CNN out CNNs itself.
The next Democratic debates are July 30 and 31, and we're really excited. CNN is hosting, so you know it'll be ridiculous. We haven't trusted CNN since they gave us holographic pundits in 2008. Last night, CNN selected each night's lineup and even the podium order through a live drawing that lacked the dignity of "Deal or No Deal." America knowingly installed a reality TV star as president so maybe this is all we deserve.
CNN went to great lengths to assure viewers that its farce was on the level. There were multiple camera angles as the "journalist" removed cards from boxes. The cards were two separate shades of blue, because the candidates are Democrats and Bernie Sanders. This somehow took 40 minutes, but there was lots of drawn-out commentary. The suspense was Hitchcockian -- not Alfred but like watching the movie Hitch. Still, "Drawing Names From A Hat" was an improvement from CNN's previous series in this time slot, "Watching Paint Dry With Wolf Blitzer."
You wouldn't know it from CNN's antics, but the next debates are actually serious and important -- even if Marianne Williamson is present. There's an obvious flaw in the process if that flake is coming back. The DNC had a 20 candidate limit for the second set of debates. There are at least three times that many Democrats running, so someone's not getting a rose. Mike Gravel has enough unique donors to qualify, but Williamson somehow also met the polling requirements. Maybe they should've thrown in a written test because Gravel is a former US senator and Williamson is a fatphobic fraud.
For I was a stranger and you yelled 'USA! USA! USA!' in my face.
Some new polling indicates that when it comes to immigrant kids in horrible conditions, most Republicans are fully in agreement with Fox News and Donald Trump: It's not a problem, because those kids don't belong here in the first place. The poll, by progressive outfits YouGov Blue and Data for Progress, found that while a majority of Americans in its sample think the government should be treating migrant children better, most Republicans take the opposite view -- in harsh terms you don't often see used in polling.
As partial inspiration for the survey, the pollsters point to a statement Brian Kilmeade made last June on "Fox and Friends," during the worst of the babies in cages family separation policy. It was a corker, and not at all atypical of Fox's immigration coverage then or since:
Taking children from their parents was absolutely fine, said Kilmeade, because Donald Trump had to teach the Central American parts of Mexico a lesson in civilization:
The first white dude down!
Eric Swalwell ran for president and nobody came. We've had his campaign on death watch since he declared his candidacy in April, and now, it's being reported that the California congressman will drop out today. Maybe he noticed the polling data -- he's averaging roughly zero percent, which ties him with Wonkette, and we didn't spend $2.4 million on those results. Charlatan and flake Marianne Williamson has managed one percent in the polls. This is after the 2020 Democratic primary debates when people heard her speak -- out loud and on camera. Maybe it's best that Swalwell call it quits.
Where did it all go wrong? Swalwell is an unassuming white guy with Ken doll good looks, which we're told is what America needs right now. His parents are Midwestern Republicans who voted for Donald Trump, and he was cautiously optimistic that they'd vote for him if he were the nominee. There was nowhere to go but up or, as it turned out, nowhere to go at all.
A couple new polls to show ya!
What up Wonkers, you drinkin' yet? WE ARE. OK not really, we have to take the dog to the vet (yes, again, because she has a hot spot she won't leave alone and we had to put the cone of shame on her and the cone itself seems to be giving her panic attacks about not being able to chew her hot spot), but we will drink after that. And we will do so knowing that there's still happy news out there! Yes, against the backdrop of President Wannabe Dictator playing with his tanks, we have poll porn to share about the Democratic primary, and it is that slowly but surely, the women are taking charge. Two of them to be specific, pictured above.
Meet VP nominee Pepe the Frog.
Trolls on 4chan successfully organized an effort to vote repeatedly in online polls following both of this week's Democratic primary debates, which isn't the least bit surprising. But a couple of legitimate-ish news sources went on to report on the results of the polls as if the completely meaningless results meant anything at all, and that is ... erm, also not very surprising. Ben Collins, the fringe politics expert at NBC News, has some of the details:
Users on 4chan's anonymous far-right /pol/message board repeatedly posted links to polls across the web, encouraging one another to "blow the polls out" for Gabbard, the congresswoman from Hawaii who has developed a substantial support base among many of its users.
The posts pointed users toward polls on national news websites like the Drudge Report, The Washington Examiner, and Heavy.com, but also polls from local news providers like NJ.com, which posts from several newspapers in the state.
"GIVE HER YOUR POWER," read one 4chan post from 1 a.m. Thursday, pointing to a screenshot of the still-active Drudge poll showing Gabbard leading.
Not surprisingly, after Wednesday's first debate, Gabbard led the Drudge Report poll, with 40 percent "support," even though she seldom breaks more than two percent in national polls that use reliable sampling and won't let you vote again and again. Rightwing sources reported that result uncritically, as they are contractually required to do. But then some semi-respectable outlets ran with the story as if the polls reflected some sort of reality. The Daily Mail (yes, we KNOW) headline trumpeted "First poll has Tulsi Gabbard as the shock winner of the first Democratic debate," and the text of the article was no better:
Surprisingly, nearly 40 per cent of those who took the survey chose the 38-year-old congresswoman from Hawaii as the runaway winner.
Not a single word about the surprising fact that users could vote again or again, making the results meaningless. Not much surprise that the Daily Mail didn't even try to do journalism, but just in case anyone thought The Hill is a useful source, that blog went with the Drudge poop too, with a headline saying Gabbard won "in a landslide" and a few paragraphs about her debate performance. At least that piece noted it was an "unscientific online poll," but it wasn't a story at all. Not surprisingly, more high-truth-value serious news blogs like the New York Times, Washington Post, and Wonkette didn't even touch it, and others only mentioned it as an example of how useless such "polling" is.
Last night, the game continued, with trolls flooding the Drudge poll to boost Andrew Yang as the OBVIOUS winner, with a strong gag-gift second place for Marianne Williamson, whom the /pol/ trolls also wanted to boost. (We also cannot discount the possibility that Williamson did so well after simply visualizing the results.) And again, the Wingnuttosphere dutifully reported Yang's "win," with no suggestion that the numbers were unscientific. Science is mostly fake anyway. Breitbart made a point of playing up what a huge shock the two results were, even.
Yang's surprising poll finish comes after Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) shocked the beltway with a first place finish in Drudge's Wednesday evening debate poll with roughly 35%.
Obviously, this is completely stupid and nobody in the Beltway was shocked, unless maybe their Tesla caught fire (this is a joke, not libel). But as Collins points out, this shit has worked before, or at least the trolls think so:
Poll brigading was an effective tactic for fans of then-candidate Donald Trump in 2016.
In the hours after general election debates, top posts on 4chan and Reddit's largest pro-Trump community implored users to swarm online polls from national websites and local news affiliates asking who won the debate. Those poll results were touted by Trump on Twitter in the hours after the end of the debates.
Also, Collins offers this really useful reminder from Nina Jankowicz, a thinky-tanky person with the Wilson Center, who said that while the Russian trolling is a real thing, we also shouldn't discount homegrown efforts at online infofuckery:
"It's absolutely important to report on the way domestic actors are influencing discourse," Jankowicz said. "We are spending too much time worrying about foreign actors while acting completely ignorant of the threats in our own backyard."
We'd love to offer some kind of answer to the plague of garbage information in elections, but the best we can think of is to yell and wave our hands and shout "THIS IS BULLSHIT!" while pointing at the bullshit and a diagram of how it came out of the cow. Will that accomplish anything? Probably not as much as getting non-trolls to the real polls. But to borrow a line from serial murderer and Space Alien endorsee Bill Clinton, we still believe in a place called Reality.
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Look at this fucking Tim Ryan!
We have a 25th candidate running for the Democratic nomination. Former Pennsylvania congressman Joe Sestak is the 15th white guy who thinks he can president better than Elizabeth Warren or Kamala Harris. He's also the 10th consecutive Tim Ryan to declare his candidacy since Original Recipe Tim Ryan in April. It's a stampede of whiteness like a common Who concert. White male politicians are seeking asylum in the Democratic primary, and sanctuary is clearly not merit-based.
Let's see if Sestak's announcement video provides a single compelling rationale for his candidacy.
And we're here to help.
Good news, everyone! We have a Democratic challenger for lousy Maine Sen. Susan Collins. Former Maine gubernatorial candidate Betsy Sweet announced her candidacy Thursday, and we confess we'd be more thrilled about it if she weren't a "former" candidate. That's sort of like when an actor's billed as "Oscar nominee." All we hear is LOSER! and we need closers if we're going to retire Collins.
On the upside, her campaign announcement video struck the right tone and hit all the key points. It begins with a clip of Collins declaring on the Senate floor that she planned to vote for Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation to the Supreme Court. As Sweet drives through a picturesque Maine town, we hear news reports of the continued right-wing onslaught against abortion rights. It gets us pissed off at Collins all over again.
And we are yummy, like Kobe beef!
You might think rich people would hate the idea of raising taxes on the rich, but a new "millionaire poll" by CNBC shows that a large chunk of America's rich people are actually just fine with some proposals to increase their own taxes. In fact, 60 percent of the millionaires polled support Elizabeth Warren's Eat The Rich wealth tax proposal, which would impose a two percent tax on wealth over $50 million, and three percent on assets over a billion dollars.
You can go back to drinking Starbucks now, if that's a thing you liked drinking.
Howard Schultz, a person of no interest in the 2020 presidential race, announced yesterday that he's pausing his vanity campaign. The former Starbucks CEO's health started to suffer while he was in Arizona, which is the risk you take when you visit Arizona.
SCHULTZ: I unfortunately experienced acute back pain that required me to cut my travels short. Over the following two months, I underwent three separate back surgeries. Today, I am feeling much better, and my doctors foresee a full recovery so long as I rest and rehabilitate. I have decided to take the summer to do just that.
It's the summer of Howard! He's gonna eat a big hunk of cheese like an apple! Schultz is fortunate that he can take months away from whatever it was he was doing to recuperate. Most Americans can't, and would suffer serious financial hardship if they tried. They could end up living in their car while some asshole on Twitter judges them. Millions can't even afford the back surgeries or even have health care that would allow them to identify the source of their chronic pain. Candidates who don't suck would mention all this, but Schultz remained true to brand.
It's the Sunday Show Rundown!
Bernie Sanders sat down for an interview with CNN's Dana Bash on "We Have A Sunday Show, Too," where he explained, in case anyone had missed it, that Hillary Clinton isn't running this year. But before we focus on Bernie's appearance on CNN, let's take a page from Mr. Sanders's youth and "smoke a blunt" before facing something difficult.
A day late and no dollars short, it's the Sunday Show Rundown!
Today we bring you the idiotic punditry from the last guy rocking a Caesar cut and a Stone Cold Steve Austin goatee combo on national TV, Chuck Todd. It was merely five minutes into NBC's "Meet The Press" when Todd decided to use some revisionist history to do what he does best: "Both Sides" the shit out the news. Watch the clip blow and let's break this nonsense down.
It's like she's actually watched it!
We love Elizabeth Warren. She's smart and will have unveiled seven new policy proposals before you've finished this post. We also appreciate her straight talk. She's said repeatedly that Vice President Mike Pence is a bigoted bag of hair. Now she's given a patrician middle finger to Fox News. The senator from Massachusetts announced on Twitter today that she's turned down an offer to attend a town hall hosted by the right-wing propaganda outlet. She did not pretend she had to stay home and wash her hair.
The redacted Mueller Report didn't land like Trump wanted it to land, we reckon.
Bad news for Donald Trump and Bill Barr and the government of the Russian Federation, because the American people are not buyin' it.
A new Reuters/Ipsos poll taken after the release of the heavily redacted Mueller report shows Trump with one of his lowest approval ratings ever, 37 percent. Reuters notes that's down from 40 percent a little over a week ago and 43 percent just after Bill Barr circulated his initial mash note that cleared Trump of all Russian and obstruction crimes past, present and future. If only Bill Barr wasn't a dipshit with the face of a syphilitic gopher who's really bad at cover-ups!
Moreover, in the newest poll, solidly half of Americans think somebody in the Trump world conspired with Russia to ratfuck the election, maybe because they've heard about how Trump had foreknowledge of the WikiLeaks releases, or maybe they're just really wondering why the hell Paul Manafort was passing polling data to a Russian spy with the understanding it'd go to Oleg Deripaska, the Russian oligarch Manafort worked for lo those many years. Another 58 percent say it's pretty obvious Trump criminally obstructed the investigation, we guess because 58 percent of Americans can read.
He's not that sorry.
Donald Trump lies about pretty much everything, every day, during every waking hour. He in particular likes to lie about his approval rating, citing a combination of numbers made up by Rasmussen and numbers he pulls out of his own butt, insisting that if only all those illegal Mexicans hadn't voted for Hillary Clinton, his numbers would be EVEN HIGHER.
It was pretty comical the other day, though, when Trump tweeted this:
55 percent approval rating? For Donald Trump? Step away from the bath salts, Mister President!
Don't say we never write anything nice.
Bad news for the president, good news for America! Some new polling data from Politico and Morning Consult says Trump is just real fucked and everybody hates him and he should go away and never show his ugly scaly-ass face in public ever again. In other words, they are patriots.
First of all, MSNBC's Kyle Griffin flagged some key info on how Trump's approval ratings have gone to hell in precisely the states he needs if he wants to have a prayer of stealing another election while still losing the popular vote. We don't want your PTSD to flare up, but if you remember election night in 2016, we would be living in a much different situation right now if Trump hadn't won Florida and Ohio, and then pulled out the unlikeliest of bare minimum victories (*ahem* Russian meddling *ahem*) in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. (*AHEM* also woulda been cool if Hillz had visited those states more.) (*AHEM!* James Comey *AHEM!*)
Gee whiz, we think we have a frog in our throat.
Anyway, point is that in Florida, Trump's approval is down 24 points since election night 2016; down 20 points in Ohio; down 19 points in Michigan; down 18 points in Wisconsin; and down 17 points in Pennsylvania. It's almost like Americans don't like liars who are too incompetent to accomplish fuckall. And this is happening in a political climate where states like Arizona and Georgia may very well be fully in play in 2020, and Texas will be creeping ever closer to purple status, especially with all the new voters activated there in the 2018 midterms.
Trump's stonewalling and screaming, Republicans are squirming, and a lovely tribute for Rep. John Dingell. Your morning news brief!
Morning Wonketariat! Here's some of the things we may be talking about today.
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