Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Last Call For Our Little Domestic Terrorism Problem, Con't

Here's a heartwarming story about a rally in my home state of NC, and by "heartwarming" I mean it will actually induce angina.

Two active-duty U.S. Marines were arrested after driving hours from their homes to take part in a pro-Confederate rally last week in North Carolina. 
Sgt. Michael Chesny and Staff Sgt. Joseph Manning were arrested for trespassing after draping a white nationalist banner over a building in downtown Graham during a May 20 demonstration, reported the Times-News
The pair unfurled a banner that quoted George Orwell’s “1984” — “He who controls the past controls the future” — and the letters, “YWNRU,” which stands for “you will not replace us,” a slogan linked to the white nationalist group Identity Evropa. 
The group has gained followers in recent years by blanketing college campuses with white nationalist literature, although it’s not clear whether either Marine is directly involved with Identity Evropa or similar groups. 
The Marines told arresting officers they had gone to the rally to record video of protesters from the Industrial Workers of the World to prove the social group wasn’t peaceful. 
Chesny serves as an explosive ordnance disposal technician based at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, and Manning serves in the Marine Corps Engineer School at Camp Lejeune. 
The servicemen were each charged with first-degree trespassing, a misdemeanor offense, and released on $1,000 bond the same day as their arrest. 
The incident is under investigation by military personnel.

So many questions about this, such as one, why do we still have pro-Confederacy rallies in the US in 2017, two, why do we have white nationalists in public at these rallies, three, why are our military recruits so drawn to pro-Confederacy rallies with white nationalist messaging and four, are any of you still wondering why NC went for Trump?

As I keep saying, Trump is not the actual problem, although he's more like the metastasizing of the cancer of the body politic more than anything, the real problem is the people who saw his message and decided "Thank God, I finally can stop pretending now and do this openly."

And you know what, even if you as a Trump voter can still look yourself in the mirror and say "Well I'm not a white supremacist asshole" you're still okay with the candidate that made white supremacy publicly acceptable again.

For that, I will never forgive Trump voters.  To a person.

Poll Arising Nation, Con't

The after-action report on 2016 polling was simple: national polls were correct (Clinton by 2%) but individual state polls were wrong, in some cases badly so.  Nate Cohn at the NY Times Upshot crew takes a look and theorizes that the big problems in state polling are fixable to some extent.

Nearly seven months after the presidential election, pollsters are still trying to answer a question that has rattled trust in their profession: Why did pre-election polls show Hillary Clinton leading Donald J. Trump in the battleground states that decided the presidency? Is political polling fundamentally broken? Or were the errors understandable and correctable? 
At their annual conference in New Orleans this month, polling experts were inching toward the latter, more optimistic explanation. And there is mounting evidence to support their view. 
At least three key types of error have emerged as likely contributors to the pro-Clinton bias in pre-election surveys. Undecided voters broke for Mr. Trump in the final days of the race, or in the voting booth. Turnout among Mr. Trump’s supporters was somewhat higher than expected. And state polls, in particular, understated Mr. Trump’s support in the decisive Rust Belt region, in part because those surveys did not adjust for the educational composition of the electorate — a key to the 2016 race. 
Some of these errors will be easier to fix than others. But all of them are good news for pollsters and others who depend on political surveys. 
It might seem strange to argue that the polls could miss the result of an election and could still be trusted in the future. But there are some kinds of polling errors that pollsters can accept, even if the public never will. 
There’s nothing pollsters can do, for example, if undecided voters break for one candidate in the final hours. Even an error that puts more blame on the pollsters might be acceptable, provided it can be fixed. 
Errors have happened enough in past elections to know that an upset was well within the realm of possibility in 2016. The Upshot model estimated that a polling misfire was about as likely as a baseball strikeout or a missed midrange field goal in football. It’s not pretty, but it happens and will happen again, and a team wouldn’t release a batter or a kicker because of a strikeout or a missed kick.

The reality is that confidence in polling is quite frankly nowhere near 100%, and is really more like 75 or 80% at most, even in a best case scenario.   Nate Silver famously gave Trump about a one in 3 chance of winning, and Trump did just that.

Of course Russian interference that fueled James Comey's political bombshells had a great effect on this "last-minute break" to Trump too, and of course the pollsters missed that.

I'm much less worried about pollsters than I am having free and fair elections in 2018 or 2020 with the demonstrably broken election system we have now, and Trump running that system.

Russian To Judgment, Con't

The hits keep on coming from the law enforcement and intelligence communities on Trump's inner circle, and this week has been no different from the last several as now we discover that Trump's personal lawyer and legal adviser Michael Cohen is the latest name on the Russia investigation list.

Cohen confirmed to ABC News that House and Senate investigators have asked him “to provide information and testimony” about any contacts he had with people connected to the Russian government, but he said he has turned down the invitation.

“I declined the invitation to participate, as the request was poorly phrased, overly broad and not capable of being answered,” Cohen told ABC News in an email Tuesday.

After Cohen rejected the congressional requests for cooperation, the Senate Select Intelligence Committee voted unanimously on Thursday to grant its chairman, Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, and ranking Democrat, Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, blanket authority to issue subpoenas as they deem necessary.

"To date, there has not been a single witness, document or piece of evidence linking me to this fake Russian conspiracy," Cohen added. "This is not surprising to me because there is none."

While much of the media focus in recent days has fallen on Russian contacts made by Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, there are few people closer to the president than his longtime lawyer. Insiders consider Cohen to be Trump’s pit bull or consigliere for his role in threatening legal action against Trump critics, gaining notoriety for threatening and browbeating reporters investigating Trump’s background.

He was quoted in 2015 telling Daily Beast reporters, “I will take you for every penny you still don’t have. And I will come after your Daily Beast and everybody else that you possibly know … So I’m warning you, tread very f---ing lightly, because what I’m going to do to you is going to be f---ing disgusting.”

In a 2016 appearance on CNN that went viral, the stone-faced attorney flashed anger when anchor Brianna Keiler said the Trump campaign was “down.”

“Says who?” he challenged. When she cited polls, he countered, “Which polls?” She replied, “All of them.” His final response in that exchange proved prescient: “You’re going to all be very surprised when he polls substantially higher than what you all are giving him credit for.”

After the 2016 campaign, Cohen left the Trump Organization to become the president’s personal attorney, a job he still holds. From that post, he has continued to weigh in on Trump’s behalf on Twitter and during occasional television appearances.

Cohen is Trump's legal hitman, wielding lawsuits like pistols as he charges in blazing to take out Trump's enemies.  He's pretty decent at it too, but there's no way Cohen doesn't know where all the Trump regime's bodies are buried.  Cracking him would definitely be key to the investigation.

Still it means that Robert Mueller's investigation, and that of the Senate at least are moving forward.


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