (Scout, Tenderfoot, 2nd Class, 1st Class) at similar rates, but unlike Cub Scouts advancement does NOT happen in lockstep, especially as the Scouts work on the higher ranks (Star, Life and Eagle). There’s much more emphasis on individual initiative for the higher ranks. Patrols can have separate meetings and campouts from Troop meetings and campouts if they wish.

    So, what do I think of this? I think it’s fine, as long as a) nobody goes to court and tries to force sponsors to make their units co-ed, and b) the rank requirements are the same within physical limitations. I know that there are girls out there who have no intention of joining the GSUSA (or joined for a year or two and then quit) who would love to do the BSA program, so for the GSUSA to complain is just too bad for them. They can change their program anytime they want, but haven’t. Right now the BSA is far more diverse than the GSUSA is, and this change will make that difference even broader. If a local group wants to start up a all-girl Troop and needs some help in starting up I’ll be glad to lend a hand. I think this program will be of great benefit to them, to their daughters and to the country as a whole. Will this cause some people to leave Scouting? Probably. I’ll be sad to see them go.

  14. 14
    nobody.really says:

    “Despite the continued debate and legal wrangling over whether college affirmative action efforts are too aggressive, black and Hispanic freshmen were more underrepresented at the nation’s top schools in 2015 than they were in 1980.”

    (Side issue: Is there a better way to say “more underrepresented”?)

  15. 15
    Jake Squid says:

    (Side issue: Is there a better way to say “more underrepresented”?)

    Underrepresenteder.

  16. 16
    Harlequin says:

    Less represented seems like the obvious choice….

  17. 18
    Harlequin says:

    I found these musings on the same topic a lot more persuasive. (Of course, the lack of a random pot-shot at people in my occupation probably biased me.)

  18. 19
    Elusis says:

    Is political correctness hurting Marvel Comics?

    Bettridge’s Law of Headlines.

  19. 20
    Charles says:

    Interesting post on the extreme (and explicit) partisan gerrymandering in North Carolina, which is going to trial.

  20. 21
    Ampersand says:

    That was interesting, thanks.

    And thanks for that link, Elusis. Hilarious and apt.

  21. 22
    RonF says:

    That’s a good one, Elusis!

  22. 23
    RonF says:

    nobody.really @ 14:
    That got me interested to look at MIT’s record. I can guarantee that the percentage of American blacks and Hispanics has increased greatly over 1980; hell, for that matter when I went there (before 1980, but not by that much) it was 10:1::male:female – now it’s 54:46. Here’s a table showing the breakdown for the most recently admitted class:

    Citizenship & Self-Reported Ethnicity*

    US Citizens & Permanent Residents*
    American Indian/Alaskan Native 2%
    Asian American 33%
    Black/African American 10%
    Hispanic/Latino 14%
    Native Hawaiian/ Pacific Islander 0%
    White/Caucasian 48%
    No Response 1%
    *Total exceeds 100% of class because U.S students may indicate more than one race/ethnicity.
    International Students (from 62 different countries) 11%

    According to Wikipedia, the percentage of Native Americans in the overall population is 0.8%, of Asian-heritage people 5.1% and of blacks 12.5% and of Hispanics (who may be of any race) 17.1%. So it seems that the Institute is holding serve. I wonder who those other schools are?

  23. 24
    RonF says:

    O.K. – checked the article and looked at their stats for the % of 18-year-olds in the population, which is higher. But even so MIT is (as usual) much better than Harvard and many of the rest of those schools. And the point is well made in the article that by the time a kid is applying to MIT or the Ivy League the die is cast as to whether or not they will be qualified for admission, and that the reality of the American K – 12 educational system is that a higher percentage of black and Hispanic kids than white or Asian kids are not going to be at a point where they can be expected to graduate from those schools should they be admitted. Even there, the percentage of admitted students who graduate in 6 years is slightly lower for black kids than whites or Asians (and lower for whites than Asians).

  24. 25
    closetpuritan says:

    I don’t think that the careful parsing of whether it’s okay to run down protestors as long as your motivation is to get through and not to kill them, is necessarily salutary.

    The union helped organize the protest and President David Huerta said the four union members and two staff were “victims of what appears to be a deliberate and hateful crime.”

    Police disputed that.

    “I think he was trying to get through the crowd,” Lt. Adam Hawley said. “We don’t have any indication he was trying to harm somebody.”

    (I don’t necessarily assume that Lt. Hawley thinks he’s disputing what Huerta says in the quote, but the quote seems to minimize the crime [charitably, it could be an attempt to be reassuring] and is at the very least bad optics for the police department.)

    The demonstration did not have some of the characteristics that past apologists have mentioned as possibly excusing driving through protestors, e.g. protestors blocking the road with no intent to disperse, protestors not having a permit. I’ve seen no evidence that the driver felt threatened and it didn’t look like he had any reason to in the video (until after his car made contact with a protestor, anyway).

    The protest started with 150 to 200 supporters of Temporary Protected Status demonstrating near Royce’s downtown office around 1 p.m. The congressman was not in his office at the time. DACA recipients were also marching.

    The whole demonstration lasted about 20 minutes and remained peaceful, Carpenter said. Then at least part of the group moved into and blocked the intersection of Birch Street and Brea Boulevard.

    “We asked them to clear, and they did,” the lieutentant said.

    But while participants were heading back to their buses, a man slowly drove his car toward those who had not yet cleared the intersection.

    “The protest was almost over, and they were walking back when this car came to the crowd,” Carpenter said.

    An apparent video of the incident, posted on social media by UNITE HERE Local 11, which represents 29,000 employees who work at hotels, restaurants and other venues, shows an apparent protester slamming her hand on the hood and another woman hopping onto the sedan. The Toyota Avalon pushes through the crowd at slow speed, with one man ending up on the hood.

  25. 26
    Ampersand says:

    On another thread, Jeff wrote (quoting me):

    And it’s certainly not as if those same people took a serial sexual harasser and gave him literally the highest honor our country has by electing him President.

    This is just catty and cheap. Had Hillary Clinton won, would it have been fair of me to assume that everyone who voted for her was fundamentally dishonest and corrupt? Because you know… those people voted for her, and there’s significantly more evidence that she’s a corrupt liar than that Trump is a serial abuser (Although I grant that both are probably true.).

    The idea that Clinton is especially dishonest and corrupt is right-wing boilerplate, but unsupported by evidence; she seems, if anything, a little bit more honest than most major party candidates (which is not the same as saying she’s perfectly honest), and much more honest than Trump. Nor is the evidence of her corruption convincing; there is almost no politician who has been investigated more and with more hostility than Hilary Clinton, and yet nothing but thin speculations and circumstantial evidence has emerged. Are you confident that we’ll be able to say the same about Trump a few years from now?

    I don’t think you can make a case, therefore, that given a choice Clinton voters went for the dishonest candidate, unless you’re in the “any reporting about Trump’s lies is fake news” camp. Trump objectively lied more, and by voting for Clinton people voted for the less dishonest candidate.

    However, you can certainly make a case that Trump voters went for the serial sexual harasser, even though they had a choice of someone who wasn’t a serial sexual harasser.

    And by the way, evidence of Trump’s habits of sexual harassment includes not only the many, many accusers, but also Trump’s own admissions – both his description of himself barging into teenage girl’s dressing rooms so he can see them undressed (a claim of Trump’s which five witnesses have verified), and the famous “grab them by the pussy” tape. (ETA: Timeline of Trump’s Creepiness While He Owned Miss Universe.)

    P.S. It was catty. But I think conservatives have earned much, much worse disdain for electing Trump than just a little cattiness from me. Anger at people who’d elect Trump, and who support the system and party that elected Trump, is justified.

  26. 27
    Ampersand says:

    On the same thread, Ron wrote:

    It also seems that they demonstrated strong biases when it came to calling out sexually abusive politicians, as well. How many “feminists” called out Bill Clinton, or for that matter called out Hillary Clinton for her complicity?

    There was feminist criticism of Bill Clinton when the Monica Lewinsky story came out, including from major orgs like NOW. The criticism did fall short of calling for Bill Clinton’s impeachment, though, which I think is defensible, but if you disagree we can discuss that.

    And your suggestion that Hilary Clinton should be blamed for Bill Clinton cheating on her, or for his alleged rape of Juanita Broaddrick, is unfair. (I say “alleged” because it’s a her-word-against-his case. But to be clear, I believe Broaddrick.)

  27. 28
    nobody.really says:

    In the Weinstein thread, Amp and Jeff trade barbs about Clinton and Trump, culminating in Amp’s remark:

    Anger at people who’d elect Trump, and who support the system and party that elected Trump, is justified.

    Justified? Yes. Wise? No.

    Trump’s support is gradually eroding, but many commentators marvel that it hasn’t eroded more. We need to extend an off-ramp to as many Trump supporters as we can. I suspect that they don’t need to be persuaded that they’ve boarded a sinking ship. Rather, they need to see that they have a viable lifeboat–and that there’s someplace hopeful to row to.

    We Americans are not ridged, brittle “Trump people.” Rather, we are honest, hard-working Americans who trusted Trump to do as he promised—and he let us down.

    But we’re not dupes; we’re not victims. We’re honest, open-hearted people. Trump spoke to our hearts, and we trusted him, because that’s who we are. If anyone betrayed us, that’s no shame on us; that’s shame on them.

    We need to turn this country around—and, good thing, we’re just the people to do it. We’re in this together, and together we’re taking the country back. We’re going to push back against give-aways to the elites. And in the next election, we’re going to remind Trump who ultimately controls the votes in this country—and it ain’t him.

    We’re not weak, timid people: We proved that to the world when we picked Trump. Did that work out? No—but no shame, no apology, no self-pity. We’ve learned from that experience. We pick ourselves up. We square our shoulders. We face our problems head-on. We are not cowed. We’re bold people ready to chart a new path for our future, and get on with it. And to lead the next step on that journey, we pick….

    Well, let me get back with you on that. But the point is, we need a message of hope, energy, and forward action—not recrimination, condemnation, and shame. Save “I told you so” for Victory Night 2020. Or your memoirs. Or a deathbed speech. Or never; does never work for you? ‘Cuz honestly, it’s hard to find a good time for “I told you so”….

  28. 29
    Jeff says:

    I think you meant to put this in the open link thread… I wasn’t sure whether to post here or there, so I’m posting here for continuities sake, and if you have a way to move both over, I’ll check both here and there for replies.

    The idea that Clinton is especially dishonest and corrupt is right-wing boilerplate, but unsupported by evidence; she seems, if anything, a little bit more honest than most major party candidates (which is not the same as saying she’s perfectly honest), and much more honest than Trump.

    Back in my schoolin’ days, I took an ethics class, and one of the things that stuck was the playful name that my professor gave to the Comparative Virtue Excuse; he called it “The Doctrine of Relative Filth”. In order to defend Hillary, you couldn’t say she is honest, or not corrupt, you had to say, “she’s not the worst thing”, or “everybody does it”. That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement, and if you have to compare her to the spectacularly low bar of Trump… I’m just saying.

    The other thing of note is that while this might be a symptom of being in the public life and speaking as much as Hillary has, the fact is that you can go on YouTube, right this minute, and type in “Hillary Clinton Lies” and watch literal days worth of clips where she says things that are objectively untrue. I’m not comparing her to Trump, I’m saying she was bad, and I don’t really see you disagreeing.

    Nor is the evidence of her corruption convincing; there is almost no politician who has been investigated more and with more hostility than Hilary Clinton, and yet nothing but thin speculations and circumstantial evidence has emerged.

    I think that if Hillary Clinton was actually being investigated with hostility, James Comey wouldn’t have written the speech he planned to give when he announced that the FBI would not seek charges against her before even interviewing her. Right now, Mueller has brought charges before a grand jury on three people connected to the Trump campaign, not because of any crime committed in relation to Russia, but for the crime of lying to the FBI in their interviews. That’s what the difference between kid gloves and actual hostility looks like.

    Are you confident that we’ll be able to say the same about Trump a few years from now?

    Hell no. Shitty business practices in the private sector are materially different from corruption in the public sector, so I don’t think Trump has a history of corruption YET, although he sure as hell loves his nepotism. And in a couple of years of office, I have no doubt that Trump will rack up scandals, he’s too stupid not to.

    I don’t think you can make a case, therefore, that given a choice Clinton voters went for the dishonest candidate, unless you’re in the “any reporting about Trump’s lies is fake news” camp. Trump objectively lied more, and by voting for Clinton people voted for the less dishonest candidate.

    However, you can certainly make a case that Trump voters went for the serial sexual harasser, even though they had a choice of someone who wasn’t a serial sexual harasser.

    I don’t think people are that simple. If there was actually no difference between Trump and Clinton other than Trump’s “serial abuse”*, then perhaps those people WOULD have in fact voted for Clinton…. But there were so many other differences between them and and the majority of voters aren’t single issue advocates. I doubt very much that there was more than a scant handful of people who voted for Trump BECAUSE of all the things we hate about him, I believe that people voted for him despite those things… And simplifying the electorate that voted for Trump into “people that support abuse” is ridiculous. Run a better candidate, one you can actually call honest and clean with a straight face, directly, and then maybe you’d have a point. What does that look like? Sanders. Frankly, I think he’s wrong on economics, but I don’t think he’s dishonest or corrupt.

    *A term, I note, vague enough that I’m not really sure what exactly you’re referring to. The Billy Bush conversation? No women involved, although it might have been indicative of a bad attitude towards women in general. The contestants he called fat? Horrible, but if we’re calling that “serial abuse” we’re really stretching the term. Barging into a change room? Creepy in the extreme. But I think I could scratch together a better case for Hillary’s corruption from her relationship with Donna Brazile alone that you could Trump’s abuse, if we use a straightforward definition of the term:

    Donna Brazille worked at CNN and gave the Clinton campaign a copy of the debate questions Hillary would be asked. When this was discovered, CNN sacked Brazille. Democrats, never letting one of their own wander in the woods too long, immediately installed her as the interim chair of the DNC, which… It should probably be pointed out, this was in the middle of the party nomination process, of which Hillary, which Brazile had just been fired for supporting, was a contestant in. It should also be pointed out that the DNC was chairless, because Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, had just resigned in disgrace over the widespread impression from Democrats that she had biased the process in favor of Hillary over Bernie. Hillary agreed, by the way, or so it seems, at least, because it was less than a week after Wasserman-Schultz was shown the door before she was given a job as a campaign co-chair on the Clinton campaign.

    Now let’s play a game of “Where are they now?”

    Clinton is doing her best to stay relevant, despite not holding office and saying that she would not run again. After literally having a crew follow her as she took a “walk through the wilderness”, she came back and said that she was “part of the resistance”.

    Wasserman-Schultz is laying low after it was found that she was paying a foreign national who was under investigation for fraud and theft long after about 20 other democrats had dropped him like a hot potato and Debbie was caught on Camera threatening the DC chief of police with “consequences” if the police did not hand over her laptop, which was evidence in the investigation, over to her immediately.

    And Donna Brazile is currently working with the congressional black caucus, but you’d never know it, no one seemed to want to cover it. I think everyone is a little embarrassed about it.

  29. 30
    Ampersand says:

    Moved! (Along with my comment.) Thanks for pointing that out.

  30. 31
    Humble Talent says:

    And Oh. My. I wrote all that out BEFORE I just saw the news about Donna Brazile’s book excerpt.

  31. 32
    nobody.really says:

    [Many Trump voters] don’t need to be persuaded that they’ve boarded a sinking ship. Rather, they need to see that they have a viable lifeboat–and that there’s someplace hopeful to row to.

    We Americans are not ridged, brittle “Trump people.” Rather, we are honest, hard-working Americans who trusted Trump to do as he promised—and he let us down.

    [T]he point is, we need a message of hope, energy, and forward action—not recrimination, condemnation, and shame. Save “I told you so” for Victory Night 2020.

    [A] campaign [to win over Trump voters] would need to be waged more in sorrow than in anger, accusing Trump of broken promises, lamenting his administration’s inability to legislate, and promising to carry on certain parts of his agenda … but with more competence and tact. The challenger would need to … reach out to more populist Republicans … by asking why his infrastructure bill never happened, why his tax cuts haven’t done more for the middle class, why he isn’t doing more to stop outsourcing and bring back the coal industry and so on down the list of (yes, always-implausible) broken promises. And then instead of accusing Trump of being a racist or misogynist or authoritarian (as true as those accusations may be), the challenger would simply lament that after pledging to drain the morass of Washington the president let his administration be taken over by swamp creatures.

    The goal would be to create a permission structure for wavering Republican voters, the sort who dislike Trump’s Twitter feed and fret a little about the nuclear codes and say they “somewhat” rather than “strongly” approve of him, but thanking him for waging war on Washington and then moving on to a more competent alternative.

    Which also means that such a campaign would make the most sense coming from outside Washington, rather than from one of the senators who have opposed or criticized or resisted Trump to date. It would be a plausible fit, especially, for a governor….”

    Russ Douthat, NYT, “Can Republicans Escape Trump in 2020?”

  32. 33
    Ampersand says:

    I wrote my bits before hearing about Brazile’s book, too.

    Having read up on it, my take is that 1) this is by far the most convincing evidence of corrupt activity from Hillary Clinton I’ve seen. Secretly controlling the DNC, more than the norm, is gross and unfair. It’s legal, but it’s improper, and there are good reasons for it not being the norm.

    But Brazile claims it shows that the primary was rigged. And – unless there’s a LOT more in the book than we’ve seen so far – it just doesn’t.

    * * *

    In order to defend Hillary, you couldn’t say she is honest, or not corrupt, you had to say, “she’s not the worst thing”, or “everybody does it”.

    Yup. Hillary Clinton is a deeply flawed candidate. But – and perhaps you weren’t saying this – many conservatives claim that she’s extraordinarily corrupt and dishonest, hence the calls to put her in jail (which Trump ran on). It’s reasonable to respond to this by pointing out that Clinton is neither perfectly honest nor extraordinarily dishonest. And – even with the Brazile revelations – there is no evidence of Clinton doing anything illegal.

    But there were so many other differences between them and and the majority of voters aren’t single issue advocates.

    This is a reasonable point.

    However, don’t forget that Republicans also had multiple viable, major, mainstream GOP candidates to choose from during the primary, none of whom they showed any real interest in chose. So it’s not just Clinton that’s the comparison here.

    Shitty business practices in the private sector are materially different from corruption in the public sector, so I don’t think Trump has a history of corruption YET, although he sure as hell loves his nepotism.

    People in the private sector can’t be corrupt? Corruption in the private sector don’t count? That’s ridiculous. First of all, nepotism is just like what Brazile says Clinton did – corrupt and a bad idea, but not illegal. Second of all, Trump is famous for refusing to pay contractors – there are literally hundreds of cases. Third, he conned thousands of people with the Trump University scam, which Trump had to pay $25 million to settle. Fourth, Trump also vigorously defended his family’s practice of discriminating against Black tenants when he was running his family’s properties. Fifth, Trump literally takes money given to his charity and uses it to settle his personal debts. (Many more cases of Trump’s business corruption are discussed here.)

    His record of corruption far, far outstrips Clinton’s, or any other presidential nominee in my lifetime from either major party.

    It’s also obvious that Trump is using his position as President to shift taxpayer money into his own pockets (for instance, by forcing the secret service to pay him exorbitant rents), and to benefit his private businesses. This is, again, legal but also corrupt.

    Donna Brazille worked at CNN and gave the Clinton campaign a copy of the debate questions Hillary would be asked.

    Well, sort of. She gave copies of two questions Brazile apparently thought that Clinton would be asked during primary debates. Neither question was actually asked unless you squint really, really hard.

    For example, Brazile told the Clinton campaign that Clinton would be asked:

    19 states and the District of Columbia have banned the death penalty. 31 states, including Ohio, still have the death penalty. According to the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, since 1973, 156 people have been on death row and later set free. Since 1976, 1,414 people have been executed in the U.S. That’s 11% of Americans who were sentenced to die, but later exonerated and freed. Should Ohio and the 30 other states join the current list and abolish the death penalty?

    Jennifer Palmieri, director of communications for the Clinton campaign, wrote back saying that Clinton is asked this all the time, and sent the campaign’s standard answer to the question to Brazile.

    But during the town-hall style debate, here’s the actual question about the death penalty Clinton was asked:

    Host: Secretary Clinton, since 1976, we have executed 1,414 people in this country. Since 1973, 156 who were convicted have been exonerated from the death row. This gentleman here is one of them. This is Ricky Jackson, wrongfully convicted of murder in 1975, he spent 39 years in prison. He is undecided. Ricky, what is your question?

    Ricky: I did spend 39 years of my life in prison for a crime of murder I did not commit, and it was only through heroic efforts of the Ohio Innocence Project at the University of Cincinnati that I was ultimately exonerated and am able to stand before you today. […] Senator, I spent some of those years on death row, and — excuse me, I’m sorry. I came perilously close to my own execution, and in light of that, what I have just shared with you and in light of the fact that there are documented cases of innocent people who have been executed in our country, I would like to know how can you still take your stance on the death penalty in light of what we know right now?

    It looks like Brazile had access to notes about what the host would say – but not to the actual question asked.

    The same thing happened with the other question Brazile shared – she got the topic (water crisis in Flint Michigan) right, although since the debate was taking place in Flint, I think literally everyone in the world knew in advance that there’d be such a question. But the actual question asked, was not what Brazile claimed it would be. Brazile said this:

    One of the questions directed to HRC tomorrow is from a woman with a rash. Her family has lead poison and she will ask what, if anything, will Hillary do as president to help the ppl of Flint.

    The question Clinton was actually asked, was this:

    After my family, the city of Flint and the children in D.C. were poisoned by lead, will you make a personal promise to me right now that, as president, in your first 100 days in office, you will make it a requirement that all public water systems must remove all lead service lines throughout the entire United States, and notification made to the — the citizens that have said service lines?

    There’s zero evidence that Clinton was ever told what Brazile said, so citing this scandal as evidence of Clinton’s corruption seems weird. There’s not even evidence that Clinton’s campaign took Brazile’s tips seriously – the response Brazile got to the death penalty tip seems like a brush-off. Nor is there any real way that Brazile telling them the wrong questions could have materially helped Clinton.

    I do think that this scandal shows that 1) Brazile is extremely dishonest, and 2) she may be the sort of person who pretends to knowledge she doesn’t actually have.

    The Billy Bush conversation? No women involved, although it might have been indicative of a bad attitude towards women in general.

    Trump literally claimed that he assaulted women. If he was lying, then it’s indicative (not “might be”) of a bad attitude towards women. If he’s telling the truth, then he committed sexual assault. Why is this difficult for you to understand?

    Barging into a change room? Creepy in the extreme.

    And sexual harassment. (And, according to both his accusers and to Trump himself, he did this more than once).

    And those are only the two habits of sexual abuse that Trump himself has admitted to on tape. He’s been accused of much worse, by a large number of accusers.

    I think that if Hillary Clinton was actually being investigated with hostility, James Comey wouldn’t have written the speech he planned to give when he announced that the FBI would not seek charges against her before even interviewing her.

    Comney is far from the only person to have investigated Clinton – and he probably handed the election to Trump. Are you seriously going to claim, for instance, that the GOP investigations of Benghazi were not hostile to Clinton?

  33. 34
    Ampersand says:

    The other thing of note is that while this might be a symptom of being in the public life and speaking as much as Hillary has, the fact is that you can go on YouTube, right this minute, and type in “Hillary Clinton Lies” and watch literal days worth of clips where she says things that are objectively untrue.

    Not gonna do this.

    First of all, I already agreed that Clinton lied. All major presidential candidates, Bernie included, lie. Or misspeak in a way that’s tantamount to lying.

    Without excusing Clinton, Sanders, or Trump, I think that it’s an almost inevitable result of our system; anyone who speaks as an advocate every day, again and again, for over a year, in an incredibly high-pressure situation, and has every word gone over with a fine-tooth comb, is going to be caught in mistruths, and those mistruths will be slanted in a way that favor’s the speaker’s views. “Look at how many Youtube videos there are!” is a standard that I doubt any politician who gets as far as being the nominee could pass. Also, “number of Youtube videos” is more a measure of how many youtube activists dislike a candidate than of anything else.

    So if you’re saying “Clinton was not a perfectly honest candidate,” or “Clinton told multiple lies,” I agree. But you can literally say that about any real candidate. It’s also the case that Clinton lied far less than most of the other candidates, and about the same amount as Bernie Sanders did.

    Data from Politifact, chart from the NYTimes:

    I’m not going to search for random videos for unspecified cases – that’s ridiculous. If you have a specific case to make, make it with specific links to prose sources, please.

  34. 35
    Ampersand says:

    A bit more context regarding Brazile’s revelations: Memo Reveals Details of Hillary Clinton-DNC Deal – NBC News

    However, the memo also made clear that the arrangement pertained to only the general election, not the primary season, and it left open the possibility that it would sign similar agreements with other candidates.

    Still, it clearly allowed the Clinton campaign to influence DNC decisions made during an active primary, even if intended for preparations later.

    “Nothing in this agreement shall be construed to violate the DNC’s obligation of impartiality and neutrality through the Nominating process. All activities performed under this agreement will be focused exclusively on preparations for the General Election and not the Democratic Primary,” the memo states.

    “Further we understand you may enter into similar agreements with other candidates,” it continues.

  35. 36
    Sebastian H says:

    I want to get a little ahead of the Clinton spin on the agreement before I talk about. I’m going to use exact quotes from the agreement to do so.

    1. Spin. It only had to do with the general election.

    From the document:

    Agreement by the DNC that HFA personnel will be consulted and have joint authority over strategic decisions over the staffing, budget, expenditures, and general election related communications, data, technology, analytics, and research. The DNC will provide HFA advance opportunity to review on-line or mass email, communications that features a particular Democratic primary candidate. This does not include any communications related to primary debates – which will be exclusively controlled by the DNC. The DNC will alert HFA in advance of mailing any direct mail communications that features a particular Democratic primary candidate or his or her signature.

    The bolded section is for the primary season, ONLY the part after “general election related” is for post primary activity. Also note that the communications director hire was for 2015, and was required to be one of two candidates authorized by Clinton. This shows that my interpretation (that employee control was to include the primaries) is correct. Also note that DNC was not to take action on ANY DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY CANDIDATE without vetting it through the Clinton campaign.

    2. Sanders and others were offered similar agreements.

    This is flatly false. No other candidate was offered employee control, no other candidate was offered budgetary control, and no other candidate was offered vetting rights before the DNC could action regarding other primary candidates. We’ve seen the Sanders offer and it did not include those three items. And that makes sense, because two different campaigns can’t have employee control, budgetary control, and final say on DNC communications. (Of course no campaign should have those controls, but you certainly can’t let two or three campaigns have it).

    If I read a document where Putin offered $10 million to Trump for employee vetting control of the top level people of some department, I would not be mollified by “Nothing in this agreement shall be construed to violate the US Government’s impartiality.” That’s just silly. I’m not very good at sneaky, so I can’t always figure out exactly what steps sneaky people take next, but I wouldn’t need to know

    1) Exactly which employees he got for his $10 million;
    2) Exactly what his plan was for those employees;
    3) Exactly how effective he was at implementing his plans with those employees

    in order to correctly identify the agreement as corrupting the institution. Those three things may be interesting and useful for other reasons. But I don’t need to know them in order to detect the corruption of an institution.

    I don’t need anything special to happen to Clinton over this. But I do want a future Democratic nominee who doesn’t do that kind of thing. I don’t know how to get that without talking about how I’m really not ok with it.

  36. 37
    Michael says:

    BTW, Barry, regarding your tweet about Captain America 275, I think DeMatteis intended the Jewish Protection Organization to be a parody of Meir Kahane’s Jewish Defense League. The problem is they’ve got NOTHING in common but a similar name. So instead of “Kahane is bad”, it comes across as “anti-Nazis that use violence are bad”.

  37. 38
    Ampersand says:

    Sebastian, I’m open to the idea that I’m wrong, but it seems to me that your point 1 just ignores this part:

    “Nothing in this agreement shall be construed to violate the DNC’s obligation of impartiality and neutrality through the Nominating process. All activities performed under this agreement will be focused exclusively on preparations for the General Election and not the Democratic Primary,” the memo states.

    That seems to categorically refer to the entire agreement, not just part of it.

    You do later say that it’s in the agreement, but you are not mollified by it. Okay, fair. But there’s a difference from claiming that the agreement didn’t state it, as you claimed in your point 1, and admitting that it did state it but saying you find it “silly,” as you said in point 2.

    This agreement does, at this point, look smelly as hell to me. But I’m not convinced it’s a smoking gun. (I’m not saying you are convinced of that.)

  38. 39
    Ampersand says:

    Michael, thanks! That would make sense if it were DeMatteis’ intention. But as you say, it didn’t come across in the story.

    Oh, and in case anyone’s interested, here’s the tweet Michael was responding to.

  39. 40
    Ampersand says:

    Also

    Former Democratic National Committee head Donna Brazile writes in a new book that she seriously contemplated replacing Hillary Clinton as the party’s 2016 presidential nominee with then-Vice President Biden in the aftermath of Clinton’s fainting spell, in part because Clinton’s campaign was “anemic” and had taken on “the odor of failure.”

    In an explosive new memoir, Brazile details widespread dysfunction and dissension throughout the Democratic Party, including secret deliberations over using her powers as interim DNC chair to initiate the process of removing Clinton and running mate Sen. Tim Kaine (Va.) from the ticket after Clinton’s Sept. 11, 2016, collapse in New York City.

    As far as I know, the DNC chair doesn’t have the power to replace the nominee. Am I mistaken?

  40. 41
    Sebastian H says:

    I’m saying general language doesn’t make specific language ok. I’m not ignoring it, I’m saying it is a useless fig leaf to disguise what is really happening.

    When a candidate who is supposed to be vying for the nomination has hiring control, “obligation of impartiality and neutrality through the Nominating process” has already been violated.

    When a candidate who is supposed to be vying for the nomination has budgetary control, “obligation of impartiality and neutrality through the Nominating process” has already been violated.

    When a candidate who is supposed to be vying for the nomination has control over your press releases, “obligation of impartiality and neutrality through the Nominating process” has already been violated.

    You can’t have specific things like that under one of the candidates control and just say “oh but of course other than employee control, message control and budget control its all going to be impartial and neutral”.

    My point with the Putin analogy is that you don’t require employee control, message control and budget control without trying to do something with it. I’m not smart enough to figure out yet what Clinton thought she was getting out of it, but it was apparently worth a couple million dollars and was important enough to use serious control of. And even if she ended up being incompetent enough that somehow all that control was useless, it didn’t make it ok. (Just like the fact that Trump is often incompetent doesn’t make him non-corrupt).

  41. 42
    Ampersand says:

    Another quote from Brazile’s book, fwiw.

    I had tried to search out any other evidence of internal corruption that would show that the DNC was rigging the system to throw the primary to Hillary, but I could not find any in party affairs or among the staff. I had gone department by department, investigating individual conduct for evidence of skewed decisions, and I was happy to see that I had found none.

    Which creates a problem for those who are saying that Brazile’s book proves that Clinton rigged the election.

    In the end, I’m thinking that this agreement is like nepotism. Not every nepotistic hire is bad; some nepotistic hires do genuinely good work at their jobs. But it’s bad because it creates a huge conflict of interest, which should be avoided as a matter of policy.

    I’m not convinced by what I’ve read so far that Clinton actually did anything that can reasonably be called “rigging” the primary. But having a primary candidate have that much control over the DNC creates an obvious potential for a huge conflict of interest, and it shouldn’t have happened.

  42. 43
    Sebastian H says:

    I also want to be clear that I don’t want to use ‘rigged’ in the sense of “Sanders would have won BUT FOR this agreement”. I don’t think it is helpful to worry about counterfactuals that way because there are a million factors. This agreement is definitely a sign of the kind of corrupt relationship that Sanders alleged existed between the Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party establishment structure. Its that kind of corrupt relationship that I want the Democratic Party to NOT engage in during the future. And if there was some way of highlighting that without talking about Clinton/Clintons I would do so. But when you want to talk about corrupt looking stuff in the Democratic Party the Clintons are often there, so there we are.

    (See also the Clinton Foundation. Can we all agree that if donations to the Clinton Foundation are way down this year, that is at least some evidence that some corruption is implicated? If it was just a big charity shouldn’t it still be as good this year?)

  43. 44
    Harlequin says:

    Can we all agree that if donations to the Clinton Foundation are way down this year, that is at least some evidence that some corruption is implicated? If it was just a big charity shouldn’t it still be as good this year?)

    The Clinton Foundation was in the news a lot–even though corruption was never proved–and the Clintons’ “brand” suffered through the campaign last year. People might not want to be associated with it regardless of its effectiveness and level of corruption. (I mean, if there had been a Weinstein Fund that operated totally independent of Harvey Weinstein but did good work, I would still expect that its contributions would be falling sharply right now.) It’s also true that some people may have donated to the foundation expecting to receive benefits who have now stopped–but that doesn’t mean they got. or would have gotten, the benefits they assumed they would.

    I don’t know enough about the high-level organization of political parties to say much about the DNC. But, based on my casual reading, it seems like the story taken as a whole–in particular, the fact that the party was so much in debt and so rudderless to begin with–reflects at least as badly on Obama as it does on Clinton. I haven’t seen that discussed nearly as much, though, of course, I consume only a small selection of political media.

  44. 45
    Ampersand says:

    I’m saying general language doesn’t make specific language ok. I’m not ignoring it, I’m saying it is a useless fig leaf to disguise what is really happening.

    I’m sure you do say that. But I’m not just going to accept your opinion about “what is really happening” on faith.

    I’m not smart enough to figure out yet what Clinton thought she was getting out of it, but it was apparently worth a couple million dollars and was important enough to use serious control of.

    There’s a non-mysterious reason Clinton would want to bail out the DNC – she didn’t want the DNC to go bust because that would have been awful for her candidacy in the general election. And although it’s possible she wanted control for nefarious reasons, it’s also possible that she wanted control because she didn’t trust the DNC to be able to manage its own affairs or hire competent people. (Which would have been somewhat justified, if she believed that a better-run DNC wouldn’t have been broke going into an election year.)

    I don’t think that it’s plausible that this deal was signed because Clinton was worried about beating Sanders (which may not be what you believe, but I’ve seen people suggest this). In mid-2015, everyone – and certainly everyone in Clinton’s circle – was expecting Clinton to sail to the nomination without significant opposition. No one in Clinton’s circle was taking Bernie Sanders seriously then.

    I also want to be clear that I don’t want to use ‘rigged’ in the sense of “Sanders would have won BUT FOR this agreement”.

    Okay. Thanks for clarifying that. (Sincere.)

  45. 46
    Sebastian H says:

    I don’t think this particular agreement was aimed at Sanders at all. It was aimed at whichever challenger came up, probably Biden as much as anyone. The point is that it was an attempt to control the DNC which was supposed to be neutral as to the primary candidates.

    “And although it’s possible she wanted control for nefarious reasons,”

    This feels like an unfair way of looking at it. I might say “for entitled reasons”. I’m not saying that she took over the DNC to commit genocide. She did it to consolidate her own personal political power, which I’m certain she believes is for wonderful reasons. The point is that the very best fact that can be put on it is something like “Nobody serious would dare challenge me at this point so I might as well gain control of the DNC in the way that is reserved for the winner of the nomination now (more than a year before the first vote has been cast) because I’m going to win anyway and it would be better if I had full control of it for two years rather than 5 months.”

    That’s not ‘nefarious’. But it is off the charts entitled. And that is pretty much the best case scenario I can come up with. Everything else is much more “if I gain control I can make sure that those who challenge me can’t succeed”. The secrecy makes me feel like that latter is more likely.

    Which brings me to “I’m sure you do say that. But I’m not just going to accept your opinion about “what is really happening” on faith.”

    I’m not asking you to accept anything on faith. What really happened is that Clinton leveraged fundraising money which she was not permitted to raise on her own behalf into an agreement taking large amounts of control of the employment decisions of the allegedly neutral-among-primary-candidates organization. She also gained control of their messaging and their budget.

    If you believe those are actions easily interpreted as lending itself to “impartiality and neutrality” then we are disagreeing about what the facts mean. What I’m saying is that putting in the “impartiality and neutrality” in the agreement should do very little to sway you. At most it made it clear that they knew it darn sure was going to look highly partial and non-neutral. But it shouldn’t convince you that everything was fine just because they threw it in there. Prisons have written policies which clearly state that prisoners should never get beaten. If you get reports which make you think that prisoners might be getting beaten, the fact that there is a policy against that isn’t very strong evidence that it couldn’t be happening.

    The biggest problem I have is the way that every increasing revelation gets dismissed. During the primary there were grumblings of hundreds of little ways that the DNC tried to interfere with Sanders. But no, those were just individuals sometimes doing silly things. Ok maybe. Then we find out that the DNC isn’t as helpful to the Sanders campaign with donor lists and mailing opportunities as they are supposed to be. But that was just accidental. Then Debbie Wasserman Schultz seems a little too clearly against Sanders so she has to step down. But probably nothing substantive happened. Ok maybe. Then we find out that all along, since before Sanders entered the race, the DNC was essentially 90%+ under the thumb of the Clinton campaign including preauthorization on messaging, employee control, and budgetary control? And we are supposed to just shrug and move on? I’m willing to move on, but I want to condemn, make sure it doesn’t happen again and then move on.

  46. 47
    Mookie says:

    But it is off the charts entitled.

    Sebastian H, when you write “off the charts,” do you mean exceptional and without precedent?

    What really happened is that Clinton leveraged fundraising money which she was not permitted to raise on her own behalf into an agreement taking large amounts of control of the employment decisions of the allegedly neutral-among-primary-candidates organization

    You are referencing the use of a joint fundraising committee as it applies to the Hillary Victory Fund. Are you suggesting a JFC is an innovation of Clinton’s campaign?

    Then we find out that all along, since before Sanders entered the race, the DNC was essentially 90%+ under the thumb of the Clinton campaign including preauthorization on messaging, employee control, and budgetary control?

    Can you explain how a relationship between the DNC and the Clinton campaign affected the way states conducted the party’s primaries and/or determined their outcome? Edited: to put it another way, you characterize the DNC as “impartial” with respect to Sanders and Clinton as candidates for the party’s nomination. Taking into consideration how primaries operate and where the funds Clinton raised went once they were available for disbursement, can you explain how and where that impartiality manifested and what its effect was? Likewise, you mention hiring and recruitment. Can you name someone who was hired at the behest of Clinton’s campaign who had any involvement in the primaries? Thanks!

  47. 48
    Harlequin says:

    By the way, Amp–with the demise of scienceblogs, your blogroll now has two copies of the Pharyngula links! (It used to show the feeds for both the scienceblogs and the freethoughtblogs version of Pharyngula, but apparently the scienceblogs link now just points at the freethoughtblogs link.)

    And thanks again for the blogroll, as it helps me check in on blogs I don’t read regularly, but which occasionally have content I’m interested in.

  48. 49
    Ampersand says:

    Regarding my comment #40, the Washington Post misquoted (mis-paraphrased?), and have now quietly changed the wording of the article.

  49. 50
    Mookie says:

    And yet the edited piece (that finally acknowledged the editing) still says this, emboldening my own:

    Whenever Brazile got frustrated with Clinton’s aides, she writes, she would remind them that the DNC charter empowered her to initiate the replacement of the nominee. If a nominee became disabled, she explains, the party chair would oversee a complicated process of filling the vacancy that would include a meeting of the full DNC.

    I don’t know how to read that other than Brazile frequently threatened to up-end the campaign when she felt she was being mistreated by the campaign’s staff. Even clarifying how the process of replacing a candidate would work and what her (limited) role might be there, that is a pretty dazzling own-goal, admitting that she felt tempted to subvert the democratic process for revenge against perceived slights, one of which, I guess, was that HRC didn’t treat her pneumonia with acupuncture as Brazile suggested. (As others have noted, had she actually had the power to replace the nominee and had she done so, she wouldn’t have just been disenfranchising Clinton voters, but Sanders voters, as well, given that he’d be the logical runner-up here.) I really don’t understand why she is advertising any of this, but it’s both interesting and terrible timing if she’s invested in next week’s elections.

  50. 51
    Sebastian H says:

    “Sebastian H, when you write “off the charts,” do you mean exceptional and without precedent?”

    I mean that the only time the DNC was under the control of a candidate before the primary votes was when that candidate was already president and was running for a second term. So by ‘off the charts entitled’ I mean that in the best case scenario she was treating herself as entitled to the rights of a successful president running for second term.

    “You are referencing the use of a joint fundraising committee as it applies to the Hillary Victory Fund. Are you suggesting a JFC is an innovation of Clinton’s campaign?”

    No the existence of joint fundraising committees isn’t a Clinton innovation. But this one was supposed to be under the control of the party not the candidate. That is the whole way that they get around the individual fundraising cap–they aren’t under the control of the candidate. Technically the contributor gives to the cap level to the candidate and then again to the national party and then again to each of the state parties. But that is supposed to be controlled at the party level. What actually happened is that the state parties were supposed to give that money back to the national party with the idea that it would be used to fund the national party and then be allocated back to the states who needed it most in the general election. Even that is a little skeezy, but the whole agreement takes a complete different light when it is NOW revealed that funneling it back to the national party really meant just putting it back under the control of the Clinton campaign (from as early as 2015). That isn’t normal joint fundraising committee procedure at all. Which is of course why they bothered to hide it.

  51. 52
    Jeff says:

    I took a weekend off… Dammit.

    Barry at 33

    And – even with the Brazile revelations – there is no evidence of Clinton doing anything illegal.

    There’s a difference between “illegal” and “criminal”, Clinton’s Email server was almost certainly illegal, but proving criminal negligence was apparently too far a bridge for Comey and Lynch. The Clintons have absolutely broken laws, but laws are often for little people. Bill Clinton shaking hands at a polling booth was *clearly* illegal, even if charges were never laid.

    However, don’t forget that Republicans also had multiple viable, major, mainstream GOP candidates to choose from during the primary, none of whom they showed any real interest in chose. So it’s not just Clinton that’s the comparison here.

    And don’t forget that there were 17 candidates in the Republican primary. Donald Trump often captured less than a third of the support in individual states, but that third was still more than the share of the pie the other 16 candidates had, and Republican primary math is almost as convoluted as Democratic primary math. If off the hop the race had been Kasich, Rubio, Cruz and Trump, I just have to believe that Rubio or Cruz would have prevailed. Maybe that’s just wishful thinking.

    Corruption in the private sector don’t count? That’s ridiculous. First of all, nepotism is just like what Brazile says Clinton did – corrupt and a bad idea, but not illegal. Second of all, Trump is famous for refusing to pay contractors – there are literally hundreds of cases. Third, he conned thousands of people with the Trump University scam, which Trump had to pay $25 million to settle. Fourth, Trump also vigorously defended his family’s practice of discriminating against Black tenants when he was running his family’s properties. Fifth, Trump literally takes money given to his charity and uses it to settle his personal debts. (Many more cases of Trump’s business corruption are discussed here.)

    His record of corruption far, far outstrips Clinton’s, or any other presidential nominee in my lifetime from either major party.

    I actually took the time to separate all the items in there and respond to them individually… but it struck me halfway through that we are using vastly different definitions of “corruption”. Trump’s abusive policies towards contractors sniffs corruption, because my take on it was he always planned to stiff them, and so there’s an element of dishonesty there. And Trump University and his use of Charity dollars are almost certainly fraudulent… which could be construed as corruption.
    The rest… Not so much…. It’s not that private sector corruption doesn’t count, it’s that it’s different. Nepotism is a great example. It’s not corrupt for a father to hire his son in private business. It is corrupt for a father to appoint his son as the head of a government department. I think the difference has to do with the stakeholders, in a private company, the primary interest in the business is the owner, and in government, the primary interest is the people. The business owner might think that his primary interest is in seeing his kid succeed.

    But what really hung me up here is that I don’t understand the mindset that holds Trump accountable for things like this, but lets the Clintons off. Brazille said that Clinton bought the DNC, had veto power over hiring positions, and had her thumb on the scale while the nomination process was going on. That’s slightly more than nepotism, and the tip of the iceberg.

    The Clinton foundation is the obvious target, but with opinions ranging from “The Clinton Foundation is a clearing house for foreign influence peddling” to “The Clinton Foundation is a legitimate charity”, it’s hard to have that discussion. All I’d ask is for you to dig deep and answer this question:

    When Hillary Clinton took the job of Secretary of State, one of the requirements put upon her, that she agreed to, that she SIGNED, was an ethics agreement that the Clinton Foundation not take money directly from foreign governments, to avoid the appearance of impropriety. Once she was Secretary of State, she didn’t even make lip service at following that requirement, and the Clinton Foundation took a whole slew of cash from foreign countries, but for the purpose of this exercise, we’ll focus on the $1,000,000.00 that Quatar “gifted” the foundation.

    More reading here.

    Can you think of a way to spin that as anything other than corruption?

    There’s zero evidence that Clinton was ever told what Brazile said, so citing this scandal as evidence of Clinton’s corruption seems weird.

    It wasn’t that Hillary took the information from Brazile… Honestly, at the point in which it was offered, Clinton had better, more ethical options, but it’s not like she went out and asked for them. My point had more to do with the musical chairs shuffling that happened afterwards, and especially Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Brazile’s book excerpts… I feel are far too self serving to be taken completely at face value, but if even a fraction of what she wrote is true, than so much about how the DNC operated this last cycle makes so much more sense.

    Barry at 34

    Data from Politifact, chart from the NYTimes:

    Worthless. Sorry. Selection Bias. Politifact used to make pains to point out that because they could not possibly fact check every statement made by every politician, that their scorecards should not be used as an indicator of overall honesty… But somewhere along the way, that language disappeared from their website. As an example, Barack Obama said variations of the words: “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. Period” something like 20 odd times, and all 20 of those times were lies. So much so, in fact that Politifact called that their “Lie of The Year”…. despite never actually rating the words “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor, period.” as anything worse that half true. If you went by their scorecards, Obama was either telling the truth, mostly the truth, or a half truth, depending on the exact words. They finally rated “What I said was… If you like your doctor, and your doctor qualifies, you can keep your doctor” As a pants on fire lie. 1 out of 20 ain’t bad, right?

    Seb at 43

    (See also the Clinton Foundation. Can we all agree that if donations to the Clinton Foundation are way down this year, that is at least some evidence that some corruption is implicated? If it was just a big charity shouldn’t it still be as good this year?)

    Parts of the Clinton Foundation, like The Clinton Global Initiative actually shut down as a result of donations drying up. We aren’t talking about small change either, countries that donated tens of millions of dollars closed the tap basically overnight, and those countries made up the vast majority of CGI income. The entire Foundations earnings are basically half now what they were. The spin from Clinton supporters was that the attention focused on the CGI poisoned the well for donors…. But American donors are still basically giving what they were previously. Go figure.

    Mookie @ 47

    Can you explain how a relationship between the DNC and the Clinton campaign affected the way states conducted the party’s primaries and/or determined their outcome? Edited: to put it another way, you characterize the DNC as “impartial” with respect to Sanders and Clinton as candidates for the party’s nomination. Taking into consideration how primaries operate and where the funds Clinton raised went once they were available for disbursement, can you explain how and where that impartiality manifested and what its effect was? Likewise, you mention hiring and recruitment. Can you name someone who was hired at the behest of Clinton’s campaign who had any involvement in the primaries? Thanks!

    I’d point to situations like the time that someone at the DNC, which controlled information lists for all Democratic candidates, accidentally gave the Sanders campaign access to the Clinton campaigns proprietary information, and then when Sanders campaign advised the DNC of that, the DNC accused the Sanders campaign of illegitimately accessing their mainframe and cut Sanders access to the party’s voter lists and his own information for almost a week in the middle of primary season.

    Or the number of debates, and their schedule. The thought process here was that by scheduling so few debates and timing them mostly on weekends, it would be harder for Sanders, who may have been unfamiliar to voters, to get his message out, especially for the first few states.

    Or how about the Super Delegates? I’m just going to go out on a branch again and say that any political party that employs Super Delegates should be forever estopped from complaining about voter disenfranchisement. “But Jeff” one might say “Even without the Super Delegates, Hillary still would have won!” Well yes, person able to count, she would have. But The Super Delegates were able to lock in their votes before the first caucus was even held, so it looked like out of the gate Hillary was ahead by about 150 delegates. Did that skew voters? Did that discourage Bernie supporters? Was it material? I don’t know.

    That last one in particular was more a jab at the system than Clinton… Super Delegates were around long before this cycle. And to be clear: I have no idea if an unbiased process would have seen Bernie win the nomination. I just know he didn’t get it.

  52. 53
    Ampersand says:

    By the way, Amp–with the demise of scienceblogs, your blogroll now has two copies of the Pharyngula links!

    Whoops! Thanks for letting me know – I’ve deleted the sb link.

    And thanks again for the blogroll, as it helps me check in on blogs I don’t read regularly, but which occasionally have content I’m interested in.

    I’m glad! Let me know if there’s a blog you think I should add.

  53. 54
    Sebastian H says:

    On your Rehnquist cartoon you write “But doesn’t that give cops a huge incentive to say they thought hey were about to die no matter what the circumstances?” and “So even if a cop shoots a 9 year old kid, he just says he was terrified and he’s in the clear?” I agree.

    We shouldn’t accept self serving statements as particularly strong evidence.

    That insight applies to the Clinton agreement with the DNC where the agreement lays out a number of secret and concrete steps to introduce huge conflicts of interest with respect to DNC neutrality and then throws in a “but of course the DNC remains neutral” clause at the end.

    It isn’t IMPOSSIBLE that the police are really afraid every time they say they are, but it is appropriate to point out that there are systemic reasons to believe that such statements are more likely to be self interested than descriptive.

  54. 55
    Mookie says:

    What actually happened is that the state parties were supposed to give that money back to the national party with the idea that it would be used to fund the national party and then be allocated back to the states who needed it most in the general election. Even that is a little skeezy, but the whole agreement takes a complete different light when it is NOW revealed that funneling it back to the national party really meant just putting it back under the control of the Clinton campaign (from as early as 2015).

    Again, you are behaving as though this was a secret (“NOW” we know) and something unique to Clinton. It is not:

    “The process Hillary Victory is using has been common practice for a number of years,” said Bob Biersack, senior fellow at the Center for Responsive Politics. “The states always agree because they have no choice. Transferring the money back to the national party is a condition of participating. They do it in hopes of getting some good will from the national party down the road.”

    As for the degree to which the system really helps House and Senate candidates, Biersack said there isn’t a precise answer.

    He noted that the party’s congressional committees aren’t party to the deal. “If the goal was to support those campaigns, surely the national organizations most responsible would be participants. Traditionally the DNC and RNC are taken over by their presidential nominees during the election year, and the first priority for every spending decision is how it relates to the presidential race,” he said. “If that campaign were to become significantly less competitive, then the national party might well move to other races, but it would happen in that sequence and in those conditions.”

    The only novelty here, versus other elections, is that the frontrunner had to do so much of her own fundraising, while the unofficial party leader and vacating POTUS abdicated his traditional responsibilities in keeping the party’s purse hale and hearty. Again, there is nothing nefarious in raising money for your campaign and expecting to use some of it. The notion that states never saw any has been debunked, so if you want to claim that feel free to cite something that both supports and proves it, like numbers.

    I’d point to situations like the time that someone at the DNC, which controlled information lists for all Democratic candidates, accidentally gave the Sanders campaign access to the Clinton campaigns proprietary information, and then when Sanders campaign advised the DNC of that, the DNC accused the Sanders campaign of illegitimately accessing their mainframe and cut Sanders access to the party’s voter lists and his own information for almost a week in the middle of primary season.

    To clarify, no one at the DNC “gave,” accidentally or otherwise, anything to the Sanders campaign. A brief lapse in security by third-party data management software used by the DNC was discovered by a campaign staff member who then “probed” it, along with three people he managed. That happened some time around 16 December. On 18 December, news outlets began reporting limited information about the matter. Later that day, Sanders filed suit, and by the following morning access was restored.

    For the record, I don’t think for one minute that the Sanders campaign was doing something dubious here, had copied any truly pertinent information, or were trying to gain an unfair advantage. The problem, from my perspective, is that they’d apparently been telling the DNC about this for awhile. They knew, before the “probing,” that there was a glitch somewhere. So their motivation on 16 December must have been to document the problem with evidence, hence the acknowledgement both by the DNC’s investigation the following April and NG VAN in December that information during the “probing” may have been copied for external use, possibly working under the assumption that the Clinton campaign could already be exploiting the issue on their end. We now know that the Clinton campaign weren’t. But the Sanders campaign never reached out to them directly in the interim between the initial discovery and the “probing,” an easy solution to the DNC’s procrastination, especially if, as Sanders has alleged many times, Clinton wielded great influence over them. Now, the Sanders people didn’t have to do any of this during a busy campaign and it is not clear that any high-ranking staff were directly involved or had given their approval. It was a calculated risk, one that the IT community generally regards as dangerous because it involves behaving like a bad actor, even if one isn’t. You normally withdraw your own access to a compromised system, advertise this loudly, which the Sanders campaign is known for doing when they encounter something they regard as dubious, and refuse further engagement with the system until the problem is addressed.

    So, the campaigns weren’t in analogous positions to begin with. I don’t and didn’t agree with the decision to impede access for two days. And I do think that part of the reason they did so was because the Sanders campaign embarrassed them. But that has nothing to do with Clinton as Clinton, the frontrunner. Clinton didn’t create this situation, nobody was using it as bait, and if the DNC had wanted to hinder Sanders’s campaign on behalf of Clinton, there are easier, subtler means of doing so, because of course no one intended the access to be limited forever and the optics of this had already grown toxic, with Sanders immediately cast as a victim. So, this was sloppy, not malicious. And the options available to the DNC were limited: pull everyone’s access (not fair to Clinton who had done nothing wrong and whom nobody bothered to involve but who later shouldered most of the criticism) or leave it as is and allow both camps to be paranoid about the other’s doings while a permanent solution was put into place.

    Could and should they have done something else? Yes and sure. That they treated different campaigns behaving differently is not compelling when you’re arguing about different treatment, it’s just circular reasoning.

    Explain the mechanics of why the superdelegates matter here, if you could. How did the DNC force superdelegates to choose Clinton? Do you mean they freely did so because she was the first to unofficially launch her run, had been widely expected to do so, and was successful at early campaigning? Okay, that’s how primary seasons operate; the field narrows over time to coalesce around a single candidate because, yes, this is a popularity contest and no member of the party was polling well enough against her, the world’s most well-known American woman, a former First Lady, a former senator in the country’s second largest state, a former Secretary of State who polls excellent in the US when she is not running for POTUS. No, anyone running against her had an uphill battle. Why this basic fact of life is scandalous, I’m not entirely sure, but you can’t control for or somehow suppress knowledge of a person’s competence, recognition, and success because those things might give them an edge over their competition.

    But The Super Delegates were able to lock in their votes before the first caucus was even held

    Since the convention is where they cast their vote, by definition their votes were never “locked in” until well after the 1 February Iowa caucus. If you mean they decided, sure. Some changed their minds. Some were petitioned to do so. Some did not endorse any candidate publicly. Traditionally, they align with the popular vote and 2016 was no exception. Following his concession, Sanders encouraged them to vote in accordance with their state’s results. And I’m sure you’re aware that four Washington delegates actually did disrupt the democratic process by refusing to cast electoral votes for Clinton in defiance of their constituents’s votes. Again, her omnipotence is questionable.

    I have no idea if an unbiased process would have seen Bernie win the nomination. I just know he didn’t get it.

    There is no such thing, if what I’ve cited above indicates how you personally understand bias. It’s fine to “know” it, but you’re no nearer proving it.

  55. 56
    Jeff says:

    To clarify, no one at the DNC “gave,” accidentally or otherwise, anything to the Sanders campaign. A brief lapse in security by third-party data management software used by the DNC was discovered by a campaign staff member who then “probed” it, along with three people he managed. That happened some time around 16 December. On 18 December, news outlets began reporting limited information about the matter. Later that day, Sanders filed suit, and by the following morning access was restored.

    This is a complete semanticization, the vendor that acted as agent to the DNC absolutely did give access, I assume accidentally, to the Sanders campaign. Your definition of “brief” is subjective, but apparently a much different definition than what I use. And there’s no reason to assume that the people who accessed the Clinton campaign’s information acted at the direction of the Sanders campaign, especially since the campaign fired the supervisor responsible. More, my understanding, (although I admit it could be fuzzy) was that while Sanders got the access to his information back within a couple of days, it took significantly longer to get the party information access back.

    Regardless, I think you’re underestimating Clinton’s influence. The DNC at this time was headed by Debbie Wasserman Shultz, who was later fired for the appearance, if not the fact, of biasing the process in favor of Clinton, and was immediately hired BY the Clinton campaign upon termination.

    That they treated different campaigns behaving differently is not compelling when you’re arguing about different treatment, it’s just circular reasoning.

    Very few things in life work out so cleanly as you seem to expect here. The line you seem to be forwarding is: “If you can’t prove it…. If we don’t know it, then I don’t accept it.” If you remove these situations from their context, if you forget who Hillary, Brazile, Wasserman Shultz, and a good chunk of DNC management are, then sure, this could be one giant coincidence. But the context of the players matter. We know these people, we know how they operate, and I have no idea how you maintain your default position of extreme skepticism in the face of their actions. And oh my… if only some of the people on your side of the aisle put even a fraction of that standard of evidence towards the Russian allegations, maybe that investigation could conclude without progressives working on vibrating themselves through their office chairs every time something “breaks”.

    Explain the mechanics of why the superdelegates matter here, if you could. How did the DNC force superdelegates to choose Clinton? Do you mean they freely did so because she was the first to unofficially launch her run, had been widely expected to do so, and was successful at early campaigning?

    In order: It didn’t. And no. Like I said, this is more a dig at the mechanics of a Democratic National Convention than it is a dig at Clinton. In the wake of the 2016 Election, Democrats rallied around the idea that a Democracy was “One Person One vote”. Well… Physician, heal thyself. I’d argue that the mechanics of Superdelegates is actually significantly worse than the Electoral College… Not only does it place the voting power of a state the size of California in the hands of about 700 people, but those people are able to signal their intentions far ahead of the actual votes, and there isn’t a news source that won’t count those intentions as delegates earned for the purposes of forecasting, and they use them on their info-graphics. That made it look like Clinton was a quarter of the way to the nomination before a ballot was cast, and was beating Sanders in a landslide… For low-information voters (which I’d argue is the majority of voters) this was at least subliminally important information.

    Traditionally, they align with the popular vote and 2016 was no exception.

    Or traditionally, the vote aligns to them. You tell me: If Superdelegates are redundant, because they always agree with the electorate, then why have them? Why have such a poorly understood, complicated, democracy-mocking system as the Democrat’s nomination process?

  56. 57
    Charles says:

    Democratic turnout in Virginia was 84% of 2016 turnout (that’s very high for a VA gubernatorial race). Republican turnout was 70% of 2016 turnout (about the same as 2013). The biggest drops in Republican voters were among white women and young people, far fewer of whom voted than they did in 2013.

    For off elections, you don’t necessarily have to convince Trump voters to vote Democratic, you just have to convince them to stay home while convincing Clinton voters to show up. Off year election turnout is low enough that you don’t necessarily need to convince non-voters to show up (like you do in Presidential elections), you just need to convince more once-every-4-years voters that off-year elections matter.

  57. 58
    Sebastian H says:

    You’re not understanding the part that wasn’t normal.

    What actually happened is that the state parties were supposed to give that money back to the national party with the idea that it would be used to fund the national party and then be allocated back to the states who needed it most in the general election. Even that is a little skeezy, but the whole agreement takes a complete different light when it is NOW revealed that funneling it back to the national party really meant just putting it back under the control of the Clinton campaign (from as early as 2015).

    It was well understood that the money was flowing back to the DNC. Which is precisely the problem. The money wasn’t stopping at the DNC to be under the control of the DNC. It was (by secret agreement) sent back to the Clinton campaign, to be under the control of the Clinton campaign which would then send small portions of it back to the DNC. The rest of the money was not sent back to the DNC until AFTER the primary when Clinton publicly took control of the DNC. It actually sounds like illegal coordination to me, but there may be some election law technicality that makes it non-illegal. But it definitely was not well understood that the Victory Fund money wasn’t stopping at the DNC.

    You write:

    I don’t and didn’t agree with the decision to impede access for two days. And I do think that part of the reason they did so was because the Sanders campaign embarrassed them. But that has nothing to do with Clinton as Clinton, the frontrunner. Clinton didn’t create this situation, nobody was using it as bait, and if the DNC had wanted to hinder Sanders’s campaign on behalf of Clinton, there are easier, subtler means of doing so, because of course no one intended the access to be limited forever and the optics of this had already grown toxic, with Sanders immediately cast as a victim. So, this was sloppy, not malicious.

    You are still writing as if the Clinton campaign and the DNC were totally separate entities. But they weren’t. Clinton’s campaign had assumed full budgetary control of the DNC a year earlier, very serious control of DNC hiring (especially of the IT staff), and full vetting of any DNC press communication regarding anything to do with any primary candidate. So any time a press release went out with the words “Sanders” on it, the Clinton campaign was supposed to vet it first. And your “easier, subtler means of doing so” is meant as evidence for your conclusion that it was sloppy not malicious. I’m not sure that would good evidence even if the DNC were independent (why not sloppy and THEN malicious in dealing with the sloppiness?). But it is much worse when it isn’t just ‘the DNC broadly sympathizes with Clinton’. When it is ‘the DNC is controlled in very key areas by the Clinton campaign’ why should we assume that they aren’t acting against Sanders with easier and subtler methods AND then when sloppiness shows up they are acting maliciously when dealing with the sloppiness?

    You don’t have to actively assume that all of the worst things happened. But you do have to understand that in a hot and heavy primary, it is really important for eventual group harmony not to let any of the major neutral arbiters look like they literally got bought out by one of the candidates. At the end you want everyone to rally behind the eventual winner.

  58. 59
    Charles says:

    The money wasn’t stopping at the DNC to be under the control of the DNC. It was (by secret agreement) sent back to the Clinton campaign, to be under the control of the Clinton campaign which would then send small portions of it back to the DNC. The rest of the money was not sent back to the DNC until AFTER the primary when Clinton publicly took control of the DNC. It actually sounds like illegal coordination to me, but there may be some election law technicality that makes it non-illegal. But it definitely was not well understood that the Victory Fund money wasn’t stopping at the DNC.

    Where are you getting that from? That description doesn’t match with anything I’ve read.

  59. 60
    Sebastian H says:

    Charles what have you been reading? Or rather which part doesn’t match?

    Here is what was reported at the time. With Joint Fundraising Committees each participant is supposed to get a percentage of the funds. It is very interesting in retrospect to see that the Clinton campaign even then was being very cagey about how much the DNC was receiving.

    Things like “Asked about whether the victory fund has taken steps to keep the state parties apprised of the transfers, Schwerin said, “We work closely with all parties involved and all transfers occur in accordance with the joint fundraising agreements.””

    Knowing what we now know, that means that all of the fundraising went to the Clinton campaign with an allowance coming back to the DNC. But at the time people thought it meant that the DNC was getting a fairly large portion of that money.

    Also from the reporting at the time

    But what happens to the cash after that initial distribution is left almost entirely to the discretion of the Clinton campaign. Its chief operating officer, Beth Jones, is the treasurer of the victory fund. And FEC filings show that within a day of most transfers from the victory fund to the state parties, identical sums were transferred from the state party accounts to the DNC, which Sanders’ supporters have accused of functioning as an adjunct of the Clinton campaign [note at the time they still thought that the money was going to the DNC, just that the DNC was biased toward Clinton. Only now do we know that the money was under the control of the Clinton campaign].

    For example, the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party received $43,500 from the victory fund on Nov. 2, only to transfer the same amount to the DNC that same day. The pattern repeated itself after the Minnesota party received transfers from the victory fund of $20,600 on Dec. 1 (the party sent the same amount to the DNC the next day) and $150,000 on Jan. 4 (it transferred the same amount to the DNC that day).

    That means that Minnesota’s net gain from its participation in the victory fund was precisely $0 through the end of March. Meanwhile, the DNC pocketed an extra $214,100 in cash routed through Minnesota — much of which the DNC wouldn’t have been able to accept directly, since it came from donors who had mostly had already maxed out to the national party committee.

    Also from the reporting at the time:

    Most of the victory funds ads were executed by the same firm that does advertising for Clinton’s campaign, Bully Pulpit Interactive, which has been paid $8.6 million by the Hillary Victory Fund for online advertising, and $9.2 million by Hillary for America for online advertising and media buys.

    Those victory fund ads, as well as a direct mail campaign funded by the same committee, “appear to benefit only [the Clinton campaign] by generating low-dollar contributions that flow only to HFA, rather than to the DNC or any of the participating state party committees,” charged Sanders’ campaign lawyer in an open letter sent to the DNC in April. It alleged that the victory fund was essentially a pass-through to allow Clinton to benefit from contributions that far exceed the amount that her campaign could legally accept.

    This of course makes sense in retrospect, because the DNC wasn’t in control of these funds, the Clinton campaign was.

    So now lets move to the current reporting.

    The Saturday morning after the convention in July [note the timeline, this is about being $2 million in debt AFTER nearly all of the victory fund fundraising], I called Gary Gensler, the chief financial officer of Hillary’s campaign. He wasted no words. He told me the Democratic Party was broke and $2 million in debt.

    “What?” I screamed. “I am an officer of the party and they’ve been telling us everything is fine and they were raising money with no problems.”

    That wasn’t true, he said. Officials from Hillary’s campaign had taken a look at the DNC’s books. Obama left the party $24 million in debt—$15 million in bank debt and more than $8 million owed to vendors after the 2012 campaign—and had been paying that off very slowly. Obama’s campaign was not scheduled to pay it off until 2016. Hillary for America (the campaign) and the Hillary Victory Fund (its joint fundraising vehicle with the DNC) had taken care of 80 percent of the remaining debt in 2016, about $10 million, and had placed the party on an allowance[note that this fact was not even known to the some of the top DNC officers].

    If I didn’t know about this, I assumed that none of the other officers knew about it, either. That was just Debbie’s way. In my experience she didn’t come to the officers of the DNC for advice and counsel. She seemed to make decisions on her own and let us know at the last minute what she had decided, as she had done when she told us about the hacking only minutes before the Washington Post broke the news.

    On the phone Gary told me the DNC had needed a $2 million loan, which the campaign had arranged.

    So here we find out that the agreement and the loans from the Clinton campaign were hidden from the officers. Next we find out where the Victory Fund Money went.

    “No! That can’t be true!” I said. “The party cannot take out a loan without the unanimous agreement of all of the officers.”

    “Gary, how did they do this without me knowing?” I asked. “I don’t know how Debbie relates to the officers,” Gary said. He described the party as fully under the control of Hillary’s campaign, which seemed to confirm the suspicions of the Bernie camp. The campaign had the DNC on life support, giving it money every month to meet its basic expenses, while the campaign was using the party as a fund-raising clearinghouse. Under FEC law, an individual can contribute a maximum of $2,700 directly to a presidential campaign. But the limits are much higher for contributions to state parties and a party’s national committee.

    Individuals who had maxed out their $2,700 contribution limit to the campaign could write an additional check for $353,400 to the Hillary Victory Fund—that figure represented $10,000 to each of the 32 states’ parties who were part of the Victory Fund agreement—$320,000—and $33,400 to the DNC. The money would be deposited in the states first, and transferred to the DNC shortly after that. Money in the battleground states usually stayed in that state, but all the other states funneled that money directly to the DNC, which quickly transferred the money to Brooklyn[Brooklyn was the location of the Clinton campaign headquarters].

    “Wait,” I said. “That victory fund was supposed to be for whoever was the nominee, and the state party races. You’re telling me that Hillary has been controlling it since before she got the nomination?”

    Gary said the campaign had to do it or the party would collapse.

    So Brazile, as an officer of the DNC, had the standard understanding that JVF monies were coming to the DNC. She only found out otherwise after she took over the DNC.

  60. 61
    Charles says:

    The one bit I hadn’t read was “which quickly transferred the money to Brooklyn”

    I kind of want more detail about what that entailed than a single half sentence in order to expand it into

    It was well understood that the money was flowing back to the DNC. Which is precisely the problem. The money wasn’t stopping at the DNC to be under the control of the DNC. It was (by secret agreement) sent back to the Clinton campaign, to be under the control of the Clinton campaign which would then send small portions of it back to the DNC. The rest of the money was not sent back to the DNC until AFTER the primary when Clinton publicly took control of the DNC. It actually sounds like illegal coordination to me, but there may be some election law technicality that makes it non-illegal. But it definitely was not well understood that the Victory Fund money wasn’t stopping at the DNC.

    particularly since the JVF was also based in Brooklyn, although even funds moving from the DNC to the JVF does seem very improper to me.

    I am still far from being convinced that anything significant happened to disadvantage the Sanders campaign, but it does seem like financial coordination like what happened between the Clinton campaign and the DNC should be made clearly out of bounds by party rules going forward.

  61. 62
    Humble Talent says:

    I am still far from being convinced that anything significant happened to disadvantage the Sanders campaign, but it does seem like financial coordination like what happened between the Clinton campaign and the DNC should be made clearly out of bounds by party rules going forward.

    Can you suggest the minimum level of proof you’d need? I mean… There’s a lot here, and I’m just wondering where the line is, or if there even is a line?

  62. 63
    Sebastian H says:

    Charles, since my main point is to keep things like this from happening in the future I want to agree with where you say ” it does seem like financial coordination like what happened between the Clinton campaign and the DNC should be made clearly out of bounds by party rules going forward.”

    The additional point I want to make, is that as I’ve been looking into how Joint Victory Funds operate, I realize that on some level I highlighted the wrong part.

    “But what happens to the cash after that initial distribution is left almost entirely to the discretion of the Clinton campaign. Its [the Clinton campaign’s COO ] chief operating officer, Beth Jones, is the treasurer of the victory fund.” I somehow glossed over this in my mind because I was so focused on the known effect [that the Sanders group was saying the ad buys were only pro-Clinton] that I totally skipped over the enormity of the conflict of interest for things that wouldn’t be so easily detectable.

    The Chief Operating Officer of the Clinton campaign was the treasurer of the victory fund.

    In general speaking we talk about monies going ‘to the DNC’ or ‘to the Clinton campaign’. We usually talk about Joint Fundraising Committees (JFCs) as mostly pass through organizations because functionally that is what they are in most cases.

    The typical case is where two fundraisers join in a committee. They raise funds, the money goes to the JFCs account. The JFC treasurer allocates the money according to a publicly published formula (this is a requirement of the Federal Election Commission) which is then sent to the different organizations.

    It looks to me like a lot what actually happened looks like FEC violations to me on a naive reading of the regulation explanations, I’m assuming however that since they have million dollar lawyers overseeing things that nothing that happened was technically illegal. I might be wrong, but none of what I say depends on it being illegal. What it depends on is the huge difference between what people/donors/officers of various institutions THOUGHT was happening and what was REALLY happening.

    So the formal structure was Clinton would appear at a fundraiser. She would ask donors to give money well above the individual candidate cap. This was legal because what was formally happening was the donor was giving to various Clinton organizations and to the DNC and to various state organizations. The money would go to the Clinton campaign COO in her role as JFC treasurer. She would disburse it according to the public formula.

    So far totally normal Joint Fundraising Commission activity.

    But, in order to participate in this fundraising, the state level recipients had (non-publicly) contracted to send the money back to the DNC. The idea was that the money would be used by the DNC to support its general operations and to figure out which national races needed it most, so the money would flow back to the states that needed it later. Some of the state level organizations weren’t happy about that and refused to participate. Others were unhappy about it but figured they wouldn’t have gotten the money anyway so they hoped that some might trickle back.

    So far, kind of weird and maybe not in the spirit of the FEC rules but ok.

    The COO of Clinton’s campaign was the treasurer of the JFC. That is a little weird. It provided her the opportunity to easily know exactly how much money was sent to the state organizations and the DNC. That doesn’t seem like its merely coincidental when we see the next step.

    Very secretly, so much so at least some of the officers of the DNC were unaware of it, the DNC had also contracted to send the money sent to them from all the participating states and the DNC’s own allocation of the ‘Joint Fundraising Committee’ money back to the Clinton campaign. The Clinton campaign was then supposed to send an operating budget back to the DNC. As described, this seems like a blatant violation of FEC regulations because contracting to give the campaign back the money seems like laundering money to avoid contribution caps in direct violation of coordination rules. BUT, I’m going to assume that we are just getting a naive reporter’s view of the money transactions. Very likely they sent it back to the JFC treasurer (who non-coincidentally was the COO of the Clinton campaign).

    So who knows if they crossed every ‘t’ and dotted every ‘i’ to make sure that it was strictly legal. The problem is that this was a contested primary where the DNC had their operating budget, communications strategy, and hiring decisions under the control of one of the primary candidates. If you take ‘rigged’ to mean “directly [at the last step after votes have been cast] changed the votes such that one person who would have won ended up losing” then the primary was not ‘rigged’. Its fine if you want to hang on to a super tight definition of rigged.

    But from a systemic perspective (the kind that says things like “police officers are given lots of incentives to abuse black people, and those incentives cause abuse of black people to actually materialize”) there was definitely corruption.

    Saying “but the debate schedule didn’t hurt Sanders” isn’t really understanding the problem. First, this wasn’t set up to hurt Sanders directly. He wasn’t on the radar when the corrupt systems were set into place. This was to corrupt the system to advantage Clinton in whatever way the DNC could help her while still maintaining the facade of it not just being an organ of her campaign. I certainly don’t know all of the ways that the DNC could have helped Clinton. The Sanders campaign identified some things that they thought were suspicious along the way. It is probably unproveable and unknowable whether or not a bunch of things that look like mistakes were intentional.

    But one thing we do know is that when you set up incentives for something to happen, lots of times it happens. We should not want the DNC to be an organization where the incentives are “we should help one side in a wide open primary in every way we can because they literally can pull the plug on all of our money at any time”. I’m not sure that we can (or even want to spend the time to) prove that all or even many of the incentives played out unfairly. But I’m completely certain that if they didn’t, we shouldn’t trust the next person to be as highly ethical as Clinton with that many perverse incentives.

  63. 64
    Charles says:

    I think your second interpretation of the JVF financial shenanigans (JVF-> DNC-> state parties-> DNC-> JVF) is probably the correct one (assuming Brazile’s statement is accurate). I can’t find evidence for it in Open Secrets (which should show huge DNC -> JVF transfers if that had happened), but that is hard to interpret (and even if it is there, it might be muddled by post-primary DNC -> JVF ->campaign transfers). DNC-> JVF transfers seem dodgy to me, but not nearly the same as DNC->Clinton campaign transfers during the primary would have been.

    In the end, the DNC gave more to battleground state parties than it raised through for state parties through the JVF. Shifting funds from all states to battleground state parties is crappy, but it was clear from the outset that that was what the DNC was going to do under DWS, who, like all Obama DNC appointees, didn’t care about the state parties.

    The debate schedule was set up before the secret agreement. The debate schedule was part of the leadership of the Democratic party backing Clinton and shifting things in her favor, but it was the normal operation of a party apparatus that has a candidate that it is strongly backing. Attempting to clear the field is a thing that parties commonly try to do. It’s crappy, and dumb, but it isn’t unusual. One of the proposed changes to the DNC is to make debate scheduling be controlled by a public committee rather than personally by the DNC chair, and that seems like a good fix.

    There are a bunch of other things that were probably less significant than that that happened after the secret agreement, but we still have Brazile’s analysis that there weren’t signs of DNC staff shifting things towards Clinton.

    I completely agree that the DNC needs major reforms (and it is getting them). There was a good review of the reforms on Daily Kos yesterday.

    The DNC contributed $1.5 million to the Virginia election campaigns on Tuesday, and apparently all of it was dedicated to door-knocking rather than TV ads, which is a really promising sign.

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